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Ever Get the Feeling You've Been Cheated?
And so the first month of the year draws to a close.
It rained in Auckland on 21 out of the 31 days in January. Feels like summer never really happened this year. It’s actually hard to believe there were 10 days that it didn’t rain. Was it any better where you are? Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?
I remember the same thing happened, or rather didn’t, 20 years ago when Fi and I moved home from London. All those grey drizzly days on the other side of the world dreaming of a Kiwi summer, then you turn up and there isn’t one - just rain, every day.
February brings with our nicest weather but by then people have gone back to work, kids are (usually) back at school. We should be like northern hemisphere countries. When you read a travel guide about France it doesn’t say the country closes down late June/early July, it says the country closes down for August. We should be doing the same and having our summer holiday in February when the weather is best.
The only reason we don’t of course is because of Jesus’ birthday, which is a bit odd for a secular nation in the 21st century. So if you find yourself asking why there was no decent summer holiday this year - that’s on Jesus.
I’m kidding of course, it isn’t really Jesus’ fault. No, this is his dad’s handiwork. Clearly God is angry with the way we treated Jacinda - right you lot, no summer for you.
This newsletter isn’t about the weather. After a number of newsletters on serious issues facing our nation - our change in PM, the awful storms battering the country, the state of Jenna Lynch’s journalism - I thought it was time for something different. A today-in-history one.
Oh, and if the Jesus joke raised an eyebrow perhaps the following from my memories seven years ago today, clarifies my outlook on religion:
We don’t really talk to our kids about religion, if they encounter something religious and ask about it we respond that some people believe that, without rubbishing it. If they ask us what we believe in we tell them honestly.
Tonight we were watching that History channel doco that covers the big bang through to the present in two hours. Fifteen minutes in, as they’re discussing the changing of the Earth’s atmosphere as a prerequisite for life, my seven year old son asks “does that mean there is no god?” #prouddadmoment
In my opinion people should be able to say, and do, whatever they want. With the standard proviso that they don’t interfere with others saying and doing what they like.
I have a particular contempt though for conservative politicians who profess to be Christians but seem to have missed the parts about caring for others. They always seem big on punishment and judging people for things that are quite frankly none of their business. Anyway here endeth the sermon, and on with today-in-history…
Historic Events - 31st January.
1865 - The United States Congress passes the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, abolishing slavery.
It is 150 years since the US banned slavery and yet people are still having to say Black Lives Matter because they’re still treating African Americans as less than human. We regularly see events like the murder this month of Tyre Nichols. Stopped for a traffic violation then beaten to death by five officers, even as he cried for his mother.
“What’s most shocking about it all is the brutality and then at the end, the complete dehumanisation of this man. He’s not even human to them – he’s not even a person.”
Stalingrad - the closest we have come to hell on earth. Forget D-Day, or El Alamein, or the War in the Pacific. This battle, the most terrible in the history of mankind, turned the war, deciding the outcome and the future shape of the world at the cost of more than 2 million casualties.
Paulus had tried to surrender prior to this date, his men surrounded, without food and little ammunition remaining, but Hitler refused to allow it preferring that they fight to the death. Not many Germans ever made it home. The price for defeating the Nazis was paid in Russian blood - fighting street to street in horrific conditions, for months.
1953 – A North Sea flood causes over 1,800 deaths in the Netherlands and over 300 in the United Kingdom.
That puts things in perspective - imagine that. 2,551 deaths in total (nearby countries were also affected) and 30,000 animals died. All from a flood caused by a gale.
What else can you say about the idiocy of Brexit? The victory of the small minded, those easily mislead by targeted social media campaigns, rejecting the reasonable in favour of insanity.
Brexit was as hard to fathom as the other examples that spring to mind - Trump becoming President and Wayne Brown becoming Mayor.
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1956 – John Lydon, English singer-songwriter.
Most people probably have an album or two that blew them away the first time they heard it. For me that was the Sex Pistols - Never Mind The Bollocks. I would’ve been about 15, at a party at my mate Dave’s, and nothing would ever be the same again.
Here the Sex Pistols are having a nice little Christmas Party with the kiddies, and even getting to play. They often weren’t allowed to play scheduled gigs once the people at the venue realised who they were. Take a look at this clip for the footage of the time, you might seem them in a new light. Or not.
I greatly admire John Lydon’s attitude to the world. Don’t always agree with him, but I can’t fault his uncompromising attitude and his disdain for bullshit. It was sad to read about his wife’s health recently, but his tremendous love and humanity shone through.
The Sex Pistols played their final concert 45 years ago this month, before they reunited many years later. Famously the last line Johnny Lydon said on stage that night, as the relationship with their manager hit rock bottom was - “ever get the feeling you've been cheated?”
1970 – Minnie Driver, English singer-songwriter and actress.
Minnie Driver has been in two movies I really enjoyed, both from 1997. Grosse Point Blank, and my favourite Good Will Hunting. The best lines, and really memorable roles, in the latter are with Robin Williams and Matt Damon. But to be fair they were stand out performances even in those stellar careers.
1956 - A. A. Milne, English author, poet, and playwright. (b. 1882)
The author of course of Winnie the Pooh. Nearly 70 years after his death I imagine it’s still a childhood favourite.
As kids we had an album of Winnie the Pooh songs on orange vinyl, which was a real novelty. Some of those songs are still in my head and I find it puzzling when I sing little bits and various members of the family look at me like I’m a lunatic. C’mon who doesn’t like a bit of “Rumbly in my Tumbly”?
And who could forget “They’re changing guard at Buckingham Palace - Christopher Robin went down with Alice”?
Here to end is the great interviewer with Robin Williams in 1988. A clip very different than the earlier one with that fabulous actor and comedian, I hope you enjoy it. Do stay safe and dry all of you lovely people on this last summer’s day of January 2023.