You’re Still The One


Happy birthday Shania Twain, 45 today.

Saturday smiles


Four high school boys  skipped the first class of the day. When they eventually got to school they reported to the teacher that they’d had a flat tyre.

Much to their relief she smiled and said, “Well, you missed a test today so take seats apart from one another and take out a piece of paper.”

Still smiling, she waited for them to sit down. Then she said: “First Question: Which tyre was flat?”

Word of the day


Someotherbody – someone else (in memory of my Scottish aunt who introduced it to me).

Writer without honour in her own town


Janet Frame would have been 86 today.

She was very much a writer without honour in her own town, Oamaru, when I was growing up.

As children we thought little of her literary achievements but spoke in whispers about her having been in Cherry Farm.

The first real appreciation I had of her writing was her poem, Rain on the Roof.

My nephew sleeping in a basement room

has put a sheet of iron outside his window

to recapture the sound of rain falling on the roof. . .

 I cut it out of Otago’s student paper Critic and pinned it to the noticeboard in successive flats.

Several years later I read her autobiography An Angel At My Table. Separated by more than 30 years there were obvious differences between her descriptions and experiences growing up in Oamaru and mine, but there were also similarities.

I could see her parents’ house from my bedroom window, it was south facing, cold and shadowy. But this wasn’t  56 Eden Street, the house she grew up in. She might not have been appreciated when I was a child, but the town recognises and vlaues her now. The Frame family home has been lovingly restored by volunteers and is open to the public.

Janet on the Planet counts down to the launch of Dear Charles Dear Janet, Frame and Brasch in correspondence and Beatties Book Blog posts Elizabeth Smither’s address at the launch.



8/10 in the NZ Herald’s news quiz.

People still trust Hubbard


Disbelief was the first reaction to the news that Allan Hubbard was being investigated by the Serious Fraud Office and that he and his wife Jean were under statutory management.

This wasn’t a flash Harry, living the high life. This was a man who learned the lessons of his Depression-era childhood; who is spite of his wealth, lived a very modest life; the man who’d done so much for individuals, business, charity and the community,

When banks wouldn’t back would-be farmers, Hubbard often would. He looked at the business case, but he also looked at the people and their personal drawings. Those who were prepared to work hard and spend little on themselves, almost always got his support.

Assistance was often given as a personal loan with low or no interest and he was rarely, if ever, let down.

He took a personal interest in his clients and adjusted his fees to their circumstances. It wasn’t unusual for someone having a bad year to find their accountant’s bill was a lot less than expected.

His investment vehicles, Hubbard Management Funds and Aorangi Securities, have always given investors very good returns.

But the second report from Grant Thornton,  the statutory managers,  has very bad news for investors, many of whom rely on the interest payments.

. . . it is highly unlikely that we will be in a position to return any significant amounts of capital to investors this side of Christmas.

On a slightly brighter note, it is our priority to try and be in a position to make a small repayment to investors in October. There is an alarming gap between the income that Aorangi is presently receiving from its loans and investments and the amount it needs to pay out to its investors. Any payment at this time will be treated as a repayment of capital and will be dependent on the amount of funds paid to Aorangi by borrowers and from the investments in farms. Interest payments remain suspended.

Grant Thornton says a large part of the problem is that Aorangi accepted deposits from investors on call and put them into long term investments or loans including minority shares and mortgages in about 25 dairy farms.

The dairy payout is holding up but farm sales are slow. Those who received loans are unlikely to be in a position to repay them quickly and forcing sales would be disastrous.

 The protracted sale process for the Crafar farms shows the difficulties of putting several farms on the market at once. Forcing more sales would depress prices and threaten equity in the properties concerned which would impact on the value of all farmland.

The ripples from the statutory management and SFO investigation have spread through the southern South Island and further, showing just how big an influence Hubbard and his various operations have.

When other finance companies have failed it’s not been hard to find people ready to criticise the principals. There has been no public condemnation of Hubbard, and I haven’t heard any privately. People still trust him and the feeling of disbelief continues.

New phone in need of a teenager


It is a truth universally acknowledged that a middle-aged woman in possession of a new mobile phone must be in need of a teenager.

I’ve finally upgraded my phone and am the somewhat discombobulated possessor of a Sony Ericson xperia.

(Passing quickly over the other universally acknowledged truth that a name for an electronic device which starts with x must be in need of an e).

I’ve worked out how to make and receive calls and texts but the phone’s guide informs me it can perform a multitude of other functions.

However, as such guides do, it presupposes I understand what it’s talking about. Some of the time I do but much of the time I don’t.

I need to find a teenager to translate the guide and take me very slowly through the phone’s paces.

August 28 in history


On August 28:

489  Theodoric, king of the Ostrogoths defeats Odoacer at the Battle of Isonzo, forcing his way into Italy.

1189  Third Crusade: the Crusaders began the Siege of Acre under Guy of Lusignan.

Siege of Acre.jpg

1349 6,000 Jews were killed in Mainz, accused of being the cause of the plague.

1511  The Portuguese conquered Malacca.

1542 Turkish-Portuguese War (1538-1557) – Battle of Wofla: the Portuguese were scattered, their leader Christovão da Gama captured and later executed.

1609  Henry Hudson discovered Delaware Bay.


1619  Ferdinand II was elected emperor of the Holy Roman Empire.


1640 Second Bishop’s War: King Charles I’s English army lost to a Scottish Covenanter force at the Battle of Newburn.

1749 Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, German writer and scientist (d. 1832).


1774 Elizabeth Ann Seton, American-born Catholic saint, was born (d. 1821).

1789  William Herschel discovered a new moon of Saturn.


1810  Battle of Grand Port – the French accepted the surrender of a British Navy fleet.

The British surrender in a naval battle. A ship in the distance on the far left lowers its flag. To the right another ship burns. In the foreground a badly damaged ship also burns and a fourth ship, also badly damaged is in the act of surrendering in the centre. Sailors leave the surrendering ships in small boats. On the right, four ships with French flags cluster near shore under the shadow of a large mountain.

1828 Leo Tolstoy, Russian author, was born (d. 1910).


1830  The Tom Thumb presaged the first railway service in the United States.

1845 The first issue of Scientific American magazine was published.


1859  A geomagnetic storm caused the Aurora Borealis to shine so brightly it was seen clearly over parts of USA, Europe, and as far away as Japan.


1862 American Civil War: Second Battle of Bull Run.

1879  Cetshwayo, last king of the Zulus, was captured by the British.


1884 Peter Fraser, former Prime Minister of New Zealand, was born (d. 1950).


1898  Caleb Bradham renamed his carbonated soft drink “Pepsi-Cola”.


1901  Silliman University was founded in the Philippines,  the first American private school in the country.

Silliman university logo.png

1906 John Betjeman, English poet, was born (d. 1984).


1913 Queen Wilhelmina opened the Peace Palace in The Hague.


1914  World War I: the Royal Navy defeated the German fleet in the Battle of Heligoland Bight.

SMS Ariadne.jpg

1916  World War I: Germany declared war on Romania.

1916 – World War I: Italy declared war on Germany.

1917  Ten Suffragettes wre arrested while picketing the White House.

1924 Janet Frame, New Zealand author, was born (d. 2004).


1924 The Georgian opposition stages the August Uprising against the Soviet Union.

Kakutsa shepitsulebi.jpg

1930 Windsor Davies, British actor, was born.

It Aint Half Hot Mum television comedy.jpg

1931  France and Soviet Union signed a treaty of non-aggression.

1937  Toyota Motors became an independent company.

Toyota Motor Corporation logo

1943  World War II: in Denmark, a general strike against the Nazi occupation started.

1944  World War II: Marseille and Toulon were liberated.

1948 Danny Seraphine, American musician (Chicago), was born.


1951 Wayne Osmond, American singer (The Osmonds), was born.


1953  Nippon Television broadcast Japan’s first television show, including its first TV advertisement.

1954 Pauline Parker and Juliet Hulme were convicted of murdering Parker’s mother Honora.

'Heavenly Creatures' found guilty of murder

1955  Black teenager Emmett Till was murdered in Mississippi, galvanizing the nascent American Civil Rights Movement.


1961 Motown released what would be its first #1 hit, “Please Mr. Postman” by The Marvelettes.

1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom: Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his I Have a Dream speech.


1963 Emily Hoffert and Janice Wylie were murdered in their Manhattan flat, prompting the events that led to the passing of the Miranda Rights.


1964  The Philadelphia race riot began.

1965 Shania Twain, Canadian singer, was born.


Shania Twain in concert, 2004

1979  An IRA bomb exploded on the Grand Place in Brussels.

1986  United States Navy officer Jerry A. Whitworth was sentenced to 365 years imprisonment for espionage for the Soviet Union.

1988 Ramstein airshow disaster: three aircraft of the Frecce Tricolori demonstration team collided. The wreckage fell into the crowd killing  75 and seriously injuring 346.

1990  Iraq declared Kuwait to be its newest province.

1990 The Plainfield Tornado: an F5 tornado hit Plainfield and Joliet, Illinois, killing 28 people.

1991  Ukraine declared its independence from the Soviet Union.

1991 Collapse of the Soviet Union – Mikhail Gorbachev resigned as Secretary of the Soviet Communist Party.

1992 Canterbury’s “Big Snow“.

Canterbury's 'Big Snow'

1996  Charles, Prince of Wales and Diana, Princess of Wales divorced.

2003  An electricity blackout cut off power to around 500,000 people living in south east England and brought 60% of London’s underground rail network to a halt.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia

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