Saturday, May 25, 2013




                Perhaps it was my argument with the train, maybe it was that old shrew Anno Domini creeping up, but suddenly, for no discernible reason I collided with a massive writers block; arthritic fingers, sore joints a mind  full of mush. My beautifully ordered little routines just refused to come out and play, the hour of creative writing first thing in the morning ran under my bed and hid, The editing  scheduled for afternoons cowered in a corner, caterpillars gobbling my winter broccoli reared up and sniggered, my new waterblaster kicked up more grime than it banished. I could not even solve the cryptic crossword.

 So I surrendered to temptation, like an alcoholic falling off the wagon, or a chocoholic at the sweet counter. I read voraciously, anything I could get m y hands on ; loaded my kindle with 99 cent mysteries and romances; haunted the library; skimmed through the Warehouse snatching bargain price books.

Ice Princess by Camilla Blackberg was on the $10 table. Scandinavian whodunits are dark and gritty, many layered but they also show subtle flashes of comic brilliance.

The main character in The Ice Princess is a female detective nearing middle age, the main theme is child abuse and its effects. A minor theme is a developing attraction between the detective and a colleague. She invites him to dinner, spends the afternoon preparing, cleaning her flat cooking the meal .  Everything goes well until they are about to hop into her bed when an appalling thought hits her.


Here she is with a sexy male and she is clad in her everyday, white cotton sloggies.

I discovered sloggies two years ago in Dublin. They are the most comfortable knickers I have ever worn. When I came home I searched the internet for a source in New Zealand without luck until  I asked at the rather expensive lingerie shop here in Oamaru. They have racks full of them.

I have long passed the age where I am likely to leap into bed with anything more exciting than a good book so I shall continue to wear my sloggies, black, white or flesh coloured, on all occasions. We are quite an exclusive little coterie, Oamaru sloggie wearers; the petrol pump lady; the florist’s mother in law and others, almost like Masons used to be, signalling our membership with a subtle smile of recognition, or the smirk that we wore with our Witches Britches in the seventies, remember?.

And the Ice Princess is a thumping good read.  

Tuesday, May 7, 2013


When I retired in 1990 Schools had just about got things right. There was a big move towards Developmental Education, classes were getting smaller, Teachers were being encouraged to keep up to date in their professional training.

 I have been out of the classroom for a long time and my only experience of today's schools has been with a wonderful little country school over at Glenavy and reports from my Grandchildren's parents who have some very valid concerns..

According to this morning's radio a lot of money is about to be spent training parents to 'modify children's classroom behaviour.' Evidently parents in economically deprived areas need help in teaching their children how to behave. If our Government is going to spend money training parents to 'improve children's classroom behaviour.' Is it going to consider:

Bringing back Plunket nurses who can help mothers learn about the feeding and care of young children so that by the time they go to school they are intelligent and physically healthy?

Cutting class sizes so teachers can construct a learning environment geared to the needs of their pupils. Fifteen maximum?

Run courses in child development and educational theory so that parents know what to expect? Mothers especially need to get off the competitive bandwagon and not push their children to perform too far above their age just to bolster their own ego.

But maybe the classrooms need to change rather than the children in them..

There are some classrooms where children's behaviour is an indicator of something amiss. Is the government going to spend money training parents to teach children to 'behave' when they should be looking at fixing the system?

How important is School in the communities where parents are deemed to be in need of training? Somewhere the kids go to while Mum and Dad try to earn a decent wage?

What is the underlying structure of our Education system? There are underlying and unchanging principles about learning that seem to have turned into whipping boys for politicians.

What are the purposes of what is in the School Curriculum? Do we want a population which accepts shoddy conditions without protest? Should we be training school children to obey authority without question? to believe that the rich and powerful are somehow better than we are?

I believe Education is too important to be mucked about with by Politicians. .