Saturday, 27 June 2015

Making Friends The Old Fashioned Way

Milly, one of my school friends, my very first friend to be precise, sent me some information on the way she is attempting to make friends as she grows older.  I had been extolling the virtues of Facebook  to her, and Twitter, and even encouraging her to start writing a blog.   She has been cautiously interested and has learned to send emails, which is more than I can say for the husband for whom I provided a Tablet at least two years ago.  But enough of that because this post is not about him.
Milly asked me what the purpose of `likes’ and `followers’ was  because she was genuinely keen on extending her social circle - and I tried to explain though to be honest I am not terribly clear about this myself.
`You have to be likeable yourself,’   I said brightly, `Learn to like other people – and they will like you in return.  Some may even follow you.’
`Like disciples?’  she asked uncertainly.
`Not quite like that,’ I told her.
She thought that was a pity and I insisted that she get started. 
She said she would and  today she sent me a progress report.   She had started by attempting to first make friends outside of Facebook and Twitter she said, whilst applying the same principles used by Social Media.
This is how it works.  Every day Milly goes down to the bottom of her street and tells passers- by what she has just had for breakfast, where she went yesterday, where she had dinner the previous evening and what she plans to do that day.    If they pause to chat for a moment  she tells them what she thinks about almost everything.    She is able to follow this up with photographs which she keeps in her pocket specifically for the purpose.  She hands out  pictures of her family, her dog - one of her doing some gardening and one of her hubby in the local library choosing reading matter from the History section..
It’s not all about her of course.  She is careful to listen to the news of those she accosts – she encourages them to tell her more and tells them that she likes them.  She has given little cards with hearts on to some of her new friends.  They were very pleased.
She says these ploys really do work.  She is making friends and gathering followers.  She currently has two people following her – though they both seem to be police officers.

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Persian Food In Parnell

RUMI is the latest kid on the block in Parnell.   We went for lunch today and were pleasantly surprised.  I had been busy informing the husband that he would be unlikely to find a wine list in a Persian restaurant and I was wrong!   We also found a window table - and some rather splendid lamb.  We will undoubtedly return.
Reza Rumi is not by any means a novice restauranteur - he has restaurants in Teheran and London.  He should do well in Parnell. 

Sunday, 21 June 2015

GAY MARRIAGE, ANTI-SMACKING and similar matters

I have never thought very much about Family First and until today knew little about them.  You could say that the threat of their de-registration by the Charities Registration Board had flown very much below my particular radar.
However, my interest in them has grown throughout the day and at present I would be inclined to produce an appropriate banner and demonstrate on their behalf if necessary.    There have been mutterings that their profile has been raised recently because of their `controversial’ views on same sex marriage and the anti-smacking law.   And these views seem to form part of the key reason for the threat of de-registration, being a little too contentious for a charitable organization in this day and age. 
Well you have to admit that such beliefs are  awkward and not those that you would be keen to spread far and wide;  better by far to keep quiet or change the subject.    All of us are well aware of the opinions we are expected to hold aren’t we?
When the anti-smacking law was first proposed my own reaction was one of resigned amusement.  Surely this must be a joke?   I was glad that my own children had grown beyond that general definition, one in particular who, without the threat of substantial painful repercussions for some of his behaviours might well have ended up on Death Row if indeed we had such a thing.    Generally speaking, however, I am not in favour of thrashing children within an inch of their lives and have only been known to venture in that direction under extreme circumstances.  
Summing up on  no smacking:  I did not believe for a moment that the idea would catch on and so largely I ignored the progress of the proposal.
Then Gay Marriage burst upon the scene and this time I’m ashamed to say that I laughed out loud.  Gay WHAT?    I admit that I should have known better because for one thing we all know that it is not safe to find anything amusing in two people who love each other making a genuine commitment one to another.   On the contrary such a situation is both saintly and righteous. 
And here I have to insist that I have nothing whatsoever against women who are physically attracted to women or men physically attracted to men.   Live and let live is my philosophy and quite honestly with my particular background I am not in a position to be among the first to cast stones of any shape or size.
But……marriage? …..really?  On this occasion, I counselled myself, good sense will prevail.  Marriage after all was on the way out for young  modern couples.  Why on earth would Gay people so desperately wish to take on the ties of boring old wedlock?   They already had Civil Unions after all  -  and without much argument from right wing bigots such as myself and my husband, both lapsed Catholics,  or even very elderly Auntie Vi in Dunedin who went to Mass on a daily basis. 
Could it be, I asked myself,  simply because whilst masquerading under a veil of  self- righteousness and reverence the high-jacking of marriage would cause  even the most lapsed and ungodly amongst us a high degree of distaste?   Was it possible that the motivation  for the move  might be more aligned to that of those  fearsome female chauvanists  in the nineteen nineties who preached breastfeeding like missionaries, baring mammary glands as publicly as possible and daring diners, commuters and worshippers to criticize them?
I’m very likely to be quite wrong about all this of course but these nagging little notions are often hard to dislodge.  In the interim I am almost tempted to join Family First.


The Southern Health Board was recently sacked – presumably with good reason.  Why can’t we solve the problem of Len Brown and his merry mob in a similar fashion?   Why on earth can’t the lot of them be sacked and replaced with a Commissioner?  What would be wrong with that?   
This is a serious question incidentally.

Saturday, 20 June 2015


How I loathe and detest the dastardly business of dissemination of information about what I have so recently written.   Now that I realise these emotions and reactions are common I don’t feel much better about it and long to be in a more secure financial position – one that would support the hiring of a professional publicist. 
Those who write seem to be inordinately territorial – at times so hugely so it is astonishing to behold.   Each time I stumble across this attitude I am freshly flabbergasted.  After all, none of us is likely to set the literary world ablaze with what trickles through our laptops.

A couple of years ago I wrote a book about growing up in a corner of North Kent, in a small industrial riverside town.    I enjoyed writing the book and though I say it myself, it reads quite well.   So when I discovered that very same community from whence I came now boasted a Local History Society, meeting on a monthly basis in the Church Hall – yes indeed, that same ancient Church I describe on more than one occasion within my very pages – well, naturally enough I was quite sure they would be interested in my book.  Their website seemed to imply that they were keen to hear memories from locals, etc., etc.

But offers of free copies of my text met with a sullen silence.    I thought they must have gone into winter hibernation perhaps and so I waited until fresh news of local events appeared on their tantalizing and shiny home page.   I emailed again, and this time cunningly ordered a couple of the books I noted had been recently written by their president.
His books arrived – promptly.  I read them and was suitably impressed.  Surely he would now be interested in including my book in his list of volumes available to members?   After all it was one hundred per cent pertinent to the very existence of the organization he seemed to head. 
Again my messages met a brick wall of brooding taciturnity.  A hostile and deepening reservoir of reserve.
His lack of interest could not have been made more obvious if he had rung me at dawn and told me to toddle off into the hinterland of the North Kent Marshes being sure to take my book of local memories with me.   It was both discouraging and disappointing.

What’s more it brought sharply into focus an incident from thirty years previously when a writer `friend’ hesitated when I asked her to support my membership application for a local authors’ group.   She said that she thought there might be a waiting list.   She grudgingly advised she would find out for me.  She never did.