Ed­i­tor Vir­ginia Lar­son sends a post­card from China.

North & South - - Behind The Story -

The mes­sage came to Mid­dle-earth from the his­toric heart of the East’s Mid­dle King­dom. “Ni hao from Xi’an,” wrote North & South ed­i­tor Vir­ginia Lar­son from China, where she was vis­it­ing her Bei­jing-based son Lau­rence, a singer-song­writer who’s hand­ily flu­ent in Man­darin. “Buy­ing tick­ets on the bul­let train to Xi’an? I could have ended up Korea!”

One of China’s old­est cities, Xi’an is the east­ern start­ing point of the Silk Road and home to the fa­mous Ter­ra­cotta Army (eight of these 2000-year-old war­rior fig­ures go on dis­play at Te Papa in mid-de­cem­ber).

One night, the pair were out for din­ner when an artist’s tray was de­liv­ered to their ta­ble. “I thought Lau­rence had or­dered us a cal­lig­ra­phy les­son on the side. But no, it was edi­ble: a potato-pas­try ‘brush’ you dip into an ‘ink’ sauce and crunch into. In Bei­jing, they paint tur­tles; in Xi’an, they eat paint brushes...”

there, I again had no prob­lems. So, I rented for 28 years with two land­lords who rarely raised rents and main­tained their prop­er­ties – and did so will­ingly. This leads me to won­der why we need cen­tral govern­ment in­volved. Just as land­lords should check out ten­ants, ten­ants should check out land­lords. That would re­move those land­lords who abuse ten­ants, without the need for reg­u­la­tions. DUNSTAN SHEL­DON HAMIL­TON

HEAL YOUR GUT

I found Sarah Lang’s cover story, Gut Re­ac­tion [Oc­to­ber] su­perbly good, both for the writ­ing it­self and the con­tent. Sarah does qual­ity re­search. She’s in­tel­li­gent, ar­tic­u­late, real and hi­lar­i­ously hon­est. She is oh, so funny and in­sight­ful, and I de­lighted in how richly and well she uses lan­guage.

And well done, Alexan­dra Smith, for dodg­ing di­a­betes so dili­gently! My next step (as a pre­type 2 di­a­betic) is to read and im­ple­ment Michael Mosley’s book, The 8-Week Blood Sugar Diet, which I had al­ready pur­chased. MAR­JORY MCSAVENEY AUCK­LAND

CHEESE, PLEASE!

Your cor­re­spon­dent Sarah Lang may be in­ter­ested to know that New World and, I as­sume, other su­per­mar­kets stock “Food Snob” Buf­falo Feta; also “An­gel Food” Ched­dar, which is softer than or­di­nary ched­dar so would not grate well. How­ever, as I have a dairy al­lergy, it is won­der­ful to now en­joy cheese on crack­ers again. Also, the chefs here some­times serve me dairy-free ice cream. FAYE QUAYLE, CHARLES FLEM­ING RE­TIRE­MENT VIL­LAGE, WAIKANAE

MILK­ING IT

Af­ter ab­sorb­ing Kate Richards’ Milk Mon­i­tor ap­praisal of fancy milks [Oc­to­ber], I went straight to the fridge and poured my­self a glass of blue-top. My mind flooded back to post-war Eng­land and shop­ping with my granny – me car­ry­ing a heavy non­plas­tic bag, she clutch­ing the fam­ily ra­tion book.

Milk was de­liv­ered to your door, then. I re­mem­ber watch­ing, fas­ci­nated, as cows were milked on a dairy farm, and the farmer of­fer­ing me a mug of fresh, warm, frothy milk. From that mo­ment on, Granny had to put a mark against the level of milk in the bot­tle to pre­vent me from drink­ing too much. Now, for the first time, let me re­veal that when no one was look­ing, I used to take a drink and top the milk back up to the line with wa­ter!

Who would have be­lieved all these years later that no longer would milk be de­liv­ered to your door, but would achieve al­most craft-beer pro­por­tions. JOHN NOR­RIS WHANGAMATĀ

KEA TALES

I read with in­ter­est your piece about kea [ On His Best Night, He Shot 67 Birds, Nerd Na­tion, Oc­to­ber]. It seems ev­ery South Is­lander has a kea story. I have a friend who gave an in­vol­un­tary ride to a hitch­hik­ing kea on his pack for over an hour while tramp­ing near Arthur’s Pass.

And kea cer­tainly do laugh. The writer and artist Molly Falla cap­tured this per­fectly in her book A Kea on My Bed (1974), star­ring a pet bird called Mr Kea. “He cer­tainly had his own ideas about things,” she wrote. “Cig­a­rette smoke was some­thing that puz­zled him. An­noyed with Bob one day for smok­ing too near his face, he promptly turned his back­side and ‘squirted’ onto Bob’s trousers with un­can­nily ac­cu­rate aim, then ran off cack­ling with ribald laugh­ter.”

You can find more amaz­ing sto­ries about kea in the mem­oirs of Al­bie Collins, the late Wā­naka kea hunter quoted in your ar­ti­cle. He took a far darker view than Falla. Once, he claims, his sus­pi­cions on see­ing a flock of kea helped search par­ties find two lost tram­pers.

“I said... if you go up there to­mor­row morn­ing, you’ll find that there’s blokes in that gully. They said, what do you mean? I said, the keas are feed­ing on them.’’

When the tram­pers were found, all that was left, ac­cord­ing to Collins, were packs and bank books! “A lot don’t be­lieve keas do that sort of thing,” he wrote, “[but] I’ve helped carry one or two off the hill that were only dead for a few hours at night and all the meat [had been] picked off the palm of their hand and wrists.” HEN­RI­ETTA BAKER CHRISTCHURCH

HEAD SPACE

One would cer­tainly hope that with tech­no­log­i­cal and sci­en­tific ad­vances, a cure for mi­graine will soon be found [ A Cure for Mi­graine?, Septem­ber].

Some years ago, I ran a sup­port group that par­tic­i­pated in re­search and also lob­bied on be­half of mi­graineurs. Our group had men and women mem­bers, young chil­dren, teenagers and through to peo­ple in their 80s. Young chil­dren and older peo­ple found the on­set of mi­graine quite fright­en­ing, es­pe­cially when sight be­came im­paired and the pain, gen­er­ally on one side of the head, in­tense. Be­ing able to ad­vise and sup­port these peo­ple was the im­por­tant aim of the group.

We par­tic­i­pated in re­search in a num­ber of ar­eas and suc­cess­fully lob­bied for work­place changes to recog­nise mi­graine as an ill­ness. Ed­u­cat­ing em­ploy­ers was an im­por­tant and sat­is­fy­ing achieve­ment. Hav­ing an ad­ver­tise­ment that triv­i­alised mi­graine re­moved from tele­vi­sion was an­other. Some of our find­ings were:

1. Women who had never had a mi­graine but were go­ing into menopause of­ten get mi­graines for the du­ra­tion. Con­versely, some women did not ex­pe­ri­ence mi­graine dur­ing menopause but be­gan hav­ing them af­ter­wards.

2. Older peo­ple of­ten ex­pe­ri­ence clus­ter headaches as well as mi­graines. The pain and frus­tra­tion of these can lead to sui­cide but this is un­com­mon.

3. Men and women in jobs re­quir­ing in­tense con­cen­tra­tion had more mi­graines than those in other types of work.

Weather con­di­tions such as the hot Can­ter­bury nor’wester and the cold of South­land win­ters can im­pact mi­graineurs. Among the many trig­gers are diet, bright and flash­ing light, con­stant stress and (in rare cases) strong per­fumes. Ge­net­ics and hor­mones also have an im­pact and this is cur­rently be­ing re­searched.

As men­tioned in Ly­dia Monin’s ex­cel­lent story, the pain of mi­graine can be­come over­whelm­ing, but there is help avail­able. KATHIE HUGHES CHRISTCHURCH

Mike White’s Hop To It (Four Cor­ners, Au­gust) on James Mcnamee and Fletcher Pilditch’s hop-grow­ing ven­ture in Garston, South­land re­minded me of my old school mate – and All Black hooker – Terry Mc­cashin, who died a year ago at 73 [see photo, above].

Terry was New Zealand’s craft-beer pi­o­neer. He took on the big brew­ing du­op­oly of Lion Nathan and Do­min­ion Brew­eries when he founded Mac’s beer brand in 1981. Mc­cashin’s Brew­ery in Stoke is the old­est craft brew­ery in New Zealand.

I played rugby in the same team as Terry when we were both stu­dents at Horowhenua Col­lege in Levin in 1958. He played hooker then, too. BRIAN COLLINS WELLING­TON

BOX SEAT

I read with in­ter­est the story in your May is­sue, The Great­est Race (You Never Heard Of [on the coxed four who won New Zealand’s first row­ing gold medal, at the 1968 Olympics]. I thought you might like to know some of us do re­mem­ber it vividly.

I went to the Mex­ico Olympics look­ing for a job, as all the staff were vol­un­teers in those days, and my boss was the New Zealand Olympic team phys­io­ther­a­pist, Stan Paris. They didn’t need any ex­tra staff, but they did in­clude me in some of their ac­tiv­i­ties. When I could buy a ticket for an event, I did. But if I couldn’t get a ticket for some­thing I wanted to see, Stan would loan me his of­fi­cial pass.

On the day of the row­ing he did just that, and I went on the bus to Xochim­ilco to the row­ing course. The gate staff didn’t worry about iden­tity cards that didn’t nec­es­sar­ily match the wearer. I stood by the build­ing part way along the course and yelled for the fours as they went past. We heard they’d won and also un­der­stood they had been given oxy­gen, as they cer­tainly were in O2 debt.

It was a great re­joic­ing later back at the vil­lage. As a Kiwi, I was in­vited to help cel­e­brate that evening. Stan needed his pass to come and go from the vil­lage so one of the team loaned me his gold medal to get in. I can’t re­mem­ber whose it was but, as I was of sim­i­lar age to the ath­letes, the Mex­i­can gate keeper as­sumed I’d won it my­self – and the crew were in such a state of ex­cite­ment they were ob­vi­ously win­ners! It’s the only time I have worn gold, I am sorry to say. I did a few tourist trips with some of the team mem­bers, too, and was of­ten asked for my sig­na­ture, along with the ath­letes’, by ad­mir­ing small chil­dren ev­ery­where.

At the clos­ing cer­e­mony, tick­ets were un­ob­tain­able. This time, dis­cus thrower Robin Tait came to the res­cue of a physio friend from Aus­tralia and my­self. He was so large we could both stand be­hind him go­ing through the check­point into the sta­dium without be­ing seen. It was a ter­rific fi­nale with mari­achis and the Mex­i­can wave.

Some­where I have a slide of the row­ing crew pass­ing the marker pole I stood by. I wish them well for the 50th an­niver­sary. I will wave the towel I have as a sou­venir! JAN CAUDWELL, VIA EMAIL

“Terry Mc­cashin was New Zealand’s craft-beer pi­o­neer.”

Above left: Colour­fully painted tur­tles for sale in Bei­jing. Above right: A bride poses in an al­ley­way in Xi’an. Vir­ginia Lar­son and son Lau­rence at the Wild Goose Pagoda in Xi’an.

Cheeky kea, so it seems, aren’t al­ways a laugh­ing mat­ter.

Horowhenua Col­lege’s rugby team in 1958, with fu­ture All Black hooker Terry Mc­cashin at far left in the front row and let­ter writer Brian Collins in the back row, sec­ond from right. “[ Terry] played hooker then, too.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.