As you get older, you tend to reflect on the people who influenced your early life. Looking back, I can honestly say that Jumbo Mercer made a major impact in my formative years, but then if Stephen King had attended the same school he’d have had an impact on him too. Despite the nickname, Jumbo wasn’t fat; he was stocky, confident and showy, whilst I was skinny, nervous and introverted. Bullying in English single sex schools at that time was as much a part of the curriculum as the ‘three Rs’: they… Read More
Stirred by the lead news stories in my country recently, I decided to risk belabouring the issues I raised in an earlier article. The media, it seems, feels that my font of knowledge would be tainted by hard news, and that the daily doings of the rich, famous and infamous are more suited to my intellect. Just for fun, I’ll run a few of these journalistic bombshells past you and trust that your pulse rate remains stable. ‘John Travolta accused of making sexual advances to a male masseur.’ Now apart from Mr… Read More
The 1960s were the beginning of the end as far as the traditional pub was concerned. The beat generation demanded novelty and noise; this was quickly provided by franchise chains and disco bars, which left the poor old dedicated drinker out in the cold. Depending where you stood in the social scale it was ‘the boozer’, ‘the pub’ or ‘the local’. For non-locals, they had names that totally belied the ambience and clientèle within. Only an innocent tourist would expect to meet any of the peerage in ‘The King’s Arms’ or find… Read More
I’ve got a computer that can filter out unwanted rubbish and a sign on my letter box shielding me from junk mail, but when it comes to useless information it seems that I’m just not capable of rejecting it. Those that promote interest in this sort of stuff (pushers) call it trivia, but it’s reaching the point that ‘brain spam’ would be a more honest description. The amount of information that I don’t really need to absorb is pretty scary.
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