Wednesday, May 30, 2012

My Looming Birthday

It occurred to me today, when describing a customer in his early thirties to my boss as 'young', that my position on such things has changed. People in their late teens and early twenties are now 'kids', and anyone up to about thirty-five is 'young', and (this one I've felt for a while) I really can't wait to be sixty. I think age became something desirable when I was about ten (and very naive) and my wonderful aunt turned fifty. She had a huge party, most of which I spent in a bedroom/bunker with my favourite cousin, trying to stop our little cousin from wandering out into all of the iniquity. Every time the bedroom door opened, another shock awaited us; an uncle on his knees in front of a dancing aunty, somebody swearing, and then, unholiest of holies, when we were brought out to sing happy birthday and saw the birthday cake - a penis, complete with curly black pubic hair. Amidst cheers, the birthday girl licked it, and I knew that growing up was going to be Fun Fun Fun. Said aunt has always made me feel like the second half of life was the great bit. Her life has never been easy, and she continues to face things some people would only experience in a foreign/Lars von Trier film, and she still works like a demon at whatever she does. But she makes being older seem like a reward; she enjoys people, lets them know what they mean to her, lets her hair down, cooks huge curries for her grandchildren, and spends most of her time with my wonderful uncle.

When I look back at my early twenties I feel as if I'm about as grown up as I could ever hope to be, but then something happens and I realise, with disappointment, that I'm still a way off being done. I don't know how I'll know I'm there; maybe the day I bother ironing my whole shirt even though only the collar will be showing.

It's still two months until my birthday but I have started to get very excited. Very excited indeed.

Wednesday Wanderings

I've been listening to the new Dictaphone Blues album, Beneath The Crystal Palace, every day at work since I successfully petitioned for its purchase. I like it a lot. I would describe it as cacophonic pop; it sounds like a series of explosions, lots of enthusiasm, and, for some reason, boys. This is a song that stood out to me the first time I listened (which usually means the song has the most commercial potential, but doesn't always end up being my favourite. I used to think I was some kind of guru until I realised I was just being what the people who decide which songs end up being singles hope for - obvious), and one that I like very much.

And while we're basking in excellent Auckland pop, Lawrence Arabia. His new album comes out soon and we're kind of impatient but still enjoying the last one, Chant Darling, heaps. I really wanted to post Eye A, my fourth favourite song from the album, but YouTube doesn't have it, so here is Apple Pie Bed, my second. (First? Auckland CBD Part Two, which I've posted before here, and third is Dream Teacher. All song rankings subject to change and yes, I rank everything; I can't help it.) If you get the chance to see him live, go; his live performance is brilliant. Sometimes it's like he's covering his own songs.

He did actually tide us over with his collaboration with Dean Fabulous. Again, YouTube disappoints but maybe this song will make you want to go and get the album. My favourites include Up To My Neck In Shit, and the one I most enjoy finding myself singing along with: Eugenics. I'd never before noticed the melodic sound of the word, or how offensive people find it when it's sung repeatedly in their presence.

And finally, one of my favourite NZ songs ever; a song I love so much I actually get a bit nervous when it begins, and then often put on repeat because I can't bear for it to end (and I just realised have posted before here, whoops). This wasn't meant to be a NZ music month post but there's so much excellent music here, and we wandered...

Sunday, May 27, 2012

I Feel It All

I'm an emotional person. Most of the time, I'm okay with it; it means that I'm not often confused about how I feel about things because my body is giving me very strong cues, like the feeling that my blood is boiling, or that my heart is about to burst with happiness. Sometimes it embarrasses me, like the time my pop music lecturer played John Legend's Ordinary People and had the lyrics up, and I had to wait for the everybody to leave so I could mop up my face (I was about four years older than most of the kids in the class, and clearly that song is for thirty-somethings who have been in doomed relationships). Sometimes it's a bit embarrassing but at least it amuses people I love, like at weddings when the bride walks in or the groom makes a beautiful speech about how much he loves his wife and I think about what a lovely person he is and how wonderful it is that he has found his person, and I'm sobbing so loudly that the groom's sister is looking concerned and a bit embarrassed that she has told me earlier to look at our cousin cry if I want a laugh. And sometimes it's just straight out bad, like the other night when a man pushed past me and I thought he worked at the bar I was at so I thought it doubly rude... and elbowed him really hard.

So it was very reassuring for me to watch this. I have never really liked Kristen Bell because of a range of made-up reasons like her face annoyed me (even though I had never read an interview or anything with her), but that has changed. She is a kindred spirit. I just watched this video on this very enjoyable blog Make Pippa Cry (via Melicious), on which people post YouTube videos in attempts to induce tears from a person who has never cried while watching something on YouTube. I have so far cried while watching three, and deliberately avoided one that I have seen before (and I am a bit grumpy this evening). As well as the project and the videos, I also like Pippa's articulate and matter-of-fact reactions to each video; they remind me of my wonderfully honest and funny friend Sez. 3-7 safe-zoners - you're not alone.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Happy Blues

I don't know what made me think of this song today. My sister had the soundtrack to Mo' Better Blues; I think it was during her Spike Lee phase, when she had movie posters on her wall and would try to tell me watered down synopses of the films to give me an idea of the plots and issues without inducing nightmares (not always successfully - her skinny on one, maybe Fresh? anyway, a one-word title, haunted me before I went to sleep for a long time afterwards), and since our only cd player was in the dining room, that was where she listened to it, so I would listen to it too. I think it was the reassuring and kind of familiar sound of the song that immediately resounded with me; it was around the time of my Kool FM fanaticism (which I guess has never really left me), and when I was starting to understand about the situation of black people in America (and elsewhere, having seen The Power Of One the year before and taking it to the absolute extreme - every old black man became Geel Piet, and I an unwitting Harriet Beecher Stowe, and yes I know one was in South Africa and the other the USA). Sometimes it scared me, like the movies I didn't understand but always seemed to end in young men dying, and other times it made me feel so much love and compassion for a group of people with whom I had never had any personal experience (something else that has stayed with me, although thankfully my viewpoint is not as patronising and romantic as it was when I was eight) that it comforted me more than anything else. So I would listen to this song over and over and over, walking past the stereo and pretending to accidentally knock it back to play again. It was before we knew I was a music freak; we still just thought I was a general freak, and luckily the song was inoffensive enough to the rest of our family that I was allowed to keep repeating it for a while. I still remember the cover; it had a man playing a sax, and a brick wall, and the name was in little ovals and all in lowercase letters. I haven't seen the movie; I haven't seen any of the movies my sister told me about, and I think if I did, I would find them just as upsetting as I did then. Things are supposed to be better - it's nineteen or twenty years since I first heard this song, but the things reflected in those films are still happening, and the people living the story-lines are still largely forgotten.

Anyway, here is the song. I haven't actually listened to it yet and I'm a bit nervous that age and cynicism might mar my enjoyment of it. But I'm going to try to pretend that I'm eight or nine years old, and sitting at the dining table with my sister, and that everything is still to be discovered.

I don't know if it was Brick Lane or my looming period that is doing this to me, but I have such a sad longing for the time when my sisters and I were young and together that it is kind of breaking my heart.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Monday, Bloody Monday

I was going to show you a photo I just took of myself wearing my new tshirt that I was given today by the blood service to celebrate my 10th donation, but I used photo booth so the writing is back to front and it really isn't a good picture by any stretch of the imagination, so instead I am posting a song that was playing while Vincent and I gave blood this morning (and had made me feel a bit funny since we watched Saturday Night Fever but I think is okay again), and will tell you about my awesome tshirt. It is bright red (of course), has a '10' inside a drop of blood on the sleeve, says 'It Takes All Types' on the front (harhar), and made me very happy (even though I realise that, even taking colds, piercings, and tattoos into account, I probably should have given blood thirty times by now). The Blood Service is the best, and if you don't know them, they would love to meet you. (And suuck your blood.)

Sunday, May 20, 2012

I Like It

Salvador Dali and Gala, via Old Love from mariposima.

If you live in NZ, or anywhere, probably, you'll have had enough of ugly things (and if not, look up Louis Crimp and his comments on Maori). I certainly have, so today is just about things that are beautiful, and enjoyable, and funny, and don't hurt.

From here, on Old Chum.

I've always loved wooden floors and exposed wooden beams. I like wooden walls too; they remind me of a holiday my mother and I took together in winter when I was thirteen or fourteen, and stayed in bed until lunchtime, did puzzles, and drank lots of milo and ate lots of chicken nuggets and minties. I'm still dreaming of the day Vincent and I live in a house and not an apartment, and have a table, and windows that look out onto green things, and that belongs to us. I think I've changed my mind about not believing in owning land and a house... now it seems like stability and security.

Print by Ryan Sheffield for sale on etsy, found via melicious.

Then I am very much alive.

In the car with Missy today, she asked why I don't know any new music. (She meant new music that is played on four and bung radio stations, although I have become really lazy with finding other new music/really comfortable with my sixties playlists of which I know every inflection.) She was trying to tell us what she'd been listening to lately but couldn't remember the name of the song she liked best, just that it began with 'd' and rhymed with something. When she showed us the playlist she'd made, it turned out to be Debaser by the Pixies, and I wanted to hug the world. Anyway, later on in the car I heard this song (which is new to me, whether or not it's actually new) and it made me want to be drunk in a dark room with a low ceiling, maybe wearing a shiny top or shiny shoes, and flinging my arms around.

Sunday's not really a disco day, but the thought of another cold and unstimulating week of work makes me feel like some disco is in order. Only five days until it's Friday again.

Bye, Donna Summer. And thank you for everything. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Defiant & Confrontational

Mazda Motors, Otahuhu, Auckland 1981 by Glen Jowitt from the series 'Polynesia Here and there' 1981, found on Booksellers, and featured in the book 'Tangata o le moana: New Zealand and the People of the Pacific'.

I've been reading/flicking through a fantastic new book my boss bought yesterday and immediately loaned me (high five!) that was published at the beginning of the month. It's called 'Tangata o le moana: New Zealand and the People of the Pacific' and is comprised of a series of essays, edited by Sean Mallon, Kolokesa Mahina-Tuai, and Damon Salesa. I've spent most of my time on the chapter 'All Power to the People - Overstayers, Dawn Raids and the Polynesian Panthers' by Melani Anae, and it's been getting me very excited and inspired. My favourite new fact so far is that Will 'Ilolahia (founding member of the panthers, friend of my Dad's, and the man who took Simply Red to Samoa) was arrested in Canberra in 1972 for trying to set up an Aboriginal embassy. I think that is so, so cool; it's what I aspired to grow up to do back at school when I formed the (short-lived) Women's Communist League with two of my friends. Anyway, what I've been reading has been making me think, and I wanted to share some of what I've read, and some of what I've thought.

Agnes Mary Eti Ivala Laufiso (known as Eti Laufiso) was the third national president of PACIFICA (the best acronym ever: Pacific Allied [Women's] Council Inspires Faith in Ideals Concerning All), an organisation formed by migrant women in the early seventies to help new migrants adjust to life in New Zealand. I plan to find out more about her, but I like what I know so far. Here she articulates exactly how I feel about people - women in particular - who profess to be non-political. (However, while she takes it in her stride, I, as with most things, let it make me wild. As long as you are a person, you are political! And if you are a woman, constant object of the male gaze and everything else, you could barely be more political if you shaved your head, named your son Jesus, and chained yourself to a petrol pump!) (By the way, this is from p197 of the book, and the underlining is my own.)

PACIFICA is very political. People say it's not political and they don't want to be political, but 
as soon as you walk the street you're political: you're a political entity.
You're governed by all sorts of things... You're political.

She goes on to make another point with which I agree completely:

I wish the men would get up and do their thing...
Because we need them, we need all of us to actually stand together...

One of the organisers of Slutwalk made a brilliant speech at the end of the march and talked about the importance of the involvement of men to its success. People immediately affected by a law or a situation can make a change but it takes a long time without the support of others outside that group. And if someone is in difficulty, we are all affected, whether we believe ourselves to be or not. (I used the example of the crucial involvement of white people in the black civil rights movement to Vincent on the morning of the march; that might sound like manipulation, but I will do what it takes.)

Reading about the dawn raids made me think about what the plan was for the children of immigrants. Most work permits being issued were for three months, so it seems as if the immigrant workers were supposed to go back to the islands from whence they came and continue with their lives there. Except that, with the (infinitely higher) number of immigrants from other countries (mainly England) staying beyond their visas, there can't really have been an expectation for anyone to return to their homelands (unless the government was as racist and hypocritical as it seemed to be). So I've been trying to figure out what we, the next generation, were supposed to be, and how we were supposed to fit in? A new class of unskilled workers (I could only think of slaves begetting slaves as an example; I hope you know what I mean)? Were we meant to be segregated, and educated accordingly? Reading about why our parents came here, it seems clear that the government never made a plan for us, unless it was for us to become our parents. There isn't room for us; one in five people under twenty-five is unemployed. Changes to enrolment and student loans means that tertiary education is becoming less accessible to lower income families (from which most of us come). Many of our families need their graduate offspring to earn money immediately, so high-paying industries with low/non paid internships are ruled out, and creative fields are not even a consideration. And I don't know how our parents could have made more money than they did; some were working in factories, trying to make lives here for their families, as well as send money home to help everyone else. I think what I'm trying to say is that there should have been a plan, and that there needs to be one for the children of new immigrants. It might be inconvenient, but we grow up! This is our country; some of us haven't known any other. We don't have the same background as children who were brought up in the dominant culture. There is a responsibility to us, when our parents are accepted into this country, or brought here as unskilled labour or whatever else: there has to be a plan. Or else, when we discover we don't fit, things will happen.

I'm going to think about this a bit more, and unlike when I say I'll get back to you and then forget, I'll really get back to you about what I come up with. But I'd really appreciate hearing what you think about this. I think about the son of Malaysian immigrants who live up the road from my parents, and how hard he studies, and all of the pressure that is on him to deserve what has been given up for him, and how little support he has had from anyone except his parents. And I think about my niece's awesome little friend and his family, who also live up the road, and how hard they do it now, and what the opportunities will be for their children. I realise that this government is making it clear that children are not their responsibility - not any children. But children of immigrants are so displaced already... we are apt to fall through the cracks. I guess I have to do something.

Lastly, the title of this post is from a description in the book of the Polynesian Panthers.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Fairtrade Fortnight!

I feel a bit of guilt when I buy things. Part of it is because I already have a lot of things (I currently have about twenty skirts... but they are all thrifted! And I still lack many colours and styles! And some fit differently depending on how much weight I'm packing!), and a bigger part is because Vincent almost never buys things. But I feel guiltiest when I have bought something on a whim, that I don't really need, and that was made in a country with no/terrible labour laws.

Buying secondhand makes me feel less guilty, and buying secondhand from a charity shop makes me feel less guilty still. (And when I think about it, maybe the guilt is part of the pleasure; as I was explaining to my niece, our family is, by nature, perverse.) But sometimes you can't buy secondhand, and you can't afford to commission a local artisan to make you a rug, or a doll. And that is where Fairtrade comes in.

Fairtrade New Zealand make shopping really easy. They research products and certify them so we know at a glance if things have been produced ethically, and to raise awareness of Fairtrade, from May 5-20, they present Fairtrade Fortnight. The fortnight includes events around the place, including Trade Aid, which is one of my favourite shops in the city. (Just this week I bought presents for my Port mother and sister, a bangle for myself, and lovely of lovelies, laybyed a beautiful leather overnight bag for my family (yes, me, but I want to eventually use it as a nappy bag, and I can see Vincent using it too!). I actually can't go in there without buying something, so I try to only go in there when I need a present.) Their website is a good place to check whether or not so-called fairtrade products are legit or not, which was why I went there in the first place. 

It's been a while since Vincent and I switched to All Good Bananas, which are Fairtrade certified, but aren't widely available within the central city. To begin with, they were only available from New World Victoria Park which is a bit of a hike for us, so I emailled our local Countdown to ask them to start stocking them. I didn't hear anything from them, but they began selling Dole Ethical Choice bananas, as do their new inner-city branch, and the New World Metro that opened a few months ago (I emailled them tonight about stocking All Good, so watch this space). Vincent and I were dubious (at best) about Dole's Ethical Choice; we've both read about how they have treated their banana farmers in the past, and weren't impressed by their sudden commitment to fairtrade. Furthermore, their banana prices are still so low we wondered how they could make a profit and still pay their farmers fairly. Checking the Fairtrade website, I discovered they are not fairtrade certified, and  reading Dole's own website, it seems that what they do is a bit like the government offering tax-cuts after raising GST, or, one of my pet hates, rich businesspeople, who have made their money from exploiting other people, donating a tiny fraction of that money to a charity and being called philanthropists (they are not!!!). I'm not even close to convinced - in fact, they can kiss my arse. But I do miss bananas; they're my favourite fruit. (In case you're in the city too, you can buy All Good from Fix on Fort Street for $1.20 a piece, a price at which I balk in spite of the fact that in my other hand is probably a $4 V8 juice and a $3 pack of M&Ms.)

Anyway I'm barely making sense now, so I'll go. But don't forget to celebrate Fairtrade fortnight - not only by buying fairtrade, but by thinking about what we buy already; shoes, clothes, hangers, and everything else we're used to buying cheap because they're made unethically. We seem to think that it's our right to buy cheaply, but it's not. And it's bloody hard buying everything ethically, so let's pick our battles and buy as much as we can that's ethically produced, so we can lessen the evils of our phones and laptops and socks. Alright, sermon over. Nietzsche bless us, every one.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Responses To Tonight's News

1. Guys, wear your seat-belts! Please.

2. Rates rises in Kaipara are ridiculous. But the government is not going to help you poor suckers. REVOLT!!!

3. Those New Zealanders getting those rewards for buying shares in the five SOEs being (partially) [commence eye-roll sequence] sold are the exact New Zealanders who least need rewards. Why are we pretending that New Zealand owners makes the outlook any better for the rest of us? It will be a business! They will want to make profits! Jesus!

4. JPMorgan: Is anyone surprised? Have you seen these bankers? They are the kinds of assholes who giggled at weird private jokes during maths, and slap each others' bums when playing squash. Are you with Kiwibank? I recommend them.

5. No, I don't want to move to Australia, and I don't want to become a miner. Most of the people shown at the expo looked as if their parents were related. (I mean their own Mums related to their own Dads, not that they are extended families all moving together. Wouldn't that be nice! Except that, in an isolated mining town, they may have to marry each other and perpetuate that cycle. But what is wrong with that? Cousin love is a baseless stigma.)

6. Murder is, indubitably, sad and wrong. (Except when it's like, the murder of Hitler or some similar piece of shit). But why do we have to hear so much about Emily Longley's? It seems as if it is because she is young and blonde and relatively photogenic. How many women in NZ die every day at the hands of their abusive partners? We hear nothing about them, and yet this case is on the news every single night. I should say some of the case interests me; how does such a brain-dead misogynist manage to dress himself in the morning, let alone gain a girlfriend (and manage to do her in)?

7. The top five box office movies in NZ are invariably a depressing reflection of the population's poor taste and lack of brain-juice. The only thing worse is our music top ten. It makes me want to destroy things.

On that note, here is an awesome song I listened to while dusting the tv this afternoon while the jenga queen played with her uncle. Is it obvious I had nothing to say and am still recovering my mind? But this is Commitment To My Blog.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Girls In Black Dresses

Today I have nothing to say, so I am going to show you my favourite dresses from this year's MET Gala. I tried not to let my personal feelings about the people wearing them get in the way of my judgement, but of course they did. I did, however, manage to pick some dresses which are lovely but look terrible on the wearers (I've already filled my bitch quota for the day though, so you will just have to guess who I'm talking about). I'm not sure which is my favourite, but I would love to own Lana Del Rey's Joseph Altuzarra dress and especially her most awesome cape. I still don't know how I feel about her, but her styling is all right with me.

Images 1-5 from and 6-9 from UsMagazine

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Buts & Poices

1. I have a playlist called Rollicking that I like to listen to when I'm doing things in the kitchen. The songs on it, which include Chuck Berry and a lot of The Cramps, makes me feel like what I'm doing isn't mundane; a bit like Tracy Jordan reasoning that because birds are like little dinosaurs, feeding Kenneth's is cool and brave. Vincent's Mum once called me asbestos hands after feeling the extremely high temperature of the water I had just washed dishes in (sans gloves), so I think dish-doing is also brave, and listening to this music makes it a bit cooler. Anyway, I just did the dishes and then found this cover of Strychnine, which I think is pretty good.

2. Today Vincent found a place in Auckland City that sells Peanut Butter M&Ms. Peanut Butter M&Ms are one of my favourite sweet things in the whole world, and I expect this discovery to make my skirts a lot tighter, and that's fine by me.

3. I'm feeling both inspired by and mildly jealous of these well-dressed women. One of the great things about autumn is being able to wear knits with bare legs, but I wish my bare legs ended in heels instead of boots (how do these ladies do it?), and that I could find a jumper in the right pink, and that I had that exact skirt (except in however many sizes bigger I would need it). And I wish I was as cool as lady no. 2 (cigarette most definitely included. Don't hate me; I was formed in the 90s). Both photos are from The Sartorialist.

4. In just 9 1/2 weeks, Vincent, the Jenga Queen, her parents, and I are going to Samoa, and I can't wait. In honour of / preparation for the trip, Vincent decided to read Treasure Island, so I began reading it to him and now I'm reading it myself. I'm enjoying it very much, but does anybody know what Long John Silver is saying? I understand about 50%.

5. It's raining, and although we can hear it coming down, Vincent has just said how much he misses hearing it come down on the roof (we live on the fourth floor of a seven floor building). It's made me think of one of my favourite poems, with which I will leave you.

Rain on the roof

My nephew sleeping in a basement room
has put a sheet of iron outside his window
to recapture the sound of rain falling on the roof.

I do not say to him, The heart has its own comfort for grief.
A sheet of iron repairs roofs only. As yet unhurt by the demand 
that change and difference never show, he is still able
to mend damages by creating the loved rain-sound
he thinks he knew in early childhood.

Nor do I say, In the traveling life of loss
iron is a burden, that one day he must find
within himself in total darkness and silence
the iron that will hold not only the lost sound of the rain
but the sun, the voices of the dead, and all else that has gone.

Janet Frame

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Good Stuff

1. Yesterday I read this great article about racial bias, which I found via yes and yes. Lately my sister has been particularly concerned about some of the things my niece is learning from people we love but have fucked up attitudes to some things and people, and the article highlights why this kind of influence is so damaging. Also, it was good for me to be reminded that we all have programmed responses to things, sometimes responses that we are ashamed of. I worry that by confessing her feelings, the lady in the article might have believed herself to be pardoned; sometimes I do that with the bad things I think and then confess to Vincent, but I'm pretty sure that wasn't her intention. I like that she fights the impulse. We can't help what's been programmed into us, but we can do our darndest not to let those reflexes win.

2. We watched HOWL this week, which was very good. Near the end, Ginsberg says something that means a lot to me, especially in light of what I was saying recently about being relatively hyper-conscious of ethnicity and culture:

Homosexuality is a condition. And because it alienated me or set me apart from the beginning, it served as a catalyst for self-examination or detailed realisation of my environment, and the reasons why everyone else is different, and why I'm different.

I was certainly set apart from the beginning. I really like that to Ginsberg, everyone is different; I think we all are too. I also like how he says 'realisation' of his environment; it's been like a gradual epiphany for me, or series of epiphanies - maybe a bit like figuring out which bit of the matrix I'm seeing now is. But I've been really lucky to have had a person who believes the things I do, to make these realisations possible; people do it alone, but I need the reassurance that I'm not insane (what's that old story, where nearly everyone is mad, so the sane people are the crazy ones?).

3. Finally, on Thursday Vincent and I watched Cabaret, and it was MAGNIFICENT. If you haven't seen it, as I hadn't, get thee to the video shop and do yourself a solid. I laughed so much, and hearing Judy in Liza's voice and recognising Judy's limbs and eyes on Liza was like seeing an old friend. I suppose because it was. Anyway, here is one of my favourite songs from the film, which I can't wait to learn and force my firstborn to perform with me: Money.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

What Is And What Could Be

Image credits: 1&2 from Old Chum (from here and here), 3 from Miss Moss (and in case the link on the photo doesn't work, is originally from here), and 4 from (and came from here).

One day I would like for where I live to look a bit like the above. I accept that it will never be exactly like that because I instinctively clutter, but lately I have been really looking forward to having a whole house to play with, and not just a few rooms (in which we are not supposed to drive in new nails, and which have terrible lighting, evidenced by the below photos which I am going to share anyway).

As we get closer to our aim of 100 things each, things begin to take individual shape, as opposed to the hazy mess they made formerly. The red couch would disagree, but the end is in sight, and I am glad.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Father Chrisco / Mother Fucker

I've been wanting Vincent to guest post ever since he did his last post before the election last year, but I couldn't think of anything worth his while writing about. Then we were both yelling and fuming at the ad for MyLayby a week or so ago, and I thought he'd do a much better job of writing about it than me (and probably not cry while doing so). So tonight we have Vincent, and I will keep sitting here feeling sick from my greasy fish and chips and then my ice-cream (it's already freezing - why?), and then he and I are going to watch Cabaret. As Nancy said, it's a fine life. (Vincent arrives in Mobile:) was launched a few weeks ago with a series of god-awful ads on telly. The website lets you pick almost anything you want and gives you 52 weeks to pay off the items and subsidise the lifestyle of a soulless English millionaire who now lives in Australia.

MyLayby is owned by Richard Bradley, who is also the founder of the Chrisco Christmas hamper scheme. Chrisco is massive. They sell around 400,000 hampers every year in New Zealand and the people that buy the hampers are always poor people. Even Richard Bradley doesn’t deny this. Middle class people don’t layby groceries, which is why Chriso sponsors the Kiwis and not Team New Zealand.

Bradley has made a fortune by selling overpriced groceries to low-income families for a once-a-year Christmas binge that they don’t need and definitely can’t afford. He owns the most expensive house in New Zealand (the $30 million Kim Dotcom mansion in Coatesville, complete with helipads, swimming pools (plural) and a panic room) and the NBR estimates Bradley’s wealth at around $80 million. Again, of all this comes directly from low-income families.

In February this year, Chrisco was fined $175,000 after pleading guilty to ten charges of breaching the Fair Trading Act. The charges all related to a cancellation policy that meant Chrisco received way more than it should have under the Lay-by Sales Act. The court also said they had intentionally misled customers about how they could cancel their contracts and what they would be charged if they did.

Not surprisingly for a man with no taste, or at least no right-brain (watch the ads and visit the website for yourself) and not a shred of morality, MyLayby is run almost identically to Chrisco, and customers (the poor) are overcharged as a rule. Consumer Magazine did some checking and found MyLayby charging $999 for a television that sells for $799 at Harvey Norman and a scooter selling for $549 compared to $494 at another site. This is way beyond the supposed ‘overheads’ that Bradley uses to justify his prices.

I read an interview with Bradley this afternoon. The reporter asked him about the repeated criticisms of his companies. He responded with the following: "It frustrates me ... I understand we all have opinions about things we don't know anything about, but poor people don't need to be protected from me."

(Vincent leaves Mobile. Please come back soon! We will get to bed much sooner if you do.)

Image from

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A Walk In The Woods

Look at how beautiful Woodhill is. When we arrived it was already four, and the grey sky was already beginning to darken. There was a sign saying the path was closed to the public because of filming, but Vincent charged past it, and I gingerly followed. (As much as I enjoy rebelling against things, I am a natural rule-follower.) As soon as we got into the forest, I started to feel a bit scared, and entertained all thoughts of being attacked or getting lost. The air smelt like damp dirt, and the path was littered with pinecones. Vincent peed standing on one leg on top of a tree stump. I thought about The Road Not Taken, and how although I'm pretty sure the yellow wood Frost walked in was lush green, that this is what mine would look like; moody and uncertain. And that my road would have sand dunes so steep I would walk almost parallel with the sand, but that the view from the top would be beautiful.