It is a sad but true fact that we discovered that we missed something as humble as the gravy granule in a supermarket shop. While I am sure that if we could be bothered to have looked online, there is a very simple way of making your own gravy thicken up, I dare say it just wouldn’t taste as rich (or be as simple) as mixing half a pint of boiling water, 4 heaped teaspoons of granules and an Oxo cube…
It is driving us quite crazy,
That we just can’t make nice gravy,
A mix of Oxo and water,
Doesn’t taste like it oughta,
It really is too thin,
It’s going in the bin,
This lack of cooking knowledge is simply quite a sin,
We need to do something brave,
Let’s head on down to Pak ‘n Save,
We might find something else to crave,
Maybe there’ll be something good to save us from this blow,
But look, over there, we’re saved…on the foreign shelf, Aaaaah! Bisto!
Has anyone ever written original poetry about such a thing before? I hope not!! Bisto to the rescue!
Firstly, thanks to Paul Nemo for the title of this post.
For Matariki, which is the Maori name for a cluster of stars which comes once a year to herald the start of a new year in July, there were various free events around Auckland in celebration so off we went to a Haka contest.
Haka is pronounced as “harcar” rather than “hacker” (just so you can correct your friends in future!), and is a traditional ancestral war cry of the Maori people. Most people will be familiar with it from watching the All Blacks play Rugby Union, but of course it has much deeper cultual roots.
In the contest, teams of 12 people (men and women together) performed a variety of contemporary dances merged with cultural roots…who ever thought you would hear people in traditional dress singing Burt Bacharach or Frank Sinatra in their own tongue?
Great occasion to visit, great to be surprised, and it must be said that when you see a more traditional haka up close it is pretty intimidating…especially the women!!
Have you ever been to a tribute concert? Have you ever been to a good one?
I have seen ELO and Tom Jones tributes before and both were good…but how on Earth do you emulate one of the true greats of music…Freddie Mercury?
Freddie was an ultimate showman with a fantastic vocal range…
Enter Gary Mullen and his band, The Works, for One Night of Queen, all the way from Bonnie Scotland. The 2014 New Zealand tour starting at the Bruce Mason Centre in Takapuna. Gary Mullen won the UK “Stars in Their Eyes” in 2000 and from the moment he leapt onto stage and strutted around like a peacock you couldn’t help but admire how well he did the job. He even brought his own personality to proceedings when chatting with the audience. If you ever get chance to see him…give it a try. His band didn’t let him down either. You won’t be disappointed…you don’t keep a tribute going for so long if you aren’t good. Sure, the range wasn’t quite as broad…but the rest was a sheer delight.
Let me take you on a journey…commencing with a chat about washing machines here in NZ. UK readers may be surprised to learn that the top loader washer rules down here (you can get front loaders too at a price)…and cold washes are also fairly normal. Top loaders have the advantage that you can adjust water level, soak times, you can add things in mid wash if you forget and they barely take an hour for a cycle. They are harder on the clothes though as a spin requires more friction as gravity doesn’t assist. Persil is the number one…good old Unilever.
So we went to watch the All Whites (NZ international football team). You have to admire the genius at Persil who thought of sponsoring them! Superb vision. This was at Mount Smart stadium in Eastern Auckland. It was built in a quarried crater of an old volcanic cone. Nice stadium…smaller than Eden Park but not without charm. You descend into the crater to watch the game in essence.
And who were they playing? South Africa. Vuvuzelas were present. Sadly, despite a relatively entertaining game for a friendly…it finished 0-0. Not a great surprise from two evenly matched but ultimately average sides. That is why my first international match ever is simply a footnote to a chat about washing machines! Hope you enjoyed the journey!
The world is a small place these days. Since coming to NZ, things like FaceTime and Skype make keeping in touch with people so easy (I see more of family these days than I did when in the UK!) and the internet spreads news of all kinds across the world in an instant…and older media like TV mean we can all watch the goings-on at the World Cup at the same time…
But how does it feel when you live in a country where football is not really the number one sport? What about watching games at some time between 4am and 10am? The answer…it is weird. I feel slightly detached from it all. The final will start at 7am on a Monday…makes you realise that the world is actually pretty large as Brazil is a long way away in time terms.
It is great to have friends and family back home to converse with for sure. The TV coverage is decent…more relaxed and less hung up on how good or bad England have been (hurrah!)…more neutral and unbiased! And I can avoid the, dare I say it, idiotic obsession of having flags flying from every car window and the blind passion and disappointment that England as a nation feels during and then after every tournament.
But you know what…no matter how annoying it might be…I miss the camaraderie. When the London Olympics was in full swing, it would be one of the finest times to be British and to celebrate and commiserate together as people representing our nation succeeded or missed out…it is these small things you miss. Thankfully the Olympics bred a lot of success!
But does missing these things really matter? Depends on what they are and how important…and whether they get replaced with other things. Time will tell.
While in Wellington, myself and colleagues went to a bar near the Houses of Parliament called “Back Benches”…a watering hole where politicians gather and where they film a weekly political Q&A chat show called, unsurprisingly, “Back Benches”.
Suffice to say, I was on TV…in the background…not quizzing anyone. It was pretty good how we stood out on TV as almost the only people in the pub not wearing suits! A good few drinks of the local drop – “Panhead” – and a fine evening which involved my asking the leader of the Labour Party, David Cunliffe, for a photo for a laugh (What politician ever refuses a photo? How dare you say they are shallow!). Sorry for photo quality of the pub…and enjoy the Mana Party leader, Hone Harawira, under his puppet on the wall.