Four Flat Whites in Italy

December 20, 2009

Roger Hall has a genius for illustrating the general through the particular.

His characters are people we know and through them we see ourselves and others we recognise.

While enjoying Four Flat Whites in Italy at Dunedin’s Fortune Theatre last night, I found myself thinking, I’ve heard this conversation. Moments later  I was thinking, I‘ve had this conversation!

This is vintage Hall with good jokes, a little bit of politics, some rugby, believable characters and clever dialogue interwoven with some serious themes and moments of poignancy.

The acting was superb, the set simple but effective and scene shifts were flawless.

Last night’s performance was the season’s finale. If the play returns or is showing elsewhere, I’d recommend it.


Yes, let’s fly this fern

December 20, 2009

John Ansell has made a welcome return to the blogosphere with a post: Lets’ fly this fern.

He makes the case for a changing the flag and offers six designs to choose from, all of which feature a simple fern at the centre.

My pick is F with the blue and green symbolising land and sea.

If you’re interested in the discussion on changing the flag you might like to check out nzflag.com, the website of a trust established to promote debate about New Zealand’s national identity and, in particular, about New Zealand’s flag.

Let’s not be frightened about debating the need for change nor fear the consequences. 

Does anyone remember what Canada’s flag used to look like or the debate about changing it?

It’s time we had a flag which is distinctively New Zealand’s.

Let’s fly this fern.


Spotted at the gym

December 20, 2009

This is the view eastwards from the top of the hill I walk up most mornings – most being an elastic description related to weather and mood.

Cape Wanbrow is in the background and the crop is canary seed.

It’s grown by one of North Otago’s biggest cropping partnerships who specialise

in bird seed.

When it’s harvested it will be marketed through the Top Flite brand.


Profiting from not producing

December 20, 2009

The following letter arrived in an email.

My correspondent reckons it’s genuine, if it is, I wonder what the Minister wrote in reply?

Rt Hon David Miliband MP
Secretary of State.
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA),
Nobel House
17 Smith Square
London
SW1P 3JR

16 July 2009

Dear Secretary of State,

My friend, who is in farming at the moment, recently received a cheque for £3,000 from the Rural Payments Agency for not rearing pigs.. I would now like to join the “not rearing pigs” business.

In your opinion, what is the best kind of farm not to rear pigs on, and which is the best breed of pigs not to rear? I want to be sure I approach this endeavour in keeping with all government policies, as dictated by the EU under the Common Agricultural Policy.

I would prefer not to rear bacon pigs, but if this is not the type you want not rearing, I will just as gladly not rear porkers. Are there any advantages in not rearing rare breeds such as Saddlebacks or Gloucester Old Spots, or are there too many people already not rearing these?

As I see it, the hardest part of this programme will be keeping an accurate record of how many pigs I haven’t reared. Are there any Government or Local Authority courses on this?

My friend is very satisfied with this business. He has been rearing pigs for forty years or so, and the best he ever made on them was £1,422 in 1968. That is – until this year, when he received a cheque for not rearing any.

If I get £3,000 for not rearing 50 pigs, will I get £6,000 for not rearing 100? I plan to operate on a small scale at first, holding myself down to about 4,000 pigs not raised, which will mean about £240,000 for the first year. As I become more expert in not rearing pigs, I plan to be more ambitious, perhaps increasing to, say, 40,000 pigs not reared in my second year, for which I should expect about £2.4 million from your department. Incidentally, I wonder if I would be eligible to receive tradable carbon credits for all these pigs not producing harmful and polluting methane gases?

Another point: These pigs that I plan not to rear will not eat 2,000 tonnes of cereals. I understand that you also pay farmers for not growing crops. Will I qualify for payments for not growing cereals to not feed the pigs I don’t rear?

I am also considering the “not milking cows” business, so please send any information you have on that too. Please could you also include the current DEFRA advice on set aside fields? Can this be done on an e-commerce basis with virtual fields (of which I seem to have several thousand hectares)?

In view of the above you will realise that I will be totally unemployed, and will therefore qualify for unemployment benefits. I shall of course be voting for your party at the next general election.

Yours faithfully,


December 20 in history

December 20, 2009

On December 20:

1192  Richard the Lion-Heart was captured and imprisoned by Leopold V of Austria on his way home to England after signing a treaty with Saladin ending the Third crusade.

  • 1522Suleiman the Magnificent accepted the surrender of the surviving Knights of Rhodes, who were allowed to evacuate. They eventually settled on Malta and became known as the Knights of Malta.
  •  

     
  • 1803 – The Louisiana Purchase was completed at a ceremony in New Orleans.
  • Location of Louisiana Purchase
     
    1865  Elsie De Wolfe, American socialite and interior decorator, was born.
     
    1868 Harvey Firestone, American automobile pioneer, was born.
     
    1894  Sir Robert Menzies, twelfth Prime Minister of Australia was born.
     
    1901  Robert Van de Graaff, American physicist and inventor, was born.
     
     
    1907  Paul Francis Webster, songwriter, was born.
     
     1913 The Great Strike of 1913, which had begun in late October when Wellington waterside workers stopped work, ended when the United Federation of Labour (UFL) conceded defeat.

    Waterfront strike ends

    1927  Kim Young-sam, first civilian President of South Korea after a series of dictatorships, was born.
     
    1944  Bobby Colomby, American musician (Blood, Sweat & Tears), was born.
    1945 Peter Criss, American drummer and singer (Kiss), was born.
    1948 Alan Parsons, British music producer and artist, was born.

    1951 The EBR-1 in Arco, Idaho becomes the first nuclear power plant to generate electricy.  The electricity powered four light bulbs.

    Experimental Breeder Reactor Number 1 in Idaho, the first power reactor.

    1955Cardiff was proclaimed the capital city of Wales.

     Cardiff City Hall

    1957  Billy Bragg, English singer and songwriter, was born.

    1973 Spanish Prime Minister, Admiral Luis Carrero Blanco, was assassinated by a car bomb attack in Madrid.

    1984 The Summit tunnel fire, the largest underground fire in history, as a freight train carrying over 1 million litres of petrol derails near the town of Todmorden in the Pennines.

     1987 History’s worst peacetime sea disaster, when the passenger ferry Doña Paz sank after colliding with the oil tanker Vector 1 in the Tablas Strait in the Philippines  killing an estimated 4,000 people (1,749 official).

    1988 The United Nations Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances was signed in Vienna

    1989  United States invasion of Panama: The United States sent troops into Panama to overthrow government of Manuel Noriega.

    1995  NATO began peacekeeping in Bosnia.

    1996 NeXT merged with Apple Computer, starting the path to Mac OS X.

    1999 Macau was handed over to the People’s Republic of China by Portugal.

    2007  Queen Elizabeth II becomes the oldest ever monarch of the United Kingdom, surpassing Queen Victoria, who lived for 81 years, 7 months and 29 days.

    Smiling elderly lady with grey hair wearing a matching hat and dress

    Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


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