|October 2013||21 October 2013 ~ HG Wells Festival
I returned from four weeks in New Zealand on Saturday - more of which later - to find that a short story entered into the competition run as part of the HG Wells Festival in Folkestone has been shortlisted for the Grand Prize. Two things make this especially pleasing. Shortlisted entries will be published and the competitions links to a great writer.
The competition required a story on the theme of flight. My entry, The Suitcase, concerns an asylum seeker's experience of the UK.
Further details of the publication will be added after November 17.
22 October 2013 ~ Article on E-publishing Published
The New Zealand Society of Authors latest bi-monthly magazine have included an article I wrote called E-publish a book in a day - for free. A pdf of the page with the article is included on this website.
25 October 2013 ~ Pukekos vs. Kiwis
Both kiwis and pukekos were
common at the time of early European
settlements in New Zealand before swamps were drained and fire used to
clear bush for
pasture. And before introduced mammals – including cats and stoats – devastated native birds. The nocturnal
kiwi would have been heard more and the pukeko with its resplendent
more by the pioneers.
26 October 2013 ~ New Zealand Film - Boy
The film’s strengths include a stunning performance by the central character, a good supporting cast of children and adults and its relevance to a major social issue, quasi-outlaw gangs of young men and sometimes middle-aged men.
Gangs have long existed in New Zealand. As elsewhere, they provide a community for adolescents rejected elsewhere or struggling to find an identity.
I recall reading in the early 1970’s how the average age of motor bike gang members in New Zealand differed by several years when Pakeha (European) members were compared with Maori. The researcher’s explanation was that when Maori members were ready to quit the gang their families and the wider Maori community welcomed their return. Pakeha gang members found re-entering mainstream society much harder.
The 1970s saw the emergence of gangs in Wellington and other urban centres that were predominantly if not exclusively made up of people who were of Maori and Pacific island descent. These gangs have grown in influence and criminality. Members of the Mongrel Mob, which started in Hawke’s Bay in the 1960s but now exists across the country, account for ten per cent of New Zealand’s prison population.
Waititi avoids dealing with the gangs head-on. Rather he looks at the pretensions and inadequacies of gang members through the eyes of a child and Boy's growing disillusionment with his father who has recently returned from prison.
material is countered with great humour and insights into the strengths and workings of a
rural Maori community.
A dozen or so pups graced the pool when we were there on October 10th. Numbers can be far higher at times. A few pups slept on the bank opposite where sightseers gather to view. Most cavorted in the water playing games with each other and testing their swimming skills against the eddies created by the waterfall. Spray from the cascade made photography more difficult and chilled the air. I'm not sure of the source of the stream, but the Kaikoura mountains were topped with snow.
We then drove south to Kaikoura, through the town and followed a cost road to Point Kean where adult seals come ashore to rest. They are used to vehicles arriving and tourists approaching. As you can see below, one didn't open her eyes and another could only be bothered to momentarily open one eye.
The Kaikoura seals were again using the parking area and beach when we called at Point Kean on our way to Christchurch a week later.
Kekeno were hunted by Maoris and numbers severely reduced in the North Island. The South Island, being colder had fewer people and the seals fared better there until the arrival of Europeans. Kekeno numbers plummeted until a ban was introduced in 1894. Even then, periodic culls were allowed until as late as 1946 to conserve fish.
The kekeno are now protected and though some are lost through trawling and illegal shooting the numbers are growing and some former territories are being recolonized.
29 October 2013 ~ World of Wearable Art
Harder to understand was the response of a New Zealand artist who rolled her eyes when I mentioned my enthusiasm for WoW. I was left with the impression that she regarded WoW as an interloper in the world of art. I can imagine WoW provokes envy because of its commercial success and the way it has created waves overseas. But I was disappointed to sense that some were sniffy about it for these reasons and because it has mass appeal and a sense of fun that "high art" struggles to provide.
The museum in Nelson seemed smaller and less vibrant after seeing costumes in the show, but I would still recommend it to anyone visiting New Zealand and would always include Nelson in my itineraries because it is the birthplace and home of WoW.
October 2013 ~ Toon Trees
31 October ~ Halloween Lecture
I was fortunate enough to get tickets to Surgical Horrors: The Operated Body in Horror Film and Literature. Lecture doesn't do the evening justice, informative though it was. The two presenters, Professors Conrich and Edwards, and several others present were dressed for Halloween. And the venue was The Old Operating Theatre, dating from 1822, in St Thomas Street near London Bridge Station.
It was chilling to know one was sitting were generations of medical students and the curious had sat and watched major operations carried out before anaesthetics. Surgeons and their patients valued speed, but this was before electric lighting and power tools to hasten bone cutting.
Tickets for the lecturer were limited to 50 by fire regulations because the theatre and the museum that stands next to it are in the attic and accessed by a narrow spiral staircase. While the setting added to the ghoulish fun of the evening, what shame so many were unable to gain admission when the content, which included excerpts from several horror films, was so interesting.