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Guess the poet - 10th May 2017

Guess the poet Yesterday I was accused of being gloomy because of the poem I chose, so today I have decided to focus on a few short (cheerful) poems and let you see if you can guess the poet.

I'm sorry to say my dear wife is a dreamer,
And as she dreams she gets paler and leaner.
'Then be off to your Dream, with his fly-away hat,
I'll stay with the girls who are happy and fat.

So fair is she!
So fair her face
So fair her pulsing figure
Not so fair
The maniacal stare
Of a husband who's much bigger.

Were all our words as wise as witty,
We should profit: More the pity.

To keep your marriage brimming
With love in the loving cup,
Whenever you’re wrong, admit it;
Whenever you’re right, shut up.

(Answers: Stevie Smith, Spike Milligan, Helen Brookfield, Ogden Nash)

Philip Larkin - 9th May 2017

Today's piece concerns the admirable Philip Larkin. For those who are not familiar with his poems, this will serve as an introduction. Once you've become an addict, you can get yourself a volume of his poetry to peruse at will. 

This is my favourite:
They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
and add some extra, just for you.

But they were fucked up in thier turn
By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
And half at one another's throats.

Man hands on misery to man. 
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
And don't have any kids yourself.

The above comes out of The Complete Poems of Philip Larkin, which is a really thorough collection.

Writing & Reading - 5th May 2017

You are obviously a reader or you wouldn't be on this site but do you fancy yourself as a writer?If you've ever thought about giving creative writing a go, this is the perfect time.

Starting next week is the Dunedin Writers and Readers Festival which runs from 9th to 14th May with many interesting events on offer each day.

Why not start the week by attending the Dunedin Writers' Workshop at the Dunedin Public Library? It's at 6.45pm on Tuesday 9th and is completely free. It might be the perfect way to kick-start your writing career.

After that, you could wander along to Knox Church and listen to local poets talking about a sense of place. You will hear the likes of Dave Eggleton, Emma Neale and Sue Wootton, among others. Maybe that will inspire you to try your hand at poetry writing.

Whatever you want to do, make sure you get yourself a programme and highlight all the events you don't want to miss or just go to www.dunedinwritersfestival.co.nz

A bit of a laugh? - 4th May 2017

A bit of a laugh? Self-Loathing for Beginners
by Lynn Phillips

What a great title for a book! You expect great humour from a book with a title like that. You tend to think that someone who can come up with such an excellent title must be able to write a matchingly witty book. Unfortunately, I don't think it lives up to its initial promise.

"The greatest misconception beginners have about self-loathing is that you have to be loathsome to excel at it. Not true."

That's the opening line of the book. You can move on from there to self-loathing re the body, fashion, sex, romance, family, work, social or spiritual life and more. 

I confess I haven't read it but thumbing through, I thought some of the quotes appeared interesting (Robert Burton 1621 " .. thou cannot think worse of me than I do of myself"). I also wondered if a closer reading would reveal the difference between self-loathing and self-abasement as many of the examples I caught sight of appeared (to me) to deal with the latter.

Why not get a copy of the book and set me straight?

Whatever Happened to . . . . ? - 3rd May 2017

Whatever Happened to . . . . ? Whatever Happened to. . . . ? The Ultimate Sequels Book
by Adrian Mourby with illustrations by Graham Round

We have all finished reading a book and wondered how life turned out for the protagonists afterwards - after the end of the book, I mean. We have all been annoyed at some point by an improbably happy ending and wished to see the heroine subjected to a more deserved fate. And perhaps (when young and idealistic) we have wondered why the poor hero was destined to come to such a sad end.

I myself would have despatched Anna Karenina a lot earlier, given half a chance, and if I'd had my way, some of the Karamazov family wouldn't have lasted nearly so long.

In this book, Adrian Mourby allows us to read about a different outcome for Pinocchio, Frankenstein's monster, Jane Eyre, the Big Bad Wolf, Romeo, the Artful Dodger, Dorothy (she of the rainbow), Jim Hawkins (he of the island), Snow White, and Man Friday.

Light entertaining reading that can be dipped into when time isn't available for settling down with Tolstoy or Dostoevsky.

Motorcycles - 2nd May 2017

Which company had the 'winged M' as its logo?
What bike won the 1952 Manx GP?
Which marque had models G50, G45, G80CS and G3L?
Which company was affectionately known as Matchbox?

If you answered all the above questions with ease, you may not need to read this book but you will certainly want to.

Matchless: Once the Largest British Motorcycle Manufacturer
by Peter Hartley

This history traces the development from pedal cycles to attached petrol engines to racing motorcycles and cars. There is coverage of all the highlights of TT and Brooklands and GPs and the association with AMC, AJS, Norton, Francis-Barnett and James.

These names arouse passion in the hearts of the many who think that this was British motorcycling at its very best: superb reliable engineering at a reasonable price.

Once Peter Hartley has extensively and inspiringly covered the rise and rise of Matchless, he then tries to explain what went wrong and what factors contributed to the demise of such a successful machine. His love for motorcycles and their engines shines through on every page.


Good as Goldie - 1st May 2017

You may not know the name Karl F Sim but you probably do know the name of Charles Goldie. He is a renowned New Zealand artist, most famous for his portraits of Maori dignitaries. Most of us have seen prints and would recognise his work.

The same cannot be said of Karl Sim. However, if you read Tim Wilson's book Good as Goldie, you will learn all about New Zealand's most famous art forger: Karl F Sim aka CF Goldie. He didn't confine himself to Goldie though. For several decades, he forged the work of famous NZ artists such as Rita Angus, Toss Woolaston & Colin McCahon and broadened his brush strokes with the likes of Degas and Renoir.

Karl Sim led a wild and colourful life which he recounts to journalist Tim Wilson in this book. He is a real character and, as long as you are not constrained by an inability to laugh at lawlessness and criminality, you can't fail to be amused by this. It's a great story.

Soil - 28th Apr 2017

Soil "We are exhausting the quality of our soils. As we do so, the quality of our plants goes down. And we are accepting this."
A quote from William A. Albrecht PhD and as apt today as it was when he said it.

"Dr Albrecht was a scientist whose extensive experiments with growing plants and animals substantiated his theory and observation that a declining soil fertility, due to a lack of organic material, major elements and trace minerals - or a marked imbalance in these nutrients - was responsible for poor crops and in turn for pathological conditions in animals fed deficient feeds from such soils. Obviously, mankind is no exception." A quote from the introduction written by Dr Granville Knight, MD.

This is a must read for every farmer, gardener, soil scientist, ecologist and anyone with an interest in food, health & illness. Even though some of the science may be beyond the likes of me, there are still accessible parts that are well worth the effort.

An informative, interesting and essential but depressing book:
The Albrecht Papers Volume 1 Foundation Concepts

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