It has been a long time since my last post, my tardiness is inexcusable, I apologise. Not that I kid myself that I have a captive audience of rapt readers you understand, I don’t think that there are hordes of you out there slavering in anticipation of my next epistle. However, some of you have requested that I do continue (whether this is due to morbid curiosity or a misplaced sense of encouragement , I am not sure).
Since I last wrote, we have been settling more into the Kiwi way of life. The weather here is milder than the UK - so far anyway - , and we have been told that even in the ‘depths’ of winter, it is unusual to drop below 10 degrees. Which is just as well as – like a lot of dwelling in NZ -there is no central heating. Lisa has started work at Middlemore hospital, and I am working from home in my fab new office. I don’t know if I mentioned it but the cottage came with an outside building, which I have converted into an office, stuffing it full of computer bits and bobs, plus a few scraps of sad looking LFC paraphernalia. Sounds great (doesn’t it ?), but it hasn’t been all plain sailing. Getting broadband installed has been a bit of a nightmare, NZ are still a bit behind the rest of the developed world on this front, and it has caused much consternation in parliament with even the PM Helen Clark threatening in a very Blairesque way “to do something about it”. I’m on my third modem now, and I have a monthly download limit of 1Gb, I’ll stop now.
Our landlady Wendy is a top bird, old school, tough and all “Stuff and nonsense”, but a very big heart never-the-less. We like her a lot. She has a beautiful old Kiwi Villa at the top of the farm and we have the cottage down the lane. I think she saw it early on as her duty to toughen me up into the country ways of doing things, and feel that I am already a bitter disappointment to her. She happened to mention early on that that the previous tenant had killed one of her sheep as it was sick, as she didn’t have the strength herself to cut it’s throat. I think she detected the look of revulsion on my face and inquired whether I too would be prepared to cut a sheep’s throat if I had to. My suggestion - and I would like to think reasonable compromise - was to get a little man in from the village to do it , was met with uncommon dismay. My card was marked further when we discovered that we had an unwanted lodger in the form of a field mouse. My confession that I caught the mouse in a humane mousetrap and then drove 10 miles to the nearest wildlife reserve to release it - No I couldn’t release it in the fields behind the house, there is poison bait everywhere !!! – only served to further cement my reputation as a “pommy pufta”. I think I may have redeemed myself a little though, during dinner at Wendy’s house I happened to mention in a no-big-thing sort of way I had run over and killed a possum on the way home from the pub. I thought I saw a change in my landlady’s eyes as I nonchalantly described my heroic encounter. I thought it best not to mention the fact that I drove shakily back to where the deed occurred to make sure the thing wasn’t suffering and in need of a coup-de-gras.
TV here is bad , and I mean really bad. It’s only when you see TV in other countries you realize just how good the BBC is. It’s not just that they have 3 minute ad breaks every 8-10 minutes, but most of the TV is US and UK low-brow stuff. But to be fair to NZ, we didn’t really come here for their exemplary TV schedule. And anyway we have Sky , which as we all know is nothing but good television. I still manage to get to see premiership football , usually highlights and also live champions league games, and I have occasionally got up at 4am to watch the FA cup or Sunday games. And to all you blokes who think Andy Gray and John Motson are annoying, you don’t know you are born. We have Tommy Smythe, who I can only describe as a geriatric version of that 80’s Irish comic Jimminy Cricket, who commentates like a man who is witnessing his very first game of football.