30 April 2014

Sar St

Sar St, Wellington, 27 April 2014
See also:
Photos: Rimutaka sunrise, 15 April 2014
Photos: Tarakena Bay, 6 April 2014
Photos: Brooklyn sunrise, 2 March 2014

28 April 2014

Heyr himna smiður

The Icelandic hymn 'Heyr himna smiður' ('Hear, heavenly creator'), performed live simply but stirringly by Árstíðir in Wuppertal train station in Germany, in 2013 [via Reddit]. The hymn was composed by Kolbeinn Tumason on his deathbed in 1208, after his defeat in the Battle of Víðines.

See also:
Music: Fóstbræður - Heyr himna smiður (2010)
History: The early settlement of Iceland, 16 May 2011
Blog: Iceland, 17 July 2007

27 April 2014

Holly Walsh's top 5 British cultural icons

It's depressing isn't it, that since Shakespeare there's been no-one that even comes close? It's as though British culture peaked in the 1590s, apart from a spike in 1995 with Babylon Zoo's 'Spaceman'. So I put together my own list of British cultural heroes - a list we can all be proud of and rally around as being the best that British culture has got to offer.

[Music cue: Land of Hope and Glory]

5. Victoria Beckham. Is there a better metaphor for the British empire than a woman who has dominated the worlds of fashion, music and publishing despite the fact that no-one asked her to, and she has nothing to offer?

4. The man I saw in Leicester with a neck tattoo saying 'Who are you to judge?' What could be more British than a good point badly made?

3. Pam Ayres, or to give her her original title, Pam Uluru. Britain's true Poet Laureate and a woman who's found more rhymes for teeth than Shakespeare ever did.

2. Jason Scotland-Williams - the man accused of taking a shortcut during the London marathon. I don't think he cheated. He just represented the classic British trait of not admitting he was lost.

1. Benedict Cumberbatch, for his battle against adversity: a man who overcame the stigma of being born into a rich, white family of successful actors, to become a rich, white, successful actor. A man who inspires all of us to be born into white, wealthy families. And as the Government keep reminding us, what could be more British than that?

- Holly Walsh (co-written w/ Jon Hunter), The Now Show, BBC Radio 4, 25 April 2014

26 April 2014

Count themselves richer for the playground

Below are some pictures from Auckland's Wintergarden in the Domain, taken on 20 April 2014. The Wintergarden was funded by the profits from the hugely successful Auckland Industrial, Agricultural and Mining Exhibition of 1913-14. Its twin glasshouse structures are the Cool House (1921) and the Tropical House (1929), joined by a sculpture garden featuring a long shallow pool. The opening of the Cool House on 12 October 1921 saw a speech from the Exhibition president (who was also the president of the Bank of New Zealand), George Elliot:
As Mr. Elliot recalled, the exhibition was distinguished by a degree of financial success that would have been remarkable in favourable circumstances, and was the more notable since it was achieved under serious disabilities. No better use could have been found for the profits than the extension of the pleasure grounds laid out for the exhibition, and for the erection of a permanent memorial of its success and a permanent improvement of the Domain such as the winter garden. Though Mr. Elliot is disposed to place a modest value on the fruits of the exhibition, the citizens of Auckland will count themselves richer for the playground it has given them (New Zealand Herald, 13 October 1921)

See also:
Blog: The Sky Tower, 25 September 2012 
Blog: Auckland's new old art gallery, 7 September 2011
Blog: New trams for Auckland?, 27 June 2010

25 April 2014

Mr Betteredge's experience of married life

The woman I fixed my eye on, was the woman who kept house for me at my cottage. Her name was Selina Goby. I agree with the late William Cobbett about picking a wife. See that she chews her food well and sets her foot down firmly on the ground when she walks, and you're all right. Selina Goby was all right in both these respects, which was one reason for marrying her. I had another reason, likewise, entirely of my own discovering. Selina, being a single woman, made me pay so much a week for her board and services. Selina, being my wife, couldn't charge for her board, and would have to give me her services for nothing. That was the point of view I looked at it from. Economy--with a dash of love. I put it to my mistress, as in duty bound, just as I had put it to myself.

"I have been turning Selina Goby over in my mind," I said, "and I think, my lady, it will be cheaper to marry her than to keep her."

My lady burst out laughing, and said she didn't know which to be most shocked at--my language or my principles. Some joke tickled her, I suppose, of the sort that you can't take unless you are a person of quality. Understanding nothing myself but that I was free to put it next to Selina, I went and put it accordingly. And what did Selina say? Lord! how little you must know of women, if you ask that. Of course she said, Yes.

As my time drew nearer, and there got to be talk of my having a new coat for the ceremony, my mind began to misgive me. I have compared notes with other men as to what they felt while they were in my interesting situation; and they have all acknowledged that, about a week before it happened, they privately wished themselves out of it. I went a trifle further than that myself; I actually rose up, as it were, and tried to get out of it. Not for nothing! I was too just a man to expect she would let me off for nothing. Compensation to the woman when the man gets out of it, is one of the laws of England. In obedience to the laws, and after turning it over carefully in my mind, I offered Selina Goby a feather-bed and fifty shillings to be off the bargain. You will hardly believe it, but it is nevertheless true--she was fool enough to refuse.

After that it was all over with me, of course. I got the new coat as cheap as I could, and I went through all the rest of it as cheap as I could. We were not a happy couple, and not a miserable couple. We were six of one and half-a-dozen of the other. How it was I don't understand, but we always seemed to be getting, with the best of motives, in one another's way. When I wanted to go up-stairs, there was my wife coming down; or when my wife wanted to go down, there was I coming up. That is married life, according to my experience of it.

- Wilkie Collins, The Moonstone, 1868, chapter II 

24 April 2014

Somewhat proud to be British

Hugh Dennis: The results of [the British Social Attitudes Survey] were out this week, and showed that whereas in 2003, 43 percent of people said they were 'very proud' to be British, today only 35 percent of people do. Forty-seven percent of people said they were 'somewhat proud' to be British. Which is very British in itself. The phrase 'somewhat proud' seems to have come from a different era, the old days when the survey would've gone...

How proud are you to be British? Are you:

A. Somewhat proud.
B. Just a smidgen proud.
C. Terribly, terribly proud.
D. Dash it all, I'm not proud at all d'you hear - I'm not proud and I don't mind who knows it... I'm sorry, I've let everyone down.

- The Now Show, BBC Radio 4, 18 April 2014

See also:
Comedy: Putting an 'i' in front of things, 2 April 2011
Comedy: How the BBC works, 14 May 2010
ComedyMock The Week, 20 February 2010

23 April 2014

Remembering Blair Peach

Blair Peach (Guardian, via public domain)
Today is the 35th anniversary of the unlawful killing of 33-year-old New Zealand teacher Blair Peach in Southall, south London, by officers of the Metropolitan Police. Peach was attending an anti-fascist demonstration against the far-right National Front on 23 April 1979, and he died of head wounds the following day at the New Ealing Hospital. No-one was ever charged with Peach's death. A 2010 inquiry report, much delayed by official denials and obfuscation, agreed that evidence - including 14 eye witness accounts - 'almost certainly' points to a member of the Met's Special Patrol Group having dealt Peach the fatal head wound. A 2010 Guardian report on the Met's inquiry notes:

Suspicions centred on the SPG carrier U.11, the first vehicle to arrive on Beechcroft Avenue [sic.], the street where Peach was found staggering around and concussed. [Commander John] Cass said there was an "indication" that one officer in particular, who first emerged from the carrier but whose name has been redacted from the report, was responsible. 
The criminal investigation into Peach's death was hampered by SPG officers, who Cass concluded had lied to him to cover up the actions of their colleagues. He "strongly recommended" that three officers should be charged with conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, giving detailed evidence to show how they were engaged in a "deliberate attempt to conceal the presence of the carrier at the scene at that time". None were ever charged.

The original 1979 police documents adopt some unusual methods, like redacting the name of the National Front's candidate, whose planned rally at Southall Town Hall spurred the Anti-Nazi League counter-rally that Peach attended. This would have been a simple matter of public record.

Times editorial on 14 January 1980 noted that 245 people had died in British police custody in the past decade, although it is unclear whether that is referring to solely the Metropolitan Police or a larger grouping. According to Inquest, in the 10 years from 2004 to 2013 there were 93 recorded deaths in Met custody, and 519 deaths in police custody across England and Wales.

The Met's Commissioner, Sir Paul Stephenson, said in 2010:

As a police officer with over thirty four years service reading and being briefed on the investigation reports leaves me feeling deeply uncomfortable. Thirty one years later we have still been unable to provide the family and friends of Blair Peach with definitive answers regarding the terrible circumstances of his death. That is a matter of deep regret. 
See also:
News: 'Partner of man killed by Met officers calls for investigation to be made public', Guardian, 13 June 2009

22 April 2014

Muriwai gannet colony

The gannet colony at Muriwai on Auckland's west coast is generally best visited between October and February, but on a shining day like yesterday even its somewhat depleted numbers impressed. In fact, perhaps it's better visiting out of season, because the guano smell isn't so foul!

See also:
Blog: California Design exhibition, 2 October 2013
Blog: MOTAT 2, 3 April 2013
Blog: New Year Sky Tower fireworks, 1 January 2013

19 April 2014

Eat a peach, love Neil

[...] I got some satisfaction hearing war stories about the Stills/Young Band's tour. Seems that it was snakebit from the start. With too little time to rehearse, the band never felt comfortable onstage. A review in the New York Times called the show "an ill-conceived evening", blaming the sound, which was "rough and overly loud". The tour needed work. Stephen [Stills] wanted to stick to a single set list until the band got tight, but that apparently bored Neil [Young]. And eventually, Neil reverted to being Neil. Heading to a gig in Atlanta, he was travelling in his bus down the highway when the driver put on his left turn signal to go to the gig. Neil insisted they go right instead. "But, Neil, the gig is to the left," the driver assured him. Neil got right into his face. "I said turn right!" The next day, at the gig in Atlanta, Neil just never turned up. Instead he sent everyone in the band a telegram: FUNNY HOW SOME THINGS THAT START SPONTANEOUSLY END THAT WAY. EAT A PEACH. LOVE NEIL. He'd gone home and left the entire company - the band, roadies, support staff, and promoters - holding the bag.

- Graham Nash, Wild Tales, New York, 2013, p.236-7.

Queen Street sunshower

Auckland, 19 April 2014

18 April 2014

Why is North Korea poor?

"North Korea is poor because the sanctions are working"

Not even close. North Korea is poor because of an outmoded economic policy and self-imposed isolation from the world. The latest round of UN and US sanctions, implemented in March 2013, only target the elite. They ban the export of luxury goods and clamp down on individuals and companies that are financing proliferation activities. It's safe to say that the average North Korean does not own a yacht or wear a Rolex.

Blame lies with five bad decisions North Korea has made in the management of its economy. First, in the aftermath of the Korean War, Kim Jong Un's grandfather -- President Kim Il Sung -- focused exclusively on heavy industry development and the military while expecting the country to be self-sufficient in agriculture. In a country that only has 20 percent arable land, that was a huge mistake. Second, rather than seek technologies and innovations like the Green Revolution that helped nations like India make enormous gains in agricultural productivity in the 1960s and 1970s, the North tried to substitute longer work hours and revolutionary zeal. Given the broken infrastructure, this was like squeezing blood from a stone. Third, rather than trade with the outside world, the North went deeply into debt in the 1970s, borrowing and then defaulting on hundreds of millions of dollars in loans from European countries, which forever lost them lines of credit with any country or international financial institution. Fourth, in the 1980s and 1990s, the North undertook extremely wasteful mega-projects, building stadiums, hydropower projects, and tideland reclamation projects -- most of which failed or were never completed. Finally, after the Chinese and Soviets stopping giving aid to the North at the end of the Cold War, Pyongyang relied on humanitarian assistance as a form of income, instead of trying to fix their economy.

One could not have imagined a worse economic plan. This country has allowed an ideology that prizes autarky to dictate economic decisions rather than taking advantage of the benefits of trade, technology, or innovation -- which is why North Korea is one of the only countries in the world to have suffered a famine after industrialization.

- David Kang & Victor Cha, 'Think Again: North Korea', Foreign Policy, 25 March 2013

16 April 2014

Earl's Court, 1968

Juan insisted, after our first meeting, that whenever I came to London I stay at his pied-a-terre in Earl's Court. He was almost never there because he spent most of his time in Newmarket, transferring real equines to canvas. I'd be doing him a favour if I aired out his apartment from time to time [...]

I liked Earl's Court very much and fell in love with its fauna. The district breathed youth, music, lives lived without caution or calculation, great doses of ingenuousness, the desire to live for the day, removed from conventional morality and values, a search for pleasure that rejected the old bourgeois myths of happiness - money, power, family, position, social success - and found it in simple, passive forms of existence: music, artificial paradises, promiscuity, and an absolute lack of interest in other problems that were shaking society. With their tranquil, peaceful hedonism, the hippies harmed no one, and they didn't proselytize, didn't want to convince or recruit people they had broken with in order to live their alternative lives: they wanted to be left in peace, absorbed in their frugal egotism and their psychedelic dream [...]

Many hippies, perhaps the majority, came from the middle or upper classes, and their rebellion was familial, directed against the well-regulated lives of their parents and what they considered the hypocrisy of puritanical customs and social facades behind which they hid their egotism, insular spirit, and lack of imagination. Their pacifism, naturism, vegetarianism, their eager search for a spiritual life that would give transcendence to their rejection of a materialist world corroded by class, social, and sexual prejudices, a world they wanted nothing to do with - this was sympathetic. But all of it was anarchic, thoughtless, without a centre or direction, even without ideas, because the hippies - at least the ones I knew and observed up close - though they claimed to identify with the poetry of the beatniks (Allen Ginsberg gave a reading of his poems in Trafalgar Square in which he sang and performed Indian dances, and thousands of young people attended), in fact read very little or nothing at all. Their philosophy wasn't based on thought and reason but on sentiment, on feeling.

- Mario Vargas Llosa, The Bad Girl, 2006.

See also:
London: Mr CD in Soho, 17 October 2013
London: George Fordyce & Dolly's Chop House, 22 February 2013
LondonSpringtime in Wimbledon, 24 March 2011

15 April 2014

Rimutaka sunrise

No 'blood moon' pictures tonight, but as an alternative, here's this morning's sunrise over the Rimutaka Ranges, taken from Thorndon at 6.56am (click to enlarge).

13 April 2014

Breaking the glass ceiling

Susan Calman: What do you think, Holly?  Should there be more women in the Cabinet?

Holly Walsh: No. I think it's a blessed relief that just white men look after this country. Because I don't know about you, but I've got so much crocheting to get on with.

Susan: I'm just glad someone's got the courage to finally come out and say it, Holly. It's what all women have been thinking but none of us have been brave enough to say what you've just said.

Holly: In fact, none of us had the balls to say it.

Susan: ...that we're actually happy that there aren't as many women in government. Actually, I think there should be a ban on women in government.

Holly: You know what? When people talk about the glass ceiling, I don't want to break that. Because Muggins here is going to be the one to clean it up.

- The News Quiz, BBC Radio 4, 11 April 2014

See also:
Comedy: Susan Calman, 2 March 2013
Comedy: Holly Walsh, 8 December 2012

10 April 2014

TV flashback 1971

In an ever-expanding quest to tell the story of New Zealand TV-watching over the years, our next instalment of viewing summaries takes us to the night of Thursday, 15 April 1971. This takes us closer than ever to the birth of television in New Zealand - which, younger types should be reminded, only started in 1960. In 1971 New Zealand only had a single state-owned TV channel; TV2 did not emerge until 1975.

Moreover, the one channel being broadcast in 1971 was not a national network. For almost all of the first decade of TV broadcasting in New Zealand programming was delivered locally through four separate regional broadcasters (one in each of the four main centres) until the nationally networked New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation (NZBC) was formed in 1969. Until then programming would often differ between regions, and when a programme was scheduled across all four regions it would generally be playing a different episode of the series in each region on the same night. Presumably New Zealand bought the rights to an overseas series once, and then each region would screen it in turns - the tape would be sent from Auckland to Wellington for the next week's broadcast, then on to Christchurch for the following week, and so on.

Part of the challenge of this piecemeal approach to broadcasting was that it was hard to respond to events of immediate national importance, like the 1971 guilty verdict for Arthur Allan Thomas, who was found guilty for the first time for the Crewe murders. (He would not be acquitted until 1979). One key example of considerable historical importance is the sinking of the Wahine on this day 46 years ago in 1968. Wikipedia reports that while the two North Island stations carried up-to-date footage of the transport disaster, the two South Island stations had to rely on distinctly unorthodox news-gathering methods:
The most notable example of the unlinked facilities was when the inter-island ferry TEV Wahine sank in Wellington Harbour on 10 April 1968 - newscasts of the disaster had to be transmitted over Post Office lines by WNTV1 to AKTV2 in Auckland. However, due to the storm disrupting both shipping and flights for a further 24 hours, the first video of the sinking crossed Cook Strait via regular transmissions from WNTV1 and was received on a privately owned television set in Blenheim, at the top of the South Island some 80 km line-of-sight distance from Wellington. A Blenheim based news reporter's film camera was pointed at the television, then the exposed film was rushed by road to Christchurch, developed and transmitted over CHTV3, concurrently sent further south to DNTV2 for transmission there via a coax cable link. Interestingly, this Blenheim film appears to be the only surviving footage of the first day, and it shows part of the television set that the camera was pointed at.
The edition of the Listener containing this week's TV listings (price: 12 cents) has a cover story on the financial woes affecting the farming sector, 'How are they doing down on the farm?' The editorial page contains an essay by Alexander MacLeod on overcrowding and poor conditions at the even-then antiquated Mt Eden Prison in Auckland, which argues that 'There are people in Mt Eden, and we debase our lives as well as theirs in keeping them in conditions that should not be tolerated by a society pleased to describe itself as prosperous and enlightened'.

The Listener's TV listings commence with a handy four by seven grid, showing the three key programmes on in primetime in each broadcasting region, for each night of the week. For Thursday 15 April the three main programmes are It Takes A Thief, Gallery and Never Mind The Quality, Feel The Width. The schedules are also odd-looking to modern eyes because New Zealand TV had yet to work out a compromise between the length of New Zealand and British programmes and the shorter, advertising-packed American shows. Instead, primetime shows commenced at such hard-to-remember times as 8.16pm, 9.14pm and 10.36pm. But then I suppose part of the importance of consistent start and finish times for programmes is if you're hoping to switch between channels to maximise your viewing options; having only one channel means you're either watching the one channel, or you're not.

Let's examine the Thursday listings for Northern Television, Auckland's station, to get an idea of what was on offer in 1971. Broadcasts commenced at 2pm, and closedown was around midnight.


2.00pm Headline News
2.30pm On Camera
2.46pm Cheyenne (Western, 1955-63, 108 episodes, s05e03 'Road to Three Graves' from 1960)
3.33pm Bewitched (Comedy, 1964-72, 254 episodes, s05e18 'Samantha the Bard' from Jan 1969)
3.58pm Cesar's World ('Travel: The jungle stronghold of New Guinea's newly discovered Stone Age warriors', hosted by Cesar Romero)
4.26pm The Wooden Tops (BBC puppet show, 1955-57, 48 episodes)
4.40pm Peter (Cartoon: 'Peter & the Robot Dog')
4.45pm The Space Varmint (Cartoon, perhaps from The Deputy Dawg Show?)
4.50pm The Roadrunner Show (Cartoon: Featuring the Roadrunner, Tweety, and Moustaken Identity')
5.11pm Zorro (Adventure, 1957-59, 82 episodes, s01e36 'The Sergeant Regrets' from 1958)
5.39pm Headline News & Weather
5.42pm This Week in Britain
5.47pm The Johnny Cash Show (Variety, 1969-71, 58 episodes, s01e15 'With guests Phil Harris, Bobbi Martin, Roy Orbison, the Creedence Clearwater Revival' - clip from this 1969 episode of Martin singing 'Your Cheatin' Heart')
6.40pm Gardening ('With Reg Chibnall')
7.00pm Network News
7.20pm Weather (and) This Day
7.46pm Coronation Street
8.16pm It Takes A Thief (Adventure, 1968-70, 65 episodes, s03e21 'The Suzie Simone Caper' from Mar 1970, featuring Robert Wagner & Susan Saint James. Plot: 'A Nazi diary reveals that a painting by Matisse has a hidden list of Nazi war criminals. Wally calls Al to steal the painting, which is protected by a sophisticated security system')
9.12pm Newsbrief
9.14pm Gallery (Current Affairs)
9.42pm Ironside (Detective, 1967-75, 199 episodes, s01e27 'The Due Process of the Law' from Mar 1968, with Raymond Burr, plus David Carradine as Pogo Weems)
10.36pm Never Mind The Quality - Feel The Width (ITV comedy, 1967-71, 41 episodes, s02e05 'Hello Mother, Hello Father' from Sept 1968 - 'Jewish Manny Cohen and Catholic Patrick Kelly run a small tailoring establishment in London's East End, and are always arguing about religion')
11.50pm Late News & Weather

The relative importance of television and radio in 1971 is notable in the space afforded to radio programme guides in the Listener, with two full pages devoted to each day's audio broadcasts, and separate listings for the National Programme, the YC Programme (classical music) and the commercial networks like Wellington's 2ZB (on 980kHz).

Contemporary music gets a look-in in a small singles chart feature, the 'Pop-o-meter', with the complicated reminder to 'Listen to Peter Sinclair's "Hit Wave!" on Thursday, April 15, at 7.2pm, on 1ZB, 2ZB, 3ZB, 4ZB, 1ZH, 1ZN, 1ZC, 1ZD, 2ZC, 2ZA, 2ZG, 2ZP, 2ZW, 3ZC and 4ZA. Saturday, April 16 [sic.] at 7.2pm, on 2ZN and 2ZD'. Here for posterity are the top 20 singles in New Zealand broadcast on 1 April 1971 - with only one (number 16) by a New Zealand artist. My favourite is definitely number 20 - with George running a close second!

  1. Lynn Anderson - Rose Garden
  2. Mixtures - Pushbike Song
  3. Hollies - Too Young To Be Married
  4. Creedence Clearwater Revival - Have You Seen The Rain
  5. Clive Dunn - Grandad
  6. Kinks - Apeman
  7. Mike Curb Congregation - Burning Bridges
  8. Nitty Gritty Dirt Band - Mr Bojangles
  9. Judy Collins - Amazing Grace
  10. Tom Jones - She's A Lady
  11. Freda Payne - Band of Gold
  12. George Harrison - What is Life
  13. Ray Stevens - Bridget the Midget
  14. Dawn - Knock Three Times
  15. Dusk - Angel Baby
  16. Hogsnort Rupert - Aunty Alice
  17. Osmonds - One Bad Apple
  18. Carpenters - For All We Know
  19. Johnny Johnson & the Bandwagon - Blame It on the Pony Express
  20. Mike Nesmith & the First National Band - Silver Moon 

Finally, there's not many garish photo-laden articles in this Listener, which was a text-heavy production back in 1971. But there is a stunning fashion offering near the back for 'Nightwear with flair' - three spiffing Bri-Nylon nightgowns. Settle, gentlemen!

See also:
TV: Flashback 1976, 1981, 1986, 1991
History: 1971 in New Zealand
Music: Neil Young 1971 (BBC 28 min live set)

08 April 2014

'A owl?'

From series one of the C4/E4 sitcom PhoneShop - which is, unsurprisingly, set in a phone shop - here's an object lesson in the contemporary south London urban argot from two fine practitioners of the art: phone salesmen Ashley (Andrew Brooke) and Jerwayne (Javone Prince). Ashley: 'You can put up with all manner of madnesses if you gettin' your tings, innit?'

(n.b.: NSFW-L)

See also:
Comedy: Alan Partridge - League tables for lollipop ladies, 27 March 2014
Comedy: Republic of Telly - Every Irish wedding ever, 26 March 2014
Comedy: How not to make a BBC sitcom, 1 July 2013

06 April 2014

Tarakena Bay

It was a scorcher here in Wellington yesterday - or at least, at 20-odd degrees with no wind it felt warm enough that the capital's residents all uniformly decided that it was mandatory to get out and enjoy the environs. They know full well that such days are rare enough as it is, but when they come in April they are freighted with the additional knowledge that they might be the last opportunity for t-shirts to be worn in public for six long months of the wind-lashed colder seasons.

After messing around in the morning, venturing into town to the library and wandering back along the waterfront in the unfamiliar glare, I headed to the south coast, which is perhaps my favourite part of the city. The drive down Ohiro Road from the nestled hilltop village of Brooklyn to the sleepy seaside community of Happy Valley is a good starter, and then I generally pick a bay to explore.

Yesterday's choice was at the far end past the airport and Moa Point - the lovely isolated crescent of Tarakena Bay. South-facing and fringed by jagged rocks, the bay is overlooked by the wind-swept hill occupied by the Ataturk Memorial. The park of the same name was dedicated in 1985 and the monument itself - an unfortunately uninspiring swoop of municipal tiling-work adorned with a bust of Turkey's legendary first president - was opened in 1990. On visiting Gallipoli in 2002 it was explained that as a gesture of reconciliation between Turkey, Australia and New Zealand, Turkish territory in the former war zone was in effect considered Anzac soil, in return for dedicating memorials to Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in Wellington and Canberra. (It was a while ago, so I may be a little shaky on the details). In any case, a small portion of Gallipoli rests underneath the memorial, with a container of Turkish soil having been buried beneath the monument.

Aside from the connection with a former enemy turned friend, the Ataturk Memorial boasts superb views over Cook Strait and the heads, particularly on a pretty day like yesterday.  After climbing the hill to the memorial I ambled through the grass to Palmer Head, the headland immediately south on the eastern side of the bay. There a few people fished with lines and hand-reels and a lone bibliophile sat on a portable camp chair, reading while facing out to the trackless seas, now and then glancing up at the view dead south to Antarctica.

Tarakena Bay from the Ataturk Memorial

Ataturk Memorial (1990)

Tarakena Bay fishing expedition

View west from Palmer Head

View north from Palmer Head - Ataturk Memorial on headland to right
See also:
BlogSeatoun to Breaker Bay, 11 January 2014
BlogFur seals at Red Rocks, 25 May 2013
Blog: Highbury to south coast walk, 17 February 2013

'Masterton actually doesn’t feel like Detroit or Juarez'

Masterton actually doesn’t feel like Detroit or Juarez. By that I mean you don’t feel you’re taking your life in your hands walking down the street.

In more than 10 years here, we have been the victims of only one crime. Someone – I suspect kids – took advantage of an insecure shed to reach inside and steal a fishing rod. I hope they have better luck with it than I had.

- Karl du Fresne, Dominion Post, 4 April 2014

05 April 2014

'The dangerous fruits of a discontented mind'

On Saint Valentine's Day in 1585, Sunday, 14 February, Doctor [William] Parry wrote to Queen Elizabeth from the Tower of London: 'Your Majesty may see by my voluntary confession the dangerous fruits of a discontented mind, and how constantly I pursued my first conceived purpose in Venice for the relief of the afflicted Catholics [in England], continued it in Lyons and resolved in Paris to put it in adventure for the restitution of England to the ancient obedience of the see Apostolic'. To the Earl of Leicester and to Lord Burghley, once his employer, he emphasised just how special he was: 'My case is rare and strange, and, for anything I can remember, singular: a natural subject solemnly to vow the death of his natural Queen ... for the relief of the afflicted Catholics, and restitution of religion'.

A week later he was tried for treason in Westminster Hall. The clerk of the crown set out the facts and stated that Parry had been seduced from his true allegiance by the Devil. Yet Parry did his best to control even his own trial; he refuted as well as confessed, saying that he wanted to die; he was determined to explain his thinking, volunteering to read to the court his own confessions and letters. Words he had written to Burghley and Leicester became part of the public record: 'My cause is rare, singular and unnatural'.

For William Parry the desire to play a great part both in secret and in public was a powerful and compelling one. His treason was, of course, sensational news. Even the trial of John Somerville in 1583, after which Somerville hanged himself in Newgate prison, had nothing like the performance of a star like Parry: with Parry being as self-possessed and fluent as ever, the crown's lawyers had found it difficult to keep him quiet [...]

The official account, produced by the queen's printer, was particularly savage. Carefully edited copies of documents were used to prove Parry's vile treasons. The pamphlet demolished his character (especially his 'proud and arrogant humour') and the insulting pretensions of good family and gentility of such a 'vile and traitorous wretch'. Burghley hated a traitor, more so one who was also a social upstart [...]

Parry was executed in Westminster Palace yard on 2 March, the only serving member of the English House of Commons ever to have been arrested for high treason. On the scaffold he maintained his innocence, denying any plan of even having thought to have murdered the queen:

I die a true servant to Queen Elizabeth; from any evil thought that ever I had to harm her, it never came into my mind; she knoweth it and her conscience can tell her so ... I die guiltless and free in mind from ever thinking hurt to Her Majesty.
Perhaps he really believed that the lie was in fact the truth. If so, then William Parry had yet another reason to feel that his service to Elizabeth and Burghley, for so long unrewarded, had once again abused. He died a traitor's death, hanged till he was almost dead, disembowelled, beheaded and dismembered, his head and limbs put on display throughout London to warn others of the cost of treason.

- Stephen Alford, The Watchers: A Secret History of the Reign of Elizabeth I, London, 2012, p191-2.

See also:
History: Jane Austen's history of the monarchy, 6 March 2014
History: A new duke for an old title, 30 April 2011
BlogA royal garden party, 9 July 2008

04 April 2014

I am a weapon of massive consumption

Lily Allen has a knack for composing clever pop tunes, and The Fear from her second album, 2009's It's Not Me, It's You is one of her cleverest. The album version is a pleasing mix of glimmering electropop meeting youthful world-weariness at the shallowness of celebrity culture, but I also appreciate this acoustic, slightly Bowdlerised version performed on Q TV in Canada, featuring just a piano and acoustic guitar for accompaniment. What it lacks in Allen swearing  it makes up in simple unadorned directness.

I am a weapon of massive consumption
And it's not my fault, it's how I'm programmed to function.

See also:
Music: Split Enz - I Walk Away (1984)
Music: Eg - Stay Home (1995)
Music: Kenickie - Run Me Over (1998)

03 April 2014

'Psychics' 'helped' search

'Psychics' 'helped' search

A pair of Stratford 'psychics' have attracted national media attention after it was revealed they were consulted in the search for a missing man. Donna and Alex Fairclough of Crystal Clear Healings in Stratford were approached by the family of Stephen Murphy after he went missing in September.

The 36-year-old man was found drowned in the Patea River.

Coroner Tim Scott's report about Murphy's death mentioned that the 'psychics' told Murphy's family to search in the park area and said their involvement provided an 'interesting' twist to an otherwise sad event. Since then the Faircloughs have been fielding calls from media and were interviewed for TV3's Paul Henry show.

Donna said she had used a pendulum on a map and 'connected' with Murphy to 'discover' where he was.

"We tuned into him like we tune into anyone's 'vibrations' that we are able to. Without doing that, we wouldn't have been able to find him."

She said it was 'too difficult to explain what that meant and it was a complex process'.

Donna said it was the first time they had 'worked' to find a missing person and they hadn't so much as seen a photo of him.

"I still don't know what he looked like."

She was pleased to have been able to 'help' with the search.

The pair offer a wide range of alternative 'therapies' which include herbal 'remedies', spiritual 'healing', colour and crystal 'therapy' and 'psychic' 'work'.

- Taranaki Daily News, 3 April 2014 

(with added 'bold' highlighting unsubstantiated assertions)