Saturday, June 6, 2009
I think the first time I put some thought into the matter was when Fraser Colman the Minister of something other in the Kirk Government shook my hand in the Criterion pub in Onehunga.
The Cri as it was called in Onehunga had tiles half way up the wall so if you threw up it was easy to clean and the carpets, and there were carpets, oozed their age, decrepitude and tiredness.
Mostly you were allowed to stand against high tables and the ashtrays were old corn beef tins.
The reason I lived in New Zealand was to some degree the lack of ceremony of such a place, but there are pubs all over the world where people don’t stand on ceremony.
No what made New Zealand truly unique was the fact you could meet a Minister of the Crown in such a pub, with the chauffeur waiting round the corner and that you would meet and have few beers and spend an afternoon talking, all equals.
That was what was so different about New Zealand and it was the rarest thing in the world.
I had of course been shaking hands for years and was well aware of some pointers.
I had spent a few years with shearers, wharfies, building workers, sailors freezer hands and even shook hands all round at the Taneatua pub.
You shake hands after a fight to agree its over and will be forgotten.
You shake hands to seal a bargain and to tell someone who you are.
If you know the right shake either in an American ghetto or the Triangle in Onehunga you can do the special shake with out losing face and getting it wrong.
It does not do to get it wrong.
If you don’t trust the person you put your index finger up their cuff along their wrist.
No wharfie or hard case drunk can crush your hand if you do that.
It lets them know that you know this.
It also lets them know that you don’t trust them.
But that’s a better risk than having some muscled hoon crushing your knuckles to a pulp.
For if they do the protocol is that you just take it.
If you whinge and whelp you will termed a wanker and be drinking somewhere else.
You take it because you’re not a crybaby and because you didn’t put your index finger out as a sensible man might do.
The Cri was a great pub on a Saturday afternoon.
It was where you could meet Neil MacKay.
Neil was Scotsman and the cleverest man I ever met, and I have met a few clever men.
He liked a drink. The Criterion was one place you could see Neil’s practical genius at work
He had a biggish section up in Grey Street and instead of being an idiot and getting a lawn mower and wasting a good Saturday’s drinking time slaving over the business of a big section he bought a goat.
So Neil was in the pub while the goat was dealing with a big dose of kikuyua.
I know a bit about goats and was there when he announced quietly that he had solved the bloody kikuyua problem,
Neil hated Kikuyua with a passion and when he went gardening, he did a spot of contract, gardening he poisoned it with diesel, a slower death, having been careful to charge the client a fortune for roundup.
As I said I know a bit about goats so I knew he had half an acre and I knew about to the week, to the day when the goat would have eaten ever living thing about the place and MacKay smart as he was would have one of life’s intractable problems.
What to do with a hungry goat who was going to get meaner hungrier and more cantankerous as the days go by?
I was planning to, as you do the get the upper hand in a conversation; casually ask about the week after the goat got hungry, "hows the goat going Neil?"
Anyway as usual I forgot but what did start to happen some weeks later was every now an again these Maori blokes would come up to Neil with a double whiskey.
They would have a yarn and then wander off saying “good as gold” Neil.
Well I eventually asked, eventually because MacKay’s affairs were complicated and involved and sometimes it would be embarrassing to ask and not get an answer why they were buying him whiskey?
Oh, the boys, says Neil, to the Irish anyone in the pub is one of the boys and Neil knew the term, oh he says “I rented the goat to the boys. “
“It’s going good.”
It was going good all right what they call a win win win situation these days.
Happy Maoris, they weren’t wasting drinking time mowing lawns either and the Local Authority, and the really local authority, the missus, wern’t getting on their goat about the long grass.
And yes the goat.
Every few weeks the goat faced new frontiers of happiness, blackberry and delicious tucker of every kind as he made a circuit of the whanau.
Every time Neil came into the Cri all sorts of Maori jokers would come up and instead of digging a dollar or two out of Neil for the meat raffle they would buy him a whiskey.
I reckon that goat went as far as Kaikohe and might have even crossed tribal boundaries and went south occasionally.
Occasionally Neil would mention that it would be good if the goat could do a tour of Grey Street and sure enough some evening the goat would be dropped off the back of a Ute and settle into home pastures contented as you please.
Anyway what surprised me about Fraser Colman’s handshake was that he nearly crushed my hand to a pulp.
I just looked him in the eye, all the while suffering eye watering pain.
There was little you could do.
If he was a plain civilian you could do two things.
The first was curl your other hand into fist and with your less useful hand try and smash him in the mouth.
The second was that you could raise your knee and pull him towards you and crush his solar plexus on the point of it, or crush something lower.
The first was for idiots who should have better sense than to go crushing your hand and the second was for lunatics who had no sense and more importantly no mates either.
There was certain etiquette about starting a fight, you usually simmered over an insult and then after you had drunk your beer, you didn’t start a fight on a full glass, you would turn the glass upside-down.
That was the equivalent of a touching slap with a velvet glove.
Anyway you invited the culprit outside.
It might seem a league of gentleman, it wasn’t, some people went outside and were thumped with a pick handle.
But there were hardly any fights in the Criterion. Everyone had agreed that long ago and while occasionally fools might ruin the arrangement they were rare.
The Tri, The Triangle down the road was another matter; people went there assured of a good stoush most nights.
But Ministers of the Crown were another business altogether.
I was with a mate of mine a young street wise MP called Mike Moore and he and Fraser were so to speak workmates.
The crushing of Fraser's powerful hand was getting me and I was going to thump him Minister or not, mate of Moores or not. And he let go
Anyway I let the matter pass and we had a drink.
Fraser was a decent bloke, just didn’t know his strength it seemed.
I often wondered if Fraser was just seeing if I was one of the boys or a soft handed well soft handed.
Because the other thing about Labour Ministers of the Crown, was that they had calluses on their hands, thick calluses.
Oh some had gone soft but the traces were there. And you could tell a lot from a handshake.
It’s a very intimate thing a handshake.
Of course the world I am talking of was long ago.
The Criterion if its still there doesn’t have corn beef tin ashtrays, the boys if they are still there have to crouch along the wall if they want a smoke.
And the tax on beer has gone so high it and only be afforded by people who drink fancy foreign stuff at insane prices well out of the reach of the workers.
And anyway the mob that drank at the Cri have all been shuffled out on to welfare.
And the best deal they can get is a $50 dollars bag of weed from the boys in the bush.
And the boys in the bush supply the weed and with the money from their retail sales to the pakeha buy a stack of cans, a few bottles of spirits and every one gets totally rotten in all meanings of the word at long parties lasting days, at home, on their own.
And the Labour Ministers raise the taxes on beer, drive the scarcity of weed sky high and bitch endlessly about the lowered morals of the poor and never put their foot in a poor district where if they did and if the poor could afford the beer taxes they would tell them a thing or two.
There were few joys better than an afternoon at the Cri or the Kiwi when a beer was affordable by anyone and the boys had a few good jobs to do during the week.
And everyone shook hands in the most ordinary way.
As a sign of friendship
Thursday, June 4, 2009
But you can’t do that without comparing him with the others who have struggled to make a fist of the hardest job in the world
Good guys,bad guys
What sort of people were they personally
Did they do any good?
Were their policies sensible and to the taste of Ancient Dan?
This rendition is a totally personal view and is interspersed with the then personal history of Ancient Dan in his travels and learnings in matters politic which may or may not explain some of the idiosyncratic conclusions made
No apologies will be made for any statement
Nor will Ancient Dan be easily persuaded to another point of view.
Ancient Dan has the privileges of age.
I am entering my well-earned and deserved curmudgeonly stage of life where I really can’t be bothered changing opinions unless it means cash in the mail or better tasting beer.
Anyways sometimes I was there and you were not.
Well Ancient I am and my memory of presidents goes way back.
Much Much more
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
He is brash and bombastic and the airlines is no fun but 58 million people got to where
they wanted to go at a price they wanted to pay because he drives Ryan air.
Mind you there will be a few less sales of Guinness in the Airport lounges if that toilet charge comes in.
It seems our boys in Afghanistan were being fed Dutch food.
These bronzed Aussie lads have been going out to fight the wiley pathans on a belly full of yoghurt, muesli and pickled herrings.
Spare me days. The saurkraut soldiers.
Well things will change after the new tucker regime comes in.
Finally the ADF has seen sense and the new food regime will have real food, "fried eggs, bacon, sausages and “barbeques”.
"Diggers will get a dedicated Australian mess catered for by seven cooks to be flown into the joint-operated base. "
Barbeques means steak an inch and a half thick with onions washed down with beer.
Mate thats fighting tucker.
Taliban take note.
Saturday, May 30, 2009
Friday, May 29, 2009
I am not so sure.
I am slowly coming to the conclusion it was rather a government of academics who started life with fine theories and ideas and who led the country into an imaginary place where social justice was the order of the day.
So that the country of Norman Kirk, of working people, became prisoners in ghettos of despair, and the elites, who only turned left at 18 because they read books in a different corridor of the library from their Tory neighbours, were both ignorant and indifferent to the damage they had done.
As George Orwell said some ideas are so silly and so preposterous that only an academic could believe them.
Meaning I suppose the reality of the world disabuses the more sensible members of the community of such misguided notions.
The are a powerful group, academics, in a party of the working people.
They spend all day in their day jobs lecturing people who by certification know much less than they do.
They have been selected and praised all their lives not for common sense and wisdom but for a mental agility and skill of thought.
So when you put them into a branch meeting in New Lynn there is not much oxygen for ordinary people.
After a while they stay silent while their learned betters take the conversation away from the bread and butter issues that concern them to the arcane abstractions of achieving social justice, gender equity and diversity.
It becomes difficult to socialise as the party socials gravitate from beer, the drink of the workers, to wines and pinkie food that needs a lifetime of study to consume with good manners.
When the beer and sausage rolls are gone and the workers are relegated to doing things like distributing pamphlets and getting out the vote the party ship can sail on to the balmy waters of abstruse arguments and theoretical debates.
Of course you would say the workers should bugger off and found their own party of honest toilers.
The problem with that is its soon evident that out there is a bunch of wilder academics who have read different more emphatic books split into realms of Trotskyites, Marxists, who found other corridors in the university library with the real gospel of social equity, class struggle.
Meanwhile the workers are diminishing anyway, (the academics like them in state houses and on the dole, tidier).
The trade unions whom you could once rely on to have a hard headed appreciation of wages and conditions and the bread butter and jam issues have changed as well and the academics have arrived en masse in those sacred Trades Councils as well.
Instead of the hard bitten officials, who spent years on the job getting in the front of every stoush with good bosses, bad bosses and real bastards before becoming an official and getting a job with the union, there is soft handed Harold, who has a degree in social equity, union studies and who has written a thesis on the effects of the abolition of the Arbitration Act 1898.
For much as I thought Pat Kelly, god rest his atheistic soul, wasn’t a labour man but a true and dyed communist for most of his life and who ran the poker school at Mere Mere, a grave sin, he had worked a day or two in his life and lived the life of the people whom he represented.
But Harold is the new face of the union and he is all up for the workers, a mob he has recently met for the first time.
And Harold or Haroldess is only there until a research job is freed up in parliament and then only until a job is free in a minister’s office and then until a safe seat comes along. But he will give it his best shot.
And Haroldess can go along to the Labour Electorate Committee as a fighter and toiler for the unions and the masses, where it helps that Harold is well connected and knows his wine.
So if there is blame for the wasted nine years and if there’s culprits to be found I am all for blaming it on the academics, give democratic socialism a break and lay it at the door of the well meaning ideologues who left the hallowed halls of academia to teach the common people how to live their lives.
And don’t we owe them so much.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
It must be the only number 1 highway in the world that is regularly closed for snow.
The country's main highway has corners in shaded gullies with a 25 km reccomended speed.
It would take about 4 viaducts and maybe a couple of hundred million to have a weather proof number one state highway.
Yet when the good times came in the last 9 years the new 15,000 state servants was thought a good place to spend money.
Sunday, May 17, 2009
The seat has been with Labor since 1924.
This is quite an event.
They have five crossbench senators in Federal Parliament, which is elected by proportional representation.
This might be a sign of the parting of the ways by the insufferable latte socialists from the battlers in the Labor Party.
Labor may lose a few central city seats in the next Federal election.
The trendy wendys in these seats won’t forgive Kevin Rudd for watering down the Global Warming Carbon Reduction Trading scheme before the Senate.
Meanwhile the battlers in the outer suburbs that Labor won back from Howard in 2007 and the miners and workers in the rest of the country will not acrifice one job for those 385 molecules in a million that have Green's leader Bob Brown so worried that he would let a wrecking ball loose on the Australian economy.
More Auckland foolishness, an expensive rebranding to the Big little city - Sounds like someplace in Texas.
They will run an expensive campaign , pay a lot of cash to the hucksters but won't actually change the reality.
Ancient Dan campaigned 20 years ago to have the area from the Gladstone Road Bridge to the Viaduct declared a development area, to put Quay Street underground, remove the red fences from Kings wharf toPrinces wharf and open the city up to the sea, with the casino at the old railway station.
What Auckland got was a casino where the Bus depot should have been, and a bunch of restaurants around the sump at the viaduct.
So the public got the use of the worst section of the waterfront, a tiny corner on the left hand side.Wellington did just run a campaign.It changed the waterfront into an interesting place.
It spread poetry along the wharves.
Stuck little eateries and pubs there, built museums and entertainment centres.
It is a pleasure to go there.
(And when they put the roof on Wellington it will be just peachey).
Auckland blessed with better weather and a wonderful harbour has for forty years kept the public away from their waterfront with those victorian red iron railings.
Like a finger up the city's nose the port company parks used import cars right smack dab in the prime waterfront area.
Vancouver, San Francisco, hell every port city in the world used the opportuniy of the change to container shipping to reclaim the waterfront for recreation and leisure. Not Auckland
An advertising campaign won’t do it.
You actually have to change the physical reality.
The problem has been that Auckland's local body politics are steeped in childishness.
Getting the City, the region, the port company to agree open the waterfront up is near impossible.
What they will do is try and turn that industrial tank farm miles away into a real estate rake off.
The one city structural changes will not do it.
Until the Auckland political culture changes or a leader like Robbie arrives progress is unlikely.
Another tartup campaign putting make-up on the old whore will not work.
The latest is dosing bread with folic acid.
Over four million people will have their bread adulterated to cure 4 to 10 birth deformations.
So pregnant women are unable to buy this stuff themsleves?
Worse it could increase cancers of the prostate and the liver.
Food Safety Minister Kate Wilkinson should can this one as soon as possible.
Just because the last government wanted to line the people of the country up in yards and drench them like sheep is no reason why sanity should not prevail under this one.
Whats next - aspirin in the milk to thin the blood.
This is madness.
No not the Anzac parades, the numbers of Alarmist Global Warmers who turn out to complain that the planet is warming up and its your fault.
Sydney 2007 - tens of thousands
Sydney 2008 - thousands
Sydney 2009 - 200 turned up.
Then again the skiing season started a month early and in the last few years it has got colder.
Monday, January 5, 2009
that nice Mr Castro let them buy computers and own mobile phones.
What will be next, cars?
After 50 years the revolution is finally delivering. Mind you don't expect a big spend up.
The average pay in the socialist paradise is $24 a month.