Just To Let You Know I Survived Christmas

My nieces and nephew.

My nieces and nephew eating the gingerbread house they just made.

Actually, I mostly had a good time.

On 23 December I flew to Christchurch, and did all the traditional holiday stuff down there. The tree was surrounded by dozens of gifts; most were for the kids, but there were some for me too! We did a few touristy things, and it didn’t rain. My nieces and nephews had a fabulous time together, which was great.

New Zealanders may recognize three of the kids from this TV ad:


With my siblings and I getting together, we naturally began reminiscing. One of the things we recalled was made-up songs and rhymes from our school days. We grew up in Gisborne, and all attended primary, intermediate, and high school school there. In those days, New Zealand schools still had corporal punishment.

Our primary school was Gisborne Central School. I started at the end of 1968 (I’m the eldest). A headmaster with a bit of a reputation was about to retire. We recited this rhyme about him:

Mr Roly is very holy
He goes to church on Sundays
He prays to God to give him strength
To whack the kids on Mondays

Our intermediate school was Gisborne Intermediate. Just a week or two into the school year in 1976 (I was in form 2/year 8), a large part of the school burned down due to an electrical fault. A classmate composed the following words to the tune of the hymn ‘Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory’. We thought it was hilarious. These days many would consider it completely inappropriate. Everyone who even laughed at it, let alone repeated it, would probably be carted off for counselling. (Jock White was the school principal.)

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the burning of the school
We have murdered all the teachers and we broke the Golden Rule
We are marching down the corridors to see Jock White the fool
Our troops are marching on

Glory, glory, hallelujah
Teacher hit me with the ruler
Met him at the door with a loaded 44
And he ain’t gonna teach no more

We sang the song below at the top of our voices as well. It was a TV ad from the 1970s back in the days when KFC was still called Kentucky Fried Chicken.


And Now For Something Completely Different

Heather’s Homilies has a Facebook page which I post a few things to that never make it to the website. Not many people have “Liked” it though, so you don’t get to see that stuff. I posted these gorgeous harvest mice a couple of days ago. (Reader and European science communicator Amy Carparelli on Twitter brought it to my attention.)



sanders-bookBernie Sanders and Sarah Silverman

And just today I put up the video below. It’s an hour long conversation between Bernie Sanders and Sarah Silverman, recorded at Standing Rock during Sanders’ recent book tour. It’s both entertaining and interesting. He spoke about his book Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In, then had this discussion with Silverman afterwards. (Click the book cover to go to the Amazon page.)



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11 Responses to “Just To Let You Know I Survived Christmas”

  1. Jenny Haniver says:

    Congratulations for surviving Christmas! Sounds like it was a good one spent with family. Your reminiscence of the very funny and pointed songs and rhymes you and your schoolmates made up reminded me of a girl in my Catholic high school who composed her own riff on the “Talking Guitar Blues” (aka “All American Boy” by Bobby Bare, hers was “Talking Rosary Blues.” Unfortunately, I remember only the first verse of her version, but I thought the whole thing brilliant and subversive.

    I got me a rosary about a year ago,
    Learned how to pray it in a day or so.
    And everywhere I went it was well understood
    I was knocking ’em out like nunny be good,
    “Hail Mary” and all that jazz.

    She was the class wag. Unfortunately, after high school she became a cloistered Carmelite — what a waste of life and talent, whatever she might have done in life. Hope she tired of it and jumped over the wall.

    The video f the harvest mice is precious.

    • Ha ha! As I started reading that, my chair started rocking because of a small earthquake – divine retribution? 😀

      • Jenny Haniver says:

        Brian Tamaki would say, of course it’s divine retribution. Googling to find Jock White, all I got were pics of white jockstraps. so I felt the fool.

        • Ha ha!

          If you really do want to find him, I think he died before the internet became a thing, so there wouldn’t be much. An old Gisborne magazine called Photo News has been uploaded and there are probably pics of him in there. When it was first done I checked it out and I found pics of me as a kid, but I can’t remember if that was because I knew what to look for or if there was a good search engine.

          Jock White was a paedophile. He got away with it because of his position in the community – old family, etc and the way kids were taught not to question back then. Maybe one day I’ll write about what I know. Anyway, a good tight jock strap, white or otherwise, would have been the best thing he could have worn.

          • Jenny Haniver says:

            Oh my! I was curious to learn about Jock White in the context of the lyrics, because I was struck by the overtly, dare I say, gleeful, fierce and taunting declarations of murder, threat to murder, and mayhem). I thought that either it must be school children’s hyperbole in the context of the original lyrics, or there had to be some backstory (even if the figure of Jock White were legendary or lost in the mists of history). I certainly wasn’t anticipating what you related. Not so sure I want to do more Googling to find info — there are creepy paedo sites I might click on inadvertently.

  2. Ken says:

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, Heather! We’re headed to Gisborne soon to visit the grandson. Can’t wait!

  3. rickflick says:

    Glad you made it through. So did I!
    Nice to see Sarah S. chat with Bernie.

  4. Max Wallace says:

    Thanks for all your good work in 2016. Amazing, useful research. Challenging year ahead. Best wishes, Max.

  5. Yakaru says:

    I remember the couplet “Glory, glory, hallelujah, Teacher hit me with the ruler” from various school songs in Australia too. Come to think of it, I remember my grade 3 teacher, Mrs Adams, hitting me with a ruler on several occasions.

    …And I remember that KFC first opening in Tasmania in about 1973, where I grew up, and my arch enemy in primary school was from a rich family and his father used to bring him Kentucky Fried for lunch sometimes at school, in his sports car. (The kid’s grandfather was German. A rich Bavarian who, um, left Germany shortly after the war, to, um, escape the, um, problems there.)

    • I got hit with the ruler too. My Standard 1 (year 3) teacher had been looking for an excuse for a while after I showed her up as being wrong on something. She caught me using my cardigan as a skipping rope, and that was it. The ruler in question was three feet long, and I got it wrapped around my legs several times. When I went back to my seat someone whispered to me, “Did it hurt,” and I whispered back, “No.” I was lying of course. The teacher heard and said, “Just wait ’til next time.”

      When KFC opened in Gisborne, there was huge excitement. It wasn’t until the late 70s or maybe even early 80s. There were lines around the block for weeks. Before that it was the highlight of the school holidays – the 8 hour drive from Gisborne to our grandmother’s farm featured a stop in Rotorua for Kentucky Fried.

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