Thanks

My Mother is nothing or no one special.

I try to be an attentive and diligent parent. I believe I do okay and my Dearest is good at it too.

We try not to miss much, try to get the kids involved and be involved with them. All the while being aware not to push them.

It’s a challenge, attending to the above demands while managing a household of six. Not to mention the pets and the little extras that come with living reasonably isolated; the travel required just to the basics like groceries, having a social life and keeping in touch with an ever evolving world while the one around you stays rooted in times gone by.

And that is what it is, a management process. For me it has been a learning curve and one I don’t think will ever be complete. While I have never been afraid of hard work, I have never before faced the level of distraction that doing that work under the reproachful gaze of your children brings. And the Dearest, whose watchful supervision can be daunting.

At times though, given the isolation, the new (ish) environment we live in and the nature of Dearest’s job, it can feel a little like I am flying solo. There are a lot of demands on what my wife does for a living. As a Midwife, managing her time is paramount and the scope of her practice means there is often little time left for the demands of family life, let alone the energy or any hint of time for herself.

But here is the time for a little perspective, as my 44th birthday ticks by.

A thought struck me as I was vacuuming. With the dishes down, laundry sorted and the kids feed, entertained or packed off to school, it occurred to me just how easy I have it, especially when I compare my daily life with that of the woman who raised me.

I highlighted at the start that my Mother is no one special. Obviously she is very special to me, my wife and her grandkids, but putting that loving bond aside and looking at the practicalities of what I am doing as a stay at home Dad and what she achieved, I believe she wasn’t special…she was incredible.

There are a heap of other supurlatives I could throw out there. The gist though is that Mother, Nana, was a legend. A solo Mum, in a time when that was probably not the most fashionable of things to be. Social stigma aside, we are talking about a woman who not only raised two boys only fourteen months apart (imagine that for a load of shits and giggles) to be well-rounded, healthy, good men, she did so while working full-time, educating herself, developing a career, holding down a mortgage and maintaining a social life, such as the latter must have been with all the rest of it going on.

I look back on my formative years with rose-tinted glasses, as I am sure many do in a country like New Zealand which sure, has its issues, but generally is one of the best places in the world you could hope to be born and raised. At the time, as a kid in a sleepy Dunedin suburb, I wasn’t aware of the stresses my Mother must have faced; the hours of hard work, the tight budget, the loneliness, the pressures of solo parenting. In retrospect I can highlight a few moments when it must have been too much. Did my Mother let it show? Did her pressures and stresses weigh even the slightest on her children, her two boys? Not in the slightest.

Was there the support, from government agencies and the like, a societal awareness, that is available now? I seriously doubt it. For my Mother, there wasn’t even really the back-up of an extended family to lean on and not a thing from an absentee Father.

So how did she do it?

Everyone copes with adversity in their own way. My Mother is like my wife, an active relaxer. Trafalgar Street in Dunedin, where I grew up and where the real-estate agents will tell is situated in St Clair, but we all know is really St Kilda, is a grass verged short strip linking the half crescent former quarter-mile of Hargest Crescent and the stretch of Richardson Street, where around the corner my first school, St Clair primary, is housed.

There are bungalows and the odd villa. Clad in weatherboards and brick and roughcast, some were shabby, some were immaculate. Lawns were mown, sometimes by your neighbour and gardens bloomed and there was even the occasional blossoming tree dotted here and there. Fences were low and hellos were said and you knew everyone’s name and they knew you.

Far from idyllic, yet Trafalgar Street is only a fifteen minute walk to the beach, the Salt Water pool and there are plenty of schools and parks around for playing and sports, not to mention a decent back yard to run in. All in all it was pretty good environment to be growing up in.

But Mum couldn’t keep up with the Jones’. She didn’t drive, I guess never really needed to as she worked not far from home. Bus rides into the city were a bit of adventure and there were always friends offering excursions. Despite the Smith’s having four kids, their Holden Belmont seemed to accommodate everyone.

My brother and I had push bikes. A monumentous day when they arrived. We had cricket bats and all the associated gear, football and rugby boots, we had boogie boards and ‘computerised’ Battleships. Then it was an Atari, an Apple 11 and a ghetto blaster. Bro and I strutted around in Adidas three-stripe threads and whatever other hideous 80’s fashion was in vogue. I think I even owned hammer pants and had a flat top!

We wanted for nothing, least of all love and affection.

Our Grandmother would arrive with lemonade and sparkles and be with us through the day when we were sick. It was almost worth being unwell for. Then Mum would come home and take over where her Mother left off. We were clean, healthy, well fed, entertained and educated boys and we were hugged and kissed and tucked in.

Only now do I really appreciate all that. 40 years my Mother spent as an Early Childhood Educator, 25 or so kids under the age of five under her feet all day, just to come home and deal with her own two brats. Legendary stuff.

So I will stop prattling away here. I will pick up the toys and detritus in the path of the vacuum cleaner. I will do another load of dishes, prepare some lunch for the crew, feed off the scraps, take care of the recycling, make some beds and put some washing on, get some dusting done and hopefully find time to do some gardening with the little ‘uns, then start dinner and think about doing it all again as I get the kids settled for the evening, that is after the homework and the reading of books and telling of tales.

And just like my Mum, I hope to do it all with the type of demeanour that means, when my kids look back, all they remember is warm summers days and an even warmer smile.

Love you Mum.

supermom

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taking the Piss

I sit down to pee.

I don’t throw like a girl. I never had a great arm, but nor was it a bad one. Besides, I preferred to field in closer to the action. Cricket is a great way to ruin an entire Saturday anyway.

If I have a feminine side, and I don’t believe I do, then I am not ‘in touch’ with it. Even typing it sounds a bit rude. I am not a woman trapped in a mans body, I am not experimental with my sexuality/gender. However, more often than not these days, when the need arises, I sit down to take a piss.

Part of the problem lies in the fact there is no latch on the toilet door. Anyone, even little toddler sized little ones, can push the door open.

I am not precious. Mike Bracey is not the type to suffer from ‘stage fright’. While I agree there are some things best done alone, I am still capable of doing them in the presence of others, if need be. What bloke hasn’t been to a urinal? But a toilet bowl in an en-suite bathroom is no urinal. Theoretically, I should have the place to myself. I don’t.

I’m all for a little up and coming man being taught the ropes of manhood by his male seniors. Isn’t that part of being a parent, the point of being a Dad? Raising the next generation, training and guiding and encouraging and mentoring and all that.

Yes, I hear you all chorus, so is the way of the world. Man and boy. But the way to teach a man to urinate is not to shower him in my own steamy stream.

“For goodness sake boy, get your head out of there.”

My Wee-Man (suddenly that moniker has taken on a whole new meaning) has a fascination for all things wet. He loves water, in all its forms. Cool. I am a bit of a water baby myself. My love of the water, however, does not extend to the toilet bowl.

Wee-Man will lift the lid, stare intently, drop this and that in, lean too far and threaten to take a dip. And if he hears the tinkling sound of piss, he is all for the yellow waterfall.

So I have taken to barricading myself in. I sneak away, careful to make my departure is as unnoticeable as possible, suitable distractions in place. I close the bedroom door, then the bathroom door, then due to the lack of a latch, place the heaviest available item up against it. That item isn’t the scales in case you are wondering. They don’t get heavy until I put my feet on them.

Seems excessive just to avoid pissing on my sons head, but at least it avoids the inevitable clean-up and any awkward questions from the Mrs. His time will come. Right now, he is vertically challenged and is yet to fully master the concept of balance.

At least he is yet to wriggle his way onto my lap why I am reading the sports news.

goofy-babies-014.jpg

 

Hi di ho Neighbour

Ever regret not having made the effort?

How many times have you seen the neighbour over the fence? How many times have you seen him/her/them getting into their car, just the driveway over? How many times have you bumped into them on the street, in the local convenience store, at the nearby petrol station? The dog park, the supermarket, the hairdresser, the school gate, Bunnings or Mitre 10 or Smith City or the dairy or the library or the zebra crossing down the road.

How many times have you said hi?

wilson1

Not a nod. Not a small smile and then a look away. I am asking how many times you have stopped whatever meaningless, monotonous, innocuous bullshit you are currently doing and acknowledged the existence of the person standing right next to you?

I can be a pretty reclusive guy. I am not in hiding and I am not antisocial, but I am inclined to stay in my own little bubble and view the world from the safety of my family perspective. Having said that, my neighbours know who I am and I them. Not hard when you live in a town with a population a little over 400.

There is a family over the way that have come for a BBQ. The dad will crack a beer and watch a game of rugby here. Up the hill, a couple will have coffee and bribe my kids with treats. Everyone knows our dogs, who roam freer than I should probably allow, snatching what they can when your back is turned. Some around here only know enough to wave when passing, some will come out of their way and say hello. There are still more, from the wider community, we see around and who have been welcomed into our home.

Like I say, it’s a small town and community and we are new to it. We didn’t really have to go out of our way to make an effort to be known and I am pleased to say we were in no way shunned on our arrival. For us it it easy. Given my wife’s occupation as a midwife, she has a foot in many doors, so to speak. Kids help too. You have to take them to school and they are social butterflies and you end up meeting folk through them, whether you like it or not.

But what if there isn’t that ready and easy connect?

In my experience, there is still that open, honest, welcoming aspect to Kiwi culture. There really are still people out there who will show up on your doorstep with a Tupperware container of fresh baking when you land in their neighbourhood. A ready made meal is still dropped off after you have had a new born. Despite popular belief, as far as we as a family have experienced, there is not a small minded, small town clique mentality, designed to shut out the new comer. Quite the contrary.

I grew up in suburban Dunedin. Old Ted used to lob fresh veggies over the back fence and Mrs Brockie tolerated our cat eating from her cats bowl. So much so, she eventually got her one of her own. We played cricket in the street with neighbourhood kids who became friends for life and our mums nattered over instant coffee, while we broke their windows with wayward lofted drives and hook shots.

Sure, a different generation and a different era. We were known by name in the streets we haunted and we could run up to the school, or the beach or the sand-hills, more or less where we liked and we could do so without fear of anything perverted or weird. Our neighbours knew us by sight and by name. There was a safety in that.

That way of life simply isn’t the case anymore, real or imagined threats abound. And whether the chance of anything genuinely creepy happening is real or not, the fear of it is threat enough. In the media there is talk of an urban/country disconnect, we hear and see more and more violence, even if stats are reflecting a lessening in that behaviour. We kill ourselves on our roads and beat each other up in the street and as far as I can see, not many people seem to care.

The safety net has gone from our culture and our society. That net comes in the form of community. For some, I guess, it is found in the realms of social media and an online world I don’t really understand. Can a virtual hug replace a smile, delivered straight to your face? Can an emoji give the same sense of satisfaction as a handshake? Can a thumbs up do the work of a hand on the back, an act of kindness and support where it may be needed the most?

Our youth and our middle aged men are killing themselves.We don’t call it suicide and we dodge the subject, cloaking what is a pervasive and sinister societal ailment in language and attitudes hiding the seriousness of the problem, beneath layers of political correctness. What are we scared of? Why are so many members of our communities feeling so isolated and cut-off? Why aren’t we poking our head over the fence any more?

Someone nearby to us attempted to take their own life last night.

I don’t know this person. I’ve waved in passing. I had every intention of knocking on the door one afternoon and saying hi. But I didn’t. Do I feel guilty about that lack of community spirit, in failing to welcome a new member to the hood? Do I feel any sense of responsibility? No.

Will I do everything I can do help, in whatever from that may take or is needed. I hope so.

I hope we all will.

 

 

 

 

The Walking Talking Dead

I would like to this opportunity to introduce you all to Jake.

Jake is three. He is a little boy that lives in the forest.

Jake does not attend school, Pre-School, Creche, Kindergarten or Play Center.

Jake owns a car but does not drive. Jake drinks beer. Jake only eats Lolli-pops, Lollies and Chocolate

Jake is my daughters best friend. As far as I can tell he is invisible. It could be that he is more fantastical than I am giving him credit for. Perhaps he has cloaking devices or magical disappearing shrouds or perhaps he is hypnotising me (and everyone else too).

You see, I am not entirely sure Jake exists. Having said that, I think Jake is very real. He certainly has a great impact on our days at the moment. We all get to hear a great deal about Jake and just what he is up to.

This weekend we had a BBQ and socialised with the nieghbours. Jake was invited, but as my darling daughter put it so eloquently, he was not available.

Jake is an imaginary friend. I feel the need to spell that out, in case there are those out there beginning to believe my daughter has supernatural friends. Or perhaps, sees dead people. Jake is however, all too real as far as the E-Bomb is concerned.

She knows we are on to her and the E-Bomb is not silly.  Several attempts have been made by the family to meet Jake, but conveniently, he has always had other things on at the time. I don’t believe Jake is intentionally avoiding us, but he certainly seems unwilling to make an appearance.

Jake and his exploits have become a bit of a running joke over the last couple of weeks, since he appeared on our doorstep, seemingly out of nowhere. However, I am becoming increasingly wary of belittling his presence. It has in fact led me to question some things; is our daughter bored? Is she lacking social interaction, so much so she has to invent some? Is she not challenged, is she  fearful of others and therefore has become too insular? Is our daughter a headcase?

The answer to the last question is pretty simple. No. The E-Bomb is not mad, she does not have ‘issues’. She just has an imaginary friend. I have heard stories of parents having to go so far as to set a place at the dinner table for a child’s little invisible mate. Seats need to be made available for the mystery one in the car, an extra ice-cream has to be bought. While we have not had to go so far as placating to Jake quite to that extent, I can understand the need or desire to.

To our little one, Jake has rapidly become as much a part of her world as anything ‘real’ or tangible.  He is in her life, very much so, and therefore in ours. Jake has become a part of the family and that in no way concerns us and I don’t believe it should. If we are still hearing from Jake in ten years time, if Jake is still accompanying us on family outings, if we are still needed to BBQ an extra sausage or two, when both he and our darling daughter are in their teens and beyond, then there might be an issue or two worth discussing.

The E-Bomb does not see dead people. She does not have visitations from ethereal beings from the ‘other side’ and she is not cavorting with mythical creatures like faeries or pixies or anything of the sort. And Jake sure sounds like no fairy.

Our daughter is not delusional. Well, no more so than anyone else in this family; her mother still thinks we are going to win lotto, I still think I have my baby-faced good looks. I would hope that she isn’t lonely. We are a fairly tight-knit family, our third daughter gets on well with her older siblings and with her little brother. Gone are the days when she was doted over by her sisters, but she is still very much a part of their day and theirs to her.

We live in a small country town. That means we lack some of the facilities and extras readily found in metropolitan areas. Child care is one of those things. But there is a playcentre the E-Bomb attends twice a week and she loves it. There are some other kids in the neighbourhood she gets to hang with every now and then and, as has been proven by the arrival of Jake, she has a vivid and active imagination. She is a great little communicator, good with language and has excellent comprehension. With our little E-Bomb, there seems to be a great deal of excess, rather than anything lacking.

All the while she seems to have some form of telepathic means of communication with Jake. She knows what he is up to pretty much at all times and where he is at. She knows what he has been doing over the last few days and where he was doing it and she knows what his plans are for the coming days. I don’t think Jake is alive. But I do think he exists, if that makes sense.

Then again, maybe the E-Bomb does see dead people. Perhaps, Jake really is real. Either way, welcome to the madhouse.

 

  a53

 

 

 

Runnin’ Down A Dream

When those that made you are dead and gone.

Sound off the names: Leonard Cohen, Glenn Fry, Prince, Lou Reed, David Bowie…David Bowie for goodness sake!..and now Tom Petty.

There are other names I have missed and I have touched on this subject before. It is just, with the passing of Tom Petty of  Heartbreakers fame, I am once again struck by a few things. The fallibility of your idols, the way I am clearly getting old, how people can have such an effect on you without you necessarily being aware of it and how powerful that effect could and can be.

For me, it is musicians in particular. A song, a tune, a melody, even a lyric, can transport you back to a time and place, just like that. The work of a musician can reach you, touch you, get inside you and take a hold. When that happens you are marked. That musician, that artist, has left his or her imprint. And you aren’t even aware it has happened.

Think about it. What song was on when you had your first kiss? The proper one, not the peck you got playing catch and kiss in the playground.

When you were handed the keys to the car, for your first solo drive, what tape did you slide in, to blast out, speakers up and windows down? High School dances and that first big hall party or the bonfire, what tinny sound system or thumping P.A channeled the tunes of that day? Beat boxes on the shoulder to that first MTV music video, the first vinyl 45, EP to LP to CD.

The tracks that get you hopping and bopping and jumping and throwing your hands in the air and waving lighters (sorry, cell phones) and the songs that you scream for if you are lucky enough to see that artist perform them live.

The songs that bring a tear to your eye, or an outright sob. I mean, who hasn’t thought of the track that will lead your coffin out of the service? (Simply Red’s If You Don’t Know Me By Now for me thanks).

Of course it isn’t about music for everyone. Maybe it is something political, a world leader, who inspired/inspires you. A JFK or a Che Guevara or Martin Luther King. Think of all the philosophers who have blessed us with their thoughts, the great thinkers of our time and times gone. The poets and the painters and the sculptors and the writers. Perhaps it is nature which inspires; a landscape, the eruption of a volcano, a glance to the stars and planets and galaxies above. Maybe your cultural heritage and history, maybe crafts, or architecture or something botanical.

Many get hooked on sporting idols. I won’t get into the debate around if a man or woman can kick, pass and catch makes them a  role model or otherwise, because either way, kids inspire to be like them. David Beckham, Mohamed Ali, Jonah Lomu, Jesse Owens, the Williams sisters, Lydia Ko. You could do worse than pinning some hopes and dreams on emulating a crew like that.

When these idols and legends pass, the rock stars and the superstars and the greats and the awe inspiring, don’t despair. Reflect, cry, bemoan the unfairness of the world it you have to, but be comforted in the knowledge the works of these idols, the people who inspired you, lives on as long as you allow it to.

The potential to inspire is endless and it is personal. I guess the point is to be inspired. Find those around you doing it, whatever it is, their way. Then find your way to do it a bit like them, if that is what works for you.

And while your at it, crank out the tunes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unobtainiuim

What do you do when your wife, the woman you ‘obtained’ is unobtainable? 

My wife is a babe. She’s hot, in a ‘Don’t be ridiculous, I’m not hot’ sort of way.

She isn’t the woman I married, nor is she the woman I met. All those many years ago. My wife has changed and adapted, both personally and physically, as the years, and children, have piled up. Her views have broadened, her horizons. So have other things.

My wife is an intelligent, smart, clever, educated and well rounded women. The latter, in more ways than one. (okay, I’ll stop labouring that point, before I get in trouble). I challenge any one to think she isn’t a hot tamale. She is the main bread winner. Cooks and bakes. Is clean, tidy and hygienic. A great mother and a good friend to her children. She is funny, witty and challenging. All the while looking the part.

So given all the above, how am I supposed to reconcile the idea that I get to sample only a small slice of the package she presents?

My wife works full time. She is also on call twenty four hours a day. A hard worker and dedicated member of the community. A hands on Mum, still breast feeding.

There are four kids in this household. Two dogs. Not sure why I mentioned the dogs, but they do add to the mix somehow. By the time the basics are done, the cooking and the cleaning and the cleaning up after the kids have helped with the cleaning, everyone is tired. Well, that is the theory.

The ideal, that there is some sort of watershed hour, a time past which children no longer intervene, is a wish yet to come true. More often than not, the little two in particular, set their own agenda. I have tried to propose an arbitrary time of 8pm. Half eight at the latest. Beyond that hour, or part thereof, not a peep should be heard from the lips of anyone under the age of say…sixteen. Which in this household, leaves me and the Mrs. Heaven forbid a little creature would be bold enough, read stupid, to venture back down the stairs after the cut-off.

That’s the ideal. Bollocks isn’t it? But you knew that.

I just want to cuddle my wife. Directly.  Not reach and strain to get my stumpy limbs around another form, just to get my equally stumpy fingers on my wife’s flesh. I love my Wee-Man, but get off my wife.

Sometimes I picture the scene. It is an every day one. Or rather, every evening. Kids don’t even feature in this vision. Perhaps they are already tucked up in bed, sound asleep. Perhaps they are off on holiday, staying with a Nana, or a Granddad. Perhaps, in this vision, they never existed.

Perhaps, seeing as we are being fanciful, the wife and I have settled to watch a Western (my favourite genre). We had something spicy for dinner, we are sipping a wine and have no fear of getting inebriated. It doesn’t matter, in my vision, if we cannot be roused from our slumber, by the cries of children in the throes of a nightmare, or not.

My wife’s body will be close against mine. I will have my arms around her, she will be embracing me. It will be loving and cosy and cute and charming and all the things it used to be.

Who knows…it might lead to something. Just not another bloody kid!

Between the work my wife does, and the children she has had, the age she has reached (dangerous territory again I know) the energy is sapped out of her before I even get a look in. The vitality, the verve and vigour. Sometimes she brings the stresses and pressures of work home with her. Nothing a glass of wine doesn’t fix, but it can be hard to watch and makes me realise, she was once on the receiving end.

for me, with the wife working, I have learnt a lot and I deeply appreciate the opportunity. I can cook. Not just bang some odds and ends together, stick in a pot on a medium heat and fifteen minutes later call it a meal. I mean I can really cook. Plan, prepare and make a meal, start to finish. I hate it and I love it all in one.

I hate the stress of cooking. I still struggle with the timing. I love the appreciative feedback when I get it right. First silence, not a word spoken as gobs are filled, food swallowed and the process rapidly repeated. Then the praise. Head-swelling and heart-warming.

There is heaps I don’t get right, according to her standards. I have developed and practiced and gotten better in some areas. She has learnt to let go in others. Some things she just does again when she thinks I am not looking. All in an effort to relieve her stresses and the added attention thrown at her by the little ‘uns when she walks in the door.

There are ways I can relieve her stresses. Ways that have nothing to do with little ones. With chores or food. Well, maybe a little bit to do with food…who knows, if you ask nicely.

But what with the ways of a busy, modern family, I sometimes think maybe in the asking, I am simply adding to the pressure. The asking, the cajoling, the hinting and the winking and the nudging, and if it has been long enough, the touching, feeling and groping. Seriously, I can be a charmer, but so often there is little or no time for that type of carry on.

I want my wife. The thing is, so does everyone else.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mandate

In the immortal words of George Greegan “Four more years…” Except of course, it is three.  

Election night. #decision17. Plenty to take home from last nights results and still plenty to play out, before we find out exactly who will be governing this country and what format that government will take.

Some obvious things leap out for me. The Maori electorate made their votes count and sent a message. Labour clawed back a little ground, the Jacinta effect maybe, but a patch of red here and there in the major metropolitan areas, does not an election win make. The Greens crept up for a slight revival from a disastrous campaign and Gareth Morgan failed to make the impact he and his followers hoped for.

I am no political analyst. I’m too good looking, so will leave it to the Patrick Gowers’ of this world. I saw enough last night to know that what permutations play out over the next few days to couple of weeks, whoever Winston needs to convince to get the things he wants to make a government, the caucus is going to look very different.

And it most likely won’t make a blind bit of difference to the man on the street.

When the new government is sworn in, the day to day of this household will not change. Not dramatically anyway. All I want to hope comes from the results last night, is to see James Shaw and the Greens stand up for their principles, namely environmental issues, which surely remain a concern, no matter the political bent of our ruling body. tack themselves onto the side of which ever party and work to make this a healthier, safer nation in which to live.

All that aside, the main thing that stands out like a flashing beacon, once again sadly, is the depressingly high level of voter apathy in New Zealand.

By all accounts only 30% of eligible voters turned out to cast their ballot. Quite frankly, that is pathetic. Apathy just paves the way for the agitating voice, so often the minority, to potentially get their way, simply because they have a voice and are prepared to use it. But i am not here to lecture and I am not here to judge. It just surprises me when I keep hearing that the ‘young’ don’t vote.

Yet don’t we live in an aging nation? Aren’t our ranks swelled by baby-boomers? The student body has always had a voice, if lacking coherence at times and traditionally left. Obviously that isn’t a powerful enough block to sway the wider youth community to engage. To my mind, does that not suggest a level of satisfaction? That attempts to woe a young voter by the likes of Labour or Top, a push for change, fell not on deaf, apathetic ears, but also content ones?

I guess it can just be hoped that the message has been received. That yes, there is a level of satisfaction in the performance of National over the last three terms, that there is not enough of an alternative on offer, but there is a thirst, slight as it might seem to be at the moment, for change. The fear is, this will be all about Winston.

More drama to come.

For the meantime, Sunday morning and I am sitting here listening ot a butchering of the national anthems of New Zealand and Samoa.

I am listening and watching free on a live stream. I am watching it being preformed, if you could call it that, in the Manchester Arena. And I am watching it free.

Yes Dean Lonergan, you heard me right. Free.

This family of four kids and one income is not in the position to be shelling out $50.00 for what is frankly, a questionable piece of entertainment. Quite apart from the argument around the merits for or against when it comes to pugilism, I am a boxing fan and I am a Joseph Parker fan.

So way to go, Duco Events and whoever else is involved in promoting and broadcasting the fight. Way to alienate a fan. Good work in loosing touch with the all to real and present struggles of the day to day for the working class viewer that makes up the majority of your fan base.

I know you have to make a buck. People have to earn and the bills need to be paid. That is the same for all of us and we aren’t professional sportsmen or women. But don’t go telling me anything about the ‘Peoples Champion’ or any of that rot…

Anyway, that’s the first bell….

 

 

 

 

Rolling Stone

Am I too old to rock? If Jagger and co still do it, surely I can too?

In February I am off to the Foo Fighters.

They aren’t actually my thing but check out their new album, Concrete and Gold. Bloody magic.

Backing up Dave, of former Nirvana fame, and his pals, is Weezer and they well and truly are my thing. The Blue Album is one of the defining pieces of music in my life and a big influence on my tastes, what I am prepared to put into my ears.

Weezer aren’t challenging, not like Muse or Radiohead or the other great guitar rock bands that came smashing out of the U. K in the 90’s. They are more Oasis, without the bullshit and a whole lot of talent. Those boys just plain rock and I don’t think there is any more you can ask for. As for the headline act, I am not familiar enough with the Foo Fighters repertoire to know if they are going to spark some sort of musical awakening, or just let me hurt my neck, banging my head back and forth like I have the muscles to back that up. Like a much younger man would.

I am just thinking that neck of mine is not going to hold up to a mosh pit. No way in hell. At 43, I don’t belong there anyway and now I am thinking, what sort of demographic shows up to gigs by iconic rock bands of past eras?

I am going to go out on a limb and say predominantly male. Which is good. Theoretically I will only look foolish in front of my own gender. Looking like a dick in front of the opposite sex is far worse.

So if i am roughly the age of your average Foo Fighter fan, your Weezer aficionado, then I am guessing I will be surrounded by hundreds, thousands, of out of breath, balding, sweaty, can’t dance, carrying a bit too much around the middle, wannabe old boy rockers. Cool, I should fit right in.

Hopefully that is the case. It might mean I won’t get grumpy at all the mind dulled screen bandits who will watch the whole show through their fucking phones. Drop that I-whatever any where near the aforementioned mosh pit and I am stomping all over it.

Where was I?

When is too old to rock? There is no way I can afford a Rolling Stones concert and my guess there is not much chance there will ever be another tour. McCartney is here soon, but he sold out a long time ago and I don’t mean the tickets and Roger Walters is touring these shores too. At least he has had the sense to go all acoustic and folky. About all a fan should expect from a 70 year old man. Bowie is dead, along with so many other great acts recently.

So what does that leave? Me and a couple of old timer mates, making out like when can still let it all go, cut foot loose and do it without looking ridiculous. I don’t give a rodents rectum how I look and I am damn sure no one will be looking anyway. If my picks on the demographic are any indication, that is a good thing too. But looking foolish and feeling it are two separate things. Sure, the former can and often will, correlate to the other, but I am more concerned that it just won’t feel right.

What if the lads and I are surrounded by the young and the carefree? What if everyone around me, shaking their long, luxuriant hair, which didn’t happen over night but did happen, turns out to have wallets and purses stuffed with disposable income? What if they are full of the chemicals which enhance their good times, stuff that I can’t spell, pronounce or indeed have ever heard of.

I don’t want to be left out of the action, but I am not even sure I can afford an Auckland beer, let alone chemical enhancement. Not that I can even handle a night on the piss like I used to. Certainly not the first old guy to claim that though and in reality, no bad thing.

The other side of the scenario, opposed to hanging with a bunch of the young and beautiful, could well be far worse though. What if the entire stadium is full of sad, aging, semi-decrepit rockers like me? What if all the dancing is a stilted, don’t stretch the hamstrings, head nod. A sea of waving bald spots, swaying back and forth in a middle aged rendition of mosh pit malaise.

Worse still, what if all the lovely ladies hoppin and a-boppin are wearing sensible knickers and over the shoulder boulder holders, underneath dresses the fabric of which is stained an off white shade of baby blurk. That is, of course, we assume these delightful rock goddesses haven’t already left their baby manufacturing days behind them.

What really troubles me is not the ringing in the ears I hope to have because I got too close, for too long, to the P.A. It isn’t that my back and neck might hurt from standing and jumping and thrashing my head around like a rabid teenager and it isn’t concern over a lack of lusty babes for me to ogle in the sad, slightly desperate way only men of my age really can…you know, caught between the forlorn hope you might still have ‘it, and the sad realisation you probably never really did.

No, I am troubled by the thought of all the mundane and all the tiresome things that the young and carefree don’t bother wasting valuable thought energy on…traffic, parking, accommodation and the biggy, expense.

So maybe no Hot Tub Time Machine recapturing of misspent youth. Maybe no winding back the hands on the clock and the years with them. But I will let go, I will jump and thrash and dance (sort of) and sing and yell and bang my head and party to excess and it will be the stuff of legend.

See you there.

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Passion

My wife thinks I need to be more confrontational. More controversial, if I want this blog to be a success.

The One Who Must Be Obeyed is of the opinion I need to say or highlight something that is going to go viral. Stir up the masses and create debate and argument and conversation. Maybe she has a point. I sit here and write this thing on a semi regular basis and know I am reaching only a few.

So who am I trying to reach? Am I trying to reach anyone at all, or is this simply about self-satisfaction? Do I have a message, am I ranting or am I just throwing words to the wild west coast winds, to scatter as they will?

And how exactly do I define ‘success’. What does it mean to be successful? In my situation I don’t work as such. I am a full time parent, which is work in itself and my kids are, as far as I can judge, happy and healthy. Am I, therefore, not already successful?

The real gritty truth of it is that I simply don’t have anything that fires me at the moment. Haven’t for years. There are things in our education system that annoy me, wider issues like the governance of this country, the management of our environment, things closer to home like the perilous state of my personal finances, my ever increasing decriptitude etc etc…

So is it age? Is it a malaise, an apathetic lack of interest, suffered in the realms of stay at home Dad’s? (I have never thought to ask where other Dad’s are doing their thing, if not at home.) Have I gotten too old to care? Have I gotten comfortable? Fat, lazy, preoccupied, too busy, not busy enough? Has my life as a father, parent, become so insular that the myriad of issues I am sure are out there, I simply let slide?

The answer is yes. The answer is no.

I don’t go anywhere and I don’t do anything. Nothing of note anyway. I have two children in my permanent care, under the age of five and they dominant my time and the manner with which I can spend that time. The nature of what my wife does for a living dictates, to a point, what I am able to achieve in my own, euphemistically termed, spare time. Then you factor in where we live, a small spot in the Far North, not exactly blessed with a wealth of family friendly activities and it is obvious that the ‘issues’ of the day do little to impact by minute by minute existence.

Over the years I have dabbled with all sorts of things. I loved Scuba diving, loved to hike and have hunted, fished, played drums in a band, even tried being a co-driver once in a rally car. No, before you ask, we neither crashed or got lost.

But somehow I have gotten lost. Not in the sense that I am not the man I once thought I was, or aspired to be. Just because I am home husband, does not mean I am in any way subjugated or play second fiddle, any fiddle, to my wife. Being the ‘home maker’ is not a minor role in any family dynamic and while doing so isn’t where I thought I might be in  my early, okay mid, 40’s, doesn’t mean I am not immensely satisfied.

Am I stimulated?

I still rock. Crank up the tunes and let go like I did in the 90’s. The kids think I am weird, think I am mad, but every now and then bust out the grooves with me. I don’t read as much as I would like but I do write as often as I can or feel the need to. I am learning to cook, ever more adventurously and there are a heap of projects covering all sorts of activities that float around in the back of my mind.

However, I spend the day playing with dolls, fitting together puzzles I could do in my sleep and having conversations based around the merits of holding glass of milk in two hands versus one. When I do read it is out loud, to a sometimes indifferent audience, on topics that range from the activities of various animals engaged in a variety of outlandish activities, to the nocturnal and somewhat nefarious actions of fairies. My favourite movie at the moment is Rise of the Guardians.

No, in a nutshell, I am not stimulated, in that I am not challenged. Does this mean I am unhappy? No it does not. I only have to look out the window and am greeted with a stunning view that likes of which many only dream of. I only have to reflect on all the joyous moments that having children roaming around under your feet brings.

So I am happy enough, I am content enough. So much so that I cannot get stirred up over anything. There is no one single thing, nor any conglomerate of things, that gets me worked up enough to react, outside of a dinner table conversation, that may or may not border on a debate.  Even in the midst of an election campaign, I cannot find anything that is going to get me waving my banner all over the place.

I am, therefore afraid, to report, for the meantime at least, there will be no controversy found here. I am not going to have a go at religion, feminism, politics, sexism, racism, environmental issues or anything else. Not until those issues knock directly on my door and I have to be honest, I hope they never do.  The All Blacks keep winning, so no dramas there and Arsenal are predictable average, no surprises there.

I am not bland, I am not blank. I am just busy. Busy doing nothing in particular.

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Kiss My Baby

Election time is nearly on us and do you feel your vote has been adequately canvassed?

No one has kissed my baby.

I mean to say, we cover the little mite in love and affection, and yes, kisses. That is our job and we couldn’t help ourselves even if we wanted to. The whole lot of our gaggle get treated to such behaviour, though we are at the cusp of throwing a few more chores at them, to earn that love.

Right now, in each and every location around the country, there are a bunch of people trying to earn something from us and from you. And not just your love.

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They want your vote. They want you to love them, want you to show faith in them, back them and their policies. They want you to share in their vision, believe in what they see is the best for New Zealand, its people and its future.

I have my own thoughts on how a so-called representative of a group of people should go about trying to make me believe they are the person  to do just that: represent me. And there is a great deal of debate in the media at present, when it comes to personality vs policy. For me, it is difficult at times to define and equate the latter and damn near impossible to decipher the former.

And hey, if you want my vote, how about a bit of effort coming and getting it.

We have an opposition leader who talks in sound bites and backs it up with a big smile. But does anyone else think she talks just a little too slow? Like she is dumping it down for us great unwashed. Uncle Bill is going for the chuckling ‘she’ll be right’ thing, or that is how I read his approach at least. Will it Bill?

As for the rest? Morgan seems to be intent on annoying people, Winston is happier playing the game than worrying about results, Shaw appears switched on but along with Seymour, pin their hopes on the coat tails of others. I haven’t heard as much from the Maori Party as I would like, particularly given where I live.

As I read it so far, apart from some of the big, bomb-shell policy announcements you half expect to hear in the lead up to an election, the messages from the big parties-National/Labour and the Greens (maybe)- are much the same as they always have been.

It doesn’t matter if that is a good or a bad thing. It is what it is. The standard theory holds, that you vote for the candidate who best represents you, your family and community, then give your party vote for the crew who seem to share your values and offer policies you feel you can benefit from, will benefit the nation and will advance us as a society.

It is that last point which has gotten me thinking a bit in the lead up to this election. I have decided I don’t want or need to vote for the benefit of myself or my peers. I want to put my tick on the mob who are going to look after my kids and their kids. Beyond that I guess it won’t mean a lot to me. There is a future at stake a bunch of electioneering promises struggle to account for in the short term, let alone mid and long-terms.

I am just like each and every other parent, in that I want to know there is clear pathway for my children, no matter what that path might be. I want to be assured that there is a secure and safe environment for them to thrive in the future and by that I mean more than just the air we breath, the water we drink, the soils that sustain us.

The streets they walk down need to be safe. There needs to be financial security. There needs to be outlets for speech and the expression of ideals. There needs to be freedom to choose, to plan and for my children, in turn, to be concerned for the welfare of those who follow them.

Lofty stuff and the nuts and bolts of it are beyond me, certainly beyond this blog. All I would urge us that each and every one of us eligible to do so, gets out and votes. Apathy, such a Kiwi way, and often to our detriment, is not going to bring about change, if indeed, it is change you are after.

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All that aside, what really worries me at the moment is the way the Wee-Man, with nonchalant ease, pulled himself up onto a dining chair earlier this evening.

Wish me luck.