Monday, July 02, 2007


Since the readership of this blog seems to be almost non-existent, I have moved to a blog at MySpace.

So if you wish to keep reading my ramblings, go to



Saturday, May 26, 2007

The Mouse

The other day I discovered an astonishing thing. There has been a mouse in the house. It invaded my pantry and ate into a foil packet of Beef Stroganof mix. I can hear it talking to another neighbourhood mouse, now. “Found some food in No 40 Church Street. It was OK but it had a very strong metallic taste.”

But I’m still amazed that the mouse visited at all. Why, you ask, is that so astonishing?

Well, it’s such a death-defying thing for a mouse to do. After all, it runs the gauntlet of so many mouse-murderous things in my house.

Firstly, there is Greyder the Cat. Greyder is so-named because (a) he is grey and white, but mainly grey, (b) he is the size of your average grader and (c) at full purr, he sounds like one. While Greyder may be a little over-fed and slow in the pursuit department, the mouse would be in real trouble if Greyder sat on him.

And if Greyder mistook the mouse for a pouch of Jellimeat, the vermin’s days would be up.

And there are the other deadly mousetraps. Such as the automatic rubbish bins. There are times when these bins remind me of the finger-eating till in the TV program “Open All Hours”.

As they are designed to do, their lid flies open when you wave anything in front of the sensor on them. Then, a few seconds later, the lid snaps closed with a “whap!”

But these bins can be deadly! They are fine if you don’t dither around while dropping your waste into them. But if you hesitate in your rubbish disposal for just a second too long, as you stand close to the bin shedding your rubbish the bin beast will snap its lid shut onto any sensitive protuberance you may have within striking distance. Nasty!

For this reason, mice, being devotees of rubbish bins or, more to the point, the contents thereof, stand a ggreat chance of finding that the rubbish bin is one big mousetrap.

And, if those two anti-mouse features weren’t enough, Harvey, the vacuum cleaner, now lies in wait.

Well, rather than lying in wait, little round automatic vacuum cleaner Harvey is likely to be found scuttling around the floor like a demented, flat robot. He moves in quite unpredictable directions, bouncing off walls, performing ballet spirals at unexpected moments, and makes seemingly random direction changes that any human, cat, or mouse least expects.

Greyder the Cat has wised up now and gives Harvey a very wide berth. But any unawares mouse intruder is not likely to be so circumspect and would quickly fall victim to Harvey’s suction system. For this reason, whenever I empty Harvey’s dustbag, I half expect to find therein a sad little mouse carcase covered with the accumulated grunge and fluff that has been sucked up from this Edwardian villa’s floor coverings.

Of course, the mouse would be quite safe if it was making a night soirée. That’s because, at night when Harvey the vacuum cleaner can’t sense a light source, he automatically stops after seven minutes of searching. Then he just sits there and sulks until dawn.

If Harvey had been at work last night (instead he was recharging his batteries) this night-time cut out feature would have come into action as the lights went off. For there was a power cut here in Masterton last night. It not only plunged Masterton into darkness with a resulting high probability of a spike in births in nine months time, but also cut power to the nearby town of Carterton.

I know. With my computer deprived of life-giving electricity and having nothing else to do, I went for a drive to Carterton and looked. All was dark

I turned around and started to drive back. It was then I came upon a Police drink/drive checkpoint. A Policeman shoved what looked like a TV remote in my face and asked my name and address.

I recited name and address in my best BBC voice and saw that the alcohol-detector dial read “No Alcohol Detected”. As the Policeman stood there in the dark, I looked up at him and said: “Well, what else do your expect on a night like this. I only drink Light Beer”.

As I drove away, I saw his shoulders shaking. Sometimes they must feel like scragging smart alec motorists.

The power cut was the result of one suicidal possum. The creature climbed a tree near some very high voltage lines on Masterton’s Rennall Street, then swung to close to the lines. The electricity, sensing a nicely conductive body nearby, arced through the air and the possum, watched by some people wandering along the street below, disappeared in a pungent flash of light. Having been zapped into a small pile of cinders and smell, the creature would thus have been completely unaware of the achaos and activity he caused in Masterton and surrounding countryside both immediately after his act, and in nine months time.

And they reckon the dove is the symbol of love!


Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Ideal Man

Me mate Linda, from Pahia, has just sent me the following:


1. It is important that a man helps you around the house and has a job.

2. It is important that a man makes you laugh.

3. It is important to find a man you can count on and doesn't lie to you.

4. It is important that a man loves you and spoils you.

5. It is important that these four men don't know each other.


Huh, why have four men to do the job of one? I mean, of the 1 to 4 requirements, I meet three of 'em and come close to the other.

Personally, I dunno why I don’t have so many ladies lining up at the bedroom door wanting to find out whether I am as good as I say I am -and I am. Of course! - that it scares the cat. And wears me out.

Then again, I'm no spring chicken anymore. Once a night is my lot.

OK. Once a night, all night, but ... once a night.

God, I'm the average woman's dreambloke.

~ wanders away singing "I'm Mr Wonderful." ~

Monday, April 23, 2007

The Chocolate Scan

Huh! You tell everyone your sad medical misadventure story and someone has to trump it.

Di, a Wellington friend, tells me that while she didn’t have a scan for kidney stones, she had one for gallstones.

She also didn't, she tells me, have to store the Huka Falls up her kilt until some sadistic son-of-a-so-and-so told her she could take a pee. She had something worse happen.

Now Di has always been a lover of white chocolate. Lots of women are. I’m not sure whether it’s a racist or a purity thing but some women seem to love white chocolate even more than they love the brown stuff.

So Di says that she thought all her Christmasses had come at once when, at her Ultrascan appointment, a radiographer handed her the largest block of white chocolate Di had ever seen produced and said they wanted a "before" and "after" shot of her insides.

“So,” said the radiographer to Di’s delight, “would you please eat the entire block after the first set of scans have been taken?”

As is to be expected, Di quickly agreed to do this.

So Di got kitted out in what she calls her flour sack gown and was led into the scanning room like the proverbial sheep to slaughter. She lay on the bed, had her tummy attacked with a scanner head and then led, as happily as the Vicar of Dibley, out to the waiting chocolate.

In gourmet heaven, Di started chomping her way through the white delight. Yum, Yum!

Before you could say weight gain, one row of the chocolate had disappeared into Di’s stomach.

Di licked her lips and started on the next row. It, too, disappeared into Di’s innards and another row was started.

But, by halfway through the block, Di’s stomach was starting to object a little. But it was just the odd rumble, Di told me, nothing a trooper like her couldn't cope with.

All the same, after another couple of rows of that sickly white substance, the gluttony was having its effect and Di almost felt like gagging.

Another row and she WAS gagging.

By now there were only three tiny pieces of chocolate left. But to Di, who had now gone a sickly green colour, they looked like a four-course meal of barf-inducing sweets and she started looking around desperately for somewhere to hide a mound of warm, regurgitated chocolate.

She had just spied a promising looking pot plant when what Di describes as a distressingly cheerful woman stuck her head out into the waiting room and said: " Cooee, you won't need to eat the chocolate after all - we got everything we need in the first set of xrays!"

The ultimate result of that experience, Di says, is that she has never been able to eat white chocolate again. Now, everytime she sees it, her stomach turns.

But she’s pleased to advise that she can still manage the brown chocolate! I must send her a very large bar…


Sunday, April 22, 2007

The Ultrasound Scan

Yesterday I went to see a urologist who cheerfully informed me that I have kidney stones. I have to admit that I don’t feel any heavier than normal, so they can’t be very big stones.

The urologist seemed concerned about them though, so I sat and listened carefully to what he had to say.

He mentioned something about the fact that kidney stones often broke up and were passed in the urine. I could see why he was worried. If I start peeing bits of gravel, I could chip the pan.

The specialist though, seemed to be more worried about the pane when I passed them. The pane?! Did he think I was going to pee on windows or something?!

Since kidney stones are no fashionable, I apparently have to get rid of them. So, he told me, they are going to put me to sleep (only temporarily, I hope) and they will use a fancy machine that makes sound waves that blast the stones into tiny fragments. He has assured me that nothing else will be blasted into tiny fragments. Me and my internal organs are happy about that.

This stone-blaster, he assures me, is very hi-tech, expensive equipment. So, this is a costly procedure. I asked him whether I could just stand at the side of the road and get a few boy racers and their boom boxes to drive past and achieve the same effect, but he didn’t seem to think that this idea would work. To a man of Scots heritage like me, that is a great pity.

I should mention here that the urologist discovered there were kidney stones in my kidneys because of the ultrasound scan I had a few weeks ago. Having an ultrasound scan is a very interesting experience.

I had to go to Upper Hutt to have the scan because there is no ultrasound scanner in the Wairarapa. Well, only those used for scanning racehorses and other valuable animals. Human animals are apparently don’t make enough start money to warrant the provision of this sort of equipment here.

I was told that I must drink lots of water before I went for my scan. Apparently bloated people scan better than less waterlogged individuals.

So, on the day of my appointment I packed my bottle of water and headed off on the one hour drive to Upper Hutt. Now I know that one is not supposed to drink and drive but this was on doctor’s orders! Not many drink drivers can honestly claim that!

I had finished about two thirds of the contents of the 750ml bottle by the time I reached my destination, a nondescript bunch of buildings in Upper Hutt that apparently houses a variety of medical-related organisations, if the number of obviously intellectually handicapped folk entering one part of the building was any indication. I have to admit that, as I took yet another swig of water into my full tummy, I wondered whether I could be considered intellectually handicapped for doing this.

But, I bravely took another swig, then capped the bottle, opened the car door, and soggily walked around to the entrance to the Ultrasound laboratory.

I didn’t have to wait long before my time on the machine came, but the operator made one scan then told me that the water I had drunk had not yet worked its way through my system. I was apparently supposed to have drunk lots of water at least an hour beforehand. It would have been nice to have been told that. ~sigh~

So I was sent to sit in the waiting room to continue drinking lots of water, and wait.

As all domesticated males do, I quietly obeyed orders and sat, drank, and waited. After half an hour the water started to work and I began to be uncomfortable. After three quarters of an hour I was busting, but the ultrasound specialist was working on other patients. It got so bad that I idly toyed with the idea of sneaking outside and relieving myself behind a tree. But, hey, I had come all this way and what was a little bit of utter agony …

Finally, it got so bad that I approached the receptionist and in my best plaintive tone asked how long it was going to be. The receptionist smiled at me and told me to hold on because it wouldn’t be long. She didn’t say *what* to hold onto, but I got the idea. Actually, the urge to pee was so bad I more needed to tie a knot in it than just hold onto it!

Half an agonising hour later, I was just about ready to water the nearby pot plant when the ultrasound operator came out and invited me into the ultrasound room.

I went into as fast as any person walking with crossed legs can.

As I climbed onto the scanning table, the ultrasound lady smilingly told me that not letting people pee used to be a medieval torture. I imagined her in a hood and medieval robes and they suited her!

She then spent the next 15 minutes pushing painfully hard on my overfull stomach and ribs with this thing that looked like a overlarge checkout barcode scanner, then finally told me that I could go relieve myself. She’d finish off the rest after that, she said. I heard the last bit as I was heading out the door.

Having found the loo (I wonder whether they have ever considered the risks of putting a storeroom between the scanning room and the toilet) and spent quite some time watering the bowl, idly thinking that if a fire broke out right then it wouldn’t stand a hope in hell with a hose as well stocked as mine.

After that I went back to the scanning room and the operator continued to take lots of sound pictures of my internal organs before letting me rearrange my clothing and depart, still slightly soggy but no longer feeling like an over-inflated airbed.

As a momento of my exciting experience, the ultrasound lady gave me lots of ultrasound negatives - black TV screen pictures seemingly made up of random white lines. Apparently the expert can see pictures in them that mere mortals can’t. I’d frame them and have them hanging as modern art except for the memories they would rekindled.

On the other hand, they could hang in the toilet…


Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Out And About

I have just been on an exciting trip to Hamilton.

Exciting because Hamilton has four-lane roadways. That HAS to be exciting for someone from little old Masterton.

It was a journey of questions. Questions of great human importance that sprang up in the strangest of places.

For instance, Hamilton has this big Wharehouse store where you go up on an escalator while your trolley goes up on it’s own little escalator (a trolleylator?) beside the human one. It’s all very exciting because, when you reach the top or bottom, you have to dive off the human escalator and grab your trolley before it is ejected madly from the trolleylator, to cause chaos and mayhem amidst the milling Wharehouse customers nearby.

This modern trolleylator technology raised many questions. After all, many shopping trolleys have little seats for toddlers. So, do the toddlers go up on the escalator with you, or on the trolley on the trolleylator? And if you have granny with you, do you put her wheelchair on the trolleylator and … yes. Does she go up with her wheelchair?

Sadly, technology creates more questions than it answers!

Another question came to mind while driving up to Hamilton. I went up to Hamilton with Palmerston North-based friend Shirley, to help her finalise the sale of her house in Hamilton and bring the last of her stuff back to Palmy.

We were accompanied by her mother.

Now, I’m not sure how I should feel about the fact that a chaperone accompanied us. I could have been upset, but, then again, it’s nice to know that Shirley’s mother thinks that I’m such a nubile hunk that her daughter needed a chaperone.

The question that came up on the trip up to Hamilton was why do about 90% of other drivers you pass all speed up when you are passing? Is it that 90% of New Zealand drivers have a very unhealthy competitive instinct? Or did they speed up just because they saw Shirley’s mother, who is a very religious type, crossing herself throughout the passing manoeuvre and thought that she was giving them the fingers?

The classic example of this competitive instinct came at the end of the journey as I wended my way home alone through the Wairarapa. I came up behind an elderly man in a small car and was stuck behind him for ages. The opportunity to pass came and I took it: firmly, smoothly, and with no fuss. I had just settled down to a steady speed after passing him when the old guy hurtled back past me at a most illegal rate of knots determined to get back in front of me.

I let him go. Hey, if he wanted to be traveling in front of me at naughty speeds I was quite willing to let him be there. After all, I am always willing to follow, at a reasonable distance, any sacrificial pinhead as he speeds towards any oncoming traffic policeman. And when the traffic policeman has u-turned and pulled the sacrificial pinhead over, I will, of course, barp and wave my thanks as I go past.

While I was in Hamilton I went to lots of cafés and did lots of critiques for my developing website - the Kirk’s Kiwi Café Critique website. In one café, the lady who served was about as friendly as an Iraqi hit squad. In another, called the Sahara Tent, the décor was all Middle East and they had these tent thingys in which you sat on cushions around a table to have your repast. A neat little touch was that the cooks all wore a fez. Well, they each wore a separate fez. It would have to have been a LARGE fez if they were all wearing the same one. But I digress…

While in Hamilton I was also the victim of a rapacious ATM. My only fault was that I got engrossed reading the bad news on the statement the ATM had printed for me and walked away looking at it, leaving my card behind in the slot. As I walked away, the ATM machine beeped raucously at me and attracted the attention of a man nearby who came across to me and asked me if I had left my card in the machine.

Shocked, I hurried back to the ATM and reached out for my card. With all the innate nastiness of the average bank manager, the ATM waited until my fingers were about to close on the card before it silently and mockingly swallowed it up.

Thankfully, a visit to the central Westpac branch saw the staff there provide me with a new card on the spot.

I am a reluctant Westpac customer and no fan of the bank, but I have always found Westpac staff to be great. And the staff in Hamilton were brilliant. Thanks folks!

Armed with a new card and access to money once more, I now had the opportunity to see all the highlights of Hamilton. So I visited the tip.

The tip was very exciting. They even had their own little recycling shop there. It seemed to sell almost everything except used nappies. And given half a chance and a strong local organic fertiliser community, it would probably sell those, as well.

Interestingly, they not only throw away rubbish in Hamilton. They also throw away wallets.

I was in the Pak’N’Save carpark when I saw something lying on the ground. Being naturally curious, I wandered across to see what it was. It was a wallet linked by chord to a wrist attachment. It’s obvious that the owner knew how easily she lost things! Yet didn’t use the wrist attachment.

I picked it the wallet and opened it. Inside were all the usual collection of plastic cards – ATM, credit card, driver’s licence, etc, plus well over $100 in cash.

It was obvious by the photo on the driver’s licence that the wallet was owned by a young lady who probably couldn’t afford to lose that money, let alone go through the hassles of cancelling and renewing all those plastic cards. So I wandered back into Pak’n’Save and left a message with their Customer Service (Customer service? At Pak’N’Save?) that I had the wallet. I also left my phone number just in case the Samantha Rimmington who owned the wallet enquired there.

Then I got a loan of a phone book from the local BP station and rang the only Rimmington in Hamilton. The lady on the answerphone said that she regretted that she and her hubby couldn’t answer the phone but they were away sailing on their yacht. Huh! With that much money I would have thought they’d have had their landline diverted to their cellphone!

After that, I decided to take the wallet to the Police Station and let the Police worry about it.

So I did that. The trouble was there were no parking spaces empty outside the Hamilton Central Police Station at 7pm at night. So I had to do a U-turn on a busy highway to get to an available one. U-turns over four lanes feel rather weird. It’s like doing a U-turn in the middle of a motorway. You expect to have a car slam into you at 120kph. Maybe that’s why Shirley was giving advice from the passenger’s seat. And why I could have sworn her mother was praying quietly in the back.

But I got to the parking space, did a quick six-point park, and took the wallet into the reception area where warning signs advising me that I couldn't get bail unless I met specific criteria began to make me carefully search my memory for anything illegal I had done recently. I decided that, other than that u-turn, I was OK.

Then a nice police lady came to the counter, all the Lost and Found paperwork was filled out, and I left. About an hour later, a nice constable from the police station rang me on my cellphone to say that the young lady had been in to claim her wallet. Aaaaaah, I’d done good. Warm fuzzy feelings!

Then, on Wednesday it was time to drive home, a long journey broken only by the occasional stop to critique a café.

By the time we got back to Palmerston North, it was too late for me to pick up pussy Scrooch from the cattery, so he had to stay an extra night. I must admit that missed him attacking my feet through the duvet that night.

Today, I had to attend a business skills course, even though I’m recovering from car lag. What is car lag, you ask? Car lag is like jet lag, only lower.

And don’t be like a friend of mine who, when I told her that in a txt, txted me back asking “Lower?!”

As I said in my reply: “Yes. Lower. All that bracing yourself for corners later plays merry hell with one’s leg muscles. And I won’t even mention the bladder!”


Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Messages about Money

Guess what! I have just received a message on NZ Dating from an 18-year-old woman from the West Coast. Of course, if the way she writes is any indication, that's the West Coast of Senegal.

Geez, I'm always getting these messages from young foreign women who are madly in love with me and only want me to send them a few thousand dollars so that they buy a plane ticket to come rushing to me. Maybe I should just charter a plane and bring ‘em all over at once.

But, it’s so sad to think that these women are only after my money, and not my brilliant brain and gorgeous body. ~sigh~

I tell you, what with that and because of problems with my landlord, life has been rather a drag lately.

But the landlord problem got sorted out on Tuesday and yesterday life swung upwards again as I received two letters.

One came from Creative New Zealand.

When a Kiwi author writes books and they go into New Zealand’s public libraries, people read the books without paying for them. Because of this, authors lose out on a cut from what would otherwise have been the sale of their book. So there is a government grant given to authors by Creative New Zealand to make up for that cost. This ensures that authors will allow their books to be bought by libraries.

Up until now, the payment for authors of children's books has been 30% of the adult book rate. Now, according to Creative New Zealand, they are going to stop discriminating and will pay children's authors like me the whole 100%. That means I get a 75% pay rise.

Hey, I like this game!

And, as much as my horoscope failed to mention it, yesterday was a money-making day for me. Because the second letter I received yesterday was from the Bank of New Zealand. The letter said:

"Dear Mr Kirk,

You may be aware from recent publicity that Bank of New Zealand has breached the Fair Trading Act 1986 by not adequately disclosing to customers fees charged when using credit or debit cards for international transactions. We have reached a settlement with the Commerce Commission and as part of that settlement we will compensate all affected current and former customers. This compensation reflects a loss of opportunity to compare our rates with those of other card issuers, choose a card with a lower rate, or choose an alternative payment method.

The settlement with the Commerce Commission stipulates that no matter how small, compensation is to be offered to all affected customers. As you made foreign currency transactions between January 2002 and December 2004 using a Bank of New Zealand card, you will receive payment on 31 October 2006. The payment amount will be a pro-rata portion of the currency conversion fees paid during this period. The amount will also earn interest at a rate of 7% per annum between 31 July 2006 and the date of payment. The compensation, including interest, is detailed below:"

My eyes eagerly scanned down. And there it was!

I was due for a refund of 78 cents!

I tell you, I was in the money yesterday! Now I can put a deposit down on a Wendy house. Well, I could never afford a full sized one.

Hey, you keep smiling. (That way, they know you have teeth.)