Stephen Oliver

Nun's soapy penance offset by cream buns

I have previously spoken of my early convent miseducation at St Bernard's Convent, Brooklyn, Wellington in the 1950s, although have not spoken of the actual process of instruction, which was a hit-and-miss affair.

What became of the cowboy builders and the shonky jobs?

They came thundering over the horizon and across the Canterbury Plains in a swirl of dust and heat and beating hooves, nail pockets flapping wildly in the wind and spirit levels at the ready in the saddle holster.

Romney rides into the sunset

Obama Romney

Another four years of Barrack Obama can only be a good thing.

Down in the lowlands

LOWLANDS: Kids learn fishing at the Waikato River.

I guess there was a time in New Zealand when we didn't give our recreational waterways a second thought.

Skullduggery in high places

My local greengrocer says to me, "Dotcom this. Dotcom that. I'm sick of hearing about it. Knock it on the head."

Long sordid list

Pope Benedict XVI

The tiny Vatican City state in the centre of Rome certainly punches above its weight when it comes to international intrigue and scandal.

Another cathedral much admired and beloved

The other week I had the opportunity to visit the south and on my return from Dunedin found myself with a three-hour delay in Christchurch, waiting for a connecting flight north.

The beat of freedom

The figures of author Jack Kerouac (left) and Neal Cassady are painted on the wall of the Beat Museum in the North Beach neighborhood in San Francisco. Kerouac and the Beat poets called the cafes and bars of the neighborhood home and many of their favorite haunts still exist

It looks like cinematically at least, the Beats are back in favour.

Haunted faces of humanity

THE MODEL T: Americans still live their dream through the automobile but the vision is bankrupt.

I have this recurring dream of long lines of refugees, bowed and hobbled, trudging across some battered landscape, plumes of black smoke rising up in spirals to a leaden sky.

Behind the facades, shaken city's identity still in ruins

The other week, waiting for a connecting flight north, I found myself with a three-hour delay in Christchurch.

The instinct to hunt down prey still strong

A great national characteristic borne out of necessity is our ability to survive at ground level.

Speaking one's mind not all that simple

It comes down to habit, after all, the expectations of thought, as reflexive consciousness, that control lives, although we are scarcely aware of those mechanisms at work.

Once upon a time in the deep waterside south

Dunedin and its outlying districts have continued to preserve much of their 19th-century character.

Ancestors hold sway over everything we do

Ancestral echoes are written in our DNA - those genealogical batteries of ancient recall.

Books help lift virtual fog

It was as if I had journeyed back 40 years or so to Smith's Bookshop in Manners St, Wellington.

The black-rimmed, super-clean city state

Len Brown's new super-city is now in the throes of inflating its super ego

The brain of a bird is a wondrous thing

Wonderful word "heterospecific". But would it work as a pick-up line in a cocktail bar? "Hi, I'm a heterospecific individual, what's your name?"

Dumb-arse behaviour takes the cake

There were warning signs at dusk, a revving engine and the thump, thump of the boom box.

Priest's peculiar life had an even stranger end

Father Flynn was a theatrical fellow, given to showy street processions in full priestly regalia, complete with mitre and staff, followed by a rag-tag flock, corralled for, say, an Easter service, and paraded through the narrow back streets of Newtown with a sort of slovenly pomp.

Colonial architecture is pure gold

Our ties to Australia were maybe a little more reciprocal back then during the halcyon gold-rush days of the 1860s.

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