Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Other people

Live on other streets
walk on other feet
talk like brainy birds
in tongues you cannot speak.

Fly fast to Fallujah
call cold collect
cry for the 10-year-old
raped to death.

Miss other mothers
in other skins try to fit
kiss other lovers
don't know you exist.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Jesus's sister

Jesus's sister is hard to say. It's even harder to imagine that Jesus had a sister and that She, being second-born of the second sex, has been waiting in the clouds all this time while Her big brother took all the credit for being the chosen child and only son of God.

Still, it's true. And her name is Sacha. Sacha is Jesus's sister, though She's not Jewish. Nor is She Christian. Indeed Her second name is not Christ. Christ no.

There were no Christs in Sydney where She was born in 1966, in the hottest month of a hellishly hot year.

She has taken a while to come out as Jesus's sister, She has, and not just because it's hard to say. She wanted to choose Her moment carefully, just as He did. Then finally Easter Sunday 2016 presented itself as the most likely, now-or-never day for Her big earth reveal.

Also, She wasn't sure She was Jesus's sister. She rejected the idea for a long time, approximately fifty earth years and more than two thousand heaven years. Fortunately you don't age in heaven.

Still, it seemed quite a lot of pressure and quite likely a thankless task. She was also, subconsciously, waiting for her brother's star-cross to fade. When it didn't, much, She gave up waiting. It wasn't going to happen without Her, She finally decided.

Indeed she realised finally that her mission on earth was to bring lightness and perspective to the whole cross, resurrection, egg, rabbit drama. To bring fun where He had brought fury and a cross to bear for all eternity. He was never meant to take it that far. He was not even supposed to tell anyone He was the son of God. God knew that would cause trouble. God is essentially a comedian, you see. He much prefers to make fun than fury.

So here She is, Jesus's sister, the daughter of God, dressed as a giant bunny earlier today at the local Domain, looking down on Jesus and his heavy cross, suggesting that He give himself a break and wear more suitable shoes for such heavy work.

Better still, put the thing down for good and join the party; the giant funny bunny can take it from here (nb: the bunny suit makes Jesus's sister look much fatter than she actually she is).

Happy Easter!


Friday, March 25, 2016

The glad flag

So a bit of good political news for a change...(see here for media analysis).

The costly pet project of our fern-friendly PM to change our national flag to a recognisable sporting brand, neither Maori nor British, has failed.

What I like best about this failure of John Key's is that he has been hoist by his own petard.

Right-wingers are invariably conservative creatures, most of them being rich white men who want to hold on to the system that made them rich. Key is a quintessential right-winger in this respect. The only change conservative men like him can envisage is to the marketing of things, which generally means the trivial and largely cynical re-branding of the same thing to look like a different thing in order to con people into spending more money. This is what Key's fern flag was to be, a costly attempt to re-brand New Zealand to con people into thinking real change had actually happened.

Populist conservative politicians like Key might support more substantial changes like marriage equality because it would be bad marketing not to -- as his people no doubt tell him -- but they could never initiate such a substantial and progressive reform themselves. They wouldn't think of it, they couldn't be bothered, because it's not about money, and then they wouldn't dare.

But real changes needed to challenge the deep, getting deeper, social, racial and economic divisions between people in societies like ours, these rich white conservative men (and some women) not only won't implement, but invariably exist to reinforce, as the Key government has systematically demonstrated.

His first move in government was to abolish healthy foods in schools, a recently introduced Labour party initiative to combat childhood obesity and other poor-health issues that are far more prevalent in lower decile schools than upper decile schools. His second was to increase the national flat tax on all goods and services while drastically reducing the income taxes paid by the wealthy.

But back to the flag...

The only socially progressive reason for NZ to change its flag is to recognise the indigenous Maori as the first people of this land and thereby distinguish our nation from other British colonies. To this end I think this Maori take on the Union Jack is promising, with the Union cross cleverly spelling out 'NZ'. And with a bit of colour tweaking to incorporate some British blue, more cross-cultural red, and a little less black, could suggest a viable alternative to the current flag.

But for now it's enough good news that John Key is taught the vital lesson that a country is not a business, or a sports team, to be re-branded on a personal whim, as if the past and its peoples never happened and we're all one big fern-friendly family now. We're not. But we might be, given time and consistent and sustained real change.



Monday, March 21, 2016

The Bond Con

The media made a big deal of 'the oldest ever "Bond girl"' in the latest Bond film, Spectre as evidenced by this title given to an article in The Mirror on how this freak of cinematic nature manages to look sexy at such a mighty age.

This would be all very well and good if it were true, even though it remains deeply condescending given that the woman in question, Monica Belluci, is clearly still sexier than most women (not to mention men) on screen, and only three years older than Craig.

But the bigger problem is that she's barely the Bond girl, or 'woman' as some media manage to call her, doing their best to acknowledge her maturity without wishing to insult her, or the film, directly. She's the Bond bit on the side, more like, only appearing in the first quarter of the film, as if to get her at her youngest - or least old, rather. After that she is replaced poignantly, and clumsily, for the remaining three-quarters of the film, by an actual girl, an actress more than twenty years her junior and as young as they could get away with without her relationship with the 48-year-old Craig coming across as creepy.

Somehow this makes the fuss over Belluci's inclusion in the film all the more patronising to women, while likely a cynical gesture by directer Sam Mendes to increase female interest and media buzz in the film, clearly aimed at teenage boys and men.

Indeed this is the issue of the moment in Hollywood, the ongoing targeting of big-money films to young males and the lack of leading parts for 'older' (over 30) women in those films as a result, because boys - and men of any age - it seems, want to watch boys and men, and - more briefly and preferably without their clothes on - very young women. At least that's what Hollywood believe and argue box-office sales prove true.

Men and boys (directors, producers, writers and viewers alike) are, most of them, sex snobs. We know this. But to what extent do we make them this way, that's what we don't quite know or want to know.

Personally I think we are deeply complicit in male sex snobbery, with Hollywood et al in the film industry, the most complicit of all. The latest Bond film proves this in trying, cynically and condescendingly, to amend this blatant snobbery and failing almost entirely, exposing instead its desperate depths and time-worn resistance to change.

Sally Field in the latest TIME has a strong opinion on this issue, based on her many years of film and TV sexism experience. She knows what she's talking about, as most Sallys do.

Indeed sex snobbery has long testicles (oops, Freudian slip. I meant to say tentacles). And the longest of all of these testicles (oops) reaches into real life relationships between men and women and eventually tears them apart, because any boy/man who has been raised to prefer the company of men will struggle to sustain a healthy relationship with a woman over 30, indeed with a woman full stop, not a girl.    



Saturday, March 19, 2016

A staunch launch

So I'm building up to my launch. With just six weeks to go till the release of my first book, I'm preparing the orchestra/band and the outfit, the two most important things to ensuring a staunch book launch.

This woman clearly has no idea what she's doing, not an instrument in sight and a skirt so tight there's a very real danger the launchees will be distracted from buying the book, which defeats the purpose entirely, although in her case it seems she is the book, so perhaps she can be excused her distracting outfit.

Except for the pink, there's no excuse for wearing pink to a book launch, or anything else, really. And as for purple, well let me just say I hope the book's good, though that isn't usually a requirement for a successful book launch.

She could also do with stocking a few more books at her launch, as there's nothing worse than being caught short, when thousands turn up to your launch and you only have hundreds of copies of your book. It's not a good look.

For a staunch launch, the sort I am planning, first of all you need a good drummer, with a reliable band or orchestra to provide the necessary symphonic accompaniment for the drum roll as you make your way up to the podium to the rousing applause just for writing the book (as well as for your well-chosen outfit), that continues as you smile graciously through the deafening applause then finally, after several minutes, raise your hand, with maximum humility, to suggest it might be time at last to begin the main event: hearing you, the author, speak. Because if there's one thing authors do well it's speak, especially to vast crowds. That's why they write, in order that they might get to speak.

Fortunately, in my spare time I sing in a band, so lining up a drummer and other instrumentalists is not a problem. I'm still working on the outfit and the speech, however, but wanting a staunch launch I think I'll go with a black and white theme for both, no shades of grey - or pink - for me.

Good luck with that, I hear you say, and I thank you, but I'm not going to need it. I don't even need you to come to my launch if you happen to be in Auckland - or anywhere else in the world and inclined to travel - and not doing anything special on Tuesday 3 May between 6.30 and 8.00pm (Devonport Library, drinks and nibbles provided). But if you did decide you might just as well show up to lend a hand with the applause, and admire my well-chosen outfit, and hear my well-chosen words, be warned, staunch queues are expected.



Thursday, March 17, 2016

Knees Please Me

I slipped and hurt my knee
but thought it nothing much
then found myself
less carefree
walking with a crutch.

They say it's an effusion
which means it's not a break
I should feel lucky
it will mend,
be thankful for my fate.

But when will it mend
that's what I want to know,
as I can't run or dance
time hobbles
awful slow.

Still all is not lost
I have another knee
and posed on my crutches
I look rather fetching
you can see.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Me no pause

I was turning fifty. For the party at Mum’s I’d stocked up, filled half a drawer with paper pulp, thrown a t-shirt over the whole unsightly stash as a decoy in case Mum investigated, as she sometimes does, making sure I'm using the drawers she clears out specially for me, the same drawers I used as a child and still consider mine. Funny what you don’t want to share with your mother.

She didn't know I had been bleeding for sixty days straight and only stopped the week prior to flying over, the progesterone pills finally kicking in, hopefully not sowing the seeds of dementia in the process, presuming they were not already sown. 

There’d been so much blood at peak times through those sixty days, if that returned the day of the garden party, with white marquee and matching furniture, it would be Carrie all over, only I couldn't blame my mother, at least not directly.

I’d have to leave the party running, get M to give some excuse, jet-lag, age-grief, something slightly less bloody. They could sing Happy Birthday to me through the window, a Rapunzel-type situation, only blood flowing instead of hair. If it came back in full force, enough to shoot the tampons straight back out into my hands, there’d be no happy about it.  

But the blood never came. I turned fifty. They sang Happy Birthday to my face, smiling in spite of itself. We ate truffle cake, with me put in charge of the knife, so many slices I feared I’d never get one and might have to put the knife to a use less sweet; to draw my own blood, indeed.

Then we went home, the unused contents of that childhood drawer repacked together with regret and the accumulated gifts, none of it useful. 

Months went by and I realised the blood was never coming back. I’d menopaused for my fiftieth birthday. Happy birthday!

But then it did come back. Regret and relief in equal measure. Me no pause not yet. 

Thursday, March 10, 2016


You'll be pleased to hear that the P in this post is not for poo. Indeed I can fairly safely say we're done with poo for the foreseeable future (at least as far as this blog goes, one is never done with poo entirely), having finally sent off the precious pongy parcel in the pongy pooey post.

So no. The P in this post is not for poo. Rather, it is for print. For today is the day that my precious first book,volume one of my childhood memoir, is at long last sent off to the printers to be returned in due course as the fully publishable article, all being well. I think it goes all the way to China....

And a long row to hoe it has been getting to China and P-Day, I must say, with a final bump in the flow of that row coming just last week when the publishers decided on a dramatic last-minute shift in the cover design, from a picture of me dressed as a dancing stork - and why not! - to a picture of some random girl dressed as a random girl, indeed a random girl who looks almost nothing like me; she is European, that is about the only likeness.

Never mind. There's no use crying over spilt stork, and I am assured by the sales people involved that the dancing stork on the cover of the advance copies wasn't selling, as far as pre-orders went, and that a generic, pretty young girl, is more likely to sell than a less conventional girl dressed up as a stork with a balaclava and beak on her head, though why exactly they didn't say.

Indeed I don't think they really know what sells off the book-store shelf or why, and can only go on what has sold before, never mind the wildly varying contents of each book; apparently people do judge a book by its cover. But knowing my book as only a former dancing stork can, if book sales today are all about what sold yesterday, the dancing stork is doomed to go the way of the dodo.

Still, in the meantime I'm celebrating P-Day in style, hobbling around on crutches after a mysterious knee injury on Tuesday, looking, with my long skinny poles for legs, not unlike a stork, indeed. Revenge, that's called; revenge of the dancing stork.  

Sunday, March 6, 2016

The Lady and the Man

I'm sorry to follow my poo post with another post involving faeces (I'm having a shitty week), but at least there are a few more options on the image front for this one - and apologies in retrospect for the last image, which was the best I could do. It's poo plasticine, if that helps.

Last night we went to see The Lady in the Van  based on Alan Bennett's memoir. And although literal shit was featured in the film, with Bennett at one point expressing the view that 'caring is about shit', after having to clean Maggie Smith's shit off his boot (as one does), this true to life, down with the shit, quintessentially British story, was, otherwise, as sweet-smelling as any I've seen.

Maggie is of course perfect for the part of a highly educated, slightly demented but deceptively sane dropout, and is rightly nominated for a Bafta for best actress, and Bennett, who makes an appearance late in the film for which he wrote the screenplay, too, has rightly benefited from his generous accommodation of the actual lady in the van parked -- with a whole lot of shit, actual and other -- for 15 years in the driveway of his fairly posh house, which is the house used in the film.

I do love memoir, I must admit, and although this story is only 'mostly true', as it states at the start, that is true enough for me. Indeed no reproduction is all true, only life itself is that. But the good memoir has that ring of truth to it that makes a clever, if quiet, mockery of our over-written manufactured 'truths', by showing us just how fantastic, quirky and good -- or bad -- as the case may be, real life is. You can't make this shit up, in short. And that is just as well.

Shit does happen indeed, but the reward and the good is all in the recovery, as they rightly say. All in those small, true acts of heroism that reassure, and entertain, if done right, as they are here, such as the writer holding the hand of the stinky old lady in the van when she asks him to on the night before she dies, neither he nor she knowing it will be her last (though perhaps she has an inkling).

And that bit of the story is all true, as Bennett states in the film for the sceptics among us. And in that simple gesture you know the humanity of the man and of the lady in the van. She is saying thank you and he is saying, it's all right, just before she quietly dies. What better way to end a film - or a life.        

Friday, March 4, 2016

Posting poo

Turning fifty (shiver) you imagine feeling old and wanting to sleep more, perhaps being invited on an 'over 50's' bus tour of the botanical gardens. And all this happens and more, don't worry.

But what you're somehow not prepared for, but also happens, pretty much on the very day of your birthday, is that you receive an urgent request for your poo. And how do they want your poo? They want it in the post! The poo post.

So there you are, turned fifty, which should be bad enough, having to decipher a 23-step manual on the painfully undignified business of how to collect your smelly business, being sure to put the blotting paper in the toilet not the bag, and not before the pee goes into the toilet, which must not be at the same time as the poop (!). After that, in a tearing rush lest the pooped paper sink (!!) you do some stinky excavation with a much too-thin-for-the-job stick, and when that's done, wearing your arm extensions, you courier said stinky stick and said stinky stick only into the zip-lock plastic bag provided and seal it TIGHT, before proceeding in a calm and collected fashion to the nearest poo post box, carrying your meaty envelope and trailing a string of salivating dogs, to post it to those whose job it is to receive posted poo.

Well, in theory I'm sure that's all very well and good and important to science and possibly even the saving of the planet. But in practice, it's easier said than done, and it's not all that easy said. It's also a little unfair, I think, to impose such an undignified procedure on the newly elderly. Why not instead treat us all, as a 50th birthday present, to a free doctors visit where the bulk of the operation can be handled, in every sense of the word, by a trained professional. I feel a strongly scented letter to my local member coming on.

Meanwhile, they're still waiting for my poo; I seem to have come down with a sudden and inexplicable case of chronic constipation.



Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Bad faith

Rifling through a collection of popular records from the 1960s, 70s and 80s recently, I found these two covers among the 150-odd albums of mostly male musicians, with men - never naked - depicted on the covers.

This young girl on the cover of Blind Faith by Blind Faith (1969) I couldn't believe. Look it up and you find there was some controversy over the cover, but not because the girl is naked, which is barely mentioned, but because she was so young. Apparently she was eleven.

The 'artist' (male, of course) employed to produce the cover, who came up with the idea of using a very young 'innocent' girl, said it was all about the 'spaceship' the girl is holding (looks more like a plane) symbolising material achievement and the advancement of human knowledge, and the 'innocent' girl symbolises the untainted delivery of this 'tree of knowledge' into the world. Bullshit. Why must she be naked?

The naked woman in stilettos on the cover of The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking by Roger Waters (1984), is not quite as offensive as the naked girl-child, but it's pretty crass stuff. And aren't these sorts of images supposed to be reserved for the R-rated pages of Playboy magazine, etc. I mean this is a naked woman asking to be picked up and taken for a ride on the cover of a record, openly displayed and sold to anyone.Why bother censoring films if this is out there for all to see?

There was a bit of controversy about this cover too, but not much: 'it was condemned by some feminist groups' is how Wiki summarises - and dismisses - the controversy. But later versions appeared with a black strip over the woman's rear end, rather a case of too little too late, I should say, as it still leaves in place an otherwise naked, provocatively posed, woman asking to be picked up (and fucked).

Roger Waters sings on the album about his mid-life fantasy of committing adultery with a woman he picks up on the road, presuming she is hitch hiking because she wants sex too, of course. He doesn't sing about that.

This wouldn't wash today, would it? I don't think it would, and that must be a progress of sorts. That's all I've got to say about that, oh, and that the record collection belongs to my husband.