I’ll be with you in a tick! By Trevor Plumbly

Wise council I fumbled past 81 last week and decided to look around for amusement instead of reality. If you’re not careful, at that age, there’s far too much to be serious about. Fortunately, it’s local election time down here in Auckland and that’s always good for a few laughs, mainly provided by the wild card candidates. Not protected by party training wheels, they sometimes wobble and get forced to wing it, which brings an element of farce, largely driven by the unlikelihood of them ever getting elected. I found it was… Read More

Food banks and a funeral by Angela Caldin

The Trussell Trust supports a nationwide network of food banks which provide emergency food and support to people locked in poverty. It campaigns for change to end the need for food banks in the UK where more than 14 million people are living in poverty – including 4.5 million children. There are more than 1,200 food bank centres in the UK providing a minimum of three days’ nutritionally-balanced emergency food to people who have been referred in crisis, as well as support to help people resolve the crises they face. I find… Read More

A fistful of dollars by Trevor Plumbly

Flashing it It seems to me that money and discretion don’t accompany each other so much of late. Maybe Mother was right when she said, ‘A fool and his money are soon parted.’ But these days it seems some manage to hang on to the stuff and rub our noses in it at the same time. Do you know there’s a few squillionaires willing to pay 60 odd million dollars each for the dubious pleasure of floating round in space for a couple of days? What on earth’s wrong with these people?… Read More

Lead poisoning by Susan Grimsdell

In children’s story books you’re never in any doubt over who are the baddies.  Just looking at the pictures makes you shiver in your shoes and gives kids nightmares.  In real life, unfortunately, it’s impossible to pick them out.   I was reminded of this when I recently read Bill Bryson’s account of lead, as in lead-based paint, and especially, lead-based petrol.  Lead is bad news.  It accumulates in the body and causes all sorts of problems, to the brain, the kidneys, the nervous system, just about everything in fact, in adults, and… Read More

On the fall of the hammer! By Trevor Plumbly

Impressionists I hate to use ‘the old days’ cliché, but back then there was a drama about auctions that sadly looks like getting throttled by the Internet. I ran an auction house for many years and whether the offering was estate clearance or fine art, the faithful turned up, nursing visions of a starring role and the dream of a bargain, but most blissfully unaware of the predictability of the process. For the auctioneer, most of the punters were readable, from the dealer’s air of bored indifference to the novice’s fidgety excitement…. Read More