A Shaggy Dog Story

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Shaggy dog story (definition, Wikipedia): ‘An extremely long winded anecdote characterised by extensive narration of typically irrelevant events and terminated by an anticlimax’

The border collie’s story:

“I love waves. It is my life’s ambition to catch one. If I did, perhaps I would take one home and perhaps proudly display it next to my food bowl. I found a new beach that seemed a likely spot to catch a wave. There were plenty of them to be found there. In fact, there was a succession of waves. Wave after wave, rolling on to the sand. Some were small. Others were larger, especially those created by the wakes of  ferries sailing by on the way to the islands in the gulf . There were white ferries; red ones too. I didn’t get to catch a wave the first day; nor the next day; or the day after that. My owner didn’t seem to mind. She is incredibly patient like that; sometimes I wish she would actually show some disappointment and lose her rag. She doesn’t even get angry with my male master. Never. Don’t you think that’s weird? Maybe if she got angry or disappointed, perhaps she wouldn’t bother take me to the shore to catch a wave. The day this picture was taken I had high anticipation of chasing waves and actually securing one. You can see it in my eyes if you look closely. I didn’t catch one.”

In My Aunt’s Garden (Adam, Eve & A Snake)


So, in coronavirus lockdown, we had to drop off some essential groceries to my octogenarian aunt, who lives alone and is not supposed to leave her house.

Happily, it was a gorgeous afternoon, so the delivery took place in her rather marvelous garden.

In the sunshine, pleasantries were exchanged; social distancing was applied.

These flowers caught my eye as we chatted.

Two pretty flowers, and a snake-like Australian orchid of some type getting between them, recreate a very old biblical story where good things go badly wrong …


P.S: To any Australian readers, I am not insinuating anything!

P.P.S: I’m so glad we don’t have any real snakes in New Zealand! They creep me out…




My Back Pages

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“Ah, but I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now “

– Bob Dylan, ‘My Back Pages’

An elderly gentleman sits on a park bench in the Auckland Domain, quietly reading a book and listening to something through his headphones.

He would pause from thumbing the pages and look up from time to time to gaze around at his fellow parkgoers; walkers and people watching the ducks at the adjacent pond.

Reading is a luxury to me in an oft time-cramped existence, but this fellow seemed to have all the time in the world to focus on his book.

Ironic, considering that he has, in all probability, less time left on this planet than me(that is no certainty however!).

I was slightly envious of his ability to immerse himself in his book and music, or whatever he was filling his ears with.

I wondered what he was reading – fiction or non-fiction; thriller, humour or biography?

To read is to be curious about life.

And I bet he had an interesting life story himself.

What might his back pages read like?


Terror Facade (When Buildings Scream) II


Yesterday’s post picture revisited and re-imagined.

There’s been something bugging me about it and I feel the need to inject a touch more terror into this architectural mishap.

Somewhere in the back of my mind is that classic horror short story by Edgar Allan  Poe, ‘The Cask Of Amontillado’,which I read a number of times as a teen .

Brick by awful brick ,the victim Fortunato is walled into a niche in a cellar.

I used to wonder how long he lasted, yelling for help, screaming with fear maybe.

No one to hear him.

Like this old building’s silent scream…


Commemorate or Celebrate?

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A plaque commemorates historical New Zealand events of the mid-19th century that were either righteous protest or causing insurrection, depending on your viewpoint.

A Maori leader, Hone Heke, and his followers ,repeatedly chopped down flagpoles flying the British flag.

And so the story is preserved.

But not celebrated necessarily – ill-feeling can still be stirred up by the story.

I recently had the privilege to draw up a will for a woman who adamantly wanted her funeral to be “a happy party.” That got written in, as she wished.

Which made me wonder, when it is our own turn to go ,will be our lives be celebrated or merely commemorated?




You know,those reduced font clarications , expansions  and extra stuff  about matters in the main body of a narrative that you are directed to check out by the author.

At the bottom of the page.

If you can be bothered.

Me,I like them. The flow of the story might have got disrupted ,or sent off on an unwanted tangent by their inclusion,but often there is factual gold or weird shit that adds so much to the tale.There may be a whole other story there that is just not for the telling this time around.

Sometimes you hear  expressions like “a mere footnote”.As in,unimportant,not the main part of the story or happening.

How many of us feel a bit like footnotes to life?That the story we are in sort of refers to us without including us in the main text. Well, we all get sidelined or bumped to the bottom of the page from time to time.

But maybe you get there because your story is just too interesting,full of tangents and departures, and plain weird shit, to fit in neatly. Be just a little grateful if that’s the case…!

Shift Yr Narrative : Comment

I hope that the pictures in the preceding post ‘Shift Yr Narrative’ tell a story, or perhaps two stories, of one subject ,on their own. But since I am talking about narratives I will add some words as well….

A narrative is the description of a thing or event from a certain perspective. It can be as sweeping  as an entire world view or, in the telling of a tale, merely a different narrator ,tense or location, for example.

So, what does it take to shift the narrative in our own lives?

A momentous event of change;maybe a crisis of some sort ?

Or perhaps changing  the tense of our story, so that we do not live in the past ,or in  a future yet to arrive ,but in the present?

What would our life look like if we fully authored it and not allowed the manuscript to be ghostwritten by others?

And, can multiple narratives of our lives each be true, wholly or in part?

Many questions and no right answers – but if our lives are not unfolding as we think they ought to be ,and that uncomfortable reality cannot otherwise be altered  , maybe changing it around and taking another  perspective will assist us to move on.

Shift yr narrative!