Saturday, December 31, 2011


2012 I resolve to make no New Year resolutions.

But I want to acknowledge a few things like
who had to leave school at twelve, but never stopped learning.

which abolished the Proficiency exam so all children could go to High School.

who taught ignorant young kiwis to love Maths.Science,Latin,Literature. and above all LEARNING.

which delivered my eight babies free of charge,even though three of them involved lengthy hospital stays.
who gave mothers guidance and assurance.
who set broken bones, removed ruptured appendixes, healed burns and twice saved a son's life by knowing how to treat emergencies. All without charge.

for all its faults it paid all mothers a benefit towards raising their children; delivered milk to letter boxes at 4 pence a pint; and supplied milk in schools for free; provided cheap (if not comfortable) rail travel throughout the country; allowed kids to stay at school longer, paid students and apprentices living allowances while training to provide world class housing, education, health care and social infrastructure and finally provided a modest retirement pension at sixty.

I have much to be grateful for and I am.
Now go away and have a great New Year, I want to practice on my Kindle Reader.

Sunday, December 25, 2011


It takes a long time..

Start in your youth, search for, find and marry a quy who is kind, reliable and generous.

Marry him and have lots of sons.

Bring them up the best way you can.

Make sure they marry lovely girls.

Let them mature for fifty years or more.

On Christmas Day visit at least one of them, Having mentioned on your blog that you wan a Kindle for Christmas.

And remember to thank them when you open the package.


Merry Christmas Everybody.


The best way to spend yet another birthday, one's 86th when one cannot drink alcohol or eat sweet foods? Solution, have a neighbour like my friend Don who took his two springer spaniels and me into the high country. Perhaps I should explain,Don fits somewhere between by eldest son Frank and my second son Richard He looks after my garden and I let him use my broadband. Being kind to the elderly is only one of his virtues.

On my birthday we drove through miles of lupins growing wild, explored small towns, finding settings for they current novel, lunched under pine trees by the lake at Tekapo and Don cast for trout in the rivers and canals we crossed during the day. It was idyllic.

Sunday, December 18, 2011


SATYAGRAHA by Philip Glass is a three act opera, sung in Sanskrit with no relevant subtitles. What subtitles we do read are translations of meditations.Its hero is Mohandas Ghandhi. Not an easy experience to understand and of the opera lovers in Oamaru, some twenty of us, only five people attended the screening yesterday afternoon. Of course they will all be attending 'The Magic Flute'next week, where they will be seen and recognised as culture vultures, but four hours of incomprehensible singing one week before Xmas No thanks. Well they missed a treat.

Richard Croft,sings Ghandi with his beautiful tenor voice. He begins as a young lawyer in South Africa and over three acts develops into the stick figure man in a loin cloth I remember seeing in newreels as I was growing up

The whole opers is highly symbolic, Shiva of the blue face, and Mohammed in a red fez sing a tenor baritone duet in the first act. I think they were arguing the merits of their holy books, but cannot be sure, I had to infer that from the acting.

A lot of use is made of newspaper. In the second act a choruus of South African men sing 'Ho,Ho.Ho'on one note for just about the entire act while boys in rags polish their shoes. Behind them giant puppets that look as though they were constructed of newspaper, stir the ridicule until the chorus atacks Ghandi physically, and he lies bleeding on the stage. Enter a mezzo soprano who berates the men and rescues Ghandi. All based on historical events.

In the third act, which begins with the burning of identity passes, a brilliant scene, Ghandhi and his followers prepare to march. One by one his friends are dragged away by police,leaving him alone as he sings a final meditation,

There are excerpts from SANTYAGRAHA on Google.

In the Metropolitan Opera's production there is a balcony at the rear of that stage, throughout this final song it shows a the back of a young, black man in a blue suit miming his presidential address. At the end it all morphs into the Lincoln memorial..

The whole opera is incredibly clever,visually beautiful,intellectually demanding, and musically satisfying.

Thursday, December 15, 2011


Driving North on Christmas Morning

Soon after sunrise I shall drive
north on the empty highway
around bends and over bridges

through silent towns
past shuttered shops
abandoned petrol pumps

parking meters will stand
at attention along deserted streets
where I shall surf green waves

perhaps I shall see
some ecstatic six year old
wobbling on a brand new bike
across a daisied lawn

but otherwise the world
will dream in sabbath serenity
and sunlit silence until

I reach that familiar gate
turn in and stop
alone for a moment

until a medley of grandchildren
sons with beaming wives
a cacophony of dogs
will gather round the car

together we will surge
like the receding tide
back into the house

the tree the tinsel the turkey
the silly gifts all wrapped
with so much love

and Christmas will begin at last.

This poem is destined for 'Eightyfive @Fortyfive' which I did not get finished in time for publication before Christmas. I read it at the Bristol Poetry Festival in August and at Poetry Kit's World Poetry Night in Liverpool in September. And Ruth Arnison kindly included it in this summer's POEMS IN THE WAITING ROOM pamphlet.

If you would like to share it at your Christmas party please feel free to do so. Last year Waitaki Hogmannay, ('Over and Out From Down Under') was shared at New Year gatherings in New Zealand, Australia, Greece, France, Britain, and several U.S. states. The readers kndly e-mailed me ( tell me how it was received. I had to buy a bigger hat.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Thus morning I did some surfing,having decided to find out more about those incredibly kind total strangers who have become regular followers of my blog. I found that if I clicked on their little icons information about them would come up, including a list of other blogs they follow.

One of these was about knitting, and posted on it was a video made by the crew of HMAS OCEAN. The story line :- They heard they were returning to Australia for Christmas, so they made a lip sync of 'All I want for Christmas is You' starring just about every crew member, so I imagine it was made for them to send to their families. The cutting and editing was really good with comic touches like the officer drinking champagne in his bath, crew members wrapped as gifts and a Xmas message spelled out by human letters at the end. It was a happy video.

So I shall sign off now because I want to look at it again, and to all those people who find a way to enjoy their lives, in spite of tough living conditions and inept governments, my very best wishes for 2012 -


Monday, December 12, 2011


C.J.Spencer is not a nice man. He got selected for the A.B.s when he was still in hid teens, married the daughter of a Rugby administrator and treated her abominably.
As his wife remarked, "Cops and rugby players are notorious wife beaters."

Now he is in a wheel chair, paralysed after a scrum collapsed, and his wife has met a really nice guy, two nice guys in fact, three if you count the Irish priest who rides a red motor bike and C.J. has to die.

How shall I dispose of him?

He could choke on a fish bone; not dramatic enough and not in keeping with the conventions of literary structure.

Some of his 'rugger bugger'mates could take him to watch a game, lose control of his wheel chair and send him plummeting off the stand.

Or the same mates could be taking on an after match pub crawl. The driver could lose control when one of them, full of beer, spews over him. The van overturns, down a cliff and/or into a rive.

Decisions decisions! I wrote the final chapter in Dublin. I just have to insert Chapter thirty one, where a nasty character who got idolised too young and couldn't hackit gets his comeuppance.

Once I kill the All Black the book will be finished.

Saturday, December 10, 2011


I once heard Lawrence Ferlinghetti, when discussing Alan Ginsberg say 'His poetics are different to mine.I have no problem with that.' It is exactly how I feel about John Locke's novels. I will not become a devoted reader, but thousands of people are, so I will not criticise his writing. But 'How I sold a million e books in 5 months' is a manual for writers who want to publish on the internet and his advice is pure gold. The first step for a would-be novellist, 'Write the best story you can.' Obvious isn't it. But that does not mean following the pattern of someone else's writing; putting Pride and Prejudice into the twenty=first century, or War and Peace into Afghanistan. So I am finishing my current novel, not with 'How to Write a Novel at my elbow, but by watching my characters without thinking 'That won't sell' whenever they do something unexpected or original. Thorny Glen is a romance between Harry Field who left school at fourteen to take over his father's dairy farm and who now owns a consortium like Fonterra, and Meryn Spencer who plays rugby, was a Black Fern in fact. And I am finding that these two have a lot of friends, enemies and associates who do interesting things which I record. John Ralston Saul, in his book 'Voltaire's Bastards' talks about the writer being 'a faithful witness'and I find myself being just that for my characters. Maybe this time I shall finish the novel, publish it and then resurrect the other four that are on disk in the bottom drawer of my desk.

Saturday, December 3, 2011


When I came home in October several copies of Writers News were waiting for me. Among them a feature on John Locke. No, not that one. This John Locke is a writer who is the first self published author to sell 1,000,000, that's right,one million e books.
And he has written a book about how he did it.

So I downloaded a free Kindle Reader and bought the book. (How I sold a million e books in five months.)

I also bought two of his novels. One is a western called 'Don't Poke the Bear' about a Dodge City sheriff and his animal loving sweetheart who manages a string of prostitutes. 'The Love You Crave' is a thriller about a CIA assassin called Donovan Creed. Locke himself says they are not great literature. I would class them as Penny Dreadfuls. But they are competently written, have some original characters, like the post rapture security guard,who offers, for a fee, to look after pets for the good people who will leave earth when the Rapture begins. But at $0.99 each the cost equates to buying the daily newspaper. As Locke himself says they reach a niche of readers who want to be entertained.

But "How I sold a million...." is worth every penny of the $2.99. His style of writing is informal, rather than declamatory as in recipe books, almost like a newsy letter from a friend. Its introduction is entertaining and encouraging to unpublished writers.

His business plan is explained in a methodical, but entertaining way.

And I have now downloaded two more e books 'How to Publish and Sell Your Article on the Kindle' by Kate Harpwe and 'How to Format your e Book' by Paul Salvette, and all five books have cost me less than $10!

The free Kindle reader is great for reading at my computer, but I am now saving up for one that I can slip into my pocket when I travel. Big expensive airport novels have become outdated. When my son Frank and his wife went on their world tour recently they took e readers, loaded with dozens of books, and it weighed less than one conventional airport novel.

Please Santa Claus, you know what I want for Christmas!