Thursday, 29 January 2015

What's Up Eleanor?

I'm sure I heard Eleanor Catton talking about how badly she deals with criticism one morning on someone or other's radio chat show.  Did anyone else hear it?   Did I perhaps dream it?  
I'm just wondering why someone who frets for days over critical comments would say the things she has recently been reported as saying in far away India or wherever it was.   Did she maybe think she was so far away it would never filter back?      Is she trying to deal with her sensitivities by exposing herself to the inevitable and mighty backlash? - like taking a spider into your bed when they actually make your blood run cold.    Is she maybe a closet masochist?

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Chin Up John Banks

It appears that the Solicitor General in his infinite wisdom has decreed that John Banks will indeed face a re-trial.   Never mind that witness-in-chief Dotcom's credibility has been more than shot to pieces.  Never mind that  Banks has already been taken to the cleaners, and had his integrity damaged along with it.  Never mind that he will now have to spend even more money with little possibility of getting even court costs.   Never mind that the taxpayer will have to foot the bill. 
It seems unnecessarily vindictive to me. 

Saturday, 24 January 2015

City Cell Phone Users

I am well and truly fed up with city cell phone users!  You know the ones I mean – they pace the pavements with more than positive determination, striding into anyone unlucky enough to be in their path.   Elderly arthritis sufferers, mothers with newborns in their arms, those burdened with parcels – all must scatter, leap aside, disperse promptly,  because the city cell phone user has a total disregard for the comfort and general well-being of others.  They have eyes only for the small screen in front of them.   After all, consider what might happen if they had to wait ten minutes to view the email from the dog sitter or become acquainted with the selfie the best friend has posted on Facebook.
Because I am at heart a polite person (yes, it’s true) I used to courteously move aside for them, but no longer!    Now, the moment I see them coming I wait until they are within spitting distance and then if they don’t deviate from their path, I simply stand still, legs apart to take the impact should it actually come.    Surprisingly, more than often than not it doesn’t.  They swerve right or left at the very last moment which proves a point.  Of course they can see you!  They simply choose not to move aside.   Why? – because they consider themselves and their cell phone messages/updates substantially more significant than those around them.
Join the ranks of the Standing Still – it works!

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Forgotten Baby Syndrome

Many, many years ago my friend Stella and I, unmarried but each with a baby,  were invited at very short notice to a party, given by two highly eligible bachelors.  We were always hoping to meet the men of our dreams and we decided we desperately wanted to attend.   .
`We’ll have to bring the babies,’ Stella told the stockbroker, `They can just sleep in the spare room – you do have a spare room don’t you?’
He consulted with his flatmate the lawyer.   They decided they did have a spare room so we got all dolled up in our mini skirts and off we went.
It was a great party, we met lots of interesting new people, and when we piled into a taxi at four in the morning we were congratulating ourselves on expanding our social circle.
At seven am the panic stricken host of the previous evening rang to tell us that the babies were now awake and demanding breakfast.  He was not amused!  He was on his way to work in the City at any moment and would we please come and collect them.  
Of course he did not ask us to his next party.  He lost our phone number.    Needless to say we have never told the children about the night we forgot to take them home with us.

Monday, 19 January 2015

I'm With Maria

In 1998, Maria del Carmen Garcia’s thirteen year old daughter was raped by Antonio Soriano on her way back from the shops with a loaf of bread.   It was just after midday.   He went to prison of course but seven years later, in 2005, was released on a three day pass.  On his way home he decided to stop off in a bar for some coffee.  Whilst he was drinking his coffee Maria del Carmen Garcia walked in and Antonio, no doubt showing off,  made a very poor decision indeed.    He asked how her daughter was!   This resulted in her becoming very angry and basically turning him into a screaming torch.
The bar owner's account of events is slightly different.  He said :  `Soriano was standing at the bar very close to me when the woman walked in. She didn’t acknowledge anyone but walked up to Soriano, who was drinking a coffee, put her hand on his shoulder and turned him round to face her. Then she pulled the bottle she was carrying from under her arm and began to tip it over him. At first I didn’t realise what was happening, but then I smelt the petrol. I jumped up and tried to grab her, but when she struck a match I got clear.’
Maria was arrested shortly afterwards.  As for Soriano, well he suffered burns to 60% of his body and died in hospital ten days later. Maria was eventually sentenced to nine-and-a-half years in prison for killing him, but had that sentence reduced to five-and-a-half years because of a mental disorder she claimed was a direct result of her daughter being raped.  I don’t know about you but I’m definitely with Maria!

Friday, 16 January 2015

The Year's First BBQ

All fingers were crossed for the first barbeque of 2015 - toes too if I'm to be completely honest.   I was quite sure Sinead, who knows an awful lot, would know how to check if there was sufficient gas in the cylinder.
`Haven't a clue,' she said and went to Google the problem before re-appearing with a jug of hot water which she carefully poured down the side of the mysterious receptacle.   As she did so she said with some authority that the gas level would be obvious because the empty portion would not retain the heat as well as the remainder of the vessel - or vice versa;  she had forgotten which.    But after several attempts it was not obvious to either of us.
The husband stood nervously at a short distance, making encouraging noises.   An hour or two later when she had gone off to collect Patrick from somewhere on the perimeter of the city,  I firmly began to marinate spare ribs.  At this stage the husband maintained I had just told him the cylinder was at least one third full which of course I had not said at all.   Sensing disapproval he then wisely disappeared to sort out some urgent paperwork upstairs muttering that I  could be a bad tempered bitch at times.   
I added chicken pieces and sausages to the marinade and sent up a few short prayers to God on whom I regularly call at such times.   I fancy that because I spent a number of growing up years attending Mass at Our Lady Of The Immaculate Conception Church in Northfleet, Kent on a regular basis He does listen reasonably attentively.   And I always apologise for the somewhat less devout intervening years.  And so it was on this occasion - He listened!   There was indeed enough gas in the bottle, the sun remained shining, we were not deluged with insects and the spare ribs were quite delicious.
Fresh from the centre of London, Sinead thought we should have another BBQ before she departs and we all agreed.   

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Eccentricity in High Ability Children

Jonah's mother said she would take heart and hope that her wildly unpredictable thirteen year old might in fact some day achieve one of the many goals he set himself - that is of course if he could first learn to control his temper and try to get on with others.   She sounded doubtful as she said it but I assured her that her son's eccentricities were minor compared with many of his highly able compatriots from the pages of history.
Beethoven was said always to have been headstrong and obstinate, rude and ill mannered. Cezanne (like Jonah) was prone to furious outbursts of temper. Van Gogh was shy and had a most unsociable manner. Toulouse-Lautrec was hyperactive and disobedient. Bunyan was easily frightened and suffered from nightmares. Goethe had wild temper tantrums on a regular basis for his entire life. Wordsworth was stubborn and difficult to discipline – and remained so. Lord Byron was unpopular and eccentric. Keats was always in fights with other boys, Alexander Dumas cried very easily and very frequently, Hans Christian Andersen lived almost entirely within the world of his own imagination. Nietzsche was a quiet, introspective child who enjoyed singing hymns and reading the Bible. Other children laughed at him. He did not like to play games, preferring to sit and think. Oscar Wilde hated games and exercise of any kind all his life and was clumsy and awkward. Conan Doyle was a very aggressive child, given to fighting and argument. Yeats was easily frightened and cried a lot. He was the perfect target for bullies.
Edison was always in trouble and particularly fond of arson. Saint Francis was a wild reckless boy.  Mary Baker Eddy was given to hysteria and often became unconscious which was terrifying for her parents. Bismarck liked to dominate his school friends and was bad tempered when thwarted. Lord Montgomery was also dominating as a child and was said to always have shown leadership qualities and strength of character. Florence Nightingale is said to have been rather odd with passionate ideas about right and wrong.   Her parents worried about her and wanted her to be like other girls.    She could have been a lot worse couldn’t she?

Saturday, 10 January 2015

So Tired Of Parenting

Years ago I remember reading an article which featured the difficult early months of the first English test tube baby, Louise Brown.    Her mother, whose name is now lost in the mists of time, was quoted as saying nervously, `When she wakes me up at two am, then three am, then again at four, I begin to wonder why I on earth I ever wanted her in the first place - and then of course the guilt kicks in because I wanted her so very much.....yet there are times when I can understand those who beat up their babies.....`
Undoubtedly there were sharp intakes of breath  and disapproving tut tuts from all those who had never been woken by a newborn half a dozen times nightly week after week.   I know that's true because I was one of them.   My firstborn had only woken the night shift with his demands for attention because as a small premature infant he'd been in hospital for the first few months.   
More recently one of my neighbours when relating a tale about her now middle aged children, currently engaged in battle over `what is best for Mum' said rather helplessly that they had been so lovely when they were little and yet now she wonders why she was ever foolish enough to think positively about them at any stage.   `I'm so very tired of being a mother,' she admitted in a low voice.
I was caused to reflect that a few short years ago I would have been quite unable to understand the fractured emotions behind that particular confidence.   
No longer, however because over the past year the husband and I have at last joined the ranks of those who have been forced to see those oh so sweet offspring in a slightly different, and definitely more jaded light than we could ever have imagined.  There are certainly times when we find ourselves viewing the attitudes of one of our progeny as bordering upon shameful when we would so much rather feel pride.   We are quite decidedly `over' parenting.   I guess many of us are!

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

A Russian Celebration in Meadowbank

Yesterday, we were privileged to be invited to celebrate Christmas Russian style with Olga and John Hawkes – no not in St. Petersburg just in case you are wondering if we have made a lightning trip there and back,  but in deepest Meadowbank.   Despite, or perhaps because of  its Auckland venue it turned out to be a decidedly different mode of observance.    Olga and her friends had, for example, spent most of the morning in Church as is the custom and lunch was eaten after 2pm.  What a glorious table of festivity greeted us as we entered the dining room, with an astonishing range of meats and salads.    Decidedly different from the usual New Zealand Christmas fare which in most cases mirrors that of the Northern Hemisphere.   I can even remember in years past, actually ordering a goose to roast for what turned out to be a blisteringly hot December 25th.   And there is always plum pudding – often with rum butter.
But yesterday the dessert course presented us with extraordinarily delicious hazelnut merinques and an assortment of fresh fruits.   The husband told me later they were a great improvement on the above and Philippa's Barry agreed whole heartedly.
We were still sitting at the table and chatting after five pm.  As part of the division of non Russian guests Philippa and I agreed that there are much worse ways of spending a Wednesday afternoon in early January.