Sunday, June 2, 2013

Ways to make a living

The opening night of Dad's UK exhibition was a success. He sold about a dozen paintings. He still has quite a following in his old stomping ground, which he hasn't come close to matching in New Zealand. I'm really proud of Dad (and, if I'm honest, a little envious). Not many people can make a living in the way he has. Mum's career as a primary school teacher is also something to be proud of. Since the early seventies she's been shaping people's lives; that's high-stakes stuff. Then there's my brother; his army career is awe-inspiring. All three members of my immediately family have been very good at their jobs for long periods of time, while I've been good at mine only very sporadically.

A riot broke out yesterday at Spring Hill, a prison in the Waikato. I wonder what sparked it, if anything. Back in 1990 there was a huge riot at Strangeways, a maximum-security prison in Manchester, that lasted weeks. It succeeded in bringing about major (positive) changes to prisoners' living conditions. A fly-on-the-wall documentary series about Strangeways is currently being shown on TV here in New Zealand. It's grim stuff, but strangely compelling viewing. One of the featured inmates makes a perpetual dirty protest; the amount of time spent on him is unreal and it all seems so futile. Another inmate (that for some reason I found endearing) talked about going to the gym: "If I had to choose between the gym and doing loads of drugs, I'd take me gym. Well, come to think of it, I quite like both."

I've been enjoying the French Open tennis commentary on the internet. You can choose to have the commentary in either French or English. They now have a Kiwi by the name of Matt Brown on the Anglophone team; I've been impressed with his knowledge of the game. Perhaps the match of the tournament so far took place last night while I was sound asleep. Tommy Haas, who's older than me by a full two years, beat John Isner in five sets. Remarkably Haas saw a dozen match points slip by in the fourth set, then had to save one en route to winning 10-8 in the decider, taking it out on his 13th opportunity. Grand slams produce these kinds of battles that you just don't see the rest of the year (and it's hardly a surprise that Isner should feature). Kiwi hope Marina Erakovic was beaten narrowly in the third round last night but she'll still get a helpful rankings boost.

Continuing the sporting theme, I saw this superb cartoon about club football. It's hilarious and very well done, and shows how unbelievably irrational some football fans are.

Tomorrow is a public holiday. Why we have a day off for the Queen's pretend birthday I'm not so sure, but I'm not complaining. Martin will be coming over. I haven't seen much of him lately.

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