Category Archives: Sadness

Sunday, Rugby and Oil Disaster

Sunday – a beautiful sunny summer day greeted me on waking up.  this puts everyone in a good mood.  As John Denver sang “Sunshine almost always makes me high”.

Rugby – There is an air of excitement in our town this weekend.  We have had two quarter-final matches of the Rugby World Cup played here.  Yesterday Wales beat Ireland 22-10 and today Australia meet South Africa.  Given the (sometimes) friendly rivalry between New Zealand and Australia I imagine that many NZers will be hoping for a South African win.

The city has an air of festival about it.  Flags from all the competing nations are flying and many cars have flags of their favourites flying from their cars.  People are walking around with painted faces and in all, everybody seems to be enjoying themselves.

The City Council has got behind this weekend and has designated a large fanzone with giant screens so that those without tickets to the match can watch.  Streets around the stadium have been blocked to traffic as has an area around the fanzone.  This makes getting around a trifle difficult for the rest of us, but heavens, it’s only one weekend.

Oil Disaster – Here is an update on the disaster unfolding in our waters.

  • Our Prime Minister, John Key warned of a potential environmental disaster.
  • Gareth Hughes, the Green Party’s marine issues spokesman said New Zealand was not geared to cope with the potential disaster. “This has to be a wake-up call for the government in regards to its deep-sea oil plans and energy strategy.”
  • The Leader of the Opposition,  Phil Goff said it was not possible to stop all oil exploration, “but we are going to make it conditional on every environmental safeguard being put in place to stop any disaster occurring. We cannot afford a disaster like the Gulf of Mexico”.

So all of our politicians are moving into the picture but what is actually happening to ameliorate this disaster?  We are told that experts and equipment are arriving from around the world.  Most, if not all, experts on how to deal with such an environmental disaster are in the northern hemisphere and take days to arrive here.


Picture - Sunlive

The effect on the sea life and birds is yet to be seen.  We do know that already there are birds being seen covered in oil.  Tauranga resident, Tommy Kapai, who sailed his yacht around the stricken vessel yesterday said he saw a dead penguin floating by.

But nowhere have I seen or read about blame being laid at anyone’s door for this disaster.  We are told that the ship was on auto pilot at the time of the grounding.  Where were the members of the ship’s crew?  Shouldn’t they still be in charge even if the auto pilot is on?  What has the Captain said about this?  Who will be responsible for the massive clean up?  The questions keep coming but no answers are given.

As John Hanlon sang way back in the 1970s –

  “Damn the dam cried the fantail,
As he flew into as he flew into the sky,
To give power to the people
All this beauty has to die

Note – This song was taken up as the anthem for the Save Manapouri Campaign.  This campaign waged between 1959 and 1972 in New Zealand to prevent the raising of the levels of lakes Manapouri and Te Anau as part of the construction of the Manapouri Power Project.

And as Joni Mitchell says in the Big Yellow Taxi –

“Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got
till it’s gone


Thursday Lunch

“The caterpillar dies so the butterfly could be born.
And, yet, the caterpillar lives in the butterfly and they are but one.
So, when I die, it will be that I have been transformed from the caterpillar of earth to the butterfly of the universe.”
John Harricharan, award winning author, lecturer and businessman.

MPH Logo

Today I went to the hospice to serve lunch for the first Thursday in several weeks.  Firstly, a friend’s husband died and she needed my support, then there was a memorial service for another friend who died last year and last week I had the lurgy so I couldn’t take my germs to the patients (or the staff).

All of the patients were new to me.  They don’t seem to stay in the hospice for any length of time, but rather come for a few days or a week and then go home, to return again at a later date.  Quite often they are there to have their medication sorted out or perhaps just to give their carers a much-needed break.

So I had to introduce myself to all of them.

One patient was surrounded by her two daughters and some of their small children.  That was a noisy room with children laughing and competing with each other for Granny’s attention. Apparently, another daughter is about to give birth any time so she wasn’t visiting today.

Another patient was celebrating with her husband.  They had just heard that their daughter had given birth to their eleventh grandson – he was one hour old.  The grandfather had been to see mother and child and reported to his wife (and me who happened to be in her room) that all was well.  The baby was strong and thriving and the mother was radiant.

How lovely to think that as these two lives are coming to an end, other new lives are just beginning.

And when I came home I read this post from Winsomebella and I thought again how great life is.  I think grandparents have the best of all worlds.  They have these small people to love, to nurture and to assist in so many ways.  Many grandparents in today’s world also have the responsibility of sharing the raising of these children.  I have responsibility for my grandchildren only until they are returned to their parents.

And I thought of how quickly the years pass and how these little folk grow and become their own people.  They change, they mature, they learn and they repay all the love, kindness and help given to them by their grandparents many, many times over.  I only wish my late husband had stayed around with us long enough to see his grandsons grow into the strong young men they are each becoming.

“To be a really brilliant grandmother remember what it was about your own that you loved most, then imitate her.”
Judith Baxter – 1938 –















Transmigration – definition
To move from one place, state or stage to another

“Thousands of lives were suddenly ended by evil, despicable acts of terror. The pictures of airplanes flying into buildings, fires burning, huge structures collapsing, have filled us with disbelief, terrible sadness and a quiet, unyielding anger.  George W. Bush

Here it is 9/11 already  and has been for the past 19 hours – (7pm as I start to write this post).  So we have heard much of the tragedy from 10 years ago.

This afternoon with a friend, I went to hear the Wellington Vector Orchestra in concert.  The recital was entitled ‘The Transmigration of Souls” and this work took up the whole of the second half of the performance.

You may know this work commissioned by the New York Philharmonic and written by John Adams to commemorate those who lost their lives in the tragedy.but this was its introduction to those of us who live in New Zealand.  It is different and strangely moving.  The child’s voice reciting ‘missing’ following the recital of names of the dead is very poignant.  Added to this are the voices of the St Paul’s Cathedral Choristers and the Orpheus Choir.

“The Choristers numbers up to 30 boys and girls aged between 8 and 15.  The Choristers lead the Sunday Choral Eucharist or Choral Evensong once a month. Each young person learns to work as part of a team and to take responsibility for his or her own performance. Choristers are treated as young professionals and the Cathedral treble programme represents one of the finest musical educations available to young people in New Zealand.”

The Orpheus Choir is New Zealand’s premier symphonic choir of around 100 voices. The Choir performs regularly at major Wellington music venues with both international and national highly regarded musicians and soloists.

The orchestra is conducted by American born, Marc Taddei. who now makes his home here in Wellington. Taddei calls the work “the first masterpiece of the new millennium”.  And adds“It’s one of the most profound works ever written. The work won the Pulitzer Prize for music in 2003 and in 2005 the premiere recording won three Grammy Awards for Best Classical Album, Best Orchestral Performance, and Best Classical Contemporary Composition.”

Adams, the composer calls the massive work for large orchestra, choir, children’s choir and pre-recorded sounds, a “Memory space”.

“It’s a place where you can go and be alone with your thoughts and emotions. The link to a particular historical event – in this case to 9/11 – is there if you want to contemplate it. But I hope the piece will summon human experience that goes beyond this event.

“Transmigration means ‘the movement from one place to another’ or ‘the transition from one state of being to another.’ But in this case I meant it to imply the movement of the soul from one state to another. And I don’t just mean the transition from living to dead, but also the change that takes place within the souls of those that stay behind, of those who suffer pain and loss and then themselves come away from that experience.”

As a member of the audience I could feel the rage, the hurt, the surprise and the unimaginable all depicted through the music.  I was left breathless.  There were some comments that it wasn’t music but I think on the whole the audience was wowed by the work.

I am so glad that I spent a couple of hours on a September afternoon listening to the orchestra.

A Funeral on Friday

“What is this death but a negligible accident?
Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight?
I am but waiting for you, for an interval
Somewhere very near,
Just round the corner.
All is well”
Henry Scott Holland Professor of Divinity, University of Oxford –   1847-1918

Today is the day of the funeral and I don’t know what this day will bring forth.

When speaking with the minister on Wednesday I told him that we had organised sunshine for today to give Michael a great send off.  He was quite skeptical but guess what, after a week of quite indifferent weather, the sun is shining brightly.  The birds are singing, the sky is blue, the wind has forgotten to blow and so no need for plan B.

Yesterday I took my friend to the funeral home to see her husband’s body.  This was very upsetting of course, for her.  She was adamant that she wanted to see him but afterwards in between her tears, she said she wished she hadn’t seen him and he didn’t look like Michael.

I chose not to go to the funeral  home when my husband died,  choosing instead to remember Robert as a living, breathing person.  But everybody has to do what they feel is right for them.  The people at the undertakers were very caring and of course, as they deal with this situation every day, they were very solicitous.

We went back to the apartment afterwards and as we were leaving to go to another friend’s house for dinner, I noticed a parking ticket on my car.  A fitting end to another ghastly day.

Tomorrow will be better.

To live in lives we leave behind is not to die”  Judith Baxter 1938 –

Yesterday – A day Without a Post

On Monday evening I received the news that a good friend had died.  It was not altogether unexpected as he had been in and out of hospital quite a lot in recent months and always came out cheerful and looking ready to continue with his place in the world.  But not this time.

And yesterday I spent time with the widow.  How that brought back those early hours and days when my husband died.  And even though I have been there, in that self same situation,there was no way I could really understand just what she was going through.  We have to come to terms with the death of somebody so loved, and so close , each in our own way.

I phoned early in the morning and got the answerphone and it brought this poem by Michael Laskey to mind.

“After he died he went on speaking
On the ansaphone: he’d apologize
For being out and ask us to leave
Our names and messages after the tone.
At first we couldn’t, we just hung up, ….”
From Life After Death by Michael Laskey
English poet. 1944 –

How often in the months following my husband’s death did I find something that was so full of him that it brought a fresh wave of grief and tears?  A slip of paper on which he had written himself a note, a card I had given him on a celebration day that he had used as a bookmark, his notebook with his writing, his Cross pen that always went everywhere with him.

It is always the little things that undo us.  We think we are strong and coping and then something small happens and we are right back into that trough of despair that we thought we were climbing out of.

So what could I do to help?  I cooked a fillet of beef so that it could be there for when people call in to express their condolences.  I remember my daughter-in-law saying how much she appreciated those gifts of ready prepared food in the days and weeks following my husband’s death.

It was too soon to exchange remembrances of her husband and so I could only sit with her and hold her when the tears came.

I found that those friends who just came and sat with me, speaking only if I wanted them to, were those that helped most at that time.

So I shall go back today to see what I can do, if anything, to help.  And sit with her while she processes what has happened in her mind and somehow gets herself ready to face the months and years ahead.  There will be time for memories to surface and for laughter to accompany most of them in the months ahead.  But for now I shall just be with her.

Ode to a Sister

“Regrets I’ve had a few
But then again too few to mention
I did what I had to do
And saw it through without exemption”
From My Way sung by Frank Sinatra.

I think as we look back on our lives there are always some regrets.  The road not taken; the decision not made; the opportunity missed.  For me one of my regrets is time not having been spent with family.  Because I moved to the other side of the world I know that I missed out on lots of celebrations but also missed out on shouldering some responsibilities.

Thinking about this today I came up with this “Ode to a Sister”

I am not there when you call out my name
I am not there when you need a sister’s help
I am not there when things go wrong
And you need a shoulder to cry on.
I am not there

I am not there to celebrate the births of grandchildren
Or the marriage of your daughter
I am not there to see your children thriving and
I am not there to see their children growing

I am not there when decisions on mother’s care must be made
I am not there to assure you that the decisions are right
I am not there when mother dies and you have to deal with it
Alone until we came from far away

I am not there to help you cope with father’s aging
I am not there to help make  decisions on his care
I am not there when he dies and again you deal with it
I am not there.

I am not there when more decisions must be made
Dealing with the trappings of our parents lives
Unknown things about them surface
And I am not there.

I am not there to celebrate 21st birthdays
Or special birthdays of your own
I am not there when a special friend dies
I am not there.

I am not there when riots flare around you
And scared you sit alone in your flat
I am not there to hug you and say you will be safe
I am not there.

But I am there always with you
In thoughts and memories that we share
I will always be your loving sister
I am there.

I wrote this as stream of consciousness and it is published just as I wrote it.  so it’s from the heart.

Sisters are very special  and I have said this so many times before.  But before I get mawkish about my sisters, one in London and one in Los Angeles, I shall end this post.

Mother and girls

Mother with her three daughters

“Sisters, sisters, there were never such devoted sisters – never had to have a chaperone, “No sir” – I’m here to keep my eye on her.”  Irving Berlin 1988-1989.
Composer and lyricist

More on the Riots

The rioting in London and other parts of the UK is still dominating my thoughts today.  I read this insightful blog and wish that more people and particularly those in power in the United  Kingdom would read it.

This woman, a deputy headmistress in a State school in London, is not afraid to say what the politicians fear to.  She is black and proudly proclaims the fact.  She comments on the fact that many of the rioters are young, uneducated black men.  And she decries the practice of making excuses for this behaviour.

There can be no excuse for this mindless vandalism.

I make no apology for a second blog on the subject and for sounding off about it.  I feel very strongly and grieve for my homeland as it goes through this terrible time.

“IF I should die, think only this of me;
That there’s some corner of a foreign field 
That is for ever England.
There shall be in that rich earth a richer dust concealed; 

A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,        
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England’s breathing English air,   
Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.   
And think, this heart, all evil shed away,   
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less      
Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given; 
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;   And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,     
In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.”
Rupert Brooke 1887-1915.

Now the work begins

Whenever I have anybody doing work around the house I think of this song.

Twas on a Monday morning the gas man came to call.  The gas tap wouldn’t turn – I wasn’t getting gas at all.  He tore out all the skirting boards to try and find the main  and I had to call a carpenter to put them back again.
Oh, it all makes work for the working man to do.”  Flanders and Swann

For the rest of this comic song and to get an idea of their quirky show,  click here.

This will be very short today as there is really not much to report.

Concrete truck

The concrete cometh

The contractors laid the aggregate on Monday afternoon.


Stage 2

They returned yesterday to put a finish on it and now I have an exposed aggregate patio.


Waiting for weeding and decorating

All it needs is for me to get out there and weed and plant and sow.  You do remember that old children’s song.  And although I now don’t have to mow I can’t get this song out of my head.

“One man went to mow, went to mow a meadow, one man and his dog named Spot, went to mow a meadow.
Two men went to mow, went to mow a meadow, two men, one man and his dog named Spot, went to mow a meadow……”

Now you will have that earworm with you all day.  Sorry about that.

And while I ramble on about such inconsequential things as my patio, the people in Christchurch are living through another round of earthquakes and huge aftershocks.  I really should be posting about them and how we feel for them in their upheaval and danger.  We are told there have been 49 earthquakes around the greater Canterbury region in the last 24 hours with the largest being 6.3 on the Richter scale.  See a video of the impact of the quakes here.

We are used to seeing shots of war-torn cities in Afghanistan, Turkey, Libya but never thought to see anything like this in our own land.  And this is not anything that man has caused; this is nature showing us mortals its strength.















Leaving on a Jet Plane

“Don’t be dismayed at goodbyes.
A farewell is necessary before you can meet again.  And meeting again, after moments or lifetime, is certain for those who are friends.  ~
Richard Bach, American writer, 1936 –

When I read monicastangledweb today, for the first time I put myself in my parents’ shoes when first one daughter left for the United States and several years later their second daughter left for New Zealand.  Luckily they had one daughter who stayed in London with her family.

When my sister left for the States we had no idea when we would see her again.  This was way back in 1961 and people didn’t just jump on planes at the drop of a hat – the expense was no doubt the main reason for this.  Luckily my husband was given tickets for the inaugural flight by Pan American Airlines over the pole so my children and I did get to visit my sister once.  And of course, I have seen her many times since.

My dashing young Scotsman and I had moved to Scotland shortly after our daughter was born so my parents were used to us being away from them.  But we were only 400 miles away and easily reached by car or train – and very occasionally, when an emergency arose, by plane.  Then a second child, our son, was born and the visits continued.

But one day in 1967 my husband came home and asked if I would like to live in Auckland.  I had never heard of Auckland and seriously thought he meant Oakland which in turn meant I could see my sister more often.  She lived and still lives in Los Angeles.  These hopes were dashed when he explained that Auckland was in New Zealand and he was being transferred for 2 years to this far-flung part of the Commonwealth.  In fact, when my father heard that we were moving to New Zealand his response was “But darling, that’s the colonies”.  We were very proud of being English.

The date was set.  The dashing Scotsman took off for HO in New York and I was left to follow with two children, having first sold the house, car and boat and arranged for the furniture and the dog to be shipped to Auckland.  To be fair all these were in place before he left but the onus was on me to see that all was settled.

The children and I had a week or so in London with my parents and then the day arrived.  We all trooped out to Heathrow.  I had to contend with two children but only one passport as they travelled on mine.


The airport and air travel were very different to now.  There were only two terminals at Heathrow and no long queues to check in and certainly no security measures.

Full of excitement, the children and I boarded the plane with little thought of the feelings of those left behind.  We did promise that we would be back in 2 years and if the transfer was extended then we also were promised trips home every two years.

I cannot imagine what my parents’ thoughts and feelings were as they saw their second daughter fly off into the unknown.

Wild west town

Auckland in my imagination

New Zealand was a foreign country to us.  We didn’t learn about it at school although I now know that New Zealand children were taught about England at school.  I imagined that some of the 3million plus sheep would be wandering down the main street of Auckland to meet us, and in all, in spite of the literature given to us by New Zealand House in London, my impression was that we were going to a wild west type of life.

On arriving here we found it was not as wild as we had imagined.  No sheep wandering down Queen Street (the main thoroughfare in Auckland), the natives were friendly and what’s more, they spoke our language.

Queen Street, 1967

Queen Street, Auckland 1967

We did find some of the customs strange.  Late night shopping on Friday until 10pm and then absolutely everything shut down until Monday morning.  Bread could be purchased at the local store but no clothes or shoe shops, hairdressers or other shops were open.  All very strange to this newcomer.

Another thing that was very odd was that the licensing laws had every pub closing at 6pm.  Apparently, most men would leave their offices at 5pm to dash to the nearest pub to get a drink or two or three, before closing time.  This changed shortly after we arrived but it was apparently well established.

“1967 The end of the ‘six o’clock swill’

Six p.m. closing for pubs was introduced as a ‘temporary’ wartime measure in December 1917. It was made permanent the following year, ushering in what became know as the ‘six o’clock swill’, as patrons aimed to get their fill before closing time….

A mood for change began to emerge in the 1960s. The growing restaurant industry questioned laws that made it difficult to sell alcohol with meals. People socialising at the local sports club or RSA also sought a change to opening hours. As the number of tourists to New Zealand increased following the arrival of jet air travel, six o’clock closing was increasingly seen as an outdated concept. In 1966 the Licensing Control Commission stated that a uniform law for hours of sale in all places was ‘neither equitable, enforceable nor in the public interest’.

When a second national referendum was held in late September 1967, nearly 64% of voters supported a return to ten o’clock closing. The government wasted little time in acknowledging the result and the new hours were introduced on 9 October.”  From NZ History on Line.

The proximity of the beaches, easy, laid-back way of living and all being together made up for any strange things we had to put up with and we all thrived in this new land.

But while I was enjoying my new life, what were my parents thinking?  Did they think that though we promised otherwise, they might never see us again?  Did they think we would forget them?  I know they wished us well but I now wish, when it’s too late of course, that I had discussed this with them.  Missed opportunities..

And today June 11 is the 44th anniversary of the day the children and I first arrived in New Zealand.  We have left it for a time, as a family and the children separately and me for a time after Robert died, but we have all returned and claim New Zealand as home.

NZ flag

“If I should die think only this of me: that there’s some corner of a foreign field that is forever England.  There shall be in that rich earth a richer dust concealed;  A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware; gave once her flowers to love, her ways to roam.  A body of England’s, breathing English air, washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home” Rupert Brooke.













Queen’s Birthday, Kinky Boots and Cross Dressing

“Now, I give you fair warning,” shouted the Queen, stamping on the ground as she spoke; “either you or your head must be off, and that in about half no time! Take your choice!”

The QueenPicture from my book published in 1944

Here in New Zealand, the Queen’s birthday is celebrated on the first Monday in June and this is the last Public Holiday now until Labor Day in October.

We do have the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in which many people are honoured for services to arts, business and the community but there are no official celebrations on this day – the hoi polloi just get a day off work.  Unless that is, you work in retail.  Retailers love a reason to blare out the word SALE and this is a perfect reason they think.  People on holiday, some money to spend, perhaps fractious children and/or rebellious teenagers, and it usually rains on this day in June.


It’s a wet June Monday in Wellington so how to celebrate?

  1. I could join the throngs at the mall and buy unwanted items just because they are on special.
  2. I could have some friends over for supper.
  3. Of course, I could take Lotte for a walk but at 11.20am she hasn’t left her bed and I suggest it might be some time before she does.
  4. I could tidy my very untidy study.
  5. I could vacuum and rubber glove – oh really we say.
  6. I could call in on a sick friend
  7. I could have coffee with another friend
  8. I could take in a movie – what’s showing locally?  There is a good selection of movies I haven’t seen and I could have coffee there.

The choices are endless.  So I think I shall do items 3, 6 and 7 and then settle down with a book at the fire.  Coffee cup in hand I shall think about the other options and be pleased that I have discarded them.  Perhaps item 8 can be moved to the top of my list on another day, but not today.

Kinky Boots

And Cross-Dressing and Kinky Boots in the title of the blog?  Well, I tuned in on Saturday and found a rerun of the movie Kinky Boots.  This is a feel-good movie based on a true-life story.  As the film, Kinky Boots depicts, when the son (Charlie in the film) inherits the factory, sales of traditional, hand-stitched leather brogues are already in trouble as cheap fashionable imports flood the market.  So to keep the factory operating, he looked for a niche market in which to expand.  And he found it.

Looking to London for inspiration, Charlie discovers sassy drag queen, Lola, whose Soho world of outrageous fashion and stylish, erotic boots for men, gives him the idea to diversify production with erotic women’s boots for a male market.  See the trailer here and the funniest clip from the movie here. If you haven’t seen it I suggest you go out and rent, hire or borrow a copy.  If none of those options is available I would even suggest you steal a copy. It would be well worth the fine you would have to pay.

This is the story of an unlikely friendship between two men from totally different backgrounds and experiences, who join together to create a success.  Fabulous!

I rate this movie alongside “Priscilla Queen of the Desert”.


If you haven’t seen this it’s about two drag queens and a transsexual who are hired for a gig in the middle of a desert in the Australian Northern Territories.  They drive from Sydney to Alice Springs a distance of about 2770 km or 1721 miles.

Humour and some pathos when they are confronted by a few rednecks in the town are cleverly covered in this movie.  The trip across country in a bus is fun and the songs are classics.  Their meeting and interactions with a group of Aborigines have to be seen to be appreciated.   If you want to see the trailer click here.  The movie is old – 1994 – but ever interesting and involving.  It shows how difficult life as a crossdresser, transvestite or transsexual really can be.

And here is a quote from an anonymous transvestite:
“The transvestite is a man who has discovered a way of being at peace with herself.  Transvestism is a gift, not a curse; we should be grateful for it.”