When I was 16 I worked at a chicken slaughterhouse in the weekends, soaked in blood and smelling of death it was one of the coldest jobs on the planet. The production line gave you a range of tasks to enjoy: dragging the bird into an inverted cone and cutting it's head off; removing feet with secateurs; plunging the carcass into hot oil; throwing it into a plucking machine; removing the larger more stubborn feathers with pliers, removing it's innards; stuffing giblets into a plastic bag and inserting said bag down neck of chook; weighing and bagging the bird. They gave me a couple of chooks each weekend to take home but I didn't eat chicken for a long time afterwards. The pay was $3 an hour.
During this time I helped my uncle wrap insulation and chicken wire around the ventilation system at Crown Lynn pottery. This was before OSH. The ladder was over 30 metres high, completely unsecured, very old and rickety. And we wore no harnesses. I got home covered in a rash that stayed for a week. But at $50 a day it paid better than the chicken farm.
I escaped home at 16 and spent ten soul numbing weeks working at the Ministry of Works in accounts. The first thing that struck me when I started at MOW was their policy of employing disabled people for 25% of all staff appointments (this wasn't how I got the job BTW). I was surrounded by a 50 year-old woman with a thick beard on her face, a guy with a glass eye, 5 people with missing limbs, a few mentally handicapped people etc etc. There was an upside - the canteen upstairs in the State Services commission building sold roast meals for $1 and coke for 20 cents - all government subsidised. The work was mind-numbing. Everything had to be done in triplicate. If you made an error typing a list of 100 numbers out then you had to start again. I left the civil service after reporting ill during university orientation week and naively admitting that it was a case of alcohol poisoning. On arrival back at work I was usshered into a meeting of ten managers to talk about "my future". I was on $140 a week. They paid me $1500 to resign. I got a job in a factory 2 hours later. Three months later I got my first job in publishing and have been in media for 21 years. I thank the demon drink for saving my career. If it wasn't for The drink the pub dry day, the togo party, the boat races and then the pub crawl day I could be a public service Wallah in Welly. I imagine I'd be at Bellamy's as I write this...
In 1996 I used to do a bit of work with Creative Profile postcards - the free cards on stands in cafes that advertisers paid for. One of our clients was TVNZ. They printed individual postcards for each character on City Life and I kept the set. I spent a couple of months hoping that City Life would be a worldwide phenonmenon - the card set would be worth heaps today. After watching the first couple of episodes and attendant newspaper critiques it became obvious that international success was not in City Life's future. I threw the card set out six months ago when I shifted house. The one for Claudia Black would probably attract some interest from sci-fi fans. Maybe I should have hung onto them. I'm sort of glad I didn't though - it was a bit like being a TV fashion victim!
The best ever gig by a Flying Nun band has to be The StraightJacklet Fits playing their last ever set at the first Big Day Out in 1994. It is one of the most emotion-laden performances I've ever seen.
Look Blue Go Purple at the Railway Tavern in Auckland in 1988. Bobbylon from the Hallelujah Picassos dragged me along almost against my wishes at the time as I recall but I'm glad he did.
Watching The Verlaines in Christchurch at the Dux in 1990.
Being present at the birth of Loves Ugly Children. They dominated Christchurch's underground scene for years and I think their best creative moments had passed by the time Flying Nun signed them. They never recorded their best (early) songs. But Flying Nun gave them some deserved recognition. One of their first gigs was in my backyard.
Buying lots of Headless Chickens albums and celebrating when they took to the charts.
Listening to the soundtrack to Topless Women Talk About their lives and the brilliant ABBA Covers tribute!
Gloss has almost spawned as many celebs as Shorty St. Danielle Cormack, Lisa Chappell, and many of the original Shortland St crew. My next door neighbour at the time, Sasi who also did the door at The Box, was on it and so was Gee Ling. Roll on the repeats. I think Gloss was much better TV than this 2 People dross...
It's worse than Shortland St... is it a re-run? Maybe they will repeat it on digital TV when it arrives - apparently it's going to be the replay channel. These two can't even ad-lib let alone act. How did he get a job on Lord of the Rings? Thank God he only had two lines in the whole ten hours of the three LOTR films. Is he related to Bob Parker? Is she related to Maud Basham (Aunt Daisy)?
In a word - CHiPs. Jon and Ponch just rocked. It was the first year our family owned a tv - I think I was 7 - and on Friday nights the world would stop as my brother and I cruised the highways of California.
Then we became hooked on Ready to Roll and I have vivid recollections of sneakily watching Poldark and A Week of It when I was about 8 or 9. This guy being impaled on a sword by the French in Poldark would stick with me for years. A Week of It was the funniest thing I had ever seen at the time. Our family shared an almost pathological hatred of Rob Muldoon as did McPhail, Gadsby, Scott etc.
But the best viewing was sport. We saw Mohammed Ali win a fight in 1975 live at school. The headmaster of another school allowed us into his lounge to watch John Walker win the 1500m final of the 1978 Commonwealth games. We'd get up at 2am with Dad to watch Graham Mourie's All Blacks on their 1978 grand slam tour and also for the FA Cup each year. And our school showed every match played by the All Whites at the 1982 World Cup.
By the time I was about 12 or 13 the best thing on TV was definitely Hill Street Blues.
Up until a couple of years ago I was a volunteer firefighter. A lot of our callouts all year round were to kids sitting around a bonfire on the beach at night. Fire bans would be in place, so no matter how safe the fire was we were duty bound to put it out. This felt more like law enforcement than anything else and many in the brigade resented the task.
We always got calls on Guy Fawkes night. One particularly memorable one involved shutting down a party of 300 kids sitting happily around a safe-looking bonfire in a paddock at a Christian Camp. They had applied for a permit but the council hadn't processed it on time. Some calls on Guy Fawkes involved kids being stupid - but not many. We just had more fires on beaches.
New Years Eve was the busiest night of the year and did involve kids being stupid. What are we going to ban next? All celebrations (many of which by nature get out of hand)?
I went to my first pub by myself when I was 16. Because I drank mainly in bars I was surrounded by older people and a wider community than just my immediate peers and this helped me learn to socialise in a drinking environment in a different way than binging with my mates at home did for example. I think if I had stuck to the law and not gone to a bar until the age of 20 it would have stunted my emotional growth in a way. I know quite a few 18 year olds who regularly go out clubbing and they seem fine. They aren't violent or vandals for example. I think those that are anti-social are by definition more likely be found parked up on a beach or in a friend's garage than at their local bar. Leave the drinking age at 18. At least they can be banned for being stupid - and this can be a valuable lesson for young drinkers in itself.
I don't think we are losing our competitive edge. Kiwi kids are still adventurous. Maybe we are encouraging more rebellion by coddling kids more now. I think that it is dangerous keeping kids at school for lengthening periods of time. In many cases they should be out learning what they want to do for a career in the workforce before undertaking further study. I would have gone nuts if I had to stay at school for longer than I did. I've got the career I always wanted through being employed in the industry at a young age. By the time my uni-trained friends joined the industry I had a 5 year head start on them. I was ambitious - and perhaps instilling ambition in kids is as important as anything else. None of the achievements listed in the starting post would have been achieved without it.