Thursday, March 15, 2012

What I’m reading

The New Zealand literary magazine Sport is 40. Not in years, but in issues. The 40th one is out now and is a cracker. Thoroughly recommended as a sampler: in its 452 pages it features 23 contemporary German writers, to mark New Zealand’s role as guest of honour at this year’s Frankfurt Book Fair, and fiction, poems and essays by 52 New Zealand writers. There are established names such as Bill Manhire, Elizabeth Knox, Damien Wilkins, Kate Camp and Andrew Johnston (yay); up-and-comers such as Pip Adam, Tima Makeriti, Helen Heath and Anna Taylor (yay). Good to see Virginia Were and Elizabeth Nannestad again; and there is an essay on Nigel Cox by André Gifkins. Last time I saw André he was in a stroller. Sport 40 is $40 in print but here you can get the ebook version for $15. Why wouldn’t you?

Advice for budding financial writers from one who knows. Sample:
How to write an investment newsletter: Emphasize everything that can go wrong.  Relate to your audience – elderly men who are being passed by in this world and need the reassurance that the world is going down the tubes, rather than evolving without them.  Gold mustn’t necessarily be the subject of each letter but it should at least be alluded to or serve as the unwritten subtext.
Home Paddock, who is a farmer, has a view on Labour’s proposed law on farm ownership which would require Johnny Foreigner to show that his purchase “would result in the creation of a substantial number of additional jobs in New Zealand or a substantial increase in exports from new technology or products associated with the purchase”. Sample:
Why don’t they just ban sales to foreigners outright?
It would be almost impossible to create a substantial number – whatever that might be – of additional jobs here from the purchase of a farm; new technology doesn’t necessarily increase exports – though it might make processing them more efficient and reduce jobs in the process.
It’s a funny thing but the people I know who are opposed to foreigners buying New Zealand farms live in places like Grey Lynn and Herne Bay and wouldn’t know a Friesian from a Romney. People who live and work on farms are more relaxed about it – the Crafars were not a great advertisement for the benefits of local ownership. One city friend urges me to support the Save Our Farms campaign, but people who live and work on farms tend to regard their farms as their farms, not “ours”. It’s that private property concept.

Architecture writer Elizabeth Farrelly, one of our exports to Oz, begins her latest column in the Sydney Morning Herald:
Last Thursday, the conjunction of Australian Women's History Month and International Women’s Day, was also the day of Sydney's Great Deluge. Nature wept. She stormed and stamped her feet. Yea, and mightily she flooded. What was she trying to tell us?
Tim Blair suggests:
“Go inside”, probably.
Elizabeth’s column goes on to talk about Australian women architects and how they are all, frankly, rubbish. How unsisterly. Professor Rosseforp comments:
Women architects may not have achieved much, but perhaps they have scaled greater heights than women architecture writers.

So here is a song about architecture from Neil Hannon who trades as the Divine Comedy. It’s about the enthusiasts who spend their weekends visiting Georgian houses. These be the verses:
Slip on your Barbour jacket, jump in my old MG
We’re off to the depths of Somerset to see what we can see 
We don’t wanna drink the cider, we don’t wanna walk for miles
We just want to go to a stately home built in the Georgian style
[. . .] Crunch up the gravel driveway, gasp at the grand facade
Just for today we’re lords and ladies, oh what a gay charade!
Lavinia loves the lintels, Anna the architraves
Ben’s impressed by the buttresses thrust up the chapel nave
[. . .] We’ll walk the grounds by Capability Brown
Get lost for days inside the manicured maze
We'll bump our heads jumping on a four-post bed
And we’ll ride for free
On the ladders round the walls of the circular library

One doesn’t often hear a  reference to architraves or Capability Brown in a pop song. The song is “Assume the Perpendicular” from the 2010 album Bang Goes the Knighthood and it goes like this:


Paul said...

The buttresses ought to be outside the nave to do their job properly, but otherwise a splendid work from the Divine Comedy.

Stephen Stratford said...

Quite. The US transcription I stole this from had it as "buttresses thrust up the chapel knave" which is even wronger. Also "barber jacket" in the first line.

I wonder why there is no US equivalent of the Young Fogey.

helenalex said...

Why were the Crafar farms not sold seperately? I know nothing about agriculture, but surely this would have meant that actual NZ farmers could have bought at least some of them?

Stephen Stratford said...

As I understand it they were offered separately and as a job lot but offers came in for the job lot. They are not very attractive farms for a buyer because you'd have to do so much work and spend so much money bringing them up to scratch re effluent compliance etc. The farms are already overseas-owned, by banks, Westpac mostly, because the Crafars stuffed up so badly. See Home Paddock for a series of short accounts of the full story plus links to information.

Fergus said...

Thanks Stephen! It's ridiculously fat I know - some serious displacement activity going on - but it's proving an effective calling card here at the Leipzig book fair.