Huff and puff by Trevor Plumbly

Grumpy old git part 2 It’s cold and wet in Auckland and I’ve got all reflective about a couple of law changes in the offing. Odd things in life seem to matter at my age; even so, at the risk of contradiction from my fellow bloggers, I regard myself as a pretty normal sort of bloke. It wasn’t always thus, but age tends to water things down a bit. In my formative years you were either the sort of boy your girlfriend invited home to meet mother, or useful as a cudgel… Read More

Yorkshire mini-break by Angela Caldin

I’m up in Yorkshire enjoying a few days immersion in all that is wonderful about this county including its down-to-earth people, its direct talk, its breath-taking landscapes and its wry humour. Northern rivalry I should point out that I’m from Lancashire, a diamond of a county, but locked in a centuries old rivalry with its neighbour over the Pennines. Who remembers learning about the Wars of the Roses in the fifteenth century with the white rose for the House of York and the red rose for the house of Lancaster? As if… Read More

School donations in New Zealand by Susan Grimsdell

Schools in New Zealand are rated from 1 to 10, depending on the socio-economic  zone in which they’re located.  Decile 10 applies to wealthy areas and Decile 1 to deprived areas.  The system was introduced in 1995 by the right-wing National Party. Donations required Primary and high school education are free here, but almost all schools ask for a donation from parents to fund facilities and amenities not normally supplied. In Decile 10 areas, parents donate heaps, as you can imagine.  In poor areas, donations are a problem for parents who simply… Read More

Ya gotta laugh by Trevor Plumbly

A funny thing used to happen Listening to an interview with John Cleese the other day made me wonder whether the current plague of PC is strangling humour. Comedy has always carried an element of cruelty: from the Buster Keaton custard pie sketch to the murder of sensitivities from Billy Connolly, somebody has to ‘cop it’ to amuse those who weren’t on the receiving end. Listening to Cleese, I realised that nothing was spared: all manner of sacred cows, including his late mother and ex-wives were woven into a barrage of hilarious… Read More

The state of the nation by Angela Caldin

Yesterday, I had two interesting conversations which I’ve been pondering on overnight. The food bank phenomenon I was on the tube when I met a colleague from my days in the magistrates’ courts. He’s a defence solicitor and therefore sees on a daily basis and at first hand the poverty and deprivation experienced by many of those who commit petty offences. He commented wearily that food banks are just about the only growth industry in this country nowadays. It’s true that food banks are springing up even in areas which are traditionally… Read More