Friday, August 31, 2012

Spooky billboard brings one complaint so down it comes!

PC bullshit--- What else can I say. Spookers is a ‘horror’ theme park in South Auckland. It is very popular and some even say there is ‘more there than meets the eye.’ I don’t know about that but what I do know is that the company has had a billboard in Parnell for a few months and it caused no problem. It is sort of graphic but how would it get the point across if it didn’t. It was even R16 but I don’t know if that was just a harmless ploy to get people to read it.
It seems that one [person found the billboard so offensive that they could not drive down the road and that it upset kids. If that was true, how is it that we have not had more complaints?
Let’s wrap our kids up in cotton wool. Hell, I’m not talking about stopping kids’ from climbing tress here, just a picture on a billboard. I am sure that comics and cartoons on Disney Channel are probably just as graphic.
Why is it that the Complaints Authority upheld the complaint? Why are we allowing such a wimpy response? I feel for the kids in the family of the complainant’s family. They must live a boring life, shielded from all potential harm, mollycoddled to the extreme. Of course I don’t know that. They may be just a normal family with values that they hold true.
 But come on--- give us a break. They will be banning KFC adverts soon because the chickens get eaten!

Cheesy nutty delight--grilled in heaven

I love weekends. They are a time when you can try something special and easy for a snack type lunch. Try this cheesy nutty delight.
Toast some bread---any sort---brown, white, in between, you choose.
Turn the grill on. I use one of those bench-top ovens--- they use less energy.
Now, place some peanuts and cheese in a food processor.  Now, this is where you can use your imagination. For those who have none--- keep it simple.
You can use the roasted peanut variety of you want a salty addition. I prefer to use raw peanuts and then add the salt later to taste. If you want ‘heat,’ add chilli flakes. Oh, go one--- try herbs and any other spices if you want but for the plain Janes—stick to the programme.
Spread the mixture from the food processor over the lightly toasted bread and grill. I hope I don’t have to tell you how to do that!
When the toasted cheesy/nutty delights turn brown and bubbly, take them out. This is when you add the salt of you want.
PS. Try aging finely sliced onion to the mixture after it has been ‘processed.’
ENJOY! I was going to take a picture, but I ate them too quickly. (Perdy, my Jack Russell and star of my latest book—‘Talk To Me’, just licked the mixture off the toast).

Once upon a time in in a land very near to where you live----

The sky was grey, threatening a rain that the farmers loved but the townsfolk found annoying. Wives rushed to gather their washing before the deluge made mischief with fluttering clothing, displayed colourfully on the lines. Of course the quality of the clothing was quite different in the yards of the rich compared to that of the poor in the southern parts of the town.
Two wives from the two parts of the city wondered how their husbands were fairing in the tasks they were pursuing. Both husbands had left quite early in the morning, the rich one in a carriage and the poor one on a donkey. The latter had loaded his beast up with produce he had been working on for the past two months, while the better endowed citizen sat contemplatively in his carriage, ruminating on how he was going to deal with his business partner and satisfy his wife’s request for a larger share in the profit of his venture.
The poor husband was well respected in his street and had only come to the notice of the authorities once, for the late payment of his taxes. His counterpart in the central part of town was friendly with the same authorities and had dealt with them in the business world on many occasions. He had profited much through these endeavours. Another difference between the two men was that of their origin. The rich man claimed that his forefathers had been instrumental in the early settlement of the town whilst the poor man was the son of an immigrant.
The rain finally unleashed its bullets from God, pelting those unprepared or lacking suitable clothing, causing them to head for whatever shelter they could find. The rich husband observed the scurrying citizens, smugly reflecting on his good fortune. His driver pulled his woollen coat tighter about his body in an attempt to ward off the worst of the probing rain. He also increased the speed of the carriage by whipping the four horses cruelly. Two would have been sufficient, but the rich husband liked to display his wealth as he believed any citizen of good standing should do.
The poor husband struggled to keep his donkey from panicking and at the same time kept a watch on his produce as it tilted towards one side. Just when he thought he had seen an alleyway that offered some protection from the rain, a shop keeper barred his way as he unloaded a cart on front of his premises. The donkey had sped up as he too sensed that his master strove for the tiny oasis in the middle of the storm. The husband became annoyed at the antics of the shop keeper and made his thoughts clear by swearing, something that he usually reserved for those moments he was alone. His wife did not countenance such utterings.
On hearing the husband’s words, the shop keeper responded in kind and the husband pulled his donkey to a stop. The loaded produce on the donkey had a mind of its own and did not stop; instead, if flew off the donkey’s back and landed heavily on the shop keeper. Screams of pain filled the air and fellow shop keepers came to his aid, while someone called for a doctor. In the meantime the husband was detained roughly by the neighbours and was taken struggling to the nearby cells in the guardhouse by the walls of the town. He was cast inside the dingy cell which was already occupied by two drunkards, arrested the night before. At least they had a dry place. The screaming of the shop keeper was audible through the barred window in the cell. He was carried to the home of a doctor who had just opened his rooms for the day.
In the meantime, the rich husband was nearing his destination. He yelled at his driver and exhorted him to increase his speed. He was impatient and wanted his business over and done with. The driver resisted but the rich husband would not listen. He threatened his driver with dire consequences if he did not comply. The coach was soon careering along the cobbled street.
A bend in the road appeared and unfortunately, a young woman with a baby was trying to cross the road. The driver saw her but too late. The rich husband was still shouting at him to increase the pace of the carriage. The horses saw the young woman but it was too late to stop, even though the driver pulled violently on the reins. The young woman and her baby were lost under the flailing hooves. A small miracle occurred. The baby was flung into the air where a passing guard reached high and caught the baby. Those watching the scene from under the shelter of the shop eaves called out in approval.
The young woman did not stir as she lay in on the rain swept road. After a few seconds the pitiful sound of her pained voice stirred the bystanders into action. The coach remained still as the driver held the horses by their halters. The rich husband angrily left the shelter of his coach and began to yell at his driver to continue. Under the orders of his master, the driver finally continued the journey while the onlookers muttered that someone should report the actions of the rich husband to the authorities.
The rich husband must have had a change of mind because he reappeared and enquired after the health of the young woman. By now she had being cared for and taken on the back of a cart to a nearby monastery where the nuns would take care of her. A shop keeper had seen the incident and someone had told him how the rich husband had more or less forced the driver into the dangerous actions that led to the incident. He told the guard of this.
Two weeks later in two courts, there were two very different results. The poor husband, accompanied by his wife and neighbours heard the judge announce that he would forfeit his donkey, go to prison for a year and be fined the equivalent of a year’s toil; the said amount being awarded to the injured shopkeeper. The poor husband was beside himself with worry. Who would look after his family? They were destined to a life of poverty, dependant on the charity of others.
In the court near the centre of town, the rich husband, represented by the best lawyer that money could buy heard that he had to pay the young woman an amount similar to that paid by the poorer husband. He did not receive a prison term because the judge announced that being a citizen of ‘high standing’ in the community such an outcome was not warranted. Despite the statements from the witnesses, no other action was taken. The rich husband left the court while the young woman continued to be helped by the nuns. Her future was in question, the money she had received quickly gone as the nuns had to use it to purchase medicines and treatments that they could not otherwise provide. The baby was looked after by a sister.
Those who had heard about both cases shook their heads in wonder.
In another land many years later, an upstanding citizen also received lenient treatment because he too was smiled upon by the legal system. Those nearer the South in his city would not have been so lucky, especially if they were the sons of immigrants.
 Go to the New Zealand Herald for 1st September, 2012 and you will the meaning of my story.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

18 or 20---will it make any difference to our drinking culture?

I say NO! Whether the age to be able to drink alcohol is 18 or 20 will not make one bit of difference, because by the time many young people reach 18 they may well have been drinking for many years. It is not uncommon for kids as young as 14 to be seen drunk on a regular basis. Young people can arrive at school intoxicated and then the teacher shave to cope and keep them safe until a responsible adult is able to take over.
Therein lays the problem. Why would young people act in a responsible manner when they have seen their parents or caregivers abusing alcohol from a very early age? It is not just the messages they see in the media, but in their everyday life.  By the time many young people reach their teenage years, they have been exposed to negative role models around alcohol for a good deal of their lives. They may even have been a victim of their parents’ alcohol-fuelled behaviours, so why are we surprised when the same young people seek escape through excessive drinking?
Most of us would accept the premise that partaking in excessive (and some say, any) alcohol consumption is going to damage young people, both physically and psychologically. We know that young brains are not fully functional until into the early 20’s so the damage done from heavy drinking is indisputable.
In any weekend thousands of teenagers drink to the point where they are barley functional. The resulting damage is cumulative and contributes to health issues on later life. The social consequences are equally serious and learning is seriously hampered. Compounding affects almost guarantees that the young people will never reach their full potential.
How have we arrived at this sorry state? NZ has had a chequered relationship with alcohol, right from the early settlement by Europeans. Was not Russell in the North known as the ‘Hell hole of the Pacific?’ Alcohol has been a mainstream in NZ life for many years. It was even used to swindle Maori out of their land by some. We have an unfortunate history around alcohol and even the brief period of ‘prohibition’ (which I am not advocating) saw abuses and serious problems.
What can we do then about our alcohol problem?  No Government is ever going to try to ban it but we must find a way to be safer so that less young people start on the road to being ‘like their parents.’
Education is the answer some say. No-----not alone. Good modelling is just as important. Alongside that we must consider the role that images through advertising and media play in trapping young people into drinking at an early age. However the first issue we must face collectively is that we acknowledge the fact that we have a problem. It will mean changing much about the ‘culture’ we all live in. The discussion will go on and once we agree on a road ahead, then we may get somewhere.  The road is indeed bumpy!
18 or 20----its makes no difference.

OMG--- it has happenned--- Mr Dunne has grown some---

You know what I meant to say. I won’t be rude because that’s not at all like me. Are we seeing the beginning of the election campaign, two years before it is due or we going to see National stymied quite a lot from now on. Mr Dunne has laid down the gauntlet.
He has actually come out from where ever it is that he has been hiding (apart from the good work he has been doing on the synthetic drugs issue) and decided to make a stand. He is not going along with the Government re placing a spending lid on Government expenditure. That places the Government in a difficult position. I wonder if Mr Dunne will stand up to the pressure he will now come under.
Go for it Mr Dunne and the cynicism in me may stay put and I shall stop being mean to you. You have nothing to lose but a great deal to gain by standing up against the party you got into bed with. They will not dump you yet, because the simple fact is that they can no longer be sure that The Maori Party will support them and crazy John Banks is like a loose cannon at the moment.
Is this a Marylyn Warring moment? It’s certainly not a pissed Mr Muldoon coming on TV to announce an early election--- but let’s hope that you will now line up behind the other opposition in Parliament to stop the Asset Sales.
Now, it wasn’t so hard to do, was it? Feel better now. Go for it Mr Dunne.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

'Roskill' and 'Talk To Me'

I shall be taking down quite a few of the freebies on 'Roskill' soon, so now's the time to buy them from my site. 'Talk To Me' will be available in a few weeks. Go to   Follow the links.

The crux of it---if you don't like Gay marriage, then don't--

I just had to quote this. I heard a teacher colleague say this morning---‘if you don’t like gay marriage then don’t marry a gay person.’  Fair enough, but I doubt that many would leave it at that.
For those churches who do not want any part of it--- that’s OK too---- don’t. Is not the State capable of marrying and sanctioning such a union? Another point---- if you’re church sanctions gay marriage and you are vehemently opposed--- don’t you see the writing on the wall?  Or perhaps you can go along with it because you love everything else about the place you worship. I suspect that many Catholics have faced such dilemmas around other issues.
The bottom line--- the sky shall not fall and we are not heading towards Hell.

The debate in Parliament about same sex marriage (Definition of Marriage Ammendment Bill)

I have been watching the debate in Parliament about ‘same sex’ marriage. I was expecting a passionate and possibly acrimonious debate. I was expecting it to become one where entrenched views would override a genuine exchange of views.
I have to say that so far I have been surprised at the ‘reaching out occurring whereby members  (Remember this is a conscience vote) are doing their utmost, not to offend, not to position themselves by making statements that will harm members of any section of our society.
I have seen Nicky from Auckland Central, reaching to her community. I was equally impressed by the member from North Dunedin, who is a Presbyterian Minister, acknowledging the difficult decision he had to make in supporting this bill. Then we had Phillip from Mangere, a member of the Labour Party, making a huge effort to encourage fellow members to keep the debate non personal and I respect his position within his community where there is a real anxiety about the passage of this Bill.
Along came Winston Peters, whose NZ First Party is going to vote as one, opposing the Bill. At first I was annoyed at this stance, believing that it is most improbable that ‘all’ of the members of that party really think the same on this issue. Winston’s position is that the electorate as a whole should be given the chance to vote in a binding referendum. Not such a bad idea.
I will go and listen to the rest of the debate now, hoping that the manner in which it has been conducted so far continues. If it does, then my hope is that other debates on other issues can happen in the same way in the future.

This is the first time I have watched live on TV a 'conscience' vote in Parliament -----the result---remember this is the first stage---if it passes it goes to a 'select committee.' Real democracy at work! Well done Louisa Wall--- the sponsor of this Bill---Member of Parliament from Manurewa
FOR-------------------78 (ammended to 80)

Next morning (Thursday)   Looking back over last night's events made me think quite alot. The manner in which the debate was conducted was exemplary. I wish that could be extended to other business in the house. I know that there is a great deal of tradtion around how debates are run and that goes back hundreds of years in the Westminster System but once in a while we see something other than the clowning around trying to score political points.  Perhapes there could be more emphasis on 'Private Members' Bills and slightly less of Party policitcs. It would make for some 'pretty interesting struggles then at electorate level. 'Don't be so naive ,' you say. Just a thought----yes, just a thought.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Spring is here----can't you tell?

I know that spring is here when Perdy decides that she will get an extra 20 minutes down at the bay. She just looks at me when I call her and she demands that I throw the ball for her to run off and return—again and again and again. She has a spring in her step and looks like those Australian Terriers that jump like a dolphin---so cute. She is full of energy and that’s saying a lot about a Jack Russell.
Just when I thought I had her sussed re returning to me, she pulls that one out of her little bag of mischief. Maybe I will need to bring extra flash ‘goodies’ to reward her when she returns, but for the moment I just better give her time she wants-----good for me too.
So enjoy spring everybody. It’s a time for renewal and recharging. Just love it.
As for Perdy--- what the hell--- we shall both enjoy the time together with all of her crazy mates down at the Bay.
Look out for ‘Talk To Me’ where Perdy, alias ‘Spot’ features strongly in the book.  Go to

Monday, August 27, 2012

Walking the dog--what's in it for me?

I’ve been walking Perdy for 18 months now.
She’s 2 and a bit and has a love of life that exceeds measurement.
Her tail wags so hard when I arrive home that I have thought she should be connected to a dynamo.
If dogs could smile her face would not be big enough!
She fills my car with the sounds of joy and anticipation, even though she has travelled there hundreds of times.
She talks to me in whimpers and barks; all saying---hurry up---are we there yet?
When we arrive, she strains at her leash and then bounds off over the sand, looking back to see if I have thrown her bright orange ball.
On the first bounce she is there, to capture it in her mouth.
The ball is at my feet ready for dozens of repeats, only interrupted by the arrival of her mates---Finn and Patch.
Bedlam results as they greet each other.
It sounds like a war; their rough tumbling is often mistaken for something serious by those not in the ‘know’ about these canine delinquents.
Off around the Bay, frolicking in the water and losing their bright balls down the holes.
The Jack Russell  in her wants to chase rats, but the ball has to suffice.
An hour later, she relents and lets me take her home.
For me---- another walk and a feeling that things are sometimes right in the world.
Love ya Perdy.

Free food for low decile schools in New Zealand?

It is sad that we are seeing a proposal for free food in over 200 lower decile schools in New Zealand; sad because there is a real need for such a programme and possibly sad because it will be a further drain on the energy levels of already over-worked teacher and support staff.
How has New Zealand reached such a desperate situation? The child poverty figures sow us that the need exists. Some would say however that it is not the job of schools to feed children, although many have been doing it for years in the form of breakfast clubs and other ways.
Children have been coming to school hungry for as long as I have been in the educational sector, but I believe that the problem is far worse now. That means that children can go all day without eating. The ramifications for a child’s learning are pretty obvious and as for resulting behavioural issues------just ask any teacher in target schools.
There have been many initiatives over the years to address child poverty, but they have failed to deliver a decrease in the number of children living below the poverty line. Do we increase benefits; some of them targeted for food, or do we resources schools at a higher level to enable them to address some of the daily needs of children what are not being met now? That is a difficult question. Is it the role of the State to take away for a parent the right to ‘provide?’ I have heard arguments that if the school/State does get heavily involved in ‘feeding children’ then some parents would simply renege on their responsibilities to their families.
That there are genuinely deprived families out there is beyond question, but the matter is far more complex ta n simply handing out food. If we take a deeper look at what is happening for many families, we will see a range of scenarios, ranging from ‘bad parenting/ budgeting’ right through to genuine poverty. Who will decide which kids get the help?
I know that at some schools where ‘breakfast clubs’ operate, that for some, there is a sense of shame in accepting the help. (I am sure those of you from England can tell stories about the school lunch programme and how it is perceived by some). I have seen the ‘club’ used as an inducement to get kids to arrive at school on time. I have also seen that even with this incentive, kids still arrive late and hungry, so again there is no easy answer or explanation for all of our ‘hungry kids.’
So where do we go with the suggestion as proposed? Do we go for it and see if things change; that is if the Government sees fit to finance such a scheme in these difficult times? Perhaps we need to look at the bigger picture of why we have this poverty in New Zealand. I very much doubt that this Government is going to be willing to make the changes that will narrow the gap between rich and poor, because it is at the very centre of their philosophical/political position, not to do so. Where to then?

Handstands and cartwheels in school---Hell no!

Please someone tell me that it is April the first and that what I am reading about a school in Sydney is untrue and that the principal is just taking the piss because he is having a bad hair day. How the hell can children doing cartwheels and handstands be detrimental in any way unless they are in the presence of a ‘trained’ physical education teacher with the correct equipment?
Come on Aussie--- you are a country that prides itself on its sporting achievements; indeed you were in the top ten countries for the Olympics. If you let this claptrap bullshit PC stuff spread then look towards a nation of wimps and pussies. Strong unPC language I know, but this has brought out my ‘is this for real side?’ Then my words will tend towards the less gentle and unacceptable.
I hope that this idiocy doesn’t spread and that the down to earth Aussie character we all love will come out on top. I can just hear some of the possible comments that will be inundating the airwaves. The rest of the world will be laughing but at the same time be wondering if some twat in their health or education departments will be looking and saying--- ‘maybe they have got a point there.’
Maybe they will ban kids running in the playground next, in case they fall over and bruise their little knees. God help us all.

So what's reallly new with the latest reports about drug use and damage to young people?

Anyone working with young people for more than a few years should be able to read the report in the NZ Herald today about drug/substance use and not be surprised at the claims. For many years I have seen persistent ‘users’ gradually ‘dropping out’ of the zone when it comes to learning.
These kids become disinterested in education as they move towards that space where they are continually looking for the next hit. There is a large gap between those starting out and the hardened users, but the trend becomes clear very quickly.
We don’t need expensive studies to tell us this, but I suppose we need them for the policy makers in order to justify the expense on programmes using tax payer money. Any teacher (even those in Primary and Intermediate schools) can tell you what they have seen over the years. This knowledge has been with us for a very long time. We have also read and seen reports from those working in the D and A field that using substances for a young person, with a brain that is still in its formative stage is like ‘pouring poison on a plant while it is still growing. Who in their right mind would do that?
The use of Marijuana in New Zealand schools is endemic, or at least on the way to and from schools. Many schools have used ‘drug dogs’ but that can be a waste of time if students have access to cell phones (and how many don’t now!). The word gets around as soon as the dogs appear and---voila---- the drugs disappear.
We have a huge problem with our kids using drugs. I know, some of you reading this knew all about it in the 70’s and beyond when I was a young teacher with you. The fact is that the stuff you were smoking was way less powerful than that available today. Despite that, some young people back then still entered a world that was very difficult to extract them form. I often wonder if the users of the past went on to become the ‘P’ users of today. I would really appreciate some anonymous feedback about that.
I short---- I wish we could find a way to steer our young teenagers away from D and A, but I know we have a massive fight on our hands. ‘Stand Up’ Programmes in some of our schools need to be expanded and rolled out into all schools.

Samoa---it is so nice to see you

I often wonder who is reading my blogs (or books). All of a sudden in the last few weeks I have seen large numbers of hits from Samoa. That's great, having a Pacific neighbour joining us. Try reading Roskill, one of my books. I am sure you will find it interesting. Go to and send me a message. I am sure I can do a better price for you.

Nature takes a dim view re the Republican Convention

Nature is indeed wise. From the deep sea her ire is raised at the probability of yet more ‘words’ of deception from Romney as he crows and struts his stuff to an unfortunate  audience. He will make claims that are patently untrue on order to win over an already misinformed electorate.
Let’s face it; the media, especially Fox News, has already softened that audience up to the point where they no longer recognize the truth. They will clutch their ‘bibles’ which they have read cover to cover, yet come away from that with a totally different perspective than so many others. That of course is their right even if it does nothing to make the USA a better country.
Off shore, ‘Isaac’ roils and twists as he heads towards Florida, hoping to make landfall near the convention. He wants to blow away the empty words and bring about a fresh approach. Whilst he does his thing, a huge number of Americans are too busy making ends meet, watching trashy sitcoms or ‘reality’ shows on TV, generally unaware of the coming battle at the end of the year.
No amount of windblown reminders from Isaac will make one iota of difference so Isaac will blow himself out upon sandy shores and empty hearts. IN the meantime, Gods name will be invoked for all sorts of spurious policies by sanctimonious party hacks as they attempt to show unity and loyalty to a totally inept leader. He will not be scrutinized in a manner that will bring clarity and he will ready himself for the final battle------unless Isaac gains strength and puts off the battle for another day. In the end even ‘nature cannot avoid the folly of ‘man.’

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Maybe we will be thanking our "Treaty' partners soon!

No, I am not being a smart arse or cynical and especially not tongue-in-cheek when I write a header like the one above. I am referring to the possibility that it may take the efforts of Maori and the opposition they can garner from both political sources, and that on Treaty of Waitangi grounds to stop the sale of State assets. At the very least they may be able to slow the process down, giving the rest of us time to slam home to the Government that we do not want our assets sold.
When are we going to learn that once sold, it is very hard to get back these valuable assets? The very idea of selling water rights is repugnant and against everything I believe in. I include in that the claims that Maori own water. I have absolutely no problem with Maori having ‘Guardianship’ over water; indeed if it wasn’t for that I am sure we would see a plethora of overseas companies charging us for what is God-given. Guardianship is very different to ownership.
I see an alliance of Maori and those opposed to the further sale of any more state assets as the way forward. We have already let go so much of what our forefathers worked so hard to build, only to have it sold to keep the books balanced. Both major parties have been guilty of that.
For those people amidst us who have always had a problem The Treaty, then is not the fact that it can be seen as a protector of our assets? The old argument that State assets are inefficiently run is no longer true. It is merely an excuse to bring in a short term gain to lesson Government debt. If using the Treaty to stop further asset sales, then all and good.
 It has been very interesting hearing people who would have ‘thumbed down’ The Treaty in the past as being a relic and not in touch with the modern world, having a change of view, now that there is a distinct possibility of that historical document being a source of resistance to Governments hell-bent on flogging off what is essentially owned by all of us. Perhaps it is also a way forward for us as a nation---finally coming together.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Hey---cool it--the debate about our involvement in Afghanistan needs to happen!

I was shocked to read about the reaction to a film makers comments on her Face book page has resulted in death threats and various other insults. Another Face book page was created that has provided a base to enlarge this reaction. Since then some saner heads have prevailed but this does not alter the fact that no one should be attacked in such a manner as this lady has been. For a few moments I thought I was in another country; probably one in the Middle East or some tin-pot failed corrupt country.
I am not saying that the comments made by Barbara Sumner-Burstyn were not insensitive given the timing, but to then lambast her in a threatening way is a total over-reaction on the part of some of the participants in the ‘debate.’
A debate is what we need to have. Yes, we all know that any Kiwi joining the armed forces may at some time face and pay the ultimate price is a fact of life. Yes, we know that the armed forces themselves do not choose where they are sent; that role is purely the Government’s prerogative, although they must adhere to what the nations expects. There have been other wars in New Zealand’s past where a huge number of citizens have gone to the streets to make their point, so Barbara’s words represent no more than a ‘literary’ commentary about her opinion and her right to express that must be protected.
She made many salient points about our involvement in Afghanistan and while I don’t support some of them, she has expressed what may be a growing groundswell against our involvement in this USA-led conflagration. I find it hard to understand (other than the timing and some of her claims) why people are moved to utter ‘death threats’ against her. If we do not clamp that down, then we are looking at a crossroads in New Zealand that I find abhorrent. Have we not gone to war in the past for so-called ‘freedom,’ albeit, one that comes with responsibilities.
I am not going to use this blog to further describe my thoughts on our involvement in Afghanistan, as I have done that in previous blogs. I am deeply moved by the loss of our fine young men and a wonderful lady. There famillies grieve ut they accept that such a possibity is a risk that nay 'soldier' takes. 
It was the timing of Babrbara's words that so many have reacted to. The debate however, must continue. Given the claims in the same paper that reported Barbara’s opinions also described how NZ forces are being targeted because they do not have sophisticated equipment---well--- maybe that should raise the ire of some of those attacking Barbara.

Make our homes warm--yeah right--The PM is deluded.

Perhaps the PM should give himself a reality check; pull his head out of the sand or take a trip to the world of renting, where many land lords care only about the profit they make. I am not saying that the majority of LLs are like that, but a significant number will look at his comments about ‘doing the right thing’ and laugh all the way to the bank.
Come on Johnny boy, get real. Unless there are legislated minimum standards, why would many LLs bother to make their ‘investments’ healthy for their tenants? History has taught us that sometimes the Government has to take a lead over issues of importance. Take minimum wages. If it was open slather, God knows how low some employers would go in an effort to keep wages low and their profits high. One only has to look at some of the reports about immigrant workers being ripped off to quote a recent example.
This Government represents what so many National Governments have done in the past. They have often done nothing on issues that affect the poorer sector of society until the problem becomes so serious that even they cannot ignore it. Then, they will pass legislation that only goes so far; believing that they have quelled the outrage, even if only temporarily.
Labour is better but far from perfect. Their conservative members have also watered down effective laws in the past and under Rogernomics (Something that they are trying to forget) they showed a side that hurt many.
Back to our ‘houses.’ I am lucky enough to live in unit that has the ‘makings of a healthy home.’ I also don’t need to ask a LL to make changes for improving my lot. I know that many people live in homes that are quite different. I am sure you have all seen the worst examples of wet, damp, draughty homes that LLs have done little to alleviate. The children who live in these homes are unhealthy, miss school and fall behind in their educational achievements, thus re-emphasizing their position in society.
Imagine the damp walls and black mould, along with asthmatic kids. This is common, especially in the larger cities in NZ. Yes there is Government help these problems but the uptake still falls way behind the need to change these homes. Instead of telling LLs to ‘do the right thing,’ Mr Key, tell them that if they don’t they will be ‘obliged to.’ Maybe the health bill will retreat to Manageable levels for you. Hell, isn’t that enough to convert you to real fairness?

Hell--- what if the Republicans win?

What a scary thought---as more Republicans drag themselves from under some Mediaeval rock to espouse policies that would put social justice causes back a century or two. The attacks on women, gays and health schemes that could help a significant number of poor Americans are a repugnant development in the politics of this proud nation.
What is equally frightening is the fact that such a small number of citizens will even bother to turn out on Election Day. Would I be correct in proposing that a large portion of the American public don’t give a stuff about the state of their national political scene and that generally, unless they feel directly threatened by a particular policy, they simply get on with their daily lives and leave the important process of choosing candidates at all levels of Federal and State legislatures to a significantly small group of voters because the ‘turnout’ is pathetically low? Compare the turnout figures against other Western democracies and I am sure you would all get the point.
Now let’s look at some of the policies that the ‘candidates, presidentially and at local level. We have ‘bible-bashing,’ ignorant and anti-women candidates. It would be fair to say that the huge majority of these candidates come from the Republican side of the political spectrum. I know that we can’t judge the Republican Party alone for the views of that deluded Todd Akin, but the fact that he even progressed as far as he did; before the Republican leaders took fright at his views and did their best to thwart his plans says much about the party.
The social conservatism that is re-emerging is scary enough. Add in the gaffs from Romney, then ‘thinking’ Americans must be wondering at how far the move to the right has advanced. Hell, all we need now is a ‘McCarthy’ and the picture would be complete.
I just pinched myself---trying to make myself believe that there is a counter-movement within American society and that it is fighting the narrow views of the above mentioned candidates. Perhaps they can create a momentum that will stop the march of the ‘crazies’ and keep Obama in power, despite many of his disappointing back-downs or watering down of action on issues that we thought he had used to win the last Presidential election.
There is no one else. The USA does not have strong credible alternate candidates, so the choice comes down to Obama or a Reaganite, gaff-inflicted ‘darling of big business’ conservative Romney.
The Democrats need an equivalent of the ‘Tea Party’ that invigorated the Republican cause at the last election, but somehow, I don’t think Democrats could get over the ‘cringe factor,’ associated with that movement to enable them to go down that road. Instead they fight at local level, try to make sure they get their voters out, enrol their voters and ‘talk.’ We will need to see a great deal more action and not rely on talk if Romney’s Republicans are to be kept out of power.

When is Nick Afoa going to release a CD?

It’s half time in the NZ---Aussie test and the predictions we all made with huge scores are not happening yet----lol. The only thing I want to say is---didn’t our Nick do a good job. He’s the man and it’s about time he gave us more----he has a great voice and it suits heaps of styles---he can croon---- he can Ballad--- he can romance and God knows what else. Bring it on Nick!

Ok--- back to the second half

Friday, August 24, 2012

My Books are always available on Trade Me

What happens when a family’s existence is threatened by the father’s use of ‘P’? The son runs away and the daughter enters the world of the Chat rooms where she befriends someone who may not be who she thinks. A distraught mother digs deep and decides to fight back with the help of her new friends. Sometimes funny but with a serious under-message, this is a book that all teenagers should read and parents too; just for the reason that they may better understand what happens when they make dangerous decisions. This book has been endorsed by Ron Phillips, the author of ‘Gem Of The Frist Water.’
What's available?
1) A few first prints of Coastal Yarns. My new re-edited ones available soon.
2) Roskill---new cover, new ISBN and under my control---finally.
Free delivery in NZ and about $7 extra to Aussie. POA for other countries.

Wannabe Pussy Riot acts spread.

I have to fess up and admit that I had a head-rush when it came to the reports that Pussy Riot represent freedom of speech and that the Russian State was intent on making an example of the group for their transgressions in the church. I am not withdrawing my utterings about my fears of Putin’s actions in tightening up on dissidents in Russia and a possible return to the bad old days of the ‘KGB’ disappearing people in the middle of the night.
I watched with mixed feelings reports of a copycat Pussy Riot action in Germany and that the Catholic Church is pressing charges that could well carry a sentence even greater than that imposed on the ‘real Pussy Riot band.’ I shall wait of course to see how the legal system handles this act by the young Germans. I do have an underlying thought that democracy in Germany and access to legal defence, based on laws that are free from the political whims of desperate leaders will possibly vary the outcome. (Not forgetting Germany’s sad past of course.)
Where did I see the first report of the events in Germany? Why, RT (Russian TV) of course. I sensed a certain smugness about the reports, but assuming that they are reporting real events, one has to wonder at the reaction (of myself included) of the Western media to the original Pussy Riot theatrics. Remember, I wrote in a former blog that we should not be surprised if Pussy Riot makes a great deal of money once they have served their purpose. My only real concern for them now is that they are not mistreated; a real fear, given Russia’s past record of treatment for dissidents. Let’s hope that the whole affair is not used a modern day flip-back to the past when the Cold War featured in our lives.

Support Staff are a resource waiting to be 'plucked' by Charter Schools

Charter school are going to affect support staff in several ways. Firstly you are going to be ‘courted’ by CS administrators as a ‘cheaper’ source of teaching staff. I know this goes against your strongly and well-founded faith in the part you play in our schools now but the fact is that you are a tremendous knowledgeable resource that is sitting there waiting to be plucked.
Our schools will suffer as some of you step up to the mark to get better paid in these CS. It will be so sad to lose you but for some, putting bread on the table for your families will lure you away from the jobs you love and the people who respect and value your skills.
I for one will not be blaming you for this. Shock horror, some of you will be saying at my remarks, but you are only human. If the present system does not recognise your skills in an appropriate manner, then we will lose you.
Thankfully, most of you are massively opposed to CS, so it won’t be a rush. Maybe you can go in there and the report back to us and tell us what we already know--- the CS are going to fail and the waste of resources that will be put into them will be gone.
Keep up the fight along with the NZEI, PPTA and parent groups, just to name a few.
My comments are not meant to be snide. I am just simply pointing out a few facts.

The Hauraki Gulf---a jewel in Auckland's crown.

Auckland City, the ‘city of sails’, twin harbours and many regional parks; a city that has taken for granted the wonderful Hauraki Gulf, a huge area of beautiful beaches and islands, scattered like diamonds, all within kilometres of one million plus people.
We hear today that the Gulf is in danger from human activity and we risk losing much-loved marine life. However, all is not lost. We can bring the Gulf back from the brink if we act now. It will take cooperation from a range of groups, including local council action and a change in practice by those using the land that borders the streams that flow into the sea.
There is a growing groundswell of opinion that could result in real action. Volunteers policing the flow of nutrients and seeding mussel beds---all can make a difference. Add the will of local Iwi to act as ‘guardians’ and it could all come together to restore and preserve this wonderful jewel in the crown of Auckland City.
For those overseas, just Google ‘Hauraki Gulf’ and you will see what I mean. Better still, come and have a look for yourself. Hire a boat with a local and go fishing, swimming and diving or just relax on one of the beaches in a secluded regional park. I am sure you will be back for more or head south to the wonderful scenery of The South Island.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Great to see you Greece

I am always delighted to see yet another country joining us. Welcome Greece. I hope you get to read the blogs and to check out my books. Go to

Neil Coleman  (counsellor and author)

Are we losing our best graduates to Australia because we are just 'too small?'

There is no doubt that our education system is turning out top graduates. There is also a worrying tend that we are losing many of our best graduates to overseas employers, particularly Australia. Why is this happening and what can we do to stop the flow?
IN the past when New Zealand manufacturing was broader and we produced a wide range of products, New Zealand’s young people believed that they could find employment here. Our graduates completed their education on the understanding that they would develop their careers in New Zealand, perhaps[s after they had embarked on their big OE. (Overseas experience).
This has all changed. The report in the New Zealand herald this morning that a large number of our very best graduates will be enticed to Australia is most disturbing. The opportunities are there for the taking and taking is what the Aussies are doing. Is New Zealand just too small now on the global employment market? Our 4.4 million people do not provide a platform whereby these young people can find employment once they have completed their degrees. On the other hand Australia presents opportunities that have long since gone offshore from New Zealand.   
The worry is that this process may accelerate unless we as a nation make some very important changes. It always has and will continue to be so that New Zealand will find it difficult to compete in many of the area that Australia excels. One of the reasons for that is the larger market, both within Australia and its nearby neighbours in South East Asia. It is not only the so-called ‘mining boom’ that fuels these opportunities, but also the fact that the Australian Government is more supportive of Aussie enterprises.
At a time when we need Government investment in research and development, we actually cut such support. The tendency for our present government to swing a fairly heavy fiscal hammer will only widen the gap between NZ and Australia. This is a pity, because with strong support, there is no doubt that our industries and other sectors of the NZ economy have huge potential. Saving money now is going to do little to ‘grow’ our prospects for the future. It is this future that young skilled New Zealanders are shifting their focus to Australia, because we have not provided the challenges and opportunities our neighbours have across the ditch.
The sad fact is that most of our departing graduates do so with heavy hearts. If the playing field was more even, they would stay here. We need to hear policies form aspiring ‘Governments’ that will reverse this flow. I am all ‘ears’

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The gap between rich and poor widens in New Zealand

The report in today’s New Zealand Herald that the gap between rich and poor has widened yet again comes as no surprise. The ramifications for our most at risk citizens are obvious. In our bigger cites the situation is even more dire as families struggle to provide even the most basic of life’s necessities.
At a time when politicians fight about Charter Schools and benefits, the above report simply highlights what many of us working in schools and the local community have known for a long time. Even those on quite modest incomes are having a real struggle and are feeling quite hopeless for the future. Just imagine what each day brings for those even lower down the ‘income chart.’
Is it any wonder that kids arrive at school hungry, without the correct uniform or books and the tools they need for an education? How these kids will ever get computers and other ‘necessary’ technology ‘additives’ is just too hard to contemplate. We have a Government hell-bent on cutting wherever it can, all in the name or ‘responsible fiscal policies.’
Unless our economy magically improves and people find work that pays a liveable wage, then the situation can only get worse. I am tired of hearing the Government haranguing people to get out there and work, when it is patently obvious that the work is not there. For those on the minimum wage, living in a large city, the fact is that they cannot meet the needs of their families. Ask any food-bank just how bad the situation is.
There was a time when the huge majority on New Zealanders had their needs met and the gap between the ‘haves and have nots’ was far less. That time was a more compassionate time, where people were less selfish. Yes, our tax payments were higher, but there was a belief that that was fair. We have come a long way from that solidly held belief. Now it is---‘I want more and if that means someone else has less, then too bad.’
Unless we are more sympathetic to the position so many people find themselves in, nothing will change. I am not talking about more benefits and I am not protecting those who rip off the system, be it through welfare theft or other methods: I am saying that we need to look at where we have been and where we are collectively going as a nation. It is time to redress the balance. One way or the other, we are going to see stresses and tensions in our society grow if we don’t look for solutions that take the vast portion of the population along for the ride. Try to imagine what will happen if we don’t.

Binge drinking will be just the same.

I hear today that the producers of alcapop drinks are going to ‘voluntarily’ reduce the amount of alcohol in the said drinks. This was only after the Government made noises about legislating such a move. Who are we kidding if we think that either move is going to make one iota of difference to the serious binge drinking culture we have in New Zealand?
I am sure most of you have seen the images from Britain of young (and not so young) people ‘loading’ before they hit the town and then the subsequent crazy behaviours they exhibit as a result. I feel sorry for the policemen and women who have to deal with the mess and resulting criminal behaviours. ‘Never in New Zealand,’ you might have thought.
Well, hello---- such behaviours are alive and well here as witnessed by the scenes of young people throwing up in the street and fighting like demented hens. The serious health issues they are inviting into their lives are another ramification.
I hope the Government and the rest of us do not rely on such moves n=by the liquor industry to quell results of this ugly trend. No such luck. Tackling this problem now is a bit like trying to shut the door after the horses have bolted, but try we must. If not, look to huge increases in the police and health budget.
Where does the crux of the problem lay? Firstly in the home and secondly in the images we see in the media. Glamorizing and normalizing such dangerous use of alcohol has to stop. NO wonder the ‘smokers’ rightly point to alcohol abuse as a problem just as large as ‘smoking.’ That the two probably go hand in hand is conveniently forgotten of course.
Schools are often given the task to ‘change society,’ but they are only one part of young peoples’ lives and the effect they have on such anti-social behaviours, is minimal to say the least. Unless parents, in conjunction with the rest of society are able to provide safe and sensible role modelling behaviours, then why the hell would their children be any different? It’s so easy to say that ‘drinking’ is a ‘rite of passage’ and just hope that ‘she’ll be right mate.’ www.authorneilcoleman

Monday, August 20, 2012

Should we bring New Zealand's troops home from Afghanistan?

Once again New Zealand mourns the loss of more troops in Afghanistan. This sad event has reignited the debate about New Zealand’s involvement in this war-torn country. We need to look at the reasons why we are there.
Some say that we are needed to help re-build this country; helping to provide much needed infrastructure, hence the deployment of personnel best suited for this task. There is no doubt that our men and women have made a difference in the area they are deployed.
However, this must be seen against the backdrop of the overall situation in Afghanistan. There is an increasingly pessimistic view that this ‘war’ unwinnable. History lends weight to this argument as one looks back over the history of involvement from the British, French, Russians and now the US led alliance. No one has ever succeeded in ‘taming’ this mixture of tribal grouping and religious sectors. For Russia it became their Vietnam and the USA did not learn from that war either; choosing to lead a group of nations in a hopeless task.
New Zealand’s entry was led by Helen Clarke Government and the cynical amongst us would say that this was primarily to ‘suck-up’ to the Americans. Of course lofty ideals were trotted out to justify our involvement, but those are now wearing thin as the death toll mounts for our troops.
Afghanistan has suffered from the incursion of Western Alliance troops. The civilians are dying in ever increasing numbers and no amount of technology is making headway against an almost invisible Taliban. The military decision makers from all countries are uncomfortable with pulling their troops out, without achieving victory, but they seem to be at a loss to stop the infiltrations of the Taliban. There is a new phenomenon whereby, local Afghanis are hitting back at the troops and this is almost impossible to stop.
 One has to ask--- do the locals actually want us there? I think they do but that is underlined by their war-weariness and an almost unspoken belief that the Talban are unbeatable, no matter how much military hardware employed to root them out. That women and girls would suffer from their return is not in doubt, but at what point will the West’ decide that the cost is too high? For New Zealand, I believe that time has arrived.
We should concentrate in the area re reside; the pacific and parts of Asia--- those natio0ns we are closest to. Entering a war because it suits our trade relations is becoming a complex driving force as we become closer to a wider group of trading partners. Entering a war because we are pressured to do so is abhorrent in the least. It is time to re-evaluate the role we play on the world stage as a whole.

HI to The Netherlands and Slovenia

Welcome to the Netherlands and Slovenia. I am always intrigued when I see new countries joining the list of my readers and I also wonder at how they found my blog. There are now more than 30 different countries on my list. Now all I need is for that to transfer into sales for my books. A new one ---‘Talk To Me’ is about to join the website. It is a tongue-in-cheek expose of the talk back radio industry. My imagination has hit new heights (or lows, depending on your view of the industry) as I take on the role of a radio talk back host. Spot (alias Perdy) features. Who is this book for? It’s a bit raunchy so maybe it is for adults, but I know the teenagers at my work place will read it because they have met ‘Spot.’  Go to to see when the book joins ‘Roskill’ and ‘Coastal Yarns. ‘

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Cyber bullying laws--think carefully before acitng.

Most of us would agree that cyber bullying (and all forms of bullying) can be pretty damaging and in the worst case scenario, life threatening. The Government is now saying g that they are seeking to pass legislation to deal to the perpetrators. I say---stop, and think of the ramifications.
The practical side of me would think of how and who is going to police this. If there is going to be some sort of special court then it is going to be an incredibly busy one and will soon be clogged up with cases and appeals. Would this Government even come close to financing such an endeavour?
The proposals don’t even include kids under 14 so what happens with them? We can be sure that many of this group are well versed in social media and would make up a large proportion of the bullying and the bullied.
The bullying debate is engendering a great deal of emotion and under these circumstances, I doubt that we are going to get ‘useable law,’ especially if it is hurried. There needs to be a huge mind-shift to allow for society to accept that bullying is ‘not on.’ There are many parents, teachers and institutions who still believe that kids should harden-up and be more resilient. Until society as a whole rejects all forms of bullying we are not going to see effective measures, simply by passing a law or two.
I am fully in support of school running anti-bullying programmes, but I doubt that the will is there on the part of the Government to resource such initiatives.
The advent of cell phones and other forums that act as ‘bullying platforms,’ is a huge issue. Texting and ‘Face booking’ are beyond the control of schools. Schools are merely the recipient of what society sends us to mould, teach and nurture. How are we to influence what comes through the gate? Is this not yet another example of ‘dump it on the schools to fix?’ We cannot, unless we are part of an overall movement to keep our kids safe.
Please make this debate one that includes the whole community and please--- take the time that it deserves. One thing we can be sure of is that social media will come up with other forms of technology that we can barely dream about at this stage. It is going to take ‘great minds’ and an incredibly huge leap of faith for society as a whole before we get to the real problem.

Freedom of speech at risk in Russia and the West.

If you have read my blogs about Pussy Riot and the danger to free speech in Russia, I think it is only fair that I point out the obvious parallel in the West. Julian Assange is hiding out in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London and if he sets foot outside he will be arrested and extradited to Sweden to face charges. From there he will be extradited to the USA where he faces charges that carry the death sentence.
Julian has a lot of enemies in Government circles around the world, simply because he is a modern day ‘whistle blower.’ His organization is responsible for embarrassing many governments and that is the basis for the actions being taken against him.  He may be Australian but even his government is doing little to help him. It seems that they too have been on the end of his ‘press releases.’
Potentially Julian is facing far more dire consequences than Pussy Riot does in Russia. The USA has made noises about the Pussy Riot situation, but at the same time is extending its influence over the Assange dilemma. Perhaps the USA and the UK should look at themselves before they go off at the Russians.
The right of citizens to speak out against the perceived failings of their governments is at risk in many countries; ones that purport to being paragons of virtue when it comes to free speech. There is a need for them to examine their own positions before they strike out at other nations. The silence from our New Zealand Government is also deafening on this issue.
Hopefully the power of the masses will keep this important issue in the lime light.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Pussy Riot---the other side of the story.

I have recently blogged about the travesty of justice surrounding the Pussy Riot incident. My reasoning was that it is not only about Pussy Riot, but also the deeper issue of free speech within the Russian Federation and the Putinization that seems to be happening. The warning signs are all there about the resurgence of a State that puts little value on then right of its citizens to criticise their government.
There is another side to the Pussy Riot stunt in the church. This is not the first time this band has tried to hog the limelight and hence benefit from the publicity. They have been involved in group orgies at museums and trying to kiss policewomen on the underground railway, all in an attempt to garner a wider following.
Some commentators have said that once the two year prison sentence has been completed, no doubt Pussy Riot will go on a world tour and make millions. Maybe the two year sentence is but a small price to pay for the resulting wealth.
A cynical view perhaps and one that could focus us away from the greater debate about a Russia heading towards the past. I’m just trying to keep a balanced view. Go to RT for an ‘alternate view.

Friday, August 17, 2012

A unique way to balance the Governent books!

Fantastic! I’ve done it and I am so proud to be of help to the Government. Don’t say I always criticise the national Party. Here they are, delivering a policy that finally makes sense. It’s been staring us in the face for years and it took a brave John Key and his team to stumble across a ridiculously no fail scheme. The example of course is their privatising the prisons. Hey--- it’s a no brainer.
 Let SIRCO do all the work and then when they fail just fine the arse off them. So they the scheme has delivered $300,000 to Government coffers. If they do this to all the prisons, then maybe we the taxpayer won’t have to pay a penny to lock up our criminals and then also get paid as well.  By my calculations we could make about $10 million in fines, just from prisons.
Now, let’s take the idea further. Let water, health education and all government services be privatised with hefty fines for non-performance. Our tax bills will drop and after about four years when the coffers are over-flowing with ‘failure to preform fees,’ we can renationalize them with a final one-off payment of course and start again.
Fantastic or what! Cycles repeat and we keep reinventing the wheel, so we could repeat the exercise every ten years and it won’t cost us a penny? We will be the envy of the free world.

National Party women cabinet ministers----mmmm-- what's next?

One wonders at what’s next on the agenda for some of the national Party women members. Are they saying what the other ministers want to say but are a little more careful about? We have had the Parata ‘espousitions’ (yeah I know---it’s not a word but it has an obvious meaning). Then we have Maggie Barry doing her thing. Maybe she thinks her high profile excuses her for dumping on fellow parliamentarians, so I guess she will learn the hard way.
Last but certainly not least is Paula Bennett’s propensity to upset the applecart. It seems that week after week she comes out with something new, but in a sense we have heard it all before. The latest announcement that child poverty changes from day to day is just one example of her ‘foot-in-mouth’ affliction. Once again, is she saying what Johnny and his mates want to say but leave it to her. Let’s face it she seems to connect with a section of National Party voters who are probably sending her messages of support. I shall give her one thing—she’s a gutsy lady, but she is also a hypocrite.
Paula benefited (do excuse the pun) from some of the policies she has had axed. That she has risen to great heights within the Government is due to her reaping the results of past welfare policies. Now that she has ‘made it,’ it is goodbye said policies.
I wonder what we shall hear around the corner from this delightful trio.

Maybe you don't care about Pussy Riot but---

Pussy Riot is not my cup of tea musically and I don’t necessarily support their actions in the church--- they should have done that elsewhere, but the result may well have been the same. The unholy alliance between Putin’s State and the Church is almost unbelievable, but it is representative about what is to come in Russia.
Russia is regressing to the Soviet and Tsarist times in its response to criticism. Almost any ‘dissent’ faces this new two year imprisonment if they dare to take on the Government.
Wake up Russians. I know you read my blog. Make some comments and defend the actions of Putin if you must---but talk, yell, and protest--- do something!
 I know that large numbers of people in Russia are unhappy with what is starting to emerge. It probably leaves many of you with a sinking feeling that history is repeating itself. The sound of jackboots in the middle of the night and your friends and neighbours disappearing in to the new gulags is more than a figment of my imagination.
What is it about Russia and its propensity to suffer tyrants? No wonder your art and music is so full of yearning and deep feelings depicting an ever suffering people. We in the rest of the world would love to see the happiness and hope return. Be strong my friends.