“So collectable, why not collect them all?”…where I confess yet another guilty pleasure.

I love a rummage; nothing beats a good morning doing the rounds of the local opshops and having one (Opshop is short for opportunity shop here in New Zealand – charity shops/thrift stores in other countries). I even have a route and every few weeks on a Wednesday after I’ve dropped the kids of at school and kindy, off I go. Start of at the hospice shop, go across the street to the St.John’s Ambulance store, round to the big hospice shop if there’s parking and end up at the Salvation Army. I’m not joking. This is a hobby.

As you can probably tell if you’ve read more posts on this blog, if I had to write a CV right now the hobby section would look a little odd, but my “hobbies” make me happy and tend to keep me out of trouble. No harm done.

It’s probably a family thing. I can recall going to charity shops with my Nanny when I was young. I remember well the black velvet jacket I found as a teenager which I wore to death through the grunge era. My mum has volunteered her time at various charity shops here and in UK. Yep, it’s a family thing, we’ll blame them! (Hi Mum)

So there’s the route but you also need a focus. In the past my time has been spent looking for a Formica kidney shaped table (mission accomplished), My Little Ponies for the girls (tick), Jamie Oliver cookbooks (tick – new here they are $50, I found a whole collection secondhand for $1 each), vintage Ladybird books (I love these. They remind of being a kid and saving up my pocket money) and many other things. But focus is key. If you don’t have a target to zone in on you can end up spending all day there and buying nothing. Nothing wrong with that but it doesn’t work for me. 

My focus for the past few months will not surprise some of you. I have been hunting, with some success I’m hastened to add, for the CD back catalogue of Take That and Robbie Williams. I have most things digitally but the inlays in the CDs make this hunt worth it. I’m doing quite well and it is especially pleasing to find once loved CD singles. There is a certain thrill to finding one as you run your finger over the plastic spines of the CD Jewel cases all lined up on shelves. 


So as the world moves to digitalise their music collections, here I am searching for the real thing, wanting to hold the CDs and their booklets in my hands. Yes, it’s as weird as it sounds. And here is where I know it’s the thrill of the chase that keeps me going…I could go online tomorrow and order these physical CDs on eBay or Amazon but there is something ridiculously fun finding them in little old New Zealand!

Am I crazy? Probably. Is it fun? Definitely.

I’ll keep looking as you never know what you might find. Maybe one of them will be signed, maybe a limited edition? I’m an optimist and the maybes make me smile. 


The search is becoming more frustrating as my collection grows and there are less I need to find. In one opshop alone today I could have bought all of Robbie’s albums again (a former fan on the North Shore of Auckland had clearly been having a clear out!). Frustrating but exciting.

I’ll probably never find everything so the search will continue but I know there will be other hunts for other specific things. It’s how my mind works.

And in the meantime I will enjoy the shopping aspect while not spending much money. That’s probably how this all started in the first place. The thrill of the buy without the empty purse, and all the while helping others by contributing to charities. After all, someone’s rubbish could always be someone else’s treasure!

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“Back For Good”…on getting back to blogging.

I was chatting online with a friend today about writing and was happily doling out the advice as she thought about publishing her own writing. ‘Just write for yourself,’ I said. ‘Write because you enjoy it, not because it’s arduous,’ I said. ‘Don’t worry if nobody’s reading it; if they do that’s a bonus,’ I ended my pep talk. Well I’ve decided to take my own advice and get this blog back on track.

A couple of things I’ve realised…not every post has to be huge. A paragraph or two to form my thoughts for the day will be sufficient. I do need to write on it more regularly though, to get into the habit and to find my voice.

So here I am, ready to go. Thanks to those of you who have hung around waiting, and welcome to any new readers. Hopefully I will entertain you/make you think/give you some ideas/make yourself feel better about yourself as you laugh at my life (delete as necessary).

Here, have a selfie of me with the best snapchat filter ever invented to remind you of who I am:


Enjoy. Jude xx

“Your opinion is irrelevant”…how hecklers can ruin a night.

I am a great fan of live comedy. I am even greater fan of the Auckland International Comedy Festival which brings high quality comedy acts from all around the world to little old New Zealand on the edge of the earth. I am not however a fan of hecklers.

On Friday night I experienced the worst hecklers I have ever seen, and to be honest, it was bloody embarrassing for everyone there. A good comedian thrives on their audience, there is even such a thing as a “good heckler” I reckon; someone who is witty, clever, and knows when to stop. What I saw on Friday night was not a group of good hecklers, it was a group of grown adults who should know better, who got ridiculously drunk before the comedy even started and yelled irrelevant, rude abuse at the comedians on the bill for the night.

It was a small venue in a small village. Maybe that made the heckling more obvious but what I do know is that I wasn’t the only person in that room annoyed with them, and it went on for way too long.

The comedy bill included three comedians and an MC with an interval. It wasn’t until the final international comedian actually insisted on this group being removed that something was done, and in my opinion that was way too late. The management of the venue should have removed them at the interval or even before. There are lessons to be learnt here.

Their jibes, insults and idiotic comments threw the first comedian off his rhythm. It wasn’t an enjoyable experience. The second guy dealt with them a little better and the MC verged on directly insulting them as the heckling got worse. I felt no sympathy for them. I was clearly on the side of the comedians.

Maybe they misunderstood how comedy works; you go with an open mind, you expect to be entertained, you listen, you laugh, you feel good. You don’t go so drunk you are slurring your words, falling off your seat and yell abuse at someone whose job it is to entertain you. Your ticket money does not give you that right and your presence there does not give you the right to annoy a room full of people who are there to be entertained and do know how comedy works.

The final comedian dealt with them good and proper, as I mentioned earlier. The hecklers didn’t understand the subtlety of his humour, of his insults directed at them, the rest of the audience did. I can only hope he doesn’t judge the whole of New Zealand comedy audiences based on the behaviour of this handful. I’m pretty sure he won’t.

Once they left we could get on with the real business of enjoying the comedy of the night, just a shame there was only about half an hour of a two hour show left. Even once they had been ejected from the room they tried to ruin the show. Yep, that’s right, grown women pulling faces like scolded children in the window behind the stage. Embarrassing.

I hope these hecklers woke up in the morning with sore heads and realised what utter idiots they were. I hope their friends have a good look at themselves and think why didn’t they do something. I hope this venue does have more comedy shows in the future, without these idiots present.

“Once you’ve tasted love”…the true power of social media.

In the last 24 hours I have discovered the real power of social media, the power it has to influence, the power one photograph on social media can have on my life. This is serious business. This is real life.

About 24 hours ago my dear friend who is travelling up the West coast of the USA on holiday sent me a picture of her breakfast in our group DM: a waffle. Seconds later another friend, also in the US posted another pic: another waffle.

I was hungry.

Hungry for waffle.

BUT I had a confession:

  
Yes, look at the time of that DM. The first thing my fingers typed about yesterday was waffles.

What followed was an onslaught of waffle anecdotes, waffle recipes, waffle, waffle, waffle…now I really wanted one.

So there were three friends in the States telling me how wonderful this sweet, pretty batter was, how it could be breakfast, lunch or dinner and here I was in New Zealand with no waffle.

The search began, the threenager and I went to Kmart home to EVERYTHING, except waffle makers (incidentally I managed to leave there empty handed yesterday…I know!). We went to Living and Giving where the sales assistant just gave me a bit of an odd look, Stevens, no joy. Threenager was flagging as we walked the length of the mall to Farmers, thankfully all the walking made her new shoes flash every step so whinging was limited. No waffle maker on the shelves. How could this be? I inquired at the till, a few taps of the keyboard later, “Yes, we have seven in stock out the back.”

Hallelujah! A waffle maker would be in my hands at last. Waffles for lunch! Already had purchased eggs at the supermarket in anticipation, had maple syrup waiting in the larder at home.

  
“How much are they?”

A pregnant pause. She looked at her computer screen, “$80.”

“Um, what?”

“$80”

“Um, maybe I’ll leave it until there’s a sale on.”

I walked away dejectedly, head bowed, threenager honestly asking “why can’t we have waffles for lunch?” She had completely bought into the waffle dream by now too. I broke the news to her, her lip quivered (I may be using artistic licence here a little), “okay mummy, can we have scrambled eggs instead?”

I had no words. I just nodded.

We came home. We ate eggs. They really didn’t cut the mustard. I took to Twitter to inform my friends of the bad news. They took to Amazon to find possible orders of Internet shopping for me. Then a miracle happened. Another friend who only lives around the corner and who I had already arranged to see last night saw my pleas.

The words ‘Jude, we have one in a box somewhere’ lit up my phone screen.

  
The waffle Gods had answered my prayers. I was going to have waffles, not today but one day soon.

Don’t ever let anyone tell you Twitter isn’t powerful when put to good use!

So from one picture of a waffle in America to waffles for breakfast in my house this morning; that is the true power of social media right there.

Thank you to my social influencers. Thank you to Mel for providing the answer that really mattered. 

I wonder how else you lot are going to influence me in future…

PS I love waffles. They are as good as you made me imagine they would be xx

  

“And if life is your stage, I’ll be watching”…My Pop Up Globe experience

It was my husband who came home excited at the news the Pop Up Globe was coming to Auckland quite a few months ago. He knew how much I would love to go and we promptly bought tickets for three shows, Twelfth Night, Romeo and Juliet and The Tempest. I shared his excitement. Shakepeare is one of my passions and as an English graduate and High School English teacher, his works really do come as part of the territory.

Despite coming from the UK I never had the opportunity to visit The Globe there so this was a fantastic prospect, which didn’t disappoint. While in New Zealand, I have seen a few amateur Shakespeare productions which really didn’t cut the mustard with school groups. I am that mad teacher who takes 150 teenage boys to see Macbeth or Romeo and Juliet. You hope that at least a few of them take something from it. I managed to organise a school trip to see the RSC’s production of King Lear with Sir Ian McKellan, but then couldn’t go because my debating team made it a regional final. Yes, I am still bitter about that, but The Pop Up Globe has made up for it a little.

My first experience of the Pop Up Globe was a Saturday evening performance of Twelfth Night with my husband. To just see the temporary building itself is something amazing. You walk around the corner of the building of the Q theatre and you see this fantastic construction, the white, black and red majesty. Even if you are not going to see a show there, make time to go and see the building.

  
There was a buzz in the atmosphere as it was near the start of the season, and I’m assuming that for most people it was their first visit. We bought $35 tickets for each performance, but chose different seats each time so we could see the stage from a different angle, but wherever you sat would be great as it so intimate inside.

I don’t know if I could stand for a whole two and a half hours, but we noticed that after the interval some people chose to. Maybe to experience what it was like as a groundling, but more likely because the seating was quite cosy, to say the least. I’m not complaining, I wasn’t expecting the height of comfort at all, but lets just say not all bums are made equal. Second half for us we had more room to sit and it was a lot more comfortable.

  
The performance itself was outstanding. It is a play I know well, having taught it more times than I care to remember, and I could preempt the next line most of the time. This didn’t distract me from my enjoyment of the show. Having an all male cast was an excellent decision in this comedy and worked to their advantage. I loved the interaction with the audience, the use of the stage and the music really added to the mood. It was a very traditional interpretation and I loved that. I think maybe I am a Shakespearean purist at heart.

My second show was Romeo and Juliet with my mum, who had never seen any Shakespeare. She loved it. It was easy to follow and there were some great performances. I loved the teenage angst of Romeo, although the purist in me got annoyed when he played it for laughs in the tomb as Juliet lay in his arms. After all, it is a tragedy. I expect to be crying at this point and I saw I wasn’t the only one who felt this way looking around at the audience. To be fair though, the majority were loving it and that is one of the great things about the Pop Up Globe; it has brought live, quality, Shakespeare to a wider audience. It is affordable, there are lots of performances, it is centrally located; there really is no reason not to go and see something and experience it. It is more than just a performance of a Shakepearean play. It is an experience.

  
My final experience was of the Auckland University’s performance of The Tempest, a play I was not so aware of but a performance that I loved. The were modern twists in staging, costume, casting and interpretation and the majority of them worked. At times the stage was a little busy which distracted from the words but overall it was a great performance.

So I have had more Shakespeare in my life in the last three weeks than I have in the last three years but it was worth it. If you get a chance, go.

 

For more information:  www.popupglobe.co.nz

“Get into the groove”…why I loved Madonna’s Rebel Heart show so much.

I’ve been a busy lady lately. Last Sunday I was fortunate enough to go and see Madonna’s Rebel Heart tour at Vector Arena in Auckland. I was not disappointed. It felt like a life changing experience.

I could stop there, but I shall explain.

Months ago, my friend was buying four tickets for Madonna. I had just splurged on Robbie Williams’ tickets (two shows), Ed Sheeran tickets…as always, all the tickets go on sale at the same time. I umm-ed and ah-ed. I was one of those voices you saw on social media, “Would Madonna still be good now? Would she still have it?” I was a doubting Thomas.

Don’t get me wrong, I have loved Madonna since I can remember. I remember listening to True Blue and Like a Virgin on cassette tape. I can remember singing into my hairbrush and dancing round my bedroom. I can remember putting on dance shows with my best friend, Maria, for our parents and even at school.

Time moved on. I can remember leg dancing (don’t ask) with my friend Cathy to Like A Prayer. I can remember getting into Prince because of Madonna; only Diamonds and Pearls mind you, that was my era.

I went to university and worked in a bar where every night they would play Beautiful Stranger. I am famous, amongst friends, for my literal dancing to Madonna (I’m available for weddings and birthdays if you’re interested). You get the idea? Madonna was always there in my life, but I needed the money. $200 a ticket is a lot. But then I won $500! I completed a random online survey about cheese, you can’t make this stuff up, and there was my answer!

Yes, I would like a ticket.

Yes, I wanted to see Madonna.

The months passed. I never got round to listening to Rebel Heart (I’ve been listening to it a lot since the gig of course) but it didn’t matter. I was at the arena with three friends who were all equally excited about seeing someone perform who they had been fans of since they were kids. Perfect.

Maybe it is because we went on the Sunday night and we knew she had kept the audience waiting, but honestly the fact that she didn’t come on stage until 10.35pm didn’t bother me. Really, it didn’t and I didn’t see anyone around where we sitting getting annoyed either. We danced to the DJ, we chatted, we got excited. After all, Bitch, she’s Madonna, she can do anything she wants! She’s never played in New Zealand before, waiting an extra hour and a half isn’t going to kill anyone, plus the organisers had emailed that day warning that the show would go on late.

  
The show was everything and more. You think of it, she had it: dancers galore, light shows, circus performers, pyrotechnics. It wasn’t just her singing with a band, it was a proper show. I felt like I was at a saucy version of Cirque du Soleil. This is a good thing.

She played a good mix of old and new material, all the favourites and, from what I have learned since, all the best songs of the new album. She dealt with her collaborations by having effective and excellent visuals on the screen behind her. I recognised a few but am showing my age by saying not all.

Madonna shows off her acrobatic skills.

We were up dancing and singing along. I wish the whole crowd had been as enthusiastic. I always feel for artists coming to New Zealand as often the audiences can be a little reserved. My view is what is the point of going if you are not going to participate? Wait until the DVD comes out and you can sit on the sofa and watch it. Get up and dance!

Over the week I have seen various comments about Madonna’s shows and I have rushed to defend her, even though she doesn’t need it. I feel so passionately about what I saw I want everyone to know. The most ridiculous thing I heard was someone saying they didn’t expect her to be so “overtly sexual.” This is Madonna. She has songs titled ‘Like A Virgin’, ‘Unapologetic Bitch’, ‘Bad Girl’. Madonna is sex. What exactly were you expecting?

So despite any negativity you may have read about the Rebel Heart shows, this fan loved it. Loved it so much she really didn’t care about only have three and a half hours sleep that night before real life began again. For one night only Madonna took me to a world of excess, fun and naughtiness. It was worth the money, the wait and the late night.

Madonna performs her Rebel Heart Tour at the Vector Arena in Auckland - her first concert in New Zealand.

Images by JASON DORDAY / FAIRFAX NZ

“Then we go into the wild again”…being a new mummy on the playground.

So one week in to my eldest daughter starting school and I feel like the new girl at school. Every day just before 3pm I walk up to the school and sit outside the classroom like all the other parents.

There are a few familiar faces of parents from kindy and playgroup who smile and say hello but at the moment I don’t know any of the parents of children in the same class, but they all seem to know each other!

After a week I have realised that one of the advantages of living where we do is that there is a real sense of community. And one of the reasons I know this is the case is that the vast majority of people here grew up here, went to that school and stayed here. For the first time in a long time I feel like the outsider, but I’m determined not to be.

They went to school together, they had children around the same time, some of these people have known each other all their lives. Even my daughter’s teacher went to that school. I try hard to imagine what it would be like if I still lived where I grew up. I can’t.

But I will be brave. I will chat, I will smile. I will suggest play dates, I will go to birthday parties. I hope I will make a connection with someone and discover we have more in common that just having kids the same age. It’s not too much to hope for, is it?

So, it’s nearly that time of day again; into the wild I go. It’s not just the children who need to make new friends, it’s the parents too.759-37_d1