Word of the day


Raisonneur – character in a novel or play who voices the central theme, philosophy or point of view of the work; a character who acts a a mouthpiece for the author.

In memory of Pete Postlethwaite


When one of the main characters in Brassed Off was introduced as Danny I knew the band would play Danny Boy and I would cry.

They did and I did.

Danny was played by Pete Postlethwaite who died on Sunday, aged 64.

IMBD lists the films in which he starred and characters he played.

Hat Tip: Keeping Stock who has a clip of Danny’s speech from the film.

Death of a poet and blogger


Stoatspring was a relatively recent addition to my list of regular blog reads (thanks to a recommendation from Deborah).

I enjoyed the mix of poetry, philosophy and general ruminations on many topics including gardening,  food, current affairs and life.

 He started blogging because he had inclusion body myositis, a rare muscular degenerative disease which made him increasingly disabled but still able to type.

He was open about the condition, it’s impact and frustrations but never self-pitying.

I was very sorry to read the last post, written by his wife Anne Else, follow Harvey’s death on Christmas Day.

A couple of weeks ago I bought his last book, These I Have Loved, my favourite New Zealand poems. It is a fitting legacy for a man with such a fine appreciation for good writing who wrote so well himself.

Public money shouldn’t be first resort for beach


It’s generous of the people who own New Chums Beach to offer to sell it to the Crown then gift back half the proceeds but why are they, and the Environmental Defence Society with whom they’re working, wanting the government to match their offer?

I don’t know this beach but have spent time on other Coromandel beaches, accept that New Chums is beautiful and have sympathy with the desire to protect it from development.

But rather than seeking taxpayers’ money as a first resort to help keep the beach undeveloped why don’t they try raising at least some of the money from other people.

An online petition has been launched which says:

We the undersigned request that the House of Representatives oppose any development of the New Chum–Wainuiototo Beach and the surrounding area; and that it support the immediate establishment of a protected area in perpetuity, In which the landscape is left untouched in every way apart from restorative planting of kauri and other natives.

Yesterday 1500 people joined together to send a save-the-beach from development message to the government.

If each of those who signed the petition and took part in yesterday’s event donated some money towards buying the beach they’d be sending a much more powerful message than merely seeking state funds.

There might be a part for the government to play in keeping the beach as it is and it might involve funding, but that should be the last resort not the first one.

January 4 in history


On January 4:

1490  Anna of Brittany announced that all those who allied with the king of France would be considered guilty of the crime of lese-majesty.

1493 Christopher Columbus left the New World, ending his first journey.

1642 King Charles I of England sent soldiers to arrest members of Parliament, commencing England’s slide into civil war.

1643  Sir Isaac Newton, English mathematician and natural philosopher, was born (d. 1727).

Head and shoulders portrait of man in black with shoulder-length gray hair, a large sharp nose, and an abstracted gaze

1698  Most of the Palace of Whitehall, the main residence of the English monarchs, was destroyed by fire.

1785 Jacob Grimm, German philologist and folklorist(one of the Brothers Grim), was born (d. 1863).

1809 – Louis Braille, French teacher of the blind and inventor of braille, was born (d. 1852)

1813 Isaac Pitman, English inventor, was born (d. 1897).


1847 Samuel Colt sold his first revolver pistol to the United States government.

1854 The McDonald Islands were discovered by Captain William McDonald aboard the Samarang.

1865 The New York Stock Exchange opened its first permanent headquarters at 10-12 Broad near Wall Street in New York City.

1869 Te Kooti was defeated at Nga Tapa.

Te Kooti defeated at Nga Tapa

1878 Sofia was emancipated from Ottoman rule.

1878 Augustus John, Welsh painter, was born (d. 1961).

1884 The Fabian Society was founded in London.

1885  The first successful appendectomy was performed by William W. Grant on Mary Gartside.

1903 – Topsy, an elephant, was electrocuted by Thomas Edison during the War of Currents campaign.

1912 – The Scout Association was incorporated throughout the British Commonwealth by Royal Charter.

The Scout Association

1947 – Rick Stein, English chef and television presenter, was born.

1948 – Burma regained its independence from the United Kingdom.

1958 Sir Edmund Hillary led a New Zealand party to the South Pole.

Hillary leads NZ party to Pole

1958  Sputnik 1 fell to Earth from its orbit.

1959  Luna 1 became the first spacecraft to reach the vicinity of the Moon.

1962 New York City introduced a train that operated without a crew on-board.

1965 Cait O’Riordan, British musician (The Pogues), was born.

1972  Rose Heilbron became the first female judge to sit at the Old Bailey in London.

1975  Elizabeth Ann Seton became the first American-born saint.  

1991  Olivia Tennet, New Zealand actress, was born.

2004 Spirit, a NASA Mars Rover, landed successfully on Mars.

NASA Mars Rover.jpg

2007 The 110th United States Congress elected Nancy Pelosi as the first female Speaker of the House in U.S. history.


2010 – The Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building was officially opened.

Burj Khalifa building.jpg

2010 – A ruling by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, removed a ban on people with HIV from entering the country.

Sourced from NZ History Online and Wikipedia.

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