Sunday, October 30, 2011

All Saints Day

There are just a few days of the year when I want to be back worshipping at St James, King Street. I make it for Christmas and sometimes for Easter but not for All Saints Day.
I am thankful to be at St John's Roslyn which is certainly more friendly and today was packed with people of all ages, care needed not to fall over young children at coffee, thankful for having raised over $18,000 at the Parish Fair yesterday.

However the final hymn was one of my favourites "For All The Saints". I learned it at St Philip's Eastwood where I worshipped in the early 1960's and we often sang it at Evening Prayer, a service packed with young people, evangelical but Anglican. It has sadly now gone the way of most of Sydney diocese.

Today we only sang 4 verses. I could not help being wistful for St James where it would be the Introit and would need all 8 verses to allow the procession to move 3 times around the church led by the censer, followed by the Cross, then the wardens and the parish banners, the choir and finally the altar party of at least 6 and finally the President wearing his cope.

Of course I only attended St James for 3 years when I finally discovered it amidst the sea of today's Sydney evangelicalism where they would have no idea of a Saint's Day.

I have searched Youtube for a suitable version but there are none with processional choirs sung well with gusto so will have to provide one from Cardiff in St David's Hall and only 4 verses.

Wonderful words of praise set to music by one of my favourite composers, Ralph Vaughan Williams.

And our vicar, Eric has posted the sermon for today.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Favourite Advertisement

I hate TV adverts. In Australia I watched the ABC 90% of the time. Owned by the government, it did not have adverts although program promos took up a lot of time but they were between programs, not interruptions.  Here in NZ the 2 government stations have adverts and are indistinguishable from commercial TV.   Therefore I now watch very little TV.
However I can watch one advert over and over again. Probably helped by the fact that the last pet I owned (he was actually owned by my sister ) was Terry, a Fox terrier , almost indistinguishable from the dog in the add ( I believe there were 3). He died in 1971. I have not had a pet since.

It has just won NZ advert of the year. I actually voted, I usually would not waste money on such things.  However, although I love the advert and  the followups, I oppose all forms of gambling.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Reunion Update and other matters

The reunion went well and I think it was worth all that money. The bus to Christchurch was bearable - just 3 others onboard,  I think overseas students. The problem was that we arrived at the airport at 2.30am and my plane left at 7am. I seem to spend far more time than I like hanging around airports. The captain said we would take less than 3 hours but, as we approached Sydney, the heavy air traffic meant we circled over the Tasman twice and landed nearly 3 and half hours after takeoff at 8.25am Sydney time.  I only took hand luggage and the customs officials were unusually cooperative so I was on the train just after 9 am and at my sister's home before 10am.

I slept until 1 pm, had lunch then lay down again until nearly 3, showered and changed, and set off for the reunion at 3.45.  I felt remarkably ok. It was not far away and was set for 4pm till late.  There were only about 15 of us, including one teacher.

Only one, Dennis, could have been said to have been in my group at school but it is strange how guys who hardly connected at age 16 can be very easy to be with now we are 66 plus. I guess those 5 years at a rather remarkable school give us a bond. I left at 10pm and the few who remained did not look like staying much longer.

The teacher, Rod, was my Latin teacher which I only studied for 3 of the 5 years. However he was also the teacher-in-charge of the school Christian group so had an enormous influence on me.  He went on to become Principal of one of the leading Anglican schools. At one time there was trouble over homosexuality at the school and I wrote to him and we met for afternoon tea.  He expressed regret that he had not been able to help me at the time I was at school.   However in the late 50's homosexuality was never discussed.  I did not understand my feelings until I studied psychology at university.  I have a feeling he would have advised me to see psychiatrists who, in those days, treated people with "sexual disorders".  Receiving such treatment at age 27 was bad enough, I do not know how I might have coped as a teenager. 

Rod has always expressed pleasure at meeting me again and asked if I had a partner.  I told him I felt more at home in the Dunedin diocese than in Sydney and let him deduce what he might from that.  My feelings for him are mixed as are my feelings about my evangelical upbringing.  It developed my faith and gave me a strong sense of Christian certainty but at the same time I blame it for many of the problems I have had to deal with over the years.

My best mate at school, Peter,  sadly died of cancer in 2004 and I missed him at the reunion.  Rod was also important to him and visited him in his last weeks.  He also became a teacher and a Christian School Principal.  A week before he died, I rang him and we were discussing some of the hymns we loved to sing such as "Blessed Assurance".  I remarked that things had seemed so much simpler in those days and Peter replied that they sure were and real life was really far more complicated.

I knew Dennis, like me, had met up with another in our group about 10 years ago. Trevor was brilliant and gained higher degrees in both English and Science. but sadly has bipolar disorder and a problem with alcoholism. He had a difficult time at school due to his extreme feminism.  I lunched with him at the time but feel guilty that it was so unpleasant that I never repeated  it.  Dennis said that, when they met, he found his overt homosexuality hard to deal with, I stated that was not a problem for me and let Dennis deduce what he might from that.

Sydney from Watson's Bay
On Wednesday I slept in, booked my last free flights with United Airlines (to Sydney and back next Easter) then went to the city with my sister. After some shopping, we walked to the Quay and caught a ferry to Watson's Bay for seafood lunch. The Harbour was sparkling but not too hot, one thing I do like about Sydney.

Thursday I flew home, this time with Jetstar who cannot match Air New Zealand for service. They are a subsidiary of Qantas and I always say "I am an Australian, I never fly Qantas." I waited another 4 hours at Christchurch airport for the Air New Zealand flight back to Dunedin in a very small plane which struck turbulence over the Northern hills. I was very relieved when we came down out of the cloud and I saw Mt Cargill (the highest local point) was still comfortably below us.

Tomorrow, Sunday,  I will be spending my first day as a volunteer on the Taieri Gorge Railway which takes passengers from cruise ships up into the scenic area behind the city. There are over 80 cruise ships visiting Dunedin this summer so that should keep me out of mischief.

Monday, October 17, 2011


I knew that reunions, and unfortunately also funerals, would be a problem when I moved to New Zealand. I missed Garry's funeral back in April.

In August I went to Australia for 12 days primarily for a reunion of the school where I taught for 15 years. I combined it with a holiday in Victoria. The actual reunion was disappointing mainly because it was for all students at a school which is celebrating 60 years this year. There were not many attending that I knew and there were no name tags. Guys my age were asking me if I was a student at their time and it was hard to decide if anyone was someone I taught.  I had black hair and no glasses in those days.  I only stayed about 2 hours. Fortunately I flew over on frequent flyer points.

Tomorrow is a reunion of my own class after 50 years and I have managed to get cheap flights. However the flight leaves Christchurch at 7am tomorrow and, rather than stay at a motel (and check out about 5am), I am catching the Knightrider bus which leaves Dunedin at 9.30pm and arrives Christchurch airport at 3.15am.  I will arrive my sister's home about 10am so hope I can get some rest before heading out for the reunion about 4.30pm.

I am only staying 2 nights and flying back on Thursday.  Fortunately, while flying into Christchurch,  I managed to get a flight onto Dunedin for the same price as the bus. I will have to pay for the shuttle from the airport to home but will be home 5 hours earlier.

I do hope this reunion is better and makes the trip worthwhile.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

This makes me Angry

I do not know how much news about the ship on the reef near the port of Tauranga. NZ is reaching the world outside Australia and New Zealand.

Hopefully a window of good weather over the next few days will allow authorities to pump out much of the oil.
The authorities seemed to have reacted like stunned mullet for the first week.At least thousands of volunteers are now joining the army and other professional groups to clean up the beaches and finally being given some training.
Some birds and anilmals are being rescued but over 1000 seabirds have died.

Fishermen and tourist operators are facing economic loss.
My anger is that the Greek owners of the ship have apologised but why was their ship registered with Liberia and manned by a Filipino crew. These seems to be ways of shipping companies minimising costs and reducing compliance with regulations. Full details will not be known until a long and costly inquiry is held. Apparently they are only liable for a maximum of 14 million dollars.
However it seems there were questions about the ship recently while in port in both Perth, Australia and Bluff, NZ. The captain was celebrating his birthday on board when the ship ran aground in good weather and both he and the 2nd officer have been charged in court. Locals say ships often go close to the well charted reef probably to save fuel.
As we are discovering in inquiries into the Pike River Mine Disaster and even some of the buildings flattened in the Christchurch earthquake,  there is suspicion that some cost cutting has occurred.
As usual we see big business maximising profits and to hell with the consequences.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Praise God from Whom all Blessings flow.

From my friend Birdie in Indianapolis for whom I asked prayers on September 1st

I am finishing my fourth course of chemo, which will bring a new wave of cluelessness. But that's okay, because today's exam showed NO MEASURABLE TUMOR in my breast—and the last exam said the same about the node tumor. The large tumor measured six by seven centimeters at the start of chemotherapy, and the node was three centimeters. The kind of cancer I have (triple negative) is not always responsive to chemo, so we didn't know what to expect.

Ladies and gentlemen, it's working. I am so thankful and full of hope for my future. Hope is the stuff of life.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Music in Dunedin

If health matters create the only real downside of my move to New Zealand,  Music certainly makes up for it.
Last Wednesday I attended a performance by  the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra at the Town Hall. It was excellent. The second half was Beethoven's Ninth Symphony "Ode to Joy"
The soloists were all Kiwis who are now making names for themselves overseas.
Madeleine Pierard soprano
Simon O’Neill tenor
Jonathan Lemalu bass
Sarah Castle mezzo-soprano

Simon studied at Otago University and Jonathan grew up in Dunedin. They were accompanied  by the NZ Chamber Choir and the  City of Dunedin Choir. I think about 100 voices. The conductor was Pietari Inkanen who is the Musical Director of the Orchestra and is originally from Finland.

By chance, I also heard Beethoven's Ninth just 4 weeks earlier when I went with my sister to hear it played by the Australian World Orchestra and the Sydney Philharmonia Choir at the Sydney Opera House.  I am far from being an expert but I thought the performance in Dunedin was just as good if not better.  It would have been helped by the fact that I was sitting much closer at one third the price.

In Sydney the first half was Brahms Academic Festival Overture which was also enjoyable and a modern Australian work "Vexations and Devotions" by Brett Dean who also conducted his own piece. It was one of the most horrible things (I would not call it music) I have ever had to sit through.
I was therefore a little nervous at seeing the first half in Dunedin was also a modern piece  Kaitiaki, Words by Witi Ihimaera and music by Gareth Farr. However it was also enjoyable, very impressive in parts. It was written especially for this performance. Ihimaera says the work is, for him, a mihi aroha or a greeting of love across space and time to honour Beethoven.

A week earlier I also attended the Town Hall for a "Last Night of the Proms" by the Southern Sinfonia and the City of Dunedin Choir.  This is usually held in February but the Town Hall will be closed for renovations next year and they decided to hold it to coincide with the  England team playing several Rugby World Cup matches in Dunedin.
I always love this and think it was actually better than in February. They also played the 1812 Overture, another favourite of mine,  and had a cannon.

The week before the Sinfonia played for the G&S society's performance of Utopia Ltd.
I also attended the Sinfonia in August with Brahms Symphony No 1 and Nikolai Demidenko playing Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No 3.  Unfortunately the NZ Symphony's visit in August was cancelled due to the heavy snow.  I could add a short Organ concert in the Cathedral one recent Saturday afternoon.

As mentioned the NZSO musical director and regular conductor is Pietari Inkanen who is very cute.
I have found an interview he made with the violinist Hilary Hahn who also played at an earlier concert here in Dunedin.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Lord of the Dance

I enjoyed the final hymn at church this morning. However, with Ireland to play Italy in the final Pool match of the Rugby World Cup here in Dunedin in a few hours, I think there might be some bias at play. I will be supporting Italy mainly because an Italian win will be better for Australia but I am in the minority.
Lots of choice on Youtube but, sorry my American friends, they have to pronounce dance properly for me to select this version.


With 4 Rugby Union matches today and one Rugby League Grand Final match (Auckland Warriors) in Sydney, I am feeling a bit over it all,  but there were friends at church going home to watch all 4 Union matches and also try to catch as much of the League as possible.