NZ Eccentrics

I first discovered how many eccentrics we have in NZ when I was recording a series of programs for Radio NZ called Drawl and Twang. Each programme profiled a singer who sounded like a dinkum kiwi not like an imitation American.

First up was Steve Thomas a Welch poet from Cardiff who performed in the Wellington Botanic Gardens dressed in a bathing cap, a Batman cloak and holey black stockings to the beat of an omnichord, a bit like a metronome.

Steve sounded entirely and confidently himself. Tock tock tock tock went the omnichord and Steve’s voice sang,
“We are the weasels the weasels of Wellington
If anybody calls we’re Bizzzy at the seminar.”
The effect was wonderful. Steve was making outrageous fun of himself and
Wellington’s bureaucrats.

That ability to make fun of yourself was hugely a part of Alan and Janet Muggeridge’s repertoire in the programme Taranaki Sunshine.
“ Taranaki boys on a Saturday night
Out to get pissed. Look for a fight
Taranaki boys they look so fine
But nothing much has changed here since 1959”

While Janet provided mandolin accompaniment, Alan dressed in a little tie-dyed number and high heels, sang and stared at his audience in a puzzled way as if he couldn’t believe how odd they were!

Where have all our loveable eccentrics gone?
Dinah Priestley

Charles Napier at the Battle of Meeanee 1843 Many of our soldiers arrived in New Zealand after having served in India with commanders like the “fiery lynx-eyed” Charles Napier. Both stern and compassionate, Napier’s recipe for colonisation was” a damn good thrashing followed by great kindness”.

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