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  Issue #148

The Lady in the Van goes for a joy-ride in a wheel chair

Mike's Pith & Wind - Difference
We tend to forget as we get older how conformist we were as children. I vividly remember not wanting to appear different from the other children around me when I first went to school, although I suspect that should’ve been the least of my worries given the uniformly anglo make-up of the class-rooms at my early school days in Christchurch. (Ethnicity is perhaps less of a problem at that age because buzzing past the Pinewood primary school at lunchtime I’ve observed the uniformity is still spectacular, the playground swarming with identical dots in sun hats, like little CGI replicants).
Because our mother was a relief teacher my brother and I had numerous changes of school in the early years – perhaps as many as half-a-dozen – and became de facto outsiders as a result. Things finally settled down when I got a scholarship by virtue of a four-year stint singing with the Cathedral choir, but up till then we found it hard to make friends knowing that we could be moving on to yet another school the next term. Perhaps that contributed to my looking for affection in anonymous crowds and my tacit acceptance of the shiftless life of a musician.
Before we started at the Cathedral Grammar Preparatory School however, bro’ Dick and I attended the most conveniently located primary school we ever went to, namely Cashmere Primary School, (whose headmaster was famously golfer Bob Charles’ dad), just out the back gate and twenty-five yards up.. read more

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Dick's Toolbox - Lilydale
Every so often I have to have the Subaru serviced, an expense that must be worthwhile as the vehicle continues to eat up the kilometres up with a mixture of sang froid and curious, slightly manga-esque design choices. It is the paragon of reliability as far as vehicles that I have actually paid for go; I assume that they do everything that I pay for without actually checking but so far so good. However the service means that I have to venture to Lilydale where the dealership is located (hello Eastern Subaru) and after adding up the hours that I have spent thereabouts, which probably amounts to a full day and a half, I find that Lilydale still eludes me as a township. Or as a place. There are vantages points on the main street where you can see the odd suggestion of faded splendour on a hill far away but it might be a disused asylum as much as an offshoot of Blenheim Palace. But it is a place with an RSL but no soul.
It made me consider, once again, read more

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