Had a relaxing few days out in Luton, catching up with old work friends from when I did my 2 year OE a few years back, and watching a bit of English telly, like the new series of Doctor Who...
Headed into London yesterday, and saw Billy Elliot the Musical. It's written by Lee Hall and Elton John. Booked my seat on the net, but was waiting in the ticket collection line at the theatre when a vaguely familiar face walked in beside me...
It was David Schwimmer (Friends), wearing a military-style cap to try and not look so obvious, with an attractive brunette by his side. He's just started a stint in the West End, performing in a play called 'Some Girls' at the Gielgud Theatre. He obviously doesn't have a midweek matinee, so was taking the opportunity to check out what else is on around the West End.
Also bought myself an England Football 'Away' shirt, with Gerrard's name and number on it, after he helped lead Liverpool to their 5th UEFA Cup win. Everyone's a scouser now... even the morning TV presenters were wearing big boofy scouser afro wigs and moustaches, and saying "calm down, calm down" ;-)
I leave Luton this afternoon, to meet up with the rest of the bunch I'm travelling around a bit with. Everyone's been doing their own thing in the UK, but we're staying together at a Hotel/B&B in Victoria through till Wednesday, then they head off to Las Vegas while I head over to New York for a few days, before meeting back in LA to do the theme parks...
Posted at 2:23 p.m. Monday, 23 May 2005
Well, after many hours of sitting on aeroplanes (five to be exact), I've finally arrived in Luton for the start of my three week winter escape.
The journey here wasn't without its problems, beginning when I first tried to check-in at Dunedin. I was flying Air Nu Zillund through to LA (via Christchurch and Auckland), then switching to United to get to London (via San Fran - yeh, I know, huh?).
Anyways, despite the fact that both sets of tickets were booked with the same contact details, somehow on the Air New Zealand ones my first and last names were switched around...
They told me that would mean I couldn't check my bags right through to London (which would normally be okay, being Star Alliance), but would have to collect and recheck my suitcase at every stage... the reason being a "Mr David" was flying to LA, but a "Mr Goosselink" was flying the rest of the way.
Luckily the Air New Zealand staff in Christchurch saw sense and managed to get them checked right thru, altho I think it confused them in San Fran, as one of the stewards had to come up to me on the plane with a note of instructions to check they'd put the right bag on ;-)
I also got selected as one of the "lucky random travellers" to have go thru the extra security screening in LA... the delay wasn't too bad, so didn't miss my next flight like happened with a bunch of us heading to summer camp in '02. LAX is still a shite airport tho, full of grumpy people and a serious lack of signs pointing anywhere... The sooner Air NZ (or a real airline) fly direct from NZ to New York the better!
Got a few snoozes on the flights over, but I'm currently surviving thanks to my trusty XTZ tabs (caffeine, guarana, ginseng, ginkgo biloba, gotu cola, and kola nut... All the good stuff!!)
Posted at 4:32 p.m. Thursday, 19 May 2005
Prime Minister Helen Clark has accused TV3 of running a “sting” operation, in relation to the David Benson-Pope affair... What The?!
State TV One, who came to the party late after trying to pretend it wasn't a story, have broadcast comments by one of the men behind the bullying allegations. He calls Benson-Pope "a liar for refuting the claims, and says he'll return from Australia to give evidence in an inquiry".
Meanwhile, the Otago Daily Times are going with the theory that the whole thing's all made up. They've spoken with former and current principals, colleagues, and students who are backing Benson-Pope and say the allegations are rubbish. And if it's in the ODT, it must be true.
^ Christian Walz - Wonderchild
^ Bodies Without Organs - Sunshine In The Rain
^ Mel C - Next Best Superstar ]
Posted at 12:38 a.m. Tuesday, 17 May 2005
The emphatic denials by Associate Minister of Education, David Benson-Pope, that he assaulted and bullied students have encouraged his accusers to go public.
Following questions in Parliament about his behaviour while a teacher at Bayfield High School, Benson-Pope challenged those behind the claims to come forward if there was any truth to their accusations.
That seemed to be enough to persuade a couple of those students to go public, after earlier being too afraid to do so. The saga was broken by TV3 Political Reporter, Duncan Garner, and the initial interviews with the students behind the claims were broadcast on 3News last night (Monday).
Benson-Pope apparently watched the broadcast with Prime Minister Helen Clark and a few other senior colleagues, before announcing about an hour later that he was standing down from Cabinet while the inquiry ordered by the PM took place. His portfolios, including Associate Minister of Education, and Fisheries, were reallocated to other Labour MPs.
The inquiry could take months, which makes it unlikely Benson-Pope will return to Cabinet before the election. If the inquiry finds any validity to the allegations, it could spell the end of his Parliamentary career, based on his denials in the house.
However, PM Helen Clark says the fact the Benson-Pope is standing down does not necessarily rule him out of a return to Cabinet in the future. She claims the allegations are "the start of what is a rather ugly election campaign".
* NZ Herald: Benson-Pope steps down as bully inquiry looms
* NZ Herald: Benson-Pope allegations not political, says accuser
* Stuff: Minister stands down in bully row
* RodneyHide.com: D-B-P Round Out
Posted at 11:11 p.m. Friday, 13 May 2005
Associate Education Minister, David Benson-Pope, has denied suggestions he bullied and assaulted students at Dunedin's Bayfield High School, when he worked there in the 1980's.
ACT Leader, Rodney Hide, made a series of allegations under parliamentary privilege yesterday, along with National's Judith Collins. It follows Benson-Pope's unveiling of an anti-bullying campaign this week.
In Parliament, National MP Judith Collins asked "Did he ever tie boys' hands together and jam a tennis ball into their mouths as punishment for talking when he was a teacher?"
Mr Hide then asked "Did he ever smack a pupil with the back of his hand sufficiently hard enough to make his nose bleed at a school camp in the Catlins and is this the reason along with throwing tennis balls at pupils in the classroom that he has the reputation of being a terrible bully and in fact the students to this day still suffer from his treatment?".
Benson-Pope denied the suggestions in Parliament, saying "I have not been guilty of, or involved in, any inappropriate behaviour in my 24 years as a secondary school teacher".
Rodney Hide today withdrew those allegations after Benson-Pope's reply, but said he'd spoken again to the students who made the initial claims, and they were sticking by their story. Hide called on the students to come forward publicly if they stood by their claims. He said "... the rules of Parliament mean that I have to accept the minister's word, but boy, if he's wrong he's a goner."
Meanwhile, National Radio's Linda Clark has interviewed a former Bayfield pupil today, who claimed Benson-Pope had "a very nasty and bullying personality and he knew which people he could pick on and he made a damn good job of it….. He chose the people who wouldn’t fight back… He caned me which he enjoyed doing and he laughed while he did it… enough to draw blood…. He shouldn’t be a minister full stop".
I found it interesting that Benson-Pope's Labour colleage, Jill Pettis, seemed to know about the allegations, with her comment "You sat on that for months"?
One to watch...
* NZ Herald: Associate Education Minister denies beating pupils
* NZ Herald: Hide withdraws assault claims against Benson-Pope
* RodneyHide.com: Linda Clark's Nine to Noon I/V
* Link to audio of the interview between Linda Clark and a former pupil
Posted at 12:46 p.m. Sunday, 8 May 2005
It's officially Mother's Day today in Kiwiland. Mom always gets the short end of the straw, as her birthday is always within a few days of Mother's Day. We went out for a family dinner last night, and then we had a suprise birthday party organised for her "significant" birthday.
Mom's sister and longtime school friend came down from Christchurch for the weekend, and they're taking her back next week to get away from Mr Goosey for a few weeks.
In honour of Mother's Day, here's an amusing email list of "Evening Classes" that Tara (Lake Greeley Camp) sent me a while back. (Warning: Some blokes may find it offensive ;-)...
NEW EVENING CLASSES FOR MEN...
* HOW TO FILL ICE CUBE TRAYS - Step by step guide with slide presentation
* TOILET ROLLS - DO THEY GROW ON THE HOLDERS? - Roundtable discussion
* DIFFERENCES BETWEEN LAUNDRY BASKET & FLOOR - Practicing with hamper
* DISHES & SILVERWARE; DO THEY LEVITATE/FLY TO KITCHEN SINK OR DISHWASHER BY THEMSELVES? - Debate among a panel of experts
* LOSS OF VIRILITY - Losing the remote control to your significant other - Help line and support groups
* LEARNING HOW TO FIND THINGS - Starting with looking in the right place instead of turning the house upside down while screaming - Open forum
* EMPTY MILK CARTONS; DO THEY BELONG IN THE FRIDGE OR THE BIN? - Group discussion and role play
* HEALTH WATCH; BRINGING HER FLOWERS IS NOT HARMFUL TO YOUR HEALTH - PowerPoint presentation
* REAL MEN ASK FOR DIRECTIONS WHEN LOST - Real life testimonial from the one man who did
* IS IT GENETICALLY IMPOSSIBLE TO SIT QUIETLY AS SHE PARALLEL PARKS? - Driving simulation
* LIVING WITH ADULTS; BASIC DIFFERENCES BETWEEN YOUR MOTHER AND YOUR PARTNER - Online class and role playing
* HOW TO BE THE IDEAL SHOPPING COMPANION - Relaxation exercises, meditation and breathing techniques
* REMEMBERING IMPORTANT DATES & CALLING WHEN YOU'RE GOING TO BE LATE - Bring your calendar or PDA to class
* GETTING OVER IT; LEARNING HOW TO LIVE WITH BEING WRONG ALL THE TIME - Individual counselors available
Posted at 1:47 p.m. Thursday, 5 May 2005
"Broadcasting Minister, Steve Maharey, has announced a multi million dollar investment in New Zealand's regional television and Access Radio stations.
The Government's set aside $3.5 million for regional television, over the four years. Non-commercial radio will get another $900,000 over the same period.
(Horizon Pacific TV was owned by TVNZ, and operated 5 stations - ATV (Auckland), Coast to Coast Television (Hamilton), Capital City Television (Wellington), Southern Television (Dunedin), and CTV (Christchurch) which they bought from Joanna McMenamin along the way).
Chairman of the Regional Television Broadcasting Association, Jim Blackman, believes it's a clear signal that the Government recognises the worth of regional television, and the role it plays in New Zealand.
Meanwhile, CEO of Allied Press's TV Division, Daryl Clarkson, says the funding has been a long time coming, and he's cautiously optimistic about the decision."
A small amount good news from the Government for local television in New Zealand... even if the announcement did have to come from Smarmy Maharey ;-)
There are apparently 12 "regional" stations on air around New Zealand, however only four or five of these are broadcasting any form of local news and current affairs programming - surely the reason d'etre for any local television station?!
Hopefully, NZ on Air will see sense and set up a good contestable system for allocating this new funding... to help ensure the money goes towards serving local communities with quality news and current affairs coverage, rather than just giving out free handouts to anyone who happens to be operating a "local tv" transmitter in New Zealand.
Posted at 1:14 p.m.