Saturday, 25 July 2015

Download a FREE copy!

You can download a FREE copy of IN DISGRACE WITH FORTUNE (A Chronicle of Harlotry) but only until 25th August - so hurry!  The coupon code is YA67N which you enter just before checkout at Smashwords - 
The book is also available via Amazon but I have yet to navigate their coupon system with any degree of confidence.
It is a very personal slice of 1960s life in London where I worked as showgirl and hostess, catered to those with a compulsion for sexual deviations whilst also writing articles for child care magazines, short stories for women's magazines and typing letters and reports for Harley Street specialists.   Life was very different in those days!

Saturday, 18 July 2015

A Case Of Mistaken Identity

Those among us who lean politically more to the Left than to the Right seem to be able to convince themselves of almost anything.   I am constantly surprised by this attitude but must admit it is a remarkably convenient one.   
Generally speaking I am at a disadvantage when in discussion with those who hold strong political views of any kind.  I am not particularly political and therefore remarkably poor at coming up with good arguments or pulling statistics from the dusty recesses of memory at the drop of a hat.   You could say that my memory for political beliefs and principles of any Party is poor and the counter arguments I dream up are feeble and rely more on instinct than facts and figures.
So it was a strange conversation I had this week when discussing the State Of Education Today with a decidedly Left Wing Friend who is also a recently retired senior high school teacher (and a very good one it has to be admitted).
It was the National Party she maintained who first developed the scourge of  Mainstreaming in our schools.    She was vague as to when this happened but adamant that bright students in particular, were much better off educationally when classes were streamed   -   and on that point I could only agree with her and did not remind her that it was not always her belief.
It was the National Party who ensured that no funding was made available for the development of Special Programmes for High Ability Students.  That didn’t sound right to me either but I could only rely on her knowledge which should have been a lot more reliable than my own.  
However, I did say, `Are you quite sure about that?’  and she said she was.
It was the National Party who had been responsible for getting rid of uniforms too.
She had heard that in England `They’  had also been responsible for getting rid of the 11 plus examination and the introduction of  Comprehensive Schools but on this matter I had inside knowledge.
`Oh no, no – no,’ I said excitedly, `You’re quite wrong there –  Comprehensives were introduced by Labour. I know, I was there!’  I was triumphant.
She simply shrugged, `You may think that but the idea itself was first mooted by the Toffs – you can be sure of it.  They have a vested interest in the ruin of education.’
As I said, the Left can convince themselves of almost anything.
Later the husband said gently that he had read somewhere that Eton was a Comprehensive School but I wasn’t really listening because I was examining the truth behind the allegation that Andrew Little was said to be blaming the Chinese for the rise in house prices.
Andrew Little?   Really?   Surely it was Winston Peters!

Tuesday, 14 July 2015


It seems that Attorney-General Chris Finlayson has finally decided that Solicitor-General Mike Heron QC has his full support.  He’s examined the facts surrounding the manner in which Crown Law dealt with its case against John Banks and has come to a conclusion that satisfies him and one can only imagine Mike Heron as well.   John Banks however, is disappointed – not happy at all.  He had hoped a proper inquiry would be conducted and now can only assume that the behavior of the Crown Lawyers has simply been rubber stamped.   He is disturbed about the matter of withheld evidence which he honestly believes led to a miscarriage of justice in the first place.  He thought some of the actions of the judiciary were outrageous and in fact believes the Solicitor-General had a lot to answer for.
On the other hand Mr. Finlayson thinks that the nature of some of the allegations against the Solicitor-General were - well, frankly `personal’ and anyhow Mike Heron has his full confidence.  He went so far as to say `he is an outstanding Solicitor-General’.
John Banks is saddened about it all.  He feels victimised and he wants a thorough investigation.
Who can blame him?   He has clearly somehow or other trodden on many toes and it would be fair to say, paranoid though it may sound, there are some in positions of power and influence who are `out to get him’.   For the moment they seem to have succeeded.   On the other hand, I say never underestimate our John.  It’s most unlikely he is going to take any of this lying down.  Anyhow I’m with JB as I imagine are many amongst us.

Friday, 10 July 2015


We decided to lunch French style - and not for the first time.   We were glad we made the decision to climb the hill past the town hall, and told each other it would be even more daunting a prospect in summer heat.  But today was an Auckland winter Saturday at its very best, hovering around eight degrees with people telling each other it had gone down to minus two overnight.   Almost unheard of in this winterless North!   
Do we believe in Global Warming?  Of course we do!  
To be honest there was not much climbing of the hill to be done because we had found a parking place in one of the side streets but the blast from Antarctica certainly caught us off guard as we scurried toward the restaurant, hoping against hope it would not be closed.   It wasn't.
Oh how welcoming the rickety little tables with their red gingham cloths, the wafting of garlic and bacon from the kitchen, the young French waitress with the winsome smile.
We both decided we would have Coq au Vin and waited impatiently, twirling the stems of our wine glasses, for it to be placed before us.   
And when it arrived, resplendent in its darkly alluring sauce there followed twenty minutes of silence at the end of which we both agreed it was quite the best Coq au Vin we had ever partaken of.  In fact the husband described it as `quite divine'.
But I refuse to tell you more - you must go there and try it for yourselves.  
LE GARDE-MANGER, 466 Queen Street, Auckland City.    

Tuesday, 7 July 2015


Well I'm told there is to be no golf today - the husband and friends Jack & Bob are going to watch The Game instead.  No surprises there then.
And to prepare for an afternoon on the couch my own resident golf player decided to warm up by first watching Brendon Fraser's film - shown on Face TV last night, about the history of Chinese immigration to this country.  I said that as long as I would not then be forced to watch The Game, I would join him.
The prelude interviews with Don Brash and David Cunliffe were most interesting.  We both felt David came out the winner because he was better at actually answering questions.  But it was the film itself that was ultimately fascinating with lots of lovely old photographs and some rather poignant songs that certainly told a tale or two.  
Well done Brendon!


Thursday, 2 July 2015


The other morning Spark sent me an email telling me what was likely to happen if I went over my monthly data allowance.  I ignored them because I thought that if I was careful it was unlikely to happen.  But naturally enough it did.   Yesterday another message arrived advising that I was now well and truly over my monthly quota and I was henceforth operating on dial up speed.  
No worries I told myself blithely, I will simply upgrade my plan because it’s time it was upgraded.  I will accomplish this on line, via the Welcoming Spark Website. I realized how droll that conclusion had been after I had spent an hour attempting to do so without success.  The Change Plan page did not work for me.
I made a cup of coffee and counseled myself because clearly I was not following instructions correctly.  But no amount of self- encouragement seemed to help.   It was time to ring Spark.   The obliging automated voices, if I listened attentively – and I did - eventually got me to a place where I was advised that someone would call me back in thirty seven minutes and I would not lose my place in line.   I agreed to this, although I was doubtful that it would work.  I made more coffee and nervously kept an eye on the clock.
In the interim I kept myself usefully occupied by re-reading the instructions on the oh so intuitive Spark Change Plan page – those I was patently incapable of grasping.   By the time the helpful Spark Staff Member rang me back, precisely on time, I had still not fully absorbed them though they did appear to be disarmingly simple.    It was more than promising to be speaking to a real flesh and blood human being although I have to admit that although this employee, whose name I could not catch, spoke perfect English, I found it difficult to understand the inflections of his speech and so he was forced to endlessly  repeat himself which he did without getting as irritated as I might have done in his position.   After a verbal struggle, during which I apologized profusely for my stupidity, he announced in triumph that he was now going to pass me on to the person who could make the appropriate changes for me.   I was immediately cheered and it was unfortunate that I was cut off at the precise moment this  next particular Spark Miracle Worker began to speak.   At this stage I very nearly cried.  It was time to make more coffee, stronger this time.
When I plucked up enough courage to face the phone ordeal once more I found that after negotiating the automated Spark voice, the waiting time for a call back was now going to be one hour and fifteen minutes.  Abandoning the day’s original plan of a healthy and  invigorating walk the length of Parnell Road and back again, I opted for the call back despite the extraordinary waiting period.    I would be able to fill in the time trying to do battle with the web site,  because eventually surely I would crack the code;  it was, after all, designed for those of average intelligence.
Needless to say over an hour later I was still no further forward and in the ten minutes before I was destined to hear from the next Spark Employee I slipped away from the laptop and downstairs for sustenance.  Not for more coffee though.  It was time for a large gin and tonic.
I was inordinately reassured to speak with Spark Staff Member Alice and  furthermore I could understand every word she said so she did not have to repeat herself once.  Alice was confident she would be able to solve the problem without undue delay.  I could have kissed her.  
`The reason you were not able to upgrade via our website,’ she told me, `Is because the plan you are on is an old one.’
`Oh I see,’ I gushed, though I didn’t really see at all because presumably I would not be endeavouring to upgrade a new plan.  Still, I knew better than to argue over such minutia.
Our conversation was so positive and encouraging that had I been standing I fear my legs would have buckled beneath me when Alice suddenly announced the very bad news that she was unable to help after all.  She was extremely sorry but she had discovered that contrary to all expectations, I was not in fact the account  holder. I was not authorized, licensed or eligible to make the momentous decision I had in mind.  More Monthly Data was not for the likes of me. 
`I can’t believe this,’ I almost sobbed when she said that the account holder was one Gordon J. Harris.  Yes, the husband.  He who was at that very moment on a golf course and likely to be so for the remainder of the day.   In my panic I toyed with telling her he had died but decided that might complicate matters further.
I heard myself whisper that he was not at home and then added honestly that even had he been at home he would not be able to hear a single word she said on account of his deafness.    There followed a hiatus during which Alice resolutely tried to find a solution to the dilemma and I endeavoured to be courageous about it all.  After all the world was unlikely to come to a standstill simply because my broadband account had descended into dial-up speed.  Well, it's easy to say that isn't it?
 At last Alice said that she had discovered that someone called Patrick also had his name attached to the account.  The very Patrick the husband and I had three years previously unceremoniously thrown onto the street to fend for himself at the tender age of forty two when we sold the house in St Heliers to get rid of him.
I agreed that Patrick had set up the modem for me when we first moved into our diminutive city fringe apartment, that specially chosen because it was too small to accommodate him at any stage should he decide to return to us.  Under the circumstances it had been very helpful of him.  I refrained from telling her further details because very possibly she would be disinterested.
`Perhaps I could ring Patrick?’  Alice suggested, now talking in the kind of voice usually reserved for the very young or the very elderly.
Despite my misgivings that Patrick would be unlikely to answer his cell phone mid morning, unbelievably he did.   And without any hesitation or question he gave permission to Spark’s Alice for me to upgrade my broadband plan.
The relief was immense. I fell over myself in expressing my gratitude.  It wasn’t until the following day that I allowed my mind to meander upon the undeniable fact  that such a simple operation perhaps should not have been so needlessly grueling.