“You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone” (Joni Mitchell) by Trevor Plumbly

“There ain’t half been some clever bastards” (Ian Dury) I listened to a British talk show recently and, like NZ and Oz, they’ve got loads of folk waffling about the mundane things of life. The target for these media crusaders (let’s call them ‘progressives’) was language; this particular bunch decided, after some deliberation, that certain descriptive terms are no longer acceptable. They focussed on name-calling: describing someone as ‘skinny’, ‘tubby’ and the like is ‘body shaming’ and must now be considered emotionally damaging. I was shocked by the attack on British schoolboy… Read More

Carry on camping…without me by Emily Smart

Pack it in The annual tent dust off took place last weekend. As an English person, I came rather late to camping. I say this because the only people I knew in the UK who spent any time under canvas were posh families who would hop on a ferry and drive to the Dordogne every summer for two weeks. We Brits are not a nation of outdoor sleepers. The nearest we get is caravan parks, which only feature on the news when a child has been abducted. New Zealanders however, are made… Read More

Song of songs by Trevor Plumbly

Musical lessons I’m sick to death of American politics. I want to write about something more uplifting than the daily doings of Biden, Trump and Co. What about music? Like most folk, I don’t have a tuneful voice; British education tried to correct that by holding ‘music’ periods in infant schools. Ours involved a rail thin Miss Folster thumping away at a piano in an effort to nurture a gang of misfits into choral harmony. It was a brave effort on her part, but doomed to failure, largely due to the song… Read More

Recognising excellence by Susan Grimsdell

There was an interesting story in the paper recently about one of the world’s greatest violinists and conductors, Joshua Bell.  He has played in the great concert halls of the world including Carnegie Hall and the Lincoln Centre, from the time he was a teenager.  You will pay a lot of money to attend one of his performances. Subway blues Several years ago, Joshua took his 300-year-old Stradivarius violin for which he had paid $3.5 million, and found a good spot near a subway station in Washington DC.  For the next 45… Read More

Passing Thoughts by Trevor Plumbly

And the trumpets sounded on the other side The art of shuffling off has lost a bit of glitz in recent times and I reckon we’re all poorer for it. Years ago, there was a bit of glory involved; there wasn’t much of a future in it even then, but it seemed more interesting. Domestically, it was mainly plunging daggers; overseas, knights rode into battle, yelling inspirational stuff like, ‘Once more unto the breach dear friends, once more!’ as an open invitation to get done in, which apparently lots accepted. Leaders had… Read More