I Want to Believe

Andrew's self-confidence, last seen heading into the gaping vacuum of space...

Andrew’s self-confidence, last seen heading into the gaping vacuum of space…

“If just one person believes in you,
Deep enough, and strong enough, believes in you…
Hard enough, and long enough,
It stands to reason, that someone else will think
“If he can do it, I can do it.”

And when all those people,
Believe in you,
Deep enough, and strong enough,
Believe in you…
Hard enough, and long enough

It stands to reason that you yourself will
Start to see what everybody sees in
You…

And maybe even you,
Can believe in you… Too!”

The Muppets – “Just One Person”

Self-esteem has a major, critical failing (ok, maybe several).

Whilst, as the name suggests, it is focused on esteem or confidence in one’s self, it really helps if there are others there to encourage confidence in that self as well.

So it kind of figures that self-esteem has been as hard for me to come by as real-life recognition or praise recently.

I’m trying to remember the last time someone complimented me in person – said “well done!” “good job!” “You’re hired – here’s $100,000!”(ok, I’m pushing the limits of reality there..) and nothing comes to mind.

Twenty years ago I finished working in radio (for the record, I started working in radio on New Year’s Eve 1995).

While I’m confident I could still wipe the floor content-wise with what qualifies as “on-air talent” today, you will likely never hear my beautiful bassy voice on the radio ever again – and not just because I’m inclined to swear lots more than I used to.

I tell people my dream radio career lasted only six months because I had too high an IQ and too low an ego (the other reasons were rubbish pay and trying to stay awake for 24 hours each Saturday).

I just couldn’t fake the level of self-belief required for radio.

And this was ‘90s-radio-level bravado I’m talking here – absolutely nowhere near the stratospherically narcissistic / Ninth Circle of Dante’s Inferno that it has become today.

But, while my radio career was muted, my voice was not silenced.

From an early age I learned the power words can wield.

So I started writing.

I’ve written stories, poems, radio ads, press releases, pieces for work newsletters, letters to the editor, Man About Town columns for “BayBuzz”, opinion pieces in Stuff and even a couple articles in the local paper many years ago about growing up in Napier in the 1980’s and my love for my home town.

My Dad was always my biggest supporter.

He believed in me.

He kept newspaper clippings of every letter or item I had in the paper and even some of the more colourful reactions!

Three years ago I started writing Napier in Frame.

It’s not a profession – I make no money from my writing.

I have a full time job and a young family to support which is my priority, so I can only write when I have the time or inclination.

I still wrote the occasional letter to the editor, when something utterly atrocious stood out – Art Deco buses and the miss-management behind MTG’s construction were stand-outs.

But I steadily shifted towards writing on this site and promoting it via my Twitter and Facebook profiles.

People who know me even say “I haven’t seen your letters in the paper recently” when I see them in the street. I tell them about this site, but they seldom seem interested or even aware of a world wide web beyond traditional print media.

Two years ago my Dad died suddenly.

I kept writing – it helped me cope and process things, but it kind of felt like any support, luck, or belief anyone had in me died too.

I’ve written, what I at least think, is some of my best work since then – The coverage of my recent stay in hospital received plaudits, but these are predominantly from friends online.

This is where things get a bit confuddling.

FM

Positive reactions are always good to receive, but self-doubt (self-esteem’s arch-nemesis) can begin to creep in.

Someone (usually a friend) gives you a compliment on Facebook or Twitter and you automatically discount it – “Of COURSE they’d say that, they’re your FRIEND!” Or “It’s ONLY social media – it’s not ‘REAL’” – sabotaging yourself and your abilities.

Even when you point out something that you think is blatantly wrong – Like hypocrisy over the Ruataniwha Dam, or the local newspaper covering Hastings District Council bailing out Horse of the Year, when the event’s board said in the same paper just weeks before they themselves would cover the loss and nothing is done.

The “bad guys” win.

Worse still can be spending years developing and making your case for a way to improve the city you love and the region you were born and raised in.

That idea gets local and national coverage.

Heck, even John Campbell likes it!

JC

But when you approach people you believe have the resources, funds and it’s in their best interests to actually enact your idea and the response is nothing – silence.

In this gaping vacuum of space no one can hear you scream in frustration.

I’ve had similar responses trying to rejig New Zealand’s flailing mainstream media – But the general consensus there is

“What would he know? He’s only from Hawke’s Bay!”

If I’m wrong that’s not a problem. You can learn from mistakes and correct them.

But no one has told me I’m wrong.

People tell me they “admire my passion” and am constantly queried on how I would achieve the goals I seek.

I tell them, but they don’t offer to help and “passion” won’t pay the bills, or finance what I have planned.

What if I’m right and no one cares to help try and make a difference, to help effect change or fix the problems I’m trying to remedy?

Ignoring problems doesn’t solve them or make them go away.

But ignoring people who are trying to fix problems makes the people go away – lose hope, lose self-esteem and confidence.

Imposter

I’ve become quite philosophical and theological about it:

“If Andrew makes a factual statement and no-one notices or cares, is he still right?”

“Before THE WORD, or there was light, or even the Big Bang, Andrew was wrong”

When the negativity or gaping vacuum of ignorance gets to you and makes you glum, sad, or grumpy and strips away your self-belief, you’re STILL wrong – Because being glum, sad, or grumpy isn’t allowed – You’ve apparently got to be happy, positive and smiling All. The. Time?!

This isn’t one of those inspirational stories of the little struggler, the battler, who overcomes adversity to triumph.

It is the tale of someone who has been told they’re wrong when they’re not, who has been ignored and unappreciated long enough for it to essentially become a default setting – a shitty-mood Stockholm Syndrome.

@Oatmeal Nails it once again :/

@Oatmeal Nails it once again :/

Having to spend a few weeks in hospital pales in comparison.

Shakespeare said we only have an hour upon life’s stage to strut and fret before we are heard no more.

I want to make a difference in that hour, but I can’t do it alone.

I need support, I need people to believe in me.

I need to believe in myself.

I want to believe.

Dis-Carded

Twitter669369f

When I saw it crumpled up on the floor of that hall, maybe I should have just given up there and then – Saved myself 20 years of work, stress, time and pointless hope.

Because it was right – A portent of things to come.

No matter how hard I tried or what I did, it wouldn’t be enough. I wouldn’t be good enough to achieve the goal – the DREAM it symbolised.

It was 1997 and I was volunteering for the Hawke’s Bay Cancer Society as a “Youth Health Promoter” – particularly aimed at Smokefree initiatives – the “cause célèbre à la mode”.

I had been doing it for a couple of years, having decided I didn’t want to go to university upon finishing high school, I instead worked at a local radio station for six months and when I saw the Cancer Society’s “proper” health promotion lady in a community newspaper promoting some event, I thought I’d like to help out.

So I did.

I’ve always had great promotional / “sales” skills (though I much preferred “selling” ideas rather than the unrealistic, ever-increasing “sales goals” variety) and, like radio, I got a kick out of the performance aspect of promoting stuff – being unconventional, finding different, memorable ways of doing things.

We gave presentations in schools, held a camp for high school leaders to help spread the Smokefree message, went to Wellington to film a segment for a youth TV show called “Get Real” (that never made it to air because the “tape got lost”) and held Smokefree Speech Contests.

clippings

I had even been selected to be a (expenses paid) New Zealand representative at an Australasian youth health conference in Sydney (my first overseas experience) – So I must have been doing something right.

I was having a great time. I enjoyed the work (although I also had to work part time in a supermarket for income). I did interesting things and got to meet great people.

I was meeting so many people I wanted to learn from and keep in touch with that I made up my own “business cards”.

Inkjet printed on green cardboard, they weren’t the pinnacle of professional imagery, but I was merely a volunteer and it was all I could afford.

That is when it happened.

I had only just made them the week before one of the speech contests and handed two out at the event. I can’t remember who I handed them to, but I remember seeing one in someone’s diary – used as a bookmark as they left.

Then I saw the other one.

Twitter62189d1

It was scrunched up, lying on the floor close to where I had given it to whoever it was.

The purpose of the card dead before it hit the ground.

I felt a bit crap and hurt about it at the time – That what I was doing had been discarded so thoughtlessly, but I moved on.

The compulsion behind throwing the card away didn’t.

It persisted – An origami albatross around my neck.

I had been doing this work voluntarily for two years and loved it so much I wanted to make it my career – to make a living out of it.

I asked those involved professionally what I should do and was told I had to get a tertiary qualification in marketing or something similar.

So, combining my volunteer work and an actual paying job, I added a one year, full time “Diploma in Marketing” course from Napier’s own Eastern Institute of Technology to my work schedule.

I passed, acing the communication aspects of the course and graduated with an A4 certificate, a few thousand dollars’ worth of student debt and, as it turned out, nothing more.

I applied for well over 50 marketing-type jobs in the years immediately after my graduation and equally got well over 50 rejections.

Many years later I was asked to do a short video for Baybuzz on what I thought Hawke’s Bay needed – in a take that ended up on the cutting room floor I symbolically crunched up and threw away a copy of my marketing diploma – that was what it is worth to me.

I still volunteered for the Cancer Society. They were great and very supportive, but being a charitable organisation they couldn’t afford to pay me.

In 1997 I had been to the (“Smokefree” it was at the time) “Stage Challenge” at the Hastings Municipal Theatre.

I fell in love with it.

High school students perform a piece of theatre on a (usually social or historical) topic of their choice to music over eight minutes.

It was loud, energetic, colourful and amazing – If you haven’t seen a performance before, it’s basically a Baz Luhrmann musical movie amped up to 11 by teenaged hormones, pheromones and whatever the loudest, most energetic music of the day is.

So in 1998 I made direct contact with the company who ran it at the time from rural Victoria Australia and offered to help and went around Hawke’s Bay high schools getting as many as I could involved in the event.

The previous year two HB schools had taken part; I managed to up that number to five, with another two schools I had approached joining in the following year.

Our local DHB’s Health Promotion Unit was the “official” local supporter of Stage Challenge in Hawke’s Bay. So I approached them to see if we could team up promoting the event – going around schools, getting stuff in the paper and on the radio.

In the end it was just me that ended up doing those things – The DHB set up a table with some health-related pamphlets at the theatre on the day of the show. That was pretty much their entire involvement.

The 1998 Hawke’s Bay Stage Challenge was a high energy, feel-good success and enjoyed by almost all involved.

I say “almost” because I was the exception.

I loved the performances, the energy, the music and the passion the teams put into and got out of their performances. The school teams thanked me for my help and input.

Having spent several months going around the region, promoting the event and almost TRIPLING the number of local schools competing I had to ask the show’s producers for any form of thanks. Even then it wasn’t forthcoming

For their table of pamphlets, the DHB got a framed gold disc as a sign of appreciation.

I got nothing.

It was the beginning of the end for me.

With the promotional and entrant numbers success (but appreciation fail) of Stage Challenge added to over two years of voluntary work experience, promotion, publicity and interaction, as well as my “tertiary marketing qualification” I applied to numerous local and national health promotion and similar, youth-orientated, agencies to try and get a foothold in paid employment at something I enjoyed doing and had been recognised (by a few at least) as being very good at.

The response: Nothing.

I gave up.

It wasn’t easy – When you dedicate all your free time over several years to something you believe in, enjoy and are good at, only to be shot down at every opportunity for advancement or even thanks it gets very physically and emotionally draining very quickly.

I packed up all my Smokefree things, returned them and walked away.

I went back to working for money, rather than enjoyment. It was all rather capitalistic and soulless.

I eventually found a job I loved in a bookshop. In that job I met someone I would go on to love and be loved by and end up marrying.

After some struggles the two of us would have a baby girl who we both love VERY much.

Love inspires – It encourages hope, it rekindles dreams, it makes you want to be a better person.

I started writing and promoting / “selling” ideas again – so I could be a better inspiration for my daughter, like my dad was for me.

But the shadows of an origami albatross started circling again….

Owner of a Broken (but not Lonely) Heart

heart

When last we saw our ruggedly deluded protagonist he was in the Coronary Care Unit of Hawke’s Bay Hospital having been defibrillated after having Ventricle Tachycardia for over 12 hours.

The day after I was admitted to hospital, the cardiologist visited to check up on me and let me know what was going on.

The news was good and bad.

Good in that I was alive and very fortunate to still be here after such a long cardiac event.

Bad in that I would be in hospital for about a week or so to ensure the VT didn’t make a reappearance, and if it did, I would be in the right place for immediate treatment (so technically “good”).

I would likely end up being fitted with a mini pacemaker-like device called an ICD (“Implantable Cardioverter-Defibrillator”) that would shock my heart back into line if it started miss-firing again.

So that was kind of bad (operation, pain, more recovery), but also good in that I would then have new awesome cyborg parts!

But more shockingly to me, I would not be allowed to drive for six months.

SIX MONTHS!!

I love my independence and my work is a 15 minute drive away, with un-flattering hours, so not being able to drive anywhere for half a year was a bit of a blow to say the least.

Hell, not being able to bugger off out of the ward and go home to my wife and daughter for a week was a big enough blow.

The driving ban was mainly precautionary. If I was driving and had another VT event I could blackout / die at the wheel, crash and cause untold carnage – hardly the sort of picture NZ’s health system would like to paint – so while crippling it was understandable.

I was scheduled to have various tests over the following days, so the main thing I had ahead of me was lots of waiting.

In Coronary Care “Waiting” is practically a competitive sport, because everyone is doing it.

But the gold medal is for Humility and everyone in the ward deserves a medal for that, and not in a wishy-washy NCEA, “Everyone gets a prize” way.

In Coronary Care the level of humility is a wonderful thing.

There are people needing stents to open blocked arteries, new heart valves, pacemakers, heck, even multiple bypasses – medical conditions that so little as 20-30 years ago were still largely lethal.

But rather than focusing on their own problems, the constant theme and saying amongst patients is: “There’s someone out there worse off than me”.

That is quite something.

The other thing that being in this situation opened my eyes to is the kindness of others – There’s a lot of help, love and chocolate out there.

My wife and daughter visit regularly, of course, which is a necessity for my sanity, but also bitter-sweet because then they have to go again and I’m once again alone.

I was only in the ward for a day before my work colleagues sent me a gift basket full of goodies – fruit, sweets and a crossword book to fill in time with.

One of my wonderful nurses sensed I was getting cabin fever and offered to escort me down to the cafeteria while she got some lunch. It was only a short trip, but just being able to re-enter the “big, wide world” for a bit was gloriously refreshing.

My wonderful Facebook and Twitter friends – many of whom I have only met 140 characters at a time were offering their good wishes, help and more food (I like where this is heading!).

Attitude and positive vibes are a large part of being in a situation such as mine, so these well-wishers have certainly been a big, positive part of the process.

And I would need it, because there was more news on the horizon and it wasn’t too good.

During one of my scans they noticed two things:

1/ My heart was a bit bigger than usual – I wasn’t too surprised by this, because I’m 6’8” tall, so a slightly larger heart made sense in that there was more body to pump blood around

But, more concerning:

2/ A growth had been picked up on or near my heart – they couldn’t quite tell its proximity, but it was obviously of concern. This could explain an increase the size of the heart and the dysrhythmia, from the heart being irritated.

I couldn’t feel anything different – in fact I felt (and still feel) fine, which added to a general sense of detachment in not knowing it was there at all – The tachycardia might have been a good thing after all.

The growth is unlike anything my cardiologist has seen before which, believe it or not, I take as a good thing, because it means its not something he knows is immediately bad.

I was the headline act in HB Hospital’s weekly teleconference with their Wellington coronary specialists, who are equally intrigued – at this rate I might be the Mr April centrefold in the next edition of The Lancet!

But mainly I just hope I survive.

So I’m on a bit of a roller-coaster at the moment – Ups and down, highs and lows and even the odd corkscrew.

I don’t know what to expect, other than next week I will be flown down to Wellington Hospital by Air Ambulance (My own private plane, Woo-hoo!) undergo more tests, a biopsy and.. who knows?

Sometimes in quiet, dark moments the bad things and possibilities creep in. Other times I just miss my family, or being able to simply get out into the big wide world that I can see through the window next to my hospital bed.

But I’m keeping positive as much as I can.

There are others out there worse off than I am.

Not for the Faint of Heart

Lead

It’s been a while since I’ve had time to sit down and do some writing, but now I find I have a fair bit of spare time and not a lot to do, because I’m in the Coronary Care Unit of Hawke’s Bay Hospital.

Last Saturday I was playing cricket (well, when I say “playing” I mean I fielded for 30 overs and umpired for another 30 – total number of times I physically exerted myself = <5). We lost by one run, but rather than being stressed or nervous I was a bit bored and disappointed that I didn’t get to bat. It was very hot and I had been out in the sun all game, so when I felt a bit crap sitting down in the dressing rooms after the game and noticed my pulse was going a bit fast I thought I just had heat stroke. I went home, had dinner, went to the clubrooms for our club’s regular after-match speeches and came home. Toddler in Frame had a broken night, so I was up and down a few times to give my wife a break and still felt ill, but managed to have some sleep. On Sunday morning I was feeling a little better, but not a lot, so went to the medical centre, where the nurses quite quickly had me on a bed, hooked up to monitors and soon afterwards two St John’s Ambulance staff arrived and I was taken to the Emergency Department of Hawke’s Bay Hospital.

Not a good sign.

My heart was indeed racing – going at around 200 beats per minute – my usual rate being closer to 80-90bpm.

I was suffering from something called “Ventricle Tachycardia” and had been, it seems, for over 12 hours – There didn’t seem to be a member of the medial fraternity who wasn’t reasonably impressed by this over the next few days. They kept saying it must be my “youth and fitness” that helped me stand it for so long.

I have no idea what those two words mean.

If I had been in one of those whiz-bang medical-soap-drama TV shows they would have been running around, yelling I was in “V-Tach” (in America) or said I was in “VT” (everywhere else) getting “Crash carts” ready and “paddles charged”.

As we are in New Zealand, things, while still very professional and serious, felt a bit more laid back (this could have just been the drugs, of course). I was put into an ED bed, hooked up to even more wires and lines and given drugs to try and slow my heart rate but told, if that didn’t work, they would more than likely sedate me and shock, or “Defibrillate” (yup, that thing they do with the paddles – “CLEAR!” to people whose hearts had stopped) – my heart back into its regular scheduled programme.

I got the shock, but sans sedative.

Because after around 14 hours of VT my body decided it had had enough of this medical marathon and my blood pressure dropped, I suddenly felt even crapper (No bright light, or long tunnel, btw, just REALLY dizzy and sick)

The ED staff sprang into action and Renee, the head ED doctor said “Ok, Andrew, we’re going to shock you now”, I had just enough time to grunt a “Huh? / Ok” and someone hit me in the chest with an ethereal, electrified baseball bat.

For the record (and not solely for theatrical effect) I did lift off the bed with a loud grunt.

What passes for “normality” in the Emergency Department then resumed, my heart rate returning to a more regular rate and things quietening down.

A guy in the next cubicle came in with the same thing as I had, but had the time and benefit of sedation before he was zapped and had no recollection of it.

After some blood tests and a chest X-ray I was eventually moved to the Coronary Care Unit of the hospital for overnight observation, hoping / expecting to be released the next day.

Things never quite seem to work out that easily in real life.

R.I.P. DSE

DSE

The knives are out over the carcass of Dick Smith Electronics.

And, surprisingly, it has nothing to do with their completely confusing advertising campaign last year that featured “The Mad Butcher”, Sir Peter Leitch.

At least they didn’t advertise “55 Inch LED TVs – only $9.99 a kilo!”

A couple nasty viruses called “Greed” and “Private Equity” fried DSE’s circuit boards and the damage seems irreparable – our memory files of Australasia’s most well-known electronics stores have been forever corrupted.

I remember going to Napier’s first Dick Smith store with my Dad in 1980-something-or-other.

It was a tiny shop on Latham Street, just a couple hundred meters towards Marine Parade from and on the opposite side of the road to McLean Park.

It was packed full of the “latest” 1980’s innovations – Car radios with cassette tape players and the most basic of digital watches not to mention shelves full of plugs, switches, wires, diodes and solder.

The epitome of tech DIY!

There was so much stuff in these small shops you almost expected Arkwright or Steptoe to pop their head out from around the counter corner and try to sell you half their stock.

But they didn’t.

Instead there was a small, quiet man – almost certainly wearing glasses and a sleeveless knitted vest that answered your questions and pointed you in the right directions to get just what you needed.

There were no bells and whistles (unless you were looking at wiring up an early home security alarm) because the shop manager was an electronics hobbyist himself – he knew where each gauge of wire, light emitting diode and self-returning switch was and exactly what they did.

They weren’t rocket scientists, but by 1980’s provincial New Zealand standards they weren’t far off.

We purchased our first ever computer, a Sinclair ZX81, from that shop.

ZX81

You had to plug it into the TV via the aerial lead and tune it in to get a picture. With no on-board memory, programmes were loaded and saved via either plug-in cartridges, or a cassette tape recorder that also needed to be plugged into the tiny keyboard / motherboard unit.

While there appears little doubt these private capital chumps are guilty of killing Dick Smith Electronics off financially, it could be argued that advances in technology had been undermining the chain’s original core customer base for many more years before that.

As technology developed it got considerably smaller, phenomenally cheaper and required far less input.

Where once, back in the 80’s, someone would spend weeks and hundreds of dollars building their own computer or some other type of electronic timesaving gadgetry, today you could pick up the same item for $10-$20 at any one of hundreds of discount electronics stores, who bought the item in bulk from some massive production facility where workers are paid five cents per item produced.

When that item breaks or stops working, do you try to fix it like my father’s generation did? No, you just buy a new one at an equally cheap price.

There has been a generational attitude change from “Do It Yourself” to “Cheap and Nasty”, which is a great shame. Because not only does it enable those who pay a pittance for the production of electronics and then make massive profits themselves, it also detracts future generations from investigating just how things work, thinking up ways of improving them and making improvements themselves – we’re wiping out a skill set!

Dick Smith himself lamented the change in culture. When Supermarket chain Woolworths bought him out they steered away from core basic electronics into these dangerous waters of cheap, premade electronic goods.

The service in the stores seemed to echo an equally cheap supermarket mind-set.

Gone were the studious, knowledgeable old men. In came fresh faced teenagers – cheap to employ, apparently not worth training much beyond cash register usage or incentivising in sales – just as disposable as the goods they sold.

In the last few years I went into Dick Smith stores several times and am still waiting for anyone to ask if I needed any help finding what I was after – I did, so left the store empty-handed and found what I was after elsewhere.

The loss of Dick Smith Electronics is a sad one, especially for those who are now left out of pocket and potentially jobs by those who blew smoke, erected mirrors, took the money and ran. But it was not unforeseeable – just like the demise of the video store.

Perhaps if someone could make a time machine we could travel back thirty years into the past and warn those in charge of Dick Smith to focus on their core products and put passion for what they do ahead of profit.

If only there was still somewhere we could by the parts for a Flux Capacitor..

H.O.Y. A Gift Horse, or Trojan Horse?

"Where are we going, Wilbur?"

“Where are we going, Wilbur?”

The digital ink (?) on my previous post about volunteers being worth far more than they weren’t paid had barely dried over the Christmas break when I read that Hawke’s Bay’s multi-million dollar equine extravaganza – “Horse of the Year” was looking for around 400 volunteers to assist with the 2016 edition of the event.

Nothing too unusual there – as previously stated such big events rely on volunteers to make them successful – although it pushes the limits of credibility to claim anything requiring dozens or even hundreds of people working for free as a “success” – from a financial perspective at least.

BUT…

400 sounded a rather excessive amount of people working for free – the Rugby and Cricket World Cup games Napier hosted in 2011 and 2015 respectively required only around 150-200 by comparison.

And the last time I had read something about Horse of the Year they were asking local councils for money – LOTS of money:

Last year chairwoman of Horse of the Year’s board of directors and HDC Deputy Mayor, Cynthia Bowers, went around local councils asking the event’s hosts, Hastings District Council – to increase their funding of the event to $150,000 – more than quadrupling the $35,000 they put forward last year, and $100,000 from the Napier City Council – TEN TIMES last year’s amount of $10,000!

In 2012 Councillor Bowers was appointed by Hastings District Council to a board investigating the formation of what would become “Horse of the Year (Hawke’s Bay) Limited” – she was quoted as saying:

“The working capital expected from the council was not likely to be more than $100,000 and the money would be repaid from projected profits from the 2013 show, which would be the first event run under the new company.”

These requests for more funding may be looking a bit shaky as they come not long after the event posted equally big losses in recent years:

In February last year, the month before its 2015 event, Horse of the Year reported a $297,000 half-year loss:

“The accounts show the company received income of $554,000 during the six months to the end of November, $297,000 below the $851,000 it budgeted for and $62,000 below what it received during the same period a year earlier.

However, in a report to the committee, the council’s acting chief financial officer, Bruce Allan, said: “Given the nature of this organisation and the event that it runs, the first half of the year financials provide limited insight into the potential full-year result.”

The show sends out invoices for deposits for booked trade sites during the half-year covered by the report, with the bulk of its income generated in the following six months.
The company said trade site sales for this year’s show had been strong “and indications are that virtually all sites will be sold”.

In October 2014 Horse of the Year had recorded a $108,000 full-year loss.

Horse of the Year were reported as expecting 2015’s event to be a “no growth” show in an attempt to make up for previous losses.

Hastings District Council said the lost revenue in 2014 was “due to problems with security fencing which allowed non-payers into the show.”

But it’s a bit hard to believe such significant losses were due to people sneaking in for free, considering even if tickets were $50 each, that would mean over 2,000 attendees got away without paying.

A more likely cause was the “Further development of relationships with Chinese equestrians, who were funded to attend last year’s (2014) show, had been “put on hold until 2016”.”

In other words “An international equestrian group were PAID to attend two years ago, but didn’t turn up and it doesn’t look like anyone asked for the money back.”

So what was the extra $205,000 Horse of the Year was requesting supposed to be going to?

Certainly not paying up to 400 workers…

Perhaps is going towards debt consolidation?

Perhaps they are paying for even more international equestrians to not attend?

Or perhaps they are looking at diversifying – Just how much are Pegacorns these days?

Horse of the Year is a great event for Hawke’s Bay that brings in hundreds of visitors and millions of dollars – and not just from the Range Rover / Multimillion dollar horse float crowd – Because for every futuristic horse-float-come-campervan there are dozens of regular horse loving attendees who stay in tents and motels, scrimping and saving where they can.

Investments and outcomes need to match up.

This is certainly one gift horse Hawke’s Bay cannot afford to look in the mouth!

Pegacorn

Twelve Days of Christmas Deliciousness 2015

For Seven years now, Mrs in Frame has composed a special menu for the “12 Days of Christmas” – alternating between the traditional (Partridge in a Pear Tree) and New Zealand (“Pukeko in a Ponga Tree”) versions each year.

This year it was the turn of the traditional version.

Wherever possible she tries to tie in part of the carol lyrics to the dish – i.e. “Partridge in a Pear Tree” will usually contain pears to some degree, or there is some sort of alliteration or similar tie-in.

When all else fails, a fair chunk of artistic license is brought in. It really takes a fair bit of dedication and imagination to pull off!

I’ll do my best to explain the theory behind each dish as we go.

So sit back and enjoy as I reveal what my true love made for me over the Twelve Days of Christmas Deliciousness for 2015:

1 Partridge in a Pear Tree

Day 1 – A Partridge in a Pear Tree:
Meal: Pear and Blue Cheese Tart
Reasoning: The Pears for the pear tree, but also serve as PART of a RIDGE atop the tart.

2 Turtle Doves

Day 2 – Two Turtle Doves:
Meal: Chocolate & Pecan Turtledove Bars
Reasoning: Straight forward and VERY delicious!

3 French Hens

Day 3 – Three French Hens:
Meal: Chicken Cordon Bleu
Reasoning: Again., pretty straight forward – Chicken with a bit of French flair!

4 Calling Birds

Day 4 – Four Calling Birds:
Meal: Seared Lamb with Couscous
Reasoning: Ok, this is where we delve in to the “artistic license” category – Originally the line was “Four COLLY Birds” (Blackbirds in ye olde England) and has since evolved to now resemble sparrows with cellphones.
Mrs in Frame took it as “CULLING” birds, so we had lamb – which is culled and couscous – Why? Just be-couscous! XD
I’m more inclined to say it’s because the couscous looks like bird food…

5 Gold Rings

Day 5 – Five Gold Rings:
Meal: Panko Deep-fried Origin Earth Camembert
Reasoning: The cheese is round like a ring and fried till it’s a delicious golden brown.

6 Geese a Laying

Day 6 – Six Geese a Laying:
Meal: Roast Goose and Potatoes
Reasoning: Simple one again – This goose was well and truly cooked!

7 Swans a Swimming

Day 7 – Seven Swans a Swimming:
Meal: Baked Eggs with Truffle Oil
Reasoning: Swan-white eggs cooked “swimming” in a bain-marie.

8 Maids a Milking

Day 8 – Eight Maids a Milking:
Meal: Steak and Roast Veges with Herb Butter.
Reasoning: Reasonably straight forward from the butter perspective, the steak, however, was from less lactose tolerant cows.

9 Ladies Dancing

Day 9 – Nine Ladies Dancing:
Meal: Duck with Cherry Glaze
Reasoning: Dancing ladies, just like ducks, love to “shake a tail feather” 😉
(I actually made this one, because Toddler in Frame was having a bad day and only Mummy cuddles could fix, so my wife was indisposed.)

10 Lords A Leaping

Day 10 – Ten Lords a Leaping:
Meal: Baked Terakihi in a Rice Salad
Reasoning: Fish, especially those on the end of lines on TV fishing shows, apparently love to leap out of the water. Lords (allegedly) also like leaping – though the lords are more likely to be on the other end of the fishing line.

Eleven Pipers Piping

Day 11 – Eleven Pipers Piping:
Meal: Scotch Eggs.
Reasoning: Pretty straight forward again – Pipers, especially the bag-pipe variety are from Scotland. We shall ignore the fact Scotch Eggs were apparently an Indian-inspired dish first made in London and, instead focus on the fact Scotch whisky is from there instead – Slangevar!

Twelve Drummers Drumming

Day 12 – Twelve Drummers Drumming:
Meal: Biltong and Mushroom Creamy Pasta
Reasoning: The Biltong represents drumsticks, while the pasta bowl looks not too dissimilar to a drum!

So there we go, another year of deliciousness done and dusted! Many thanks to all the Facebook and Twitter friends and followers who liked and commented on the dishes!

Wherever possible, we sourced ingredients from our own garden, the Napier and Hastings Farmers’ Markets, local greengrocers, butchers etc.

For the more specialised ingredients, we went to Gourmet Direct and Vetro – any Napier foodie’s best friends!

Have a Merry Christmas and a safe and Happy New Year!

Summer Time in Hawke’s Bay – the Song!

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I was listening to the radio in the car the other day and one of my favourite Christmas songs – The Pogues’ “Fairy-tale of New York” came on, so I started singing along to it.

But then the unthinkable happened – and no it wasn’t that I started singing perfectly in tune.

I happened to be listening to a “Middle of the Road” station, so THEY CUT OUT THE ENTIRE VERSE of “You’re a bum, you’re a punk…!!””

Heresy!!

Sure it’s a “family-friendly” radio station and this was the “radio edit” of the song, BUT COME ON – you can’t play Fairy-tale of New York without the rude bits!!!

It’s what makes the song so Christmassy – There’s always than one friend or relative who has a bit too much to drink at Christmas and gets a bit… “Opinionated”…

Taking out that part ruins the whole song 🙁 

So that musical travesty inspired me to get writing – My own version of that song!

Using the same backing music / tempo, I came up with my own Christmas song – a special Hawke’s Bay one called “Christmas Time in Hawke’s Bay”!

I sent it to my friend at the offending radio station, who thought it was great. They were going to record a version using my lyrics and play it in the lead up to Christmas.

But that was over a week ago and I haven’t heard anything, meaning that any decent chance of airplay in the lead-up to December 25th has been lost – which is a great shame and waste of my fabulous lyric-writing skills.

But I am adaptable and with only very slight changes, please feel free to read along, while humming “Fairy-tale of New York” to:

Summer Time in Hawke’s Bay!

(If anyone would like to help me record this, please get in touch!)

It’s summer time
In Hawke’s Bay again
The man on the radio says “Another stunning one!”
We crank the music up
And roll the windows down
Smell the fresh sea air
And drive into town.

Gee aren’t we lucky ones?
Having so much fun
Living here in the Bay
There’s just so much to do
Over summer time
We love The Bay, baby!
Can’t think of being anywhere
Than Summer in Hawke’s Bay!

There’s trips to Kidnappers
Art Deco with flappers
Seeing New Years in
At the Soundshell
Hundreds of wineries
Restaurants with fineries
More fantastic cafes
Than anyone can tell

Playing backyard cricket
With a bin as the wicket
Smash a window,
Oh no!
That’s six and you’re out!
Cooking lunch on the barby
Man life is so hard, eh?
Spending summer time
Here at home in Hawkes’ Bay

The weather forecast on the TV
Predicts another stunning day
Just typical summer time
Here in Hawke’s Bay!

Geez you’re naff, urgh!
Such a Jaffa
A regional flaffer
You don’t even think the Magpies are great.
You don’t want a latte?
Just don’t even start, eh!
Then next summer time
Visit Manawatu

There’s cricket on at McLean Park
The Blackcaps are blazing away
And the crowds are yelling out
“Come on the Bay”!

We could live anywhere
But no, it wouldn’t be fair
With all the long summer days
And perfect Waimarama waves
A walk along the Parade
Eating yummy ice cream
Could this all be a dream?
These perfect Hawke’s Bay days!

All the rellies have come to stay
And Santa’s on his way
Just another stunning Summer
In Hawke’s Bay!

© Andrew Frame December 2015

A Better Hawke’s Bay Today

In recent years New Zealand’s news media has taken a bit of a hiding.

Sure, people aren’t consuming news like they used to – Papers are still read, but web-based news is being read more.

People still listen to the radio – But what used to be interactive “news” and “talkback” has devolved into getting the most sensationalist sound-bite (the audio version of “click-baiting”) and “commentators” (rather than “journalists”) blurting their unqualified opinions over top of experts and members of the public who have been actively encouraged to “join the debate”.

Even those supposedly at the helm of New Zealand’s handful of television networks seem hell-bent on steering the nation away from the calm, measured waters of current affairs and investigative journalism and running what is left at flank speed onto the rocks of rotten hyper-reality television.

It’s very grim stuff if all you want is informed discussion and the truth.

Even my local paper – the Hawke’s Bay Today doesn’t appear immune to lessening standards.

In June this article aroused both my interest and ire when it appeared on Hawke’s Bay Today’s website.

Being familiar with most Hawke’s Bay reporters and not recognising the name of this article’s author I clicked on the link to learn more.

It turned out this wasn’t a local article at all. The author appears specialises in commercial real estate articles around New Zealand.

Essentially this was a real estate advertisement masquerading as news.

Not “officially” being news apparently meant the opinions of those featured in the article – the two agents trying to sell the property which is the focus of the piece were quoted:

“The retail centre of Taradale is about 1.5 kilometres away, so a new neighbourhood café here would have a virtually unrivalled trade catchment area. There is no other real local alternative for grabbing a barista-made flat white and a plate of eggs benedict.

“There’s a pie ‘n’ cake bakery down the road and a small cafe within the New World premises but that outlet is more an adjunct to shopping rather than a hospitality destination location in its own right.”

Whether it was just sales pitch, or mere spin, but facts in this piece were a bit thin on the ground, as this map of nearby food outlets shows:

EZview

But it didn’t stop there:

“Video Ezy, as with most DVD rental outlets, has been finding trading increasingly harder as greater numbers of New Zealanders move away from hiring out DVDs on a nightly basis, to watching films through legal downloading providers such as Lightbox, Quickflix, and Netflix,”

This article was followed up a couple of weeks later by a counter-piece, this time written by a local reporter, as the proprietor of the Video Ezy store that is part of the building up for sale had to reassure his customers, who were concerned he was in the throes of closing down, that he had no plans to shut up shop, or awareness of the new nature of his reduced lease terms.

In August, while Hawke’s Bay’s amalgamation debate was reaching a heated climax, someone at Hawke’s Bay Today chose to allow the pro-amalgamation group, “A Better Hawke’s Bay” to buy a four page wrap-around advertisement on one edition of the paper’s regional and community issues.

While the actual front page and rest of the paper was untouched inside this wrap-around, the “faux-front (and back) page” included the paper’s title banner, giving the appearance of an authentic front page and leading some readers to perceive that the paper supported amalgamation.

Now let me be clear – Editorially, throughout the amalgamation debate and voting process, Hawke’s Bay Today did indeed maintain a fair balance in giving voice to both the anti and pro-amalgamation sides, so this appears to be a commercial decision.

Given the sheer cost of such a large, wrap-around advertisement; it could be very hard to turn down that sort of money.

But, as some pointed out, when the paper was doing its best to remain neutral, surely such an advert would have been better suited as an internal lift-out, rather than an audacious wrap-around.

Putting this advertisement on the outside damaged people’s perception of the paper’s neutrality and for many perception is reality.

Speaking of perception, I thought mine was failing me when I read this article online one morning in July, then happened to read the same article in the print edition the same day.

Paper

Something was missing – it was Napier’s mayor!

The article centres around Ngati Kahungunu chairman, Ngahiwi Tomoana, who is pictured online in a file photo next to the Mayor of Napier, Bill Dalton.

But in the version of the photo that went to physical print, Mayor Dalton ceases to exist – he (except for his hands – see the red circle) and the background has been rather badly photo-shopped out.

Why?

Mr Dalton doesn’t feature in the article’s text, so didn’t need to be in the picture. Why not just crop the photo around Mr Tomoana? Why the bad photo-shop job instead?

Given the timing, I thought it might be part of the paper’s neutral amalgamation stance, but that just didn’t stack up – a rather odd move all round.

Now given my criticisms above, you may think I don’t like the Hawke’s Bay Today.

But you’re wrong – I love it!

I love that it gives a voice to Hawke’s Bay’s people, its events and news.

I love that our region still has its own printed newspaper over a hundred years after the launch of the Daily Telegraph and Herald Tribune.

But like things you care about, your love often has to be “tough love”.

When you see it doing something wrong, you need to tell it to change its ways, to help it grow and improve.

In the changing world of modern media, that’s what its staff and readers want and deserve –

A better Hawke’s Bay Today!

No Such Thing as a Free Car Park

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Central business districts around New Zealand are suffering.

Shops that thrived for generations now lie empty due to drops in customer numbers, increases in rents and the rise of internet trading and ill-conceived council planning allowing giant malls to be built on city peripheries.

Currently the most popular panacea to injecting life into central cities seems to be offering free parking.

All the cool North Island cities are doing it – Rotorua, Hastings, Tauranga, Hamilton, Palmerston North

And now Napier is joining in on the fun, with our city council deciding to provide free on-street parking in Central Napier on Saturday November 28 for its (VERY EARLY) Christmas festival and in Taradale on December 5th for their festive fair.

There’s no such thing as a free car park, however, and NCC estimates “losses of (parking) revenue to the council of about $4200 in the city and $700 in Taradale) for these days.

But is there really a loss of revenue?

If having to pay for parking is such a turn-off to central city visitors, or the parking is too expensive, no one will park there, so no income will come from that parking space regardless of cost.

It’s like airline flights being too expensive.

If a seat on a certain flight isn’t sold – no matter how expensive of cheap the price may be, the moment the doors close and that plane takes off, the airline will NEVER recoup the money for that unfilled seat on that particular flight.

So is the cost of parking the actual problem?

Go into Napier’s CBD on any particular weekday when you have to pay for parking and the closer you get to the centre of town, the harder it will be to find an empty car park.

Having to pay for parking isn’t stopping people parking in town.

Heck, go to Wellington, where parking costs in the centre of town are ridiculously high and viciously enforced and you will have an even harder time finding an available car park.

To put it bluntly, price is no barrier to laziness. The closer people can drive to their destination and the shorter the distance they have to walk, the better.

Fifty cents or a dollar or two isn’t a great inhibitor to that.

The parking fines for over-staying your allotted time, however, might be.

When compared to other centres’ parking fines and fees, Napier’s are actually quite reasonable.

Putting a dollar in a central Napier parking meter buys you the right to keep your car there for, say, an hour.

But get way-laid and return fifteen minutes to just over an hour late and you run the risk of facing an additional $12-$21 parking fine (the time examples given being merely a reasonable representation of how long an appointment or lunch with friends might over-run their anticipated time).

Is the equivalent of twelve hours’ worth of parking time a fair penalty for being a quarter of an hour late?

How does 25c worth of time justifiably manifest itself into a fee forty-eight times that value?

Worse still, fail or forget to display one of the tickets from a parking-lot machine on your dashboard and you’re in for a fine closer to $40.

For some that’s a week’s worth of petrol and they just can’t afford to take that risk.

Parking fines that better reflect the value of the park that is being over-stayed in might be a better idea.

Lower fines would likely be more easily and promptly paid too.

If all else fails you can just do what I usually do – park at one of the hundreds of one and two hour “free parking” spaces that ring Napier’s CBD – Along parts of Marine Parade, next to the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council building, up Shakespeare Road and down Munroe Street – soak up the wonderful Napier weather and enjoy the very short stroll from these already ratepayer-funded car parks into town.

Ultimately, there has to be something in town worth paying to stay and visit, too.

Rows of empty shops, vacated when landlords’ income expectations far exceed their current worth won’t attract people into city centres.

Neither will a lack of events or activities that enhance or compliment the CBD.

Bringing vibrancy and vitality back to our CBDs is what is needed to re-enliven our city centres.

If city councillors, or those tasked with looking after the heartbeat of our main business and shopping areas seriously think that a dollar or two is the only thing inhibiting our city centres from thriving, it’s beyond time they stood aside.

Why should a CBD’s vitality be fined for their over-staying?

Hawke’s Bay’s (and New Zealand’s) inner cities deserve better!