More love and compassion – Elton John

February 5, 2020

Thoughts from Elton John’s Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour:

 

* Thank goodness the people who wanted a roof on Forsyth Barr Stadium prevailed.

It was pouring with rain in Dunedin and it was cold but at least we were dry under the roof.

* The oldies are still the goodies.

The audience had a wide age-range, including people who wouldn’t have been born when Elton started performing 50-odd years ago but young and old were dancing, singing and enjoying themselves.

* Technology enhances the act.

It was a performance on stage and screen that was aurally and visually spectacular.

* More love and compassion.

That was Elton’s message on what the world needs more of and he’s right.


Deserved honours

January 1, 2020

Each time the honours lists come out someone opines that they are achronistic and we should be rid of them.

I disagree. It is good to recognise ordinary people doing extraordinary things Among whom, in this year’s honours list is Sir Robert Martin.

Robert Martin wanted a leader that looked and sounded like him, and when there wasn’t one, he decided to fill the gap.

Having spent more than 30 years advocating for the rights of disabled New Zealanders, Sir Robert has been made a knight companion in the New Year’s Honours list.

He has a learning disability and spent much of his childhood inside institutions and living with foster parents.

He was a witness at the inquiry into abuse in state care. The knighthood doesn’t make up for the shocking abuse he suffered there but all he’s achieved in spite of that makes him more than worthy of it.

Sir Robert said he was both proud and humbled to receive a knighthood for services to people with disabilities.

“I couldn’t have got where I’ve got to without the assistance and also the support I’ve received over the many years from other people with learning disabilities.”

It was his concern for those around the world who still did not have a voice that drove him to be an advocate.

That drive took Sir Robert right to the United Nations, where in 2018, he became the first person with learning disabilities to chair a meeting during a session.

He served on the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities for the 2017-2020 term, and was seeking re-election.

“In a lot of places around the world, people with learning disabilities are still much invisible…” he said.

“People with learning disabilities are part of our world, part of our communities and part of our societies.”

Sir Robert said he had been advocating for disabled New Zealanders for as long as he could remember, because there was never anyone else to do it. . .

Sir Robert wanted a leader that looked and sounded like him, and when there wasn’t one, he decided to fill the gap.

“That’s why I fought tooth and nail for the likes of People First, the only organisation in New Zealand that speaks for, and on behalf of people with learning disabilities.” . . 

I had the pleasure of meeting Robert at an IHC conference more than 20 years ago. He was engaging and humble. He had already achieved a lot then and has done a lot more since.

 


Clive James 7.10.39 – 24.11.19

November 28, 2019

Clive James, worsmith and broadcaster has died.

Broadcaster, critic, poet, TV presenter and prolific author – Clive James cheerfully criss-crossed the boundaries between high and lowbrow.

He was as much at home hosting a Shakespeare documentary as he was at fronting a programme showing people suffering indignities on Japanese TV.

His sardonic tones graced a host of TV documentaries in which he brought his own acute observations to bear on a wide variety of subjects.

A journalist on The Sydney Morning Herald once wrote: “His gift and lasting contribution has been to recognise that mass appeal does not translate into lack of substance.” . . 

Roger Franklin pays tribute to him at Quadrant:

. .  . As New Republic put it in 2010, attempting to explain Clive’s significance to American readers:

But try, if you will, to imagine that David Letterman also wrote long, charming critical essays for The New York Review, published more than 30 books, issued memoirs that moved readers the way Frank McCourt’s do, knew seven or eight foreign languages, and composed poems that were printed in The New Yorker, and you are getting close.

When England loses Clive James, it will be as if a plane had crashed with five or six of its best writers on board.

A devoted, dear and longtime friend of Quadrant, Clive’s wit and insight pepper our archives. Below, a sampling of the many reasons the world is today so much poorer for his passing. But first, as a reminder that five decades’ residence in England had not in the least thinned or in any way diminished the Australia that was in his blood, an expat’s memory . . 

 

 

His writing survives him at clivejames.com


The science of kindness

November 10, 2019


The story of Cucina

November 7, 2019

Is there any small town more blessed by culinary delights than Oamaru?

Award-winning Riverstone Kitchen is a few kilometres north and the wonderful Fleurs Place a few kilometres south. Then there’s Portside on the harbour beside the Little Blue Penguin Colony and in the centre of town, at the entrance to the historic precinct,  is Cucina.

It’s owned by Beef + Lamb NZ ambassador chef, and multi Beef + Lamb excellence award winning chef Pablo Tacchini and his wife, Yanina Tacchini.

The restaurant features fresh, local produce.

Given they are Argentinean, the delicious meat they serve is no surprise but the Cucina menu also features fish, house-made pasta and vegetables.

 

Cucina is one of Oamaru’s gems and Pablo and Yanina make it sparkle.

If you are passing through town before Cucina opens in the early evening, Tees Street Cafe is open from early morning to late afternoon.

It is owned by Pablo and Yanina too and shares staff and the kitchen with Cucina.

You can read more about Pablo and Yanina in the ODT, and the Oamaru Mail,


Ian Cross 6.11.25 – 3.11.19

November 3, 2019

New Zealand has lost a wordsmith:

The journalist and author Ian Cross has died aged 93.

He is best known for his classic novel The God Boy but in a wide-ranging career he achieved distinction in other spheres, notably as editor of The Listener and chairman of the Broadcasting Corporation.

A journalist for many years, he began writing fiction in his spare time.

His four years as Listener editor in the 1970s helped to expand the magazine to an unprecedented mass circulation, and he then served as executive chairman of the Broadcasting Corporation before retiring in 1986. . .

You can read more at Wikipedia.

 


Thanks IHC

October 30, 2019

People with intellectual disabilities and their parents owe gratitude to IHC which has just turned  70:

On 25 October 1949, 22 parents met in Wellington. A notice had been placed in the Evening Post the previous day calling for ‘parents and guardians of backward children in the Wellington district… to attend a meeting … to consider the formation of a parents’ association’. 

The meeting elected Hal Anyon as interim president and his wife Margaret Anyon as secretary/treasurer, plus two committee members. At the following meeting, on 23 November, 50 people formed the Intellectually Handicapped Children’s Parents’ Association. Within three years there were a thousand members in several branches around New Zealand. In 1994, following several name changes, the large nationwide organisation became the IHC.

Those founding parents were brave and stroppy. They had to be. In 1949 there was widespread discrimination against people with what was then called intellectual or mental handicap. This situation was a legacy of decades of eugenic assumptions in which disabled people, particularly those with intellectual or learning disability, were considered defective and likely also deviant. Widespread assumptions of ‘tainted heredity’ and shame meant parents were strongly advised to hide their disabled children away from families and communities in institutions and forget about them. Many mothers were powerless to fight the removal of their child in the face of state authorities. . .

Both our sons had brain disorders which left them with multiple disabilities.

Tom was only 20 weeks when he died. Dan survived five years without passing any developmental milestones.

Looking after him got harder as he grew physically without developing intellectually and IHC’s support was invaluable.

Just how good the organisation was, was summed up by the manager of the local branch when we were trying to work out what was best for Dan.

He said, “Let us know what you need and we’ll work out how to provide it.”

I served on the branch IHC committee for several years which increased my admiration for the work the organisation does in supporting and advocating for the intellectually disabled and its members.

They continue to face challenges, one of which has resulted in a mother taking the government to court to prove her disabled son isn’t her employer:

An independent disability advocate has filed papers asking the Employment Court to decide if people with intellectual disabilities have the mental capacity to be employers.

The government is promising to change this, but advocate Jane Carrigan doesn’t want to wait and is going to court. . .

In order to get funding, Ms Fleming has to be an employee of her disabled son, a relationship the Ministry of Health has already admitted is a mere fiction.

Independent disability advocate Jane Carrigan said for too long the ministers and their ministries have indulged in what she calls tricky and technical conduct, by creating sham employment relationships.

And in doing so, the ministers had removed themselves from their responsibilities under the New Zealand Public Health and Disability Act, she said.

“This allows the ministry to step back in the very cynical name of choice and control and say to people with disabilities – the majority of whom I might add have an intellectual disability – ‘well there you go, you’re the employer, you have the choice to employ who you want, the control to manage how your employment relationship works’.”

Ms Carrigan said that was ludicrous.

“The so-called employer is usually lying in bed with nappies on and has no capacity to manage the employment relationship intellectually. And even those people who are only physically disabled, many of them, because they are high/very high needs, will rely on a family member to do all the employment relationship stuff,” Ms Carrigan said.

Ms Carrigan said if there was an employment relationship it was between the carer and the Ministry of Health and she wanted the court to say so. . .

Thanks to those brave and stroppy parents who formed it, IHC’s advocacy has resulted in a lot of improvements to care and support for intellectually disabled people and their families in the last 70 years.

I am very grateful for the help it gave us and also aware of the help others still need and the battles still to fight.


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