Read More · 12 September 2006

Running After Royalty

King Taufa‘ahau Tupou IV of Tonga died last night in Auckland after a long illness. He was 88. I never met him.

Of course, most people would take that last point as read—who on earth expects to meet the reigning monarch of a tiny country in the middle of the Pacific Ocean? But I did at least try to meet him. When I was a Ph.D. student I spent seven weeks in Tonga interviewing various public figures about tradition and politics, and of course the King was top of my wishlist. Every week I asked the Palace Office if there was any chance of an audience, and every week was politely declined. He was a busy man, after all, in a country known for its furious pace of life.

Read More · 11 September 2006 ·

Y’know how sometimes you’ll see someone who’s a tremendous ham, but hammy in such an honest and unrepentant way that you can’t help but love him?

Onya, Steve.

4 September 2006 ·

Goodbye, Jumbo

“Of course we’re all afraid of being blown up in a terrorist attack on a plane,” one of the Today programme announcers said on Radio 4 while interviewing someone this morning.

But hang on. Why should the successful prevention of a terrorist attack make us more afraid of terrorist attacks? Surely such successes should make us less afraid. People in Britain have known about terrorist threats for years. Yesterday’s events, if we take them at face value, are evidence that our police can prevent at least some of those attacks. Given the high-profile cock-ups of recent times, that should be cause for celebration, not fear.

Read More · 11 August 2006 ·

Carry This On


10 August 2006


Half the people in the state must be remembering eating in the cafe at Port Arthur. Today I can feel the slaughter invading my memories, happy memories of day trips to the ruins and camping trips to the Tasman Peninsula with family and friends. It’s twisting the significance and implications of [our] pasts ... not nearly as terrible as its impact on the victims and their families, of course, but still a disturbing legacy for a great many.

From my letter to The Australian after the Port Arthur massacre.

28 April 2006

Instant Karma

So, I thought I’d try this moblogging that Tom Coates and his ilk are always going on about—snapping a few photos on the run and posting them to my blog in an instant. Trouble is, my mob. is an old Siemens C65 with no Bluetooth, and I couldn’t be bothered paying six quid for the connector cable, and it took me nine months to get around to sending the photos across to Jane’s by infrared and from hers onto the Mac. Still, now you can thrill to the immediacy of these tiny low-res photos of the G8 summit!

G8 Protests

(All from 6 July 2005. Yes, that is as good as they get.)

10 April 2006

Bird Flu Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

At last it’s here. For months the local tabloids have been screaming BIRD FLU REACHES EUROPE... BIRD FLU 300 MILES FROM BRITAIN... BIRD SEEN COUGHING IN CALAIS. Now it’s only a few miles as the asthmatic crow flies from where I’m typing this, and a few days ago we had the best headline of all:

Don't Panic

Read More · 9 April 2006

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