Proud to be a scourer from Mataura


Today was Merle Haggard’s birthday,which would have passed me by had I not heard it mentioned on Breakfast  followed by the name of one of his songs, I’m Proud To Be An Okie from Muskogee.

That took me back to an Otago University capping show in 1970-something (five, six or seven?) when Jon Gadsby parodied it with I’m Proud To Be A Scourer from Mataura.

It’s probably fortunate that the rest of the lyrics are lost in the mists of time.

QWERTY vs 1,2,3


 When I was in the sixth form we were given the choice of a study period or typing on Thursday mornings.

This was way back in 1973 before computers were common place and typing was normally the preserve of girls in the commercial classes. But the idea of typing appealed more than studying so that’s what I did and I’ve had many reasons to be grateful for those lessons since.

My hand writing is appalling so being able to type essays was a definite help at university and touch typing gave me a head start over those able only to use two fingers at journalism school. My ability to type also enabled me to do office temping when I was looking for work in London and that’s where I first came across word processors which was the start of the march by computers into offices, homes and schools.

Although handicapped by the fact I type faster than I spell, I still prefer typing to writing . In spite of that I’m very slow at texting and wonder if that’s because the letters don’t follow the QWERTY keyboard pattern.

The people who design mobile phones  must think   so because the numeric key pads are going to be replaced by QWERTY ones.

Goodbye, numeric cell phone keypads. You’re going the way of the rotary dial. Touch screens and QWERTY keyboards will take over from here, thank you.

I don’t think they’ll be able to get a phone keypad that’s big enough for touch typing and small enough to be convenient but for those of  used to QWERTY it’ll be easier than 1,2,3.

Dean’s views fresh air for high country


Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean’s views were regarded as a breath of fresh air  by farmers at a Merino field day in Tarras:

Dean . . . said the Government realised high country lessees were among those farming sustainably.

 . . . We don’t have an agenda to drive Merino off the high country and we don’t have an agenda to froce access on the land whether it is land under tenure review or freehold.

She said the Government also opposed striking rents based on amenity values and instead believed they should be linked to the property’s productivity.

. . . Dean said she was particularly interested in seeing grazing licences reintroduced in the high country and it was a view also held by the Government, if it was appropriate and backed by the farming community.

“There’s a fresh wind blowing through the New Zealand agricultural sectoar and the political agenda which you have been battling collectively and individually over the past nine years has gone.”

High country lessees have been facing uncertainty about their futures and paying rents several times greater than their gross incomes because of the previous government’s policies which sent a very clear message that farmers were neither appreciated nor wanted in the high country.

High country farmer John Perriam of Bendigo Station said Dean’s views were “refreshing” for the industry and put confidence back into the high country, which was desperately needed.

 . . . He also endorsed the Government’s views on abolishing rents based on amenity values.

“A sheep with a view doesn’t grow any more wool than one without a view.”

The beauty of the high country is a product of generations of careful stewardship by farming families but it doesn’t contribute to pastoral farm incomes. It is indeed refreshing to have an MP and a government which appreciates that.

Teddy Bear


This tile was a gift from a friend many moons ago when we were students and perpetually concerned about our weight.


Let’s pass over the irony that if we looked as slim now as we did then we’d be happy. Sigh.

The extract is from Teddy Bear by A.A. Milne, published by Methuen & Co, 1959 which  is my offering for today’s tribute to poetry month.

Teddy Bear


A bear, however hard he tries,
Grows tubby without exercise.
Our Teddy Bear is short and fat,
Which is not to be wondered at;
He gets what exercise he can
By falling off the ottoman,
But generally seems to lack
The energy to clamber back.

Now tubbiness is just the thing
Which gets a fellow wondering;
And Teddy worried lots about
The fact that he was rather stout.
He thought: “If only I were thin!
But how does anyone begin?”
He thought: “It really isn’t fair
To grudge one exercise and air.”

For many weeks he pressed in vain
His nose against the window-pane,
And envied those who walked about
Reducing their unwanted stout.
None of the people he could see
“Is quite” (he said) “as fat as me!”
Then, with a still more moving sigh,
“I mean” (he said) “as fat as I!

One night it happened that he took
A peep at an old picture-book,
Wherein he came across by chance
The picture of a King of France
(A stoutish man) and, down below,
These words: “King Louis So and So,
Nicknamed ‘The Handsome!'” There he sat,
And (think of it!) the man was fat!

Our bear rejoiced like anything
To read about this famous King,
Nicknamed “The Handsome.” There he sat,
And certainly the man was fat.
Nicknamed “The Handsome.” Not a doubt
The man was definitely stout.
Why then, a bear (for all his tub)
Might yet be named “The Handsome Cub!”

“Might yet be named.” Or did he mean
That years ago he “might have been”?
For now he felt a slight misgiving:
“Is Louis So and So still living?
Fashions in beauty have a way
Of altering from day to day.
Is ‘Handsome Louis’ with us yet?
Unfortunately I forget.”

Next morning (nose to window-pane)
The doubt occurred to him again.
One question hammered in his head:
“Is he alive or is he dead?”
Thus, nose to pane, he pondered; but
The lattice window, loosely shut,
Swung open. With one startled “Oh!”
Our Teddy disappeared below.

There happened to be passing by
A plump man with a twinkling eye,
Who, seeing Teddy in the street,
Raised him politely to his feet,
And murmured kindly in his ear
Soft words of comfort and of cheer:
“Well, well!” “Allow me!” “Not at all.”
“Tut-tut! A very nasty fall.”

Our Teddy answered not a word;
It’s doubtful if he even heard.
Our bear could only look and look:
The stout man in the picture-book!
That ‘handsome’ King – could this be he,
This man of adiposity?
“Impossible,” he thought. “But still,
No harm in asking. Yes I will!”

“Are you,” he said,”by any chance
His Majesty the King of France?”
The other answered, “I am that,”
Bowed stiffly, and removed his hat;
Then said, “Excuse me,” with an air,
“But is it Mr Edward Bear?”
And Teddy, bending very low,
Replied politely, “Even so!”

They stood beneath the window there,
The King and Mr Edward Bear,
And, handsome, if a trifle fat,
Talked carelessly of this and that….
Then said His Majesty, “Well, well,
I must get on,” and rang the bell.
“Your bear, I think,” he smiled. “Good-day!”
And turned, and went upon his way.

A bear, however hard he tries,
Grows tubby without exercise.
Our Teddy Bear is short and fat,
Which is not to be wondered at.
But do you think it worries him
To know that he is far from slim?
No, just the other way about –
He’s proud of being short and stout. 

        – A.A. Milne –

Shadbolt and McCormick to the rescue


Tim Shadbolt and Gary McCormick aren’t usually regarded as heroes but  they didn’t hesitate to help when they came across a potentially fatal accident.

The Southland Times has the story, one of the morals of which could be: speak softly and carry a hunting knife.

Where there’s wool . . .


We watched shearers taking the fleeces off sheep in amazement in Cumbria in amazement. It wasn’t so much wool as hair and it was going to be burned.

That would never happen in New Zealand, we said with just a touch of smugness, because when you don’t have subsidies you wouldn’t waste your energy and money on sheep with worthless fleeces.

But we spoke too soon. The ODT reports that when the costs of shearing came to more than the returns from wool Bruce Willis, chair of Federated Farmers Meat & Wool section, decided to farm sheep for meat only.

Merino is doing better, helped by quality products and niche marketing with brands like Icebreaker and Untouched World, but strong, or coarse as it is so prosaicly called – wool has gone backwards.

Much of the world covers their floors in tiles rather than carpets and research into alternative uses for the fibre has had mixed success.

There was hope that wool could be used to soak up oil spills but that doesn’t seem to have gone anywhere. Wool insulation had a point of difference with consumers who prefer natural to synthetic fibres but isn’t widely used.

AgResearch’s stab and flame resistant wool fabric aroused interest at last year’s fashion week, but we need much more than that or a lot more farmers will be farming sheep for meat not fibre because where there’s wool there’s not much money.

There’s none so blind . . .


Goodness me, does she realise what she’s saying?

If we don’t learn from the lessons of history we’re doomed to repeat them.  

These are the words of the former Prime Minister, the one who spent nine years showing she’d failed to learn from the failed polices of the early eighties and the years before then by increasing the dead weight of the state and turning middle and upper income earners into beneficiaries.

But Helen Clark thinks Labour could be doing a better job now which clearly shows she still hasn’t learned anything from recent history.

Yesterday’s Q&A  gave further insight into her blindness. Paul Holmes asked her if she’d do anything differently and she replied:

 I wouldn’t even go there because I never look back, that’s part of my style, I know journalists often got fed up with me saying move on move on, but I do. You know in politics there’s always an opposition employed to pick over the things you’ve done and why this why that why not the other way, well let them do it but I’m moving on to the next thing.

Living in the past isn’t healthy, but if you don’t look back how can you learn from history?

Kiwi unless it suits to use the Aussies


Those Kiwibank ads, putting down the Australian banks, push all the nationalistic buttons.

They obviously aren’t concerned that the ones which use the Fred Dagg voice are doing it without John Clarke’s permission.

But if their point of difference is nationalism they’ve set themselves up for a fall when their actions don’t match their words.

The ODT broke the story that Kiwibank uses an Australian call centre to handle its Kiwisaver customers.

Kiwiblog called it hilarious hypocricy and Fairfacts Media also uses two h words – humbug and hypocricy.

ODT areaders aren’t amused but they do agree it’s two faced. An on-line poll which asked if the bank should use an Australian call centre, unscientific though it might be, was decisive:

Yes, if it makes economic sense got  6% (13 votes);  7% (15 votes) went to don’t care and  87% (180 votes) went to No, not in light of its ad campaign.
A total of 208 votes probably isn’t statistically significant. But it does indicate the bank will have a credibility problem if it’s only Kiwi until it suits it to cross the Tasman for services.

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