home     contact

Drive de adds rolex uk new Cartier series, new moon phase rolex replica watches equipped with Cartire 1904-LU MC refining workshop movement, 6 position with fake omega moon phase display and the complex function of accurate reproduction of the fake hublot watches new moon, moon, moon and moon cycle replacement time.

Aural Delights Nov 2008

The A Bertram Chandler Story UFO is now available as an audio podcast from Starship Sofa Aural Delights No 48

The Mentor No: 33 - Oct 1981

The Mentor No: 33 - Oct 1981


The recent Norcon, held in Auckland, was my first visit to New Zealand since I was there, in late 1974, as Master of Abel Tasman. I was running to and around EnZed, off and on, from 1937 to 1974. I was always meaning to visit the famous thermal showplace, Rotorua. Somehow, I just never got around to it.

Among the brochures on display at the reception desk of the New Station hotel - the Norcon convention hotel - was one advertising Mini-Tours. There was a one day tour from Auckland to Rotorua advertised. I decided on taking it. Booking could be made by telephone and the mini-bus would pick up from the hotel and deliver one back at the end of the day. So I booked for the Tuesday tour, the Norcon having finished on Monday.

The mini-bus arrived exactly at the agreed upon time and then cruised the city, picking up other passengers from their hotels. At the finish there were five North Americans, one South American (from Buenes Aires), a Japanese couple, a young man from Germany and myself. As usually is the case on such expeditions the driver/guide lost no time in finding out the nationalities of his charges. And then as we were bowling along between low, green hills, on our way inland, he just had to say, “In case any Australians are wondering what that funny green stuff is along the sides of the road, it’s grass.”

Ha, ha. Very funny.

I got my own back, of course. I had learned, during conversations, that the Americans had spent time in Australia before coning to EnZed and that whilst in our country had done quite a lot of sightseeing, including a tour of Canberra. Well, after a somewhat hurried lunch at Rotorua we were chivvied along between the hot water springs and the obscenely bubbling mud pools so as to he at the right place at the right time, to witness the blowing-off of one of the famous geysers. We waited and waited but the mini-eruption just wasn’t happening. I said, “In Canberra, on Lake Burley Griffin, the Captain Cook Memorial Jet always blows on time...” At this point there was a far from spectacular issuance of evil-smelling steam and water from a hole in the ground. “And” I continued, “it’s much higher…”

The Americans were amused. The guide wasn’t.

All In all, I found Rotorua ratter disappointing. Just Beppu with Maoris and Pakehas instead of Japanese. The all-pervading stink was the same.

On the Way back to Auckland a stop was made at the Agrodoma. Despite the name it is neither a dome nor a venue for aggro. The “Agro” comes from agronomy. It is a large building, built of wood with aluminum cladding. In appearance it’s as though two of the “sails” of the Sydney Open House had been sat upon by something huge and heavy and flattened out. It is remarkable inasmuch as there are no pillars at all inside the huge hell. There are rows of seats, like church pews. There is a platform with two step-pyramids in, as it were, silhouette, the one at the back taller than the one in front. Each of the small platforms/steps has a label - Merino. Southdown, Romney, Suffolk Punch &c. On two sides of the hall are pens, with the sheep of the various breeds confined in them in the right order.

We were treated to a lecture on the New Zealand wool and mutton industry. And then, as the lecturer said his piece about the Merino his young lady assistant pushed a button and the Merino was released, trotting up to his place at the apex of the rear, higher pyramid. There was some element of bribery; there was a food bowl containing something obviously very tasty on top of the pillar to which he was secured with collar and chain as soon as in place. Nevertheless it was quite fantastic how every animal, when released, went directly to his appointed place.

There was an exhibition of shearing. Then, as it had started to rain, the sheepdog demonstration was held inside the dome. The lecturer, using whistle signals, told the dog which of the sheep to stand on.

All right, all right, dogs - sheepdogs especially - are intelligent. But sheep aren’t notorious for their brainpower. I’d like to know how those sheep were trained....

The next day I entrained for Wellington. I had learned that a “rail car” makes, the daylight trip. Boarding the thing I was pleased to find that it is more of a train - although with only two coaches - than a rail car. It could be described as a poor man’s Bullet Train, although the locomotive was a very ordinary Diesel-electric engine and not something out of a science fiction illustration. Unfortunately the day was mainly overcast, with frequent rain; nonetheless the scenery was spectacular. Until I made the trip I had no idea that the North Island of New Zealand is so mountainous.

Although the Silver Fern broke no speed records it made good time and would have arrived in Wellington exactly as advertised had it not been for one of those annoying, unscheduled and unexplained stops just outside the station.

But I was supposed to be going to New Zealand to attend a convention, not to go gallivanting about the countryside.

Norcon was in fact, quite enjoyable and had its amusing moments. At the opening ceremony I was supposed to cut a red silk ribbon. I thought of something really humorous to say, and said it. It went over like the proverbial lead balloon.

“In Australia” I said, “we do things differently. Just as the VIP has his scissors poised some clot in a comic opera uniform, mounted on a horse and waving a sword, gallops up and slashes the tape...”

And then, of courses I had to explain everything.

Don’t they teach history in New Zealand schools?

And then there were the plastic Tiki awards, similar to the Norwescon’s Tacky awards. (Last year I qualified for the Guiness book of Records. I must be the only Australian who has returned to his native land with a souvenir boomerang, plastic, Made in California.) It is the Dunedin mob that awards the plastic Tikis - small, selling retail at 10c at the outside - at New Zealand SF conventions. They were determined that one of the four Australians present should receive a plastic Tiki for the most grossly ocker remark made during the Con. I was so honoured.

It was because of something I said when answering questions after my GoH speech. I’d finished the talk by speaking about the work currently in progress, KELLY COUNTRY, which is, essentially, a history of the Australian War of Independence. An earnest young lady asked, “And what part does New Zealand play in all this?” I replied “New Zealand remains loyal to the British Crown.” There were howls of protest. I said, “But it has to be so. Otherwise my plot is mucked up.”

Apart from plot requirements I really think that, during the 1880’s, New Zealand would have remained loyal to the British Crown, no matter what was happening in Australia. And, in both Australia and New Zealand today, there are many, many people who would remain loyal to the British Crown no matter what was happening. Let’s face it; whether we like it or whether we don’t (or even if we could hardly care less) the nuptials of Charlieboy and Lady Di are NEWS in this part of the world.

There was one last amusing episode, when I passed through Emigration at Christchurch Airport. I handed my form to the Customs officer. He looked at it and then at me and exclaimed, “I know you!” Fellow intendinq passengers stared, expecting (possibly) to see a notorious drug smuggler arrested. They must have been disappointed when the officer and myself warmly shook hands, He had been one of the Customs staff on the Lyttleton wharves when, years ago, I was running to that port as Master of Karamu.

And that, I think, will have been my only overseas travel this year. Shortly after my return from New Zealand I received a surface mail letter from the U.S.A., dated February 25, inviting me to be Guest of Honour at URCON III, in Rochester, New York, in late September this year. I fear that my letter of acceptance, even though it was sent EXPRESS AIR MAIL, will arrive too late. An alternative GoH must have seen signed up weeks ago.