Irony deliberate or accidental?


The Afternoons’ panel has just finished discussing the police’s decision not to prosecute John Banks and invited former Labour Party president Mike Williams to give his view.

If memory serves me right he was president when his party was guilty of the pledge card rort.

The question then is: was the irony in inviting him to talk about electoral law accidental or deliberate?

Should we verb?


The use and misuse of language occupied my discussion with Jim Mora on Critical Mass today.

 To verb or not to verb? That was the question posed by Anthony Gardner in you’ve been verbed.

It introduced me to the verb to handbag – to hit with a handbag; attack verbally or subject to criticism – which is attributed to Margaret Thatcher.

Michael Holroyd writes in The Guardian that the war against cliché has failed.

He concludes:

 So I try to quell my indignation, lower my blood pressure and keep a lookout for developments of language that are precise, witty, useful and have aesthetic value. Have you noticed any lately?

I haven’t.

Ben Yagoda writes about the elements of clunk in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

I was amused to read him lamenting the influence of Britishisms when so often those of us more accustomed to British English lament the way Americanisms have infected our spelling and grammar – the missing u  in favour and labour; the missing l in jewellery and travelled and my pet hate gotten when if it’s really necessary – and often it isn’t – got is all that’s required.

Never trust the weather


Just as I was gearing up for a rant about the stupidity of introducing daylight saving in the middle of winter the weather has let me down.

Last year and the year before and the year before that, as is usual for this time of year the weather was cold and wintery.

Last week it was wintery.

But since the clocks went forward on Sunday we’ve had nor westers and the temperatures got to the late teens on Monday and yesterday.

I’m not complaining, after a very wet winter, heat and drying wind is just what we need. But  two warm days, do not a spring make. The weather is almost always variable at this time of year and the forecast for later in the week is for cloud and rain.

However, whatever the weather, it doesn’t change the fact that this close to the spring equinox we have only a little more than 12 hours between sunrise and sunset.

That means moving sunset from 6ish to 7ish in the evening has moved sunrise from 6ish to 7ish in the morning although that doesn’t worry everyone.

My campaign to delay the date on which the clocks go forward isn’t getting much traction. Only 13 people have joined my delay daylight saving group on Facebook.

The Panel discussed the issue on Afternoons on Monday  (part 2 towards the end) and there was no enthusiasm for change from them.

Peter Dunne justified us having six months of daylight saving by comparing us with other countries.

That is irrelevant – they’re at different latitudes and longitudes, they’re nearer the equator than we are and most have continental climates (which if memories of school geography serve me right means they heat up faster so will get warmer sooner in spring).

Still, why would a politician let the facts get in the way of a pet policy?

Sigh, yawn, mutter grumble.

And the winners are:


Drum roll please, the winner of the Homepaddock poll for best broadcaster is Jim Mora and the best programme title goes to Afternoons.

Jim got 39% of the votes after sitting at more than 50% until yesterday when a surge in votes took Peter Sledmere to 23%.

Mary Wilson attracted 13% support, Brian Crump and Kathryn Ryan got 10% and Clarissa Dunn 6%. There was a lone vote for Sean Plunket in the comments but his nomination came too late for the poll.

Afternoons won 33% support, Media Watch was second with 28%, Country Life attracted 22% of the vote and Check Point got 17%.

If this had been scientific I’d have to tell you how many people voted. Since it’s not, suffice it to say the results reflect high quality opinons rather than a large quantity of voters. 🙂

Jim and the staff at Afternoons will, as promised, receive a box of Whitestone Cheese, which will be delivered some time in the next couple of weeks.

Auction for some things money can’t usually buy


The book Shadrach Girl by Joy Cowley is dedicated to Elizabeth McCone and her daughter, Andrea.

There is a story behind that dedication.

An auction to raise funds to build a new, indoor swimming pool in Oamaru 10 years ago include a lot for something money can’t usually buy: the right to name a character in one of Joy Cowley’s books.

The highest bidder was then Waitaki District Council deputy mayor Elizabeth McCone who asked Joy to name one of the characters Andrea, after her daughter.

She also got a copy of the manuscript when it was sent to the publisher and the dedication.

The right to name a character isn’t one of the lots in the Storylines Fundraising auction but there are plenty of other things and experiences which money can’t usually buy.

They include: a Hairy McLary portrait signed by Lynley Dodd; a sketch by Ant Sang, one of the creators of Bro Town; Maurice Gee’s typewriter; lunch at Weta Workshop and a behind-the-scenes tour of WotWots production; lunch with Kate De Goldi; a collection of all Margaret Mahy books which are in print; a three hour sailing trip on the Spirit of New Zealand  with Tessa Duder and attending an orchestra rehearsal with her.

Hat Tip: Jim Mora who interviewed Tessa about the auction on Afternoons.

Radio NZ staff prizeless


That’s not a typo in the heading, although some are indeed priceless, but they are also going to be prizeless this year

Kiwiblog has a copy of an email sent to staff :

This is to advise you that due to budgetary constraints Radio New Zealand has – reluctantly – withdrawn from this year’s New Zealand Radio Awards. . .

 Passing quickly over the pedant’s observation that it should be owing to rather than due to, and get to the point which is: this is a shame, not just for the people who won’t have a chance to compete, but for the awards as well.

Some of the victories will be hollow if RadioNZ staff and programmes aren’t competing.

Maybe we should have a Bloggers’ Award for RadioNZ.

I’ll start by nominating Jim Mora for broadcaster of the year – and not just because he mentioned Homepaddock yesterday :).

Afternoons and Country Life  are my nominations for best programme.

UPDATE: If there’s enough nominations to make it worthwhile I’ll set up a poll to choose the winners (and do my best not to delete it as I did with the daylight saving one) – and donate a gift box of Whitestone Cheese to the winner.

Top 10 songs or tunes


National Radio’s Afternoons asks listeners to come up with the best song ever written.

That’s a difficult choice to make when there are so many variables – a song or tune might be best at one time or place but beaten by another at another.

However, since we’ve had the top 10 quintessential Kiwi songs and the top 10 Beatles songs, I thought it was time for the top 10 songs from anywhere by anyone, and why:

1. The 23rd Psalm.

I remember it from Sunday school, High School. I also associate it with the big events in my life: our wedding (because me farmer like the rural connotations, at which the minister suggested we could sing We Plough the Fields and Scatter . . . ); the funerals of my mother in law, father, and both our sons and at my mother’s we sang The King of Love  which is based on the 23rd Psalm.

2. Pokarekare Ana. 

We may not know all the words, but it’s the song by which Kiwis recognise each other all over the world.

3. Pachelbel’s Canon.

I don’t remember when I first heard it but it’s been played at lots of celebrations I’ve attended. The last of these was the wedding of our nephew in Argentina when his mother, sister and cousin played it on violins as the bride entered the church.

4. Killing Me Softly.

We were skiing on Coronet Peak and had paused where the chairlift passed close to the trail. A skier reached out and waved his mitten close to my friend’s face. She immediately started singing Strumming my face with his fingers. . . ”

5. Handel’s Largo from Xerxes.

Another tune associated with celebrations, although it was several years after I first heard it that I learned it came with words.

6. The Skye Boat Song.

Partly because of my Scottish genes and partly because it was on the CD the surgeon chose when our first son was delivered.

7. Danny Boy

Our son was Dan and we sang this at his funeral. But I first came across the tune when I was in a Bible Class choir and we sang The Day Thou Gavest Lord is Ended  to it.

8. Jeremiah Clarke’s Trumpet Voluntary.

Another one associated with celebrations and we chose it for the recessional at our wedding.

9. The Great Pretender.

Any list of songs has to have a soppy one.

10. Hine E Hine

With or without the Good Night Kiwi.

11. Rock Around The Clock

A list has to have a good dance tune too.

12. When You Walk Through A Storm;  Do you Hear the People Sing;  Time to Say Goodbye;  First Time Ever; Nessun Dorma; Red, Red Wine; All My Loving, Let It Be, . . .  who said I had to stop at 10?



Poetry month finished yesterday, but today is Friday when I post a poem anyway.

Afternoons  by Philip Larkin comes from The Whitsun Weddings,  published by Faber.



Summer is fading:

The leaves fall in ones and twos

From trees bordering

The new recreation ground.

In the hollows of afternoons

Young mothers assemble

At swing and sandpit

Setting free their children.


Behind them, at intervals,

Stand husbands in skilled trades,

An estateful of washing,

And the albums, lettered

Our Wedding, lying

Near the television:

Before them, the wind

Is ruining their courting-places.


That are still courting-places

(But the lovers are all in school),

And their children, so intent on

Finding more unripe acorns,

Expect to be taken home.

Their beauty has thickened

Something is pushing them

To the side of their own lives.


     – Philip Larkin –

Healthy chocolate



Healthy chocolate sounds like an oxymoron so I got excited when I heard Jim Mora preview an interview on Afternoons  with a teaser about eating chocolate for good health.

So of course I listened and he was right – but sadly it’s only the high cocoa, low sugar stuff eaten in moderation.


Pollsters Cup on Afternoons


The Pollsters Cup which I posted a couple of weeks ago was used to precede a discussion  on polling with Jim Mora and The Panel yesterday afternoon.

It went like this:

Next on the card is the feature race for the Pollsters’ Cup.


The early favourite is Undecided by May Be out of Confusion. Margin of Error, by Statistics out of Calculator has had some good runs and Don’t Know Don’t Care by Ignorance out of Apathy is also expected to make a strong showing.


Some commentators favour Time For A Change by Hope out of Desperation but others are picking Same But Different by Caution out of Experience. Minor Parties, by Disaffected out of Single Issue are at long odds.


There’s been a delay because there’s a question over the registration of Don’t Care. However, the stewards say a late entry is allowed under special rules so they’re under starter’s orders and they’re away.


Racing now and Time For A Change has the early running. Undecided comes next closely followed by Margin of Error leading  Same But Different by a nose then it’s a couple of lengths back to Minor Parties and Don’t Know Don’t Care is bringing up the rear.


Time For A Change is running strongly in the centre though Same But Different has come up on the right hand side; then it’s Undecided with Minor Parties a neck ahead of Margin Of Error and Don’t Know Don’t Care still trailing the field.


In to the home straight now and it’s anyone’s race. Margin Of Error has taken the lead with Same But Different, Time For A Change bunched up with Undecided. Minor Parties is running out of steam and Don’t Know Don’t Care is a good five lenghts behind.


To the finish line now and it looks like Margin Of Error just made it but it’s too close to call for the places. It’s between Time For A Change and Same But Different with Undecided in fourth place a nose ahead of Minor Parties in fifth and Don’t Know Don’t Care a distant last.



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