Monday, December 24, 2018

A Christmas story .. spread it!

    ‘Come on MUM … there’s heaps of cars in the car park. All those people are gonna get the best stuff!’  Cindy rolled the window up of the aging Holden. ‘Why can’t we have a car with those automatic winders,’ she added in that whining tone her brother Tim hated, and usually responded in his uniquely enigmatic manner. This time, he was ‘otherwise-engaged,’ his headphones blasting out Rap music his mum, June, would rather not hear.
    June manoeuvred the car into a space, avoiding the eyes of a man driving a late model Nissan. ‘Looks like he might have to drive around for looking,’ she said, a bit guiltily. ‘Come on … let’s get this over and done with. Remember … I only have $150 in the Christmas Club, so only a few treats. Are you joining us, Tim?’
    Tim muttered a reply, just quietly enough for June not to hear. She had long since given up trying to interpret his adolescent brooding. The sun was sending the temperature into the mid-twenties, adding a layer of discomfort to her already stressed demeanour. The reality of the meagre $150 and what it could purchase hung heavily on her.
    A few minutes later, they were trudging down the veggie aisle, Tim heading towards the snacks around the corner. He didn’t hear June telling him to wait.
    ‘Oh well … better get the essentials,’ she said, forlornly, lifting a 10kg bag of potatoes into the trolley, which Cindy insisted was her job to propel through the crowded supermarket. June had to return several items to the shelves that Tim had carelessly shoved into the trolley. ‘When will that boy learn that ‘essential’ does not include expensive Turkish dried apricots … or whatever he is getting now?’
    Her fears were validated, as they rounded the corner. Tim dumped about twelve different packets of ‘munchies,’ as he liked to call them, into the trolley. June shrugged her shoulders, then faced her daughter, who was less inclined to hold back. “Why does he always get to choose … ‘‘Don’t … just don’t,’ June pleaded, as other shoppers sent various ‘judgments’ her way.
     They continued, collecting meat, bread, cleaning products, a small Christmas cake and a bottle of cheap wine. June began to feel anxious.  ‘The $150 was beginning to look totally inadequate.  As they approached the checkouts, June searched for the shortest line. They waited in line. June started the process of quietly deciding which items were going to ‘return’ to the shelves. She braced herself for the glances, the pitying looks, the unspoken comments.
    Tim walked through and waited by the sliding doors, totally unconcerned, while Cindy helped to stack the purchases on to the counter. June watched as the total passed her target. She rummaged around in her purse, finding about $20 in coins. She was forty dollars short.
    Her face reddened as she asked the operator to take out items. June returned the larger packets of munchies, the bottle of wine, and asked for the new total. She was still $5 short
June was close to tears. She searched for another item that would lower the total. As she picked up a large bag of frozen veggies, a hand gently reached across from behind.
    ‘How about you put them all back in. I’ll pay for them.’ His eyes seemed to say … ‘please let me. It’s OK … I’ve been there. I KNOW what it’s like.’
    ‘But … I don’t know you … why … ‘June burst into tears. There was no doubt that people were looking now … intensely … but without the judgment she feared. ‘I can …n’t … except … your generosity.’
    ‘You can. Call it, paying forward. If you knew my story you would KNOW. It’s OK.’
    June was overwhelmed. For once, Tim showed a side she hadn’t seen for years … well not since he was launched in to the ‘difficult years.’ He came forward and put his arms around his mother. ‘Mum … let him. He’s a good one.’
    June watched, as the man paid for ALL her groceries; dumbfounded, unable to respond in words … for a while. ‘How can I repay you?’ Then it hit her. He was the man in the car park … the one she had pushed into the empty car park in front of … the only empty car park! ‘I’m so sorry about my behaviour in the car park.’
    ‘I wouldn’t be concerned about that,’ he replied. I could see you had a handful. I know what kids are like. He smiled at Tim and Cindy. ‘You two … look after your mum. Show her you care.’
    He walked away. As June left the store, she felt every eye on her, some of them moist. Maybe Christmas was going to be a little different this year. People do care … sometimes.
Neil Coleman


Tuesday, November 13, 2018

'Please pull over, Sir!'

I took the 'High Road to my job today, or maybe I should call it the 'long road!' About halfway to my destination, I received a phone call, telling me that my first two clients were attending a Powhiri. OK ... time to kill. The gentle hills, painted by a mix of pasture, dotted with ruminating beasts, and trees, watching over The Firth of Thames, with mussel farms, holiday homes and Regional parks on both sides of the winding road.
I drove past the oyster shop ... once again promising to 'stop, next time,' almost tasting the fat creamy morsels, as they slid down my throat. A few more kilometres and Clevedon appeared. I slowed down.
Just past the pub, I espied lots of orange cones on the road outside the school, attended by their very own collection of constables. As I approached, I was flagged down and asked to drive into the left lane. I'm not sure what the other lane was for.
Oh no ... was I driving too fast? I remembered passing the flashing warning about a school. Bugger ... the fines for speeding near a school are not your run-of-the-mill parking fine. Not a good look!
The officer asked me to wind down my window. Here it comes ... I may as well admit it and get it over with and never tell a soul! But he was smiling. One of those ... the nasty, power-freak, sort.
'Sir ... could you please wind down your window, so the girls can talk to you?'
What ... he was gonna get the kids to rub it in?! Bastard! Of course ... I didn't say that. I did as he asked.
'Good morning sir. We are doing a project about keeping us safe. We would like to thank you for driving safely.'
One of her friends stepped closer to the car. 'We would like to give you a little present for caring about us,' she said as she passed a lovely card and a pen through the window.
I was flabbergasted. I thought I was speeding and only vaguely remembered the sign and although I wasn't going flat-tick, I did not consciously aim at the required 40PH. I guess I was 'doing the right thing ... by habit. Well, that's my story and I'm sticking to it. They had their guns ... the ones that have caught me out a few years ago ... nothing more than about 4 above the limit, but enough to cop a fine!
'Thanks, girls. What a nice surprise. Keep up the good work. Ka kite,' I said and drove off, with a warm fuzzy feeling and a sense of wonderment.
What a good way to get the message across. Something similar had happened in Thames a few moons ago, but it involved Jack Russell and a Dog Ranger! That's another sotry.

Thursday, November 8, 2018


Finally, our little book, NUGGETS FROM THAMES WRITERS, is available. We are having a low key launch tomorrow, Saturday, 10th of November, at The Carson's Gallery Bookshop Cafe. They will then be available in the bookshop next door. For $5.95. You can purchase this little gem, from the THAMES Writers Group.                                                          
The book is a collection of short stories, the perfect gift to round up the Christmas Stocking. It's perfect to take to the beach to read after the picnic and walk.             
The stories are an eclectic collection, reflecting the different styles of our authors, some funny, other mysterious ... even 'challenging.' This is our first effort. There will be more. 
Come along tomorrow, and while you have a coffee, maybe a slice, a piece of cake or a tasty sandwich, browse the artwork that Rex has on display. (More Christmas presents!)        
To my dear Auckland friends: I'm sure you want a copy. Let me know, and I can post or leave some at James Cook High. Happy reading. 
Don't forget ... tomorrow there will be a huge parade  ... The famous Steam Punk Parade. Come and have a crazy time. The parade is at 10.30, and our books will be on sale FROM around that time. 
Feel free to contact me on

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Driving through 'YESTER-YEAR.'

I took the long road to Auckland today ... the eastern approach; the one that kisses the Firth of Thames and sneaks through hills and valleys, dances alongside sparkling streams, before entering the gates of the sprawling city at Howick.
One can just make out the distant Sky Tower, casting false promises to desperate punters, while acting as a pointer to travellers to the heart of the city.     I was embraced by the Eastern suburbs, realizing that two years had passed since I had ventured that way, trying to get a glimpse of my sister's first home, before the 'village' reminded me of the way Howick 'used to be.'                                           The Eastern route continued until I came to the bridge controlled by traffic lights, changing according to traffic flow, relying on good observation as to the traffic flow. Get it wrong at your peril!                                 A few tears threatened as I approached Ellerslie ... The home of Pat ... now gone, but not forgotten.  I veered west, passing my one and only experience of apartment living. There was no pull ... no regrets ... but the Onehunga township was a nostalgic slap. I felt it ... a glow ... a sense of a good friend greeting me. Then ... down at my beloved Bay ... the fulcrum of many memories, usually including PERDY, my Jack Russell and the friends I met because if her ... they were not at the Bay. I could hardly blame them on this bleak day. I miss them. But I needed to be elsewhere.
Time constraints: They get in the way of connecting with people I miss. Next time, I promise myself. I note the beautiful 'improvements' at the Bay, before continuing to my 'appointment,' for lunch with 'R' on that most gastronomic of roads ... Dominion Rd. I am where I feel so content ... with a person so part of me. Sure, we are no longer in Auckland. I saw not one familiar face ... but despite the changes ... I know that this crazy city will always be part of me.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Hey Brits! How about reading my blogs and books!

I don't do this very often, but hey ... every so often I see that my blogs are read by punters in 'The Olde Country ... Mother England, old Blimey .. you choose the handle!

Go back five generations and that's where I can claim 'heritage,' along with a bit of Scottish blood. I am told that the Colemans (Coulman) may have originated from Ireland. Maybe the Ancestry kit that looks at my DNA will throw further light on the matter. Apparently a few of the latter left Ireland and settled in Kent and from there ...not sure, but my forebears came from the Midlands, and my dear mum had some contact with them.

If any of my English 'family have anything to tell me about 'that family that left England, then give us a yell out!

In the meantime, keep reading blogs, but better still ... go to my web page and follow the links from 'Neil's Books' and download them to your devices. My books are on many platforms, so it's not hard to access them. Please share this post with your mates and my 'extended ... very extended,' family. I would love to hear from you.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

A message from 'Outer space!'

It seems my blogs are read in many countries. I think that about 40 plus countries have people reading my stories, theories and other 'utterances.'  Imagine my delight, when I see a new country ... oops ... backtrack! I thought I had a pretty good handle on geographic locations. Hell, I'm not like those educationally deficient Americans who can not recognise countries other than thier own, on a map, when interviewed by various Youtube or other media outlets.
Today, I had a rather unusual new reader. I have never heard of a country called 'Unknown region!' I welcome this new reader ... I think! Could be a bit dicey, don't ya reckon?! Wherefore art thou, dear reader?

A 'BLOG too Far.'

What do I do with nearly 3000 blogs? Yes, over the last 6 years, I have published nearly 3000 blogs. At first, people hardly read them and I was lucky if a dozen or so people actually stumbled upon them. I considered a hit rate of 30 a well-supported blog.
Then about six months ago, I noticed a change. It became unusual for a blog to have less than 100 hits and not unusual for 500 people to read one. I observed a trend, with some subject matters, achieving a better rate. Everyone writes about TRUMP and yes, so did I. Politics, in general, is a genre that I entered and whilst I achieved a fair number of hits, I never made a major breakthrough (within my particular 'blog-world')
Then, there was my Bariatric Surgery journey. I wrote about my experience. I suspect it was a way of me making sense of that dramatic time. I even started a Bariatric Surgery Support group on Facebook, reaching nearly 14,000 members, worldwide. LIke my other blogs, I linked them all to my webpage and FB.
There are other 'themes' running through my blogs, including my move from the big city (Auckland, NZ) and semi-retiring to a more gentle life in a small town (Thames), and all changes that entailed.
I used my blogs to 'push' my books. Firs,t there was 'Coastal Yarns,' followed by 'Roskill,' and 'Talk To Me.' I encouraged people to download or buy hard-copy. Being a self-published author is hard work. Even though one of my books (Talk To me) reached the finals of The Ngaio Crime Writers Awards, getting sales was difficult, so I persisted with my blogs in the hope that things would change.
Once again I entered another competition and reached the final ten for a Publishing deal for the first book in a three-part series. (Sorry---I can't say the title until the results are finalized I'm not sure where that will go.
I have decided to publish my blogs in themes. The first one will be 'PERDY ... Somebody to love! Yes, I shall gather the best blogs together about my crazy, loveable Jack Russell ... with pictures. I shall rework them and have them proofread and edited. I shall add a commentary to bring the stories together. My aim is to have it our within a month .. on Amazon. Watch this space for the release date. It won't be expensive ... probably only a dollar per download. The length ... about 120 pages with pictures.