Bryce Courtenay 1933 – 2012

November 23, 2012

A media release accompanying the release of Bryce Courtney’s latest book announced it would be his last because he had terminal cancer.

The news of his death,  therefore, wasn’t unexpected.

It is with sadness Penguin Group (Australia) wish to advise that Bryce Courtenay AM passed away peacefully at 11:30pm on Thursday 22 November in Canberra with his wife Christine, his family and his beloved pets Tim, the dog, and Cardamon, the Burmese cat by his side. He was 79.

Christine Courtenay said this morning, “We’d like to thank all of Bryce’s family and friends and all of his fans around the world for their love and support for me and his family as he wrote the final chapter of his extraordinary life. And may we make a request for privacy as we cherish his memory.”

Gabrielle Coyne, Chief Executive Officer, Penguin Group (Australia) said, “It has been our great privilege to be Bryce’s publisher for the past 15 years. We, as well as his many fans will forever miss Bryce’s indomitable spirit, his energy and his commitment to storytelling.”

Bob Sessions, Bryce Courtenay’s long standing Publisher at Penguin said, “Bryce took up writing in his fifties, after a successful career in advertising. His output and his professionalism made him a pleasure to work with, and I’m happy to say he became a good friend, referring to me as ‘Uncle Bob’, even when we were robustly negotiating the next book contract. He was a born storyteller, and I would tell him he was a ‘latter-day Charles Dickens’, with his strong and complex plots, larger-than-life characters, and his ability to appeal to a large number of readers.
“Virtually each year for the last 15 years, I have worked with Bryce on a new novel. He would write a 600 page book in around six months, year in, year out. To achieve that feat he used what he called ‘bum glue’, sometimes writing for more than 12 hours a day. He brought to writing his books the same determination and dedication he showed in the more than 40 marathons he ran, most of them when he was well over 50. Not to have a new Bryce Courtenay novel to work on will leave a hole in my publishing life. Not to have Bryce Courtenay in my life, will be to miss the presence of a very special friend.”

The last word belongs to Bryce himself. In a moving epilogue in his final book, Bryce said to readers “It’s been a privilege to write for you and to have you accept me as a storyteller in your lives. Now, as my story draws to an end, may I say only, ‘Thank you. You have been simply wonderful.’

My farmer heard Courtenay speak at a conference and said he was one of the most engaging and inspirational men he’d ever listened to.

I first came across his work when I was doing book reviews for radio and enjoyed the novels.

But it was his autobiographical, April Fools Day, the story of the life and death of his son, a haemophiliac who contracted AIDS from a blood transfusion which really moved me.

Word of the day

November 23, 2012

Repine – to feel or express discontent or dejection; be discontented or low in spirits; complain or fret; yearn after something.

Rural round-up

November 23, 2012

NZ Govt to create $6m model dairy farm in Burma – Audrey Young:

The Government plans to step up development assistance to Burma by creating a $6 million model dairy farm over five years.

And President Thein Sein, who has a special interest in agriculture, is expected to visit New Zealand, possibly before Christmas, Prime Minister John Key said in Yangon. . .

New research shows oral cattle drench most effective

A new study by AgResearch scientists shows oral cattle drenches are far more effective than the equivalent pour-on or injectable products.
In a study soon to be published in the international science journal Veterinary Parasitology, AgResearch scientists Chris Miller and Dave Leathwick measured how effective the same drench active (moxidectin) was when given orally, as a pour-on or as an injectable. . .

Kiwi company launches premium salmon breed

New Zealand now has its own seafood version of Japan’s famed Wagyu[1] beef.

Ōra King is a new breed of salmon developed by Marlborough-based New Zealand King Salmon especially for fine dining in New Zealand and abroad.

The company says the brand represents its pinnacle of achievement, founded on more than two decades of classical breeding, reinforced by its world leading expertise in growing King salmon. . .

Matua Awarded New Zealand Wine Producer of the Year

Matua, the creator of New Zealand’s First Sauvignon Blanc, has been named the 2012 New Zealand Wine Producer of the Year by the International Wine & Spirits Competition (IWSC), based in London.

Sam Glaetzer, Director of New Zealand Wine Production and Brands for Treasury Wine Estates, said that the award was a monumental win for the business. . .

Fruit ripening breakthrough:

Scientists at Leicester University have discovered a protein that ripens fruits early and could boost their value and sales dramatically.

The finding would enable farmers to accelerate or delay the ripening of entire fruits to prevent them falling victim to unseasonal weather.

The researchers have applied for a patent and are planning to test their discovery on tomatoes, bell peppers and citrus fruits.

They demonstrated for the first time that a regulatory system that governs how proteins are broken down in plant cells also affects chloroplasts – structures that control photosynthesis. . .

Fat & happy

November 23, 2012

Canadian scientists have found proof for the adage fat and happy:

. . . Scientists out of McMaster University have discovered a happy gene — and it just so happens to be the same one that is a major contributor to obesity.

“So you can be obese, and happy,” said David Meyre, an associate professor at McMaster’s department of clinical epidemiology and biostatistics and a senior author of the study released Tuesday in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.

“This is the first time we know there is some biological reason, or a pathology, behind something like mental health, especially depression,” added first author Zena Samaan, an assistant professor at McMaster’s department of psychiatry and behavioural neurosciences.

The scientists set out to find out which genes leave people more susceptible to depression. What they found was that a gene that predisposes some people to obesity, called FTO, also offers some protection against depression. . .

If the happy gene is a  fat one, does the reverse apply making the miserable gene a skinny one?

Friday’s answers

November 23, 2012

Thursday’s questions were:

1. Who said: “If having a soul means being able to feel love and loyalty and gratitude, then animals are better off than a lot of humans.”?

2. What’s the next line in this song and who sung it?

I can’t remember last time I thanked you,
Keeping my distance unintentionally.
Too close for comfort, just ain’t close enough.
If I could have more time we would brainstorm.
And I love you tender, but we must walk away,
Keeping you on my greeting card file.
And if it were different – did you know it ain’t?
Let’s get on with it love…

3. It’s fidèle  in French, leale in Italian, leal in Spanish and tōmau in Maori, what is it in English?

4. Members of which movement are supposed to be trusty, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind?

5.Does real love require true loyalty?

Points for answers:

Alwyn wins an electronic chocolate cake with four correct. If my memory is right, you quoted the Scout/guide motto and the trusty, loyal . . .  is the law.

Rob also wins an electronic chocolate cake with four correct and a bonus for wit.

Grant got 3/12 (right line, you missed the signer).

You all get a bonus electronic bag of meringues for restoring my faith in human nature with your answers to #5.

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No recession in restaurants

November 23, 2012

My farmer and I were looking for somewhere to eat in Wellington on Wednesday evening.

The first place we stopped at had no spare tables and the second couldn’t take us until 9pm, which would have meant nearly an hour’s wait.

The next two were full and we finally got a table, and delicious food, at the fifth – Tuatara – which was busy but not quite full.

The city might not be booming but if full-houses mean anything there’s no sign of recession at the inner city restaurants.

What’s he going to farm?

November 23, 2012

Film director James Cameron has gone vegan for the animals and the planet.

It’s not a requirement to eat animals, we just choose to do it, so it becomes a moral choice and one that is having a huge impact on the planet, using up resources and destroying the biosphere.”

He’s also bought New Zealand farms.

. . “They are acquiring the land as part of a larger acquisition of land in South Wairarapa, which they will use as a residence and working farm, ” . . .

If he thinks it’s morally better to not eat animals then it would follow that he thinks it’s wrong to farm them.

If the more than 1,000 hectares he now owns is going to be operated as a working farm, what’s he going to farm on it?

Trees for timber and/or carbon perhaps. Manuka for both carbon and honey might also be a possibility.

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