The Goon Show


Sir Harry Secombe would have been 89  and Peter Sellers would have been 85 today.

Word of the day


Accismus: a type of coyness when someone feigns disinterest in something/someone in who s/her actually desires.

Lines from Larkin and Nabokov


This week’s Tuesday’s Poem post is: The Poet as absent-minded neuroscientist: The Whitsun Weddings by Philip Larkin & Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov.

The commentary by Auckland-based novelist, poet and playwright Zireaux,  who chose the excerpts for this week’s post, is illuminating.

As always there are other poems to be found by following the links in the side bar.

Among them:

I was moved by Story Teller Vine, Rega by Melissa Shook.

Helen Lowe’s Outback expressed what we saw on a recent visit to Australia’s Top End.

Ode to Tomatoes by Pablo Neruda (translated by Margaret Sayers Peden) is a mouth watering offering from Belinda Hollyer. You can read it in Spanish here.

Sarah at The Red Room chose another of Neruda’s poems – September 8th (in Spanish here).

My Grandmother’s Love Letters by Hart Crane was Elizabeth Welsh’s choice.

Clare Beynon celebrates Eggs.

Mary McCallum manages to mix and make sense of a breast scan, a mouse trap and an earthquake in Victory.

Harvey McQueen sings  A Song Of Spring.

 Tim Jones walks Down George Street In The Rain.

While on poetry – Beattie’s Book Blog has September Quake by Jeffrey Paparoa Holman.

And still they come


The aftershocks to Saturday’s 7.1 magnitude earthquake are still reaching North Otago. But what we’re feeling is very minor when compared with what’s happening in Canterbury. 

Chris McDowall   and Paul Nicholls have animations of the Canterbury earthquakes.

GeoNet’s list of the 30 most recent earthquakes starts at 10:03 yesterday morning:

Map of New Zealand showing earthquake location.

Quake makes point in neurosurgery debate


The debate on the future of South Island neurosurgery services has been overshadowed by the Canterbury earthquakes.

But a correspondent to the print edition of the ODT seized the opportunity to make a point:

Another 7.1 reasons why there should be neurosurgeons in both Dunedin and Christchurch. – F Hughes, Dalmore.



13/15 in the Dominion Post’s weekly political trivia quiz.

The movie star and cost of trials were the ones I got wrong.

Normal isn’t normal anymore


Anyone can get through a crisis, it’s the day to day life which gets you down.

I don’t know to whom I should credit that aphorism, but it has more than a grain of truth in it.

When a crisis strikes, adrenalin kicks in, you put aside your feelings and do what has to be done.

But when the worst is over, you have to deal with the aftermath and cope with the realisation that normal isn’t normal anymore.

Amy Adams’ describes the terror of Saturday morning’s earthquake which destroyed her family’s home and says:

Now as the days wear on the euphoria of being alive is waning and the scale of the disaster is weighing on us heavily. No-one is sleeping much as aftershocks rattle our frayed nerves and exhausted, hollowed eyed faces are everywhere.  It will be some time yet before we know the full extent of what this has cost us financially & emotionally.

Tens of thousands of people are going through something similar as they come to terms with the knowledge that they have lost their treasures, their homes and their workplaces.

The financial and emotional cost of that is immense and that’s why John Key made the right decision to cancel his trip to Britain and Europe.

Mr Speaker, the thoughts and sympathy of the New Zealand Government are with the people of Canterbury in the aftermath of this earthquake.

As the frightening aftershocks continue, we stand alongside them, committed to helping them rebuild their lives.

It would have been difficult to do that from the other side of the world.

Cancelling the trip means giving up a rare opportunity to be the guest of the Queen at Balmoral. 

It may be a symbolic gesture but it shows Canterbury, and the rest of the country,  that he really is prepared to do all he can to help not only in the heat of the crisis but in the return to every day life when normal isn’t normal anymore..

September 8 in history


On September 8:

70  Roman forces under Titus sacked Jerusalem.

Arch of Titus Menorah.png

1151 King Richard I of England, was born (d. 1199).

1264  The Statute of Kalisz, guaranteeing Jews safety and personal liberties and giving battei din jurisdiction over Jewish matters, was promulgated by Boleslaus the Pious, Duke of Greater Poland.

1331  Stephen Uroš IV Dušan declared himself king of Serbia.

1380  Battle of Kulikovo – Russian forces defeated a mixed army of Tatars and Mongols, stopping their advance.


1449  Battle of Tumu Fortress – Mongolians capture the Chinese emperor.

1504  Michelangelo’s David was unveiled in Florence.

Michelangelos David.jpg

1514  Battle of Orsha – in one of the biggest battles of the century, Lithuanians and Poles defeated the Russian army.

Battle of Orsha (1514-09-08).jpg

1565  The Knights of Malta lifted the Turkish siege of Malta that began on May 18.


1727 A barn fire during a puppet show in the village of Burwell in Cambridgeshire killed 78 people.

1755  French and Indian War: Battle of Lake George.

1756  French and Indian War: Kittanning Expedition.

1761 Marriage of King George III to Duchess Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz.

Quarter-length portrait in oils of a clean-shaven young man in profile wearing a red suit, the Garter star, a blue sash, and a powdered wig. He has a receding chin and his forehead slopes away from the bridge of his nose making his head look round in shape.  

1793 French Revolutionary Wars: Battle of Hondschoote.

1796 French Revolutionary Wars: Battle of Bassano – French forces defeated Austrian troops at Bassano del Grappa.

1831 William IV and Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen were crowned King and Queen of the Great Britain and Ireland.


1841 Antonín Dvořák, Czech composer, was born (d. 1904).


1863 American Civil War: Second Battle of Sabine Pass – on the Texas-Louisiana border at the mouth of the Sabine River, a small Confederate force thwarted a Union invasion of Texas.

1886 Siegfried Sassoon, English poet, was born (d. 1967).


1888 In London, the body of Jack the Ripper‘s second murder victim, Annie Chapman, is found.

1892  The Pledge of Allegiance was first recited.

1900  Galveston Hurricane killed about 8,000 people.

1914  World War I: Private Thomas Highgate became the first British soldier to be executed for desertion during the war.

1921 Harry Secombe, Welsh entertainer, was born (d. 2001).

1921 – 16-year-old Margaret Gorman won the Atlantic City Pageant’s Golden Mermaid trophy; pageant officials later dubbed her the first Miss America.


1923  Honda Point Disaster: nine US Navy destroyers ran aground off the California coast, seven people died.

NH 66721 Honda Point.gif

1925 Peter Sellers, English actor, was born (d. 1980).


1930 3M began marketing Scotch transparent tape.


1932 Patsy Cline, American singer, was born (d. 1963).

1934  A fire aboard the passenger liner SS Morro Castle killed 135 people.


1941  World War II: Siege of Leningrad began.

Blokada Leningrad diorama.jpg

1943  World War II: United States General Dwight D. Eisenhower publicly announced the Allied armistice with Italy.

1944  World War II: London was hit by a V2 rocket for the first time.

1945 Cold War: United States troops arrived to partition the southern part of Korea in response to Soviet troops occupying the northern part of the peninsula a month earlier.

1945 Ron Pigpen McKernan, American musician (Grateful Dead), was born (d. 1973).

1947 Benjamin Orr, American bassist and singer (The Cars), was born (d. 2000).

1951 Treaty of San Francisco: 48 nations signed a peace treaty with Japan in formal recognition of the end of the Pacific War.


1954 New Zealand signed the Manila Pact which established the South East Asia Treaty Organisation – SEATO.

NZ signs Manila Pact

1959 The Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) is established.


1960  US President Dwight D. Eisenhower formally dedicates the Marshall Space Flight Center.


1962  Last run of the famous Pines Express over the Somerset and Dorset Railway line (UK) fittingly using the last steam locomotive built by British Railways, 9F locomotive 92220 Evening Star.

1966  The Severn Bridge was officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II.

1966  The first Star Trek series premieree on NBC.

StarTrek Logo 2007.JPG

1967  The formal end of steam traction in the North East of England by British Railways.

1968 The Beatles performed their last live TV performance on the David Frost show – singing their new hit “Hey Jude“.

1970  Hijacking (and subsequent destruction) of three airliners to Jordan by Palestinians.

1971 John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts was inaugurated, featuring the premiere of Leonard Bernstein‘s Mass.


1974 Watergate Scandal: US President Gerald Ford pardoned former President Richard Nixon for any crimes Nixon may have committed while in office.

1975 US Air Force Tech Sergeant Leonard Matlovich, a decorated veteran of the Vietnam War, appeared in his Air Force uniform on the cover of Time magazine with the headline “I Am A Homosexual”.


1991  The Republic of Macedonia became independent.

1993 Chinese athlete Wang Junxia set a new women’s 10,000 m world record of 29:31.78, breaking the former record by 42 seconds.

1994  A USAir Boeing 737 crashes in Hopewell Township, Pennsylvania.

2004 NASA’s unmanned spacecraft Genesis crash-landed when its parachute failed to open.


2005 Two EMERCOM Il-76 aircraft landed at a disaster aid staging area at Little Rock Air Force Base; the first time Russia has flown such a mission to North America.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia

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