Coronavirus update….29 March 2020….New Zealand.

I know that most people are sick and tired of hearing about nothing but this bloody virus so I’ll try to make this brief, and make it my last word on the issue.

As of today New Zealand has had its first and only death (so far) attributed to Coronavirus. The number of infected has passed 500 but only 9 are now in need of hospital care and I believe 56 or 57 have already recovered from the illness.

Just a few things I’d like to run past you at this point. Anyone who has been confirmed to have Coronavirus, no matter how mild a case is numbered among the infected – which is fair enough. What is less fair, and adds to the hype and panic over this “flu like illness” is that even if it was not the coronavirus itself, but other pre-existing illnesses that actually caused the death, the person is still put down as a coronavirus death, due to coronavirus simply being present. I’m not necessarily referring to the single NZ death here, because no details have been released yet at the request of the deceased’s family, but basing it on information about the thousands of deaths in northern Italy. What also needs to be taken into consideration is the age, particularly in northern Italy of the majority of the victims – average age of mid 80’s and the fact that many had other health issues including bronchial illnesses caused by air pollution in that area (worst air pollution in Italy).

Similarly in Wuhan…very bad air pollution and incidentally home to a lab experimenting with viruses.

Other than “essential” workers, New Zealanders are on lockdown supposedly to protect the most vulnerable in the community – the very old and the very sick, with pre-existing medical conditions. And yet, staff working in old folks homes or making home visits to the elderly do not have to wear personal protection equipment. No masks, no gloves. How does this help to keep the elderly and sick safe?

Why self isolate everyone, even the healthy? If a healthy person gets a mild dose of this coronavirus they feel under the weather for a couple of days – some don’t even show any symptoms at all. Once recovered the body has natural immunity, as they do with other illnesses. If enough people who would not be considered to be “at risk” get the illness, don’t need hospital treatment, just a little R and R at home, and build a “herd immunity” for the community and therefore protect the elderly and infirm in doing so, why are we not doing this rather than locking everyone down? By all means lockdown those most at risk – AND then protect them by having all people who look after them wear masks, gowns and gloves. After all they have worked and paid taxes all their lives to help fund their health service and pension funds. Pensioners are not freeloaders….they earned their pensions.

OK, so those of you who believe everything that their government and the media tell them….who believe that their government care more about people than the economy and making money….you should stop reading here.

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Those labelled conspiracy theorists, by the CIA in the 1960’s to discredit their claims, might say that todays governments, or the 1% who control the governments have the following aims.

1. Control of the masses and elimination of citizens who are a burden on society – (the old and the sick) – otherwise why lock everyone up and yet leave the elderly and sick without adequate protection – staff without PPE gear.

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2. Putting armed police and military on the streets to enforce lockdowns (although it’s not got that far yet in NZ)….gets us used to the sight of military on the streets to “protect” us….later to control us.

3. Having everyone at home 24/7 using household internet servers puts a strain on the wifi service. This results in complaints of slow download and streaming times from the public demanding better service. This gives the government the go ahead to roll out the untested 5G network – Which has not been shown to be safe. There are public health issues, but it will be fast tracked during or just after this coronavirus lockdown period. This tactic is known as “Problem, Reaction, Solution”. The government create a problem – strain on the internet caused by locking the entire population down at once – the public react by demanding their internet speeds be retained in times of high use – the government provide the solution – 5G an untested health risk…using technology not dissimilar to the Active Denial System weapon used for crowd control – really, look it up…which will in turn continue to reduce the human population due to the health complications it causes in the community at large. It also disorients bees and birds….but who needs bees right? Who needs bees to pollinate 80% of our food?

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Incidentally, it is claimed that the wavelength that 5G operates on is detrimental to human health and weakens immune systems among other health issues. And coincidence or not, Wuhan was a testing ground for 5G which was then rolled out across China. South Korea had 5G rolled out in 2018 and by 2019 85 cities were covered. The UK – coverage of the major cities began in 2019 and by 2020 over 70 cities have 5G. Vodafone launched 5G in Italy in these five cities in June 2019: Naples, Bologna, Milan, Turin, and Rome. And by 2020 had added another 6 cities. Vodafone Spain was the first operator to launch 5G in Spain and it’s available in many Spanish cities already. Vodafone Spain launched 5G trials in various cities in June 2018, including Madrid, Valencia, Seville, and Barcelona. In late 2018, they installed a 5G network node in La Nave, Madrid, and in February 2019 used standards-based 5G phones to complete their first 5G video calls between Madrid and Barcelona. In the USA 5G is currently being rolled out. It’s in a number of cities already and more areas will get at-home and mobile 5G this year.

Is there a connection between 5G and coronavirus victims due to reduced effectiveness of immune systems? Or is it coincidental that every hotspot for coronavirus around the globe just happens to coincide with 5G technology? Why have NO INDEPENDENT TESTS been done on the health effects of 5G before it was rolled out in all these countries? Why are governments – who are supposed to work for the benefit of their citizens – so desperate to roll out this untested technology as quickly as possible?

4. The lockdown period, initially of a couple of weeks in some places, 4 weeks here in NZ will be extended “to make sure that Coronavirus is wiped out”. BUT eventually they will tell us that the only really safe way to make sure that there are no more coronavirus deaths is vaccination of the masses. They could even make vaccination mandatory and attach penalties to those who try to avoid vaccination such as community restrictions – no vaccination, no school, no college. Or no vaccination, no benefit payments (already being pushed in Australia). Possibly even no vaccination, no passport. State sanctioned medication of the masses, even against our wishes. Then again they are already doing this in NZ with fluoride in the drinking water – mass medication of citizens without our consent.

5. The elimination of cash money. The excuse will be that viruses spread on bank notes…true, but you could also say no more door handles, no more petrol pumps, no more manually operated taps, no more library books, no magazines in waiting rooms – all surfaces that could pass on a contaminant / virus. Where do you draw the line? BUT in getting rid of physical money and making everything digital they make control of the financial world so much simpler. Another benefit being that your wealth can disappear at a click of a mouse should you do or say something that those in charge don’t agree with. But hey…they’d never do that would they?

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6. Microchipping of the masses. Already underway in Sweden. AND being done to people who are asking to be chipped, not being forced! This is being done firstly as a replacement for money and credit cards….just wave your chipped hand or finger over the pad and hey presto you’ve paid your account. Which is a worry in itself in my opinion. I’d rather lose a wallet to a mugger than a finger or entire hand….BUT, it can also be used to track and control movement.

7. Many of the western countries involved in the coronavirus shutdowns of countries are borrowing millions, billions and in some cases trillions of dollars in order to pay workers and keep businesses afloat. The entire world is in debt, but to who? The USA alone already had a national debt of over 23 trillion dollars – a ludicrous amount – and they are adding to this to bail out corporations who are meant to then let this bail out money trickle down to their workers….good luck with that. All of which adds to a world debt that can never realistically be paid off. Eventually the entire debt based economic system has to implode. So what’s the solution? The big banking families…the less than 1% of the worlds population who hold the vast majority of its wealth will offer individual nations an offer they can’t refuse. A one world currency, regulated by a one world bank which will have total financial control. Enter the one world government. Farewell sovereignty of nations, farewell individual rights and freedoms.

Re: Agenda 21 | Redwood Forest

8. United Nations agenda 21….superseded by agenda 2030 which is meant to be about environmental measures but is actually about making money from the state of the environment….AND massive population reduction.

BUT of course this is all simply conjecture from conspiracy theorists. None of it can be true can it?

I’m not asking you to believe any of it. Just because I’ve written it doesn’t validate the claims. What I would ask though is that you take your time – since we have lots of it on lockdown – and look it up….all of it…. individually. You’ll find sites to debunk every claim….but who runs those debunking sites? Follow the money. Sure, some of the sites you’ll come across are run by crackpots wearing tinfoil hats, but others are respected professionals, experts in their fields. Can they ALL be wrong or is there a grain of truth? Can we really trust those who govern us? Don’t be a sheep….don’t automatically believe the government….don’t believe me either, or the other tinfoil hatters. BUT don’t be lazy or complacent either. Do your own research, don’t just rely on sites recommended through Google either, come to your own conclusions.

Something to think about during your confinement. As usual thanks for reading….and yes, if this is what I write after only 3 days of lockdown… you can imagine what a month or more will look like. Greetings from the crazy house. Take care. See you on the other side.

Down on the farm – NZ farms open day.

Sunday 1st March was “Open Gate Day” for many New Zealand farms, a time to let the public in to see how farms are run.

Our farm of choice was Lindsay Farm, near Waipukurau, in Central Hawke’s Bay. Why this farm you ask? Even if you didn’t ask, I’m still going to tell you. Lindsay Farm is where we as a family, and as shareholders in the herd of cows, get our milk from. Not just any old milk though. The milk from Lindsay Farm is delicious, straight from the cow, raw milk…..as it was intended to be. See their website for full details (link at foot of page).

The farm, run by the Ashton family, is a great place to visit to see the animals and the paddocks at their best….their healthiest. The dairy herd feed on mixed pasture….no boring mono-crop grass for these cows…a cornucopia of vegetation grown on organic principles, as you’ll see from the photos below, helps to keep the animals in tip top condition to produce quality wholesome milk.

After parking in a paddock and deftly negotiating our way through the minefield of cow pats, we had a wander around the farm taking a look at the cows and the free range chickens. The “chooks” are free to wander pretty much everywhere, but tend to stay within range of the grain feeder in the chook houses. They even get in amongst the grazing cows in the next paddock. Their habit of scratching the earth looking for bugs and worms helps to turn the cows manure into healthy soil, which in turn helps to produce healthy grasses to feed the cows, which in turn produces our delicious, nutritious milk. And naturally the chickens produce eggs – organic free range eggs. As the cows are rotated to the next paddock (to prevent over grazing – giving the grasses a chance to recover and thrive), the chickens and their mobile “chook houses” follow. It’s a great system.

As you can see from the photos above, the hens have their needs met very nicely here on the farm. The mobile “chook houses” are airy and clean with plenty of room and a choice of roosts on perches at night. Dust baths (see top row right hand pic) are a necessary part of chickens health. Not only do they help keep their feathers clean and control oil on the skin and feathers, they also keep away parasites like lice and ticks.

Paul Ashton talks about the milking procedure.

Next up was a visit to the milking yard where Paul, the head of this farming family, took us through the milking procedure, including the chilling and bottling of the milk. Because the milk is raw untreated milk, everything possible is done to make sure hygiene standards are not just adhered to, but are regularly surpassed. The herd is a small dairy herd and those who deal with the cows get to know each one personally – their habits and mannerisms, their usual behaviour patterns – and can soon spot if a cow is a little under the weather. This being the case, the cow is separated from the others at milking time and given a thorough checking out. If there is any doubt about the health of the cow, it still has to be milked, but the milk does not end up in bottles.

My family has been drinking raw milk from Lindsay Farm for many years and have only felt the better, health-wise, for doing so. Having seen the way that the cows are looked after, the mixed pasture, the rotating of paddocks and the way the milking shed is run I can see why Lindsay Farms milk is so sought after (despite the efforts of the M.P.I to make life as difficult as they can – but that’s another story). It really is a wonderful product.

After our farm tour we wandered down to a bend in the little river, that runs through the farm, where a marquee, coffee cart and a couple of food trucks had been set up, for lunch. Close by the marquee was a stall operated by Farmhouse Kitchen of Middle Road, Havelock North – who gave demonstrations of cheese making and fermented foods. A little later in the afternoon a band played for a couple of hours in the marquee – very good entertainment – and there was a colouring in and calf naming competition for the kids. Also for the kids, although I can bet that there were a few adults itching to give it a go too, was a water slide. It was a warm day so many of the young ones took advantage of the water slide, or a paddle in the river, to cool off.

All in all, not a bad way to spend a late summers afternoon. Informative and enjoyable. As usual thank you for reading. Until next post…..

I tried to include links to Lindsay Farm NZ and for Farmhouse Kitchen’s websites but for some reason the WordPress editor keeps rejecting them. Click on the links and if they don’t connect, please type yourmilk.nz/ into your browser for Lindsay Farm and https://farmhousekitchen.co.nz/ for Farmhouse Kitchen. Useful information and contact details can be found on both sites.

Gardening with my father

When I was a child living in Yorkshire I owned a mug, for drinking tea, with a little picture on the front of a child with its father watering flowers in a garden, using watering cans. A big watering can for the Dad and a small one for the son. Under the picture was the phrase “Helping Daddy”. It’s funny what we remember from our childhood isn’t it? But, like the child on the front of that mug, I used to help my dad in his garden once I was big enough to be of help.

As well as our gardens at home, front and back of the house, which were always a riot of colour, full of flowers and small shrubs, dad also had a huge vegetable garden just a few minute walk away….through the edge of the woods and down a back lane….where his widowed cousin Dora lived. Dora lost her husband in WW2 and lived alone in a house with a huge garden that she couldn’t manage on her own. The garden was divided in two by a path that ran from the front door down to the front gate. The old stone house stood at the very back of the section so all the gardens were visible to the front of the house. The path was the dividing line between Dora’s flower garden – mainly roses – and dad’s veggie garden.

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My dad…shirtless by the looks of things… working in the veggie garden. See how everything grows in neat rows.

So, from being about 8 or 9 years old I was kind of “volunteered” to help dad in the veggie garden. To begin with this mainly involved tedious things such as weeding, tidying, or fetching and carrying things for dad. As I got bigger I was given heavier work such as digging trenches for manuring/composting and using the wheelbarrow to fetch leaf mold from the woods to add to our compost pile, or other such barrow duties. I wasn’t particularly keen on the tasks, but enjoyed spending time with my dad. It amazed me how much he could grow in his garden and how well he (and I) kept it. Row after straight row of vegetables – Tomatoes, Beans, Peas, Carrots, Onions, Cabbage, Turnips, Spring Onions, Cauliflower, Beetroot, Potatoes, Lettuce and best of all, in a small garden to the side of the house was a very crowded strawberry bed. This garden was sheltered by the house on one side and walls on two other sides, providing a sunny warm area for the strawberries to thrive. Oh how I remember the taste of those succulent deep red strawberries – juicy and sweet.

At the time, I didn’t really appreciate the cycle of creation in front of me in that garden. Or of the life within the soil and how we helped to keep that cycle of healthy soil, healthy food going. The preparing and manuring of the soil in readiness for the planting of the seeds, the emergence of the first shoots of the plants, their continued growth to maturity and their ultimate harvest….interspersed with lots and lots of weeding and watering. Food on our table, and food for the family, friends and neighbours.

What I also remember is Dora bringing out sweet cups of tea for dad and I to drink and take a break from our toils, along with a plate of slices of cake or iced (frosted) buns – which always seemed to be slightly stale, but not so far gone that we wouldn’t risk eating them. You know, as a child I had no idea of the age of adults. Everyone who had finished school and started work seemed ancient to me, so one day when Dora asked me how old I thought she was I took a stab at 60….Oops. She was in her mid 40’s at the time so for a while after that she refused to talk to me.

I was fascinated by the worms in the soil – my main concern was how on earth they could breath underground. But I learned how vital they were to the health of the soil, just as I learned how vital bees were (and still are) to the wellbeing of the strawberries. I would sit and watch for ages as the bees went around their business of calling on each strawberry flower before moving on to the next, pollinating as they buzzed here and there. Not that nature asked for our help, but we did what we could as we added compost and mulch to help keep the soil protected and healthy.

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The butcher’s shop. Manure by the barrowload was gathered from the yards behind the shop.

One of the worse most odious and rank tasks (literally), that dad gave me was taking a wheelbarrow up the hill to the butchers yards to collect fresh animal manure. The butcher, Clifford, slaughtered animals on the premises in a yard at the back of the shop. Animals, I guess, are like humans in respect of their reaction to their forthcoming slaughter – shit scared doesn’t even begin to describe it. Let’s just say that there was always lots of manure and straw to transport from the butcher’s yard back down the hill to the garden. A funny thing about my journey’s up and down the hill to the yard and back. On the way up the hill, with a clean wheelbarrow, I would not see anyone I knew on the streets. On the way back, wheelbarrow full of stinking shit, a liberal amount of which I always seemed to manage to get over myself, (the smell of which seemed to linger for days regardless of how much soap I used, or how raw I scrubbed my hands and arms), surrounded by flies, and I would see lots of people who knew me, including at least one pretty girl from school. The manure patrol did little to enhance my reputation with the opposite sex, but worked wonders in the garden.

I write this, some fifty years later after moving to the opposite side of the world and have now become the keen gardener that my dad once was. I am sitting on my terrace, overlooking the garden at the front of my own home. Poppies swaying in the breeze, next to one of a half dozen stands of raspberry canes. The bees from our own hive, buzzing among the plants, work their magic. The canes heavy in both flowers and fruit, some fruit still green, but others turning a pale pink on their way to succulent scarlet ripeness. Another week should do it. In the garden to my left tomato plants are thriving and already bearing small green tomatoes. I was just having a wander around the garden – gin and tonic in hand – counting up the tomato plants. Last year we had around 70. This year we’re up to 80 at current count, with more (perhaps another 50) in seed trays and plant pots to be planted out in the coming days. Everything that we don’t either eat or give away to family and neighbours will be preserved either as tomato sauce or whole, in jars, for later use.

Oh well, it’s been another hot, late spring, day here in Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand – my home for the last 30 years. Time to end this post and give my plants a good watering.

As usual thank you for reading this. Any comments or questions will be responded to as soon as possible. Likes and shares most appreciated.

Christchurch – love, empathy and forgiveness out of a terrible tragedy.

As those of you who have been following my blog know, it’s about books, writers, bookshops – and occasionally movies, travel and photography. But because of what occurred here in New Zealand a week ago I feel compelled to write something about it.

One week to the day ago 50 people who were going about their lives, many of them praying in their place of worship – their place of safety – were murdered and around the same number were hospitalised. It was, without a doubt, a hate crime and the dead and injured were targeted because of their religion and/or colour. All we know at this point in time is that there is just the one accused man in police custody who has been charged with one count of murder with more counts to be added before he stands trial. Much has been made of the fact that this man is a white supremacist and is Australian. I guess the authorities here want to make the point that it was NOT a New Zealander who committed such atrocities and to try to distance ourselves from the perpetrator.

I am not sure what the killer expected to happen as a result of his crimes, but if he wanted to start a race war, or religious war, or merely to spread hatred and distrust among the various races, religious groups and communities of NZ….he failed miserably. Never have I seen such a coming together of people. The support shown by the NZ public of love and empathy toward the Muslim community has been huge. And in return that love has come back from the Muslim people to the rest of NZ. Long may this state of being last.

Distrust and hatred among people of different races or religions comes mainly from ignorance, of not knowing anything about these people or their religious practices. It’s interesting to see how many hits on line there has been about what it is to be Muslim. People aren’t looking this up in order to convert, but just to understand and accept that there are more similarities between the various groups than there are differences. All too often we make a big deal about how different some people are from others instead of embracing our similarities. There has been particular distrust from non-Muslims relating to the wearing of the various head scarves starting with the hijab – which covers the hair and the neck, but leaves the face visible – through to the full burka which covers the entire head and face. For Islamic women who choose to wear the hijab it allows them to retain their modesty, morals and freedom of choice. They choose to cover because they believe it is liberating and allows them to avoid harassment. Unfortunately due to ignorance from others who have no idea about why these various head coverings are worn and so therefore fear or distrust them, harassment, of a racial kind ,is something that happens all too often. I think it’s important for all of us to have a little knowledge about all religions, all ethnic groups so that we understand rather than fear or hate through our ignorance.

A post on the BBC website – link below – shows the differences between the various Muslim head coverings and their names. https://www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/24118241

In Iran, since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, the Hijab has become compulsory. Iranian women are required to wear loose-fitting clothing and a headscarf in public. However in most other countries it is optional, but as a sign of respect and modesty most Muslim women choose to wear a head covering in some form or another.

The morning after the shootings, my wife told me that she wanted to pick some flowers from our garden and take them down to the local mosque to show that white people can also show love and empathy, not hatred and bigotry. So, she picked a few flowers, wrapped a ribbon around them and we visited the mosque. The gates and the building were all locked up….small wonder after what had happened in Christchurch. We were surprised to see, so early in the morning, that there were already many floral tributes and cards with messages of support attached to, or leaning against, the fence around the mosque. These tributes have continued to grow in number throughout the week and are now so deep that they are taking up most of the footpath.

There was a short – I can’t call it a service because it had no religious meaning – it was more of a moment of love and respect, there outside the fence of the mosque, when poem was read out written by the poet Rumi, called Silence (or in silence)…..followed by a minutes silence for us to reflect on what had happened. Many people of all skin colour were openly weeping. It was both sad, but at the same time quite beautiful to see this coming together of people who would not normally even speak to one another.

All over New Zealand there have been vigils and public meetings and tributes. Here in my home town of Hastings – which happens to have the only Mosque in the whole of Hawke’s Bay (our region – the same as an American state or an English county) – a service of remembrance, of love and empathy was held in the middle of town by local civic and religious officials last Monday, and even though it was in the middle of the day, when so many people would have been at work, it was heartening to see hundreds of people of all ages, races and religious backgrounds there. Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs and more all side by side united in grief and love.

Many non-Muslims who want to show their unity and support for the Muslim community are not sure of the protocol to follow. In times such as these it is natural to want to hug someone and tell them that things will be OK. BUT it is not generally acceptable for people outside the Muslim faith of opposite genders to have physical contact. So in general it would be acceptable for a male to hug a male and a female to hug a female – BUT please ask first. Show your respect for their culture. For female non-Muslims who want to wear a scarf or hijab to show support for their Muslim sisters – this is quite acceptable. There was a story about Muslim women who after the Christchurch attack were afraid to go out in public wearing the hijab to take their kids to school. However, non-Muslim women in the community offered to walk with them and to wear the scarf themselves.

There was a photo on Facebook showing 3 eggs – one white, one light brown and one dark brown – all decidedly different looking. In a second photo all the eggs had been cracked into a pan – all looked identical. Under that outer shell – that outward appearance – they were exactly the same. A simple but at the same time a timely reminder to us all to embrace our similarities and not focus on our differences.

We have had our first threat – supposedly from ISIS – saying that the deaths of their Muslim brothers and sisters in New Zealand will be avenged. This is not what the NZ Muslim community are saying. They have reacted only with love, peace, gratefulness for the huge show of public support…..and unbelievably… forgiveness for the shooter. I think all of us can learn from this.

This post is primarily about the good that came from this tragedy. I may write another post, at a more suitable time – outlining from my own perspective what I see as the problems, the unanswered questions arising from what happened and comment on the NZ governments response.

An inspiring story of a determined woman.

My local independent book store Wardini’s in Havelock North had an author event a couple of weeks back that I was fortunate enough to be able to attend. A very sprightly, articulate and entertaining octogenarian lady by the name of Robin Robilliard was there to give a talk about her book “Hard Country” – A Golden Bay Life.

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It tells the story of how she and her husband Garry arrived in Golden Bay in 1957 and took on a rocky, rundown marginal property aptly called “Rocklands” and their attempts to turn it into a successful sheep farm. They arrived there with a baby, only a few months old, armed with very little money but a lot of determination and a willingness to work hard.

The three previous owners of the land had gone bust but over the years Robin and her husband came to love this “nightmare land” and sixty years on still call Rocklands home.

She was a delight to listen to. Not only had she and her husband raised 3 children and battled the elements to make a go of their farm, but she had also worked as a nurse and later as a journalist during which time she travelled the world.

It’s a fascinating book and has sold over 10,000 copies so far. Robin says she has another book coming out soon. If it’s anything like this one, it should sell well and the best of luck to her.

She very kindly signed a copy for me and added a little personal dedication. What a lovely lady.

Bastards I have met…..a book by Barry Crump.

Please forgive the use of the B word. 

Be advised that this post contains profanities and details of violent  crime. Those of sensitive demeanour should stop reading now.

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For those of you who are still reading, this is partly a look at a best selling NZ authors tongue in cheek book about “Bastards” and his rugged lifestyle and partly about the more serious subject of actual Bastards – murderers and the like – who I have come across during my lifetime. OK so back to the book and the writer …..Barry Crump – or Crumpy to those familiar with him or his books was a man who didn’t mince his words. He called a spade a spade and a shovel a shovel (whatever that means…). He was a straight talker. In this book – published in 1971 – he points out that for every true hero there are about 15,000 bastards and goes on to give anyone interested his A to Z of “bastardry”. Most of the “bastards” he talks about are in actual fact likeable rogues, or the type of annoying bastard that we’d all prefer to ignore and he gives us a run down on the various categories of bastard complete with fictitious latin names, including the Actual (Bastardus fairdinkumus), through Lazy, (Bastardus loafus) and Nasty (Bastardus notquiteniceus), to Literate (Bastardus bookwormus) and Stupid (Bastardus clottus). It’s all written very much tongue in cheek and it’s all a bit of nonsensical fun…he doesn’t get into talking about the real evil bastards that we sometimes come up against in real life. And be warned I will be talking about such people at the other end of this post.

For those who aren’t familiar with Crump’s work, he was a typical Kiwi (New Zealand) bushman who made a living hunting – in the main part, deer or possums on department of conservation land. Usually employed by DOC to keep an area pest free. He also did a stint in Australia shooting Crocodiles. He was always a lover of a good yarn – a story that is, not a ball of wool – and became a writer of semi-autobiographical novels. Many of the novels would have a central character who was the typical “Good Keen Man” – obviously based on his good self…..someone who was a bit of a scallywag…a rascal, but with a heart of gold.

The fame of his early books landed him a part in Toyota’s commercials for their rugged 4 wheel drive vehicles….and Crumpy got a new Toyota for his trouble. Link to the ad is below. He really punishes those Toyotas.

One of his books “Wild Pork and Watercress” was adapted into the movie “Hunt for the Wilderpeople”. It’s everything kiwi, it’s funny, well scripted, has some lovely shots of the New Zealand bush (wilderness) and is well worth a look. The link to the YouTube trailer is here…

Anyway…getting back to the subject of bastards….It got me thinking about some of the more unsavoury characters that I have had the displeasure to meet in my life so far. It also got me thinking that if there truly is a god, he or she must have been having an off day when they allowed such people to breathe the same air as the rest of us.

I don’t pretend to be perfect – I have my faults, some of which I am certainly not proud of – but compared to some of theses “Bastards I have met” – I am almost angelic.

There are people who are “bad” because of the way they have been raised – a combination of their environment and their family history never gave them a fair chance at being a “good” person. Unfortunately there are also people who are not only bad, but are evil to boot – by choice, because they want to be. They enjoy it and it gives them a feeling of power over the weak….and a feeling of mental superiority. I’m talking about the type of people who look just like you and me…they could be your neighbour, work mate….even a family member. They look ordinary….normal. BUT deep inside is a black heart and an evil – some would say insane – mind. They aren’t insane though. Everything they do is controlled and carefully thought through and when they get caught, as some of them inevitably do get caught, they profess their innocence, claim it’s a travesty of justice and that the world is against them because “no one in their right mind would do such a thing”.

I’m talking about people who – for example – pretend to be on a business trip far enough away from their chosen scene of the crime to put enough doubt in a jurors mind. They make sure that someone – preferably more than one person – has seen them in this place….and then speed home and murder their wife and child in the most brutal and violent way. Then later, when the bodies are discovered, by an unwitting relative, play the victim and publicly seek to avenge the deaths of his family – fully knowing all the time that his alibi is almost watertight and his chances of being found guilty minimal…..that is until DNA evidence catches up with him and firmly puts him at the scene of the crime in clothing contaminated by the victims blood and gore. This was an actual case here in NZ. Horrific.

Another undeniable “B” that I met is an extortionist – his victim was so traumatised that they committed suicide. He’s also a molester of young boys and he’s a murderer, having stabbed to death the father of a child he was molesting. He then escaped from prison at least once, taunting the police, the Department of Corrections and the government – yet thinks that HE should be given special rights and privileges over other criminals because he is of above average intelligence. He is also extremely vain and complained bitterly when the press showed photos of him without his wig. Again, a softly spoken, well read, intelligent person who can hold a pleasant conversation. Yet in an unguarded moment undeniably IS a very dangerous person….and a very nasty bastard indeed.

These people do exist. I have met them. Talked with them. The terrible thing is that if I hadn’t been aware of the details of the crimes committed I could easily have liked the person responsible for such vile actions. You see they are controlled, measured, normal, “reasonable” people – on the surface. They can be pleasant and behave in an acceptable way for 99.9% of the time…..and yet commit the most horrific atrocities. That’s why they are so terrifying. That they then, once caught and convicted – despite the mountain of evidence against them and the guilty verdict in one or more trials, tie up the justice system and spend thousands if not millions of dollars of public money on appeals and re-trials (because they know the system and how to manipulate it) makes me incredibly angry. This much needed public money would be better spent on the sick, the hungry and the homeless.

These criminals….the murderers and rapists are sometimes (but not always) put away in prison for lengthy periods because we no longer have the option of the death sentence. Capital punishment was last used in 1957 in New Zealand. Was abolished for murder in 1961 and was totally abolished – even for treason – in 1989. Here in New Zealand it costs around $100,000 per year to keep one person in prison. That’s just for your run of the mill ordinary prisoner…without the costs of any special treatment or appeals factored in. $100,000 each prisoner, per year – no wonder there’s no money for housing, hospitals and schools!

Back when I was working at my first “real job” after leaving school in England I saw a guy – a truck driver – who would regularly pick up and drop of goods at the depot where I worked. His name was Peter William Sutcliffe aka The Yorkshire Ripper. On the surface a quiet, almost shy, truckie who kept himself to himself….oh yes and just happened to be a serial killer. In 1981 he was found guilty of murdering 13 women and attempting to murder 7 others. Lord alone knows how many more….other potential victims he’d scoped out. He was given 20 concurrent life sentences so will never be released from prison. He will die behind bars. He’s already served 37 years and is only 72 years old….so could live for quite a few years yet…getting 3 meals a day, a roof over his head, the option of books from a library, education etc. all at the public’s expense.

These are just 3 examples of – to quote the title of Crumpy’s book – “Bastards I have met”. There are more, many more just like these men – unfortunately.

I consider myself to be a pacifist…..very much a live and let live type of guy who believes that criminals should be given a chance to rehabilitate and prove that they are worthy of a place in society….once they have paid their dues.

In a recent blog post…or was it on FaceBook?… I suggested that the USA may be an uncivilised country because they still have the death penalty. BUT men like that – like the ones I have mentioned above….I should say PEOPLE like that to be politically correct, (but they are usually men), people who are so devious and deviant and can’t be trusted to truly reform – have me thinking that maybe the death sentence should still be an option – even in so called civilised countries, in this day and age.

It’s a controversial subject and I know that any two people can be poles apart in their opinions about capital punishment. This is simply my opinion based on my own experience.

Again, I apologise if I have offended anyone with what I have written about in this post.

Like a Phoenix from the Ashes….

Just as “Man” can be destructive to nature, so can nature show its destructive powers. Such an incident was the 1931 Hawke’s Bay earthquake.

The 7.8 quake struck at 10.47am on 3rd February 1931. The epicentre was 15 kilometres (just over 9 miles) to the north of the city of Napier and occurred at a depth of 20 kilometres (about 12 miles). Many buildings in the central business district of both Napier and its sister city Hastings collapsed immediately. The brick built facades of others fell into the streets killing and injuring passers by. Railway lines and tram lines buckled and bent like plastic. A total of 256 lives were lost and thousands were injured – most loss of lives occurred in Napier, with about a 3rd in Hastings. Nerves of locals were shredded by over 500 aftershocks within two weeks of the initial quake. The last recorded aftershock attributed to the February 1931 quake occurred in April 1934 (over 3 years later!). At 5.6 on the Richter Scale it was still a nasty and powerful reminder of the earths destructive powers. It remains New Zealand’s worst natural disaster.

Timber buildings, of which there were many, survived the initial quake but fell victim to fires which broke out soon after, leaving both cities looking like war zones. In Hastings, fire crews managed to control the fires, but in Napier they were not so fortunate. Because water pipes had been ruptured by the quake there was no water pressure and so no way to fight the fires, which raged unchecked.

The destructive force of the quake was also a creative force – uplifting some forty square kilometres of sea bed to become dry land – draining the Ahuriri Lagoon. This is now where the Hawke’s Bay regional airport stands.

The New Zealand Listener Magazine in 1941 (ten years after the devastating earthquake) was quoted as saying that “Napier had risen from the ashes like a phoenix”. It quoted the 1931 principal of Napier Girls’ High School as saying “Napier today is a far lovelier city than it was before”.

This was primarily thanks to the efforts of government appointed commissioners John Barton and Lachlan Bain Campbell who were sent to Napier to assist the Napier City Council in the rebuild. A review of building standards was also commissioned which found that many of New Zealand’s buildings were totally inadequate. As a result, most building of the 30’s and 40’s were heavily reinforced. Of course those standards have been surpassed several times since then.

During this time Art Deco architecture was all the rage and because the old city had been completely flattened, Napier (and parts of Hastings) were built primarily in this style – along with Spanish Mission architecture.

The preservation of these Art Deco architectural wonders all in the one locale has earned Napier the title of Art Deco Jewel of the Southern Hemisphere, and attracts tourists and Art Deco enthusiasts from around the world. This is particularly noticeable during the annual Art Deco Weekend Celebrations – which take place on the 3rd weekend of February to mark the beginning of the rebuild and rebirth of this Art Deco jewel – when the streets are jam packed with revelers wearing their best 1920’s and 1930’s costumes, hundreds of vintage cars and party-goers dancing in front of the Sound Shell on Marine Parade to the sounds of big band jazz music.

There are hundreds of events taking place over the days leading up to the weekend and over the weekend – some are official – organised through the Art Deco Society and some are unofficial. These include fly pasts and aerobatic displays, steam train rides, a parade of vintage cars, marching bands, theatre, music, costume competitions, old movies at the cinemas, soap-box derby for the kids, dances, guided art deco tours, lots of feasting and partying and so much more. BUT if you’re planning on a visit….book early as accommodation can be scarce.

For full details of this years celebrations please visit the official website of art deco napier. https://www.artdeconapier.com/Events/Napier+Art+Deco+Festival+2019/All+Events.html

I’ll leave you with some of my own photos of the annual Napier Art Deco Celebrations.

As usual, any comments are very much appreciated and will be replied to as soon as possible.