Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Paekakariki Beach

As a rule, I consider myself more of a bush person than a beach person. However, I do like to sleep with the sound of waves shushing up on a sandy beach, like long slow gentle breathing. Fortified by wonderful nights' sleeps I've been taking long walks along the beach at Paekakariki, on these past couple of bright brisk winter's afternoons.

I liked how on this beach there are many little pieces of wood worn into small round pebbles that weigh almost nothing in your hand. Since I was writing lots as I walked, I appreciated the seating provided by the sea in the form of big branches and logs at frequent intervals. I liked the silver path the sun makes across the water, stretching from the coast to the Western horizon. I liked all the different textures of sand, from soggy or spongey to crisp to hot and silky. I liked the pairs of orangey-pink shells, hinged like book covers, and I plan to use some for that purpose.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Clearing A Sparrow Grass

I drove 786 kilometers over two days and on arriving at my destination found that what I wanted to do more than anything was pull weeds.

I haven't had a decent garden since I moved away from the Tron about 7 years ago. I made a few frustrated attempts in my first couple of Wellington homes but plants stunted by wind burn and clinging to near vertical slopes of clay and rock required much hard work and investment for little pleasure and satisfaction and was ultimately not sustainable for a working single mother. I gave up and started collecting hand-me-down house plants.

Then when I moved to my rural paradise in the winterless north my landlady was not very keen on me putting in a garden, and frankly that seemed like it was going to be a lot of hard work on my own to start out on top of swampy kikuyu grass. So I lavished my gardening energies on a window box type thing hanging on the fence, planting herbs and salad greens which have been languishing a bit through the season that Northlanders call winter.

But here I am on the Kapiti coast, staying with a friend who has a massive vegetable garden. When I arrived, the asparagus tips started poking out of the ground (two months early) and I expressed my appreciation of this miracle by offering to weed the bed. My friend loaned me some gardening gloves which fit me like, well, you know what. (I've always thought that gardening gloves were supposed to be too big and awkwardly uncomfortable. Apparently not.) Doing my best not crush the asparagus crowns I set to.

What's not to love about weeding when the soil is soft and deep and dark? When the weeds are small and part willingly from the earth? When you have perfectly fitted gloves to protect you from the stinging nettles and there doesn't seem to be any oxalis or thistle to worry about? When you are helping to ensure an abundant crop of asparagus? ...Bliss...

(Then I did the celery, which was also satisfying. And now I'm looking forward to the heaped up rows of Maori potatoes and garlic.)

Friday, August 26, 2005

Desert Road

Continuing my drive South took me along the Great Desert Road. For those of you not familiar with it in real life, you've probably seen it as the hinterland of Mordor in the Lord of the Rings movie. Half of it winds with hairpin curves through a sinister dark landscape laced with icy streams. The other half is long stretches through golden tussock parallel to giant power pylons swooping between the road and the snow covered mountains. There's not much variety otherwise, except for the inevitable traffic cop catching the inevitable speeders.

I have driven through that desert dozens of times, but the most memorable was when I was about 17 and hitchhiking was my main mode of transportation. I saw most of New Zealand that way, with many rides through the desert. One time my friend and I got picked up in a fancy fast car heading south from Taupo. The driver was a taciturn drug dealer- my ideal lift at that time of my life. He shared a joint, cranked up Talking Heads and required no conversation. It was a bright sunny winter's day, the mountains gleaming white on our right, the tussock passing in a blur, the complicated music pounding in our heads. It was an amazing ride. But yesterday I tried the drive with a clear head and the Pretenders playing loud and it was even better.

Thursday, August 25, 2005


Three times in the past 10 days I've driven south the 200 or so kilometers from Whangarei to Auckland. Each drive has been on a perfect sparkling warm winter's day. Each time the pretty journey has been enhanced by magnolias and daffodils in bloom along the road. Lambs have gambolled adorably and calves have pranced delightfully. But each time the view from my car has been polluted by more and more election billboards.

As you know I don't have a TV, and now I must confess that I don't often read the newspaper. Most of the outside world's news comes to me in disembodied voices over the radio. So billboards are my main source of visual information this election. If I were going to vote based only on a party's billboard I'd be voting National: their boards are big, slick, witty and everywhere. Labour's are boring. The Greens' are Too Hard. Act's are shrill. Does anyone make a voting choice based only on billboards? Surely anyone so disinterested in politics and isolated from other sources of information is simply not going to bother going to the polling booth.

If seats in parliament were allocated on the basis of the number of billboards then Helen or Don would find themselves negotiating a coalition with the Democrats in a few weeks. The Democrats, whom I'd forgotten even existed, have somehow managed to put up their signs everywhere.

Winston Peters' NZ First billboards win the ego competition with his bizarre photo and sexist tagline: A Man for a Change... a change from a woman leader. Yeah, its been so tiresome to tolerate a whole seven years of women prime ministers out of a hundred and something years of male-led parliamentary democracy. Enough of pandering to feminism. Let's return to the natural order of things and put a man, any man, back in charge. Well, maybe not just any man, how about one that knows how to treat a lady right and put her in her place.

When I turned on the radio the other day and heard a male voice saying that it wasn't right for men to shout at women, my response was 'yeah right on Mister, don't shout at women, I hate being shouted at', thinking this was some kind of domestic violence related discussion. Then I realised it was Don Brash trying to explain why he'd let Helen Clark eat him for breakfast in a debate. I suppose he's been handicapped by all those years in masculine enclaves like the Reserve Bank where he was isolated from contact with women in roles as his intelligent, powerful peers. I'm guessing his experience with women has been mostly in social settings or as professional juniors. So I'm pleased to know that he would never consider going up to Ms Clark, looming over her and shouting in her face- that *would* be an abuse of the power that a sexist society allocates to men.

But Helen Clark doesn't need protecting from men's strongly expressed opinions in a public setting designed for debate. It's her element, where she knows the rules and is used to success. In such an environment it's appropriate for all parties to treat eachother with personal respect (which Ms Clark doesn't always do) but the discussion of issues should be free and frank, even vigorous. Either Mr Brash isn't smart enough to be able manage appropriately nuanced behaviour around women in different settings or he's simply no match for Ms Clark. Or maybe both.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

I used to think bagels were a good thing

When the rain woke me up at 3.30 this morning I lay around fretting for a while, and then got up and began what turned into a nearly five hour process of debugging the laptop. Rest assured I am writing to you from a computer purged of at least 120 nasty whatsits. I'm pretty confident they are all gone, though I don't know what do with the ones locked in the AVG virus vault. Anyway, they appear to safely incarcerated for now.

I know how the damn mess got started too- I received an email from my old work address, with a subject line indicating this would be the tax information I requested ages ago. Sneaky nasty little virus, I never open joke attachments, but money info is a whole 'nother story... so you know I clicked it open... to my instantaneous regret. It was like inviting the Cat in the Hat to babysit.

As far as I know Bagel.DE hasn't been sending itself onto everyone in my address book, apologies if it has. All it seemed to want to do was encourage slothful behaviour in my hardworking hard drive and get on the net to invite its horrid little friends, Thing 1 and Thing 2 (and 3-120), over to play.

Thank you CW Shredder, Lavasoft Ad-Aware, Spybot S&D, and of course AVG Free. They are all free to download and relatively straightforward to use, if sloooooooooowwwwwwww to scan all my files. So that's all from me for today, I've been on the computer nearly 8 hours and its not even lunchtime. I'm outta here.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Narnia Kai- don't read if hungry

Cafe Narnia is closed on Mondays but when I poked my head in the door they were just getting ready to taste test the new chef's new lunch menu. Well, I'm always willing to help out when needed, go on twist my arm.

I warmed up on the chocolate almond cake with raspberry coulis and a discussion about wine tasting. The cake was heavenly (and incidentally gluten free but you'd never know if you didn't care). Then the chicken curry with coconut cream and cardamom- mild and subtly complex- very nice indeed, though I suggested a chutney on the side would be the go. A vaguely Moroccan chicken pasta dish was perfect comfort food, tomatoey and so juicy it bordered on soup- yum yum. I was too full to try the lamb tandoori and too squeamish for the bacon, shrimp and prawn thing with ceasar salad but the others raved about them both- they looked and smelled good!

Narnia is open all the other days of the week, so if you are in Whangarei I recommend stopping by for lunch- it's a whole new, and wonderful, experience!

Monday, August 22, 2005

A very pheasant walk

Amongst my encounters with kingfishers, herons, fantails, rozellas and numerous less exciting birds, I managed to scare up a brace of pheasants. I haven't seen much of pheasants on the farm before, but there seemed to be quite a few clattering into flight at the sound of my approach.

Seeing the pheasants reminded me of Margaret Mahy because as a child she thought they were the most beautiful birds. Her attraction to the dead pheasant hanging in the laundry and subsequent reactions to its plucking and eating said much about her. Tessa Duder's book about MM, which I've just finished, is rich with the imaginative, observant, unconventional life and inner landscapes of this remarkable New Zealand author.

I think my favourite passage, which made me laugh out loud as I reread it two or three times, was Tessa's description of being on a panel with MM where the assembled authors had to make up a story, in turns, on the spot. MM's was contributions were not only so "astonishingly and baroquely inventive" but also spoken in rhyming couplets, that the other authors ("none strangers to public speaking") were reduced to mute terror. Their reactions to being so comprehensively outgunned had me laughing tears of sympathy.

While reading I was a bit distracted and disappointed by some sloppy editing, especially towards the end of the book- extra inappropriate in a work about someone so particular about how words fit together. But overall it was a pleasure to read, packed as it is with MM's own erudite yet accessible speeches and writings. I feel like I have had the privilege of having her wonderful mind leak slightly towards mine, inspiring a more playful engagement with words, and a more deliberately imaginative way of perceiving what's around me.

I've always had an attraction, almost an addiction, to alliteration and taken great pleasure from sneaking it into stodgy strategic policy papers whilst a public servant. But this morning I woke up and found myself thinking in rhyming couplets, which is new and probably much more difficult to subtly insert into funding applications.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

N'owt Queer as God

A couple of weeks ago, while relaxing in the Ngawha Springs with some friends I was introduced to the idea of a Queer God, and was intrigued- if a little flumuxed at what I heard as the idea of assigning God a sexual identity. So last week, when a friend at Waikato University mentioned that there was to be a lecture that very evening on "The Return of the Queer God" I decided to attend. (What follows is my take on the lecture, which may not be what the speaker intended.)

Marcella Olthaus-Reid
is a "second generation liberation theologian" from Argentina, by way of Edinburgh University where she is a Reader in Christian Ethics and Theology. I was hoping for more information about what might make God queer, but mostly she talked about the queering of Christian theology. Which was very interesting and, it turns out, not that much to do with sexual identity... except as a category of marginalisation from which God/the church is dis-located from the perspectives of white, educated, middle to upper class, European, heterosexist (if not practicing heterosexual) men. It seems like a good idea, or at least a useful exercise, that I could sort of relate to the Reconstructionist and Renewal movements of Judaism to which I am attracted.

What I could glean about the nature of God as encountered through a queer journey of "invention and discovery" was that S/He is undomesticated, unstable, unpredictable, novel, unthinkable and surprising... Not only the human enquirer is liberated (from the burden of conforming with 'normality') through this perspective, but also God Her-/His-self, whose Will is freed from its employment as an excuse for continued unfairness and tragedy in the world. The Queer God is the permanent "stranger at the gates", incarnating at the margins of society amongst, and as, the poor, the female, the colonised, the indigenous, the people of colour and those whose gender doesn't necessarily align with their genitals and/or dominant models of sexual practice.

Fundamental to this way of thinking about God is an understanding that sexuality is an ideology; the basic ideology of monotheistic societies is heterosexuality; traditional theology is gendered as masculine; the Bible is a literary (not literal) mediated experience and Christian religion is saturated with sexuality.

Dr Olthaus-Reid began by pointing out that although Christian theology is full of talk about love, it struggles to accept all the many and varied forms that love can take. To me, any loving relationship is a celebration of the nature of [please insert your preferred higher power concept] and [preferred higher power concept] is too expansive to want, or accept, any limits on who loves who. If that makes my God queer, then maybe S/He is. And if that makes me queer, then maybe I am too.

Saturday, August 20, 2005


One of the first things I did on arriving home after my visit to Hamiltron was to take a walk in the warm sunny afternoon. My neighbour calls this particular walk 'round the block' and it skirts the edge of the flat land that our homes are on one side of. I picked my way along the muddy track and reflected on the discrepency between the many pleasant aspects of the past few days and my disgruntled feelings.

At the far corner of the 'block' you leave the track and strike out across a paddock towards a lovely little creek. There is a concrete ford dividing the shallow upsteam with a deep pool downstream. Both sides are bounded by rickety picket fences suspended above the water and hairy with lichen.

On this afternoon the ford was flooded, the first time that I'd ever seen water rushing over top of the ford instead of through the five pipes running underneath it. What is usually a tidy waterfall in five parts had become a wide anarchic overflow that seemed to be cracking the concrete. I investigated the tangle of muddy branches, twigs, leaves and grass that were blocking the opening of the pipes. As I pulled away the mess of prickly totora and sticky mud the water began to withdraw gratifyingly from its overland detour and rush instead into the pipes. After I cleared each opening I paused to walk across and check the water flowing out, first brown and then clear.

When all the pipes were gushing satisfactorily I stepped across the remaining trickle at the centre of the damp ford and continued on my walk. Somehow, while absorbed in this simple task, my mood had lifted, my mind was clearer and my spirit welcomed home.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

From the Tron

Those of us of a certain generation who know Hamilton well enough to appreciate its good qualities, and those who know it well enough to be heartily sick of it, refer to Hamilton at Hamiltron or just the 'Tron for short. I have spent most of my life on a springy elastic pulling me back to the Tron, often against my will. I'm here this week to consider whether to do my doctorate study at Waikato University.

Like the Tron, Waikato gets a bad rap, but I had a great time with my first two degrees here. Once again I've investigated some of my other options for NZ universities, and once again I find the potential supervisors most sympatico with my intellectual interests are here. Also they are offering the best scholarship deal so its not much of a contest really.

As well as a beautiful campus and interesting academics, the Tron offers the Waikato River (which flows through my dreams), the incomparable Hamilton Gardens and a statue commemorating the Rocky Horror Picture Show. I have not yet experienced this last treat, but I might try and squeeze it in today, after another session at the uni library.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Mama says

My wonderful, amazing daughter is staying with me for a few days which is this week's excuse for not posting daily. Not only is she delightfully distracting me from all my routines and responsibilities, but she's also been hogging the laptop to write a couple of very good essays for university. I've been learning more than I ever knew I wanted to know about film analysis and New Media theory (eg. Heidegger gives me a headache). She's also making sure that we watch two movies that she feels I need to see. Last night it was The Royal Tenenbaums, tonight will be Napoleon Dynamite. I anticipate that by the end of the week I may have overdosed on pomo irony.

"Pomo irony rocks my freaking world" she says (after reading the above)

Also on the must-see (at some stage) list:
Tomorrow I'm off to Hamilton where I will talk to 5 year olds about poetry among other scintillating activities- I'll be back by Friday.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Children's books

Today the Mobile Library had Margaret Mahy: A Writer's Life by Tessa Duder which I requested ages ago. Even though I have many things to do and other books to read right this minute, I haven't been able to resist dipping into it this afternoon. Maragaret Mahy is one of my favourite New Zealand authors, though she is usually unrecognised by the literati here because she is writes for children and young adults. Pah! Her young adult novels, like Phillip Pullman's, are just as enjoyable, intellectually stimulating and deeply resonant for adults as for teens. I suppose the advantage of this lack of recognition is that she is untainted by the stigma of being required reading in schools - a process that seems to make many books unpalatable in the wrong teacher's hands.

Funny old thing, the stigma attached to anything seen as children's or youth culture. It's like sexism, this derogatory attitude and probably not unrelated to sexism since children are traditionally women's business. I've always liked reading intelligent kids books, and still lurk around the young adult section of the library looking for novels as good as John Marsden's, for example.

A common reaction from people encountering my books is that I should make some for children. I don't think it's stigma that makes me disinterested so much as practicality. My work is so fragile, and so labour-intensive=expensive that there would be even less of a market for children's books than adult books. But I usually respond by asking why should kids have all the cool, fun, creative books? I want to make playful imaginative books for adults who are generally considered too grown up for pop ups and other unusual structures- but show me a single human of any age not entranced by a pop up book?

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Renegade Craft Fair

I stumbled onto this website yesterday, only to be filled with envy. The Renegade Craft Fair is a newish event in Chicago, and now Brooklyn, USA. The organisers describe it as an

"edgy DIY event showcasing a ton of the coolest crafts from all over the country... other fairs seemed to stuffy so we just decided to start our own... we wanted to set our event apart from traditional craft fairs by tapping into the established DIY craft movement that already had a presence online and in indie magazines, but had yet to reach the public thu a festival setting."

Their website has lots of links to funky, hip, artisans and craftspeople whose work is ironic, stylish, idiosyncratic and original. Oh, for a Renegade Fair in Whangarei...

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Nest of bones

I made a nest out of possum bones I found around the farm and on the sides of the road, then bleached and wove with willow twigs. I have a new depth to my admiration for birds now because, let me tell you its a very tricky thing to build a nest, even with ten functioning fingers. Imagine making a nest with your beak/lips!

I console myself with the thought that birds aren't usually trying to use bones for nest building, and its ok that I resorted to superglue to hold the whole thing together. Once it was the right size and shape I lined it with some of my feather collection including heron, kiwi, pukeko, peacock, and woodpigeon feathers. The eggs are kina, sea eggs, collected on the pebbley waterfront at Russell a couple of weeks ago. They were still prickley when I picked them up so I rubbed the spines off with an old toothbrush before rubber stamping a letter onto each.

The whole thing fits inside a deep square box covered with locally handmade paper that cunningly replicates the texture of sandstone. I called it 'Feathering Your Nest of Bones' and gave it as a farewell present for a friend who is moving South next week.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Wairere Falls

One of the most lovely walks in Aotearoa New Zealand, IMHO is Wairere Falls, in the Kaimai mountains near Matamata AKA Hobbiton. The Falls themselves are pretty special but I like the first part of the walk best: winding through beautiful native bush studded with moss covered boulders ranging in size from a small truck to a shoebox. It is a bit like fairyland should be.

The track was the original passage from the coast inland for pre-European Maori and for early European settlers. As I walk it I like to tune into my good fortune to be wearing good boots, warm clothes and not carrying all my worldly possessions or a big pack of trade goods.

Friday, August 05, 2005

What I'm reading

When people find out that I don't have a tv they are often bemused and assume that I must feel very strong opposition to television. I'm not actually anti-tv per se.When one is switched on in the same room I find it as, or possibly more, compelling to pay attention to than do most people. I'm sure that there are many programmes that I would enjoy watching and in fact I would be willing to live with a tv as long as it wasn't on all the time, and was at no financial cost to me. However, I get very annoyed by advertising (yes, I know there are some wonderful ads, the first time you see them) and as far as I can tell tv seems to be dominated by advertising both in the 'breaks' and in the shows as product placement and sponsorship. Admittedly its been about five years since I have had more than an incidental exposure to tv so things could have changed. Anyway, the truth is I can't be bothered making time for tv because there are too many books to be read (and made).

Currently I am trying to read eleven books simultaneously. This week, bookmarks have moved in the following:
  • The End of Oil by Paul Roberts
  • How to gaze at the southern stars by Richard Hall
  • How your horse wants you to ride- starting out, starting over by Gincy Self Bucklin
  • Deep River Talk- Collected poems by Hone Tuwhare
  • Prosperity Pie-How to relax about money and everything else by Sark
  • Mapping the World- A History of Exploration by Peter Whitfield
  • Bread and Roses by Sonja Davies (her biography)
  • Walden and other writings by Henry David Thoreau
  • Huts Cabins and Hideaways- little retreats by Jane Tidbury
  • The soul is here for its own joy-sacred poems from many cultures edited by Robert Bly
  • 400 wood boxes- the fine art of containment and concealment

Whew! Scattered around the house, there is always a book to distract me, every moment of stillness is a chance to get a few pages ahead in one or another. The ones I'm most called to look at today are the horse (substitute for horse riding lessons I can't have yet), huts (oooh pictures of grown-up treehouses) and river ("squirming, the land wriggles/in delight./We love her.") books. The ones I feel most obliged to finish first are Sonja Davies, Southern Stars and Mapping the World. No novels right now, as I am a terrible glutton for fiction and will ignore anything more worthy if I have started a good sci fi or mystery. All the above are borrowed, mostly from the library, some from friends, and I am feeling the pressure of looming obligations to return them.

Earlier this week I finished another book of poetry that was sort of like a novel, because after dabbling around as is my usual approach to poetry books, I realised that Sing-Song by Ann Kennedy contains a story which progresses from start to finish. The story is about her family life- falling in love, falling pregnant, getting married, moving houses, having babies and most of all about her daughter's experience with eczema.The story would have been a bit thin for a novel. It could have been a feature article in a magazine or a short story. But it is perfect as a sequence of poems weaving together emotion, sensation and social commentary.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Clara's grave

Sad story

Yesterday my friend found a new born lamb on the wrong side of the fence from its mother, almost dead, very thin and cold, too weak to stand, too weak to suckle. The mother, though distressed, eventually went off with her other lamb, twin to the adventurer who had crawled through the fence but not made it back again. So the adventurous lamb came to stay a little while with me.

"Do you have a teat in the house," my friend asked. But of course I don't happen to have a teat in the houseLuckily he used to be a shepherd and knew what to do. Instead we had to drip feed her milk with a finger in her mouth while stroking her throat to make her swallow. Then we tucked her into a cardboard box with towels and two hot water bottles and a wooly sock for a bonnet. We crooned blessings onto her and told her life was worth living, promising a lush overgrown lawn to munch on, bunting games to play, the adoration of all visitors. We lit the fire and candles and rubbed her like a ewe's tongue would. I named her Clara.

Before long, Clara was baa-ing for more milk, and this time could swallow on her own. After a little rest she hauled herself up on her long wobbly legs and tippy tapped on her little black hooves into the kitchen to piddle on the lino. Good lamb. We were so happy and proud at her recovery. But she was still skinny and weak and easily chilled. We put her back in her warm box but soon she climbed out again and settled down very close to the fire.

Through the evening she piddled some more and pooped myconium (sticky black poop from being in the womb). All good signs. We admired her one brown leg, her pretty grey lips, her lovely profile, her curly white eyelashes, her interested dark eyes. One last little feed, freshening the hot water bottles, tucking her into the box, good night. Just after midnight I heard her bleat, got up and saw her stretching and wriggling in the box, sat and chatted with her a while, put some wood on the fire and turned back to see that she had died.

Oh little lamb, I'm sorry that your mum couldn't look after you like she wanted to. I'm very sorry that we couldn't keep you alive, to grow big and strong and healthy. I'm not sorry that we got to enjoy your company, even for a few hours, even though now I feel very sad, and not just sad for you but sad for all the people I've lost and all the animals I haven't cared for well enough.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Tender Magnolias

Magnolia season is here, bringing me enormous pleasure as always. When I was little I used to climb the magnolia tree in our garden to sit in a crook reading or daydreaming. They are beautiful trees all year round, but mid winter, when they burst into outrageouly floppy pink bloom in contrast to all the grey damp dreariness in the air, is their peak moment.

When I lived in Wellington I would ride the cable car up to the Botanical Gardens every week through magnolia season and walk a circuitous route to visit each and every magnolia tree, tracking their progress from bud to bloom to tender green leaves. So far this winter in Whangarei District I have noted the location of four magnolias on my journey into town. None of them are in a place where I can get up close and admire the detail of their fleshy petals. But today, on my way to yoga Iwill drive slowly past slowly, in awe and delight.

Monday, August 01, 2005

BBC World

This morning I switched on the radio and was disoriented to find myself listening to the BBC World Service, instead of Sean Plunket. I was really not very excited about this at first, as inertia is a vital force in my life, and the familiarity of NZ issues and the geeky interchanges between Sean and the other presenters seem like an essential element of my morning start up. But as I showered, dressed, made and ate porridge and got started on my day's book-making work, I found myself becoming very impressed with the Beeb. They start a story in much the same way as NatRad, but instead of just settling for one or two superficial angles, they keep going! I kept being surprised at how many diverse people spoke on each topic. Even stories that didn't initially interest me that much eventually got my attention as the reporting dug deeper and some detail or perspective struck a chord.

Eventually Linda Clark took over in almost hysterically high spirits (licking her elbow!?) and I found out that Morning Report had been on strike for more pay. I would be thrilled for them to get more money if they started doing BBC style reporting. Now that I've heard the alternative, I'm not sure I want to settle for the usual hohum news show any more.