Photographic Proof! Photo courtesy of Raybon Kan

Photographic Proof! Photo courtesy of Raybon Kan

I keep getting myself into interesting situations.

The most recent happened just last Friday at The Cabana in Napier.

Kiwi comedian Raybon Kan is touring the country with his latest stand-up show.

Being a fan of his, I shared the gig details online and sent him a welcoming tweet offering to buy him a coffee and tongue-in –cheekily saying if he needed a warm up guy, I’d be happy to help – and thought little more of it.

Raybon’s reply was a little more than I expected:


I like to think I’m reasonably funny – I get chuckles out of friends and colleagues, I’ve performed on stage many times and regularly MC cricket club events, quizzes and the like so doing a five minute stand-up gig couldn’t be too hard could it?


Cue that sick feeling in the pit of your stomach for a couple days…

I formulated a list of my best, most trust-worthy jokes, but the presentation order – heck the presentation itself was left pretty much up in the air.

Friday night rolled around and I wandered into The Cabana, gently trembling with adrenalin, and met Raybon in person for the first time.

We discussed how things would go – I’d be on for five minutes – there’s no clock or timer visible from the stage and the problem with stand-up comedy is you have no real concept of time up there (If things are going terribly, a minute can feel like five. If things are going great, five minutes feels like one) so either Raybon or the sound-man would wave their cellphone when it was time for me to finish, I’d introduce Raybon and leave the stage.

Simple, really.

Then more waiting – The waiting is always the worst part, because all it does is increase the level of unknown, or time to worry over what MIGHT or MIGHT NOT happen.

Then it was show time – Music played and I made my way onto the stage.

It sounds horribly clichéd, but the worry vanished as soon as I set foot on stage. My brain went “Right, you’ve been here before, just do it!”

And I did

I told jokes.

No-one booed.


I didn’t stuff up!

I saw a waving cellphone, introduced Raybon and left the stage.


I checked the time on my phone and found I had been up there for 15 minutes – not five, so I couldn’t have been too bad.

I sat quietly in the back of the venue and watched the professional do his work – he was great!

At half time he came back and we talked. Raybon said I had been great, but said “Couldn’t you see us waving the light?”

“The one at the end? Yeah I saw that and then introduced you.”

“No, no, that was the last one we used, we’d waved a light at five minutes, but you mustn’t have seen it – we tried a couple”


Cue that sick feeling in the pit of your stomach again…

Is “Smith’s Dream” Becoming NZ’s Real-life Nightmare?


NZ Author C.K. Stead was made NZ’s Poet Laureate last week and the timing could not have been more perfect.

I remember seeing the headline online and thinking “I must read that”, but I got distracted by another headline, concerning a Christchurch man who had been visited by police and warned they had “opened a file” and “were keeping an eye” on him because he was sending an email each day to Christchurch insurance company Southern Response.

Cameron Preston, a vocal Christchurch earthquakes insurance claims campaigner, said he sent emails daily “because they never respond” (hugely ironic, considering the company’s name).

The fact that today, more than four years after New Zealand’s most recent, costliest and deadliest earthquake in 80 years people are still homeless and fighting their insurers for pay-outs would indicate that daily emails and reminders would be more of a necessity – especially from local and national media, or whichever government department or minister is supposed to be overseeing the process.

But, no. That task falls to an accountant from Christchurch and he gets put on a police watch-list for his troubles.

Hardly seems fair, really.

Within 24 hours, I read a tweet from blogger Martyn Bradbury saying the police wanted to have a word with him over a post on his site.

Two cases of police intervention within a reasonably short space of time seemed a bit unusual. But then I remembered the story about C.K. Stead and that, in turn, reminded me about a story of his – “Smith’s Dream” and a few pennies dropped.

I first read “Smith’s Dream” and saw “Sleeping Dogs” – its film adaption in high school and, as a teenage male, was quite taken with its Action / Thriller plot and storyline – made even cooler by the fact it was set in New Zealand.

For those who haven’t read or seen it – the story follows a man named Smith amidst an alternative New Zealand timeline of political, social and military upheaval and makes just as gripping reading today as it did back then – maybe even more-so, when you consider these aspects of the book:

– New Zealand is led by a seemingly charismatic leader, whose image is everywhere and whose work is never questioned.
The nation’s economy is suffering – especially its dairy industry.
“Tens of thousands” are unemployed.
“(Asian) eyes were fixed on fertile acres we no longer knew what to do with”.
Auckland has taken over as the capital of New Zealand.
– As a result of internal and external threats, New Zealand cosies up to America, even allowing US armed forces into the country to help out with “security”.
– And like all such dystopian tales, Smith’s Dream features a special police force (called the “Special X” in this case) whose job it is to silence dissent.

It could almost be taken as a reasonably accurate commentary on New Zealand today – Not too bad for a work of fiction written in 1971!

Stead certainly deserves the prestigious title for his creative fore-sight!

Going, Going, Gone.


Napier Hill’s skyline has started to change.

Since being closed down in 1998, the site of the city’s former hospital has been empty – slowly going derelict through inattention, intrusion and even armed and emergency service training exercises.

The hospital’s old wards were first to be demolished – Lower and Upper Robjohn are gone, Thomas Gilray has been swept away.

Now the hospital’s main block is coming down and like the building itself – the work is hard to miss – especially when large chunks seem to be carved out of it by the day.

Front 1

The site will be cleared and twin, high-rise apartment blocks will take the place of the main hospital block building, with lower-set housing spread around the site.

Long-term tenants will soon reside on the site where short term patients had recuperated since 1880.


The closing of Napier’s hospital is still a sore point for many and having what appears to be high-end apartments – something out of reach for average Hawke’s Bay incomes built on the site may not help feelings – especially when there are still so many similar apartment complexes, with empty apartments, already around Napier.

But it must be said it is far better to have the site used, rather than going to waste as it had been for the last twenty years.

Napier Hill deserved better!

It even appears the Eye of Sauron joined in on demolishing Napier's old Hospital.

It even appears the Eye of Sauron joined in on demolishing Napier’s old Hospital.