The Funeral

NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern with her fiancé Clarke Gayford at Westminster Abbey for Queen Elizabeth’s Funeral

It’s now Tuesday September 20th, 2022. Kia ora!

Last night I watched much of the television coverage of Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral.  I found it was better to watch it on TVNZ OnDemand on my laptop, as there seemed to be atmospheric interference on out television set.  During the leadup, I watched Telegraph coverage on my mobile phone, rather than TV One’s rather irritating coverage. Eventually they switched to BBC coverage, which was awesome, as expected.

Well, what an occasion! It all seemed to go off without a hitch, although there were some interesting moments. The weather was fine, and it didn’t rain!  I was quite desperate to get my own feelings and impressions down before watching other people’s coverage and impressions. 

At the outset, the Queen’s coffin was to be transported from Westminster Hall to Westminster Abbey for the main funeral service.  This was a rather nervous moment, I sensed; the Royal Navy group did seem a tad scruffy, in some rather ill-fitting uniforms, and perhaps some shoes not shined. They looked as though they’d just had breakfast – and they probably had. They certainly don’t have magnificent uniforms.

Getting the coffin from the pall-bearers’ shoulders onto the gun carriage that was to be pulled to the Abbey seemed tricky. Atop the coffin was a purple velvet cushion carrying one of the crowns, and the orb and sceptre, as well as a wreath, and a card from the new King Charles, signed Charles R.  The flowers were from the gardens of Buckingham Palace, Clarence House, and Highgrove. The coffin was covered with the royal standard. The guys managed the move without disaster (it had been practised!) but it looked tricky.  One just hopes the crown, sceptre and orb had been secured – perhaps with museum glue?  I presume the Brits had thought of this.

The gun carriage was hauled to the Abbey – a beautiful manoeuvre, that was to be repeated. Eventually, it arrived, and again there was a tricky manoeuvre getting the coffin onto the pallbearers’ shoulders again. Once they’d carried it into the Abbey, it was placed on a blue stand.  Everyone in attendance was already seated; they now stood. I can’t remember if King Charles and his siblings followed the coffin into the Abbey.

US President Joe Biden arrived in the Beast, with its ultra-thick doors; not nearly as glamorous as a Rolls Royce or a Daimler, however.

Anyway, I was moved by the intimacy of the setting, in this vast building, where members of the Royal Family were very close to the bier. The Prince and Princess of Wales were there with Prince George and Princess Charlotte.

The service was, mercifully short – it took exactly one hour. There was no commentary for much of it, to the relief of many, I suspect. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, delivered a brief, well-spoken homily.  The new Prime Minister Liz Truss did one of the readings from John’s Gospel – “In my Father’s house are many abodes…”. I did get the feeling that this scripture was not particularly familiar to her. She mangled the reading, somewhat, but at least it wasn’t Boris Johnson reading it. One of Her Majesty’s last services to her country was to see off Bojo as PM and appoint Liz Truss.

There were a number of religious dignitaries who delivered brief prayers. One of them dropped his notes. Two of them represented “Free Churches of England”. Their website makes the following claim: the Free Church of England is a Christian church in the Anglican tradition and so rooted in a Reformed Catholic heritage. So do they object to the British monarch being head of the Church of England?  I have never heard of this movement.

The singing was magnificent, of course, and I admired the beautiful boy sopranos. Psalm 23 was sung to the tune of Crimond, with a beautiful descant; the hymns were “The Day Thou Gavest Lord is Ended” and “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling”, by Charles Wesley, a Methodist anthem.  I hope we’ll be singing them tomorrow morning.

Towards the end of the service God Save the King was sung.  Everyone sang lustily, although not Prince Harry.  Princes Harry and Andrew did not wear uniform, although they wore their medals.  They are the only members of the Royal Family who actually served in war – Andrew in the Falklands, and Harry in Afghanistan. Everyone wore black, except for Prince William, the new Prince of Wales, who wore an RAF uniform; the colour was blue/grey.  Almost everyone else wore black, and most women wore a hat, although there seemed to be some from the Middle East spotted from their head attire.

Harry looked daggers throughout the funeral and procession: it hardly seemed like grief; more like anger, but why, I wonder? This was not a time to be angry.

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, did not dominate; the lovely Sophie, Countess of Wessex seemed to be deputed to be with her. No hand-holding there, then.

Also towards the end was a lone bagpiper, playing in the Abbey. I’m not a great fan of bagpipes, but this was magnificent.

After the funeral service in the Abbey, there was an extraordinary procession – evidently it was 1 ¼ miles long! That’s the procession.

Members of the Royal Family followed the coffin, in a very long procession -they all marched. It was absolutely extraordinary – with amazing music. Everyone marched in step, although some of them were quite elderly, and must have found it a strain. There were Canadian mounted police, and defence contingents from New Zealand and Australia.  Along the way, there were crowds galore. Drums were shrouded in black. Some of the horses seemed a bit frisky! Servicemen’s arms were held in reverse. Standards were lowered, the crowd clapped, solemnly, as the procession went past them. It all seemed to go on forever.

At some point the women, other than Princess Anne, the Princess Royal, got into cars to follow the procession. Queen consort Camilla was in a car with the Princess of Wales and Prince George and Princess Charlotte. The Princess of Wales was wearing a pearl choker, as Diana had before her.  I had not seem her wear one before.

At some point the camera panned to views of Wolverhampton, Edinburgh, Christchurch (not the New Zealand one!), and Belfast showing crowds there watching the ceremony on big screens; evidently cinemas were also playing the ceremony.

The ceremony went on for ages. At 1 am I went to bed, but the march was still going, albeit the coffin had been transferred to a hearse, and was being transported to Windsor Castle. It was way past my bedtime! And I figured that I could watch the rest of it the next day.

As I can. There is footage of the ceremony at Windsor Castle; again there is a lone bagpiper, who plays superbly. The crown, orb and sceptre are finally reverently removed and the coffin is lowered into the royal crypt, to lie alongside that of Prince Philip. Apparently there is a private family service after this.

Well, I agree with many that this is a big moment, and I doubt if we’ll see anything like this again.  King Charles’ coronation will surely be an exciting moment, but it won’t be quite like this.

I think the Prince and Princess of Wales were wise to leave Prince Louis behind. This was not an occasion for young children.

I hesitate to read social media, but I couldn’t resist a Guardian newsletters suggestion: some wit suggested that a procession of former Prime Ministers represented The Descent of Man. Hasn’t Cherie Blair, wife of former Prime Minister Tony Blair, put on weight! I missed the spider.  Enough said. 

It seems everyone who was anyone was represented – at one of the services, or in the parade. Thousands of people lined the streets; thousands queued for hours to pay their respects to Queen Elizabeth.  What a special few days it has been, and nice to have a breather, if a rather sad one, from the trials and tribulations that becircle British politics.

I’m now reading media commentary, having written some of my own. John Crace of the Guardian has summed it up rather well:

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2022/sep/19/queens-farewell-makes-uk-proud-again-just-for-one-day-john-crace

Back in New Zealand, the report on Sam Uffindell has been released – on Monday September 19th, the day of the Queen’s funeral. Sam has been reinstated – the report found that he had not been a bully since his school days. Or some such rubbish. Evidently chasing your flatmate out of the house while calling her names was not bullying then. Whatever you call it, and whether or not you think it some retaliation was justified, this kind of bad behaviour is never justified.

In the US, Trump has performed at another rally in Ohio, where he was greeted by the Qanon sign, and had scary music as a backdrop. He also claimed that J.D. Vance was “kissing his arse”, in an extraordinary statement. What he said was “J.D. is kissing my ass he wants my support so bad”. As some wit said, the middle man has been dropped! Frank Figluzzi claimed it was like a religious cult. The Queen’s funeral was light relief compared to this performance, and endorses the truth of Justin Welby’s homily, where one of the things he said was that rulers of this world who seek glory are deluding themselves and won’t be remembered as heroes. Trump using this phrase is a new low, even for him. It certainly isn’t dignified.  In my book, it’s akin to swearing. This cannot be okay with all Republican women, surely!

In China, a bus carrying people to a Covid 19 quarantine facility has crashed, killing 27 people. That is some crash! People are furious, of course. There’s been a big earthquake in Taiwan; President Biden has guaranteed that the US will support Taiwan militarily if necessary.

Next Monday, September 26, is to be a public holiday here, with a memorial service to be live streamed from St Paul’s Cathedral in Wellington, so there’ll be an opportunity to indulge further in honouring Her Majesty. I do wish they’d built a more attractive cathedral, though. I don’t much like the Catholic St Mary’s either – it’s very cold, to me.  I do rather like Old St Paul’s Cathedral, built in wood and now earthquake-strengthened (ha ha!), and the Catholic Basilica in Hill Street, also in Thorndon. I’ve been to some wonderful concerts there.

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

A Time to Remember

King Charles III meets New Zealand Prime Minister Ardern at Buckingham Palace

It’s now Wednesday September 14th, 2022.Kia ora!

This morning I got up early to go to hymn singing. It was very cold, so I wore my extra warm puffer jacket. I also found a tartan woollen scarf.

Hymn singing was lovely, and then I went to a Māori Language week celebration.  That was very pleasant, to meet new people and learn some phrases.  It’s nice to feel a bit more secure with familiar phrases, and about when to use them.

Thankfully JD picked me up afterwards, and we bought some lunch from Nada Bakery in Tawa. 

It turned out to be quite a busy day. In the afternoon our new stove was delivered.  It just fits into the space left empty by our previous stove. I had always feared that extensive carpentry would be required for this – well, it would if I had  had a double oven as I wanted for so long; I am trying to read the instruction manual, but after wading through all the stupid taken for granted stuff, I cannot interpret the instructions. There’re not obvious at all, like Bake, Grill or Timer.  How it actually works is yet to be discovered. Just after it was installed, my grandchildren came to visit. Thankfully I had some chippies and chocolate biscuits to give them for afternoon tea.  Then, I was due to get an eyebrow treatment. I haven’t had one for ages – I had an appointment, which was cancelled, because the therapist was sick; then I chose not to go for ages, since our Covid 19 figures were so high; then I had Covid 19 myself, and it took weeks to get over it. 

On Thursday I went to singing, which was most enjoyable.  Nothing much else happened.

It’s now Friday September 16th

This morning we both got up earlier than normal, JD to get a WOF for the car, me to prepare for someone from Access coming. I changed the sheets and towels, feeling very virtuous.

In the evening, we were due to have soup for our evening meal, and I decided to make cheese on toast to go with it. I put the soup on to heat up, and turned on (I thought) the grill to heat up. There was noise from a fan. I toasted the Vogel bread, and sliced the cheese, then put it on top of the lightly toasted bread, as I usually do. The I popped it in the oven to grill.  It wasn’t working! JD came out, read the manual, and decided that I had the wrong setting. He corrected the setting, and eventually the cheese was grilled, but it wasn’t browned. Ah well, by now the soup, served out, was getting cold. The manual said to close the oven door when using the grill! It gave rather strange instructions for baking – if the cake is too dry…if the pastry is too dry???? That doesn’t make sense. Honestly, my instincts tell me to leave the oven door ajar when using the grill. And why doesn’t it brown? I don’t really care, since I seldom cook now, but I would have found it really annoying in the old days.

It’s now Saturday July 17th.

It was very cold this morning, but there wasn’t a frost!  So no condensation. It’s been a fine, warm day.  This weather is weird!

Early this afternoon we went shopping in Thorndon. Sadly, there were no pies or quiches at all, but there were raspberries!  I had a lovely shopping experience.

On Sunday (yesterday) I went to church; they had the AGM afterwards. I am now a member of the Strategy Committee (silly me, I didn’t find out when it meets!), and I also joined a prayer group.  It was a lovely fine day; a huge magnolia tree outside the church lounge was in flower – quite beautiful. Afterwards JD picked me up from the New World Supermarket. I had bought a raisin brioche and a chocolate snail (my favourite) to share, and some pizza bread and some yoghurt.

It’s now Monday September 19th.

This morning JD gave me and a friend a lift to our exercise class in Ngaio. It was drizzling with rain. It was lovely, of course, although quite energetic! Afterwards we caught the train from Ngaio. I must admit I didn’t realise it was quite a steep walk up to the station; then, it turned out we were on the wrong side, and had to cross two sets of tracks – Ngaio is one of the places where the trains cross. To my amazement, not only was there no subway, or bridge, but not even warning lights, or a barrier. We crossed safely, but the station there is not as good as the one at Mana. That one is a model for affording some protection from the elements!

I caught the train back to Johnsonville, and then had lunch (a cheese roll and a lemon slice, with coffee) there. It’s always busy, but it did thin out a bit while I was there. Then I caught the shuttle bus home.

The hosts at The Rest is Politics podcast finally got into action again towards the end of last week. Meanwhile, new books keep coming out in the US about Trump’s time in office.  The rest of us continue to wonder about the state of US politics. At least some people are waking up now to the dangers posed by threats to their so-called democracy.  David Corn has published a new book called American Psychosis– I’ve listened to two podcasts about it.

The Queen’s funeral service is to be televised tonight while it actually takes place in Westminster Abbey.  Our Prime Minister Ardern is to attend, along with the Governor General, the Māori King and others. She has secured meetings with the new King Charles, the new British Prime Minister Liz Truss, and with the new Prince and Princess of Wales, William and Catherine. A Defence Force unit also performed a Māori haka for them.  I am bursting with pride.  To be honest, I haven’t looked at many Youtube videos during the last few days. The endless media speculation drives me nuts.  But I hope to be watching the funeral.

There are new Covid 19 figures out today, as the Ministry of Health goes to weekly reporting. There are 9,606 new cases reported over the past week;  there are 175 people in hospital. There have been an average of 1,369 new cases each day. There have been a further 74 deaths: of these four were from Northland, 20 were from Auckland region, five were from Waikato, six were from Bay of Plenty, one was from Tairawhiti, two were from Hawke’s Bay, four were from Taranaki, six were from MidCentral, four were from Whanganui, two were from Wellington region, three were from Nelson Marlborough, 15 were from Canterbury, two were from Southern.

Three were in their 20s, two were in their 30s, one was in their 40s, three were in their 50s, ten were in their 60s, 16 were in their 70s, 25 were in their 80s and 14 were aged over 90. Of these people, 33 were women and 41 were men. This takes the total number of deaths to 1962. I fear we’ll crack over 2,000 soon. Still, the numbers are much fewer than they have been. Although masks aren’t required in most settings now, many people still wear them.  There isn’t the fear that there used to be. And it’s quite all right here to wear a mask.

In Ukraine, a lot of territory has been taken back by Ukrainian forces, and many Russian troops left in some disarray, running for their lives, and leaving weaponry behind. Nevertheless, although this is hugely significant, many advise caution; and Ukrainian cities are still being shelled. This war ain’t over, by a long shot.

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

Long Live the King!

Britain’s King Charles III, center, and other members of the royal family hold a vigil at the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II at St Giles’ Cathedral, 

It’s now Sunday September 11th, 2022. Kia ora!

It’s a nice day today (again). It’s not raining, although there’ve been some showers; it’s been sunny and quite warm, in the main.

I assume the statement “God save the King” is in the subjunctive (“Would that God might/may save the King” rather than imperative – you don’t give God orders to do something). I must say King Charles does look striking in that kilt and sporran (I don’t think I’ve seen that tartan before), those red socks, topped with the jacket and shirt and tie.

This morning I went back to church, physically. I haven’t been for weeks: I’ve been zooming into the service. I was in luck today: the organist was playing, there was communion, and several people spoke to me. The sermon was about the parables of the lost coin, or the lost sheep from Luke 15: 1-10 (later on we have the parable of the Prodigal Son).  Afterwards there was a beautiful organ solo.

Then I went shopping at the supermarket nearby. JD was due to pick me up. He rang while I was at the checkout – looking for bags, cards, no I’m not collecting the Little Garden collectables; he rang repeatedly, and I couldn’t answer the phone because I was busy with the lovely checkout operator! And there were people behind me in the queue! I had bought more things than usual, since we hadn’t been shopping on Saturday like we usually do. I composed a text for JD, to tell him I was coming, but I didn’t actually send it – sometimes the send button takes several goes to actually work.  JD was in the carpark. He was worried that something had happened to me.

We got home and had coffee together before JD had to go out. We watched some videos on television of the Ukrainian conflict. Ukrainian troops have tricked the Russians, and liberated some territory that had been taken by the Russians.  We saw some film of liberated Ukrainians: they are very thin indeed; they’re not in good shape physically, but they’re so happy to be rescued.

I am switching between watching videos about the Royal Family, about the Ukraine conflict, and the historian Tom Holland speaking about Christianity, and its place in Western Civilisation; and about how Christ’s death – and that the death of the cross – has such significance for us all; while crucifixion was the worst death the Romans could inflict, yet the mighty Roman Empire fell, and Christianity still reigns. Part of the Queen’s role as Head of the Anglican Church was Defender of the Faith. Charles, as Prince, used to be rather lukewarm about this, but it seems he has reiterated his commitment to the Christian faith in his first speech as King.

In a lot of the tributes talk about Queen Elizabeth rejoining the Duke of Edinburgh, who died just over a year ago; this belief is not part of my tradition; I wonder just where it comes from. We’re told that in the resurrection, there’s neither male nor female; we are told that the Lord will wipe the tears from every eye; I find that a very comforting thought.

The media show the new Prince and Princess of Wales with the Sussexes acknowledging the crowds at Windsor Castle. There seems to be no booing, but as expected the Cambridges are amazingly wonderful, while Prince Harry  manages to look dishevelled and uncomfortable, and Meghan fiddles with her hair. I wonder who put them up to this?  The new King Charles perhaps. What a moment.  The Sussexes walk hand in hand, needless to say; the Cambridges don’t. They’re far more mature. I did note that Meghan was wearing black hose (tights). 

I have to apologise to the London Review of Books. In honour of Queen Elizabeth’s death, they have emailed me “The Uncommon Reader” by Alan Bennett, first published in 2007. I think I remember it’s being published as a small hardback volume; I did not read it myself, although I may have given it away as a present. I enjoyed reading this beautiful story. Bennett is a very good writer, I enjoy anything by him. I can read this story, but the LRB won’t let me read anything more. Rory Stewart and Alistair Campbell, hosts of The Rest is Politics podcast, remain silent. Surely the news of the Queen’s death is political.

It’s now Monday September 12th.

I went to the exercise class in Ngaio again.  Today it was drizzly and overcast, but not nearly as cold as last week. The trains weren’t running, again. JD gave me a lift, thankfully. The class wasn’t as crowded as it was last week.  There were different people there, too – and some of them knew me! Oh dear.  One’s past follows one around. I enjoyed the class, although I did find it tiring.

Afterwards I took a leisurely walk to the bus stop for train replacements, and caught the bus to Johnsonville. Then JD picked me up, thankfully, although the buses weren’t cancelled today. Thankfully, too, my new Listener arrived today.

The covid 19 numbers are still down, with 1149 new cases, 225 in hospital, and 6 virus related deaths. There are 3 people in Intensive Care.

The 225 cases in hospital were in Northland (1), Waitematā (46), Counties Manukau (28), Auckland (36), Waikato (18), Bay of Plenty (3), Lakes (3), Hawke’s Bay (1), MidCentral (8), Whanganui (1), Taranaki (1), Tairawhiti (0), Wairarapa (6), Capital & Coast (13), Hutt Valley (10), Nelson Marlborough (4), Canterbury (37), West Coast (1), South Canterbury (1) and Southern (7).

The hospitals are still under enormous pressure, although the number of  Covid 19 infections is down. There are still many new cases flying into the country from overseas.

From midnight tonight, the government’s rules change. The traffic light system is to be abandoned; masks will only be required in health care and aged care situations; and household contacts of Covid 19 positive cases will no longer be required to isolate. Covid 19 positive cases are still required to isolate for 7 days.  So that’s that, I guess.

At my exercise class this morning we did quite a lot of touching – of the individual stretchy bands, the bean bag, and our chairs, but most people were wearing a mask, however.

Prime Minister Ardern has announced that there is to be a public holiday on September 26 to remember the Queen, and a memorial service will be held in St Paul’s Cathedral.

It’s now Tuesday September 13th.

I was going to meet one of my sons this morning, but he has a heavy cold, so I will be lazy and go for a walk instead. It’s not fine today, but it’s not raining at present; it’s cloudy, but not overcast.

I went for a walk to the local store. There is a very strong northerly wind, which almost blows me over, yet according to the nice lady at the checkout it was raining and overcast in Porirua. JD gets home and asks me if I got wet. Of course not, I reply, since it’s now sunny outside and I’m bemoaning the fact that the wind makes it unpleasant to sit out in the sunshine. Apparently there was a cloudburst, a very heavy shower of rain while he was on the motorway north. He couldn’t see where he was going, and had to slow down to 60 kph. You wouldn’t know it here.

While I was shopping, I bought the latest copy of the Economist that we get, obviously printed before HM the Queen passed away.  It has an obituary of Mikhail Gorbachev, who also died recently. Evidently he died in the same hospital where the head of Lukoil supposedly fell to his death out of a sixth-floor hospital window. He was not given a state funeral. I think Putin laid flowers at his coffin in the hospital; he was too busy to attend the funeral. It seems Gorbachev used brutality against Lithuania, when they tried to rebel; this was uncharacteristic of him. I have to say that I greatly admired him, whatever his faults.  The act of letting the Berlin Wall be torn down, and the subsequent reunification of East and West Germany, and independence of previously communist nations, was of tremendous significance, as was the end of apartheid in South Africa, and the coming to power of Nelson Mandela. By the way, did you know that the US “won” the Cold War?  You’ll hear Americans unashamedly claiming this.  I think perhaps humanity enjoyed some success there. Whatever has happened since, I think we’re all better off without the Berlin Wall.

I also read book reviews in the Economist, about the effects of climate change and its forcing of migration, and the desperate and challenging journey of migrants from Latin and South America to the United States.

I was a small child when Queen Elizabeth II came to the throne, and I remember being taken to see her and her husband, Prince Philip, when they first came to New Zealand.  I also remember two subsequent visits – one, waiting in the then Millard Stand at the then Athletic Park while she was driven around the ground, waving; another when I escorted a group of college students to line the drive to the Mary Potter Hospice in Newtown, where she was driven by. I remember noticing how small she was, and how pale.

There seem to be a great many events of great significance, even in my lifetime. While I consider that my parents were quite obsessed with the Great Depression of the 1930’s and World War II that followed, they occurred during their formative years, and my parents and their families endured severe deprivation. 

Some of the big events in my life have been the erection of the Berlin Wall, the assassination of President Kennedy; the nuclear scare, the Cultural Revolution in China, the Wahine disaster in Wellington, the Vietnam War and the even more terrible conflict in Cambodia; Watergate; conflict in the Balkans; the two Iraq wars and the events of September 11 in the US; famine in Ethiopia; Chernobyl and Fukushima; and so on and so on. I’ve probably omitted many things. Along with these have been growing awareness of the challenges posed by climate change, the coronavirus pandemic, and now the conflict in Ukraine.  Thankfully, my husband didn’t join the NZ Territorials (someone tipped him off that he’d be sent to Vietnam), and we didn’t have to send any of our sons to war (or persuade them not to go). One of one of my son’s friends joined the army, and did two tours of duty in Afghanistan.  He’s now back in New Zealand, married with two young children.

Along with all this, there has been a renaissance of all things Māori here. Te Reo is found in many hitherto unexpected places – in google searches, in newspapers, in place names, and in common usage. After all, where else but here is this language going to be nurtured?    I am going to have to know far more than my very basic Te Reo.

And now coming back to the event that still dominates in Great Britain, and to a lesser extent, here – the passing of HM Queen Elizabeth II. I admit I have been luxuriating in some of the Youtube videos of all the formalities. The pageantry is quite wonderful, and I do enjoy it, as I did during the recent jubilee. What wonderful spectacle! What wonderful precision, and training. One can only admire such an amazing display. John Crace in the Guardian newspaper summed it up rather nicely:

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2022/sep/12/new-king-comes-to-westminster

There’s a lot of criticism of the costs involved in such ceremony and pageantry, and, to be honest, I have visited Cambridge University (yes, two of my sons were there, one a Junior Research Fellow at Kings’ College, Cambridge, the other a fellow at Christ’s College for a year); I attended a Midsummer Feast, a very special occasion. While I was prepared for the toast to HM (and nobody drinks first), I was unprepared for standing for the second Grace. Silly me! JD and I did our best to behave ourselves and not cause embarrassment. But while beautiful and gracious, these were really museum pieces, and did not feel like the “real” world outside of delayed or cancelled trains and clanking buses, or queues at the post office. The Brits are so obedient and well-behaved, on the whole, that I have a sense of “both and” rather than  “either or”.

There’s no doubt that the Royal Family has enormous private wealth, with many estates and lovely (if somewhat cold and draughty) homes. The Queen also had an extraordinary collection of paintings, to say nothing of the jewellery – she always was seen wearing pearls, and a brooch, if not a tiara, earrings and a bracelet. She was also known for being rather parsimonious, and not wishing to waste money. Still, I’d venture the British taxpayer gets more bang for their buck than the American one.  In the US all politicians get offices and staff, often security; the President gets a some might say ridiculous motorcade, and the secret service not only protect the serving president and his family, but past presidents too. So the US government must spend a great deal of money on its so-called democratic government. I think the British Royal Family is good value for money, on the whole, despite media baron Rupert Murdoch’s attempts to take them down. And imagine being under such examination – everything you wear, every piece of jewellery, is carefully noted, photographed and analysed; every time you go out the door, you have to be prepared to be scrutinised.  I remember thinking this about Charles and Diana’s then relationship; when I was having children, I certainly wouldn’t have born examination for all of the time.

It also strikes me as extremely ironic that King Edward VIII abdicated in 1936 in order to marry an American divorcée; I know there was lots of history behind that move, but that’s the story we’re been fed; King (formerly Prince) Charles married the woman, another divorcée, with whom he’d been having an affair, before and after the death of his wife, the then Princess (Diana) of Wales, the mother of his two sons, Princes William and Harry, and mother of the heir to the throne. .  Meanwhile, Harry has married (been allowed to marry?) Meghan, another American divorcée, and just look how that has turned out. Whatever your feelings about the Sussexes (and yes, feelings, we’ve got ‘em!), it’s not a good idea to be critical of your, or your husband’s family.  What a lot of questions their two children will have as they grow up. 

Speaking as a parent, and having faced questions from my own children, I would say the following: while there are some things I’d do differently if I had my time again, I was always busy, and always tired, and aware of obligations to people like my parents-in-law and the older generation. I think I always did my best, and tried to meet the needs of the child who needed me most at the time. I don’t think anyone was ever hungry, and they were always looked after. They all learned to play the piano – and many other instruments, besides. They had the right sports gear. They had new musical instruments as they needed them. While their childhoods could have been better, they certainly could have been a lot worse. I remember the fifth commandment, to honour your father and mother, “that you may be long-lived on the earth” – the first commandment with a promise. Sometimes I wonder just how well I have passed that one on!

In China another city, Xinjiang, has been locked down as well as Chengdu, where they have an indefinite lockdown, and they’ve just had a big earthquake. In most places there’d be an outcry if civilians couldn’t get food, or help; in China, that’s another matter. They’ve had flooding, too. It’s reported that tens of millions of people in at least 30 regions have been ordered to stay at home under partial or full lockdowns. On Monday China recorded 949 new Covid cases across the entire country.

In Ukraine, Ukrainian forces have taken back a considerable amount of territory held by the Russians, with in some cases Russian soldiers running for their lives, and leaving lots of ammunition behind. While this is very significant, Putin is retaliating by continuing to fire on cities and taking out electricity. The Ukrainian soldiers liberated from Russian control look relieved, and starved; the Russians certainly didn’t provide a welcoming committee. Everyone is nervous as to what Putin may do next. He’s never actually lost a war. It’s said that 80,000 Russian soldiers have been killed or wounded.  It’s certainly not going Russia’s way.

The Covid 19 numbers continue their downward trend here, with 1,941 new cases, and 241 people in hospital, with 3 in Intensive Care. There’ve now been 1,962 deaths from Covid 19; that’s an average of 4 deaths each day, which is a lot less than it was. There were 78 new cases at the border today.

That’s it for today.  I’m aware that some of these topics will be very controversial. It’s nice for me to have a forum to air some of my views. Slava Ukraini! Ngā mihi.

Te Aroha

Queen Elizabeth II

Today is Monday September 5th, 2022. Kia ora!

Last night I did not sleep very well – too much coffee, I fear. I went to sleep during Brokenwood Mysteries, as I often do, but it’s not a good sign for getting back to sleep. It was colder this morning, and quite windy and drizzly.

I had arranged to go to an exercise class in Ngaio this morning. Firstly, I learnt that several local train services had been cancelled. JD dropped me at the railway station in good time to catch the10 am train, but the trains were replaced by buses. The so-called shelter had no seats.  Then, having alighted in Ngaio, it was a bit challenging to walk to where the class was; there was lots of traffic, and one had to cross the road more than once. Nevertheless, it was lovely when I got there, and everyone was very welcoming. There was a big turnout. Most of the exercise was seated, with some standing; it focused on breathing, and exercising each part of the body. There was some stretching and balancing. Afterwards there was tea, coffee (brewed coffee!) and refreshments – cheese and crackers and some cake, I think.

Afterwards I walked to the bus stop, which had no seats.  Eventually the bus came (presumably there was a better shelter at the railway station); I got the bus to Johnsonville, but then the next two buses home were cancelled. I was too tired to face spending over an hour at the library. Fortunately JD was on his way back from town and could pick me up.

After all this I was very tired indeed.  I didn’t blog on Tuesday (yesterday), feeling I needed to recover and get my strength back.  In the early evening  we delivered a birthday present for my grandson, which had been sent from China, and we went to the supermarket in Churton Park.  I bought two packets of decaffeinated tea bags.  They taste like tea, but having the caffeine removed seems to make quite a difference.  I still drink coffee, however, caffeine and all.

It’s now Wednesday September 7th.

After two nights’ good sleep, I wake up feeling much better, and get up to go to hymn singing.  I’m a bit early, so I post a birthday present to my son in the UK.  Hymn singing is lovely, as usual, and I miss the 10 am bus into town, so I have morning tea – a long black coffee and a date scone. 

Then I caught a bus into town, noting that the Wellington Railway Station Bus stop A has moved – to in front of the famous wooden building – quite a long way from the Railway Station; if you were catching a bus to Wellington Hospital, you’d have to allow at least five minutes to walk the distance – there are no shortcuts.  I went to Unity Books – always a treat, and then to the Metro New World supermarket in Willis St.  Walking back down Willis St, I bumped into an old friend – another treat.  Then I caught a bus home – via the scenic route, and JD picked me up in Johnsonville. It’s a lovely fine day, after a very cold start, but there wasn’t a frost this morning, thankfully.

Today there are no disruptions to the bus service, thankfully, although I get several emails telling me that the trains services are disrupted.

This afternoon I’m trying to catch up with all the news: the Sussexes’ visit to Manchester (yes, I have to get up to date with some of the news of the dastardly duo); a Trump-appointed judge has granted Trump’s request for a special master to oversee the issue of the FBI search at Mar-a-Lago – this has caused an enormous upset; meanwhile, the Washington Post has a story about stolen papers having details of the nuclear arsenal of a foreign nation, which is, again, upsetting, especially with the decision to appoint a special master, and thus hold up the judicial investigation; and then there’s Ukraine’s efforts to take back some areas captured by the Russians around Kherson.  There’s a lot happening.

It’s now Friday September 9th.

I didn’t blog yesterday. I went to singing in the morning. JD had to drop me early, so I had a long black coffee and a cheese scone beforehand. There was a great turn out there – the singing sounded wonderful. Afterwards a friend gave me a lift to Johnsonville, and I had lunch at the library café. Unfortunately something I ate didn’t agree with me, and I didn’t feel well once I got home.

During the night, I went to sleep and woke at about 1 am. When I looked at my phone, members of the Royal Family were making their way to Balmoral Castle; it had been said that Her Majesty should be under medical supervision. Just hours earlier she had met the new British Prime Minister, Liz Truss.  I went back to sleep – listening to something. When I next woke up, sometime after 5 am, I learnt that Her Majesty the Queen had died.  Prince Harry had gone to Balmoral, but Meghan Markle had not. Well, it’s a shock. Although the monarch was 96 years old, I think my respect for her, and the respect of others, grew greatly over the past few years, especially as she was evidently struggling with her health, and the devastating criticisms of the dastardly Sussex duo, and of having Covid 19. At least the Brits had a wonderful jubilee recently; at least the Brits have a profound sense of occasion and ceremony, and you know that everything will be done just so. The ceremony will be extraordinary. 

I went to have lunch with a friend of mine, who comes from England, and has Sky television. I watched much footage on Sky News. Together we realised that this is a big moment. Everything changes. I’m just waiting for my favourite British podcasts, The Rest is History and The Rest is Politics, to drop new episodes; after all, they rushed into not print but speech when former Prime Minister Boris Johnson was forced to stand down.

There’s other big news too: in the US, the Department of Justice has decided to appeal the Special Master ruling in relation to the classified papers Trump took to his private club, Mar-a-Lago, and Steve Bannon is to surrender himself to the court system on suspicion of fraud – specifically a charity called “We Build the Wall” that collected money towards building Trump’s promised wall on America’s southern border, which was then used fraudulently for Bannon’s personal benefit.

On the war front, Ukraine seems to be doing rather well in its efforts not only to resist Russian occupation, but to take back some territory held by Russia.

It’d now Saturday September 10th.

I have been digesting news of the Queen’s death, and news from the US, as mentioned.  The historians at The Rest is History have put out two episodes about the life of Queen Elizabeth II, and perhaps her place in history.  I listened with great interest.  Apparently King Charles has made the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and his wife the lovely Kate, Prince and Princess of Wales.

We bought a new stove.  This had been promised to me as a Christmas present, which did not happen at the time because JD didn’t feel quite comfortable about it. I have very mixed feelings about getting a new stove.  The salesman asked me what I like to cook? I said I like to cook as little as possible.  Still, I guess the new oven will be good for heating pies!  The current stove takes ages to heat up, and is then super-hot. The contents are either burnt or under-cooked. I wanted a new stove for ages, but it didn’t happen. For years I couldn’t cook a turkey and a ham in the stove at Christmas time, because it’s not nearly big enough. It doesn’t have a warming drawer, either. I guess when we go to sell the house it will be good to have a working stove, and JD did get a good price. One of my sons still cooks for us sometimes – at least he’ll have a good stove to cook in.  Ah, progress! I found it nerve-wracking.

After this scary spend we went to have lunch somewhere.  The traffic was quite heavy. We went to a favourite place in Lower Hutt, but it was full, and we then went to the very busy café at the Dowse. It was very busy, and quite dark, but we did get a table. We got served quite quickly, but there was no coffee afterwards. Afterwards we had a look at the museum. It used to be a nice place to go, with a nice restaurant! It’s totally different now.

I’m still digesting the big news of Her Majesty the Queen’s death.  While she had lived a very long life, and retained her mental faculties to the full, it’s quite sad that her close family members don’t really have time to mourn her privately.  The timing is critical – even the timing of advice of her death.  It’s hard to get used to saying King Charles (III).  I remember, sadly, what happened to Charles I; I think Charles II was a better king. Charles III has been proclaimed king now, so the few hours where he could choose a different regnant name are now gone. Some things happen automatically, for example, Prince William becomes Duke of Cornwall automatically, but the titles of Prince and Princess of Wale had to be formally bestowed on the Duke of Cambridge and his wife by the new king, and I gather some formal ceremony will follow.  King Charles has a really busy few days ahead. Will his wife be Queen Camilla? I rather hope she’ll take another name.

King Charles III and his queen consort, Camilla, arouse very strong feelings in many people, especially now that Queen Elizabeth II has died and her very long reign is over. Many of us have not known another British monarch, or were very young when she became queen.

I watched the new King’s speech, and I have to say I was impressed.  He seems to be growing into the role. He vowed to continue his mother’s commitment. Prince Harry was summoned, and went to Balmoral Castle when told of the Queen’s fading health; he didn’t arrive in time for her death, and it seems his father stated that Meghan shouldn’t come.

This still seems a sad and shocking time. I wouldn’t have considered myself a Monarchist, but surely we’re better off with Elizabeth, Charles, or William as our Head of State rather than Luxon, Albanese, or whoever the current governor-general may be.  I was very impressed by Prime Minister Ardern’s very quick and gracious tribute to Her Majesty.

 This is a strange time.  Despite the British tradition of maintaining a stiff upper lip (while shedding a manly tear), and not displaying emotion, the British people went wild when Diana Princess of Wales died. They are now going even “wilder”, if that were possible.  At that time Queen Elizabeth II’s and the Royal Family’s popularity were quite low. Three of the Queen’s children’s marriages and her sister’s marriage had ended in divorce, there was a fire at Windsor Castle, and there were questions about HM’s parenting style – which seemed to leave a lot to be desired. The television series The Crown portrayed the then Prince Charles as a strange, lonely young man who seriously irritated his father. Fancy sending him to Gordonstoun in the north of Scotland (“Colditz in Kilts”) and then to Australia to school!  How could you do that to a child?  He in turn came across as a cruel and uncaring husband, although I’m sure Diana was a handful – she came from a seriously dysfunctional family herself, and was much younger than her husband.  Isn’t Prince William rather wonderful, though? 

Prince William visited New Zealand soon after the remote Pike River Mine disaster on the West Coast, where 29 miners died in November 2010. I remember how impressed I was when he spoke. He spoke well, saying New Zealanders did not realise that the rest of the world holds us in high regard. He also said that his grandmother had warned him that grief is the price we pay for love. At the time he was engaged to Kate Middleton. He seemed a nice young man, and not nearly as stuffy as one might have expected.

One of our sons living overseas rang us last night, and we remarked that, whatever JD’s and my faults, our children have all turned out to be quite wonderful, and have all chosen lovely young women to be their partners.  They’ve been chosen by these wonderful women too.

In the US in 2020, when Ruth Bader Ginsberg died, and when Trump said he had Covid 19, all the podcasts I listen to rushed into action with their emergency podcast systems, to talk about what this might mean, and what might happen. I’ve been expecting the British ones to do the same, but they’re taking their time. The Rest is History dropped a double episode yesterday about Queen Elizabeth II, and We Have Ways of Making You Talk dropped another, about the Queen in wartime, when she was a teenager. As of now The Rest is Politics (Alistair Campbell and Rory Stewart) has yet to comment. I do find that surprising.

The History episodes were very interesting, noting how the Queen encouraged the colonies of the British Empire to become independent, and forming the British Commonwealth. Independence hasn’t worked out so well for them -sadly – and while the British did some truly awful things, at least they got out of ruling their former colonies. Most, if not all, colonial powers were cruel and thoughtless.  It upsets me to hear USA Americans talking (on MSNBC) about Britain having to reckon with its colonial past – and look who’s talking here!  The way the Americans treated their indigenous people was just ghastly, and the shiploads of slaves they brought were treated very unkindly, for the most part. This terrible legacy continues today; the death of George Floyd sparked many protests, and many podcasts, where coloured people, many of them well educated and supposedly doing all right, spoke movingly about what they and their families had suffered.  So, would you rather come from Puerto Rico, off the coast of the US, but not a state, or Guam, or from somewhere that was British like Jamaica?  While the USA did not actually colonise many if any states (what is the status of Guam, I wonder?), it certainly interfered with many governments, especially in South America. I think we are so fortunate here in New Zealand. Goodness knows, our record is by no means perfect, but at least there was a treaty, the Treaty of Waitangi, between Queen Victoria, Maori leaders, and God. There was the Waitangi Tribunal, chaired by the then Sir Douglas Graham, which sought to compensate Maori tribes for the land taken by European settlers, and now there are serious efforts to include Maori in decision making; the Maori language is being fostered. Many signs are in Maori.

Next week is Maori Language Week here, and on Wednesday morning I’m going to a morning tea to celebrate and learn some more Te Reo.

That’s it for now. The Ukrainians are doing rather well in deceiving the Russians and taking back territory seized and occupied by Russia.  The Covid 19 situation here is much improved, with fewer new infections, hospitalisations, and deaths.  Slava Ukraini! Ngā mihi.

Disarray

The office at Mar-a-Lago

Today is Wednesday August 31st, 2022.Kia ora!

 It was a beautiful fine day yesterday, although cold in the morning. There was a heavy frost – I looked across at a field steaming, seemingly on fire, but it was the frost being warmed by the sun.

I visited a friend in the afternoon yesterday, catching the I pm train from Johnsonville.  I got myself to her house, and back again on public transport, and felt very proud about that. There were no cancellations!

The covid 19 report yesterday wasn’t too bad: there were 2,464 new cases, and 11 deaths. There were 314 people in hospital, and 4 in Intensive Care.

On the deaths being reported, one was from Northland, two were from Auckland region, one was from Waikato, one was from Bay of Plenty, one was from Hawke’s Bay, one was from Taranaki, one was from Nelson Marlborough, one was from Canterbury, one was from West Coast and one was from Southern. Three were in their 70s, five were in their 80s and three were aged over 90. Of these people, six were women and five were men. There are now a total of 1884 deaths confirmed as attributable to Covid-19,

There were also 128 new cases reported at the border.

Today on Wednesday I got up early to go to hymn singing, and then I met a friend for coffee. It was so nice, we had a good chat. Afterwards I went to the New World supermarket in Khandallah, hoping to get more Olivani dairy-free margarine; they don’t have it here, either. Then JD picked me up. 

In news today, Senator Lindsay Graham has threatened riots if former president Trump is indicted. Riots!  People are really shocked by this.  Meanwhile, it’s reported the Wall St Journal (owned by Rupert Murdoch) is wondering if the FBI search gathered up all the remaining classified documents. I am wondering why they didn’t carry out their search sooner; evidently they’d asked for these missing documents several times. The story gets worse and worse: it seems that Trump, far from storing these documents in a secure location, had them all over the place, and sometimes travelled overseas with them. He wrote on some of them. The FBI is reported to be doing a “damage assessment”. 

Mikhail Gorbachev has died at the age of 91. Who could forget President Reagan’s begging “Mr Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”  That would be the Berlin Wall, which divided Berlin into East and West; I remember the horror when this wall went up. In 1974 JD and I went through Checkpoint Charlie.  The wall seemed permanent, then.  I remember the grey, colourless nature of the East, as opposed to the colourful nature of the West: living it up, for tomorrow they might die.  There was enormous fear that the Soviets would invade. I watched a documentary on Gorbachev a few years ago; I got a biography out of the library, but it was a large tome and I didn’t read it all. He was a remarkable, if conflicted, character.  I guess he’s best remembered for ending communism, and the Iron Curtain; despite a pronounced swing to the right in Hungary and Poland, the Baltic countries are independent, Ukraine is fighting to retain its independence, and everything is very different indeed. The communist governments crumbled so quickly!

Today’s Covid 19 report is as follows: there are 2,244 new cases, and 288 people in hospital, including 2 in Intensive Care.

A further 17 people with Covid-19 have died. Of the deaths, two were from the Auckland region, three were from Waikato, one was from Hawke’s Bay, one from Taranaki, one from Whanganui, three were from the Wellington region, four were from Canterbury, one was from West Coast and one was from Southern. One was in their 50s, two were in their 70s, two were in their 80s and 12 were aged over 90. Of these people, nine were women and eight were men.

In Ukraine, Ukrainian forces are attempting to retake Kherson.

I haven’t been able to catch up with all the news.

It’s now Thursday September 1st.

This morning I went to my Thursday morning singing group.  There were 28 people there! It was lovely. I was exhausted, before and afterwards, but it was heartening to be there. A friend of mine from my hymn singing group was there too.

In the afternoon I had a zoom meeting with Hōhepa. 

Everyone i.e. most people, especially Americans, are shocked to see the photo of classified papers strewn on the floor in Trump’s office at Mar-a-Lago. It’s generally assumed that he will be indicted. It’s become apparent that the documents weren’t stored correctly, and that they had been sought for months, despite one of his solicitors signing a document to say that all government documents had been returned. It’s been pointed out, repeatedly, that the documents didn’t belong to Trump, they belonged to the American government, specifically the National Archives. I was shocked, furthermore, at the carpet: surely the former president would have a more attractive carpet in his office?  On Fox News Karl Rove said that Trump was not permitted to take documents from the White House.  There are huge fears for human intelligence (i.e. spies) abroad, as well as whatever other secrets may have been divulged. Trump has made various claims, including saying that all the documents had been returned, when evidently they hadn’t. Evidently Trump claims to have information about French President Macron’s sex life. As he’s a good-looking Frenchman, I don’t think any of us is too surprised, or overly interested.

It’s now Friday September 2nd.

This morning someone came from Access to do some housework. Accordingly, I changed the sheets and towels, emptied rubbish bins, and generally tidied up. Boy, am I tired. Hopefully this feeling will pass.  I told people yesterday that it wasn’t fatigue so much as weakness.

In China three large cities have been locked down – because of Covid 19. In Chengdu 21 million people are locked down; other areas have also been affected. They test everyone there, and always find some asymptomatic infections. I always find that really strange, and it casts queries over the effectiveness of their testing. I don’t know of anyone who had Covid 19 here without any symptoms. Meanwhile, here, the government is thinking about scrapping mask mandates. Many countries have reduced the isolation period from 7 to 5 days.  I guess that’s understandable if one has Covid 19 mildly, but for some of us it takes months or weeks, not days, to get over it.  But there’s no question that the rates of new infections, hospitalisations and deaths are going down. Today there are 1,800 new community cases, and 269 people in hospital with 3 in Intensive Care. There have been 10 further deaths.

Among those who have died, one person who was in their 60s, one in their 70s, six in their 80s and two aged over 90. One person was from Northland, two were from Auckland, one was from Hawke’s Bay, two were from MidCentral, one was from Wellington region and two were from Canterbury. By now 1910 deaths have occurred as a result of Covid 19. Yesterday 2 deaths were reported.

In Russia, the chairman of Lukoil, Ravil Maganov has died after falling out of a 6th floor hospital window. His company had been so bold as to criticise the Russian military exercise in Ukraine, and express sympathy for the victims. This seems very strange indeed, and very unfortunate. He’s reported as being the 8th Russian energy executive to die suddenly this year, and the second from Lukoil.

It’s reported that there are still hundreds of people with the virus in hospital across the country. They are in Northland (four), Waitematā (44), Counties Manukau (25), Auckland (50), Waikato (38), Bay of Plenty (nine), Lakes (seven), Hawke’s Bay (three), MidCentral (13), Taranaki (three), Wairarapa (four), Capital & Coast (17), Hutt Valley (five), Nelson Marlborough (four), Canterbury (31), South Canterbury (five) and Southern (seven). In Wellington there are still 17 people in hospital!

The government is to review New Zealand’s traffic light system in two weeks.

On Saturday we went shopping to New World in Thorndon.  It was raining and overcast, but very busy at the supermarket. They had raspberries!  We bought lettuce, bananas, coffee beans, quiches, salads, peppermint trumpets, and bread. On Saturday evening we re-watched Morning Glory on Eden, bemoaning the fact that on Sunday there are much better offerings. This film seems dated now, but Harrison Ford was very good indeed, I thought. I quite like Amy Adams but she was very AHDH here, I thought.

In the US, more dreadful facts emerge each day as a result of the FBI search at Mar-a-Lago.  Some of the folders, marked classified, were empty. Where are the contents?  David Brooks agrees with me that the carpet in Trump’s office there leaves something to be desired.  And apparently there’s a public bar in Trump Tower that has been redecorated as a 45-themed bar with a Classified folder on display. People are asking if there are documents in New York, or at his Bedminster Golf Club.

In Ukraine, the Ukrainians are tight-lipped about their ventures in retaking areas taken by the Russians. The International Energy Agency has been allowed to visit the nuclear power plant in Zaporizhia, but there are conflicting reports about their difficulties, and how much they were allowed to see. The plant is presently held by the Russians. Everyone is holding their breath, as this is a particularly vulnerable site; a strongly built site, but the Ukrainians didn’t expect it to be shelled, or its backup power generators to be damaged. The Russians have closed down their Nord Stream 1 pipeline; although this was not unexpected, the Russians initially said it was for maintenance for a few days. Now it seems it will be permanent – apart from supplying Hungary, of course.  I think the US needs to export fuel to Europe, but it seems this will happen next year. In the meantime, Europe is in for a cold winter.  The summer has been terribly hot; perhaps their winter won’t be so severe as usual. Some are turning to nuclear power – Germany is reported to be re-opening their nuclear power plants, after closing them. I think nuclear power is terribly dangerous, in any case – it’s fraught with risk, but what if you have a drought, or flooding, or an outage, or an earthquake to destabilize the foundations? We read this morning in Jeremiah 18:1 – 12 about the clay in the potter’s hands, and about how God can fashion the clay.

It’s now Sunday September 4th.

It’s fine and sunny, and it’s Fathers’ Day.  I made a video of JD opening our daughter’s gift to him, and posted it on Storypark.  It didn’t work quite the way I’d intended!

This morning I went to the Johnsonville Uniting Church – a really difficult place to get to, but they had a huge turnout, and had to keep bringing more chairs. The Cantate Ladies’ Choir was there too: they sang Bruckner’s beautiful Locus Iste, Dona Nobis Pacem (I wanted to join in!), and a Negro spiritual song. There were perhaps 12 voices, including a beautiful soprano. Where were the male voices, I wondered? 

The Rev. Reg Weeks took the service, and preached – or gave a reflection. It’s always a joy to listen to him.  Afterwards, I had a long black coffee and a cheese scone at the café at Johnsonville Library. I thought that by going a bit before lunch time, it wouldn’t be so busy there, but it was, and I had to sit on a stool, not a proper chair. It was very nice, though – their cheese scones are pretty good. Then I caught a bus home.

I hesitate to wade in about the Sussexes, again, but Meghan’s two podcast episodes on Spotify and an interview in something called The Cut have aroused interest. By the way, I haven’t listened to any of them, and I think it’s really bad form to dish anyone – be it the Royal Family, Africa (didn’t Prince Harry rather like Africa?), Australia, New Zealand etc etc.  It strikes me that her whining is very like Trump’s – always the victim, with nothing positive to say.  Neither of them is prepared to move on, or look forward. They wuz robbed.  But nobody points out that after having a baby most of us are really  fragile for a while. Some have post-natal depression, which is truly awful; may of us are uncomfortable, with stitches in strange places, sore, leaking and large breasts, and desperately trying to get back into our pre-pregnancy shape; meanwhile, most new mothers don’t get much sleep; and then there’s the whole issue of adjusting to having this new little person not kicking around inside you any more, but having their own life and space and taking up rather a lot of room! They can also make quite a lot of noise – distressing noise, at that.  Leaving the new baby is such a guilt trip, too, and everyone wants to give you advice – much of it contradictory. I remember after I gave birth to my fourth son thinking that I could safely ignore advice, I now knew what I was doing.  But surely most people know this is a fragile time – you don’t just expect to be the person you used to be straight afterwards; that pre-birth person has gone, no matter how settled your baby is.

Anyway, I look forward to Archie and Lilibet being teenagers, and wondering why they don’t know their cousins or grandparents. I’m sure they’ll have plenty of grievances.

That’s it for now. More Covid 19 news tomorrow. Slava Ukraini! Ngā mihi.

Russian Roulette

The Russian Roulette Scene from The Deer Hunter film (1978)

Today is Friday August 26th, 2022. Kia ora!

It feels as though Russian Roulette is being played on several levels…

Today it’s wet and cloudy again. It’s very grey. It was nice to have it dry for a couple of days!  It was mild this morning, but turned much cooler at midday. Someone from Access came to do some cleaning, and I changed the towels and tidied up a bit. Actually because she came a week ago, the house hasn’t had time to get as messed up as it sometimes does.

This morning I listened to the final episode of the British Scandal podcast about the abdication of Prince David (briefly King Edward VIII, then the Duke of Windsor) in 1936.  While I had been led to believe that he and Wallis Simpson were faced with an impossible situation, it’s more nuanced in fact. A biographer has shown, now that certain documents have been revealed, that the Duke and Duchess of Windsor were traitors to Great Britain – a choice they made deliberately, although, of course, the Duke may have felt that he was treated very unkindly and forced into being disloyal. Advising the Nazis to bomb London was surely extremely disloyal not only to his family, but also to the British people. He was a bit of a rake, certainly, and despite his popularity, it was felt that he wasn’t suitable to be king. His infatuation with Wallis Simpson was almost fortuitous, although one can’t help feeling rather sorry for them, being forced into critical situation which made their lives very difficult. They were probably not very well suited to each other.

I have read almost half of the new Stalingrad book.  Although I struggle to keep up with all the military tactical information, some depth of the struggle is being conveyed to me, nonetheless. The eye-witness accounts from both sides, and the dilemmas faced by the Germans, are very interesting

It’s now Saturday August 27th.

It’s cloudy today, and quite cold, but not raining where we are. Last night we watched The Blues Brothers on the Bravo channel.  According to the TV Guide, is started at 8:30 pm; evidently it started at 7:30 pm. JD had seen it before; I enjoyed it, especially the amazing musical acts. A great many cars seemed to be destroyed in this pre-digital era (the film was made in 1980).

I woke early this morning and listened to two Lawfare podcasts, a Rational Security one (featuring the Podfather, Benjamin Wittes), and an update with Roger Parloff on January 6 trials and convictions. Both were very interesting. Apparently some of those indicted for their part in the January 6 insurrection knew about the fake electors. Now that is a surprise.

In the US, the affidavit for the FBI search at Mar-a-Lago has been revealed, with redactions. It has transpired that Trump took 300 documents to his Florida club, most of it highly classified. This was not the FBI’s (or perhaps the National Archive’s) first attempt to retrieve documents, a lawyer of Trump’s signed that everything had been returned back in June. That was clearly not correct. It seems Trump reviewed the documents himself. And where exactly did he store them? Some of the documents were only allowed to be viewed in a Scif. You certainly couldn’t take them out of the White House.  It seems that there was a widespread search of Trump’s quarters at Mar-a-Lago, since confidential documents were not safely stored. It would seem.

In Ukraine, there are various concerns, the main one concerning the nuclear power plant at Zaporizhia. Apparently the power to it has been cut off – then restored – then cut off again. It’s posited that Putin will use it as a bargaining chip; already, there are grave concerns about it, not least about switching off the power to it. This is not a Chernobyl-type situation; this plant was built with much greater care and a robust risk assessment; they didn’t expect it would be fired on, though. That dynamic situation, and Dugina’s sudden death, make for a very highly charged environment in Ukraine and in Russia. Is Ukraine trying to take back Crimea? Who knows. The stakes are incredibly high, and I’m thankful again to be a long way away from that sad situation.

It’s also reported that Putin is burning (wasting) oil, seeing that it can(not) be supplied to most countries in the EU. Meanwhile the Germans are rationing power. A very frustrating situation.

The Ministry of Health is seeking to do its daily 1 pm update on weekdays only, so I’m not sure if there’ll be a report today. Still, the numbers seem to be falling, although people are still dying from Covid 19.  It seems there is no Covid 19 report today.

As has become our custom, we went shopping at New World in Thorndon, where I bought lettuce, tomatoes, oranges and bananas; bread; salads and pies, chocolate, Afghan biscuits with walnuts on top, and coffee beans, and a pizza bread.  We would have bought a large quiche, but they were best before 29/08/22, so I didn’t think we would get to use one up in that time. What a treat!  It wasn’t that busy, and everyone was masked. We didn’t have to wait at checkout. Now it’s fine and sunny!  Woo-hoo!

I have listened to lots of podcasts about the FBI search at Mar-a-Lago, including one where Michael Moore went to Mar-a-Lago, and found there was virtually no security there. Rather than being asked to leave right away, or being roughed up, he found lots of media people and celebrities there who wanted selfies with him! Meanwhile there are many reports of classified documents being – where, exactly? Some of them in Trump’s private quarters. Republicans are maintaining radio silence now; no one is commenting. My reaction is – why did the FBI not carry out a search sooner than this?  This story just gets worse and worse – for everyone involved.  And in how many ways is the country’s security at stake? What spies might be rumbled?  What nuclear weapons secrets might have been divulged?  How many times have these documents been photographed – and disseminated?  And what’s the information on French President Emanual Macron?

It’s now Sunday August 28th.

Last night I did not sleep well; I listened to lots of podcasts.  This morning I zoomed into a church service, and begged out of a visit I was going to do with a friend this afternoon. The church service was lovely, and my friend was playing the organ. Sometimes the sound was turned off during the music, but it was left on at the end, when the organist plays a special piece of music.  There didn’t seem to be many people physically at church.

In Ukraine, danger persists at the Zaporizhia nuclear plant, where it’s uncertain  whether the power is on or off, and what if any power is being supplied to the rest of Ukraine. What a perilous, ghastly situation. It’s been going on for six months now, and shows no signs of stopping any time soon.  Is Ukraine trying to take Crimea back? Who knows. Reports are murky and contradictory. During the recent Independence Day in Ukraine, 22 people were killed when another area  – Chaplyne- was shelled.  On the other hand, there was a procession in Kyiv of Russian tanks destroyed by Ukrainians.

Today it’s fine, and mild-ish.  We went to one of my son’s house for dinner. That was nice. When we came home, we watched Brokenwood Mysteries, although we missed the initial scenes. The episode made sense, however, and what about the wonderful jackets? After this we watched another episode of Line of Duty – which was incomprehensible to me. It was quite cold. We’d turned all the heaters off before going out, and although we weren’t out for long, it was very chilly when we got home.

It’s now Monday August 29th.

Last night I slept well – woohoo!  I slept until some time after 6 am.  It’s fine today, the sun is shining, but we didn’t have a frost, which is just the way I like it. I get up fairly early, however, and am disappointed too find that the target puzzle is repeated from yesterday’s paper. One less challenge then.

I have almost finished reading The Lighthouse of Stalingrad, my new book by Iain MacGregor. I am now reading the final pages, about how the undoubtedly heroic stories were mythologised in the Soviet media. The book would have benefited by closer proof-reading – I’ve come across several typos, and MacGregor has, at times, a rather strange way of writing, but I’ve found it very interesting, nonetheless.

Los Pumas. The national rugby team of Argentina, has beaten the (not so) mighty All Blacks here in new Zealand last Saturday night. So some of the nation are in a state of mourning. Ian Foster again gets to bemoan his possible fate. Honestly, who’d want to be the All Blacks head coach?

In the US, President Biden has announced some student loan debt forgiveness. This has given Americans something else to get up in arms about – I haven’t gone into the arguments for and against; I just think it shouldn’t lumber you with debt to get a “good” education, assuming that’s what you get, and you’re intelligent enough to study and pass exams. After all, who wants an inferior surgeon operating on them after having a heart attack, or a brain tumour? Or designing a car, for that matter? Or a space ship? Or managing air traffic control?

Today’s Covid 19 report is much better; perhaps, if you stop reporting the results, they improve? There are 1,653 new community cases, and there have been 6 further deaths. There are 341 people in hospital, including 3 in Intensive Care. Over the weekend, there were 228 new cases at the border.

On the deaths being reported today, four were from the Auckland region, one was from the Wellington region and one was from Southern. One was in their 60s, one was in their 70s, two were in their 80s and two were aged over 90. Five were women and one was a male.  One wonders how many people there still are out there in their 90’s. There are now a total of 1869 deaths confirmed as attributable to Covid-19, either as the underlying cause of death or as a contributing factor.

We watched the end of My Life is Murder on television one, starring Lucy Lawless; there’s something really annoying about this series, but JD quite likes it. We also watched another episode of Superpumped on Prime; what an odious character young Travis is!  Amongst other things, the battle with Lyft has primacy; Travis also gets to meet Larry Page at the Googleplex. Like many bad people, he is fascinatingly awful. 

There seems to be no Telegraph update on Ukraine today.  It’s reported that people in Ukraine living near the nuclear plant in Zaporizhia have been given iodine tablets.  The situation remains fraught.

Tomorrow I’m to visit a friend, and the next day I’m meeting another friend for coffee.  What treats!

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

A Mild, Wet Winter

A slip at Wellington’s Wilton’s Bush

Today is Friday August 19th, 2022. Kia ora!

Last night again, was not a good night. I figured after a while that I was too hot!  It’s raining, and foggy, of course, but not cold.  I woke up at 2:40 am, much too early, and I listened to a The Rest is History podcast about Victorian Holidays; I also listened to a Real Dictators podcast about Napoleon in Egypt; I heard about the discovery of the Rosetta Stone (which the British obtained and which went to the British Museum); after that I must have gone back to sleep.  At some stage I listened to a Hacks on Tap podcast episode which featured David Axelrod and Mike Murphy, with Maggie Haberman of the New York Times as their guest. Then I listened to the daily  Bulwark podcast with Charlie Sykes talking to Philip Bump of the Washington Post.

There’s been very heavy rain and flooding in parts of Nelson and Tasman, and in the far north of Aotearoa.  Hundreds of homes have had to be evacuated.

At midday someone from Access came to do some housework. I changed the towels and sheets. It’s still raining.

In the US, Trump seems to be in a whole heap of trouble, as arguments rage about unsealing the affidavit that was part of the search warrant. It seems that three acts were cited as possible reasons for the search, including the Espionage Act.  His CFO, Allan Weisselberg, has pled guilty to 12 (15?) charges in New York. Weisselberg accepted a plea deal in terms of which he is expected to testify against the Trump organisation. And it seems that before the insurrection ono January 6, there was warning of threats against Nancy Pelosi, which were suppressed by the Trump organisation.  In primary elections, Liz Cheney lost her chance to represent the voters of Wyoming, but has vowed to see that Trump does not become president again.  While many admire her political courage, let us not forget that she almost always votes  republican, and has voted against Biden’s landmark legislation.  Still, good for her in standing up to Trump, and serving on the January 6 committee, where she has been very effective. 

In Ukraine, the war rages on, with great concern about the bug nuclear plant at Zaporizhia. It was pointed out that the reactors need a lot of water; if there’s a power outage for some reason, the water for cooling systems may be imperilled.

It’s now Saturday August 20th.

It’s been another day of rain and low cloud, with some very heavy falls overnight and this morning. The newspaper was quite sodden this morning, although it comes in a plastic bag. I had to dry it out before doing the puzzles – which are always best on a Saturday! I registered online that the newspaper was wet, and I should receive a credit. Another newspaper will not be delivered. Again I’m asked if I’d recommend the newspaper to someone else. I would not, I just get it for the puzzles and the obituaries. The newspaper seems to get thinner every weekday.

It’s been flooding overnight in the Nelson area, and there are many slips. Thankfully we’re not affected by flooding or by slips.

JD had to go out in the morning, and then we both went out, firstly to the library at Johnsonville. As usual, the carpark is busy and difficult to manoeuvre in. as usual. The café is full, with people sitting at the tables outside the café in the wide passageway.  I return one book, and pick up another which is on reserve. The number of reserves is huge – many people must have twigged to this rather than mastering the weird shelving system at Waitohi.. The self-issuing machine is occupied, so I go quite a long way in search of another. Then we go to New World in Thorndon.  It’s quieter than usual, probably because it’s lunchtime.  We get all the things on my list except for psyllium, which we cannot find.  I buy some rhubarb stalks to cook – I’m so tired of not having rhubarb or raspberries for breakfast, We also buy some gold kiwifruit, the last lot were very ripe and I had to throw most of them out. Avocadoes are 3 for $5, which seems like a good deal to me: they’re quite large. Avocadoes have been marvellous, lasting from last summer. We don’t get salads this time, but we do get a potato-topped pie. There are lots of pies today!

Last night I slept much better than usual. I listened again to a Real Dictators podcast episode about Napoleon in Egypt. While I thought I knew a bit about this time in history, I find there is a great deal more to learn! 

It’s now Sunday August  21st.

Today it isn’t raining. The country can start cleaning up again. I went for a walk to the local shops, but they don’t have psyllium husks, which is rather annoying. I  zoomed into a church service this morning. 

I have started reading Agent Sonya, by Ben Macintyre.  It’s a rollicking good read. I reserved this at the library, and it came right away. Of course, it’s quite a long book, so I push aside all my unfinished books in order to read this now.

Today’s Covid 19 report is as follows: there are 2,100 new community cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand today and 15 virus-related deaths. There are 436 people in hospital with the virus, including 7 in intensive care.

Of the 15 people whose deaths were reported today: four were from Auckland region, three were from Waikato, one was from Hawke’s Bay, one was from Taranaki, one was from MidCentral, two were from Wellington region, three were from Canterbury.

The seven-day rolling average of hospitalisations today is 487 – last Sunday, it was 587.

The regional breakdown of the 436 people in hospital with Covid-19 is Northland: 16; Waitematā: 64; Counties Manukau: 38; Auckland: 55; Waikato: 68; Bay of Plenty: 17; Lakes: 10; Hawke’s Bay: 19; MidCentral: 30; Whanganui: 3; Taranaki: 11; Tairawhiti: 0; Wairarapa: 2; Capital & Coast: 15; Hutt Valley: 13; Nelson Marlborough: 7; Canterbury: 41; West Coast: 3; South Canterbury: 6; Southern: 18.

It comes as new wastewater results from ESR have revealed Omicron BA.5 is now by far the most dominant Covid strain across New Zealand.

It’s now Tuesday August 23rd.

Yesterday I didn’t blog; we went to town about lunchtime. It hardly rained all day!  JD was worried about the advertised street blockages in preparation for a protest, but we went to The Terrace, which wasn’t blocked. We went to Whitcoulls, and then had lunch at Sierra Café, one of my favourite places – not that there are many left.  It’s roomy there, and they don’t have loud music.  I had avocado on toast, he had corn fritters; I had a taste of his delicious date and orange muffin. Afterwards we went to Commonsense Organics at the top of Tory Street- it’s really hard to get to, although there is a carpark in that complex. I bought some psyllium husks (they’ve become really hard to get), and some Hōhepa Danbo cheese. Then we went home, and I found to my surprise that my new Listener had arrived.  The magazine competed with my reading of Agent Sonya, a very racy and interesting story. 

By the evening I had completed all the Listener puzzles – both sudokus, both crosswords, and the code cracker.  Last night Poi E was the movie on Te Whakaata Māori, which I’ve seen twice, so we watched an episode of Superpumped on Prime Television, about the rise of Uber.

In Moscow, Alexander Dugin’s daughter has been killed by a bomb in the car she was driving.  Dugin is a friend of Vladimir Putin, and has extremely far-right views.  It’s suspected that the car bomb was meant to kill him; Putin is blaming Ukraine.  No surprise there.

Today there actually is a protest in Wellington, led by Brian Tamaki of the Destiny Church. Last night it was reported that 7 vehicles were to drive from Taranaki to join the protest.  Apparently there’s a counter protest too. Tamaki’s protest is said to be about Freedom and Rights. Meanwhile, the Labour Party’s caucus has expelled the troublesome Dr Gaurav Sharma. Will he keep quiet now?  He certainly has taken attention from the National Party’s problem child, Sam Uffindell. Luxon must be breathing several sighs of relief.

Today’s Covid 19 report is as follows: there are 3,693 new Covid cases reported today – and 35 Covid-related deaths, including four people in their 60s. Ten people were in their 70s, 13 in their 80s and eight were aged over 90.

Of today’s 35 deaths, six people were from Northland, six were from the Auckland region, two from Waikato, one each was from Bay of Plenty, Lakes, Tairāwhiti, Hawke’s Bay, Taranaki, MidCentral and the Wellington region, two were from Nelson Marlborough, nine from Canterbury, one was from West Coast, one from South Canterbury and one was from Southern.

Today’s figures show 402 people are in hospital and six people are receiving intensive care. They are in Northland (seven), Waitematā (57), Counties Manukau (35), Auckland (52), Waikato (66), Bay of Plenty (17), Lakes (nine), Hawke’s Bay (16), MidCentral (28), Whanganui (three), Taranaki (12), Wairarapa (six), Capital & Coast (15), Hutt Valley (12), Nelson Marlborough (eight), Canterbury (42), West Coast (four), South Canterbury (four) and Southern (nine).

Today is a beautiful sunny day. I walked up to the local store carrying, not wearing, my jacket.  I bought some croissants for lunch.

The protest, that marched to Parliament grounds, has wound up. It’s said that about 2,000 protesters marched, and there were about 500 counter-protesters. Tamaki is evidently launching a new political party. The protest seemed to be peaceful, and not nearly as disruptive as earlier protests. When asked by a journalist whether national would be aligning with Tamaki’s new party, Chris Luxon wisely said that it was too early to make any statements about political party alliances. He later received criticism for not ruling out such an alliance.

It’s now Wednesday August 24th.

Today is my eldest grandson’s 10th birthday, and the second anniversary of our special friend in Auckland’s death. This morning I got up early and went to hymn singing again.  It was lovely, of course, and I can still sing – somewhat, although I don’t have much breath. But then I didn’t before I had Covid 19, either. Afterwards some of us had morning tea, which was also a treat. I didn’t know the hymns although hymns are easy to pick up. One tune sounded very like Old Hundredth.

We had quite an intellectual conversation – about literature, music, opera, ballet and art.  What a treat!

Today’s covid 19 report is finally a lot more hopeful.  There are 3,140 new community Covid-19 cases to report across the country. There were 373 people in hospital with the virus, six of whom were in an intensive care or high dependency care unit, the Ministry said. There have been a further 4 deaths reported in the past 24 hours. That is far less than has been reported for weeks now. There were 147 cases in people who’d recently travelled overseas. There seems to be some confusion about the number of deaths.

It’s now Thursday August 25th.

I was really tired after Wednesday’s excitement, so I sent an apology for my Thursday singing, and went to tai chi instead. One of the tutors was away, but it was lovely, of course. Despite the forecasted rain, it stayed fine, and not really cold. JD was too busy to pick me up afterwards, so I caught a train into Wellington with a friend, and then a bus into town. I had coffee and a toasted cheese scone at Smith the Grocer café – delicious!  It’s a really popular place, so I left as soon as I’d finished eating – there was already a huge queue there. I walked to Unity Books, and had a lovely browse. They didn’t have Promised Lands by Jonathan Parry – they offered to get it for me, but at $90 for the hardback version I said no. I did however buy a book about Stalingrad by Iain MacGregor.  I listened recently to two podcast episodes on The Rest is History, where Dominic Sandbrook and Tom Holland talked to the author.  This book has lots of photos, which helps to understand the conflict. For some reason I’m fascinated by this battle.

I then went to catch a bus back to the northern suburbs. Usually there’s at least one every 10 minutes, but today two were cancelled. I waited for the next bus, which was several minutes late, and then despite my standing at the bus stop and waving, the bus did not stop! How very annoying that is.  I waited some more, and then caught a bus to Grenada Village, getting off at the Johnsonville Library, where I caught a number 19 bus home.  Boy, I was tired after all that, but chuffed that I could do it.

Today’s Covid 19 report is as follows: there are 2,780 new community cases, and 336 people in hospital, including 6 in Intensive Care. Apparently there have been a further 20 deaths.

Of the 20 deaths reported today: five were from Northland, two were from Auckland region, four were from Waikato, two were from Taranaki, four were from MidCentral, three were from Canterbury. One was in their 30s, two were in their 60s, eight were in their 70s, six were in their 80s and three were aged over 90. Of these people, 13 were women and seven were men.

It’s almost a week since I started this blog. Time to stop now!  Slava Ukraini! Ngā

More Wild Weather

Wild weather and flooding in Nelson

Today is Tuesday August 16th, 2022. Kia ora!

Last night was not a good night for me, but after midday I started to feel better. It’s not nearly as cold now as it has been. Not well enough to walk to the shops, however; I relied on JD to take me. Sadly, they have no rhubarb – neither stalks or conveniently sliced.

We do go out for lunch – to Kaizen, one of my favourite cafés.  The ones closer look really full. Kaizen is lovely with well-spaced tables, some of which are empty. I have a cheese omelette, and their beautiful rhubarb shortcake. Of course I don’t need it, and I feel quite satisfied after the omelette, but somehow one manages to find room for pudding.

I have been reading more of the LRB dated 6 January: a really interesting book review about the period of England from 1588 to 1699. We feel as though things  are mightily unsettled right now, but that was a terrible time in England with the regicide of King Charles II Cromwell, and the Protectorate, and great religious division. I tried to read Paul Lay’s Providence Lost, but I couldn’t cope with the violence.  Then there is a review of a book about duelling, and affairs of honour. There’s also a review of a biography of W.G. Sebald, called Speak, Silence. I have tried to read this book and found it not to my interest, but I did find some of his books quite amazing – specifically Austerlitz and The Rings of Saturn. There’s also an interesting article about American conspiracy theories (oh, dear!) and a story about the artist Fragonard. And then there’s Alan Bennett’s pandemic diary. Lots of interesting reading.

Today’s Covid 19 report is as follows: it’s reported that another 21 people with Covid-19 have died while there are 4,811 new community cases of the virus.

In its daily update, the ministry said there were also 533 people with Covid-19 in hospital, including 12 in intensive care or a high dependency unit. That compared with 536 people in hospital with the virus, including 13 in ICU or a HDU yesterday.

The cases in hospital were in Northland: 25; Waitematā: 64; Counties Manukau: 61; Auckland: 62; Waikato: 77; Bay of Plenty: 17; Lakes: 8; Hawke’s Bay: 38; MidCentral: 16; Whanganui: 8; Taranaki: 11; Tairāwhiti: 1; Wairarapa: 10; Capital & Coast: 15; Hutt Valley: 12; Nelson Marlborough: 9; Canterbury: 68; West Coast: 4; South Canterbury: 13 and Southern: 14. The seven-day rolling average of hospitalisations is 556 – last Tuesday it was 645.

On the deaths being reported today, six were from the Auckland region, two were from Waikato, three were from Lakes, two were from Hawke’s Bay, one was from Wellington region, two were from Nelson Marlborough, three were from Canterbury, one was from South Canterbury and one was from Southern. Five were in their 70s, eight were in their 80s and eight were aged over 90. Of these people, 13 were women and eight were men. There are now a total of 1782 deaths confirmed as attributable to Covid-19, either as the underlying cause of death or as a contributing factor.

It was reported that in the past seven days there have been an average of 13 deaths confirmed each day as being attributable to Covid-19. There were also 169 new Covid-19 cases reported at the border.

It’s now Wednesday August 17th.

Last night was disappointing. Although it was quite mild, I did not sleep much. I wasn’t a great sleeper before I had Covid 19; now I think the sleep disturbances have got worse.  I did listen to several podcasts: Willy Dalrymple’s Empire, introduced on The Rest is History: Willy Dalrymple is a great talker, he does rather go on and on. I found this interesting, however. I also listened to the American Scandal podcast about Edward Snowden – what paranoia! And the Real Dictators podcast about Napoleon called The Italian Job about Napoleon’s invasion of Italy. In fact, it wasn’t united Italy then, it was a series of fiefdoms. I also listened to a We Have Ways podcast entitled Greece Part 2. Warning: the titles don’t always bear much relation to the contents.  There’s a lot of banter, and a lot of “Yeah yeah yeah”, all rather annoying. There are some gems too. These were all moderately interesting – the news episodes drop later this week, so one is reduced to finding new podcasts to listen too, or listening again to ones one has already heard.  

Actually there was a redeeming feature in this podcast: they spoke about the new movie Operation Mincemeat (which wasn’t set in Greece, by the way).  It was quite a good movie, but having listened to the lads I can see its flaws.  It’s been interesting to hear their take on the Midway movie, and on Munich: the Edge of War, which was on one of the streaming services.

This morning – it’s raining. Again. A friend came to visit – that was lovely. I really should be braver about doing stuff and not moping around not feeling well enough to do stuff.  But I certainly don’t feel up to catching a bus or train yet.

Today’s Covid 19 report is as follows: because it’s Tuesday, the numbers are up a bit after the weekend. It’s reported that another 21 people with Covid-19 have died while there are 4,811 new community cases of the virus. The seven-day rolling average of community case numbers today is 4073 – last Tuesday, it was 5120.

It was reported that there were also 533 people with Covid-19 in hospital, including 12 in intensive care or a high dependency unit. That compared with 536 people in hospital with the virus, including 13 in ICU or a HDU yesterday. The cases in hospital were in Northland: 25; Waitematā: 64; Counties Manukau: 61; Auckland: 62; Waikato: 77; Bay of Plenty: 17; Lakes: 8; Hawke’s Bay: 38; MidCentral: 16; Whanganui: 8; Taranaki: 11; Tairāwhiti: 1; Wairarapa: 10; Capital & Coast: 15; Hutt Valley: 12; Nelson Marlborough: 9; Canterbury: 68; West Coast: 4; South Canterbury: 13 and Southern: 14. That’s still lots of people in hospital in Hawkes Bay, and in Wellington and the Hutt Valley.

On the deaths being reported today, six were from the Auckland region, two were from Waikato, three were from Lakes, two were from Hawke’s Bay, one was from Wellington region, two were from Nelson Marlborough, three were from Canterbury, one was from South Canterbury and one was from Southern. Five were in their 70s, eight were in their 80s and eight were aged over 90. Of these people, 13 were women and eight were men.

There are now a total of 1,782 deaths confirmed as attributable to Covid-19, either as the underlying cause of death or as a contributing factor. In the past seven days there have been an average of 13 deaths confirmed each day as being attributable to Covid-19. There were also 169 new Covid-19 cases reported at the border. So that’s that. There are still too many deaths.

Today marks one year since New Zealand went into lockdown for the delta variant of Covid 19.  This seems slightly laughable now, but other countries had been through Covid 19/delta and had pretty high death rates – the wave in India was particularly distressing. I think there was one case here, but soon there were more, in fact it never really went away. Tamaki Makaurau (Auckland) was in severe lockdown for weeks – 13, I think – until the beginning of December. Auckland borders were opened – I think mid December. Aucklanders couldn’t wait to get away.

Now, there are virtually no restrictions.  We can take whatever risks we feel like. The isolation period is down to 7 days, and a close contact is someone who lives in your home.  Masks are still common in Wellington, and are required on public transport and in supermarkets and most shops. You don’t have to scan QR codes, although one can still do a manual entry – which I do, on the whole. It’s useful to know where I’ve been, and it can be frustratingly hard to remember. Now we are (condemned to) living with Covid 19. Many cafes are closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, and closing at 3 ppm rather than 4 pm. And who can blame them – they’ve had a really hard time for the last 1 1/2 years. Everywhere, including public transport, is affected by sickness and staff shortages.

It’s now Thursday August 18th.

This morning I went to tai chi again. It is raining again, but not nearly as cold as last week. It was lovely to go to Tai chi again; I’m telling myself it’s good for my balance (and I’m, sure it is). On the way home we stopped at Nada Bakery and bought some yummy food – a scone, a doughnut, some savouries, and a pie.

Last night I zoomed into Macbeth Unpacked, an online session in preparation for the Verdi opera Macbeth about to be performed in Auckland and Wellington in September.  They had speakers about Shakespeare’s Scottish play, the conductor and director of the opera Macbeth, and the head of MZ Opera.  I think 107 people zoomed in; among names that I recognised were Rob Julian, Roger Hall and Karen Grylls.  The session was free. The conductor really impressed me. I do indeed want to go to the performance. There are only 3 in Wellington, instead of the usual 5.  I don’t know this opera, but I do know Shakespeare’s play, have seen several film versions, and I greatly admire Verdi’s music.  Today I listened again to The Rest is History podcast about Macbeth.

During the night I listened to a British Scandal podcast about the abdication of King Edward VIII in 1936 (not 1938).  This was the third episode, and for some reason it was extremely difficult to listen to: my phone kept wanting to play something else.  It seems really sad that David and Wallis were forced into an extremely difficult situation,  where there was really no practical way out. David and Wallis (the Duke and Duchess of Windsor) were exiled from England, not one member of his family came to their wedding, and they didn’t have enough money. David had nothing to do, and few friends; he’d lost his entire way of life. They were wooed by the Nazis, and considered traitors for cosying up to them.  It seems that Wallis wanted to stay married to Ernest Simpson, but he was engaged to marry her best friend. What a sad story.

Today’s Covid 19 report is as follows:

There are 4,540 new community cases of Covid-19 reported, along with 473 people in hospital. Ten people are in intensive care. There have been 16 virus-related deaths.

It was reported that of the 16 people who died one was from Northland, four were from Auckland region, one was from Bay of Plenty, one was from Lakes, two were from Hawke’s Bay, one was from Taranaki, four were from Wellington region and two were from Canterbury. Three were in their 60s, three were in their 70s, seven were in their 80s and three were aged over 90. Of these people, eight were women and eight were men.

The seven-day rolling average of community case numbers today was 3928 – last Thursday, it was 4750. The seven-day rolling average of hospitalisations was 527 – last Thursday, it was 617. There were now a total of 1807 deaths confirmed as attributable to Covid-19, either as the underlying cause of death or as a contributing factor. The seven-day rolling average increase in total deaths attributable to Covid-19 was now 12.

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

Ground Zero

“St Jerome in his study”, Albrecht Durer, 1521

It’s now Saturday August 13th, 2022. Kia ora!

It was very cold and frosty this morning, but this turned into a fine sunny day.

There’s a lot happening at present. Anne Heche has died (after being declared brain-dead); Salman Rushdie has been stabbed several times while on stage in New York, is on a ventilator, and may lose an eye; he is unable to speak. The FBI’s search warrant at Mar-a-Lago has been unsealed, revealing that documents relating to nuclear weapons, some classified, were taken in the search; Trump may have violated three Acts here; and, oh, yes, the US House of Representatives has passed the Inflation Reduction Act (known as the IRA) – with no Republican votes, in the Senate or the House.  This is a wonderful act, with many provisions – it’s a BFD, as Charlie Sykes at The Bulwark would say. It now goes to President Biden for his signature, to sign it into law.  It’s strange that the succession of this bill is minor news, compared to all the other stuff that’s going on. It’s a major achievement for the Democrats.

This morning I listened to two episodes of The Rest is History podcast about the Roman emperor Justinian and his wife Theodora. They were quite a couple! One point of note is that they talked about the frescoes in Ravenna, and I was watching an episode on Youtube which showed them last night.  So it was nice to note that while I haven’t been to Ravenna, I knew what they were talking about.  I’ve added Ravenna to the growing list of destinations for my fantasy trip overseas.

On a sad note, the author Raymond Briggs has died. When the Wind Blows was an illustrated book he wrote about a nuclear attack on Great Britain. While it looked like a children’s book, it certainly wasn’t a book for children.

Today’s Covid 19 report is as follows: there are 3,650 new community cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand today – a continued fall in infection numbers as the country emerges from the second wave of Omicron. There are 546 people in hospital with the virus, including 10 in intensive care.  There have been 27 deaths. So while it’s a good thing that there are fewer reported cases, and hospitalisations, it bothers me that there’s still quite a high death toll. A friend of mine went into hospital a few weeks ago for an operation, and tested that she was free of Covid 19, only to catch it in hospital.

The 27 new deaths of people with Covid-19 reported today include three people who were in their 50s, two in their 60s, seven in their 70s, 12 in their 80s and three aged over 90. Sixteen were women and 11 were men. One was from Northland, seven were from Auckland region, two were from Waikato, two were from Lakes, three were from Hawke’s Bay, two were from Taranaki, three were from MidCentral, two were from Whanganui, one was from Wellington region, three were from Canterbury, one was from Southern.

We went shopping to New World in Thorndon. Again, they had no raspberries, and no potato-topped pies, but I bought coffee beans, salads, bread, some brie, oat and raisin biscuits. 

On Saturday night we watched American Animals on Te Whakaata Māori. I had seen it before, but it was worth watching again. Four “friends” conspire to steal an extremely rare book from – I’m not joking here – the library of Transylvania University.  This crime was just so weird it was interesting to watch, in an odd sort of way.

It’s now Monday August 15th.

Yesterday I zoomed into a church service – they had a baptism, too, and although I heard the baby crying, I couldn’t see the ceremony.  Afterwards, we went into town for lunch, but I had forgotten it was Visa on a Plate, and the restaurant I wanted to go to was full, with a queue. We ended up going to a vegan restaurant; this wouldn’t have been my first choice, but my pancakes with lemon curd, plum and berry compȏte, and coconut shavings, were delicious, although the music was rather loud. It was cold and windy outside.

This morning it’s not so cold, but there is a spectacular red sky early in the morning. That’s a shepherd’s warning; evidently there was a red sky yesterday morning as well. But the All Blacks beat the South African Springboks by 35 – 23.  The Argentinian rugby team, the Pumas, beat Australia’s Wallabies decisively. 

I watched a Stuff documentary called Fire and Fury about the protest encampment in Parliament grounds earlier this year, which seemed to go on – for ever, although it was only for a few scary weeks.  The documentary follows up on the big story in yesterday’s Sunday Star Times, about sinister drivers beneath the protest, catching up nervous people in some truly frightening violent threats, based on ideas that the government is bad, that vaccines are dangerous, and that violence is justified – echoing the convoy protest in Ottawa, and other such protests. The story argues that this protest (and others like it) are really about destroying democracy; some advocate right-wing elements getting elected to any positions of power, as republicans are doing in America, and thus being “in charge”. I cannot for the life of me understand why people would want to destroy elements of a society that works well on the whole: the business of issuing passports, or driving licenses, even if you can’t go overseas; health and education systems; paved roads, footpaths, utilities such as running water. I could go on and on.  I must say I found this documentary, and the accompanying fear of the media, really frustrating.  The media are certainly annoying, but you can learn different views and make your own opinion about  divisive issues. These elements of civilisation are really to be valued: why would you discredit them?

Today’s Covid 19 report continues the good (or, rather better) news: there are 3,387 new community cases reported, we are down to 12 deaths, and there are 536 people in hospital. Apparently this is the lowest number of daily new cases since February. There are 15 people in Intensive Care. 

On the deaths being reported today, two were from the Auckland region, three were from Waikato, two were from MidCentral, one was from Whanganui, three were from Canterbury, one was from Southern. Three were in their 60s, one was in their 70s, six were in their 80s and two were aged over 90. Of these people, four were women and eight were men. There are now a total of 1750 deaths confirmed as attributable to Covid-19, either as the underlying cause of death or as a contributing factor. In the past seven days there have been an average of 14 deaths confirmed each day as being attributable to Covid-19, the ministry said. There were also 171 new Covid-19 cases at the border.

It seems that we will have to live with Covid 19, but it also seems that that latest intense wave is easing.  As someone who’s had Covid 19 (and I’m glad I had both the vaccine jabs and a booster), I wish the anti-vax people would take this more seriously. I doubt if I will ever get back to “the way I was before”, which wasn’t great, by the way. It seems so ironic that I want to get back to that now.  It feels like Ground Zero right now – recovery takes a long time.  Anyway, protesting is not for me – sleeping in a tent, using portaloos, lacking showering facilities. I want some degree of comfort and cleanliness.

We had hard-boiled egg sandwiches for lunch. After lunch I have been reading (and rereading) an LRB dated 6 January, which somehow got put away, only partly read. How interesting it is! It has a very interesting article about the COP summit in Glasgow (how long ago that seems now!); about the Bidens – specifically President Joe’s two brothers. To say it’s a strange family somehow beggars belief.  The story barely mentions Hunter Biden, by the way.

There’s also a long review of Ben Macintyre’s book Agent Sonya. What a strange life this woman had, and a number of romantic partners. One of them came close to assassinating Adolf Hitler, in a plot that I heard about on one of my podcasts. The plot failed, but Sonya’s story is truly amazing. 

Then there was an extremely interesting story before Putin’s invasion of Ukraine in February this year. It talks about Putin’s aims, as set out in a long essay written by him and published in July 2021 called “On the Historical Unity of the Russians and Ukrainians”. It also talks a lot about Belarus, and Putin’s support for Lukashenko, the dictator there, also about Ukrainian history, and quotes historian Serhii Plokhy’s 2015 book “The Gates of Europe” about the history of Ukraine (a book I have dipped into; it’s a huge tome, and I didn’t read all of it). It also talks about Nord Stream 2, the election of President Zelensky, and NATO. What an interesting article. I remember for the months preceding the February attack the fear that Putin would attack Ukraine; now the war’s been going for 6 months, and doesn’t show much sign of stopping.  There’s still lots of reading to be done in this issue. Again I am torn between relief at not feeling obliged to read each issue, when it comes in the post, and missing the really good articles that I find most interesting.

In Ukraine, Zelensky has vowed to take out Russian soldiers guarding the nuclear power plant at Zaporizhia, and Ukrainian forces have greatly damaged a bridge at the city of Kherson (presently under Russian control).

There’s also a brief article in the LRB about an exhibition of paintings by Albrecht Dϋrer in the National Gallery in London. This article focusses on a painting of St Jerome that was given to a Portuguese friend of his in Antwerp. I remember seeing a painting (Salvator Mundi) by Dϋrer at the Met in New York, as well as some of his rather scary etchings (including Melancholia) which were on display at the Art Gallery above the erstwhile Dominion Museum.  This rather wonderful museum was replaced by the even more wonderful (and much larger) Te Papa Tongarewa.  There was an outcry when the Art Gallery seemed not to be replaced; eventually Te Papa opened Toi Art, a dedicated art section, and it is quite wonderful too. I’ve been there many times.

In the US, it has transpired that the FBI took 11 boxes of classified documents away from Mar-a-Lago. Far from their activity being a raid, the FBI agents wore plain clothes, liaised with Trump’s secret service officers, and went whan he was not there – actually, he was in New York, busy taking “The Fifth” when required to testify to New York Attorney General Letitia James. Of course, he has the right not to incriminate himself, although he decried this during his 2016 campaign for president; one wit joked about how hard it must have been for him not to say anything (as, no doubt, requested by his lawyers).  One of his lawyers assured the FBI (or perhaps the National Archives) in June that there were no classified documents at Mar-a-Lago. Republican governors Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas and Larry Hogan of Maryland have come out to the effect that some republican reaction to the FBI’s legal search was overblown. Of course, the action to search a past president’s home was unprecedented; but then, Trump was unprecedented, too. Many people including former FBI officers like Frank Figluzzi have said how scared they were by Trump’s extreme casualness around document classification and national security; especially so, after excoriating Hillary Clinton’s supposed carelessness concerning her email server (which an aide of hers, Huma Abedin, had access to).  These republican guys take hypocrisy to a whole new level. By the way, it seems Trump may be charged under the Espionage Act. 

That’s it for now. I look forward to reading the rest of my 6 January LRB issue – I’m about half way through it. Slava Ukraini!  Ngā mihi.

Red Flags

The attack on the Russian air base in Crimea by Ukrainian forces

It’s now Wednesday August 10th, 2022. Kia ora! Today there’s lots to write about.

Early this morning I listened to another We Have Ways podcast about the extreme bravery of the resistance in France, and a SOE operation in Greece, during the Second World War. Once I had got over some rather annoying banter, I wondered at these stories, and again at the ease with which people in the Northern Hemisphere can travel around.

New National Party MP for Tauranga (replacing erstwhile National leader Simon Bridges) Sam Uffindell is in a spot of bother.  Christopher Luxon (new National leader) and his deputy Nicola Willis continue to support him, as stated by this morning’s Dom Post, but there was news from a former female flatmate about his taunting her, and her escaping though a window!  The information was later removed and could not be found during the day. It seemed that Uffindell had told someone on the candidate selection committee about his assault on a thirteen year old boy, but Luxon was not told. Matty McLean pointed out that there was some irony in the fact that Luxon was supporting Uffindell while voting against getting rid of the three strikes act for violent behaviour. There was much discussion during the day about bullying along the lines of “boys will be boys”, bullying was part of life, especially at prestigious private schools,  and excusing something that happened 22 years ago.  I would pick that since Uffindel was effectively expelled from the Kings College, the college had probably given him several warnings, and had had enough of his behaviour. Uffindel was stood down (whatever that means) pending a two week investigation of – what exactly? The terms of reference of the investigation weren’t announced. As I noted earlier, he obviously wasn’t captain of the 1st Fifteen, or even of the 2nd Fifteen, or in any senior position.

There’s more rather shocking news this morning, courtesy of Radio NZ news, 87 people (an average of four per week) have died of Covid 19 at home since March; over 400 had died in rest homes. There are valid questions as to whether any medical support was provided, or whether these folk had simply slipped under the radar.  I felt grateful that I’d had JD here during my severe illness with Covid 19; I don’t think I could have coped on my own, but I didn’t want to go to hospital.

In the US, many have expressed fears about the extreme response of republicans to the FBI search at Mar-a-Lago. At first, many people wondered which of Trump’s many legal entanglements had caused this move. This was not a raid, by the way; it was a legitimate search. It transpired during the day that the search was for documents, some presumed classified, that were official documents and not necessarily Trump’s personal property.  This was a follow-up to two previous attempts to get documents that should not have been there. Although there has not been a “protest” as yet, there has been the threat of violence; this is very scary. Many republicans expect another civil war; meanwhile, President Biden is doing wonderful things to help America, and perhaps confront the ever more evident drastic effects of climate change. It was later reported that congressman Scott Perry’s phone was seized by the FBI. Make of that what you will, but some will recall that Perry wanted a pardon for his role in trying to overturn the 2020 election. He was the dude who introduced Jeffrey Clark (aka Acting Attorney General) to Trump.  While there are millions of people, not only in the US but ourselves looking on, wondering when if ever Trump will be held to account, there’s a huge backlash against this legitimate action (a legal search warrant, granted by a judge), it’s feared that Trump’s potential run for President in 2024 has been given a huge boost, just when it was hoped that his lustre amongst republicans was fading somewhat. There have been many discussions as to whether he should be charged;  most now think that he should. The consequences  are going to be ghastly, in either event.

I listened to an American scandal podcast, the last in the series about chemicals created by the big firm Du Pont.  The author interviewed Robert Bilott, the lawyer played by Tom Ruffalo in the film Dark Waters. Forever chemicals American scandal.  The discussion about what are now known as “forever chemicals” was particularly concerning.

There’s news from Ukraine that the large nuclear plant at Zaporizhia with six reactors has been shelled by the Russians, causing enormous concern amongst nuclear experts and others about potential radiation leaks. Like Covid 19, radiation is an invisible threat. Dr John Campbell departed from his usual non-hysterical disease analysis to talk about the threat of nuclear radiation; he also went over what happened at Chernobyl in 1986, and the spread of radiation from that disaster. He didn’t wat to e alarmist, but he did rather alarm this viewer. It seems the Russians may not need to use “tactical nuclear weapons” (whatever they are) to achieve their objectives (what objectives?). It seems that Putin wants to render Ukraine a waste land – all if not most of it. It does upset me when so many people say “nucular” instead of nuclear. It’s not difficult, for goodness sake!

On the other hand, the Ukrainians blew up a Russian fuel depot in Crimea, shocking Russians sunning themselves on the beach. There were huge explosions and spectacular “mushroom” clouds. It’s thought that at least 8 aircraft were destroyed.   I have been listening to a week-day podcast produced by the Telegraph about the war in Ukraine, and it noted recently that it’s thought there have been 80,000 Russian casualties, and Putin is having trouble recruiting soldiers.  It must have been interesting for Russian tourists in Crimea to see Ukrainians having a devastating effect on a Russian base. Many of them left – this wasn’t the kind of holiday they’d bargained for.

I can’t resist briefly commenting on the Sussex saga.  It seems that Meghan is channeling Wallis Simpson in some of her clothes and actions. I have been listening to a British Scandal  podcast about the abdication of King Edward VIII (Prince David) in 1938; I had always thought Wallis Simpson was quite unwilling to marry her David and live with him (and his dependency) abroad – they were banned from living in England); she found herself in an unfortunate situation by his abdication. There’s no doubt that she gripped her David’s arm the same way that Meghan grips Harry’s hand or arm, depending how hard he’s trying to escape. There’s also a funny story about Harry’s grundies (from a naked escapade in his pre-marriage days, having had various escapades in Las Vegas) being auctioned in the US. Proceeds are to go to Archewell. 

Today’s Covid 19 report is as follows: There are 5169 new reported community cases of Covid-19 in Aotearoa today, the Ministry of Health says. There are 11 people in intensive care and 599 hospitalisations. The seven-day rolling average of community case numbers today is 4938. Last Wednesday it was 6355. An additional 228 imported cases had been detected in recent arrivals.

There are now a total of 1705 deaths confirmed as attributable to Covid-19, the ministry says, which are deaths where Covid-19 is either the underlying cause of death or as a contributing factor. So we’re not told how many new deaths.

The 599 people in hospital are across Aotearoa: Northland: 36; Waitematā: 59; Counties Manukau: 53; Auckland: 68; Waikato: 60; Bay of Plenty: 23; Lakes: 17; Hawke’s Bay: 35; MidCentral: 21; Whanganui: 16; Taranaki: 12; Tairawhiti: 2; Wairarapa: 7; Capital & Coast: 15; Hutt Valley: 16; Nelson Marlborough: 15; Canterbury: 86; West Coast: 4; South Canterbury: 23; Southern: 31.

It’s now Thursday August 11th.

This morning I went to Tai Chi instead of singing. I figured that it would be easier to cope with. Despite the very cold weather, there was a big turn out there. It was lovely – I did enjoy it. I was a bit unsteady, but I remembered most moves, and only coughed at the end. I was near the door, so could leave for a few moments. I was going to catch the train back to Wellington, and go to Unity Books, but I thought better of that plan and asked JD to come and pick me up (he had offered).   I said to one of my friends there that it was like recovering from my illness almost 11 years ago (my “ground zero”), when Tai Chi was one of the first activities I took up in my new life.

Today’s Covid 19 report tells that there are 4,818 new community cases, and 571 people in hospital, with 13 in Intensive Care. There have been a total of 1,726 deaths; we’re told this past week’s average is 12 per day.

Sam Uffindell is in even more trouble. Uffindell was stood down from National’s caucus late on Tuesday by Luxon as an investigation was launched into allegations made by a female flatmate of Uffindell when the pair studied at Otago University in the early 2000s.

The flatmate said Uffindell had been an aggressive bully who once pounded on her bedroom door, screaming obscenities, until she fled through her window. This was being ignored yesterday, as the bullying incident was  focussed on. This morning it transpired that Uffindell’s flat was disgustingly dirty – the toilet wasn’t cleaned for over a year, and for some time the toilet was discharging into the house’s back yard. Uffindell was attending Otago University, but he doesn’t appear to have graduated.  He drank, and smoked weed – as you do, but this does not excuse some rather unpleasant behaviour, including intimidating a female flatmate, and having female underwear on display. Uffindell joins a list of unsavoury National Party guys who have had to be let go including Jami-Lee Ross, Andrew Falloon, Todd Barclay,  Aaron Gilmore, and probably others. While some of the Labour Party people are less than likeable, and not always very intelligent, they have not all been shown to be this predatory.

It’s now Friday August 12th.

Today at midday someone was supposed to come from Access. Although I was really tired, I got up early, changed the towels, emptied the rubbish, loaded the dishwasher and did some tidying up – in preparation. Someone left a message on my phone, but I couldn’t decipher it at all.  Then I checked my schedule again, and someone else was due to come at 1:30 pm. I rang Access (a mission in itself), and left a message cancelling the “cares”.  I couldn’t cope with having a stranger come: I don’t want strangers coming to my house, and I didn’t want to show him where everything was. It’s a large house, so it’s not that straightforward, although I have tried to streamline things as much as possible.

Other than that, I’ve been reading, writing, and listening to podcasts.

Sam Uffindell is in even more trouble: his student flat in Dunedin was so dirty that flatmates were put on notice by the local council to clean it up. Really, I know students can be pretty gross, but this seems disgusting.

In the US, there’ve been further developments concerning the FBI search of Trump’s private club at Palm Beach in Florida called Mar-a-Lago. Attorney General Merrick Garland said that he had known about the search warrant (the Biden White House did not know), and he’s offered to disclose what was being looked for. He’d giving Trump an opportunity to respond. Someone armed with a nail gun and an AR15-like weapon tried to enter the FBI headquarters in Cincinnati, and was later killed after fleeing police.  He was evidently at the January 6 riot, and advocated civil war – as do many republicans, being shocked by this legal search. “Defund the FBI” is the chant of some politicians – which is highly ironic, since the call by some democrats of “defund the police” was seen as being very problematic for them.  There is a very real threat of violence, as enacted by this person in Cincinnati, and many Americans are afraid, comparing these times to those before the Oklahoma bombing in 1995. This was seen as being due to private far-right militia anger at some developments. Americans have reason to be afraid, given the prevalence of gun violence in their society. Free to be afraid, what?

Then the Washington Post broke some alarming new news: it claimed that some if not all of the documents sought (some if not all classified) related to nuclear weapons.  This is truly terrifying.  Republicans calling for the search warrant to be disclosed are not so sure now that that’s what they want.   There are very real fears about what may happen next, and what peril the US may be in, internally and externally.

Today’s covid 119 report seems mundane compared to these issues. Today there are 4,126 new community cases, and there’ve been 13 more deaths. There are 609 people in hospital, says the RNZ News headline, but their actual report says 549 people are in hospital. we’re not told how many are in Intensive Care. The NZ Herald says 549 people are in hospital, and 16 are in Intensive Care.

The 13 people with Covid-19 whose deaths were reported include five people in their 70s, five in their 80s and three aged over 90. Eight were women and five were men. One was from Northland, three were from Auckland region, one was from Waikato, one was from Bay of Plenty, one was from Tairawhiti, one was from Hawke’s Bay, one was from Taranaki, one was from Canterbury, three were from Southern.

So I guess the numbers are inching down, gradually.  I still wish I hadn’t got it. That’s it for now. Slava Ukraini! Ngā mihi.