The Dim-Post

December 8, 2011

Shelley writes the classics

Filed under: general idiocy — danylmc @ 2:12 pm

Here’s fun on a Thursday. Go read Shelley’s latest column. Now, in the comments section, submit a paragraph in which Herald lifestyle columnist Shelley Bridgeman writes a passage from a classic New Zealand novel in her own inimitable style. I’ll send the winners to the New Zealand Herald opinion editor, who has yet to acknowledge any of my submissions let alone publish them, but you never know.

I’ll start you off:

Beth Heke stood in the Charvet store on the Place Vendome, on a perfect trip to Paris, eyeing up a green scarf that would match the resort holiday she went on to the Bahamas once. I wonder, she wondered, wondering aloud, if my husband Jake raped my daughter? Rape is a type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse, which is initiated by one or more persons against another person without that person’s consent. The act may be carried out by physical force, coercion, abuse of authority or with a person who is incapable of valid consent. The term is most often defined in criminal law. A person who commits an act of rape is known as a rapist. One thing is for sure – Beth poetically never forgot the day she bought the sky-green Charvet scarf.

Or:

Seacliffe asylum was perched atop the rugged hills that lay below Seacliffe asylum. I soon became accustomed to the hospital – but I missed Remuera, with its sky perched high, high above the ground, and its ground at ground level, filled with objects and things.

One day my doctor called me into his office. ‘As you know,’ he said, ‘You’re scheduled to have a pre-frontal lobotomy.’

I smiled, because I knew that for all his learning, the doctor didn’t know that the hospital gown I wore was actually designed by Linda Jackson, an Australian fashion designer who crafted the outfit to look just like a hospital frock. My husband and I once sat at a table near Jackson at a fashionable restaurant in Noosa, where . . .

‘Bridgeman?’ The doctor snapped his fingers in front of my face. ‘Can you even hear me?’

I could only smile. The poor doctor! For all his learning he didn’t know that the hospital gown I wore .  .

‘Hey!’ The doctor took some papers out of his drawer and fanned them across his desk. ‘Did you publish these articles?’ He demanded.

I nodded and his face grew grave. ‘As you know you’re scheduled for a lobotomy next Monday,’ he said, furrowing his brow. ‘But in light of the quality of your writing, we’re sending you into surgery immediately.’

I don’t know why people take taxis places. I drive my Lancia.

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57 Comments

  1. What a week it was! Our fowls were stolen. Fowl is a word for birds in general but usually refers to birds belonging to one of two biological orders, namely the gamefowl or landfowl and the waterfowl. Such a racket they used to make. Daphne Moran won’t be making a racket, however, for in that very same week her throat, which elegantly connected her head and the remainder of her body, was cut.

    Comment by afternoon tea — December 8, 2011 @ 2:24 pm

  2. I would, but so much of my brain shut-down in protest as I read the article that it’s a struggle to write even this….

    Comment by Nathaniel — December 8, 2011 @ 2:35 pm

  3. Not for the first time, Susan Ferris needed a rest. And I know how she felt; ever so occasionally the Bikram ends and I take a moment to catch my breath before my next appointment. But Susan – Susan Ferris – had been carrying the two halves that would save mankind so she sat down and thought about how far she had come. Ever since Jimmy Jaspers and the cave she had encountered Wildwood and Woodlanders, Morninghall and Birdfolk, Stoneworld and Stonefolk and many other regions. But where was her nanny? The sky was blue like sapphire and the grass green like emeralds and the snow shone like diamonds. It looked like the slopes of the Alps. I’ve been to the Alps.

    Comment by Jordan — December 8, 2011 @ 2:35 pm

  4. A week after midsummer, when the festival fires were cold, and decent people were in bed an hour after sunset, not lying dry-mouthed in dark rooms at midday, a young man named Sobran Jodeau stole two of the freshly bottled wines to baptize the first real sorrow of his life. When I was in France I never met anyone called Sobran Jodeau. I visited New York for a day in October and on the way I asked the flight attendant for a copy of the New Zealand Herald. In it I wrote a column about going on holiday to France and not once did I mention anyone called Sobran Jodeau. So I’ve done my research.

    Comment by Ngaire BookieMonster — December 8, 2011 @ 2:51 pm

  5. Is there a prize after the main prize for the comment best looking like the comments showing on some of the comments on that wonderful article? My mate said that the chemtrails were for controlling the rugby, and all the politicians that watch it.

    Comment by Bed Rater — December 8, 2011 @ 3:16 pm

  6. Esther asked me about my new green Manolo Blanik’s the other day, she thought i had brought them from an inner-city Auckland store and i had to remind her of my trip to Florence i took last month, perhaps she was confused with my trip to Spain the year before. Which brings me to my point. Don’t you hate it when your friends don’t remember your every experience?

    I certainly remember Polly’s travels, and we always ensure each others gates are fastened shut when we leave each others homes. I probably don’t have to mention we don’t need any stray cats, dogs or unmentionables on our properties. Who does?

    Comment by garyelshaw — December 8, 2011 @ 3:19 pm

  7. Stones rattled behind me and I spun around to see a stag. A stag, as I learned from my Canadian ski instructor, is a male deer. People think that only male deer have antlers, but in fact, female reindeer grow antlers too. So maybe this stag wasn’t a stag but a female reindeer. But I didn’t think there should be any reindeer around, and besides, this deer had really huge antlers. I couldn’t imagine this monster pulling Santa’s sleigh. So it was probably a stag, I thought as I pulled my trigger. There was a loud bang, but the majestic creature failed to fall. Instead it began to charge towards me. My last thought before I blacked out was that I wished I had iPhone reception so I could look up whether there are reindeer in New Zealand or not.

    Comment by bradluen — December 8, 2011 @ 3:26 pm

  8. I voted for Volkner. He’s a strong man with chrisp tailoring and doesn’t believe in pointless debate. He loves America, particularly American culture, but some people call him a fascist. Fascists seek to rejuvinate their nation based on commitment to the national community as an organic entity, in which individuals are bound together in national identity by suprapersonal connections of ancestry, culture and blood. To achieve this, fascists purge forces, ideas, people, and systems deemed to be the cause of decadence and degeneration. I’ll never forget the day we purged Smith. His blood was the same colour as my John Galliano jacket.

    Comment by mnippert — December 8, 2011 @ 3:33 pm

  9. Why does one feel so different at night? I did once precisely experience a shift in my perceptions as night fell. This was when I was holidaying in Venice. Back in the early days before my daughter was accidentally born. Everyone was wearing masks. My husband and I were sitting purely by chance in a café on the periphery of Piazza San Marco. I was tired from explaining to the waiter (in my best school girl Italian) the mysteries of a good flat white. Per Favore. The fading daylight glittered for one last moment through my glass bead necklace; brought that afternoon in a narrow dilapidated store on the island of Morano. Then it was dark. Suddenly I was more wakeful. It was like waking up into a new, wonderful, far more thrilling and exciting Venice than the daylight one. Our papier-mâché masks, which had seemed so cheap and lifeless a moment earlier, were now part of a vivid conspiracy. In my mind I felt I was on the cusp of communing deep secrets with the city of canals

    Comment by Richard — December 8, 2011 @ 3:35 pm

  10. Damn Jordan beat me to it but….

    Nick had seen the birthmark on Susan’s wrist. It had two parts. I don’t like birthmarks, particularly visible ones They’re really quite ugly. I learned from my friend Alexander ( he does Petra’s botox), that birthmarks can cause cancer. Each was shaped like a tear drop, curved like a moon. One was bright red and the other golden brown. The moon is a big celestial object that orbits the Earth. Mostly, you see it at night time, when the birds have gone to sleep. Which brings me to my point. How on earth did it get on Susan’s wrist? And why did she choose a red one? I’ll slip her Alexander’s number.

    Comment by Gregor W — December 8, 2011 @ 3:48 pm

  11. And when he saw the diamond, Rua knew that there was no going back to his old life. A diamond is made up of carbon that has been turned very hard by pressure. I often think how funny it is that the diamonds on my ring are made of the same thing as bits of coal. Of course, you wouldn’t wear coal on your hands. The dust would be a real problem. But it turns out that this was the same diamond that Te Kooti had spoken about. It was the diamond that sometimes allowed itself to be seen and sometimes hid itself. Just like those that I looked at in the shops all along the diamond district in New York last year. They are run by the funniest jewish men, with curly hair and big brimmed black hats. I don’t think I could wear a hat like that. It must get very hot in summer.

    Sometimes, sailors would see the diamond like a beacon shining from Maungapohatu like a star. “What’s that?” a sailor might ask. So I went and looked on wikipedia. It turns out that it is Te Kooti’s diamond. Te Kooti was a was a Māori leader, the founder of the Ringatu religion and guerrilla. I sometimes forget the difference between a guerilla and a gorilla, and have this vision of lots of apes running around in the jungle with guns! I didn’t see any gorillas when I went to Africa last year. But I did see a lion.

    Often, a ship would become so fascinated by the glorious light that it would sail toward the siren star. But the closer it got the further away the star shone until, with a wink, it would disappear.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — December 8, 2011 @ 3:52 pm

  12. GRANNA: What day is it Jeannie?

    JEANNIE: Monday Granna. She runs quickly to her bedroom, upset.

    GRANNA, speaking the words first and the writing them in a notebook: Monday. Monday is the day of the week between Sunday and Tuesday. According to international standard ISO 8601 it is the first day of the work week. According to the Islamic and Hebrew calendars, Sunday is the first day of the week. I expect she’s excitable because she has a flat head. Mary, why are you ironing when you can buy perfectly good sheets on the internet with Egyptian cotton? I went to Egypt and never got blown up at all.

    Mary: Granna!

    IRIS: It’s all right Mum.

    Comment by lyndon — December 8, 2011 @ 4:09 pm

  13. This is the best thread ever.

    Comment by David C — December 8, 2011 @ 4:13 pm

  14. Home thoughts

    I do not dream of Sussex downs
    or quaint old England’s
    quaint old towns,
    though I do make an exception of a charming little shop near Bath where I bought my green versace scarf, and possibly some of really exciting little boutiques around London. I found out about them after my last trip to Harrods – we had gone there while touring (in a privately chauffeured lamborghini) a special luxury tour of England. But it could not compare, as I have done, with driving through Paris in sports car with the warm wind in my hair. I was following the advice of some lady named Lucy Jordan, Who I think was giving me travel advice on Wikipedia. I can’t be sure. Standard 3 Reading is such a long time ago.
    But
    I think I never wish to be seen
    in Johnsonville or Geraldine.’

    Comment by Leopold — December 8, 2011 @ 4:20 pm

  15. I have a cat – a pure-bred Birman, a lovely long hair named Jean-Paul (named after the designer, of course, although I do like to annoy my pseud friends by referring to him as a great thinker) – who loves to sit with me on the deck while I drink a Tawhiti Chardonnay (perfectly chilled – I can recommend a wine fridge if you ever run into me at Farro) after shuttling off another column. I was first introduced to the breed while on holiday in Malta where the pizzeria we discovered had a Birman just like him called Jakob. As soon as we got back 3 months later we knew we had to get one just like him. His purr keeps me company while my husband is busy working in the city and, in his spare time, usually while I’m enjoying a shower, he enjoys to exploring cardboard containers around the house.

    While in Barcelona, I was struck my a number of chemtrails (silly people back home who thought they knew better tried to convince me they were “contrails”; but I know better) emanating from a plane allegedly piloted by a cat.

    I’ve met a cat, somewhat aloof, while in our holiday home in Tuscany. Eschewing human contact, it favours the Terpsichorean arts, preferring to sing and dance.

    In Sao Paulo for Carnivale, I ran a mile upon the outbreak of a feline ‘flu.

    While on sabbatical in Oslo, a rather fat cat made nationwide news (how provinicial!) when it got lodged in a doorway, and I think we can all agree that the outrageous protests in Athens stem directly from the police accepting cats as recruits.

    The less said about the notorious Tokyo Yakuza cat fan dance (which only lasts 60 seconds, or “Neko Minute” as my close friend who works as a geisha calls it) the better.

    Simply put, my cat likes to hide in boxes.

    Comment by Hugo Drax — December 8, 2011 @ 4:25 pm

  16. He came back one day while the sun was still high in the sky. A blue sky that day.

    He’d been out walking around, as he does, and conversing with his neighbour-kin. Thankfully, the gated community was free from the thieves I ponder in my fever-dreams. I always feared he would one day be taken.

    But he was fine. And they wouldn’t dare.

    It wasn’t until shortly after that I felt something was off. Lynley had mentioned similar feelings about him earlier as we lunched at Cafe Jazz, over frites with the most delightful spicy pomegranate dipping sauce.

    And she was right. I knew it was time. It was the start of a new season, and he couldn’t continue the Summer the same way. What self-respecting Remuera housewife would be seen with such an animal?

    As I drove him down and handed him over I admonished the shopgirl for her similarly sloppy appearance, and demanded he be given for a full cover-up job. “Something European” I said.

    I glanced back as I left Barkley Manor, as if to farewell Bottomley. But he’d already been taken out of view.

    “Never mind” I told myself, “at least his coat will never be as wild as that awful MacLary dog”.

    Comment by Pete — December 8, 2011 @ 4:32 pm

  17. “This is the best thread ever.”

    +1 Billion. I think my head is going to pop with delight.

    Comment by rich (the other one) — December 8, 2011 @ 4:38 pm

  18. I think my head is going to pop with delight.

    I wonder if this is the first time someone has ever referenced “Neighbours from Hell”?

    Comment by Graeme Edgeler — December 8, 2011 @ 4:54 pm

  19. Gold. Thanks Danyl et al (a Latin term meaning others).

    Comment by TerryB — December 8, 2011 @ 5:24 pm

  20. It’s not everyone who contemplates Labour’s leadership quandaries while sipping a crisp Neudorf Pinot Gris in the Wadestown kitchen. That’s not my kitchen, with its delightful supply of homegrown veges, but the fashionable little cafe in Wadestown. Neudorf is, according to “unscrewed” – the independent New Zealand wine review blog that I came across on my smart phone wine review app when deciding what to order – gives 5 stars to two of Neudorf’s Pinot Gris. I chose Neudorf’s Maggie’s Block 2010, it has a nice name, and is, of course, perfectly suitable to quaff while pondering the fascinating intricacies of the contest for the Labour Party’s leadership.

    Within the apparently functional, but not really because it is too cluttered, nzherald.co.nz website were these memorable lines:
    Labour leadership contender David Cunliffe says the party cannot risk a “false start” by choosing the wrong leader in the contest.
    “I am ready now. I have a hard head and I can communicate. I’m experienced in Parliament, I’ve been a minister and sat on the front bench. I’m ready to go and I don’t think Labour can afford to have a false start.”

    These lines are memorable because I wrote them down to remember them because of the way they perfectly illustrate the message in Cunliffe’s expression in the accompanying image. The antisymmetry of his facial features supports his statements with mesmerizing precision, because a Scottish study, has shown that “Face shape is a “clue to mental decline”. BBC News has reported, that men with symmetrical faces are less likely to lose their memory and intelligence in later life”. I know this because my wife is a journalist, and she saw it in a friend’s Google+ stream and gave it a +1 as well. The study revealed “that those with less symmetrical faces also had demonstrable cognitive decline during that time”.

    The theory might sound like a classic conspiracy theory, but science.

    Cunliffe is, of course, “ready now” because he’s in cognitive decline. Shearer, on the other hand, has the wondrous luxury to be able to relax until the better times ahead come meandering down the paved path to the inevitability of the future. Perhaps he could see a hair replacement specialist to soak up some of that time – my friend had similar treatment last year and is now shocking us all with his wanton hair flipping, and the way it flutters delicately in the breeze of his matching deep burgundy-claret coloured restored 1970s BMW cabriolet.

    So that’s the official story, but conspiracy theorists are awash with alternatives. Some people say that Cunliffe has been stitched together out of the remnants of the glorious party past. Still other people think he has suffered the humiliation of being unable to remove an old halloween mask. It’s been difficult separating fact from fiction on this issue but here’s my best attempt. Is he the patchwork creation of Labour’s past front benches. Well, no, that was the plot of a 1994 movie starring Kenneth Branagh, with Robert De Niro and Helena Bonham Carter – Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

    Is Cunliffe at the dizzying height of his powers? This has so far been proven to be true. He has never been as close to that all-powerful position of Labour Party leader as he is now. We know it is all downhill from here – not because Labour won’t win the next election, which they won’t according to my fabulously knowledgeable Zumba circle, but because he is rapidly heading toward complete senility – he may not even make it to the 2014 election.

    All I can say is that the distinctively beaten visage of Cunliffe I witnessed in the above-mentioned article is as intrinsic a part of my memories of a failed Labour Party as the slightly acidic aftertaste of my Neudorf Maggie’s Block 2010 Pinot Gris.

    Comment by Sam — December 8, 2011 @ 5:43 pm

  21. And Hercules Morse as big as a horse. I’ve always wondered why Mrs Morse in my neighbourhood named her dog after that american guy on TV who wore a lot of leather. I admit I had a poster of Kevin Sorbo up in my cubicle at work for a while, but I wouldn’t name my goldfish after him.

    I guess he was pretty popular. And who didn’t push themselves into a Xena costume for a Halloween Party or PPTA dress up quiz night back in the nineties. I had to have a few glasses of sauv those nights.

    You’d be amazed at how big this dog was though. It probably wasn’t quite as big as a horse. But it was definitely as big as a really large dog or a wheelbarrow. But then wheelbarrow doesn’t rhyme with Morse does it.

    Comment by Lynley Dodge — December 8, 2011 @ 5:44 pm

  22. Rachel’s paddle dipped into the black water of Lake Pupuke, making a gentle splashing sound, as they guided their kayak through the reeds near the shore. A kayak is a small craft invented by the native tribes of North America that was traditionally made of leather stretched over a wooden frame although modern kayaks are plastic. “Ssshh” whispered Theo, “they’ll hear us.” They were drawing closer to the Wilberforces’ dark, foreboding cottage, whose peeling paint and blacked out windows had been dragging down property values on the eastern side of the lake for decades. Although they were only 12, Rachel and Theo had looked after themselves since they were nine months old, as their mother was too busy organizing charity events.

    I’ve been fascinated with Wilberforces since my trip to Clyde in 1992. I asked for a trim latte at the petrol station and the attendant stared at me with soulless black eyes as his clammy skin shimmered in the fluorescent light. I told him I bet he couldn’t make one as good as they did in Herne Bay, but he just looked at me like I was from another planet. A planet is a celestial body orbiting a star or stellar remnant that is massive enough to be rounded by its own gravity, is not massive enough to cause thermonuclear fusion, and has cleared its neighbouring region of planetesimals. So I could understand Rachel and Theo’s grim attraction to the Wilberforce’s home, their hearts beating in their chests as the door swung open and Mr Wilberforce strode out and stared at them.

    Comment by Jake — December 8, 2011 @ 6:17 pm

  23. In the beginning, it was darkness, and more fear, and a howling wind across the sea. That’s what it is like in Mission Bay when the weather turns. My friend Cynthia and I were walking along Tamaki Drive in a dreadful wind and rain storm, on our way to get tapas at Bar Comida. They serve a delightful Tortillitas de Camarones, very much like those I had in a rustic neighbourhood bar in Barcelona last year. Camarones is the spanish word for shrimp. Or is it prawn? According to wikipedia, “While in biological terms shrimps and prawns belong to different suborders of Decapoda, they are very similar in appearance. In commercial farming and fisheries, the terms “shrimp” and “prawn” are often used interchangeably.”

    Cynthia had been having problems with her husband. When they married, she expected him to quickly rise to the top of his work, but this had not happened. Despite her urgings, he still seemed content to work in the same position he first had been hired for. Not like my husband, who has been very successful.

    “Why not leave him?”, I asked, perhaps a little cruelly.

    We couldn’t whisper any more. The wind was whipping our hair around our heads. This was very annoying for me, as I had just had it styled at Primega in Newmarket, which is very near to the cafe where John Banks and John Key had their cup of tea. Who knew my hairdresser was so political!

    Cynthia answered, “No guarantee he’ll stay on the bottom. Besides, I’d have to come back for the boat.” Her husband had recently bought a quite large cabin cruiser, which had caused another argument between them. I really don’t see the point in boats. But I suppose you need them to catch shrimps. Or is it prawns?

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — December 8, 2011 @ 6:54 pm

  24. Danyl, your comment to Shelley didn’t have any likes. So I gave it a pity like.

    Comment by gn — December 8, 2011 @ 7:48 pm

  25. In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; which kind of makes a lot of sense. People without form really are void aren’t they? At least when you see them at Pauanui and they’ve forgotten to bring their sunvisor out to the course. I played golf once in Milan after hopping for French shoes. Why we looked there is a story best accompanied by a really cold lambrusco and some ligurian olives, and darkness upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. Someone told me that water is sometimes also called dihydrogen peroxide, which certainly made my masseur Karl and I laugh, because peroxide isn’t a dye at all, it’s a bleach. The colour of hydrogen is a mystery though, probably because I’ve never actually seen one.

    Comment by Che Tibby — December 8, 2011 @ 7:54 pm

  26. Best thread ever +1 more. You guys are *brilliant*.

    Comment by R — December 8, 2011 @ 8:00 pm

  27. Tom and Elizabeth bought the farm
    With their finance company bread
    Magpies are passerine birds of the crow family
    Wikipedia said

    Tom got an interest free third party loan
    And Elizabeth’s Peugeot was red
    Magpies are passerine birds of the crow family
    Wikipedia said

    They didn’t spend much time there
    They took fabulous European holidays instead
    Magpies are passerine birds of the crow family
    Wikipedia said

    The courts and the serious fraud office tried to take it away
    But Tom’s clever lawyer stopped them dead
    Magpies are passerine birds of the crow family
    Wikipedia said

    The farms still there
    Their kids go quad-biking out there most days
    Magpies are passerine birds of the crow family
    Wikipedia says

    Comment by danylmc — December 8, 2011 @ 8:04 pm

  28. dude i gave your comment a like too, and… the like is gone.

    now there’s a conspiracy.

    Comment by Che Tibby — December 8, 2011 @ 8:18 pm

  29. My like is apparently first. Mysterious, like a chem trail.

    Comment by Sanctuary — December 8, 2011 @ 8:27 pm

  30. I’d drove the length of Rideout Road the night before, following the sound of the Gotan Project, challenged by my daughter’s insightful questions about cows and unicorns. In time and darkness I found Paul Holmes’s bach and lugged my Louis Vuitton suitcases up the verandah, after nearly breaking a nail.

    Comment by Paul Litterick — December 8, 2011 @ 8:29 pm

  31. To begin at the beginning:

    It is spring, moonless night in Remuera, starless and Bilbo-black, the meanstreets silent and the bunched, designer gardens limping invisible down to the long black, latte, black, capuccino-coloured, fishingboatbobbing pond next door. The houses are blind as moles (though moles can actually see quite a lot, their sense of smell is much better and their whiskers are awfully sensitive to touch, much as my skin was after that mud treatment in Prague) or blind as the people who voted for John Banks who is stomping there in the muffled middle by the pump and the town clock, Auckland in mourning, the Welfare Hall in Karen Millen cast offs. And all the people of the lulled and dumbfound city are crying now.

    From where you are, you can hear my dreams.

    Comment by Gareth — December 8, 2011 @ 8:40 pm

  32. Even in Janet Frame’s time Seacliff’s heyday was long past:

    Guinea pig house at Seacliff Hospital, Dunedin, 9 November 1897

    Comment by Joe W — December 8, 2011 @ 9:08 pm

  33. The world is divided, between those who’ve driven convertibles through Paris with green scarves blowing around in their hair and those who just read about it, between people who understand physics and people who frequent psychics, between readers and writers.

    The world is divided between conspiracy theorists and those who know that gullible is, actually in the dictionary.

    The world is divided between those with the time to make up shit in the afternoon, and those who have to wait till evening.

    The world is divided between those who think before they write, and…, um, sorry, what was I saying again?

    Comment by john small — December 8, 2011 @ 9:17 pm

  34. “When you offer only three
    vertical lines precisely drawn
    and set into a dark pool of lacquer
    it is a visual kind of starvation.”

    I was thinking of these immortal lines only yesterday at Prego when my Saltimbocca took absolutely ages to arrive. Hurry up, garcon! I called airily, because I am the sort of person who can talk to pretty much anyone, no matter what walk of life they come from, even waiters. A little joke can break the ice very quickly, even with people who might be a bit nervous of you, because you come from Remuera and have an Audi TT parked outside with the top down. I mean, you can’t help that, just as they can’t help wherever it is funny place that they come from. I’m careful never to look down on people. I was thinking something similar only last year at Courcheval, which is overrun by Russians these days, but still fun if you know the right people and go with an open mind. I can fit in pretty much anywhere. Once when I was staying at rather a marvellous luxury eco-lodge on the Coromandel I met some great locals on the beach and shared a smoke and a feed of mussels with them. I’m euchred, man, I’m eclipsed, I think I heard someone say, but it all got a bit hazy after a while. Marvellous people, though. Salt of the earth. I woke up without my car keys and with a curly moustache drawn in magic marker, but that was all in a spirit of fun, and I put it down to a kind of genuine New Zealandness which I do enjoy dipping into nwhen I’m on my summer break. I think that’s what the poet was trying to get at, but just in quite a roundabout sort of way.

    Comment by Cheryl — December 8, 2011 @ 9:22 pm

  35. Not far away was his island, of which Bilbo knew nothing, and there in his hiding-place he kept a few wretched oddments, and one very beautiful thing, very beautiful, very wonderful. Probably like David Richwhites island by the sounds of it, although I haven’t been there since ’89 when my first husband wasn’t making the sort of money that is so necessary to live an appropriate life so I contractually upgraded because I needed a ring, a golden ring, a precious ring.

    Hey it’s our story now, right?

    Comment by garethw — December 8, 2011 @ 9:28 pm

  36. A lukewarm summer breeze fluttered through the sparsely furnished waiting area of the office of my friend Lavender’s psychiatrist Rose. Psychiatry is the medical specialty devoted to the study and treatment of mental disorders, however I always confused it with psychology, even though I had taken a psychology paper for my university degree. It’s funny, but I do not think Lavender would know the exact difference either, however she must appreciate how relationships can be based on interesting coincidences, like how both she, and her psychiatrist, Lavender, are named after flowers. Lavender is a flower very common to south western Europe, as I noticed when I was traveling through France and Spain last year. A good friend of mine, a chef at Prego restaurant in Ponsonby, told me that lavender could be used as a food as well. It would make a great accompaniment to a light spring salad of red onion, prosciutto, and some Banon cheese from Provence. As the breeze played around Rose’s minimalist chic Rinke willow settee, I suddenly wished it was spring, and I was in France again. I made a note to myself to visit there with Lavender next year, when she had some time in between appointments with Rose.

    Comment by PJ — December 8, 2011 @ 9:51 pm

  37. When I discovered Alfred and John Willis under the quince tree, I was alarmed to see such a vivid example of our sex-obsessed society right in front of me, and what’s more, from my own son, whom I had never planned to have in the first place. But then I had a Pantene moment: realising that while I probably couldn’t accept their sodomy right now, or overnight, I would get there eventually. And then, too, I remembered that there’s no such thing as a platonic friendship anyway, so Alfred and John Willis were probably just waiting to happen all along. I quickly cut short the acerbic bible verse I was issuing forth, pulled my horn out of my oversized Burberry handbag and listened to what Alfred had to say. My grasp of the situation may have been hazy but at least I was taking an interest.

    Next morning, I cut down the quince tree and took Alfred, John Willis, and the rest of the family to Fiji for a holiday. For too long, I realised I’d been putting principles ahead of pleasures. While holidaying there, we met a dear, plump, bossy servant named Suliana, who pleaded unsuccessfully with Edie that we take her back to New Zealand with us to be our maid. Poor Suliana. I let her look after the children for the next few days. One late afternoon she came to see me on the beach. I told her the children had been so quiet and what a radiant smile she gave me as she slipped my pina colada into my hand. Bula!

    Comment by Tom — December 8, 2011 @ 10:45 pm

  38. Alone we are born
    And die alone
    Yet see the red-gold clasp
    over Burberry handbag shine.

    Upon Ponsonby road
    Ride easy, Landrover,
    Surrender to the sky
    Your angry chemtrail.

    Comment by Tom — December 8, 2011 @ 10:54 pm

  39. One morning, when Gregor Samsa awoke from troubled dreams, he found that in his bed he had been changed into a monstrous, verminous bug. This was not very good news, because Gregor Samsa had hated bugs ever since his childhood holidays in Fiji, which is home to many millipedes which are much larger than a typical insect in New Zealand. Most bugs or “true bugs” range in size from 1 millimetre (0.04 in) to around 15 centimetres (6 in), and share a common arrangement of sucking mouthparts. But Gregor Samsa was a person who had turned into a bug, so he was much bigger.

    Comment by Rory MacKinnon — December 9, 2011 @ 1:43 am

  40. ‘What did you say your name was?’ he asked, remembering.
    It came out weakly: ‘Ellerslie Penrose’.
    ‘Penrose,’ he said. ‘We haven’t driven that far south since that ugly clay pigeon shooting spat at Hotel Du Vin. Much prefer taking a Corporate Cab to the airport and flying over it.’

    Comment by Richard Irvine — December 9, 2011 @ 7:54 am

  41. When dear old Mrs Hay went back to town after staying with the Burnells she sent the children a doll’s house. A dolls house is a toy home, made in miniature. For the last century dollhouses have primarily been the domain of children but their collecion and crafting is also a hobby for many adults.

    The house was so big the carter and Pat carried it to the courtyard, which I’ve recently had updated with gorgeous italian paving stones I found on my last trip to Umbria.

    Comment by Andy M — December 9, 2011 @ 8:23 am

  42. Re Sam@20; LOL, as they say. Is it too much to hope for that Herald gets rush of blood to head and makes Our Shelley a political reporter? What larks!

    Comment by Leopold — December 9, 2011 @ 9:18 am

  43. I contemplated penning a Shelley-esque Ruth Pretty recipe, but thought better of it. I’ll leave the well-researched ingredient explanation, complete with mesmerizing accounts of the memorable experiences of locating each one while sojourning through the rustic peasant villages of Tuscany to someone far more masochistic than myself…

    PS – and isn’t group bullying by far the most interesting form of work procrastination!?

    Comment by Sam — December 9, 2011 @ 9:38 am

  44. Thank you, thank you one and all.

    Comment by Michael Stevens — December 9, 2011 @ 10:35 am

  45. The garden got so muddy that the little digger stuck, so they sent another digger and it really was bad luck that it slid upon the mud in the wind and the rain, and fell upon it’s side in the half-dug drain.

    Brain,my landscaper, noted that the ‘digger’ is more correctly called an excavator. I had always though excavators were those moving stairs in shopping malls but apparently it denotes heavy construction equipment consisting of a boom, stick, bucket and cab on a rotating platform (known as the “house”). All movement and functions of a hydraulic excavator are accomplished through the use of hydraulic fluid, with hydraulic cylinders and hydraulic motors. Due to the linear actuation of hydraulic cylinders, their mode of operation is fundamentally different from cable-operated excavators

    How charming to have a house that sits on a platform and tracks; it brought back memories of that glorious late summer afternoon in Paris, boarding the the gleaming blue and gold carriages of the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express at Paris Gare de l’ Est. The excavator in my garden was definitely more of a faded muddy yellow. I asked Brian whether he had one in a more mustardy gamboge would have offset the russet sumac leaves to better effect; after all he was going to be there for some time.

    He gave me a strange look. It’s hard to find tradesmen that take pride in the details these days.

    Comment by Gregor W — December 9, 2011 @ 10:53 am

  46. And after all the weather was ideal. They could not have had a more perfect day for a garden-party if they had ordered it. Windless, warm, the sky without a cloud. Only the blue was veiled with a haze of light gold, as it is sometimes in early summer. It was a special gold. Not the shimmering gold that one would find at sunrise across the golfe de St Tropez from the opulent 5 bedroom mock moorish villa we stayed in for two weeks last June nor the muted hues one might find when the last rays of the day bounce from the pristine pistes of Val d’isere like they do on our bi annual February visit. The gardener had been up since dawn, mowing the lawns and sweeping them, until the grass and the dark flat rosettes where the daisy plants had been seemed to shine. A lawn is an area of aesthetic and recreational land planted with grasses or other durable plants, which usually are maintained at a low and consistent height. As for the roses, you could not help feeling they understood that roses are the only flowers that impress people at garden-parties; the only flowers that everybody is certain of knowing. Hundreds, yes, literally hundreds, had come out in a single night; the green bushes bowed down as though they had been visited by archangels.

    Comment by King Kong — December 9, 2011 @ 11:29 am

  47. .. a bridge over troubled waters…
    Further to Joe W’s Seacliff reference
    – The Bats recorded their latest CD
    Free all the Monsters in the remnants
    of Seacliff asylum…
    see: http://www.flyingnun.co.nz/artist/35/show_group

    Comment by Ian Dalziel — December 9, 2011 @ 11:50 am

  48. If the reader will excuse me, I will say nothing of the indigents, nor of the chemtrails which pursued me from my Napier country vineyard; the narrative would be tedious to him (and too painful to me: Ed). Suffice it, that when I left home it was with the intention of going shopping abroad, again, and either finding, or even perhaps purchasing (at last!), a decent handbag suitable for my iPhone or my Navman, by which means I thought that I could find a better range of bags and more rapidly in Milan than in Newmarket.

    Comment by insider — December 9, 2011 @ 12:23 pm

  49. If it gets too painful XKCD offers some relief on the subject of conspiracy theories.

    Comment by terence — December 9, 2011 @ 12:46 pm

  50. You just recieved an honorable mention http://peadpr.co.nz/news/fists-fly-as-quakers-feature-in-award-fracas

    Comment by lyndon — December 9, 2011 @ 1:17 pm

  51. At the Bay

    Very early morning. The sun was not yet risen, and the whole of Crescent Bay was hidden under a white sea-mist, which incidentally is the Farrow and Ball colour I’ve had our beach house painted. It looks divine as a neutral backdrop to all the art. The big bush-covered hills were smothered. You could not see where they ended and where the paddocks and bungalows began. A bungalow, according to Wikipedia, is a type of house, typically with a verandah, of only one storey. Our beach house has two. The far-away sky—a bright, clear blue, criss-crossed with chemtrails—was reflected in the puddles. “Oh! You look very pleased with yourself,” said Mrs Harry Kember.

    Comment by Cheryl — December 9, 2011 @ 1:30 pm

  52. Dunedin is brimming with barefoot graduates begowned and bereft with self belief. It brought to mind an exquisite lunch I had with Joanne Black yesterday. Exquisite is a fancy word for nice. ‘Jo’ congratulated me on my columns as always, inspiring she says. We indulged ourselves with to-die-for petit fours washed down with copious cups of tea. Did you see how I did that. Which reminds me of when I was a student, I dug up an adze in my Eastbourne flat, we had it carbon dated as you do and found it had once belonged Te Rauparaga – which was nice.

    Comment by Myles Thomas — December 9, 2011 @ 6:22 pm

  53. Lolita, light of my light, fire of my loins. They say there’s no gain without pain, so every Tuesday I religiously arrive at the Remuera Beauty Spot for my regular Brazilian wax with Lolita. Brazil is the largest country in South America, the world’s fifth largest country both by geographical area and population, with over 192 million people. I presume they also have a lot of bees if wax is such a major export. I’ve never been to Brazil but I am very fond of a good Chilean red, and Chile is very close to Brazil.

    Anyway, last Tuesday I was reclined on Lolita’s waxing table with my new-season Prada dress bunched up around my waist, and the tip of my tongue clenched between my teeth to stop from screaming. My husband and I are off on holiday to a princedom by the sea next week, and I do believe it’s so important to be well-groomed down there. I never know when my husband might be up for a little action ‘south of the border’ as they say. I wonder if that expression is some kind of reference to Brazil. I asked Siri using my new iPhone 4S and she said it meant Mexico, but as Mexico is very close to Brazil, she might be confused.

    I suppose, if I think about it, since I get all the pain and my husband gets all the gain, Lolita’s more the light of his life than mine. Still, she’s a lovely young girl, and every time I leave, she trills, “See you next Tuesday!” She always has such a big smile on her face when she says it.

    Comment by Melinda — December 9, 2011 @ 7:14 pm

  54. Whoops, failed the reading test on the ‘New Zealand’ part.

    Comment by Melinda — December 9, 2011 @ 7:18 pm

  55. Isn’t Brazil somewhere near New Zealand?

    Comment by Neil — December 9, 2011 @ 10:18 pm

  56. #22 gets my vote:

    “I asked for a trim latte at the petrol station and the attendant stared at me with soulless black eyes as his clammy skin shimmered in the fluorescent light.”

    Comment by Aztec — December 9, 2011 @ 10:41 pm

  57. Is it worrying that the first hit when I Google “classic New Zealand novels” is a mountain biking guide?

    Comment by Bren — December 9, 2011 @ 11:21 pm


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