Saturday, March 7, 2009

Undeserved Praise

The Monarch Butterfly Caterpillars.

Anne and I were beginning to get worried that Groucho and Marx the two caterpillars would run out of leaves again. But Groucho upside down began to spin his web cocoon preparatory to become a chrysalis. Isn’t instinct marvellous? Marx went on chomping away.

The Rose Garden

This afternoon Anne drove me to the rose garden. Family groups galore strolling around. Lots of roses still in bloom. Children, ducks and a fountain. A very pleasant stroll.

Undeserved Praise

For eighteen months I had the good fortune to be an education aide to David Lange, Prime Minister of New Zealand in his capacity as Minister of Education. I have written about the experience in a memoir The Ninth Floor and in a poem sequence called Beehive, published in the collection Pingandy.

One anecdote I overlooked involved the end of year Correspondence School break-up. It was broadcast live and traditionally the big brass politicos attended. I wrote a speech for the PM based around the fact that most listeners would be isolated rural folk and people like light house keepers. The draft talked about the valuable role of the parents in educating their children. The PM’s chief advisers overruled that effort. It was a chance they claimed to promote Tomorrow’s Schools, the administrative education reforms. Despite my protests they completely recast it.

As we walked across to Wellington Girl’s hall for the ceremony David said ‘I hear you’re unhappy about the speech. Why?’ I explained why but added, the amended copy had been given to the media and he should go ahead. He said nothing. But when he got up to speak he used the opening I’d drafted but then launched into an off-the-cuff impromptu speech along the lines I’d originally suggested. He ended by warning kids about sunburn and urged them to slip, slop, slap. At the conclusion I was waiting for him to come down the steps. Jim Bolger, Leader of the Opposition said, ‘good speech,’ as he walked past.

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