Thursday, August 27, 2009

Thanking John Key

I've just emailed John Key. Here's what I said:

Dear Mr Key

I am writing to thank you for your determined stand on the issue of child "discipline" and for refusing to repeal or alter the current law. I imagine that you are likely to get many more messages attacking this stand than supporting it. But it is very heartening to see you refusing to bow to pressure from those who insist that we should reinstate the right to hit children - and thereby reopen the loophole which, in the past, allowed some seriously abusive adults to escape conviction. Your support for Sue Bradford's Bill in the House was admirable, and so is your current stance.

It would be a good idea if lots of people who support the legislation write in - Key and National are bound to be getting gazillions of messages attacking it. They need to know that they are not only doing the right thing, but that despite the referendum, there is plenty of support for retaining the law out there.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Wellington on a plate

Great piles of paid work have been keeping me too busy for blogging, but now it's 10.30 pm and I thought I'd just fit in a post before bedtime. Wellington is having its first Wellington on a Plate food festival and for once I've actually managed to get to a few things.

On Sunday I went with my friend Lesley to high tea at Finc, which has a lovely old interior with an original black and white tiled floor. They did it beautifully with waitresses in little black dresses (much lower cut and shorter than they would have been in the 20s/30s, but too bad), starched white frilly aprons and lovely headbands of broderie anglais with black velvet ribbon.

The customers - it was packed, with lots of young as well as older - got dressed up too, mostly 1920s, but Lesley and I did vaguely 30s with bias-cut skirts, as it's much more flattering for the mature woman! We listened to the jazz band, people-watched and slowly, happily ate our way through a completely over the top afternoon tea: club sammies, scones, eclairs, raspberry tartlets, mini lemon meringue tarts, and finally (honestly) little freshly made doughnuts. All washed down with a glass of elderflower bubbly and a giant pretty flowered china pot of Earl Grey.

It was Really Good, and the setting was perfect, you really could imagine you were back in the right era. I personally think it would be better to drop the doughnuts and have one more savoury thing, maybe a tiny hot vol-au-vent? Or something with cheese? But otherwise, mmmm. Too much of a good thing is definitely wonderful.

Then today I went to lunch at Capitol, next to the Embassy, with a wonderful friend I haven't caught up with for far too long. They were one of the many restaurants doing a special lunch deal, two courses -either entree and main or main and dessert - for $19.50, plus a glass of wine for another $5.50, a very pleasant riesling (forgot to see what it was). In effect I had two lunches - a generous plate (I wondered if I'd got the mains-size by mistake) of beautifully tender squid rings with aioli and green salad; followed by Neapolitan baked eggs, two poached eggs in a gratin dish with beans, tomato, spicy sausage, topped with grilled cheese, plus two large pieces of toasted bread which I didn't eat. Well, only a tiny bit. To mop up.

The desserts, which we didn't have (well, you have to draw the line somewhere), were orange rice pudding with rhubarb and vanilla cheesecake with cherries. Maybe I'll have to go back and do main and dessert instead...

On Friday I'm going to food comedienne Jan Maree and a three course dinner at Sandwiches. I can only hope she approaches being as good as Prue Langbein, whose legendary "Condom Cookery" show was one of the most hilarious pieces of brilliance I have ever seen.

She cooked scrambled eggs in a condom, in a microwave. And, of course, Spotted Dick. Talking very nicely to us all the while about what convenient receptacles they were, in a lovely professional chef doing demo sort of way, she would fill the condom, knot it, put it in the microwave and keep on talking while it swelled and swelled. Just it was obviously about to burst, she would casually hit the stop button. I talked to her and she said it exploded only once. Sheer genius.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Consumer power works

It was very satisfying to see the big headline on this morning: "Cadbury stops using palm oil in chocolate". Buyers of chocolate, including Auckland Zoo, were so offended by the revelation that Cadbury's had started using palm oil (presented as "vegetable fat") in its chocolate that they (a) stopped buying it and (b) made their outrage known all over the media and the net. So now Cadbury's has backed down and apologised.

Now for some time, ever since I saw China Blue, I have had a little fantasy going about starting up a campaign to encourage mail-order sellers of cheap clothing to avoid using exploitative sub-contractors. But my lack of tech-savvy gets in the way. If anyone has any brilliant ideas about how this could be done, get in touch.

PS: Thanks very much for all the warm comments on my skiting!

There's a new Letter from Elsewhere up on Scoop at

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


I'm about to break a Great New Zealand Taboo here - I'm going to Skite. So if you can't cope, stop reading now.

Earlier this year, I did the course in creative non-fiction writing at the International Institute of Modern Letters at Victoria University. It was, like, OMG, SO awesome! No, really, it was, I loved every minute of it.

What I didn't know was that there is a prize for original composition, awarded each year in memory of Victoria University Press's first editor, Pamela Tomlinson, to one of the students either in this course or in short fiction writing. Today I opened a letter telling me I'd won it.

[Here you have to imagine a prolonged but inarticulate noise expressing enormous surprise, joy and excitement.]

There is just one tiny problem. I now have absolutely no excuse whatsoever for not addressing myself seriously to the writing project I focused on while I was doing the course. If there are long gaps in this blog, that may be because I am finally (after not just years, but decades of dithering around) Getting On With It.