An Interesting World Cup

The FIFA World Cup Stadium in Qatar

It’s now Sunday November 27, 2022. Kia ora!

It’s been a busy few days. On Friday someone came from Access to do some housework. Of course, I rushed around beforehand changing the towels and sheets and putting the rubbish out. In the afternoon I had to go to Khandallah. I caught the train back to Johnsonville, after walking from the village in Ganges Road to Khandallah Station. There I found that my snapper card did not work: the machine claimed the card had been blocked. When I got to Johnsonville I checked it at the library; it seemed just fine, I then used it without incident on the shuttle bus home.

We went up to the local pharmacy who were having a sale – 20% off everything. Sadly, they didn’t have a nail polish set, one of the things our daughter likes. We have to be careful about fragrances; I don’t wear nail polish, but she enjoys it, and is patient enough to let it dry. We did get some more masks.

On Saturday morning there was a birthday party, starting at 10 am. One of our grandsons turned five, and he chose to have a Frozen party. I found, and wore, a pale blue dress, but I was horrified to find how much weight I have put on! It’s pretty tight now. But it was a lovely party.

After this we went shopping at New World in Thorndon, where we did buy some stuff, although they didn’t have the salads or pies that I wanted. We tried to redeem two books of stickers to get some glasses, as part of the current promotion. Unfortunately, this took a very long time. Both the checkout operator and the packer were confused, even though the nice lady behind us in the queue gave us two stickers to make up the numbers.  Oh dear, oh dear, this took simply ages. I didn’t want my preferred glasses to run out, but I regretted making the decision to go through with this. Meanwhile, the queue backed up behind us, time went on, and eventually we were done. But, not so fast though: the person packing our goods had simply walked away, and although there were plenty of bags, she hadn’t packed all the goods. We did get the glasses to the car and then home without breaking them, however we had to reheat the hot pies we’d bought for lunch in the microwave at home before eating them.

The next day, Sunday, was busy. It also rained most of the day – thank goodness the party was yesterday, when it was fine, although rather windy. Since it was our grandson’s actual birthday, we were to visit his family for morning tea. To save time, I zoomed into my usual church service. It was the first Sunday of Advent, and the theme was Hope. The service went on rather long, and I had to leave after the sermon.

It was lovely to visit the 5 year old, and his family; afterwards, we had toasted sandwiches and a quick rest before going to the Artspace Gallery on the Petone Esplanade where we’d been invited for a celebration of Alan Collins’ 96th birthday between 3 and 5 pm. Alan Collins is a celebrated water-colour artist, and it was the last day of his latest exhibition. What a fine painter he is! It was a very enjoyable occasion, with drinks, delicious things to eat, and yet more birthday cake. There were people we knew there, and we met more really nice people.  JD had bought a painting of a setting in Eastbourne for his sister’s 70th birthday (yes, she’s having a party in the new year, and we’re booked to go).

We headed home, but the day wasn’t done yet. There was to be an ecumenical service for Advent in St Benedict’s Catholic Church in Khandallah, at 7 pm, concelebrated by the Anglican minister, our own, and the catholic priest. JD took me to this: I had doubts about attending, not knowing what to expect, but I felt bad about not going to church physically in the morning. JD wouldn’t come in, but it was warm and quite cosy there, although there weren’t many people.  It was a lovely service, with some beautiful singing, by a soloist.  Afterwards there was a very nice supper in the foyer. It was still daylight, so I walked to the nearby supermarket to wait for JD to pick me up. 

The service was quite poignant, too, because this church is to close and the parishioners are to attend the catholic church of St Peter and Paul in Johnsonville. I knew that such discussions were underway between St Andrew’s in Newlands and these two; evidently a decision has been taken. I would just comment that although the Johnsonville church is more central, parking is extremely scarce around there, and it’s in the same narrow street as the Johnsonville Uniting Church. Still, I am working my way through Tom Holland’s book Dominion; there’s a lot of church history here, but I guess the early Christians didn’t have much use for temples, of which I’m sure there were many. 

The next day, Monday, I did go to my exercise class in Ngaio, although I was very tired. It was lovely, and afterwards my friend and I found an easier way to walk to the Railway Station that wasn’t such a climb and didn’t involve crossing two sets of railway lines! 

The weekly covid 19 report was published shortly after 1 pm, and it’s not good news. It’s reported that there are 27,076 new cases of Covid-19 this week. There were also 58 deaths of people with Covid-19 and 328 people with the virus were hospitalised – 10 in ICU.

Of the 58 deaths being reported today, three were from Northland, 19 were from the Auckland region, six were from Waikato, two were from Bay of Plenty, one was from Lakes, one was from Tairawhiti, one was from Hawke’s Bay, two were from MidCentral, one was from Whanganui, five were from Wellington region, one was from Nelson Marlborough, nine were from Canterbury, two were from South Canterbury and four were from Southern.

One was in their 20s, two were in their 30s, two were in their 40s, two were in their 50s, eight were in their 60s, 18 were in their 70s, 16 were in their 80s and nine were aged over 90. Of these people, 24 were women and 34 were men.

Last week saw 24,068 cases reported, and 40 deaths – including one of a child under the age of 10.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, it’s reported that3383 deaths have been attributed to Covid-19. That number seems high to me; it took a long time to reach 2,000 and then 2,500. These numbers are alarming, but there seems to be a milder version of Covid 19 around, for which we are grateful.

In the evening I had a meeting. I hardly ever go out at night, but it was well attended, and it went well. Afterwards someone gave me a lift home.

I wanted to watch The Dissident on Te Whakaata Māori television, but there was a live softball game being screened, and The Dissident didn’t come on as advertised.

It’s now Tuesday November 29.  I decided to have a quiet day at home today, boring as it is. 

There are significant protests: the protests in some large cities in China demonstrate enormous bravery, in the face of rising cases on Covid 19. In one city, 10 people died in a fire, being unable to get out, being barricaded in their apartments.  These protests are major, and continuing, thus defying the Chinese authorities. Evidently the Chinese vaccine is not very effective; one had to wonder about their testing too, since so many asymptomatic cases test positive. The Chinese government is trying to suppress media coverage, but it’s getting though, none the less, and the world, of course, is taking notice.  Huge frustration is evident, as it is in Iran, where protests continue. It strikes me as so ironic that whereas the coronavirus supposedly started in Wuhan, and the Chinese coped rather well with it initially in terms of building hospitals quickly, their subsequent Covid Zero policy and their ineffective vaccine have been incredibly frustrating for Chinese citizens, and have done the Chinese economy great damage.  It’s been frustrating for us, too, of course, but we have had to learn to live with it.

Fierce fighting continues in Ukraine, where the cold gets more severe, there’s a shortage of power and clean water, and it’s raining and muddy.

It’s now Wednesday November 30.

This morning I got up early to go to hymn singing.  It was lovely, as usual. Afterwards I caught a bus into town, and then another No 3 bus up Taranaki St. This was in order to walk to Commonsense Organics at the shopping complex in upper Tory St. I wondered again why there isn’t a bus service to get one a bit closer to Moore Wilsons’, Prefab, or Commonsense Organics.  Marvelling again at the high prices, I bought some Hōhepa Danbo cheese, some gluten-free mince pies, and some Christmas cake, like they had last year. The “cakes” are really Christmas fruit  logs covered in chocolate, and what’s more, they’re vegan and gluten-free. While I really like rich fruit cake, these logs are a good compromise.

Afterwards I made my way to the Warehouse, where I looked at the kitchen tidies. I then carefully made my way upstairs to look at luggage. Sadly, they had none!

After this I really needed a cup of coffee. I went to L’Affare in Tory Street, but they looked really busy. I walked down to Courtenay Place, and along to the bus stop outside the St James Theatre.  Seeing the next bus was 4 minutes away, I walked to Sixes and Sevens in Taranaki St. The food looked amazing, but there was nowhere to sit, and it was a bit cold and windy outside. So I walked to the Dixon St Deli café, where although it was quite busy I could sit down. I  had a long black coffee and a cheese scone there. The scone was pretty bad. I didn’t eat much of it, but it was good to sit down and have my first coffee of the day. Again, I wondered why there isn’t better transport or more cafés, to say nothing of a Wishbone outlet, at this end of town. I caught a full No 2 bus to Lambton Quay, where I got off and went to the Wishbone in the James Cook Arcade. I got nice sandwiches for lunch, and a Thai curry to have for dinner. Then I caught a bus to Johnsonville.

It’s now Thursday December 1.

It’s much cooler, rainy, and overcast. We had a lovely singing session this morning. Thankfully, we weren’t due to sing outside,  that’s next week’s treat. We hope it will be fine and warm, but Ganges Road tends to be a windy place.

Most days I listen to The Bulwark podcast, mainly to keep up with what’s happening in US politics. These folk used to be Republicans, and while they’re not crazy, they tend to despise Democrats for not being more like republicans, and bewail the “good old days” when they could spend hours discussing what it meant to be conservative. They rarely, if ever, discuss any means of making people’s lives better, as in providing a better health care system, clean water for all, reticulated sewerage systems for all, and control of deadly chemicals in certain environments. They do sometimes talk about improving the life outcomes for the unborn, but to my mind these discussions don’t go nearly far enough.

The soccer/football World Cup is being held in Qatar, and continues to throw up surprise results, upsets, and a scary look at human rights, or their repression. Goodness only knows what all this air conditioning is costing, as well as the cost of building the five stadia in the desert, and the container accommodation. The podcast The Rest is History is posting a new episode every day describing the history of participating countries. This too is very interesting.

In the US, Stewart Rhodes, head of the Oath Keepers, and an accomplice, has been found guilty of sedition. That is significant.  So often, it seems to be a case of one step forward, and two backwards, but this consequence is meaningful.  The Georgia run-off election for Senate between Pastor Warnock and Herschel Walker is due on December 6, but there has been lots of early voting. That’ll be interesting.

That’s it for now. Slava Ukraini! Ngā mihi nui.

(More) Memories

Checkpoint Charlie, Berlin

Today is Sunday November 20th, 2022. Kia ora!

This morning I went to church. The weather here has been really weird, with fine, sunny spells interspersed with heavy downfalls of rain. It was nice to get to church early.  It’s Christ the King Sunday, today, and we had Psalm 46 “Be still, and know that I am God”, and Luke 23, where it speaks about  Jesus’ crucifixion, and his grace towards one of the thieves: “Today you will be with me in paradise”.  The Minister pointed out that after crucifixion, everything went quiet; in other words, perhaps the peace we seek came at great expense.

In the afternoon I spoke to my daughter on the phone. She’s doing fine, and seems to have no symptoms of Covid 19, despite being diagnosed positive. She’s also coping well with taking Paxlovid, with no apparent side effects, so that’s great news. She should be testing negative soon.

In the evening we watched the movie Fishermen’s Friends on Eden. I had seen it before, but it was worth while seeing it again.

It’s now Monday November 21st.

In the morning I rang Pacific Radiology to arrange a bone density Xray. The cost is now $215.00!  That’s steep, but I’d be interested to see if there’s been any change since last time – perhaps in 2019? I’m in a position to pay for this, at the moment, but last time I had one it cost $130, I think.

It was quite a busy day. I wanted to go to my exercise class at 10:30 in Ngaio; but we were also to go to a funeral at Tipene Funerals in Kenepuru Drive. at 1 pm. I was to catch the train back from Ngaio, and JD was to meet me in the carpark near Johnsonville Station. I had arranged that I would change in the car: I had thought this out carefully, and had put a different top, a black silk scarf, shoes and sock liners etc in a bag. In the event, I did get changed in the car. It was a rainy, windy day, although the rain held off at times.  We parked outside Ninness Funeral Home, and walked to Tipene Funerals. Although we were several minutes early, there were hardly any seats left.  People kept coming, and more seats were brought out. We didn’t get an order of service. It was good to be there, although personally I’d make some different choices!  I was amazed how young our friend was.  She had early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.

Afterwards we did not join the family at The Borough in Tawa, going instead to Kaizen Café for lunch. They were open, although the kitchen was closed. We had very nice food: I had a quiche, and JD had macaroni cheese. I took my rhubarb shortcake home to have later.

I had watched several seasons of The Casketeers on television, greatly admiring the way Francis Tipene and his wife Kaiora handled funerals with great sensitivity and dignity. They’ve been in Kenepuru Drive for a while, so I was surprised that they didn’t have better facilities, with more seating, and an organ or a piano, and the ability to offer refreshments afterwards. I was checking out this funeral venue, but I doubt if I would willingly use it at this stage.

The Covid 19 report comes out early this afternoon. There are officially 24,068 new cases, there’ve been 40 deaths, and there are 344 people in hospital, including 3 in Intensive Care.

Of the 40 deaths being reported today, seven were from the Auckland region, four were from Waikato, one was from Bay of Plenty, two were from Lakes, three were from Hawke’s Bay, one was from Taranaki, two were from MidCentral, three were from Whanganui, four were from Wellington region, two were from Nelson Marlborough, nine were from Canterbury, two were from Southern. One was less than 10 years old, one was in their 50s, five were in their 60s, eight were in their 70s, 15 were in their 80s and ten were aged over 90. Of these people, 18 were women and 22 were men.

The seven-day rolling average of community cases is 3434 – last Monday it was 3079. Of the new cases, 4874 are reinfections. Since the beginning of the pandemic, 2182 deaths can be attributed to Covid-19.  So we are definitely enduring another wave, although one sees very few masks around these days.

It’s now Tuesday November 22nd.

First thing this morning we learnt that the Hōhepa Family Day scheduled for Saturday 3 December has been postponed till next year. That is such a shame: while the day’s schedule tends to be exhausting, it’s a lovely chance to meet other staff members without making an appointment to see them, and to meet other parents. It’s been almost three years now that Covid 19 has dominated our lives, our mental health and our relationships; it’s so sad that we now seem to be in the midst of another wave.  Around this time of year, as well as our daughter’s birthday, there used to be a Christmas market, and one of the Christmas Plays.  I am sorry to miss these again.  We had been booked to go there for 5 nights; now we will have to change our schedule and our booking.

I feel a bit flat now after yesterday’s excitement!

It’s now Wednesday November 23rd.

This morning I got up early to go to hymn singing. We had a good turnout! It was lovely, as always. Afterwards, though, there was lots of drama. Early  this morning I got a message to say that today’s Te Reo Māori class that was to run from 10 – 11 am had been cancelled. That meant that I would have more time to go to a movie Compartment No. 6 at the Lighthouse Cinema Petone.  I found that the movie was on at he Lighthouse Cuba at 10:45 am, so I should be able to make that session, provided I caught the 10 am #25 bus from Khandallah.

I was waiting with several others when a bus pulled up, and the driver had some serious news: there was great disruption in Featherstone St, and all bus services were running late. He’d been on duty without a break for 4 hours. Then he drove away. Metlink wasn’t telling us about this disruption.  A bus stopped across the road, and several people crossed to catch it. A woman said it was going into town, so I got on.  I wasn’t sure what number it was, and I couldn’t figure out the route; I wondered if I could get off in Lambton Quay to catch a #3 bus up Taranaki St. I was worried about the time, too. In the event, the bus stopped at Wellington Station ahead of the Airport bus stop. I crossed the road, seeing a #83 bus to Eastbourne at the stop there. I wondered, again, why this interchange is so risky and difficult. But this seemed to be the best solution, I caught the #83 bus, which was nicely empty. It made good speed to the stop just after Britannia St, at right angles to Jackson St, Petone.

I headed to Caffiend for a long break. I was much too early for the 12:15 pm movie. So I had morning tea: a long black coffee and a cheese scone. The café was steadily busy but not crowded. I had a nice break there, spending time on my phone, and doing some puzzles in the newspaper. I also learnt that Saudi Arabia had beaten Argentina in the soccer world cup in Qatar, an upset indeed, this probably being Messi’s last world cup.

Eventually I made my way to the Lighthouse Petone, in nearby Beach Street. I saw the movie with two other people. In the really tiny theatre that seats perhaps 8 people.

I was glad that JD hadn’t come. I was glad to see the movie, but it wasn’t quite what I expected; I did enjoy it, though, and although it was sub-titled, it was easy to read and watch the film. Afterwards I looked up the petroglyphs of Murmansk – I didn’t know they existed!  It’s good to learn something new, and after watching the movie I feel less need to go on the Trans-Siberian Express.  I thought about various train journeys JD and I have done, and they were all more salubrious than this one!

Afterwards I caught #83 bus back to Wellington. I got off at the Railway Station, and caught a bus to the library at Johnsonville and then the shuttle home. There is great confusion about the changed placement of bus stops.  I had got used to the way things worked; it’s now all changed, and there seems to be no easy way to transfer buses or trains at the Railway Station. That’s presuming one’s bus hasn’t been cancelled.

It’s now Thursday November 24th.

This morning someone came to paint the other side of the house, so I couldn’t pull my curtains back. It seemed quite warm, but the wind got up and I was quite cold at my Thursday morning singing. There was a good turnout, although I did not actually count how many were there. Afterwards, it was really cold and windy outside.

After  lunch we spoke to one of our sons overseas, and then another son arrived with his daughter. I had left the Christmas presents spread out on our bed – I hope she didn’t look too closely.

In Ukraine, the ghastly conflict continues. As a cold winter approaches, Putin’s missiles have taken out many of the utilities. Many videos show Ukrainian success at blowing up Russian munitions; on the other hand, these limited successes have to be ranged against Russian success in occupying areas of Ukraine, and firing missiles at non-military outlets.

Watching the movie on Wednesday afternoon, set mostly in the Trans-Siberian express, made me think of things that happened in the past, and most probably won’t happen again: in the early 1970’s, we took the hovercraft from Dover in the UK to Calais, and the caught the train to Paris. The train said Paris Nord – I did not realise at the time it meant the train was heading for the Gard du Nord. In that same trip, we stayed in West Berlin, visited East Berlin, and went through Checkpoint Charlie.

In 2106, we caught the Eurostar train from London to Paris; I doubt if that is as easy now, given that the UK has left the European Union; I have been to Nȏtre Dame Cathedral three times, before the fire; it was awesome each time.

I doubt now that I will ever go to the Hermitage Museum at St Petersburg, or visit Lyiv, or Kyiv; however, there are plenty of wonderful places still to visit.

That’s it for now. Slava Ukraini! Ngā mihi.

Remembering

Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson manages to look as disheveled as ever at a recent Remembance Day event

It’s now Monday November 14th, 2022. Kia ora!

It’s been a busy time, fine and warm for the most part but it rained on Saturday morning and Sunday morning, getting fine in the afternoon. On Saturday we drove to Otaki to visit an old friend who has moved there from Auckland. It’s nice for us to have him closer, and he now lives next door to his daughter and her family, but it has been quite a wrench for him to leave Tamaki Makaurau. While we were there, the weather brightened up, and we admired his new house and garden.

On Sunday I went to church in the morning, and then JD picked me up from the supermarket across the road. In the afternoon we went to the “Splash” watercolour exhibition at the Fine Arts Gallery where two friends of ours were demonstrating. It was our second visit there: again, it was well attended, and it was good to see the paintings again.

In the evening I collected some food to take for the foodbank collection in Ngaio. Sadly, many of the expiry (“Best before”) dates were years ago! Oh dear. Some things don’t deteriorate in my view: golden syrup, dried pasta, brown sugar, white vinegar.  I feel bad giving away foodstuffs that are past their best before date; I also feel bad throwing food out!  I don’t wish to cook these foods, or even keep them. When I had a large family, and regularly entertained, things got used up, and replaced; one didn’t look at the dates. Now it’s really important to look at the dates, since my local supermarket often sells foods that expire that are past their best before date, and even green potatoes. They really shouldn’t do this: some supermarkets discount the looming-expiry goods.

This morning we heard that our daughter has tested positive for Covid 19. We had heard that several of her flatmates had tested positive, as had the lovely woman who rang us on Friday morning.  She’s doing all right, but I was quite shaken by the news. I decided not to go my exercise class in Ngaio.  I was sorry to miss it, but the public transport is challenging, as is the traffic.

There have been 21,595 new community Covid-19 cases reported in the past week, as officials say they believe approximately three-quarters of infections are being reported. The Ministry of Health gave the update, covering the period from Monday, November 7, to Sunday, November 13, on Monday afternoon. There were 325​ people in hospital with the virus as of midnight on Sunday, seven​ of whom were in an intensive care or high dependency care unit.

The ministry also reported 56​ deaths over the past week. Of these, 35​ were attributed to Covid-19 (either as the underlying cause or a contributory cause). Categorisations of the other 21​ were not yet available. What does this mean, I wonder?

Of the 56 deaths reported on Monday, two people were in their 40s, two in their 50s, seven in their 60s, 18 were in their 70s, 17 in their 80s and 10 were aged over 90. Twenty were women and 36​ were men. The total number of deaths attributed to Covid-19 to date is 2154​, the ministry said.

Of the 21,595 new cases reported on Monday, 3881​ were reinfections (nearly 18%). Of these, 191​ were in people who had reported having Covid-19 already in the previous 90 days. Waitematā (north and west Auckland) had the highest number of new reported cases in the past week at 3061, followed by 2418 in Canterbury and 2327 in Counties Manukau.

The Ministry of Health’s latest Trends and Insights report, released on Monday with data from the week ending November 6​, said overall the key measures of infection – levels of viral RNA in wastewater and reported case rates – were stabilising, after “substantially increasing” since early October.

I caught up with a very dear old friend this afternoon, and saw photographs of her beautiful new grandson. He’s so like his father and grandfather!  What a thrill. We had such a nice time.

In the evening I met with three other women and we had such a nice discussion, about Christianity, mainly. 

It’s now Tuesday November 15th.

It’s another beautiful fine, warm day. If it could stay like this, it would be perfect!  This afternoon I spoke to my daughter on the phone! She’s taking Paxlovid, and so far is tolerating it well. Deo gratias. Also, we have a new great-niece in Australia. In addition, the gubernatorial election in Arizona has been called for Democrat Katie Hobbs, not her Republican opponent, Kari Lake. So much good news!

There’s been footage of the recent Remembrance Day ceremony in London and other parts of the UK.  It’s very different having King Charles as head of the Royal Family now, instead of the Queen.  So it was all a bit different. But, as usual, among the line up of former British Prime Ministers, Boris Johnson managed to look dishevelled, and did not wear a black suit. Liz Truss and Theresa May don’t dress particularly well, either, in my opinion.

It’s now Wednesday November 16th.

It’s another beautiful hot, fine day. This morning I went to hymn singing. It was wonderful, as always.  We have a new person!  I hope she’ll come again. Another person is back after staying away for a long time. Afterwards, seeing that I’d just missed the 10 am bus, I had morning tea before catching the 10:30 one.  I perused Unity Books – always a treat.  Then I bought some food to share for lunch, and caught a bus home.

Tomorrow we are to sing not at the Khandallah Town Hall but at the Malvina Major Retirement Home, at last! I think we’ve been trying to do this for ages, while Covid 19 has kept putting us off.

Meanwhile. case numbers of Covid 19 are up – yesterday daily recorded Covid 19 cases topped 4,000 for the first time since August.  It’s estimated that numbers notified are about three-quarters of actual cases reported, according to wastewater testing.  At Hōhepa there is a severe spate of cases, but our daughter is still doing all right, as are her flatmates: they’re up and about, playing games, watching movies, and being checked by the local nurse and doctor. The House Manager is also checking oxygen levels and temperatures. So that’s very good news.  There are still many train services cancelled each day, due to staff shortages; only some of them are replaced with buses.

It’s reported that a cruise ship that visited New Zealand is to land in Sydney with 900 covid-infected passengers on board.  It seems that there are no covid protections here any more; on the other hand, some people are having Covid 19 very mildly. Surely we don’t need cruise ships here again.

Meantime, it’s a busy old time here, with a concert and a family birthday tomorrow; Mozart’s Requiem on Friday evening; babysitting on Saturday…and then a new week.

In the US results from the mid term elections are still trickling in. Democrats will retain control of the Senate, with Vice President Harris’ casting vote; of course, if they win the Georgia run-off election between Raphael Warnock and Herschel Walker things will be that much easier, and Manchin and Sinema’s possible objections not such an issue.  Meanwhile, we get the enjoyment of Herschel Walker’s campaigning for a further few weeks.

It seems that Republicans will gain control of the Congress, by a very small margin – maybe two or three seats.  Already there is republican infighting, sparked by distress at how badly they did in the recent elections, contrary to their expectations, and the polls.  Kevin McCarthy’s victory may indeed be a Pyrrhic one, as he tries to control potential divisions within his politicians; it’s accepted that Nancy Pelosi has been masterful in her role as Speaker of the House.  Senator Rick Scott is to challenge Mitch McConnell for minority leadership of the Senate.  Wasn’t it Rick Scott whose spending of election funds was being called into question before the election?

Donald Trump has announced he will run for President in 2024, to the dismay of many republicans, who now see him as a loser.  Will they take this jumping off point?  Who knows? Many of us rather enjoyed the Murdoch-owned New York Post article: Florida man makes announcement…see page 36.

I have been listening to a podcast about the Russian retreat from Kherson. While this is a wonderful move, scenes of devastation, torture and mines have been left behind, leaving a potentially harmful situation. It’s not a surprise, then, but very sad that the occupation was so brutal The Russians have certainly not tried to win the hearts and minds of Ukrainians.

I am reading Dominion by Tom Holland, and what a marvellously interesting book it is! I reserved it at the library; of course, it’s a big tome, but I think I will finish reading it by the time it’s due back.

It’s now Saturday November 19th.

On Thursday morning the group I sing with were to sing at the Malvina Major home.  I was surprisingly nervous about this, mainly about the unpredictable nature of these performances. One never knows what’s going to happen – where we are too warm up, where to sing (will there be enough seats?), will one be able to see the conductor/pianist?  I think it went well, although I found all these aspects tricky, and I couldn’t sit next to my usual friends. I was extremely tired afterwards, and took a long time to “come down”.

On Friday someone was due to come from Access and do some cleaning. In the event, there were no dramas and the usual person turned up.  Early that evening,  friend was going to pick me up for an early-evening concert at the Michael Fowler Centre. It was very warm, and we decided not to take coats. It was nice not to carry lots of gear!  We found a carpark; parking cost $15.50, to my amazement. As the crow flies, it was a short distance to the MFC, but cones and fencing got in the way, and we ended up backtracking, crossing the road several times, until we got there – really early. We took seats for the pre-concert talk. 

It was a wonderful concert. The main feature was a performance of Mozart’s Requiem, with the NZSO conducted by Gemma New, and Voices New Zealand providing the choir. Perhaps Voices was enhanced by extra voices, but they sang so well and beautifully.  Their entrances were bang on time; their dynamics extraordinary, their sopranos superb. This was a wonderful performance. I have never seen so many people at the MFC!

Afterwards, it was raining quite strongly, so everything was wet (and consequently slippery). My friend and I had decided it really didn’t matter if we got a bit wet, but we carefully wove our way back to the car, and she drove me home. What a wonderful experience it was!

This afternoon we went shopping in Thorndon. Sadly, there were no pies, and no salads that I like to buy; no afghan biscuits either.  But we did get bread, lettuce, and strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries. We also got nectarines, but there are still no apricots. There were no Jersey Bennie potatoes either.

It was raining this morning, but this afternoon it’s fine, although not as hot as it was yesterday.

The ”game” of US politics is really annoying. The polls predicted a “red tsunami”, meaning that democrats would lose badly to republicans; on the other hand, several democratic governors have been elected, and election deniers who had been endorsed by Trump lost in the main. A few outliers predicted that democrats wouldn’t do so badly. In the event, democrats continue to just hold the senate, with Vice president Harris’s casting vote; if the runoff election in Georgia between Warnock and Walker goes to the democrats, they’ll be more comfortable. Republicans now have control of Congress, by a very slim majority;  now there’s plenty of Republican infighting between different factions and different individuals. Nancy Pelosi has now decided to step down as head of the democrats in the house, as House Speaker when democrats had the majority.  It does seem to me that the media hugely helped to magnify this so-called fight; it has been quite annoying listening to wise heads pontificating endlessly about it all, first up, then down. Who’s surprised, then? Me, not so much, partly because the polls are notoriously unreliable. I’m pleased, though, that it wasn’t worse for democrats, given the amount of gerrymandering that goes on. In Michigan, not only has the democratic governor been re-elected, but the state senate has gone democratic as well.

In Indonesia, the G20  has been gathering, and some interesting meetings have taken place. Notably, Putin has not attended. Zelensky is calling it the G19.

I’ll leave it there. Slava Ukraini! Ngā mihi nui.

Daring to Hope

Democrats did better in the recent mid-term elections than predicted by the polls

It’s now Saturday November 5th, 2022. Guy Fawkes Day. Kia ora!

It’s fine and sunny today. I wonder if there will be a formal fire cracker celebration; I think it’s been deferred to the Matariki midwinter celebration. There have been some fireworks around here in the evenings; they happen  again on New Year’s Eve.  I wish they’d be restricted to a specific date!

We went shopping yesterday, so no shopping today. I rang a friend of mine who’s had covid; she’s better now, but still coughing. She did get to see a doctor at her medical centre in Willis St.

It’s now Sunday November 6th.

Matt Hancock is to appear on the Australian “I’m a Celebrity, get me out of here”.  Opinions are divided on this, but most views are that it’s a really bad idea. When it comes to Mike Tindall, married to Zara, Princess Anne’s daughter, that’s a different matter. For one things, he’s not a Working Royal, and he’s not on the Civil List. Furthermore, he’s (or was)  a sportsman.  Matt Hancock, on the other hand, is a disgraced member of Parliament. He was filmed snogging his secretary while he was Minister of Health.

I went to church this morning. There was hardly anyone there – there’s still many affected by Covid 19, but it’s a beautiful fine sunny day again, and quite warm, too. What’s happened, Wellington? Summer after all? 

Going to church was a lovely experience. My friend was playing the organ – we sang familiar hymns including What a Friend we have in Jesus and There is a Redeemer.  He played before the service, for the entrance, for the hymns, for the offering, and then afterwards. It was quite beautiful.  The texts were from Job 19: I know that my Redeemer Liveth, and Luke 20: 27 – 38: God is not God of the dead, but of the living.  The sermon/homily/reflection was quite wonderful too.  These texts both reflect the resurrection, both from Job in the Old Testament, and Jesus addressing the Sadducees in the Gospel.  The minister spoke about the difficulty of imparting the Good News of Jesus’ salvation, and the kinds of questions one may get, often around why does God allow suffering? The book of Job provides some answers here. “The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the Name of the Lord”. I recall the words of Peter in Peter 1, 3:15 : “be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give an account of the hope that is within you, but with meekness and fear”. I know for my own part I don’t want to annoy anyone.  I think that meekness is really important.

Later I think again about John Milton’s wonderful introduction to his epic poem Paradise Lost: Of man’s first disobedience….

Later that day we had lunch at Kaizen Café in Porirua. It was lovely there, although they’ve changed the menu. I couldn’t have their delicious cheese omelette any more, so I had Eggs Benedict, and brought rhubarb shortcake home for afters.

It’s now Friday November 11th.

I haven’t blogged for several eventful days. On Monday morning I went to my exercise class in Ngaio. There had been a fatal accident at Khandallah at the intersection of Station Road and Cashmere Avenue, and consequently the road there was closed and the Johnsonville Line trains not in operation. During the morning, the trains were operating between Wellington and Ngaio; around midday they were cleared to go through to Johnsonville. I was thankful that JD drove me there and picked me up afterwards. We bought fresh croissants for lunch.

The Covid 19 report was published on Monday at around 1 pm.  It read as follows: there are 20,522 new cases of Covid-19 in the community and 18 further deaths this week. Of today’s community cases, 2483 were reinfections. The seven-day rolling average of community cases is 2926 – last Monday it was 2343. As of midnight yesterday, there were 323 people in hospital with the virus, including eight in intensive care.

Of the deaths being reported today two were from Northland, three were from Auckland region, three were from Waikato, one was from Bay of Plenty, one was from Hawke’s Bay, one was from Wellington region, one was from Nelson Marlborough, four were from Canterbury and two were from Southern. Two were in their 30s, one was in their 50s, two were in their 60s, one was in their 70s, six were in their 80s and six were aged over 90. Of these people, 11 were women and seven were men.

Today’s figures compare with 16,399 new cases, 41 deaths and 243 people in hospital, six of them in intensive care announced a week ago.

There are still many cancellations of commuter train services, trains replaced by buses, and bus cancellations, mostly due to sickness, or staff availability. This continues to be very frustrating for anyone hoping to use public transport. Meanwhile, there is still lots of Covid 19 around, including new strains. My son and his family had very different symptoms of Covid 19 from my husband, myself and another son’s family members; they didn’t have the cough, but had high temperatures and muscle aches. Covid is still very much with us, with many having avoided it to date, only to get it now. Although it’s fine and sunny most days, and we can be outside, there still seems to be a lot of sickness around and spring allergies are causing some havoc.  There are very few masks around.

On Tuesday I had hoped to catch up with one of my sons and his daughter; I discovered that they were all in various stages of having Covid. I needed to get out of the house, so I went to town and visited Unity Books, where I looked at several beautiful books, and resisted the impulse to buy any.  I did reserve several at the library, however.  I caught buses there and back. I had a toasted cheese scone and a cup of coffee, but things still don’t tsate as good as they used to. I blame Covid 19.

On Wednesday morning I got up early to go to hymn singing. One couple had recently returned from a trip to Switzerland for important family events; they had had all kinds of trouble with their international flights – a salutary warning. After that, we had our Te Reo class in Khandallah. It was lovely – we learnt about foods – an easier topic, I think!

Afterwards I went to a friend’s house for lunch. After a delicious lunch, and admiring her garden (it was another beautiful day), another friend gave me a lift home.

That night we got some early results of the mid-term elections in the US.  Fortunately, Republican candidates did not do as well as expected, although final results are still being tallied; control of Congress is yet to be determined, and the Georgia senate seat currently held by Raphael Warnock and competed for by Herschel Walker is to go to a run-off election on 6 December.  There are some successful democratic governors in Wisconsin, Michigan, Louisiana, Kansas and Maryland.  It seems Lauren Boebert may lose her Colorado seat. Kari Lake’s run for governor of Arizona is yet to be determined. It seems that if Congress does go under republican control, it may prove to be a Pyrrhic victory for Kevin McCarthy, who has made en enemy of Marjorie Taylor Greene.  To the rest of us, to many in the world, it seems quite ridiculous that a majority of Americans don’t see Joe Biden as a wonderful president, and most democratic candidates as being far kinder, more sensible, and more grounded in reality than their republican counterparts. Don’t people care about democracy?  If you don’t have a democracy, you don’t have freedom to elect bad politicians out of office, or do anything to enhance life, liberty and the pursuit off happiness for all citizens.

Apparently Trump is upset that candidates endorsed by him did not do better. Even Fox News dished him, apparently.

Meanwhile, the COP 27 climate conference has been going on in Egypt. UK PM Sunak decided to go, after all, since former PM Boris Johnson was going; Alok Sharma, who hosted the COP 26 climate conference in Glasgow, is going too, but evidently he’s no longer a member of Parliament.  British government signs on the climate front are dispiriting, especially under PM Sunak.

There’s also been embarrassment with Gavin Williamson, who has now resigned. No honeymoon, then, for Sunak.

In the Ukraine, it’s been announced that Russian troops are to leave the city of Kherson, the first major city to be occupied by the Russians.  So, that sounds like good news, but the Ukrainians are suspicious. Is this a sign of the Russians seeing and accepting the truth, that their forces, especially the new conscripts, are quite ill-equipped and pretty useless? Meanwhile, many of the utilities have been damaged and it’s very cold in Kyiv, where there is little electric power and fresh water. It’s already very cold there. It’s been reported that negotiations are underway between the US and a Russian representative, not Putin. So that is heartening.

On Thursday I went to my other singing session in the morning.  It was nice, but of course there are major worries about Covid 19, still, with some people being very cautious and others just so over it.  We are rehearing for a concert at a local rest home next week – if it can still go ahead. I was supposed to catch up with an old friend that afternoon, but we put it off till next week.

Today (Friday) we were received some alarming news: one of my daughter’s flatmates has Covid 19; well, despite being symptom-free, there were two red lines on this person’s RAT test. I later spoke to a staff member there. The house is to isolate for a week; it’s quite a large house, so there’s no difficulty in keeping separate.  Having said that, I hope we don’t hear in the coming days of more people being sick and needing care.  Even more prayer is in order: my daughter was the only member of my immediate family who hadn’t had Covid 19. I do feel better after having met her doctor, and now that Paxlovid is available. Still, she has a heart defect, and I really hope and pray that she stays well.

At midday we went to our Art Group, where we had a lovely session. We even met someone who works in the Disability sector.  We painted with acrylics – someone gave an interesting demonstration. Afterwards, we had coffee and a snack, and then JD and I went to the post office to post a parcel to family overseas. It’s quite a mission: I was pleased to have JD there to fill out the customs form. They require heaps of information, and although the form is a bit larger, it’s still really hard to fit all the information in. I’ve been putting off posting this parcel, not because of the cost (!), which is alarming enough, but it seems such hard work to post a parcel!

We have been watching Season One of The Empress on Netflix, about Empress Sisi (Elisabeta), who was married to Emperor Franz Josef. This is a mostly true story about the early days of their marriage, and it’s fascinating, too. As one of my podcasters said, she was the Princess Diana of her day. She had three daughters and one son, Rudolf, who died tragically with his mistress in a suicide pact, immortalised by the film Mayerling. Hence the long-lived Emperor had no direct heir.  Anyway, we await the second (and future?) series with some interest.

That’s it for now. Slava Ukraini! Ngā mihi nui.

The Chief Twit

All Quiet on the Western Front (2022 film)

Today is Saturday October 29, 2022. Kia ora!

Today we visited the lovely Artspace Gallery and shop on the Petone Esplanade.  JD had seen a painting by Alan Collins that he particularly liked, and he proposed to give it to a relation for her birthday.  We had a lovely look around and ended up purchasing several gifts.

Afterwards I wanted to have lunch somewhere (as JD had suggested), given that we had little at home in the way of supplies. It was really busy, and raining too, so people couldn’t sit outside. We found a carpark near Caffiend, one of my favourite cafés, but after walking there we found not only were there no tables free, there was a queue of people waiting to order. We got back in the car and drove to Station Village in Lower Hutt – quite a large complex. The Italian restaurant was closed, and the only other place to eat was a pub. We went inside, but it was dark and gloomy, had very loud music playing, and only high seats without proper tables and chairs. I objected, so we wound our way through to the Dowse Museum in Lower Hutt.  The lovely restaurant by the Town Hall was full; there were two events there; the café at the Dowse Museum was full too, so we wandered over to the pub – The Crooked Elm. That actually worked out pretty well – we could sit at a proper table, and the food was pretty good; they were very busy, but the service wasn’t at all bad either.

Last night we watched the new film All Quiet on the Western Front (based on the famous novel by Erich Maria Remarque) on Netflix.  While it was profoundly disturbing, I found it to be a very good film. No doubt it’ll be reviewed on one or more of the podcasts I listen to, but for now, I’m quite prepared to think it was an impressively good movie.

I was very interested in who actually signed the Armistice at Armentiѐres in France. I googled it, and all the information did not tell me who signed on behalf of the Germans, or the British, for that matter. Of course, we all know what happened barely twenty years later.  What a sad story.  I’m still waiting for the book Sleepwalkers by Christopher Clark about the start of World War One. I have this book on reserve – have had for months.

The three main things that the news told me today is that US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband Paul was attacked by a home invader; Nancy Pelosi was away at the time so her assigned protective detail was with her, not at her home in San Francisco; he has had to have surgery for a skull fracture. When the police arrived, they found a hammer being held by Paul Pelosi and the invader; Paul Pelosi was then attacked by the assailant who had grabbed the hammer.  This incident has shocked many people. Dreadful, disgusting  and frightening threats have been made, but this kind of physical attack is taking threats to another level; it’s also more direct and personal than leaving a bomb of some description or a mass shooting, shocking as these incidents are.

Evidently the assailant, an illegal immigrant (for what that’s worth), called “Where’s Nancy?”, intended to kneecap her, and then attack other politicians.

The second thing is that Elon Musk has bought Twitter, and has fired several people. What will he do next? Will Trump be back on?  For some reason, Musk has indicated support for Putin’s moves to takeover Ukraine and Xi’s intention to take over Taiwan.

The third thing, which I heard on James O’Brien’s LBC, is that new PM Sunak has sacked Alok Sharma, the President of COP 26 held in Glasgow, from his post as a minister.  Last time Sharma, Boris Johnson (at his wife’s urging) and Queen Elizabeth II attended!  I cannot yet find confirmation of this news.

It’s now Wednesday November 2nd.

On Sunday  morning I went to church, and then we headed north to Napier. I was regularly doing RAT tests for Covid 19, since friend of mine had contracted it. She told me she first had symptoms on the previous Sunday. I had spent some time with her the previous Thursday, so I hoped desperately that I would not be re-infected.  JD and I had our second booster shots last Wednesday afternoon; we both had sore arms after our jabs, and some Covid 19 symptoms, so I begged off going to singing on Thursday.

On Thursday evening JD and I attended an early evening event where we had a light tea and listened to a very interesting talk.  Sadly, I learnt on Sunday that an older woman, whom I’d introduced to JD, had come down with Covid 19. Oh dear.

Nevertheless, we went to Napier, somewhat nervous. We stopped at Otaki for a light lunch; we enjoyed the still new Transmission Gully road, which is ever inching forward. It will go beyond Otaki, but not to Levin, at this stage, it seems.

In Napier we went to Portofino for dinner. There was hardly anyone there. On Monday morning my daughter had a doctor’s appointment in Greenmeadows.  Their only requirement was for everyone to wear a mask! They had a lovely big waiting area, in a complex with a pharmacy and physiotherapy, and a large parking area. I was allowed in, no questions asked!

My daughter was just amazing: she allowed the doctor to listen to her heart, feel her tummy, and even examine her!  She wouldn’t have the blood pressure cuff on, however! Still, I felt happy that we knew a lot more than previously about her health.

After this success, we had morning tea together, and then dropped her at her craft/art studio at Hōhepa’s beautiful Clive site. Unlike previously, she was quite happy to go there.

Afterwards, JD and I spoke to several people there, and I checked out the lovely shop, before heading into Napier to buy a newspaper and have lunch.  That evening we took our daughter to dinner at one of the pubs in Ahuriri.  Although a thunderstorm had been forecast, it was fine and warm. I wished I had brought summer dresses after all!

The next day we had a lie-in, before heading into town for a newspaper, morning tea (Adoro Café’s delicious mini-donuts filled with lemon-flavoured custard). After this I went shopping at Farmers, where I bought a skirt, blouse and t-shirt, also some hose and some underwear.  After this JD and I checked out the lovely antique shop on Tennyson St.  We had lunch at the Café on Clive Square – a salad sandwich for me, and we shared a thin rolled pancake filled with cream.

That evening we got takeaway pizzas and desserts to have back at our motel. Although it was quite hot, there was a cool breeze coming off the sea, so we did not sit on the balcony, as we had done in February.  It was nice, but the odour of pizza does linger!  That night it was really hot; in shutting out the noise, one shuts out any breeze or cool air.

Today we drove back to Wellington. We stopped at Woodville for lunch: our favourite café has been upgraded; we chose omelettes, and they were good, and the café was popular, but a woman sitting near JD had a vicious cough.  I took a RAT test for Covid 19  every day we were in Napier, and they were all negative, thankfully; sadly, there’s a lot of Covid 19 in Hawkes Bay, although you hardly see any masks. I wore a mask quite often, and felt stupid for doing so. I did not sleep very well up there, but Tuesday was a good day, nonetheless.

In other news, Nancy Pelosi’s husband Paul was injured by a man who broke into their house; since then, the political rhetoric has been truly awful, and few regrets have been expressed by non-Democrats.  Elon Musk has become the “Chief Twit”, and it doesn’t seem to be working out that well for him. In the UK, Boris Johnson is planning to go to the climate conference in Egypt, throwing 10 Downing Street into confusion: should Sunak go after all? Does Boris represent the British government? I am listening to the British Scandal podcast about Johnson, and it reminds me of how amoral he is.  In every decision, he’s represented as worrying about what will further his personal objectives of attaining power as prime minister, and holding onto it.

Like Trump, his view is a purely cynical one: what will benefit him politically, rather than what will be good for his country.

In South Korea, in Halloween celebrations 153 people were killed in a crush. In India, a swing bridge, which had been repaired, collapsed, killing 134 people. In Somalia, two car bombs went off, killing 100 people. In Brazil, Lula has defeated sitting president Jair Bolsonaro in a recent election; Bolsonaro has not conceded yet. In the US, the tension leading up to the midterm elections is palpable.

In China, the zero-Covid policy is still being pursued. There are still millions of people being locked down, including at Wuhan, where the virus started. At the Disney  Resort  in Shanghai, some visitors were not allowed to leave after a case of covid 19 infection was detected there.

Hōhepa is arranging another family weekend, which will coincide with our daughter’s birthday, so that’s nice. I hope it can go ahead, and that Covid 19 isn’t too bad. For our last trips, at the beginning of February and the end of June, we visited just before the coming next waves of Covid 19. We do so want it to be behind us.

I booked accommodation for this trip. It’s generally scarce in Napier, so you don’t want to miss out. I booked through Wotif, and chose to pay later, not right away. The summary assured me they’d sent me an email to confirm. Email was being a bit strange on my phone; the promised email did not come through. I turned on my computer to check: it wasn’t there either. I had a case earlier this year where I thought I had booked, but didn’t get the confirmation email; it turns out that I hadn’t booked, but the motel had a cancellation for 2 nights (I had booked 3, so I thought).  I rang the motel the next morning, and they confirmed that yes, a reservation had been made, and they would sent an email to confirm it.  Well, I thought to check the spam folder in my phone, and guess what, there was the confirmation email. Grrr!

It’s now Friday November 4th.

Last night we watched another episode of Ridley on Eden, starring Adrian Dunbar. It’s a rather good series.

Today someone from Access came to do some housework; after that we went shopping. It’s been fine today.

Yesterday I went to singing in Khandallah; there were 18 people there; several were away. Apparently there’s been a super-spreader event attended by many who have come down with Covid 19.  It’s all around us. The amount of Covid in the wastewater indicates that there are far more cases of infection than are formally reported. Still, it seems the health system, while overloaded, is not in “crisis”.  I’m still doing a RAT test every morning; thankfully, they’re all negative.  I don’t feel as though I have Covid 19, although I do get headaches. I still cough sometimes, but it occurs to me that my chesty cough and cold are almost completely gone.

Everyone is waiting to see whether the Chief Twit’s purchase of Twitter will make it or destroy it. He’s raised the idea of levying a monthly payment of verified users; that hasn’t gone down at all well. He’s rumoured to be sacking a great many employees:  how will he do “content moderation”?  Apparently he’s changed his nickname, no loner wanting to be known as the Chief Twit.  I can’t say I blame him, but that title will surely stick.

The COP climate summit is about to start in Egypt.  Rishi Sunak, British PM, has now said that he will go, after all.  There is a lot of grizzling about Suella Braverman and the treatment of immigrants at a holding centre in Kent.

What else is happening?  In Ukraine, Ukrainian forces are continuing to do rather well, whereas Russian forces shell large cities and have taken out the power in Kyiv. The brutality continues.  Slava Ukraini!  Ngā mihi nui.

Mutatis Mutandis

The more things change, the more they stay the same. New PM Rishi Sunak with reappointed Home Secretary Suella Braverman

It’s now Tuesday October 25, 2022. Kia ora! Word press is different today, for some reason. That’s annoying.

This morning I met one of my son’s and his daughter, It was lovely to see them again.  Sadly, there is a cruise ship in Wellington, and there are very few masks being worn. Apparently there are Covid 19 cases on board the cruise ship.

The latest coronavirus report is out, and it’s not good news; it’s reported that there are 16,399 new cases of Covid-19 in the community and 41 new deaths this week, with 1,727 reinfections, the Ministry of Health has announced.

As of midnight on Monday, there were 243 people in hospital with the virus, with six in intensive care. Of the 41 deaths, 19 were aged over 80.

One was aged between 10 and 19 years, one was in their 30s, two were in their 40s, one was in their 50s, five were in their 60s, seven were in their 70s and five were aged over 90. Sixteen were women and 25 were men.

Case numbers were up from last week 14,311 new cases reported, 185 cases in hospital, and 34 deaths linked to the virus. The seven-day rolling average has risen to 2343 from 2041 last week.

So that’s not great news. I find it particularly upsetting that cruise ships are back – we just don’t need them!  And where do they dump all their rubbish? I shudder to think. The sea’s a big place, but already many fish are polluted.

Many bus and train services have been cancelled – I get emails from Metlink about changes to the Waikanae and Johnsonville train lines.  Cancellations are generally due to staff shortage, rather than slips, or scheduled maintenance. That doesn’t bode well, and it must be really frustrating for people doing regular jobs.

A friend of mine has rung to tell me she has tested positive for Covid 19.  She started having symptoms on Sunday; I last saw her on Thursday, when we met for coffee and then caught a bus into town together. The previous day we had seen the movie “Mrs Harris goes to Paris”, and really enjoyed it. The cinema was full, and no one was wearing a mask. I think I should be all right; here’s fingers crossed. What a nuisance! One immediately thinks where one has been, and who one has been in contact with.

Last night we watched a new series on one of the streaming services called, I think, From Scratch.  We watched it because the first episode was set in Florence, in Italy.  It was about an American girl (from Texas) who wanted to be an artist, and brought her Sicilian chef boyfriend back to Los Angeles with her. Once again, I found the American sense of entitlement very irritating; her Sicilian boyfriend, on the other hand, seemed to be the only real person, and a very good cook – a skill which was rather looked down on by the Americans.

It’s now Wednesday October 26.

There were three things that shocked me this morning (actually I learnt some of them last night). The first was St Bede’s College (for boys) in Christchurch, a school for Catholic boys; in their wisdom, they decided the theme for wearing mufti today was “Wife Beater Wednesday”. Evidently they were to wear white singlets, which signify wife-beating. Excuse me, how is this in any way appropriate?  Really the Catholics amaze me at times. How can any young person being educated by them think that this is somehow appropriate? I don’t think this would have happened at the co-ed college my sons attended.  (Today Stuff reports that 21 girls claim to have been victims of sexual assault or rape in Christchurch). How and why is this even happening?  I feel, again, that we are going backwards, that a generation of boys thinks that domestic violence is somehow acceptable, even something to joke about.

The second thing is that there are 129 Covid 19-infected people on board the cruise ship visiting Wellington. 129! There is another cruise ship visiting Marlborough, with 130 covid 19 infected people, and some people with symptoms are wandering around Picton.  Yesterday, when I was with my son and granddaughter in a shop in Wellington, a woman from the cruise ship visited the store, and had a fall.  I helped her up. Was she infected? Who knows.

The third thing is as follows: during the night I learnt that the new British Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, had reappointed Suella Braverman as Home Secretary, just days after her resignation.  Then later I discovered that he is to retain Jeremy Hunt as Chancellor, and Dominic Raab is to be deputy Prime Minister and justice secretary. Jacob Rees-Mogg  has gone (for now). The more things change, the more they stay the same.

I went to hymn-singing this morning, and then to my Te Reo Māori class. There were very few of us there.  JD picked me up, and then we had our second Covid 19 booster jabs at the pharmacy in the Johnsonville Shopping Centre.  I hardly felt the wee jab, and so far there are no ill effects.  It’s good to get that done.

It’s now Thursday October 27th.

During the night I realised I had quite a sore arm where I’d had the coronavirus jab, so I decided to send an apology for my other singing, due to restart this morning.  I have two further engagements today, so its probably wise to lessen the load of commitments, enjoyable as they are. I took another RAT test; again, it was negative, thankfully. We are due to go to Napier again soon for a few days, so I do hope I don’t get Covid 19, or another cold.

Last night and early this morning I listened to more podcasts. The British Scandal series are tackling – not Starmer, or Blair, but Boris Johnson. Oh dear! One forgets how awful and unprincipled he was, and what a liar. What Carrie sees in him I just don’t know.  Perhaps $$$ signs. although I don’t think he’s great with money.

I looked at the Guardian website to see that while new PM Sunak promises to govern with “accountability, integrity, and professionalism”, there seems to be little sign of that, with his reappointment of Suella Braverman as Home Secretary, and his refusal to increase benefits in line with inflation. I’ll stop right there, as I can see now what kind of person he’ll be as Prime Minister.  I’m not one to form snap judgments; I was prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt, but based on what I already knew, and his latest actions, I’m not prepared to think well of him.

https:// www.theguardian.com/politics/2022/oct/26/tory-crowd-leaves-early-as-sunak-and-starmer-play-out-goalless-draw-at-pmqs

So, the Brits are in for more of the same.

In New Zealand/Aotearoa, there are more protests. There has been a groundswell protest by farmers, where I think they got some tractors on main highways; they were joined by some freedom protesters, and I don’t think they were best pleased.  Climate activists have blocked the entrance to the Mount Victoria tunnel, and SHI north of Wellington. In London and in Germany, climate protesters have attacked beautiful artworks. While I agree with the climate protesters’ sentiments, I have grave doubts about their actions.  Of course, it annoys me when I can’t move around freely;  perhaps their grievances might be better aimed at Metlink, who just keep cancelling scheduled bus or trains services, or replacing trains with buses, mostly due to staff shortage. I interpret that to mean many staff are sick, and they don’t have a big enough pool of relievers. There have been complaints about the low pay drivers receive; this should surely be remedied. I think many more people would use public transport if it were more reliable.

 With regard to SH1, i.e. the new Transmission Gully highway, I think it’s a boon: it’s wonderful to drive on, it’s faster, and it must be great for the many coastal communities to have less traffic on what is now SH59 (formerly Sh1). Surely some distinction should be made here. Once again, the Guardian’s John Crace puts it rather well:

I talk to my cousin who has recently returned from Ngaruawahia. On her return, she and her husband stayed with her brother. He now has Covid 19. It’s all around us, and I fear we’re in for another wave. Some new variants have been detected here. It’s reported (early on Friday morning) that the number of new Covid 19 cases reported has risen by1,500 in a 24 hour period.

In the early evening we went to a talk from Andrew McKenzie, head of Kainga Ora (previously Housing New Zealand).  He gave a very interesting talk about housing in New Zealand. He is a very intelligent person; his approach to people reminded me of how different everything felt under a Labour Government; the letter about the Winter Energy payment was genuinely pleasant, and I noticed in my dealings with ACC that their approach was much kinder than it had been previously.

JD and I have been very impressed at how Kainga Ora have partnered with Hōhepa in Hawkes Bay to find suitable homes for Hōhepa as they endeavour to move people to safer environments, where it is easier to evacuate households in need, but the need is far less likely to arise.  They have also been looking for clusters of houses, i.e. housing that would be suitable for Hōhepa.  Residents and staff now sleep on safer ground, but the iconic beautiful peaceful grounds at Clive are used tor daytime activities and festivals.

After we got home I had a cup of coffee. This was probably a really bad idea – although I was very tired, I hardly slept all night.

It’s now Friday October 28th.

I noticed that my usual cleaner from Access was not scheduled to come, so I decided to cancel. I rang the Wellington number, and was about to leave a message, but the message box was full!  I got put through to the 0800 number, and spoke to a real person. The replacement was due to come at 10:30 am, not 12:05 as scheduled, so I was happy to cancel.

Many buses and trains have been cancelled, or trains replaced by buses, because of staff shortages. It’s reported that the numbers of Covid 19 cases are increasing, alarmingly. Yesterday I heard of several more cases among people I know, including many that have avoided it thus far.  Still, everyone can get Paxlovid now. You can get free RAT tests too, and masks and hand sanitiser are readily available.  There are also vaccinations and boosters. Still and all, I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

The Guardian today leads with some sombre climate news: the UN finds “no credible pathway to 1.5C in place”. This was a limit that some nations aspired to – but already drastic climate change is here.  On the same webpage I read that the new British PM, Rishi Sunak, is not going to attend the next climate conference in Egypt.  Even Boris went to the COP conference in Glasgow!  It seems very sad that neither King Charles nor Sunak will be attending. Sunak did stop fracking going ahead, as Liz Truss had ordered;  I wonder why the British don’t grow more food – there are may would-be immigrants who would be prepared to work in the fields, or in the NHS, for that matter.

It seems that Elon Musk has bought Twitter; he has recently opined on the situation in Ukraine and Taiwan – coming out on the side of the dictators. Someone has called him “Narco capitalist”.

In the US, as the mid-term elections draw near (only two weeks to go now? can we bear it?) the podcasts are pretty silly in their obsessions with US politics.  I am upset that there seems to be a common view that in the Fetterman vs. Oz debate, Fetterman came off worst, because of his stroke.  As someone who has had an SAH, now termed a type of stroke, I find this extremely frustrating.  I lost the power of speech completely for a time, and still find it difficult too speak sometimes, or find thee fight words. I remember Gabby Giffords saying that easy, flowing speech was a thing of the past. I knew exactly what she meant. I have trouble making myself understood at times, especially when wearing a mask; I much prefer face to face conversations, rather than telephone conversations. My brain, I think, is fine, but I do get very tired.  I admire John Fetterman for taking part in a debate – it’s an extraordinarily stressful thing to do; many politicians “mis-speak” at times, and who can blame them?  Trump seemed quite senile at times, although that’s just my impression (a shared one, though).

That’s it for now.  Putin has said there’s no need politically or militarily to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine. Do we believe him this time? Slava Ukraini! Ngā mihi nui.

Contradictions

Britain’s political chaos

Today is Sunday October 23rd, 2022. Kia ora!

This morning I went to church in Wadestown. There weren’t many of us, which I put down to it’s being Labour Weekend. It’s a beautiful church, though, and we had a very nice morning tea afterwards.  One of the ladies who comes to my exercise class was there, too. I had some morning tea and then caught a bus into town, getting off in Murphy Street by the New World supermarket, where JD came to pick me up.  The day had started out fine and sunny, but it became less fine and rathe

The sermon/homily/reflection this morning was about the parable in Luke 18: 9 – 14, about the self-righteous Pharisee praying and the tax-gatherer, who said: “O God, have compassion on me, the sinner”. The Lord said that everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and everyone who humbles himself will be exalted.  There was a woman who did Prayers for Others so nicely, I was very impressed. We sang The Lord’s Prayer. I was impressed, again, by how different the local churches are (and that’s just Presbyterian/Methodist/Congregational).  I guess, as I’ve often said, there are many ways to be a (good) Christian.

Many things I wanted to buy at the supermarket were missing, but I did get raspberries (big ones, this time), asparagus, and salads. There were no Afghan biscuits, alas. I did not have to wait at the checkout, for once.

I was thinking last night and early this morning about the intense contradictions that abound in our world. I started by remembering how the US state of Georgia spawned Martin Luther King, and congressman John Lewis (who died recently, and who’s suffering was immortalised in the film Selma), and Marjorie Taylor Greene.  These opposites are demonstrated more and more, as there seems to be no common ground between the far left and the extreme right-wing in politics.  There’s little seriousness.  In many governments, we see great opposites: between democrats in the US, and the extreme far-right, often putting up crazy candidates in the forth coming US mid-term elections. 

In the UK, the Tory Party has been in power for what seems like forever, and yet they’re about to choose another Prime Minister, and I expect there’ll be another cabinet line up to match.  While Jeremy Corbyn as previous leader of the Labour Party was pretty toxic to many, his successor, Sir Keir Starmer, has a much better show of forming a good government.  The right-wing, however, seems absorbed with whatever will be good for them personally; and whatever will “look good”; in the UK and the US, there’s just no thought or consideration of people less well-off, who are having to make unfortunate choices between what we would regard as necessities: mortgage payments, food, water, medical needs, and heating. Quite how many people cope is beyond me: in the US, there are communities that don’t even have sewerage or reticulated drinking water, quite apart from the chemical pollution in many poorer areas. Republican state governments seem to give no thought to caring for their less well-off populations. No wonder abortion has become such a lightning-rod issue for many. There seems to be a refusal, in the UK and the US, to see another point of view, or take any responsibility for one’s or one’s government’s actions.

Both the US and the UK are potentially ungovernable. Even within the Tory party in the UK, there are those who want Boris Johnson as Prime Minister again, despite his greed, his lying and his corruption; there are other Tories who would find it unconscionable. I suppose I’m getting around to saying why can’t somebody want what’s good for the country? Or take climate change into account?  Or consider Northern Ireland? 

In this country, it felt very different when the Labour Party formed a government, after years of National Party rule. At least we have MMP here, rather than FPP, so usually there has to be some collaboration between political parties to form a government.  In my experience, Labour is much nicer to everyone; whereas National and Act are there for rich people, as I see it.  In any democracy, a conservative government will really mess things up; a Labour government then comes in, wanting to be kind to people, but having to work really hard to clean up the mess caused by a conservative government:  hospitals in a mess, state houses sold off, waterways degraded and so on.  It really upsets me to see some of those in charge being so selfish, when the effects of climate change are visible all around us, and most of us are wanting to leave a better environment for our children and grandchildren to inhabit and appreciate.

Against some goodness in this world, in Ukraine Russian forces continue their brutality, hitting utilities now; in China, President Xi has hardened his grip on power, while there were very upsetting scenes of former Chinese President Hu Jintao unexpectedly being hustled out of the party conference.

With regard to the UK situation, I am once again citing the Guardian:

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2022/oct/22/austerity-brexit-and-44-days-in-purgatory-the-key-stages-of-tory-rule

It’s now Monday October 24th, Labour Day in New Zealand.

News has come through that Boris Johnson, after flying back to London from a Caribbean holiday with his wife and children, has pulled out of the leadership race to be British Prime Minister.  Richie Rich (alias Rishi Sunak) is the frontrunner to be the next PM. Penne Mordaunt is in the running again, too, I gather.  So that doesn’t look much good for understanding the many families that are having to cope with rising mortgage costs, rising energy bills, and inflation.  Pre-austerity, you can expect to go to a library, where at least there’ll be warmth and somewhere to sit, to while the hours away; under austerity, I understand that many small town libraries and community centres have been closed. Even when we were in England in 2016, there were very few seats that you were allowed to sit on.  I sat down at the end of a bench to wait for a train, one time, several having been cancelled, and a man tied his large Alsatian to the seat and disappeared. The large, fierce dog was not best pleased, and neither was I!

Last night we watched the second episode of This England on television one, starring Kenneth Branagh as Boris Johnson.  This episode deals mainly with the encroaching progress of Covid 19, and the UK government’s “interesting” way of handling it (or not handling it). Boris Johnson now has coronavirus, and it not at all well. His partner, pregnant Carrie, is isolating somewhere. No one is wearing masks, except in hospitals. Medical staff are uniformly kind, but not all that careful.  In spite of the saying that “Two metres’ distance determines our existence”, politicians front up to tell people to stay at home while standing much closer to each other than two metres. Of course this was early on in what was to become the pandemic, well before we knew about common usage of masks, taking of Vitamin D, keeping separate, having good ventilation, and well before any vaccines were developed. Still, it looks pretty cack-handled.

A really irritating thing is atmospheric interference, which is common now on any free-to-air channel, via our Sky receiver.  It’s really annoying, and I remember watching the Queen’s funeral on TVNZ On demand, rather than on television one. Why do we need a Sky receiver to get free-to-air channels, I wonder again?

It’s now Tuesday October 25th.

It’s not sunny today, but it’s not raining, either; yesterday was quite warm: I walked up to the local shops without wearing or even taking a jacket! We have been warned that another cold snap is due in the deep South.  I just find the constant changes quite frustrating! Just be warm, or be cold, for a few days! It’s so hard to figure out what to wear.

Rishi Sunak is to be the Britain’s next Prime Minister, without a vote being cast by the Tory party.  This lightning speed, in contrast to the several weeks’ election of Liz Truss, the previous incumbent, was again, totally undemocratic, but at least it was fast. It reminds me of Mitch McConnell’s speedy US Senate vote to endorse Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, straight after the death of Ruth Bader Ginsberg, and before her funeral, even.  A super-spreader event was held at The White House to celebrate her elevation. After this event, many came down with covid 19. McConnell could call the Senate together in record time when he deemed it was in his political interests to do so.  It’s interesting, though, that Sunak, although Indian, was born in the UK, is very rich, and went to the right school; however he’s a Hindu, not a Christian. Make of that what you will. Many are hoping for some consistency, a period without daily shocks, as we did with Biden’s presidency; alas, I fear that’s not to be.  I’m not one to be drawn into conspiracy theories, but one does wonder if there isn’t some right-wing movement to subjugate women, ban gay people, endorse violence, and rule the world. It’s certainly appealing to many when a populist leader voices their fears and says “I alone can fix it”.  Lies, lies, lies….

In many ways Meghan Markle reminds me of Trump: I hesitate to comment, but her constant whining and victimisation, the suggestion that no amount of money is enough for her, and now her assertion that she’s super-bright reminds me of “the very stable genius”.  Just saying. I hope I am still alive when those children (if they exist) become teenagers, and start asking questions: like how come we never see our other grandmother, or either of our grandfathers? Any cousins, uncles or aunties? How come you thought it was a good idea to squander royalty, and complain publicly about the Royal Family, when they had given you so much?  Just asking questions, of course.

In Ukraine, Russian brutality continues.  I think I’ve been saying this for months. It seems that while Russian soldiers have very low morale, and along with their equipment are pretty useless, Putin is causing great harm with his persistent shelling and having a go at power plants.  He’s causing enormous damage – needlessly.  And as for the deportations:  no one comes back telling a good story. What about the nameless rest of the deportees? Meanwhile, will the West i.e. the US, the UK and Europe continue to support Ukraine?  It seems that an actual battle between good and evil is being played out in Ukraine. 

It feels as though something is pulling the strings.  I always have to remind myself that things have looked desperate before, during World War II, for example.  We have enjoyed a long period of peace, as long as you weren’t living in Korea, Vietnam, the Balkans, Myanmar, Ukraine, Iran, Iraq, etc etc. There is much to be thankful for, and much to pray for.

That’s it for now. Slava Ukraini!  Ngā mihi nui.

Dear oh dear

A cartoon about Liz Truss’ longevity as PM

Today is Sunday October 16th, 2022. Kia ora!

Today is a beautiful fine day, after a cold start. I went to church this morning. Thankfully, the organist was recovered and played beautifully. There was talk about the power of prayer, and of persistence. The sign of peace has a new Māori phrase – it’s been moved up a notch, but it is quite beautiful: te Rangimarie o te Karaiti…and I can’t remember the rest, alas.

Afterwards, I saw that I had missed my bus to Johnsonville, and so would have time to have coffee before the next bus was due in an hour’s time. But JD picked me up, and we went into town to see the Spring watercolour exhibition at the Academy gallery.  We also had a good look at the lovely shop there, but we didn’t buy anything. Afterwards we had lunch at Arabica Café, where we each had an omelette.

Last night we had endured the annoying advertisements on Television One to watch the first episode of the final series of Doc Martin.  Suffice to say, the dialogue was really annoying. Martin and Louisa seem so unsuited, but, he, they’ve had a second child – a baby girl.

We also watched Sherwood on Television One. I had watched it online, but I was happy to see it again, with the lovely Lesley Manville.

I’ve also been listening to podcasts – about Ukraine. The nuclear question is being discussed and debated, again. There are some who think Putin should be given an off-ramp, a bridge to exit with some dignity;  well, I think, who started all this? Putin started this totally unprovoked conflict. He should just get right out of there. Goodness knows, he’s created an enormous mess: death and destruction, ruined buildings, damaged infrastructure, millions of refugees,  reduction in the gas supply, and enormous disruption of the world’s food supply; the world was just getting over the Covid 19 pandemic, and dealing with supply-chain issues, inflation, and rising prices – for everything.  Putin certainly didn’t need to make this situation worse; I guess one so-called benefit is the world’s military and retired military seeing and evaluating the weapons, drones, and military assault being used, in a detached fashion. There’s the climate crisis, too, of course, coming ready or not.

It’s now Monday October 17th.

Last night we watched This Britain on television one, starring Kenneth Branagh as Boris Johnson.  He acted the part very well, but with rather too much Shakespeare (I honour the Bard, but it’s not so great in the mouths of these men), and his hair wasn’t nearly messy enough. We watched as the covid 19 pandemic spread, ominously, as officials at first couldn’t believe that it would ravage the world so quickly.

This morning I went to my exercise class, and really enjoyed it. It’s been fine and mild today. Afterwards we caught the train, back to Johnsonville. I had just missed by #19 shuttle bus, so JD picked me up and we went to Nada Bakery in Tawa to buy some lunch.

The weekly Covid 19 report is out today. I’ve finished my course of antibiotics, but my cold isn’t completely recovered yet. I think any infection in my chest has gone, but I still cough sometimes, and need to blow my nose.  I try not to cough in embarrassing situations.

The Ministry of Health is reporting 14,311 new community cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand in the past week. This is over 3000 more than what was reported in the previous week. The seven-day rolling average of community cases has increased to 2041. An additional 34 virus-related deaths have also been reported, and 185 people are in hospital – with two in ICU.

Of the deaths being reported today, nine were from the Auckland region, four were from Waikato, two were from Taranaki, one was from MidCentral, six were from Wellington region, one was from Nelson Marlborough, six were from Canterbury and five were from Southern.

One was in their 40s, three were in their 50s, two were in their 60s, nine were in their 70s, 12 were in their 80s and seven were aged over 90. Of these people, 16 were women and 18 were men.  At this point the total number of deaths is over 2,000 at 2,065. I got that figure from the Dom Post, but it stated there’d been a further 10 deaths, whereas Radio NZ was reporting a further 34 deaths.

It’s now Tuesday October 18th.

It’s a beautiful day today, fine and warm and sunny. JD and I went out to his golf club.  We took the new Transmission Highway, now SH1, to Pauatahanui, and then the Haywards Road to Upper Hutt. I had not driven on the new road this way before. It seemed fast, and wonderful. We played the game of So where are we? He played some holes, and for the first two holes we didn’t see another human being.  I had forgotten just how beautiful it is out there, and how wonderful it is; on the other hand, there’s quite a lot of traffic noise from the River Road.  He played a few holes, and then we wended our way back to the clubhouse. It was a long way back! 

It turned out that there was a women’s tournament there, (they couldn’t have it last year because of Covid 19 rules), but we had lunch and got served quite quickly: I had a tuna and cucumber club sandwich and a hedgehog slice; JD had toasted sandwiches. It was lovely and peaceful there.

It’s now Wednesday October 19th.

Today I went to see Mrs Harris Goes to Paris with a friend of mine. We navigated our way there on train and bus, and had time for a lovely cup of coffee when we got to the theatre. There were so many people there! I was relieved that I had booked online. What a charming movie! We both enjoyed it. Afterwards JD picked us up.

I’m waiting to see what happens to Liz Truss, still UK Prime Minister, presumably because senior Tories haven’t yet decided whom to replace her with. One almost feels sorry for her, and then I watched another interview where she comes across as totally useless.

Yesterday she didn’t come to PMQ’s, and was excused by a colleague, saying she had a very good reason for not being there. Then, however, she turned up. Labour Party politicians were concerned for her welfare. Jeremey Hunt, the new Chancellor, seems to be the one in charge. But when he put his name forward to be Prime Minister, he got only 18 votes and was soon eliminated. Nevertheless, he’s reversed many of her unfunded spending moves, even curbing the government’s household energy cap.

As again, Marina Hyde is very insightful:

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/oct/18/britannia-rechained-liz-truss-hostage-era-jeremy-hunt

It’s now Thursday October 20th.

This morning I find that Suella Braverman has resigned as Home Secretary in the UK.  Liz Truss is still PM, but I presume that’s just until they can agree who should replace her. There is a move to bring back Boris Johnson; this would be truly terrible, but I suspect he would continue to support Ukraine, so that would be a good thing.  In the US, there is doubt as to whether Republicans would continue to support Ukraine, should they take control of the House of Representatives in the upcoming mid-term elections.  These get scarier and scarier, as support for democrats seems to have increased, then dropped; are the polls reliable?  Not so, if they don’t so what you want them to say; but great if they are the other way round.  I listened to Morning Joe this morning, and they were saying President Biden’s support was up to 48%, the highest it’s been. On the other hand, Kevin McCarthy gave journalist Jake Sherman an interview in which he outlines the things republicans would like to do, like cutting welfare and being tougher on immigrants.  In Ukraine, Putin seems to be carrying out revenge attacks for the damage to the Kerch Bridge; much of the power has been knocked out, and he’s declared martial law over the four regions illegally annexed.  It will be a very bad situation if the US ceases its support for Ukraine. Residents of the Ukrainian city of Kherson are being advised by the Russians to leave – why? Some do, some don’t.

This morning I met some friends for coffee at a café. It was lovely. Then I caught a bus into town with a friend of mine, and booked some airline tickets to Australia.

It’s now Friday October 21st.

I am very tired after yesterday’s adventures.  We watched the new series Ridley on Eden starring Line of Duty’s Adrian Dunbar.  Well, it’s new to us, at any rate. This morning JD had a meeting he needed to zoom in for; needless to say, he needed my computer, and he had trouble firing it up.  I was expecting someone from Access to come and do some cleaning; first, of course, I tidied up, changing the sheets and towels, putting washing on, and emptying rubbish bins.

But today’s big news is that Liz Truss has resigned as British PM.  Thank goodness. There’s a feeling of here we go again, or rather, here members of the Tory party go again…to elect a new Prime Minister. Boris Johnson is said to have thrown his hat in the ring. Again.  I listened to The Rest is Politics question time, where they wondered, aloud, as many of us have done, about Liz Truss’s mental health; it seemed that the British parliament had some kind of brawl over voting for a motion to discuss fracking.  It was rumoured to be a confidence motion. Who knows, many people were disgusted by it.  One thing’s for sure: you can’t put  the genie back in the bottle; you can’t undo Brexit, Trump, Megxit, or the effects of Liz Truss and her erstwhile Chancellor, Kwasi Kwarteng. Unfortunately.

The Guardian’s John Crace put it very well again:

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2022/oct/20/at-peace-with-herself-librium-liz-re-embraces-her-own-mediocrity

Various media have opined about Truss’s very short six-week reign as British Prime Minister; that’s including the two weeks’ mourning period for the Queen.  It seems to me that once her friend Kwasi Kwarteng’s mini-budget was released, and had caused enormous turmoil, she was a dead (wo)man walking, and had no credibility at all. Her wooden statements at an interview and at PMQ’s showed that she had neither the appetite, not the ability, to lead the country. Some would say that despite her appetite to be Margaret Thatcher 2.0, she had no mandate from the English people to be their prime minister. Some gravitas is surely required.  Sir Keir Starmer had another great line: “The lady’s not for turning…up”, echoing Mrs. Thatcher’s statement that The Lady’s not for turning (this was based on the title of a play by Christopher Fry, entitled The Lady’s not for Burning. The Lady was a name used for Mrs. Thatcher (by those who were being polite).  The British press were very cruel to Liz Truss, as is their wont, but despite the levity (no one does comedy quite like the British) there is genuine dismay and consternation at the economical situation in the UK; the situation in the US represents chaos of a different sort, as they head into their mid-term elections.

 In China, President Xi appears to be heading into a third term as president, making noises about Taiwan being included in China; meanwhile, they are still dealing with Covid 19 outbreaks in the capital Beijing; a teenage girl’s death in a quarantine facility in Ruzhou has been hushed up.

In Ukraine, in the city of Kherson, the Russians are threatening to blow up a dam, which would cause enormous destruction and death.  The Ukrainians are already rationing electricity. There continue to be reports of conscripted soldiers being very ill-equipped, lacking even working rifles, let alone being trained in how to use them.

I am rereading Amor Towles’ A Gentleman in Moscow. I did read it, very quickly, so, as usual, I am rereading it more slowly. What a joy it is! How cultured Count Rostov is!  It takes one into a dream world, where despite the events of the Russian Revolution, and consequent great privation, one can still enjoy fine food, good music, company, and great literature.

I have listened to several podcasts recently, but I tend to fall asleep during them, and so have to listen to them again.  It does mess with my dreams, but then they’re very informative. 

It’s now Saturday, October 22.

It’s a beautiful sunny day, after a cold start this morning. A friend visited and brought some beautiful flowers! How very kind of her.

This last week has been quite busy, for me. I booked tickets for JD and me to go to Adelaide and Melbourne. I hadn’t realised how expensive it would be, or how hard to get good tickets!  Silly me, I thought I had plenty of time.  Just as well that I got around to it.

That’s it for now. Slava Ukraini! Ngā mihi nui.

More Folk Behaving Badly

Former PM John Key’s voting choices

Today is Thursday October 13th, 2022. Kia ora!

This morning I met one of my sons and his two children. It was so good to see them again. We had coffee, and then I went to my Te Reo class at the Khandallah Town Hall. It was lovely, of course, but I found it very tiring. Everyone is tired at present, it seems. Learning a new language is quite hard work! It’s frustrating to get so tired!

Afterwards I rang JD and asked him to come and get me. It is raining, after all although not as cold as had been predicted; for some reason, I’m not feeling the cold. It’s been quite a mild winter, although we recently had a cold snap. I do find it annoying when the temperature keeps changing!  I would like some consistency – I don’t mind if it’s cold, but just stay the same for a few days!

It’s now Friday October 14th.

Today we have our art group, and I’ve cancelled the cleaner.  I just hope that I won’t be too tired; yesterday afternoon wasn’t great, but today is another day.

We tried to watch the new series of Derry Girls, but found it really annoying. It used to be fun, but there’s a new Sister Michael (the former one was a star of the show), and there’s a lot of shouting and swearing.  I found the “girls’ dialogue” hard to hear.  On the other hand, I listened to the Telegraph podcast about Ukraine. It was nice to hear the journalists doing their best to express themselves without swearing. I found it really commendable. They were saying things like “Putin really lost his rag”, but I’m sure most other podcasters/reporters would have resorted to more colourful language. The message communicating their frustration came through loud and clear, though.

I listened to the latest episode of The Rest is History podcast about French cinema. One of the French film reviewer’s top ten films was one I’d actually seen: Les Enfants du Paradis.  They also talked about Jena-Luc Godard, and I’ve seen his Breathless, although they discussed another film directed by him. Still, it was diverting. They discussed another famous film, J’accuse, based on a book that I’d read about the Dreyfus affair.

In the US, election fever continues to build up. It looks to be very close; but how reliable are the polls? Who knows. Time will tell. Herschel Walker’s abortion drama seems to have not harmed him politically, although it has transpired that his girlfriend who had an abortion, at his insistence, had to hassle him to get around to paying for it. His crazy speech about cows seems not to have harmed him, either.  I guess I’ve almost given up on the US political system, seeing that so many really strange characters are standing for election, and being supported by the Republican Party.

On the other hand, I’ve been listening to a series of podcasts about Lenin, on the Real Dictators podcast series.  It was so hit-and-miss that Lenin actually got back to Russia from Switzerland, and became the person in charge – by lying, of course. The Russian revolution, which did so much to change the course of history, almost didn’t happen.

In the UK, politics under Truss and Kwarteng continue to be dogmatic, and ghastly. How long will Truss last as PM? There’s enormous opposition to her, according to The Rest is Politics podcast. On the other hand, Rory Stewart is critical of Nicola Sturgeon for saying she detests the Tories.  Well, it was probably an unfortunate thing to say, but I can see why she said it. 

It seems the date for King Charles III coronation is set for May 2023, and this happens to be his grandson Archie’s birthday. It’s reported that Harry and Meghan see this as a slur; personally, I would regard it as a huge honour, that the King, my Grandpa, was crowned King on my birthday!  

In the US, the January 6 committee is reporting today; apparently the Supreme Court won’t intervene in the case of the documents held at Mar-a-Lago. This is seen as a snub for Trump. E. Jean Carroll is suing him for rape, and he will now have to answer this case.

I was shocked to read in the Guardian that John Key claims he would have voted for Trump and Bolsonaro, had he been entitled to do so. Well, I thought he was better than that. They’re both despicable characters, in my view.

It’s now Saturday October 15th.

Yesterday afternoon we went to our art group, which meets monthly. We had a wonderful demonstration of water-colour painting, just experimenting, really, and seeing how the different colours worked.  I felt it brought out my inner child! I’m not a painter, but I certainly had fun. There were a dedicated few of us – perhaps 10, not too many. Afterwards we had coffee and something to eat at the café across the road, which was almost deserted. It was a lovely way to spend the early afternoon.  I have coffee and crackers with cheese before these midday meetings: it’s too early to have lunch, but It’s good to have a snack first. I didn’t cough, either!

Last night wer watched Bridget Jones’ Baby on Bravo.  It was a surprisingly good movie, with Emma Thompson stealing the very good show as Bridget’s obstetrician.  Renée Zellweger has done something to her face, and Mr Darcy (Colin Firth, this time) looked too old for her, but it was quite a good film, if stretching credulity at times!

A lot of things happened overnight, and yesterday too – we had another January 6 Committee hearing.

I guess the most shocking, although not surprising thing for me was the resignation of Kwasi Kwarteng as British Chancellor of the Exchequer.  That wasn’t unexpected, of course; I just hated seeing his smirk – colonial revenge perhaps for tanking the British economy? He’s been replaced by Jeremy Hunt. He had to fly back from the US – and now, this. Liz Truss held a press conference at 10 Downing Street, where she was “savaged” by supposedly sympathetic reporters. What a sad occasion it was. Truss wore a black dress, perhaps dressing almost appropriately for once – her black dress had quite a low neckline. She was asked if she were resigning too, or if she would apologise to the British people.  Like hell she would!

Kamikwasi Kwarteng ticked all the boxes for being a senior Tory MP: he was born in London to immigrants from Ghana; he went to Eton, and Trinity College, Cambridge; he was a columnist and financial commentator for the Telegraph (otherwise known by some wit as the Tory-Graph).

John Crace has written about this in the Guardian:

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2022/oct/14/kwasi-kwarteng-liz-truss-offer-consciously-uncouple-train-wreck

Marina Hyde has a go, too:

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/oct/14/kwasi-kwarteng-liz-truss-jeremy-hunt

And serious journalist Jonathan Freedland has a go too:

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/oct/14/kwasi-kwarteng-liz-truss-jeremy-hunt

He invokes the Suez crisis, as being the first major crisis when the rot set in; I remember this, and the Profumo scandal, too; the latter scandal was memorialised in the British Scandal podcast series, with I think six episodes.  The Brexit referendum, and consequent determination to leave the EU, he argues, was another key bad decision for Britain politically, economically, and in every way. I have to say that I agree with him.  Some wits are saying that Truss makes Boris look better, and even Priti Patel more humane than her successor. Where do these women get the idea (like Margaret Thatcher) that it’s good to be politically successful by being beastly and hurting people? 

There is talk of Penny Mordaunt and Rishi Sunak replacing Liz Truss, with perhaps Mordaunt as Prime Minister and Sunak back in his old role as Chancellor, again.  There was a charming photo of Liz Truss curtseying to the new King Charles, as he is heard saying “Back again? Dear, oh dear”. 

We await more developments. 

The other big news is that of Robbie Coltrane’s death at the age of 72. I remember him from the television series Cracker, which dates back to years ago.  I admit I rather liked him, although he was “too much”!  Fun to watch, though, in a detached way. He came from Glasgow.

In China there are protests as President Xi seeks a third term; people have detested the covid zero policy, with compulsory testing and lock downs.  I must admit, it is better to be able to do stuff, while we would still prefer to have fewer Covid 19 cases. At least the hospitalisations and deaths are way down from what they were.  Some expert has warned of another wave sweeping New Zealand, concentrated in Wellington and the Hutt Valley; is he an alarmist? Let’s hope so.

In the US, the January 6 Committee reported yesterday, and I am still digesting the new evidence. Each time it’s as if we already know so many terrible things, only to learn more darkness, more evil, more danger that occurred on that terrible day.

My main impressions are as follows: Nancy Pelosi’s extraordinary conversations as she took charge of the situation, trying to get help, and insisting to Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell and then Vice-President Pence that she wished to carry on the duties expected of her, and indeed, of the government. Nancy Pelosi was “really badass”, as a Lawfare podcast put it. Her daughter Alexandra Pelosi provided more dramatic footage of the scrum.  There were links between the Oath Keepers, a right-wing militia group and the Secret Service – this all looks extremely murky; the Secret Service are supposed to be politically neutral, but this quality is not always demonstrated. Their destruction of text messages sent on January 6 is most unfortunate.  There were warnings of violence to the FBI, which were evidently not passed on, or not acted on; there was Steve Bannon, warning well before the presidential election that Trump would just declare victory whether he won or lost; there was acknowledgment that he did in fact lose the election; there were Ginni Thomas’ texts, and the complicity of many republican politicians in an insurrection in which many people broke the law, many police sustained injuries, and some died.  What a dreadful thing to happen. And now a bunch of election-denying republican candidates are standing for election, with republican backing. The Democrats’ lead is not looking great now, but who knows? We’re hoping that the Democrats can retain control of the House of Representatives and the Senate, and continue to support Ukraine, as well as prosecuting Trump and others for their part in the January 6 insurrection. There’s lots to pray about! 

Amendment Sunday October 16: furthermore, the January 6 Committee, having a business meeting, resolved unanimously to subpoena Donald Trump. Everyone is very sceptical as to whether he will come and testify under oath, but it’s a gesture anyway. Also, Trump wanted to issue withdrawals of US troops from Afghanistan and other places. He talked about going to war with China, and Iran, this in the so-called “lame duck” period after Biden’s election. It also seems that the Secret Service was even more complicit than I had feared earlier. They actually expected the Trump would go to the Capitol.

That’s it for now. Slava Ukraini!  Ngā mihi nui.

More of the Same

Having lunch at Days’ Bay

Today is Monday October 10th, 2022. Kia ora!

This morning I went to my exercise class in Ngaio. JD dropped me off, thankfully. There weren’t too many people there today. It was lovely, and I enjoyed it, but found it quite tiring. I coughed a lot yesterday, but convinced myself that I would be better today. And so I was. It was much warmer, too – I wore a cotton shirt under a light jersey, and cotton socks instead of woollen ones.  Many women were just wearing lovely blouses.  One kind woman helped me – there is a male instructor who can be rather hard to understand, especially with the stretchy bands.

Afterwards my friend and I caught the train from Ngaio, and I had lunch at her house – delicious soup, toast, coffee and cake. Afterwards JD came to pick me up – I was rather more tired than I was prepared to admit.

After getting home I needed to medicate myself again. I would like to see my doctor, but the Manage My Health application has changed.  I go to book an appointment, but there is a list of questions to answer. Do I have shortness of breath?  I do, but I continue.  Which doctor would I like to see? Only two figures are shown, and I don’t know either of them, so I try to get out of the application. Eventually I find that I’ve been signed out.  I guess I’ll have to book a phone or video consultation, but I really want a doctor to listen to my chest, and ask me if I need Prednisone, or an antibiotic, perhaps.  They have an advertisement for a Covid 19 medication on television – ask your doctor if ? is right for you! Fat chance, being able to even speak to a doctor! Honestly, I am so mad about this. It’s very frustrating to feel not great, to hope it doesn’t worsen, and not to be able to see someone that knows me!

Covid 19 is still with us; there are more subvariants of omicron circulating, and we’re warned that another wave is coming. Yeah, right, we are all so over it. I learnt yesterday that another close contact has diagnosed positive with Covid 19; a couple I know went overseas for a family occasion, and a family member has covid; another friend’s daughter is overseas, and diagnosed positive in London. Nobody cares anymore, but it’s still potentially a serious illness.

Weekly Covid 19 figures have been released today. In the past week, there have been 9,405 new community cases of Covid-19 in the country. Hospitals are caring for 134 people who are battling the virus, and four of them are receiving intensive care treatment.

In the last week, two deaths were linked to Covid-19. This must be a misprint, because the report goes on to talk about 25 deaths, not 2.

Of the 25 people whose deaths were reported today, six were from the Auckland region, five were from Waikato, two were from Bay of Plenty, one was from Tairawhiti, one was from Taranaki, two were from MidCentral, two were from Canterbury, two were from West Coast and four were from Southern.  Three were in their 60s, five were in their 70s, 11 were in their 80s and six were aged over 90. Of these people, nine were women and 16 were men.

In Ukraine, Putin has called the Kerch bridge attack an “Act of Terror” . retaliation so far has consisted of attacks on the city of Zaporizhia, killing at least 21 people.

It’s now Wednesday October 12th.

I didn’t blog yesterday. I took another RAT test for Covid 19 yesterday morning, which was negative, again. My lovely sister-in-law visited from Perth. We had coffee, and then went out for lunch.  It was great to see her, but sadly, I faded and found it really hard to keep up. We went for a walk along the beach, but I had to go back to the car. When we got home, I rang the medical centre, hoping to make an appointment to see a doctor on Wednesday.  After waiting for someone to answer the phone, they wouldn’t let me book, but referred me to another team for a “treatment plan”. I then waited on the phone for ages, and eventually left a message. I was growing steadily crosser. I tried to ring back the medical centre, but ended up sending them a message by email. They replied that a nurse would ring me first thing in he morning.

Meanwhile, I emailed the organist to say that I would probably not be at hymn singing this morning. He emailed me back saying that he was going to cancel, seeing that he was really unwell.

I actually slept pretty well for me – a change from when I had covid 19.  As expected, a nurse rang me early this morning. She asked me to come and see a doctor at 11:45 this morning; she asked how I would get there, and asked me to wait in Cabin 3 in the parking lot, and ring the medical centre when I’d arrived.

I duly caught an Uber to the medical centre parking lot. The driver was very kind and helpful. I duly waited outside – the cabins that were formerly Covid 19 testing areas were not numbered, but I waited in the middle one, in the RED zone. I rang the medical centre, they signed me in, and told me to wait for the doctor to come. The cabin was equipped with masks, tissues, hand sanitiser, several chairs, a rather fierce heater, and a kind of examining bed.  I used my own sanitiser, and waited.

Eventually a doctor came and invited me into Cabin 1, where he was set up to  see patients. I did tell him that I missed my previous GP, who retired several years ago.  We both kept out masks on.  He listened to my chest, took my temperature (which was normal, although I feel a bit hot and sweaty); he prescribed an antibiotic, and more use of my inhaler.  He also took a swab for a PCR test for Covid 19, which he claimed would be more accurate than the RAT tests I’ve been using. I guess it may show which, if any, subvariant of the omicron variant of Covid 19 I may have, should I test positive. This does feel like Covid 19 did, although not so bad, and I haven’t had the sleeping difficulties it had exacerbated. He also said I’d be eligible for Paxlovid, should I test positive. I remarked to him how annoying the television advertisement is for coronavirus medicine – ask your doctor if x is right for you?  You’d be lucky to find a doctor to ask!

I saw the prescription on his screen, and told him which pharmacy to send it through to. He advised me that they’d be making it up as we were speaking!

I duly walked to the pharmacy. They hadn’t even received the prescription. I went to Whitcoulls, and then checked again. No joy, but I dd buy another large bottle of Prospan. By then, JD offered me a lift home. We bought some lunch at Nada Bakery in Tawa, and then I rang the pharmacy. Still no joy – perhaps I should try the medical centre again. To cut a long story short, the script had been sent to the wrong pharmacy. Eventually all was sorted, and JD picked up the script.  I am hoping that I’ll be up to going to at least one of my planned activities tomorrow – the main one is a Te Reo class at the community centre in Khandallah tomorrow. I’m looking forward to that! And I’m hoping to see some of my grandchildren beforehand. 

In Ukraine, the Russians are shelling many cities, targeting infrastructure and killing and wounding numbers of citizens. I heard though that some of these attacks would have been planned well in advance.  And so it goes on.

That’s it for now. Slava Ukraini! Ngā mihi.