Sunday, December 19, 2010


9.20 p.m. at the end of one of the best birthdays ever. My crib is full of flowers, courtesy of neighbours, son Peter and niece Mary from Plymouth Mass. My in box is full of messages from friends from all over and my phone is busiest it has been since last birthday. This afternoon, in company with friends Glennys and Ethelwynne, I went to see the Metrpolitan Opera production of Don Pasquale; The music is still ringing in my brain. Then we had roast beef at the Star and Garter, my favourite restaurant in Oamaru. I tried to upload a couple of photos to share but my machine kept making excuses, drat it. I think the pictures have gone to Facebook.

The Opera season, showing once a month at Movie World, is incredible. Das Reingold, the first of Wagner's Ring Cycle, is German, Boris Gudenov, by Moussorgski, is Russian and today, Donizetti's Don Pasquale, Italian, so we are seeing a range of pera styles and hearing music in different languages. Also we are seeing behind the scenes to the incredible and vast complex which makes staging these operas possible. In Don Pasquale we saw entire stage settings mounted on tracks moved silently off stage, to be just as silently replaced by the next scene, from Don Pasquale's dilapidated Roman villa to Norrina's rooftop terrace to Don Pasquale's garden. The singing and acting was brilliant of course but the stand out performance was Anna Netrebko, a stunningly beautiful lyric soprano who literally danced about the stage, while singing, she even turned a couple of somersaults! Another highlight was the Duet between Don Pasquale and Dr. Malatesta , what musical comedy would call a patter song, but delivered at full operatic throttle with machine gun speed but perfect ennunciation.

Sunday, December 5, 2010


A news item on Yahoo this morning shows a photograph of a nude rugby player mid interception. Not a Whetton or a Brookes or a Bunce, or whoever the pin up All Blacks are these days. A Women's Rugby Club decided to raise money by publishing a calendar a la 'Calendar Girls'.Not completely unclothed, she wore boots and socks and looked rather nice. I have several adolescent grand sons who would appreciate a calendar like that for Christmas.
But where is this going to stop? Imagine the shelves in Paper Plus or Whitcoulls some December in the future - all the groups who huddle at tables outside supermarkets on freezing cold days selling raffle tickets could each have their own nude calander: Cancer Society with daffodils in strategic places, St Johns Ambulance,Stroke Foundation;Gray Power; Citizens'Advice? Fire fighters and Women's Institute have been done. The mind boggles.

Thursday, December 2, 2010


Ruth Arnison is a Dunedin poet who recently won both first and second prize in the Timaru Rose Society's annual poetry competition. But as well as writing great poetry Ruth prodces POEMS IN THE WAITING ROOM a pamphlet of poems distributed free to doctors' waiting rooms and rest homes. They are a mix of old fashioned traditional main stream and new poems by New Zealand poets. Ruth selects the poems, clears copyright, sweet talks sponsors and arranges printing and distribution four times a year, a big task and all voluntary.

Jan Vernon is a Temuka poet who won first prize in the Rose festival contest three years ago. She is often published in The Listener and other magazines. Recently she completed a magnificent long dramatic work of Poetry, 'Pele's Children'. Jan regularly visits a local rest home in Temuka and reads poetry to the residents, many of whom are younger than she is.

These are just two of the people who quietly give their talents and time to making life better for people around them. As well as these two there are the secretaries of groups,social, religious,sporting dramatic, musical who work incredibly long hours without pay. I wonder, if some 21st century Guy Fawkes succeeded in exterminating Parliament would we notice? If our unpaid volunteers disappeared how long would our communities be able to carry on?