Sunday, November 25, 2007

ding dong the witch is dead

While I never thought Labour romping in was a forgone conclusion, the biggest thrill of the night was Maxine McKew holding what was formerly the Prime Minister’s safe Liberal seat of Bennelong,on a knife edge. Down to postal votes now, her beaming face made my heart sing.

Or perhaps Kerry O’Brien’s response, excitedly saying “It looks like a swing towards the ABC” – priceless! (On that note, lets hope Janet Albrechtsen’s days on the board are numbered).

But it’s the senate that is making me hold my breath. With the entrenched 6 year terms and only a half senate vote, that means the fundamentalists still have their man in the Upper House for another 3 years. The way things are going, this will give him and Nick Xenophon more power than they deserve. Yet another Labour selfish preference legacy, it could have been a Greens senator instead.

While the nation may have given the rodent the boot (we can only hope) and kicked Mal Brough’s not so sorry arse on indigenous issues, a few blokes have held onto seats they don’t rightly deserve. Hocking, Turnbull and Garrett come to mind.

But what have we got with Rudd? A grinning assassin if ever I saw one. I’d be more comfortable with Julia at the helm with Maxine as her deputy - now that is something to look forward to.

The streets are very quiet this morning. I suspect most of us have a hangover.

Let’s just hope he doesn’t fuck it up.

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Saturday, November 24, 2007

A choice between two weevils

May the least evil f*cker win.

And I hope someone out there is going to “keep the bastards honest”.

Friday, November 23, 2007

friday quickie

Has anyone noticed there is an election this weekend?

Even if I had been living in a communications blackout I would have cottoned onto something happening. You see being a very small business person (and a short one at that) around budget time, when a rate rise is expected to be announced or on the verge of the ‘nation deciding’- people spend less. I don’t believe it is a conscious thing for most people, unlike that dip late January/early February when the Christmas credit card bills roll in. Just as we stop at intersections for red lights, the collective discretionary spending unconscious is hovering on the amber at the moment. While I am optimistic regardless of whoever wins, work will get back to normal this week – I have the luxury of longer lunchbreaks and time to catch up with admin this week.

The State government seems to have noticed attention is elsewhere. How else could they show off their plans for the new kiddies hospital with barely a comment. A HOTEL in Royal Park, a beautiful public space, peoples! Isn’t anyone else aghast at that use of the parkland? Who else shudders at the ‘public private partnership’ tag slapped on yet more valuable public infrastructure? Some of us got upset when maccas moved into the hospital, under this type of deal it is unlikely to stop there. More sick food for sick kids. Bugger the aquariums and private rooms, wake up and see what is really happening.

Back home, one deck is now completed and the remaining excavated garden has turned into an informal swimming pool when the rain came down this week. Creating a new garden so far has required a digger and an excavator, an electrician and 3 visits from the plumber (there was a storm out between 2 tradies) as well as many blisters on the hands of the Not Boyfriend and the budding carpenter friend.

As we go into an interesting weekend – I’ll leave you with a gratuitous pussy shot, surveying the progress a couple of weeks ago.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

dead men don't wear plaid, just climb trees

Sergeant Holloway said the dead man, the pet owner's neighbour, then tried to catch the cockatoo about 10.30pm.
The Age

Sunday, November 11, 2007


Without any glorification of war or sentimentality about the date, here is another instalment of my grandfather’s WW1 diary from the trenches of France. While he’s not exactly Hemmingway, it is an accurate record of events from a kiwi digger.

"New Zealand 4th Reserves in England 28/7/16"*

These are the “boys” from New Zealand’s 4th Reserves the day before they left Sling Camp in Britain and shipped out to France. Though my grandfather is in it, he actually failed the medical later in the day and was held back for months before seeing any action. He wrote “I was greatly disappointed being kept back from all my mates”. Despite two attempts to send him back to NZ as being unfit for action, he finally crossed the channel in early January 1917.

Tuesday 6th February 1917

Parade then marched to trenches. Joined 4th Battalion A. Camp in support lines. Hutch and I put into same dug out with plenty of rats for mates.

May 4th

Went into trenches in front of Messines. First night we were raided next 3 nights were very heavily shelled. Lost number of men.

June 6th

Left camp at 9.30 and marched to trenches 5 miles opposite Messines. During march up were shelled with ‘Gas’ Shells. I am runner for Lieut Shaw. Arrived at ‘Otara”’(?) Trench about midnight at last near time to go over top. All the boys in good sprits.

June 7th

At 3.10 am ready for attack got signal and over the top and took Messines. Huge mines exploded by us. Tanks and all in action. No 4 platoon under Lieut Shaw had to go through Messines at night and get to an … 1,000 yards other side which we did capturing a number of prisoners. After we got to our position I had plenty of messages to take to Battalion headquarters etc

….. On June 13 moved up to trenches in night…and in evening went over top again and dug in beyond former support line. Stayed here for 48 hours and heavily shelled whole time, plenty of machine guns firing at us. At 10 pm I was carrying message to Capt. Emery(?) when I got hit by shrapnel. Managed to get back to Lieut Shaw and got foot bandaged up and Cook took me out to Hyde Park Corner dressing station, took over 2 hours to get there. Plenty of Gas shells. At dressing station had foot dressed then put in ambulance and sent to Australian Clearance Station. Had cup of coffee then sent to Steenwerck hospital where I was put into bed and had wash etc. June 15th had wash and breakfast 5 am then put on Red Cross train for Etaples. Arrived at Etaples 5 pm taken to Canadian hospital had foot dressed and tea and bed very tired but happy to be safe and sound. June 16th doctor told me that I would be going to Blighty. Weather very hot. June 18th at 1 am nurses woke me and gave me cup of tea and told me to get ready I was leaving for England. Taken to Red Cross train in ambulance lady gave us cigarettes. Had breakfast on train. Arrived at Calais about 10 o’clock. Went onboard hospital ship at noon and crossed channel. Arrived at Dover 3 pm. Then on R.C train finally arriving here about 9 pm. Had tea and washed and wound re-dressed. Met Arthur Foden and enquired about sending cable. Good food and Sisters.

* names appear to be in order L to R, from top left of photo

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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

stop press: PM says "sorry"

..but not about what we want him to apologise over. Instead we've had the 6th interest rate rise since he won the last election on the grounds of keeping the cost of mortgages down.

He may be falling on his sword but I'd still like a real apology given to the indigenous peoples of this country.

In the meantime, he's welcome to pay the extra on my mortgage accumulated since he was last returned to government.

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Monday, November 05, 2007

jiggedy jig

Like an addict I can’t wait to get to the airport early in preparation for my homebound flight. Check in takes 30 seconds in the queue and a minimal 3 minutes to confirm I have packed my bag myself, have nothing flammable or otherwise likely to explode, yes I requested a vegan meal and here is my little plastic baggie of liquids and gels. Departure dutifully tax paid, and then the fun begins.

My first taste of wireless internet after laboriously navigating email on other peoples’ oh so slow dial-up, for days (it hasn’t been an out and about, sitting in cafes kind of visit). The Wellington Airport log on speedily hits my browser and we are off and flying. Bloglines, Facebook, mail, gmail - my daily ritual on hold for 4 days. It’s like a dose of caffeine bolting through my system. The connection is fast and plentiful, unlike Melbourne International where the seat you choose to sit on is the difference between getting any service at all or a lukewarm dribble.

Ah Wellington, how I love you. The sun has come out at last and I am staring at my familiar MacBook rather than the azure patch of water across the anorexic strip of runaway.

I’ll be back again in less than 7 weeks. I’m amassing all-weather possibilities to amuse my Aussie partner with when he joins me after Xmas. There are lots of walks to be explored – the bridle track above the Ngaio Gorge (with the convenient organic store and café at the bottom for refreshments), one up through the hills near the sea at Island Bay past the house where my mother and father first met at a party and perhaps even the Pencarrow Lighthouse or Butterfly Creek (is there still a walk over there?). There is the ferry to Days Bay, which I associate with lots of booze and a just pregnant Pixie many years ago (fortunately a fine young man has since developed with no foetal alcohol syndrome what so ever). A pilgrimage to Makara, where I once almost drowned in the sea if it wasn’t for the swift action and strong arms of my sister’s then boyfriend (David if you are out there, I thank you!). It was also the site of an extraordinary first date, a picnic up in the hills with a view across to the South Island – he made quiche and I, a thermos of brandy and freshly squeezed orange juice on ice. There is art of course, for the inevitable foul days – the Dowse, the city gallery, Pataka in Porirua. My father wishes to drive out to the middle of nowhere, Otaki Forks, though his days of doing the Southern Crossing are well and truly over (and mine remain highly unlikely). But what else can I do to amuse the visitor – who may love to eat and drink or equally, could be vegan and tea total at the time (the joys of loving a Gemini, you have a brand new relationship with the same person, many times over)? If the imbibing version comes to Wellington there is the classy architecture of the St Johns bar and a bar crawl around the waterfront. But I need to plan for all contingencies.

The voice on the tannoy suggested I should have cleared customs by now, so it is time to put the laptop back to bed and gather all my documents.

Home soon, but just what home is that?
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