Roller Derby

There are days when I am seriously bored. Bored bored bored. If I were a kid and it were the school holidays – I'd tell my Mum this. 400 times. Seeing as I actually am the Mum in this case I decide to go in search of some fun where I can take the 8 year old and the mad Latin with me. Generally speaking, someone of my age who is seriously bored with winter and the universe should perhaps seek some form of mid-life adult crisis entertainment like… Zumba or Swingers parties. However I'm also the sort of person who actually once spent 2 hours at a Swingers party without realising what the deal was, giving a whole new dimension to the meaning of the word 'clueless'. I had to leave after feeling obliged to let one of the women know that I'd just seen her husband head upstairs with some other cheeky tart. Prevention of pear-shaped social situations is always going to be less messy than any sorting out that might need to be done later – and mistakes do happen – he might have been showing her the bathroom or something. It wasn't my first language and I knew I was floundering. She looked at me as if I'd just had a lobotomy – which is pretty much what I'd decided to book myself in for has I headed for the door, alone, to hail the next available taxi. Nope – some serious fun of the family kind was required – everyone having survived what I'm sure was Swine Flu, or Rat Virus or some other heinous bug that has yet to make it to world headlines. If you haven't had it – don't worry; you won't die – you will just want to. We all needed a night out. We could go and sit in the ‘all weather events stadium’ to watch rugby and discover that only true href="http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/taniwha/1"target="_blank">Taniwha could survive the mud and sleet and generally swampy conditions. The idea of watching rally cars – while I applaud the fact that it's an international event that is fantastic for the hospitality industry – wasn't what was called for either. I did go and clap and look enthused but noted that in Cordoba, where I've spent a few summers at rally time, this type of event would attract over 100,000 people.

Now, unfortunately, if the CBD in Whangarei were a boat, it would be the Marie Celeste and everyone else must have gone to Australia to look for a job. Councillors Kahu Sutherland and Merv Williams should worry less about attracting 'the wrong type of people' to town and worry more about having anyone left behind to vote for them.

And then – from the boringness – we were delivered. If you haven't discovered the Northland Nightmares you haven't lived. It's a case of the good girls gone roller derby and it is a manic depraved celebration of everything you tell your kid not to do on their first day of kindy. It is big girls behaving badly. It is as if Barbie's evil twin had a love child with Arnie and then let her offspring dress up in Halloween gear and then go feral. It's what the girls who get kicked out of ballet do. The names alone are worth it; Demolition Dolls, Diva Destruction,Tan ya Hide, 8th Deadly Sin, Psycho Sis and some maniac racing round the track in bright silver undies with 'Wanna Rumble' on her arse. These are the kindy teachers, nurses and Mums of three allowing their dark scary alter egos a night out to party and they are serious stars. They're still on their trainer wheels and have yet to reach the full scale mayhem that American roller derby girls get to but with their crazed make-up and kick butt attitude they are great fun to watch. August 6th will see the Hellmilton Roller Ghouls (from, Duh, Hamilton) battling it out with the Northland Nightmares at the Kensington stadium.Be there and shout loudly or you shall be condemned to boringness forever.

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Makers and Takers

There were two kinds of people in this world: the makers and the takers. What surprised me most at the late stage that I became interested in money (being a hippy with a backpack is not such fun with a kid in tow) was that often the takers are the ones who can most afford to give back a little. When I woke up and realised that with the number of dependents we were responsible for, and the low possibility of finding well paid work in the North, meant that I actually could not afford to keep working for wages and stay here - it came as a shock. Once I'd got my head round this new fact, it came as an even bigger shock to realise that it was entirely feasible to avail myself of all the educational and health resources this country has to offer, to do very well in either business or in the buying and selling of property and to pay absolutely nothing in tax. The business section in Whitcoulls will tell you how in less than 5 titles. Obviously –the fact that this bothered me rather than excited me into fantasies of how to make the next quick buck would suggest that I'm not really cut out for the real world of business. The fact that there are, genuinely talented and inspiring business people who have had enormous financial success and yet are still also bothered by this is heartening. These would have to be the kinds of people who are interested more in building a robust national economy rather than just making it to the rich list by building a vast personal fortune. Sam Morgan noting the strangeness of not paying any tax on the money he made in selling Trade Me and his decision to continue with his own charity work as a result, is a sign of a great maker in the making. Andrew King, Director of the Property Investment Association, on the other hand, always does a good impression of the Zombie King being let loose in the broad light of day whenever the words 'Capital Gains Tax' gets mentioned. There's a lot of virulent hissing and a sudden explosion where his head used to be followed by a puff of smoke over a pile of designer clothes on the floor. Andrew is good at the implied threat; Labour voters are more likely to be tenants and will undoubtedly suffer from higher rents should the Capital Gains Tax be introduced. He assumes that no one with a rental investment will vote for a capital gains tax but forgets that they are in the minority anyway. He also forgets to add that landlords with multiple properties will tend to sit on them much longer which will stop one of the worst aspects of being a tenant in a rental property in New Zealand. Anyone who has spent a year renting in a real estate boom will know how tedious it is to be thrown out of your 7th house in as many months with three weeks to find a new school for your kid and to find the money for the move and somewhere that will take the pet rabbit. Rental investments can never be considered a worthy focus for all the business talent that exists in New Zealand but why would you risk doing anything else when it has traditionally been such an easy (and lets face it – low risk, lazy) way to make money? When it comes to working out policy it's never a good idea to listen too closely to the takers – you just need to look at the USA to realise this. Obama is trying to bring to heel an economy that is currently borrowing $125 billion a month with another 500 million in debt about to mature in exactly 2 weeks. Enough to make anyone's eyes water. He suggests taxing private jet flight tabs that run into the millions and he gets the Republicans stone walling and squealing like possessed little piglets about to be exorcised. When the takers start squealing policy makers need to respond by just getting out the earmuffs.

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A Room of One’s Own

Personally, I blame Master Chef. It’s not Mistress Chef which could be a whole other kind of show, but it means that blokes have reclaimed the kitchen – which I’m all in favour of if it didn’t mean that one of the last bastions of female territory has been well and truly stormed. There was a time when women could retreat to the kitchen and know – that no matter how badly they cooked the blokes would never follow them in there. I still have memories of Mum’s one trip away when we were kids and Dad throwing a tanty over how useless the Edmond’s cook book was. There was a lot of impotent drawer slamming and general recipe book throwing. Turned out that he was looking for the instructions to boil an egg. Seriously. Even at the age of 10 I realised that this was a set routine of learned and carefully contrived moronism designed to prevent the need to ever actually get any culinary skills, therefore allowing the abdication of any responsibility for having to make a meal. I was an excellent student and applied the same technique to ironing; carefully ironing enormous singe marks into every shirt the signifying other threw at me to iron the first week we lived together. Following ridiculous amounts of shouting, he extracted a promise from moi that I would never get within a 10 mile radius of his clothing with an iron ever again. Job done.

At one point in our feminine history – I remember that kitchens were where women retreated when the social territory got rough or some kind of coup needed to be discussed with the other women in the household. Tierra sagrada. Not now. Gen X and Y blokes are very handy in the kitchen and have now infiltrated the ranks to bring such things as blow torches into the culinary toolbox to deal to the crème whatsit. Whose grandma ever had a blow torch sitting alongside the rolling pin? The real problem is that there is no realm of the feminine left in the modern house which is a no go zone for the blokes. In Argentina I befriended a group of women in their fifties who owned small ‘campos’ high up in the hills of Cordoba. They were relatively wealthy business women who had bought these farmlets with their stone huts and streams and all kinds of fauna as ‘business investments.’ The only trouble was that you could only get to them on horse back and the ride was at least eight hours. Only what you could fit in a saddle bag could be carried up there. One night, after an excellent bottle or two of red, I asked what had possessed them to buy these beautiful if completely marginal farms which they then seemed to plough money into with no obvious return and to which none of their husbands could ever visit, loathing as they all did, the horse trek to get there. ‘Just say the last sentence again.’ One of them said, flippantly. And it dawned on me. These were no ‘business investments’ these were metaphorical fishing boats and we were on the equivalent of a boys fishing trip. So smart. Men get sheds where they can go and pretend to tinker with random bits of unidentifiable stuff for the simple reason that no woman will ever bother to bother them at it but I’m wondering what the Kiwi female’s version of the shed could be now? I had a brief Virginia Woolf moment at one stage in a futile bid for a room of my own. I set up a study complete with interesting beach flotsam and some fetching tapa cloth. The dog ate the seahorse and the tapa cloth and the entire family moved into the study so that they could contribute (loudly) to what I was working on. Serious boundary issues. I’m thinking of setting up a business for frazzled women who need time out – small studio space in cabins in the territory between North and South Korea flanked on both sides by nuclear weapons. Serious no man’s land.

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Cereal Killers

Remember porridge? Kids used to eat it and then you'd use the same stuff to go and feed the horses. You may not have liked it but you knew where you were with a bowl of porridge. Remember Weet-Bix? Kids used to eat that too. Since I've been out of the house most mornings for a year I've noticed that breakfast has changed a whole lot since 'El Papito' took control. There has been a nutritional revolution of the kind where the proletariat have decided they'll just rebel against the mean anglo breakfast Nazi and let themselves eat cake. I am amazed to find whole shelves dedicated to layers of inflated sugar cleverly disguising themselves as 'high energy' generators with the added benefit of warding off all 'fuzzies.' I know what fuzzies are. It's when your kid really hates maths and suddenly grows a woollen beard and then dies on their desk in an effort to avoid learning anything. I know this because I've seen it on the television. Just like I know that people who peddle McDonalds are really helping kids to be Olympic winning bike riders, and not, as some people have evilly suggested just getting really rich turning them into diabetic couch potatoes. Like I also know that kids will never choose apples when option B is chips. It's also great to know that if I give my daughter Nutri-grain she will turn into - a boy! This, as Nutrigrain Mums know is much better, and anyway, there's no room for girls in Nutrigrainland. But that's not all! There's more! She'll also (if she eats enough Nutrigrain) become an Iron Man and then come back from swimming from Antarctica to kiss me on the head and in a deep voice tell me what a great Mum I was for feeding her all that Nutrigrain all those years. TV taught me all this– and I know we might have one of the best runners and multi sportswomen in the country right here in the Rei, but everyone knows that only boys do real sport. It was with some amusement and a certain sense of pride that I opened the pantry cupboard, muttered that it was full of cereal with gender issues again and, on closer inspection found that the packet had been tagged in an ungainly hand. What had once read 'Iron Man Food' now said 'Girl Powr Food'. The Nutrigrain had obviously helped her to fight off the fuzzy logic of TV land. The thing that really gets me though is that these so called cereals blast out words like 'no artificial colourings or flavourings' '3 wholegrains' 'all natural' but what whole grain is shaped like a double helix? How many naturally occurring grains could you play a game of noughts and crosses on? Since when did breakfast stop being food and start being an enormous packet of very small contents ensuring our offspring's future economic success? Why, in good taste's name, would Milo be anything other than a drink? Should it be a capital offence to scream 'contains natural flavours' in huge letters and then hide the 30 cm list of unnatural colourings and flavours that it also contains in tiny numbers along the inside seam of the packet? It could be worse I suppose – they could have gone the way of Argentina and had mate (communally consumed green tea – sipped from a silver pipe, my mother, a trained nurse, refers to it as 'the hepatitis straw') and chocolate biscuits. Or the way of Thailand – dried, semi fermented salted fish and rice as a kick start to the day - both options probably having about twice as much nutritional value and at least not likely to cause any gender bending.

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