The cast of Fawlty Towers have met for the first time in more than 30 years to promote a couple of documentaries about the series.

John Cleese took the opportunity to give his views on modern televions:

If you go back to television in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s we did have the least bad television in the world. That’s quite a claim,” said Cleese.

“I don’t think it’s true any more. The main problem now is it’s run on the basis of money and the audience is too broken up. Ultimately it does take a bit of money, not a lot, but a bit, and they don’t want to pay writers and that’s what it’s down to. They don’t want to pay writers. . .

There were only 12 episodes of Fawlty Towers and all were a lot better than less bad. The series was so good it’s still being screened and several lines have become part of the language, among them: Don’t mention the war; ¿Qué? and He’s from Barcelona.

Although, while Manuel was from Barcelona, the actor who played him wasn’t even from Spain. Andrew Sachs was born in Germany and moved to Britain with his family when he was eight.

It’s difficult to pick a favourite episode,  but even had I not encountered the difficulties of an English speaker grappling with Spanish, this scene would still make me laugh:

Remembering who’s the adult


A natural inclination towards encouraging independence was reinforced by two seminars which influenced my parenting style. 

The first was taken by Wilf Jarvis  who developed Four Quadarant Leadership. It was a business seminar but the principles applied just as much to parenting.

To understand the theory, you need to imagine a graph with a child’s ability on the vertical axis and the parent’s control on the horizontal one.

Quadrant one is at the lower right where the child has no ability and the parent is in total control, that’s I’m in charge.

Quadrant two moves up and left and that’s we’ll discuss and I’ll decide. Quadrant three moves further up and left and that’s we’ll discuss and we’ll decide and the fourth quadrant is at the top left and that’s you’re responsible for yourself, but I’m here if you want some advice.

Jarvis said children should be in quadrant four for sex, drugs, and alcohol before they got to high school – and given that it’s now more than 20 years since I heard him, it’s possible the age is now lower. Some people thought that was too young but if we don’t prepare children to make the right decisions before they need to, it will be too late.

The second influence was a Positive Parenting course which emphasised the need for children to face consequences for their actions.

The first course of action when children do something wrong should be natural consequences where you do nothing and let what would happen, happen. If however, natural consequences would be too dangerous, expensive or pleasurable, then you use logical consequences.

For example if the child leaves a bike on the drive, the natural consequence is that it will get run over which is expensive. The logical consequence is to put the bike away where the child can’t get it and make him/her do without it for a time.

Knowing the theory doesn’t guarantee that you always apply it correctly when it’s called for in practice, but it does at least give some good guidelines which ensure you, and your children, know the rules and what happens when they get broken.

Making children face the consequences of their actions also makes it quite clear who the adults are in the relationship.

Building on these principles, was advice from friends whose children a little older than ours, about teaching them the value of money.

The year their offspring started high school they were given an allowance. The family paid for anything to do with family, education or health and the allowance had to cover everything else.

For example, the family bought school uniforms, including sports gear, the children bought all their other clothes; and if the family went on an outing the family paid, if the children went out independently they paid.

A couple of ground rules were established – there would be no advances, if the allowance ran out before the month did they had to earn extra or do without; and they had to have enough clean clothes which would be appropriate for any occasion they had to attend.

The allowance was set at a realistic level, not so low it wouldn’t cover necessities nor too high it wouldn’t teach them how to budget. If you were really organised you’d keep a note of everything you spend on the things which aren’t covered by family, education or health categories, the year before the kids go to high school and divide that by 12. 

We weren’t that organised and followed our friends’ example with $100 a month. But that was more than 10 years ago so it would need to be a bit more now.

When we’ve discussed this, some people say they couldn’t afford it. But those of us who’ve done it are sure it doesn’t cost any more, and probably costs parents less than not having an allowance because the parents aren’t responsible for buying things for the children and it stops the “can I have” hassles.  The kids might ask for advice but they don’t ask for money because they know how much they’ve got and have to budget for themselves.

It saves a lot of arguments, gives the offspring independence – and it’s better that they learn that while they’re still at home or they’ll turn in to the sort of adults Cactus Kate has to say “no” to.

Whether it’s saying no to bad behaviour or irresponsible spending, parents are supposed to be the adults in the family so it’s up to them to say it, and the earlier they start saying it the less they’ll need to say it because children learn to take responsibility for themselves.

Alaska calling


It’s stat time of the month when bloggers reveal the numbers for their blogs.

I noticed that Not PC, though regularly in the top three blogs in the country, is desperately seeking someone from Alaska.

I can’t match him for numbers, but unless there’s something wrong with my geography, I think the wee dots in the top left indicate that at least a couple of people from that state have popped over to Homepaddock.


(Most visitors come from within New Zealand but somewhere between the screen capture and this post it fell off the map).

Flying Pig Alert


Supermarkets are going to start charging for plastic bags, the cost of which has until now been added to the price of everything they sell.

No doubt they’ll now take the cost of the bags off the price of everything else.

Gumboots for ice cream


The link between ice cream and gumboots might not be immediately obvious, but Jamie McKay is making one on  The Farming Show .

He’s asking all his guests where the best ice creams are sold and also inviting listeners to email him with their views.

So far Rush Munro’s in Hastings and the Hilltop Shop in Hampden (north of Moeraki and south of Waianakarua on State Highway 1 in North Otago) are leading.

I can recomend the ones at the Hilltop in Hampden, even if you ask for a wee one they give you a big one – and they’re always served with a smile.

If you want your vote to count – and be in for the draw to win a pair of Skellerup gumboots – email Jamie on jamie@farmingshow.com

No-one ever said democracy is perfect


From today’s NZ Herald:

“Well you won’t be getting my vote because I don’t think we need any Asians in Parliament,” the pharmacist shot back tartly.

Korean-born Ms Lee, a former journalist who has been in New Zealand for 21 years, asked brightly, “Why not?”

Mr Baird said he had his reasons. “They are very difficult people to deal with. They don’t spend any money. I don’t see that they bring any money into the country. Another problem is their English is very bad.

“You’re all right,” he told the candidate later. “You are almost 100 per cent. But, seriously, we find it difficult, particularly old people. We have Titus here to talk to them.”

Guess how he voted in the last election.

Untouchable Girls – Topp Twins


Day seven in the New Zealand Music Month tune a day challenge.

The Topp Twins with Untouchable Girls.

Ladyhawke sings Paris is Burning at Inquiring Mind.

Fred Dagg reckons We Don’t Know How Lucky We Are at Keeping Stock.

And The Muttonbirds are singing Ngairie at Rob’s Blockhead Blog.

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