Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Morning in the Waiotira

I know I've posted similar photos before but when I woke this morning I thought just how lucky we had been with the weather over the time I'd been away.  Rain had been promised but, except for an hour or so before we ventured out one morning, the weather had been very kind to us.  And when I opened the curtains this morning the mist was magical and as it cleared the views were stunning:

On the way into Whangerei for the plane home I managed to photograph the ever-elusive Peacocks on the other side of the creek (thanks to the 30x 810mm equivalent image stabilised lens):

Am I The Only One

who is unhappy with the new arrangement for comments on Blogger?

This relates to blogs which have now had 'subscribe to this post' removed by Blogger.

Now when I make a comment on a blog which is moderated (quite a few that I follow) I have no way of knowing whether the comment has been put on the blog unless I go back and look.  I have no way of knowing what other comments have been made unless I go back and look.  And it would appear that I have no way of knowing whether the original blogger has replied or commented on my comment unless I go back and look.

I know that quite a few of you from the comments on my recent post on the subject of commenting didn't tick for replies anyway and have no interest on what others say on a blog you have commented on.  

So what is the point of commenting if the comment is simply seen only by the original blogger (in the case of a comment made on a blog with moderated comments when none were showing when the comment was made?).  Or is that what most bloggers want?  

On many of the blogs I follow the bloggers always follow up on a comment.  Will I now have to scour their posts to see what they have said?  Will they bother?  Will I bother?

This seems totally at odds with Bloggers new threaded commenting.

Is this a knee-jerk reaction to something that is going to alter again?  Is there a way around it?

One Good Thing from Blogger seems to be the inclusion wef three hours ago of gadgets on the new Dynamic Views.  I've been a bit puzzled as to why we have profiles when they can't be seen on the blog in dynamic view.  Presumably you have to join Google + or go via the Followers (which are to be removed did someone say?).

It used to be so simple.

Rant over.  For now!

Monday, 27 February 2012

A Rival Advert

Watching The News this evening I commented that I thought the advert I Bet You Smile which came on was one of the best I'd seen for a long time.  However Pauline thinks that this Mitre 10 (B & Q in UK or Home Depot UK/Canada) advert is funnier (but then Pauline is an Ozzie who's lived for many years here in NZ).

Churches of The Hokianga: Pakaraka

The Church of The Holy Trinity in Pakaraka was the first church we called at on the way from the Airport at Whangerei to Kohukohu.  This church was endowed by Archdeacon Henry Williams who was a missionary to the Maori people for 44 years.  the church was erected by his sons and opened for worship on 23 April 1851.  I think that, despite being in better condition than most of the churches we saw, it was at 160 years, also the oldest.  I'll correct that if need be as I check other churches.


The wall hanging depicts the Holy Trinity and is made of flax from kneelers used in the church and made circa 1916.

The harmonium is undated but many of the churches had a harmonium.  I was particularly interested because Mum had a harmonium which she played occasionally - we had very tolerant neighbours.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Churches of The Hokianga

For three days Pauline and I have been on a pilgrimage to see and photograph the churches of the Hotianga in New Zealand's Northland.   I suspect that some may think it odd that an atheist (that's me, I'm not sure what Pauline is) is running around with an interest in churches.  It's quite simple.  As one of the people we met, a Maori by the name of Mr Pickering, said when we asked whether there was a good congregation at the church "The old are dying off so they don't come any more.  The young don't come to church.  The rest ?.  So the churches are empty."  But they come to be buried.  For me what is important is the role that the church played as a focal point in society and the conversion and education in European language and ways of the indigenous population of New Zealand.  In addition there are so many attractive old (by New Zealand standards) church buildings occupying the most significant places in the landscape and in the culture and history of the country that I feel their preservation is both culturally and historically important.

I could post on a lot of old churches which I'm sure would bore you very much.  Notwithstanding the latter statement I shall probably put many of them on the blog over the next while just so that I have a record of them.

The area we covered for the exploration is shown on this map.  We were staying in Kohukohu.

I Hate Rats

My Dad always used to say that one should never hate anything in this world.  He was, of course, correct.   I used to pass this sage advice on to vehemently vegetarian surrogate step-daughter.  Her response was to affect mock annoyance, stamp her foot and say "OK, Graham, I don't like it a very lot then."  I think that might not have been my response in the middle of the night from which I've just woken.  At 0245 I woke to a noise in the roof space.  I'd woken to it on the previous two nights but much later and thought it was birds on the roof.  It wasn't.  Last night it was louder and more persistent and 5 hours later is still going on.  If I had had a shotgun there would be several holes in the ceiling!  As it was I put my iPod headphones on and tried to block out the noise.  It's a family of rats scurrying, scratching, feeding, and partying.  It's a good job we are not staying here tonight!  The house ain't big enough for us all!

Friday, 24 February 2012

How Big is Your Blogland?

CJ made the comment in his post yesterday that "I couldn't cope with the hundreds of e-mails that I'd get if I ticked the little box on people's blogs! I know GB does but he has access to the internet on his phone and seems to follow about 200 blogs and read their replies as well. He always did manage his time better than me."  Oddly that's the first time I have realised the big difference between our Blogland lives and the way we follow bblogs.  I actually follow very few Blogs (excluding family I follow around 20 or so and not all contribute regularly) but those I follow I follow in detail and I try to read all the comments made on them and I try to follow up on all the comments made on mine.

So although my Blogland horizons have slowly expanded over the years my Blogland is still very small.  I do, however, feel that I know my Blogland friends quite well. I also enjoy the discussions which posts and comments can lead to both within and without the comment box on a blog itself.

I think that I realised just how different my approach to Blogland is when I read a post recently after being directed to it in someone's post on word verification.  The blogger said "Just being 100% point blank, here.  I follow between 300 and 400 blogs.  I leave a TON of comments all over Blogland every day.  I CANNOT CONTINUE TO DO SO IF I RUN INTO WORD VERIFICATION AT SO MANY SITES!  I don't mean to be rude, but my time is better spent in other pursuits than decoding and typing nonsense.  Let's face it, we all have limited time to give to blogging (and I already give too much!)"  With over 700 followers and 156 comments on that post alone I could see where she was coming from.  But it certainly is not where I want to be!

A Journey to Northland

Yesterday I left on the 1255 flight from Napire to Auckland to connect with the flight to Whangerei.  That was the idea.  It was a hot and reasonably good day in Napier with gale-force Northelies.  The plane was late.  On board we were told the flight time would take longer than normal (but the eta would still give me 10 minutes to catch the connection).  We landed 10 minutes after my onward flight should have left.  Luck was on my side and that, too, was running late.  So I arrived in Whangerie only about 50 minutes late despite being held over the airport whilst a severe squall went through.

The Northland break looked doomed to be spent in wetness as promised by the weather forecasts as we drove West:

Soon the skies grew slightly less heavy:

And as evening came we arrived at our temporary accommodation in Kohukohu overlooking the Hokianga Harbour.  The view from the deck was, well I'll leave you to draw your own conclusions:

This morning, though, the forecast rains didn't materialise and we woke to:

I was delighted because although we could still have done out pilgrimage around the churches of the South-West of Northland the photography would not have been the same in the the murk of a rainy day.  I like the sun!

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Thankful Thursday

It's good to see Jaz back on Facebook.  I'm thankful that she and Mark and the girls are settling into their new home.  I hope that Jaz continues improving and that their lives settle down and are full of Good Things.

On a more mundane level I'm off to Northland in an hour or so for a long weekend exploring.  Doubtless I'll be writing all about it.

At the moment here the wind is near enough gale force but it's not raining and the temperature is nearly 30℃ (86℉).  Rain is forecast for the next 3 or 4 days just about everywhere and especially Northland.  Ah well.

I'm sure that I'll be thankful to be there - just perhaps a little less thankful than if the sun was shining!

I Bet You Smile!

Is this the best advert ever?  Probably not.  But it comes pretty near the top of my list!

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Christchurch - One Year Later

Napier has just celebrated Art Deco weekend.  This is not just a celebration of Napier's Art Deco heritage.  It is also the weekend when the Napier earthquake of 1931 is remembered and the efforts of those who re-built the city from the ruins are commemorated.

The Napier quake happened on Tuesday 3 February 1931.  This day last year, 80 years 19 days 2 hours and 4 minutes after the Napier Quake the February Quake struck Christchurch.

I know of no better way of showing you the outcome of the Christchurch Quake than suggesting you visit Fiona's post A Quake Milestone next week - One Year Later.

My comment on Fiona's post was:
Few who are living today and who has not lived through all that Cantabrians have lived through over the last year can have any true idea what it has been like.  Perhaps some of the very senior residents of Napier when the 1931 earthquake struck can remember it.  But for people like me who have followed this blog over the last year it is unimaginable.  That does not stop it having been an extremely harrowing and emotional experience.  The difference is that when I have wiped the tears temporarily from my eyes and the thoughts temporarily from my mind I am free of the aftershocks and living with the daily physicality of the City.

I have said it many times before and I can but repeat it: I cannot imagine what you are all going through and my heart goes out to you.
I cannot think of a better summing up for the day than that by Fiona summed at the end of her post:
It is certainly not all sad - there continue to be pluses among the changes; it has been nice to meet new people, have different friendships, changed priorities and re-appreciate the small stuff, families, a roof over our heads. Just today we talked at work about how good it was to enjoy certain things - and I mentioned that just having constant power and water still seems a huge positive to me!

You really don't know what you've got 'til it's gone.

I hope you will think of us all at 12.51pm Wednesday 22nd Feb as we observe two minutes silence.
I know that I shall.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Thanks Colin

I had a good night laying on my tum and just waking every couple of hours to stretch my back and wonder where that particular earthquake was centered.  Answer: far enough away and deep enough not to be a problem.  I returned to the physio this afternoon.  I was stiff and rather wary because it seemed to be improving slowly but surely.  I got up off the table a new man.  Well that's exaggerating but I got up and was able to walk without pain.  Colin, for that is my hero's name, just asked how I was.  I replied that I was good - very good.  No question of John 5:8 or Mark 2:9 (it's amazing what a Prep School run by Roman Catholics instils into you for life) just good honest physio. 

Warbirds 2

One of the most well-known names in aviation history must be the de Havilland Tiger Moth.  8868 were built between 1932 and 1944.  Here are two of the very many survivors:

de Havilland D82 Tiger Moth
de Havilland DH-82A Tiger Moth Forward cockpit
de Havilland DH-82A Tiger Moth Rear cockpit
de Havilland DH-82A Tiger Moth II Aircraft,
de Havilland DH-82A Tiger Moth II Aircraft,


I started a blog post this morning around 0710.  It's now 1145 and it's hardly progressed at all.  I have, however, read lots of blogs, got the washing out, researched the internet for information on the subjects of some of my photos and have indexed and titled some as well.   I've written the odd email or two and a birthday card.  I've done two crosswords and had breakfast and drunk my morning coffee.  All in all it's been a thoroughly enjoyable and lazy morning.  All because I can't go and play croquet or, for that matter, do anything which involves moving my body other than slowly and carefully.  However what sprung to mind was SP's comment that her posts were just done off the cuff and rarely took more than 10 minutes.  It takes me longer than that to decide what the post is going to be about!  And then I came across the following which I'd drafted back in April last year but never posted.

How long does it take you to write your average blog post?  Or your average email?  Or a letter?  Or, indeed, anything.   Of course there isn't really an answer to that question other than responding by asking 'How long is a piece of string?'.  I've just written a post which has taken nearly two hours but that's not the whole story.  I had to download the photos from my camera and my phone.  I was, sort of, watching the TV News and making dinner too and in true AAADD fashion I managed to do (and not do) a number of other things as well.

I was thinking of the time it's taken because in a recent post, Terminology, on her blog, Katherine remarked quoted, in context, “I didn't have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.” It would appear that Mark Twain made the comment.   Apparently, however, nothing is ever truly original because Blaise Pascal (French mathematician and physicist 1623 - 1662), in his "Lettres provinciales", letter 16, 1657 said "I have made this letter longer than usual, because I lack the time to make it short (Je n'ai fait celle-ci plus longue parceque je n'ai pas eu le loisir de la faire plus courte)".

The point of all that rambling is that I spent my career making sure that letters, cases, reports, legal documents, the words spoken by politicians (but written by their civil servants) etc were always clear, precise and, hopefully, open only to the interpretation (or in some cases interpretations!) that were desired.

In many ways I would have to agree with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes in the 1891 novel ‘A Case of Identity’  when he said “It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important.”

However now that I am supposed to be writing more entertaining prose where, let's face it, no one really cares whether I have crossed the is and dotted the ts (er that doesn't sound quite right correct does it?), I find it very hard to break old habits.


Now in polite circles in the UK that's not a word to be bandied around lightly.  In New Zealand it can be heard even on the croquet lawns from the lips of refined 90 + year young ladies who would think it's restricted use in the UK very odd indeed.

Anyway on the lawns this afternoon I said something like 'Oh dear, that's inconvenient!' as I bent over to take a shot and a searing pain went across my back and through my hips.  That was the end of my croquet for the day - and probably for a week or two as well.  We shall see.

New Zealand is a good place for such an accident to happen though.  Within the hour I was on the physio's table having my back examined and worked on.  I have another appointment tomorrow afternoon.  I'd be lucky to see a physio in the UK for weeks - I'd probably be better before I could see one.

So this evening I am stiff and sore but I can walk.  I hope that I can get out of bed tomorrow! 

Monday, 20 February 2012

Mile High Club

Also parked at the airport was:

Warbirds 1

On Saturday Napier/Hastings Airport threw open its gates (which is a metaphorical way of saying that they were having an airshow because their gates are never shut) and all the aircraft which were flying for the Art Deco weekend were on display and some were taking passengers for flights too.  I shall show more planes over the next while but just now I shall show you two:

Although not originally an RNZAF Mustang, the NZ Warbirds Association operates an ex-Indonesian Air Force Mustang P51 built around 1945 in the markings of NZ2415 from № 3 (Canterbury) Squadron:

This Curtis Kittyhawk IV has a dual identity. It is A29-1050 on the rhs and A29-448 on the lhs.  It is probably the only plane in private hands still to have working machine guns.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Steam Locomotive Ja1271

Those of you who have followed this blog for more than a year will be familiar with the significance of Art Deco weekend to Napier as the Art Deco capital of the world with a programme of events which has something for everyone and lots of it too.  It is also the weekend when the Napier earthquake of 1931 is remembered and the efforts of those who re-built the city from the ruins are commemorated.

As so much of the weekend is based around outside activities and the city centre is mobbed during the whole weekend the weather we've had for the previous weeks and the forecast for the weekend did not bode well.  As luck would have it the sun shone out of a clear(ish) blue sky for the two days and the rain didn't start until about 10.30pm tonight (Sunday).

I have enough material and photos - even allowing for all the posts I've done in previous years - to amuse myself (and hopefully you as well) for days and perhaps even weeks to come.

I shall start with one of the most popular things which I had never seen before despite the fact that it makes many journeys from Napier during the Art Deco week.  Yesterday I managed to catch it when it was at Napier Station prior to it one of it's journeys.

'It' runs under the romantic title of Steam Locomotive Ja1271 a 4-8-2 110 ton beast designed by New Zealand Railways and built at their Hillside workshops in Dunedin in 1956.  It was withdrawn from service in 1971 and returned to heritage operation in 1997.


I should add that the children in the last photo are ostensibly in period costume!

On Secretly Skint and Stalkers

A number of people who follow SP, some of whom do not blog or comment, have asked me if I know what has happened to her given that when you go to her blog you get the following:

On the 14 February SP posted the following:

I Get to Have My Very Own Stalker!

I've often wondered why, when I've posted a comment on someone else's blog,  it doesn't appear instantly, but is saved  "for approval."

I've always had open comments on my blog, and have never had a problem. Well, apart from getting an email pointing out that as none of the writer's friends were experiencing problems with their French tax returns,  the ongoing problems that we're having with ours, must therefore  be a figment of my imagination. I WISH!

So, today I've had a few comments left, of course by "Anonymous"  and with an @noreply email address.

I was accused of many things, including being a liar and recycling a blog that I wrote at the time of, and about, Laughing Boy's illness, when things were at their bleakest for us.

I'm not going to go into detail about Laughing Boy's illness, it's not something that he would thank me for broadcasting, but for many months, we were just about at the end of our tether, and I wrote to try and make sense of what was happening to our lives.

It was an awful period, when we both withdrew from just about everyone around us, and spent our days going on long walks together and researching how we could cope with his illness.

As I wrote before (here) had it not been for the French health service, who eventually diagnosed correctly, and treated his illness, our lives would have been very different.

As for recycling, if I've alluded to events that happened at that time, I've always written "three years ago" before writing about them.

So, I, like Britney Spears and other celebs, get to have my own stalker, hence the "saved for approval" on my blog too.

Can't help thinking that whoever" Anonymous" is, (and I suspect that I know) they must be a bit of a wuss, if they daren't put their name to something that they have written.
Between that post on the 14 February SP posted a number of other articles until the 16 February and then nothing.  I think, given the posts between the Stalker post and the last post on the 16th, SP is taking a break until things settle down with the stalker, with LB's problems and the various other things that are happening.

Given the number of her Blogland friends who supported her after the Stalker post I think SP knows she is not alone.  I, for one, will not be removing SP from my blogroll just yet.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

On The Social Importance of Milk Bottles

Adrian went on holiday from Blogland.  It was partly because he was having a good time and partly because in The English Lake District broadband cover is sparse and erratic.  However it is evident that some of his friends were concerned:  probably because he's a mildly eccentric and very likeable chap (not that I'd ever tell him that).

The absence made me think about milk bottles.  Some of my readers may know what they are and remember the days (before refrigerators - which unlike fridges don't have a d) when they were delivered daily to the doorstep.  It's still possible to have milk delivered on Lewis although I suspect it's very rare nowadays.

When you went on holiday one of the first things you did was cancel the milk (and the newspapers).  Obviously you didn't want a load of sour milk to accumulate nor could one generally afford the luxury of waste in those days.

If you didn't cancel the milk and it accumulated the milkman or the postie would be concerned and would tell the neighbours.  Neighbours would usually know if you were on holiday.  If you weren't - or they didn't think you were - then they would immediately be concerned and raise the alarm.

Thus might the humble milk bottle have been your saviour.

This made me think how vulnerable we are in modern society if we live alone.  After Mum died I used to phone her 93 year old brother (who lived about 550 miles away from Lewis in Anglesey) every night.  He was a bit reclusive.  One night he didn't answer the phone.  After a couple of hours I got in touch with a neighbour.  He had had a stroke and was on the floor a few feet from the phone and unable to reach it - it might as well have been a million miles away.  Had he had the stroke after the phone call instead of before it then it would have been 24 hours before he'd have been discovered.  If I'd missed an evening for some reason then my next call may well have been too late.

He was, however, an exceptionally methodical man and if he'd had milk delivered and had not taken the milk bottle in that day then it would have been noticed by the evening.

Thus might the humble milk bottle have been his saviour.

Of course the story of the humble milk bottle, though real enough, is simply allegorical of the issues that face us in a society that lets one in three people over the age of 60 go a whole week without speaking to anyone at Christmas (according to figures from the UK's Office for National Statistics).

Makes you think!

Friday, 17 February 2012

What Would You Put Your Box?

Three years ago this month - I can't believe that it's so long ago - I read a post by Jan of Stitchings and Other Ramblings entitled Please excuse me while I have a proud mummy moment.  The thing that was causing the mummy moment was a poem by Ellinor aged 9.  I thought that it was brilliant and made a note in my drafts to do a post.  I've returned to it on a number of occasions but have now decided to resurrect it.  Unfortunately Jan didn't post a lot after that and hasn't posted since May last year.  Nor does she have an email address so I'm hoping that she and Ellinor will not mind me quoting from her blog. 

Jan's post:
I won't be offended if you don't want to read this entry but I just wanted to share.
Ellie has been going to creative writing class every couple of weeks after school.  It's run by the headmistress and she allows them to let their imaginations run riot and they can sit, lie, stand where ever they want and feel comfortable - it's totally informal.
Well Ellie came back with a poem she'd written and after reading it I suspiciously questioned where her ideas had come from and whether she'd copied pieces or ideas from things she'd heard or read. She assured me she hadn't and was most put out that I'd think that. Here it is.

My Magic Box by Ellinor

I will put in my box
the shimmer of a sparkling star on a simmering night
the bark from the mouth of a black Jasper Labrador
the top of my Ted touching the television

I will put in my box
a snowflake with a falling heart
a hat of the finest tartan from Loch Lomond
a swirling star from an eternal space

I will put in my box
four orange wishes spoken in Welsh
the last cough of an old father
and the first wink of a black fly

I will put in my box
A violet moon and a multicoloured sun
A mummy on a broomstick
And a witch on a simmering pyramid

My box is made from the finest velvet
With sugar on the lid and books in the corners
Its hinges are the colour of the sun

I shall read in my box
on the top of a million hearts beating together
then find a diamond
the colour of the moon

Age: 9
Feb 2009
I've often wondered what I would put in my box but whatever goes in it will be expressed prosaically and not with such poetry and style as used by Ellinor: Aged 9.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Thankful Thursday

Today I'm very thankful for a happy and smiling Catriona.
It was because of my promise to Catriona that I would return when she graduated from pre-school to primary school on her fifth birthday that I decided on the spur of the moment when booking my flight to come here for 6 months. I made that promise in 2005.  This year she will be eleven and I will have seen her through to her next school.
Tempus fugit.

A Surfeit of Sleep?

It's 0518 and instead of getting up as I might occasionally do at this hour, I am going to turn off the light and see if I can get some sleep.   It is rare for me not to be asleep withing minutes (or even seconds) of putting my head on the pillow and to sleep solidly until I wake in the morning ready to meet the next day.  I usually go to bed very late.  Last night I was reading in bed (a relatively new thing in my life) and put the light out at midnight.  I'd had the computer backing up a clone since the early evening and it was due to finish around 0130.  I knew it would switch itself off so went to sleep without thinking about it - consciously.  At 0152 I woke:  wide awake.  I got up and checked the computer and it hadn't switched off so I did that and came back to bed.  I don't know how much music I've listened too as I floated in a world somewhere between sleep and wake, dream and reality for two hours before I eventually got up at 0430 and made myself a green tea with lots of fresh ginger grated into it.  I know that during those several seemingly interminable hours I spent a lot of time wondering whether I could afford to retire from work and why some people I was talking to couldn't hear me yet some could.  The mind is a very strange place - well mine is anyway!

As I wrote this I thought about a post I wrote a few years ago (found it thanks to Mark's Postvorta: Can You Sleep at Night?) relating the story of a Ghanain lady who said to a friend of mine "You white people you don't sleep at night.  You white people worry.  You have too many things.  I have nothing.  I don't worry.  I sleep at night."  I don't have anything to worry about (that I know of) so I'm looking for another cause.  I think it's because I've had too much sleep recently!  A surfeit of sleep.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

A Joke

Telling jokes is one of those things that I do very badly.  It's not the only thing I do badly by any means but as badly goes my joke telling ability is at the top end of the scale.  So why am I about to tell a joke?  Because it is pertinent to the post I wrote entitled "On Rain, Poetry and The Law". Actually it's supposed to be true so it's probably more of a story than a joke and I'm marginally, and only marginally, better at telling stories.  So here goes.

One day in the House of Lords one of the Honorable Members, a Tory, referred to 'The man on the back of the Clapham omnibus'.  One of his opponents in the debate, a Socialist, remarked that the Tory wouldn't know what it was like on the back of any omnibus never mind the Clapham one as his only mode of transport in the City was a taxi.  Stung by this remark the Tory decided to remedy this defect in his life experience (or more probably eliminate this particular weakness in his debating armour).  So after the sitting he asked one of the attendants where he could get a bus.  Having been pointed in the direction of a bus stop (ok, elementary to you and to me) he got on the bus.  When the conductor (it's a very old story) asked him where he was going he asked for a ticket to 6 Warminster Close.  Quod erat demonstrandum: the Socialist won his point.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Kitchen Gadgets

I am, as some of my friends and readers of Eagleton Notes on the subject know, a kitchen gadget person.  I love my gadgets and I have a lot of them.  One of the ones that really does save you time and energy was blogged about by my brother, Scriptor, a short while ago here.  It produced a comment by my niece Helen saying that she too liked her gadgets and got some of them at Williams Samona.   Of course I couldn't resist a quick look.  I was quite surprised by some of the gadgets but none more so than by a gadget for cutting bananas.  That has to be the oddest gadget of all time.  It would take so much longer to clean it all out after use (never mind actually using it in the first place) than using a simple knife. 


Monday, 13 February 2012

On Rain, Poetry and The Law.

This has, by common agreement, been the most miserable summer here in Hawkes Bay that most people seem to be able to recall.  Of course these statements are often made when the weather is miserable but there is absolutely no doubt that this is the most miserable summer since I first came here to New Zealand in 2005.

It has always been one of our family sayings that:

“The rain it raineth on the just
And also on the unjust fella;
But chiefly on the just, because
The unjust steals the just’s umbrella.”

I wondered this evening whether that saying was just a family one or whether it had wider provenance.  Lo and behold I discovered that it was attributed to the English Judge, Lord Bowen (Charles Synge Christopher Bowen, Baron Bowen QC, PC (1 January 1835 – 10 April 1894)).

Now I wouldn't expect any of my readers to have heard of this august member of the judiciary however, as it so happens, the name was known to me.  Why?  Well when I read law one of the most famous and basic tests was that of the "man on the back of the Clapham omnibus".  (The man on the Clapham omnibus is a hypothetical reasonable person, used by the courts in English law where it is necessary to decide whether a party has acted in the way that a reasonable person should.)

Who had originated this test?  You guessed it: Charles Bowen as he then was as Counsel in the famous Tichborne Case.

As an aside Lord Bowen was no literary slouch either and amongst many other things translated Virgil's Eclogues, and Aeneid, books i.-vi.  

More interestingly, for me at least, was another of his quotes:  “When I hear of an 'equity' in a case like this, I am reminded of a blind man in a dark room - looking for a black hat - which isn't there”  I just love that.

Having said all that, despite the dreary day and the rain, I played a game of Association Croquet this afternoon and played much to my personal satisfaction.   Then I played a hugely enjoyable game of one-ball with my original AC mentor and at the end he won by the narrowest margin possible.  We finished, wet and very happy. 
I had originally intended to quote Longfellow's poem The Rainy Day but felt that it's tenor, though very apt in some ways, in no way reflected the joy and lightness of my mood.  Nevertheless as I'd looked the words up to remind myself of them I shall quote them anyway:

The day is cold, and dark, and dreary
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
The vine still clings to the mouldering wall,
But at every gust the dead leaves fall,
And the day is dark and dreary.

My life is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
My thoughts still cling to the mouldering Past,
But the hopes of youth fall thick in the blast,
And the days are dark and dreary.

Be still, sad heart! and cease repining;
Behind the clouds is the sun still shining;
Thy fate is the common fate of all,
Into each life some rain must fall,
Some days must be dark and dreary.

Tomorrow the forecast is for showers; Wednesday it's rain; Thursday and Friday showers.  In fact the weather map is almost totally devoid of sun this week.  The vignerons are getting worried.

Me?  Tonight I couldn't be happier.