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Friday, December 28, 2018

Weird Things about New Zealand

The sun doesn’t go down until after 10 o’clock at night here. 

I left my watch on Queensland time (which is 3 hours behind here) so I basically haven’t been able to eat for 9 days. 

Breakfast time is at 4 am and I was never hungry. Lunch is at 9 o’clock in the morning which is ridiculous and no-one can be expected to eat lunch at that time. Dinner time is at 4 o’clock in the afternoon when the sun is still beating down on my contrary, befuddled head so it is impossible to eat dinner. 

I don’t know how they don’t all die of starvation here. 

“Change your bloody watch, Pinky,” Scotto kept nagging me. But I refused because I was in a bad mood due to being so damn hungry all the time. 

They have no woodland creatures in New Zealand. 

The only small mammals here are feral possums which the entire country seems to find a disgusting state of affairs. Every tour guide we met, launched into a vigorous and demonstrative diatribe about why the possum is a malevolent, foul creature which must be slaughtered at every opportunity. 

According to all the outraged and emotional tour guides, the possum was introduced via Australia (bloody feral Australians) because they thought they might start a possum fur trade here. Possum fur never really took off for some reason. Now, you only see possum fur in souvenir shops in the guise of Willy Warmers or stitched around the collar of heinously priced Merino ponchos. 

Because the possums have no natural predators in New Zealand, the population quickly swelled to 80 million (according to one particularly incensed tour guide) or 30 million (according to another less irate bus driver). Since then, the entire Kiwi population has embarked on a resolute mission to execute any possum they encounter with the wild abandonment of a disgruntled serial killer. 

Whilst trudging through a forest in Glenorchy, the tour guide showed us a possum trap. It was a vicious thing which stabbed the possum through the brain with a steel rod (I told you they hate them). An American lady on the tour asked how many possums they usually caught. 

“Fifteen,” he replied sheepishly. 

“Fifteen a day?” queried the woman. 

“No. About fifteen a year,” he relinquished. 

No wonder there are 80/30 million possums here. They’re too smart for the kiwis. 

The New Zealand government brought in stoats in an attempt to reduce the possum population but funnily enough, the stoats began eating the birds instead of eating the possums. The stoats also bred like rabbits and had no predators, so the result was that New Zealand now enjoyed an over-population of possums AND stoats. 

I listened attentively every time the tour guides went on these indignant tirades and it was always on the tip of my tongue to chime in with, “Why don’t you just get some dingoes in to kill the stoats and possums?” 

“DUNGOES????” they would have replied. “The dungoes would eat all the ship!” 

Then I suppose they would have to import crocodiles to eat all the dungoes. 

In all our tramping around New Zealand, I saw not one possum. I didn’t see any stoats either which was disappointing and weird since they are allegedly profuse in numbers and very busy stealing eggs from unsuspecting endangered birds. 

“What’s a stoat?” Scotto anxiously whispered to me after listening to a particularly infuriated tour guide carrying on about the wickedness of stoats. I think he was worried a stoat was about to leap out of the shrubbery at him. 

I knew the answer because it was in a New Zealand crossword puzzle I’d completed the previous day. 

“A small carnivorous mammal of the weasel family native to both Eurasia and North America,” I replied knowledgeably. 

New Zealand crossword puzzles are also weird. They have all these questions about bloody New Zealand. Things like, ‘Which New Zealand marathon runner traversed a glacier wearing togs and jandals, in 1954?’ 

The scenery down here in the South Island is beyond belief. Even the Kiwis acknowledge this. They’ve given appropriated names to places, like “The Remarkables” and “Mt Aspiring”. 

“Isn’t that mountain remarkable?” I’d say to Scotto. 

“I’d call it aspiring!” Scotto would reply. 

“But what is it aspiring to be, Scotto? Is it aspiring to be remarkable? Do you think they meant ‘inspiring’?” 

Here are some photos of the beautiful scenery.

Have you been to New Zealand? 

What was your favourite part?

The Ice Bar!

Saturday, December 8, 2018

School Excursions and Risky Assessments

School finished for the year, yesterday.
*Runs around screaming like a mad woman

On Thursday, we escorted three classes on an excursion to the movies and a swim at Southbank as an end of year treat. 

Before the outing could take place, it was my job to concoct a risk assessment listing all potential dangers which may befall the students. This list ranged in scale from a possible catastrophic alien attack and bus-jacking by malevolent, extra-terrestrial creatures carrying lethal ray guns, all the way down to an extra-itchy mozzie bite.

After the excursion was over, I realised I’d actually left out quite a few hypothetical, but unidentified perils which I will make sure to include next time.

Some examples…

Danger/Possible Hazard
Seats on the bus could be in short supply

What could conceivably eventuate from hazard?
Teacher may be forced to sit beside a student and play endless rounds of cards/hangman/naughts and crosses and make interminable small talk on the positives and negatives regarding rainbow-coloured unicorns, instead of sitting alone and being allowed to stare out the window dreaming of what she is going to eat on her upcoming holiday to New Zealand.

Danger/Possible Hazard
Movie might be surprisingly good

What could conceivably eventuate from hazard?
Teacher may become extremely engrossed in the movie only to be interrupted fifty thousand times because someone or other needs to go to the toilet and thus misses all the good bits… like the very last three minutes of the movie when there was an hilarious screaming goat… and the teacher will stagger back into the theatre to be greeted by the entire audience shrieking with laughter but she missed the joke because she was in the smelly toilet guarding a student. (This didn’t happen to me but it did happen to my friend Kath who made the silly mistake of sitting in an aisle seat and all the other teachers who were thoroughly enjoying the movie kept sending kids to her when they needed to wee.)

Danger/Possible Hazard
Choc Tops

What could conceivably eventuate from hazard?
Teacher may unwarily sit beside a child who has never seen a choc top before. Child will stare at the choc top in bewilderment and make enquiry as to how it should be eaten. Teacher will tell child to just nibble on the hard chocolate until they break through to the mint ice cream. Child will take one nibble then decide she doesn’t like it. Monstrously sized choc top will sit in the cupholder during the movie as the teacher warily observes it gradually dissolving, dripping towards her pink cardigan sleeve and realises she has brought no plastic bags for rubbish and that the cardigan will never recover.

Danger/Possible Hazard
Injurious death traps

What could conceivably eventuate from hazard?
Teacher could imprudently slip on a greasy puddle of melted Choc Top which has collected under her seat causing her to painfully bark her shin and swear under her breath but loud enough for at least one child to hear.

Danger/Possible Hazard

What could conceivably eventuate from hazard?
After the movie, sixty children will desperately need to go to the toilet. The teacher could lose her marbles in her attempts to keep track of who is entering and exiting and make an embarrassing spectacle of herself in public whilst wearing a uniform with the school’s emblem embroidered on her left boob.

Danger/Possible Hazard
Counting students

What could conceivably eventuate from hazard?
Teacher will endure frustration when counting her class because she keeps counting 27 students over and over when she is cognizant that there are only 26 students in her class. She will begin to suspect an evil midget has crept into the throng. Eventually, wild-eyed and desolate, the teacher will just accept that she has 27 students in her class now.

Danger/Possible Hazard
Stress and anxiety

What could conceivably eventuate from hazard?
Teacher may be so overcome with agonising about the mysterious evil midget, she will leave her lunch on the bus and only realise this fact half way along the walk to the swimming pool. The other teachers will refuse to allow her to go back and retrieve her lunch because they are all fed up, tired and cranky and she will be miserable and starving as she watches all the students eating their Nutella sandwiches and crisps.

Danger/Possible Hazard
Missing children

What could conceivably eventuate from hazard?
Teachers will be so busy frenetically scanning the pool for floating bodies and doing head counts, they will fail to realise that two boys have completely buried themselves in sand with only their eyes and nose appearing above the surface. 

Danger/Possible Hazard
Toxic fumes

What could conceivably eventuate from hazard?
Teachers and students might be overcome with the fumes rhythmically emanating from one little boy who ate salami sandwiches at lunch. Teacher might have to resort to breathing through her straw hat.

Danger/Possible Hazard
Seats on the bus may be in short supply

What could conceivably eventuate from hazard?
Teacher may be forced to sit beside a student who, in the middle of a lengthy monologue on the merits of Minecraft, suddenly stops mid-sentence and asks, “How old are you, Mrs Poinker?” then follows it up with, “My granny is seventy-two.” Then stares, waiting patiently for the teacher’s reply. The teacher may become depressed, aware of the fact that after the trauma of this excursion she may indeed look seventy-two.