Monthly Archives: December 2009

What to do on New Year’s Eve

It’s New Year’s Eve, so as has become my custom in recent years, I will have a quiet drink with the lovely Mr Strange Land, go to bed early, and welcome the new year with the fresh light of a new day. I haven’t stayed up to watch the new year in since 1999/2000, and even then, it was a bit of a fizzer, despite spending the evening with dear friends of ours. Mr Strange Land and one of our friends had terrible colds, and by about 11.30pm, they could manage no more, so off to bed we all went. We were all Kiwis living in Australia at the time; if only we had thought of it, we could have marked the millennium at 12am NZ time, which was 10pm in New South Wales, and then gone quietly to bed.

As for New Year’s resolutions… I have decided that it’s time for a dry month, ‘though I am not an old man (the honour of your peers if you can identify that particular literary reference). I grow old, I grow old, and my body no longer copes with everything I throw at it in quite the same way any more. I think it needs a little rest. Unfortunately, my birthday is in the middle of January. However, Ms Eleven suggested that we could designate January 14 a special day, and I could have a glass or two of wine to celebrate. Mr Strange Land and I immediately wondered how many other special days there might be in January…

That’s all I’m resolving to do. Apparently, one resolution at a time is the way to go. That seems just fine to me.

Thank you for reading my blog in 2009. Thank you to the people who’ve agreed with me, and the people who’ve disagreed with me (I know, some of you have fall into both of these categories), to the people who’ve commented, and to the people who have contacted me off-blog, and to the people who come by and read, even if they don’t comment, and my family members and friends who read too. I’ve had an interesting year on the blog, and I have been enjoying the particular community that gathers here, many of whom I see at other blogs around the place too. I’ve found some new blogs to read when people have commented here – NwN and Mama in Macondo – I’m looking at you! (And some other people too, who I know I’ve found through comments, but NwN and MiM are the most recent, as far as I can recall.) May 2010 be a good year for you all.

Ka kite ano! See you on the other side on midnight.

A quick note of correction for the SMH

The Sydney Morning Herald is running a story saying that Helen Clark and Peter Jackson have been given New Year’s honours in New Zealand, and with respect to Helen Clark especially, this is a baaaddd thing, because her government abolished New Year’s honours a few years ago. [link]

Ahh…. wrong.

During Helen Clark’s time as prime minister, her government abolished the titles “Sir” and “Dame” and introduced a set of honours specific to New Zealand. Honours themselves were never abolished – just the head-bowing regressive titles that purported to come from the English monarchy. Miss Clark and her colleagues thought that New Zealanders and New Zealand were sufficiently secure to be able to nominate and name those who were recognised as having mae extraordinary contributions to the community all by themselves. But then when the blue-rinse National party came to power in late 2008, in a fit of cultural cringe they re-introduced the titles.

Helen Clark has been admitted to the Order of New Zealand, which is limited to 20 living New Zealanders (there are 17 members at present). I’m delighted by this. Although she was not our first female prime minister, she was the first woman who was chosen by the electorate to fill this role, and during her time as leader she normalised the idea of women being leaders. I don’t think anyone would even bother to comment on having female political leaders in New Zealand any more. She was only the second post-war prime minister to stay in power for three terms.

Because the Sydney Morning Herald reporters didn’t bother to research their story carefully enough, they make Helen Clark seem like a hypocrite for accepting an honour. She is not. The honour has existed since 1987, and it does not carry a title. The SMH should apologise to Helen Clark for its petty story.

So, how was your Christmas?

Mine was excellent, thank you.

Our daughters woke at 5.50am, but didn’t start opening presents until 6am, bless them. A couple of years ago, we found that there were no atheists in foxholes on Christmas Eve, but by this year, they had given up even strategic belief in Santa. However, by negotiation we agreed that we would leave some presents at the ends of their beds to open at 6am (no earlier!), and they would get the rest when everyone (read, all the adults) were awake. That worked very well for everyone.

My brother and his son came over for breakfast, which we finished around midday. Then my brother took his son over to his mother’s place, and headed back to his own home for a few quiet hours before coming back to my parents’ place for dinner with his partner and their other children. We had ham and kumara and new potatoes from Mum’s garden and asparagus, followed by raspberry semifreddo and pannacotta and panforte and berries and black doris plum spoom and Christmas mince tarts and limoncello icecream and chocolate macaroons. All home made, of course. My mother outdid herself in the matter of desserts. We finished off with Christmas cake, made by my mum using her mother’s recipe, and iced by me, as has become our custom in the last twenty years or so (for the Christmasses when we are at my parents’ place). For pictures of a beautifully iced Christmas cake, see Christmas Eve cake post at Still Life with Cat.

I so enjoyed spending the day with my family, ‘though I missed the two brothers and their families who were not there this time.

As for my haul of presents, I got Jane Austen DVDs as requested, books and chocolates. I was particularly pleased to be given Barbara Kingsolver’s new novel, The Lacuna, which I have been coveting. There was a quiet discussion between my mother and my partner as to who should give it to me (my mother did), which mirrored the conversation between my father and me as to who should give it to Mum (my father did). So we each clutched our copies of The Lacuna and chuckled with delight.

If you celebrate it, how was your Christmas?

Other Christmas reports: Holidays to date at Fuck Politeness, A very good day at Elsewoman, Xmas Day open thread at Hoyden about Town, Christmas 2009 at Blue Milk

Friday Feminist – Jane Austen

It’s stretching several points to call the divine Jane a feminist, but it’s Christmas Day, so indulge me.

“…. Well, Miss Elliot,” (lowering his voice) “as I was saying, we shall never agree I suppose upon this point. No man and woman, would, probably. But let me observe that all histories are against you–all stories, prose and verse. If I had such a memory as Benwick, I could bring you fifty quotations in a moment on my side the argument, and I do not think I ever opened a book in my life which had not something to say upon woman’s inconstancy. Songs and proverbs, all talk of woman’s fickleness. But perhaps you will say, these were all written by men.”

“Perhaps I shall. Yes, yes, if you please, no reference to examples in books. Men have had every advantage of us in telling their own story. Education has been theirs in so much higher a degree; the pen has been in their hands. I will not allow books to prove anything.”

Jane Austen, Persuasion, 1818

Carnival reading

The new edition of the Carnival of Feminists, and the last one for the year, is up at Penny Red.