A Walk in the Park by Emily Smart

I was giving our toilet the equivalent of a whore’s wash yesterday – a quick wipe on the plastic and porcelain with a wet wipe and a splash of Harpic around the rim – and I was reminded of my mate Catherine. It was Catherine who came up with the idea of the walking school bus. No, not the one where parents wear luminous workman vests and wrangle 20 kids to school trying to avoid busy roads, squealing brakes, broken bones and calls to 111. Our walking school bus is made up… Read More

It Was A Pleasure To…By Trevor Plumbly

After hearing an old friend’s comments on his final regular broadcast, I couldn’t help feeling short-changed by the folks that run national radio here in New Zealand. Dougal Stevenson’s final remarks were delivered with the same calm dignity with which he had presented TVNZ national news for so many years. There’s far more to Dougal than a BBC accent, there’s a genuine love of the English language, a deceptively dry wit and, as I discovered, a willingness to encourage those new to public performances. My first encounter with him was for the… Read More

War and Peace by Angela Caldin

The Eurostar train slices smoothly through the flat landscape of northern France on its way to Brussels. The land looks rich and fertile with green fields of potatoes, oats, wheat and vegetables interspersed with the occasional startling yellow of oil seed rape. Herds of placid-looking cows graze near the isolated farmhouses surrounded by hedges. Rows of poplar trees spring up like soldiers from the ground, breaks against the wind that often sweeps over the level land. The only signs of life are teams of workers in white overalls spraying between the rows… Read More

Freddie Starr Ate My Hamster! By Emily Smart

The urban myth, or legend as it is sometimes called, has been occupying my thoughts this week. We all love a good story, be it true or fictious, particularly if it’s about celebrities. Who can forget the tale of Mick Jagger, Marianne Faithfull and that Mars Bar? Or Richard Gere and his alleged fondness for small furry rodents? Then there’s the ones that have been circulating for years; John Travolta might be gay (massage anyone?), Jamie Lee Curtis was supposedly born a hermaphrodite, and the singer Marc Almond, after collapsing on stage,… Read More

Unaccustomed as I am…By Trevor Plumbly

We’ve all suffered it: the wedding reception when the rumble of small-talk has replaced the clatter of crockery being cleared away. The glass pings, almost politely, and he rises to his feet surveying the seated guests in much the same way as Christopher Lee eyed the maiden’s neck in the old Dracula movies. This is the best man and it’s time for his shot at glory: the speech! He looks confidently at his wife, but rather than smile encouragement, she decides that the tablecloth needs her undivided attention. It’s not a good… Read More