When the feeling is gone

For me; when the feeling is gone I will no longer be breathing. For there isn’t a day on earth that I can’t imagine not being in love with Betty-Anne Monga.

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I was in my late teens when Betty-Anne and Ardijah burst onto the NZ music scene.

‘Who is that ‘Atua Wahine?’ I asked myself after seeing her for the first time on Ready to Roll. Not only was she stunning, she sounded like an angel – a siren singing straight to my heart. I would have gladly drowned enveloped in her supple brown arms, be tangled and strangled within her long dark hair. God, her beauty hit me right between the eyes and the ears, and to be honest I’ve never fully recovered.

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Of course Ardijah didn’t really just hit the scenes. They had been working the pub scene in Auckland for many years – but for all of those early years they were a covers band. Not a bad thing to be, because they honed their skills, they learnt their craft. So when the big time came they were ready. By god they were ready. It was only after a wag called out during one of their gigs, ‘play something original’  did they feel empowered, did they feel brave enough to unleash their brand of music upon Aotearoa, and I’m so glad they did. Time makes a wine indeed.

Now, I’m no great fan of RnB. But when it is fused with a Polynesian back beat, reggae, funk and ska roots I’m a convert. To me Ardijah is a seminal band for NZ in the way they achieved the finest quality and subtle blend of these elements.  They coined the term Polyfonk – it stuck and it is now the name of their recording label.


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Ask any Kiwi worth their salt who were their musicians of the eighties, the answers will invariably be:

Split Enz, The Exponents, Dave Dobbyn (and bands), Herbs, Dragon, Mi-Sex, the chills and Hello Sailor, The Clean and more. But where’s Ardijah? Where the hell is Ardijah?

To me they were the sound of the eighties and the nineties. Hot summer days at the beach, picnics, long drives with the window down, arm out the window and my ardijah cassettes on auto rewind. Balmy nights spent wondering where Betty-Anne was playing and wishing I could be there too. Wishing I could drown…yes, yes, heard it already Roly.

Time has flown by, I am now a 50 something overweight pakeha male, but Betty-Anne is still an Atua Wahine. She is still my imaginery 80’s girlfriend.

Ardijah still gig and make music; now they are master craftsmen who have dug even deeper into their polynesian roots. They have immersed themselves into music of the land, of the islands, of the people and themselves. They are also doing covers again, and their version of Prince Tui Teka’s E-Ipo is a beautifully sculptured piece of immense gravitias and mana – easily equal to Herb’s ‘Sensitive to a smile,’ to which it gives a well deserved nod. Bravo!

So Betty-Anne for me the feeling will never be gone. We have never met (damn-it)  but I look back at the eighties and am very grateful that you played such a major part of those years. It was a journey I loved sharing with you. And as you sang so many years ago – time does indeed makes a very fine wine.

Here’s to many more glasses on our journey’s.

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Kia Ora Roly

Bed Legs

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Quite a few years ago Keane recorded the song ‘Bed Shaped.’

According to the composer  Tim Rice-Oxley  the song is about feeling that you’ve been “left behind” by an old friend or lover, and about hoping that you’ll be reunited one day so that you can live out the end of your lives together the way you started them (…) a hope that they’ll eventually want to get away from the bright lights and come back home. it’s a sad and angry song, but also full of hope.

He said, ‘I think I’m right in saying that in hospital when someone is ill and has to spend a lot of time in bed they can become ‘bedshaped’. It sounds a bit depressing (…) but in the context of the song I wanted to suggest old age and frailty.’ (thanks Wiki)

Personally, I love the concept of being Bed-Shaped. Coffin shaped could also easily applied to those prone to lying down a lot. Of course, there’s bed heads, but has anyone ever considered being bed legged?

I have, purely because I am bed legged – I do have them! My 10 year old daughter has longer legs than me! She’s Maddie Long Legs and I’m Daddy Bed legs. Attach some castors to the ends of my limbs, cover me with a duvet and voila – a perfectly acceptable billet. Add two perfectly nobbled knees and you have an article and artifact of style and fashion.

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Having bed legs is not all that bad. Up until I stopped playing rugby about ten years ago, I had calves, quads and gluts to die for – even if I say so myself. My wife reckoned it was my calves that attracted her to me in the first place (something for everyone I guess).

Ben Pakulski and Friends Show off Impressive Calf Development

Nb: None of these guys are me. 

Unfortunately over developed calves often lead themselves to injury and in the the last few years of playing rugby, calf injuries were common, once even completely blowing a calf during a game with the associated ‘pop’ (more like a gun shot) being heard from 30 metres away. A wobbly bed indeed.

As I’ve aged my shapely bed legs have become more stump like, no longer am I styled like a chaise lounge, no, alas, I am now like a divan, perfectly functional, but a fashion free zone. Still having a long torso does mean I carry my weight well and look deceptively less weighty.

Buying clothes off rack is problematic. Not once have I ever been able to purchase pants that don’t require taking up. Never, have I been able to wear long shorts as they automatically become short longs.Wearing dress shorts and socks result in a 1 inch window of knee exposure. A sliver of skin contained within a frame of cotton and polyester.

On formal occasions I have been known to adorn a kilt and this is where having bed legs really come into their own. Stumpy short legs suddenly becoming sturdy supports for a tartan full of opportunity.

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As I grow older, as my skin loosens and muscles fade, one things for sure, and that is that, like it or lump it,I will always have bed legs. At 52, you would have thought i would have gotten over it.

“It is very queer, but not the less true, that people are generally quite as vain, or even more so, of their deficiencies than of their available gifts.”

Nathaniel Hawthorne

Nathaniel Hawthorne, The House of the Seven Gables

Kia Ora Roly

Feel Inside

Do you remember what it felt like to be a child?

Do you remember the fun, the energy, the optimism and the innocence?

I bet we all do!

Every writer worth their salt has written about the transition from child to adult, the rites of passage, the coming of age, journey’s of discovery.

Very few though write about the unbridled joy and sheer loveliness of being young. Of a time in our life when the only worry we had was the Maths test on Friday. When we could have a fight with our best friend in the morning and be bestie mates again by lunchtime.

Is it the fear of being labelled a sacchariney children’s author, the fear of being a niche teen writer that stops of us? Or is it because we have become so cynical we know for most; the innocence, the generosity and the love will disappear as soon as the horrible hormones kick in?  At any age, there are always a good stories, and here’s one of them.

Maddie and one of her besties, Sally, wanted to raise money for the Earthquake Victims in Kaikoura. So on Wednesday they set up a Lemonade and Cookie stand at Tahunanui Beach. They raised $53.70 to be given to the St John’s Earthquake appeal.

I asked Maddie how she felt inside afterward. She said, she felt so good, she said she felt so joyful in that she and Sally could actually do something to help. When she spoke her eyes lit up, a smile came across her face and I could actually see and hear the love from the way she spoke and moved.

I will let the photo’s do the talking.

The following song is called ‘Feel Inside’ it was written by The Flight of the Concords and used to raise money for ‘Cure Kids.’ It ’tis a sweet song but what’s best about it is that all the lyrics were taken from Children.

Kia Ora

Roly

 

Wasps and Hornets and a very stupid Kiwi boy

Back in the 1990’s I lived in Brizzy (Brisbane – Australia) for nearly 10 years.  It was an interesting time in my life, a time which I enjoyed and a time which I didn’t. Australia has always run hot and cold for me. It sill does. Natural Beauty, some wonderful people, incredible weather, wow! Australia is the lucky country, it has everything, it really does. But it is a robust place, politically, socially and on the sports field as well. It takes no prisoners, (no historical pun intended) so there is a lot to admire. But in Queensland particularly, there seems to be undertone of isolationism and mistrust of foreigners, or anyone who wasn’t born in Ipswich, Goondiwindi  or Kingaroy.

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As a Kiwi Immigrant of the 90’s, it seem’s I paid the price for the excesses of the Kiwi Immigrants of the 80’s. I get that. Australia didn’t owe me anything – I get that too. But I didn’t ask for anything, nor wanted anything, and I can honestly say not once did I access the Hospital system, the Welfare system or seek any other kind of assistance. I paid my taxes, but was not allowed to vote. I was not Australian – it was fair enough. I was never unemployed having found work within 2 weeks of arriving.I participated in the community and believe I contributed to the growth and and prosperity of Australia. I made particular effort to have Australian Friends and not just hang out with other Kiwi’s.

Most Australians are big hearted, warm and welcoming, but not all. And after nearly 10 years of being chipped at, after  10 years of Kiwi Bashing it all got a bit much. The rise of Pauline Hanson and her One Nation Party was pretty much the last straw for me. It was time to leave.

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My love/hate relationship of Australia also extends to its Fauna. Snakes, Spiders, Bats, Cochroaches, Goanna’s and Green Ants are all lovely in their own way; but they seem to like to co-habit with humans far too much for my liking.

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A friend of mine found an 8 foot Carpet Snake in his bathroom; this was during a dinner party. ‘Andy, come  here,’ he whispered, his hand blocking his mouth, disguising the  urgency from behind his palm, ‘I need some help.’ The other guests oblivious to our pathetic attempts to get the resting reptile to move on. Where I lived I had bats roosting in nearby trees and dropping Mango shit all over my washing on the line. I couldn’t sit down on my front lawn lest my fat arse got bitten by green ants – seriously the most pain I have ever encountered.

I have had a Goanna steal my picnic lunch at the Botanical Gardens. Completely unaware, I’ve stepped over a Death Adder on a bush walk. I’ve had leeches attach themselves to my scrotum after wading through a swampy bit on Frazer Island. I’ve watched a Grass Snake climb the wall above my Television, thinking oh well its only a Grass Snake. Iv’e had to call a pest removalist to get rid of a Blue Tongue Lizard who refused to move away from behind my washing machine. I was camping once out the back of Gympie when another poor camper got bitten by a Taipan and had to be airlifted out.  And lastly, Iv’e been stung by a Stinger in Moreton Bay – just call me Jonah!

But the most frightening of all was the time when I removed a Hornets nest from my front balcony. It was the the week before I was due to leave Australia and I was cleaning out my flat, getting it ready for tenants. One of the last jobs was to remove the Hornets who had established themselves a nest on the railing of my balcony. I didn’t need protection, I didn’t need chemicals, no, all I needed was a broom! All I needed to do, was to simply give the nest a good whack and it would fall to the driveway below. Easy as.

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I closed the sliding deck door behind me as I snuck up on the nest. I had decided to close the door in case any stray Hornets decided to fly through the open door into the lounge.  Twinkles toes, light on my feet, I was the ultimate personification of stealth. On my first attempt of Hornet removal I grabbed the broom handle, took a great big swing and missed! On my next attempt I hit the nest full on. It shuddered, it wobbled, but it did not fall and 140 Hornets awoke from their siesta.  I know there was 140, because that’s how many stings I received. I counted them afterward!

I quickly retreated to the sliding door. In my haste and panic I jiggled the handle too vigorously and the lock mechanism dropped. I was locked out. The Hornets had now regathered their wits, realising it was a stupid Kiwi Boy who needed to be taught a lesson in matters of convivial neighbourly relations. Each sting was like an atomic pin prick, like a Tens Machine set on 10 with 140 pads placed all over my body.

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I had no choice but to jump over the balcony railing to the driveway 10 foot below. I jumped, I dropped, my ankle collapsing on contact with the concrete. The Hornets following, still stinging, it seemed to me that after each sting, they would retreat for moment, thinking to themselves,’easy as’ before returning to have another go. Up the stairs I stumbled; if you call moving at 50 miles an hour a stumble. Through the door, slamming it closed,I eventually made it to safety. After experimenting with both hot and cold showers trying to take the sting out, I returned to the lounge. I looked out the window. The Hornet’s had gone, and within 7 days so was I.

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The more things change, the more they stay the same. In NZ we have a General Election next year, and Winston Peter’s who started his NZ First Political Party back in the 90’s is expected to be the King Maker. His party polices are based upon Immigration, and was the NZ Forerunner for Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Political Party. This is scary, not just politically. You see there is a nest of Wasps which have made themselves a home on my deck and while I have a new broom, I’m running out of countries to live in.

Kia Ora

Roly

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