climate change, RogerfromNewZealand

The IPCC Chairman’s New Clothes

RogerfromNewZealand has a very clear and interesting site called Global Warming (or is it Global Cooling?).

It brings together most of the main points of the scam in a way that’s easy to follow.

He even has an offshoot site devoted to debunking the debunkers of the deniers. (I think I got that right!) 

Roger’s version of The Emperor’s New Clothes, above, definitely goes in my “Wish I’d thought of that” file.

I’ve long thought the Hans Christian Anderson story (ironically written in Copenhagen) was the perfect analogy for global warming and other scams.

Roger’s reasons for each character’s inclusion are well worth a read.

climate change, Emissions Trading Scheme, John Key, Kevin Rudd

Rudd pushes Aussie ETS back 3 years. Key’s Big New Tax due inside 3 months.

Australia’s left-wing Labor PM has just put off their ETS for at least three years.

Meanwhile our left-wing National PM – who says he’s ambitious for New Zealand and claims he wants to catch up with Australian living standards – will be punishing his people with an ETS inside three months.

Rudd’s backdown shows the power of new Liberal leader Tony Abbott’s campaign against “The Big New Tax”.

What a shame New Zealand doesn’t have an Opposition.

If we did, it could put a climate change invoice for $3000 in every letterbox, complete with a few basic facts about the real science of climate change.

Then the public would know what the sceptics know, and the ETS would be a red-hot election issue.

Wanted: one Opposition.

Note: according to the Doomsdayers who love to terrify our children (which includes many warmmongers), the world is going to end in December 2012. Is Rudd’s 2013 deadline just his subtle way of telling the faithful that the ETS is off for good?

climate change, John Key

Key trades your prosperity for green votes

Thanks to reader The Silent Majority for sending me the above quote from John Key’s campaign blog.

Silent Majority sums up the flip-flop:

Well we are the world leader now John Key, way out in front, leading the charge, putting our businesses, farmers and exporters at risk, jobs will be lost, beef and sheep farms will convert to forestry, small rural communities will struggle, costs will go up across the board, for everyone, and our noble efforts will make not one iota of difference to the world climate.

When the facts change, John Key, intelligent people are willing to change their mind. You are an intelligent man John Key, so change your mind, before it is too late.

Perhaps that should be ‘change your mind back.’

Because as Opposition Leader, he had it right.

Yet as Prime Minister, little more than a year later, he became the world’s first national leader to pass a law punishing carbon-based life forms for emitting carbon.

In doing so, he ignored a slew of evidence that the world has been much warmer in the past than even the most extreme warm-monger says it’s likely to get in the future – and that those warm times were times of great abundance and prosperity.

He refused to look at evidence that the evidence of his advisors was not evidence at all.

Instead, he chose to believe a theory put about by a discredited religious sect masquerading as scientists, who base their claims on doctored computer models that dissolve on contact with reality.

John Key won’t delay the ETS, as the more sensible Australians and Americans have done.

Why not?

Because he simply doesn’t listen to anyone outside the NIWA/ Environment Ministry climate clique.

Just as they don’t listen to anyone outside the increasingly comical IPCC (Intergovernmental Perpetrators of Climate Cockups).

And so to July 1, and the aforementioned expense to our economy. Power prices up. Petrol prices up. All other prices up.

All because of John Key and Nick Smith’s determination to lead the world in saddling their people with a pointless solution to a   non-problem.

In a future post, I’ll publish a transcript of an interview that shows you how thoroughly the PM has been captured by one side of the climate debate.

In the meantime, you might ponder why John Key and Nick Smith would change their minds so completely on this issue from their time in Opposition.

Could it be the Nats are locking in those female urban liberal green votes “at the expense of our economy”?

climate change, Emissions Trading Scheme, Nick Smith


When the perpetrators of the Emissions Trading Scheme are  brought to account, don’t let them try to fool you that they didn’t know what they were doing.

Below is a 2005 column by then-Opposition MP Nick Smith, where he argues strongly against the concept of taxing carbon dioxide.

The column appeared on Nick’s website on November 25, 2005.

Which is richly ironic.

Because it was exactly four years later, on November 25, 2009, that the same Nick Smith made this ‘madness’ law.

Read his breathtakingly hypocritical letter and weep:

The appetite of Dr Cullen and this Government for more taxes is legendary, 43 new and increased levies and taxes have been introduced. The latest is the carbon tax. It will add 6c per litre to the price of petrol, 7c per litre to diesel, 6% to all power bills and put the price of coal and gas up by 9%.

As will his own Emissions Trading Scheme, when it comes into force on July 1.

This week National launches the campaign. The new finely balanced Parliament gives us the opportunity to send the carbon tax the way of the fart tax.

Yet in the next Parliament, which National now dominates, where did they send the carbon tax?

Not the way of the fart tax. More the way of the Anti-Smacking Bill.

Into law.

The madness of the Government’s new carbon tax is that New Zealanders will be the only people in the world paying it. It will drive up the costs of living and undermine the competitiveness of New Zealand business for negligible environmental gain.

You were right, Nick. 

Somehow, you foresaw that Australians would change their prime minister, then their Opposition leader, then their minds over whether to punish themselves for their use of CO2.

They figured it was madness. Just like the old you once did.  

You correctly predicted that the Canadians would give carbon taxing a wide berth.

And that the Americans won’t be doing any capping and trading any time soon.

Of course, you didn’t bank of the EU bringing in their scheme. But then, as you know, it only affects 4% of their economy.

While yours affects 100% of ours.

But as for those other predictions – that it would drive up all our costs, undermine our economy and not change the climate one iota – on all three points, you were spot on.

After July 1, every time we fill up our cars, pay the power bill or fork out record sums for everything from jeans to baked beans, we’ll be thinking of the man who made it all happen. 

Labour Ministers may take pride in being toasted at International Climate conferences for being so bold and brave, but there is no justification for New Zealand going out in the cold by itself on this issue. 

None whatsoever, Nick. So, um… why did you?

New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions made up only 0.4% of the global total and on a per capita basis our emissions are half those of countries like Australia and the United States. We are the only Southern Hemisphere country with binding legal obligations under Kyoto and giants like China and India have got off scot free.

As you say – I mean said – it’s madness.

A further concern of the carbon tax is its impact on inflation, interest rates and the exchange rate. It will add to the costs of fuel and power and these flow right through the economy to basics like food. This puts pressure on inflation, which in turn drives up interest rates and the kiwi dollar. The Government’s carbon tax is a classic example of the way the Government is making things tougher for the productive exporting sector. It just makes their policies of 2006 being the ‘Year of Exports’ an exercise in shallow spin.

In other words, you guys are happy to sabotage our economy, as long as John Key can stay onside with Lucy Lawless and the lady liberals?

It is also interesting to note who gets exempted from the carbon tax. Big industries like Colmalco, New Zealand Steel and Golden Bay Cement have the option of Negotiated Greenhouse Agreements (NGA’s). These are being done on the basis that such big players would relocate if imposed with the carbon tax. The flaw is that many small and medium businesses face exactly the same competition but just get dumped with the cost.

I don’t know enough about this part of the ETS to comment. Anyone care to fill me in?

(Please put that pistol down, Mr Smith. I was speaking figuratively.)

These agreements also drag New Zealand back into the Muldoonist era of industries pleading special cases to Ministers and mates rates for those who cuddle (or at least don’t criticise) the Government.

Muldoon, ah yes: that other populist National Party leader who talked the centrist talk, but walked the socialist walk.

The worst aspect of the carbon tax is that it will not make one iota of difference to New Zealand’s emissions. We know from previous occasions when Labour raised the petrol tax that 6c per litre extra will not reduce consumption. Even Treasury’s briefing papers to the incoming Government conceded it would have a negligible effect. The only conclusion is that the carbon tax actually has nothing to do with Kyoto or climate change but is just an excuse for Dr Cullen to get his fingers deeper into the pockets of New Zealanders.

Not just Dr Cullen, Dr Smith.

National believes, with public support, we can defeat this new tax. ACT, United and NZ First all campaigned against it during the Election. Labour and the Greens do not have the numbers. The Maori Party may determine its fate. In Parliament however, the fart tax was killed off by people power and the carbon tax could fall the same way.

A major show of people power is the only thing this government would respond to. They’re certainly not responsive to common sense.

The Nelson and Marlborough economies are struggling. The last thing we need is another $25 million being sucked out with this new tax. If you would like to assist the ‘axecarbontax’ petition and campaign, contact my office. We need to bury this lemon.”

By Nick Smith, local MP

On July 1, this lemon – sugared up a bit, but still a lemon – becomes law.

When it does, all those bad things Nick Smith railed against in 2005 will happen.

Only not on Labour’s watch.

On his.

Both Nick Smith and John Key have been sent the most compelling evidence for why the science of climate change is shonky. 

Yet they take not a blind bit of notice.

Now they’re saddling your household with a bill of $3000 a year in price rises if you’re lucky.

If the carbon price rises from the initial $25 to the predicted $100, your bill will be $12,000 a year.

And this from a government that says it’s main goal is to catch Australia.

Yeah right, Minister.

Porirua City Council, Te Rauparaha Arena statues

Political erectness in Porirua

This photo [blurred to conceal the boy’s identity after a complaint from his father] was taken at the 2008 opening of Porirua’s Te Rauparaha Arena [link to press article removed].

In front is [name removed], a descendant of the great chief.

Behind the 11 year old are two chaps who seem  unusually excited to see him. (I think the third one may be texting.)

In fairness to young [name removed], the tattooed flashers’  attentions are nothing personal.

I’ve noticed they’re just as excited to see thousands of other Porirua children.

The kids have to pass a lineup of these wooden woodies on the way to their swimming lessons and basketball games.

Am I the only parent to find this a bit off?

Oh I’m sure there’s a fascinating cultural reason why the Porirua City Council had to erect carvings of violent rapists outside a children’s recreation centre.

But does that mean they’re free to display images which, were they not Maori, would be classed as pornography?

Did the Ngati Toa carvers really have to go so far out of their way to offend?

UPDATE: 8  OCTOBER 2011: I’ve just received a phone call from this boy’s irate father accusing me of using his son’s image for depraved sexual purposes.

He wants to meet me to explain the depth of his offence in person. Otherwise he will go to the police.

I invited him to do just that, as I’m not convinced that a meeting with an enraged descendant of Te Rauparaha would be good for my health.

However, I’m always sorry when something I do creates unintended offence, and I’m sorry that he and his wife feel upset by this post. 

He asked me how I would feel if our positions were reversed. The answer is that they wouldn’t be. I simply would not allow a young son of mine to pose for a newspaper in front of statues of men with erect penises.

If I did, I could hardly claim to be offended by the predictable media reaction.

I had thought I would take the post down, but having looked it up and read the words the man objected to, I now have no intention of doing so.

I stand by every word I’ve written.

But out of respect for the father’s concern, I have now blurred the image, withheld the boy’s name, and deleted the link to the original article.

My verbal apology was not enough for this man. After continuing to berate me for some time, he asked me if I would furnish him with a written apology.

At that point, I lost it. I’ve just woken up after a long day farewelling my father and am in no mood for grovelling. I said, “No” and hung up. 

In case I haven’t made myself clear, I certainly am sorry for having caused him offence, but certainly am not sorry for highlighting yet another New Zealand cultural double standard.

UPDATE : 8 NOVEMBER 2011: Here’s a short testimonial to the character of Te Rauparaha from A Mission of Honour by John McLean:

“The demon devoured all his prisoners, himself tearing open the living mother and holding the half-formed embryo upon a pointed stick in the flames to be afterwards devoured.”

That was from the diary of the ship Acheron, after her Captain Stokes had returned from Te Rauparaha’s killing fields at Kaiapoi.

For the Porirua City Council to honour this monster with his own stadium is akin to the Germans building an Adolf Hitler Gasworks or Phnom Penh opening a Pol Pot Ping Pong Palace.

Lindsay Mitchell painting

Lindsay Mitchell’s fine art

I’ve always thought Lindsay Mitchell was one of our braver  commentators, tackling as she does the thankless subject of welfare.

Lindsay’s not a naturally rambunctious person like many political types.

But those who’ve met her cannot fail to be impressed by her warmth and sincerity.

She’s a volunteer, with great empathy for the women whose lives she seeks to improve.

And she makes sense.

A fan of her letters, Sir Robert Jones came out to launch her ACT campaign in 2008.

(Sadly, Lindsay was insulted with a demoralisingly low list ranking by the local MP and is now lost to the party.)

But as you can see here, there’s another side to Lindsay Mitchell. She’s a magnificent portrait painter, inspired by C F Goldie.

Her deep affection for Maori women may surprise those who equate a hard line on welfare with being anti-Maori.

Until Sunday, a selection of her paintings are on sale as part of an exhibition at the Academy of Fine Arts on Queen’s Wharf.

I went last Sunday and think it’s well worth a visit.

Anne Tolley, Billboards, PPTA, Steven Joyce

PPTA declares war on education ministers

When all the fluff is stripped away, teacher unions exist so that:

  • Teachers who can’t teach can’t be stopped from teaching.
  • Those who can teach can’t earn more than those who can’t.

In my book, that makes the PPTA the educational equivalent of a Big Tobacco lobbyist.

They know that a teacher’s ability to explain and fascinate is what determines whether or not a child learns.

They know that the difference between a competent and incompetent teacher is the difference between children’s success and failure.

They know that one boring teacher can kill hundreds of children’s enthusiasm for a subject forever.

They know all this. Yet they still turn out stomach-churning ads claiming that they care about children. 

Well, this latest billboard surely confirms that they don’t.

Just when the National government is bringing some real-world standards to our increasingly dumbed-downed education system, what does this supposedly child-centred union do?

Publicly brands education ministers Anne Tolley and Steven Joyce as dimbulbs.

Wow, that’s really bright. The Dale Carnegie negotiation strategy: guaranteed to win friends and influence the employers’ employers.

Now I’m told the dimming campaign is really about the government’s decision to relieve you and me of the burden of paying for other people’s hobby classes.

Hard to say. The billboard gives no clue. But no matter.

Never waste a crisis, as the saying goes. And a grievous (and possibly unprecedented) insult like this can certainly be parlayed into a crisis.

The Nats should grab this slur as the perfect excuse to smash the teacher protection racket the way Margaret Thatcher smashed the miners.

If you ever hear a unionist sounding plausible about how national standards will stigmatise children, remember: their sole interest in your children is to keep the worst teachers in front of them.

Design, Poetry, Sodden Art, Turner Prize

Owed to installation art

 Talk of the Turner Prize in my last post reminded me of a little poem I wrote about the 2001 prizewinning ‘installation’ below.

Actually, installation is a slight misnomer, since clearly not a lot of installing went on.

The ‘work’, if we can call it that, had the refreshingly self-explanatory title The Lights Going On and Off.

And by all accounts, it delivered on its promise with metronomic efficiency.

And no, in case you’re wondering, that geometrically-appealing ceiling was not part of the exhibit. That’s the aircon. Everything below that is the art con.

This decidedly spare room won British so-called artist Martin Creed the Turner Prize of £20,000. (It’s now £40,000.)  

Before I present my own version of the empty room, you must  read this majestically pompous official justification of the fraud from the Turner Prize website: 

For the Turner Prize exhibition, Creed has decided to show Work # 227: The lights going on and off.

Nothing is added to the space and nothing is taken away, but at intervals of five seconds the gallery is filled with light and then subsequently thrown into darkness.

Realising the premise set out in Work # 232, Creed celebrates the mechanics of the everyday, and in manipulating the gallery’s existing light fittings he creates a new and unexpected effect.

In the context of Tate Britain, an institution displaying a huge variety of objects, this work challenges the traditional methods of museum display and thus the encounter one would normally expect to have in a gallery.

Disrupting the norm, allowing and then denying the lights their function, Creed plays with the viewer’s sense of space and time.

Our negotiation of the gallery is impeded, yet we become more aware of our own visual sensitivity, the actuality of the space and our own actions within it.

We are invited to re-evaluate our relationship to our immediate surroundings, to look again and to question what we are presented with.

Responding to the actual condition in which he has been asked to exhibit, Creed exposes rules, conventions and opportunities that are usually overlooked, and in so doing implicates and empowers the viewer.

‘Allowing and denying the lights their function’ – I love that.

The more cynical media were predictably underwhelmed. Tom Parry from The Mirror wrote:

‘Take a bare white room with a light switching on and off and what have you got? A Turner Prize winner.’

Just as predictably, the artistic mafia leapt to the fraudster’s defence. This from Germaine Greer in the Newsnight Review:

‘He wanted to get the biggest effect with the least effort. It’s the dis-proportion between the effort and the effect.’

No argument there.

But when the Chairman of the British Council for Contemporary Art objected to the awarding of so much financial effect for so little artistic effort, he was rewarded with what an art critic might call the hessian receptacle – but which you and I would call the sack.

In his honour, I penned the following:


The exhibit resembles
A large empty room
With a solitary cupboard
Marked TOWELS,
As through the front door
The sophisticates pour,
Oozing glamour
And elegant vowels.

To a volley of cheers
The artist appears!
He’s applauded
And generally fêted,
But no one’s quite sure
What the towels are for;
Then the sprinklers come on
And they get it.

(c) J Ansell 2003

ArcelorMittal Orbit, Architecture

London’s Awful Tower

No contest, is it?

Announced just in time for April Fool’s Day, the practical joke at right is meant to do for the London Olympics of 2012 what the Eiffel Tower did for the Paris Universal Exposition of 1889.

No, I don’t mean “Make it a laughing stock”.

To me, this molten mangle looks like the Eiffel Tower after a direct hit by George Jetson.

Its official name is the ArcelorMittal Orbit, after the steel company of the UK’s richest man, Lakshmi Mittal, who’s kindly donating the materials. 

(Salvaged, I suspect, from a decommissioned Blackpool rollercoaster.)

It can surely be only a matter of time before the Sun or News of the World dubs this spaghetti of scaffolding the Awful Tower.

The public reaction has so far been mixed: a mix of contempt, derision and sardonic British resignation.

Architectural historian Gavin Stamp condemned it as a “ridiculous, over-inflated doodle”.

Evening Standard reader Colin Snelling of Melbourne thinks it “looks like an old helter-skelter from a Butlins holiday camp from the 1950s”.

And I love this gem from John Stallard of Gerrard’s Cross: “Someone should check to see if the Forth Road Bridge is still there.”

The outrage has, of course, drawn praise from the usual quarters, though even that has been strangely muted.

Arts Council chief executive Alan Davey said, “At first sight, it seems an eccentric Meccano-like jumble, but then you see the parabolic beauty characteristic of Kapoor.”

(Er, unless you’re looking at the above official photo, in which case you just see the jumble.)

Kapoor, by the way, is the perpetrator, Anish Kapoor.

My ears pricked up when I heard he’d won a Turner Prize.

This annual insult to the British taxpayer doles out huge prizes for  installations like this (admittedly only a finalist – I suspect the mattress by itself, if accompanied by the regulation ludicrously irrelevant multisyllabic title, would have won).

I once wrote a poem about a Turner Prize winner, which I’ll publish here shortly.

Last word on the Orbit to Colin Snelling: “What an opportunity missed to create an icon for this century.”

(In New Zealand we have a name for that missed opportunity: Te Papa.)

climate change, New York Times headlines, Teach tank

To beat false alarmists, expose the patterns

The best disinfectant for persistent greenwash is sunlight.

All too often though, thanks to our typically-socialist scientists, politicians and media, the Left are left free to operate under cover of darkness.

Ads like this would blow their cover.

(It works best horizontally as one long, wildly bucking graph.)

The way to neutralise the false alarmists is to graphically present their patterns of deception. 

Shine the light on the various beatups, so people can see how they’re being conned time and again.

Such a ‘teach tank’ campaign of daily factoids like this would educate the public about the real world, and allow them to rest easier in their beds.

It could also be employed right now to get the Nats to dump their mad ETS.

Funding anyone?

As a famous lefty president didn’t quite say, the only thing we have to fear is unbalanced fearmongering.

canary, Word origins

Word origin: Canary

Two popular misconceptions about the word canary are enough to put even the most dogged linguistic sleuth off the scent.

If you’ve studied Latin, you might reasonably point out that canere means to sing.

So it must follow, mustn’t it, that this little songbird takes its name from that sing-songy verb that also gives us canto, canticle and cantata, (not to mention accent, chant and sea shanty)?

Only it doesn’t. 

Canary and canere may look and sound like lexical kissing cousins, but they come from totally different word families.

You’d be right on the money, though, if you guessed that the canary bird hails from the Canary Islands, that sunny Spanish chain off the coast of Morocco.

But if you were then to jump to the etymologically logical  conclusion that the islands must be named after the bird, then I’m afraid you’d again be twittering in the wind.

In fact, the bird is named after the islands.

And the islands are named after another beast entirely, as you can see from their coat of arms, below.

(My use of dogged at the start was a bit of a clue.)

That’s right, the little yellow birds weren’t the only native species to grace the archipelago.

Also sharing the islands when the Romans came across them were some rather big and fierce dogs. 

Dog in Latin is canis, as in canine – like those four pointy, dog-like teeth that you can feel in your mouth with your tongue right now.

And there were native people there too – the guanches – who worshipped said dogs to the point of mummifying their remains. 

And the Romans called these dog-worshippers canaari (the ones with dogs), and the island on which they found them Insula Canaria (Island of Dogs).

Today the Spanish call that island Gran Canaria and the 7-island group Islas Canarias.

The modern descendant of that ancient cantankerous canine is the presa canario or dogo canario, which means (you guessed it) Canary dog.

And so, as we near the end of this wild canary chase, we see that canary birds are named after the Canary Islands, which are named after Canary dogs.

Or not.

You see, there’s also this other theory doing the rounds…

Some believe the Romans might have named the islands after a species of  Monk seal that also lived on Gran Canaria.

Lived, note, not live. That seal is now extinct, but this drawing gives you some idea of why the Romans were moved to name it  canis marinus (dog of the sea).

So to recap: canary has much in common with birds, dogs, islands, people and seals. But nothing whatever to do with singing. 

What a bird-brained language.

Thanks to my friend Fay Clayton, whose books on etymology teach me something new every day about the fascinating origins of our words.

Posts like this will be a regular feature of this blog, and some of Fay’s books will be available for you to buy.

Barry Humphries, John Clarke, John Cleese, Palmerston North

Hanging in Palmerston North

Iris was manning the Taiwanese stand at the Palmerston North Festival of Cultures last Saturday, so I drove up to join her for the weekend.

Not for nothing is Palmerston North not known as the Manhattan of the Manawatu – though the festival revealed it to be more of a multicultural Mecca than I’d realised. 

But I do think its reputation as New Zealand’s Suicide Capital is a tad overstated.

That said, I couldn’t help but smile at a local photographer’s choice of studio name (above).

As for the unfair dismissal of New Zealand’s seventh largest conurbation as boring, I think it’s important to compare apples with apples.

Or in this case, Palmerstons with Palmerstons.

When we compare Palmerston North with the world’s three other Palmerstons (if you don’t count Darwin, which used to be called  Palmerston), we get a totally different picture altogether.

We see that it’s far and away more exciting than at least one of them.

Palmerston North makes Palmerston in the South Island look like a small country town –  notwithstanding the latter’s impressive artificial moa (below).

Moa and war memorial, Palmerston, Otago.

Google searches for other Palmerstons yield a small city in the Northern Territory (not far from the aforementioned state capital and former Palmerston, and close to an even earlier Palmerston that appears to have been discontinued) and a small town in, of all places, Wellington County, Ontario.

Pictorial searches reveal the interesting coincidence that both the surviving Australian and the Canadian Palmerstons are distinguished by their unusually prominent water towers.

The water towers of Palmerston, Northern Territory
(left) and Palmerston, Ontario.

This revelation is, I think, a strong clue that pound for pound, icon for icon, person for person, Palmerston for Palmerston, there seems little doubt that New Zealand’s northernmost Palmerston  is not only the most populous, but also the most vibrant  Palmerston on the planet.

Probably ever. 

(Not counting the one that became Darwin.)

Boring? I don’t think so.

The Suicide Capital tag was, of course, coined by John Cleese, who  opined that “If you ever want to kill yourself but lack the courage, I think a visit to Palmerston North will do the trick.”

What Cleese did not realise was that he’d insulted the home town of New Zealand’s equivalent of himself, one John (Fred Dagg) Clarke.

(Even his name is similar, as is his reputation as his country’s funniest comic product – with the possible exception of the haka.)

And the proudly parochial Palmerstonian JC responded immediately from his home in Melbourne with the suggestion that the city landfill be renamed The John Cleese Memorial Rubbish Dump.

Not to be outdone by their favourite son, one of the locals went one better and christened the tip’s topmost garbage heap Mt Cleese.

But Johns Cleese and Clarke are not the only funny men to have utilised Palmerston North for comic effect.

Some years earlier, Clarke’s idol Barry Humphries decided that Dame Edna Everage’s dowdy, lugubrious bridesmaid Madge Allsop should also be a born and bred (and somewhat battered) Palmerstonian.

But this time, the local signwriters had got in first. By an astonishing coincidence,  since 1920 – before Barry, Madge, or even the ancient actress who played Madge, the late Emily Perry, were born – the local Palmerston North bus company had been known as Madge Coachlines.

The Student City’s homage to the Arabic numbering system?
Pompeii pizzeria behind.

Our weekend in Palmerston North was pleasant enough.

The Festival of Cultures allowed us to sample a range of cuisines, some of it edible.

To my wife’s relief, I suppressed my strong instinct to enter the  Saudi Arabian tent and enquire as to whether their schedule of  entertainments in the Square that afternoon would include any stonings or beheadings.

For dinner, since we’d just despatched stepson on a European tour that would take in Pompeii – one town that makes Palmerston North look very much alive – it seemed appropriate to try the  restaurant of the same name. 

That’s it above, behind what appears to be the Student City’s  homage to the Arabic numbering system.

Unfortunately we picked a night when the Palmy Pompeii was experiencing one of its most deafening and violent eruptions – a  seething mass of Massey undergraduates who’d decided to lay waste both to this pizzeria and their fellow diners’ eardrums.

Not bad grub though.

The John Cleese connection continued when I got chatting with the  eccentric Scottish owner of our motel, the Supreme Motor Lodge (which I chose and recommend for its private spa pools).  

When I asked the way to Mt Cleese, he not-so-subtly let slip that he himself had acquired the mantle of New Zealand’s Basil Fawlty.

I then realised I was in the presence of the legendary motelier who’d imposed a lifetime ban on the entire population of  Wainuiomata. 

When I asked him whether he’d eject me if I were to now admit to a Wainui address, he fixed me with a wild-eyed Caledonian glare and rumbled, “Absolutely!”

I was curious to know what scale of atrocities had given rise to  such a deep-rooted loathing.

“After all,” I mused, showing solidarity with the standard Scots prejudice, “it’s not as though Wainui is infested with Englishmen.”

“It’s even worse than that,” he growled, seeming to plunge into the post-traumatic hell of a witness to a wartime massacre.

He then recounted three separate Wainuiomartian invasions when his establishment had been systematically ransacked by Nappy Valley neanderthals.

The culprits came from the suburb’s high school, touch club, and another institution whose name escapes me.

Now as my advertising hero Bill Bernbach used to say, a principle isn’t a principle until it costs you money.

And this guy’s got principles, because, he told me, he recently turned down a $17,500 booking from the Wainuiomata Darts Club.

I believe that’s called slinging out the arrows and an outrageous fortune.

Another linguistically quirky sign to catch my eye last weekend was this one on an otherwise nondescript Korean restaurant.

Students of French will have spotted that De Coree (albeit with an acute over the first ‘e’) is French for Korean.

Why give a French name to a Korean restaurant in New Zealand? Je ne sais pas.