Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Another Naughty Athlete

More bad news for Cycling NZ today with a conviction handed down, and name suppression order lifted, on high profile cyclist Hayden Roulston.

Roulston, who signed a lucrative contract in September to ride for Lance Armstrong's Discovery Channel team, was convicted by Christchurch District Court Judge Bisphan on two counts of common assault. The incident occurred late at night in a inner city bar in Christchurch earlier this year. This was well before Roulston represented NZ at the Athens Olympics. A substantive hearing was held last Friday where evidence and for and against Roulston was submitted. A large part of his defence was that he was only peripherally involved in the assault and had been mistakenly identified as the main offender. In his ruling today Judge Bisphan found that on the balance of evidence presented he was confident Roulston was guilty of the charges brought against him.

Roulston was fined $400 dollars on both counts along with $260 court costs and a $150 witness fee. Sentencing was delayed for several hours as Judge Bisphan sought clarification on what impact a conviction would have on Roulston's international career. Police went to the US Embassy in Wellington which advised since the conviction was at the lowest order of the assault scale it would not compromise his visa chances. Though the truth of this will only be confirmed when Roulston makes his visa application. If he encounters troubles there may be scope for him to appeal his sentence as Judge Bisphan did indicate he did not want Roulston's punishment to be disproportionate to his offence.

So far there's no word from Cycling NZ on what disciplinary action, if any, it might take against Roulston. A statement may be issued tomorrow.

Friday, December 03, 2004


Here's a first for this blog. Three days and three posts!. You can blame this burst of creativity in the fact I've been off work all week with the flu. I had intended to go back today but the boss wouldn't let me. How nice is that? It's certainly never something that's happened to me in any of my previous workplaces. In fact the opposite was usually the case. You got a day off if you were lucky and even then had to put up with jibes about mental health days and veiled accusations that perhaps you weren't really ill and you were just slacking off. (Note to the people I used to work for at Carters; you were right, I was faking some of the time just to get out of that hellhole for the sake of my sanity). Anyway for the first time in my working career I've had four consecutive days off and it's been great. I've got the bug, and most of the mucus, out of my system and hopefully will be raring to go on Monday.

Right time to talk local issues again. It is supposed to be the point of this blog after all.

There's been another blow for local TV content with regional broadcaster CTV axing its news services as of Christmas. As someone who used to work at the station I have to admit I'm not surprised. The station's been through a succession of owners over the years and has lurched from one financial crisis to another. It's sort of been a an annual event for workers have arrived at the station of a morning to find both their program and their position no longer exist (Chris O'Malley knows what I'm talking about here). The station's current management claims they're now breaking even. But I'm a little suspicious of this as CTV's news operated in a stronger format several years ago when the station's financial state was parlous. Those were the days when Dennis Chapman (of Switchtec fame)owned it, when it was losing 60 to 100 thousand dollars a month. When the margins are slim the accountants immediately cut the most expensive arm of the business and that invariably means the newsroom. It's a real shame and not just for the people that work there. You see the strength, or advantage, of local TV is its news. It gives locals the chance to see stories they'd never see on the Aucklocentric One News and Three News bulletins. If it's removed then it's inevitable some of the audience will go with it. Programs like Marketplace, or Shopping With Jo, may be good moneyspinners but realistically who really enjoys watching them? Needless to say my commiserations go to the newsroom that closes as of Christmas.

The Adventure Air inquest has been dominating the past fortnight however I'm not going to dwell on it here just yet as I've not been covering the hearing. Anyway it's been pretty well covered in the papers. I have dug up some interesting information on the CAA director, John Jones, but I'll wait until the coroners findings are out before I'll elaborate further.

Canterbury had its first Seabed and Foreshore occupation today. A group calling itself Te Mangoroa occupied the New Brighton Pier this morning protesting the recently passed legislation. While I don't wish to be critical of the protesters, who're perfectly entitled to protest, I would like to make a salient point about their place of protest. If you're going to occupy a beach why would you choose New Brighton? Sumner would have made more sense (financially that is). Anyway only bout a dozen people turned up so it can't really be described as a groundswell movement.

The Christchurch City Council's sorted out its new payrates for its councillors and community board members. The hefty payrise is due to the recent downsizing of the Council. 12 members were cut at the last election after it was decided there were too many of them for the city. However the Higher Salaries Commission doesn't allocate council salaries on the basis of the number of elected members, but rather on the size of the city. This means the same amount of money is now being split among a smaller number of councillors. The contentious point is that the council's downsizing was sold by the Mayor and his supporters as a good move. Promises were made at the time the new political system would see extra powers and responsibilities devolved to community board members. This was a pretty significant promise as councillors have traditionally been very reluctant to let powers slip from their hands. Anyway the end result of the reforms has seen increased workloads for all parties and more money for councillors. What it hasn't done is see community board member payments go up and they're understandably a little annoyed about this. Doing more work for the same money isn't exactly a win win situation as far as they're concerned. Expect to see a few political tizzies as a result.

Thursday, December 02, 2004


Given all the debate that's now brewing about raising the drinking age back to 20 this is kind of appropriate.

This is a story about the unfortunate circumstances that befell some old school friends of mine during their first year of flatting at Canterbury University. I guess everyone has a horror story or two of their own and this is probably one that'll strike a few chords with one or two of you. This was recounted to me by one of them and if the passing years mean this tale has become a little exaggerated then I apologise.

The year was 1991 and the senior year of Motueka High School, at least those with some degree of sentience and academic ambition, descended on Canterbury University like a rampaging horde. They hunted in packs and congregated everywhere, be it on or off campus. At parties they'd gather in in their dozens in riotous confusion. There was many a flat kitchen filled to capacity with the ubiquitous "Mot people" in varying states of disorder late of a Friday or Saturday night. It got to the stage when there were those at parties, who were not from Motueka, that would shrug in wearied resignation at their overwhelming presence and sigh; "Dear God, not more bloody Mot' people". Meanwhile the alcohol flowed, the teenagers puked, and all to the wistful notes of the Violent Femmes.

Moderation in drinking isn't the norm among the majority of University students and those from Motueka were no exception. Which is probably, no definitely, why the following event unravelled the way it did.

Nic', Ky' Rodney, and Maria decided to stage a party in their flat one weekend. As was the norm everyone from Motueka was invited along with sundry hangers on. One of those hangers on was Maria's cousin (who for reasons of discretion I shall not name). The party unfolded as those sort of events normally did. Heavy drinking, loud music, angry neighbours, the occasional casual vomit, and probably a fair bit of flirting. Unfortunately Maria's cousin went a little to far overboard with with the alcohol. He'd arrived with a full bottle of vodka which he proceeded to demolish in short order It had the result that you might expect in a 17 year old. First he got loud, then he got physical (not violent .... just all over the place), and then motor dysfunction set in.

The flatees first noticed a problem when Maria's cousin was spotted heading down the hallway with a box of soap-powder heading for her bedroom. He was discovered strewing said powder all through her bedroom, though mainly in the vicinity of her now very battered wardrobe. He'd mistaken it for the toilet and had pissed in it. The soap powder was his way of cleaning it up. Or as he phrased it "aw wuzzz tring to cleaagh urr fuck". His vodka intake had reduced his speech patterns to one long vowel movement. It had also affected his gastric areas as well and made its presence felt in a energetic bout of projectile vomiting. Fortunately most of this happened outside the flat. Once Maria's cousin's stomach was settled and he was cleaned up to a certain degree the consensus was he should be put to bed to sleep it off. This was done and then the party continued.

The partying wound down in the small hours with those who were staying the night choosing to crash in the lounge. So picture this, the house is dark and quiet but for a few drunken snores. Then Rodney hears someone open the hall door and walk in and lie down on the floor. Along with the person came an overwhelming stench and while Rodney admits to being drunk that night, he wasn't so drunk that he could sleep through that level of smell. So up he gets and turns on the light to find out what is going on and is greeted with a vision of absolute horror. There was Maria's cousin lying on the floor, semi-snuggling up to one of the female flatmates, and covered head to toe in shit. Activities got a little frenzied at that point as Rodney and a friend of his hurriedly tried to awake drunk and sleepy people before they accidentally rolled in something they'd later regret. This was made a little challenging as drunken sleepers normally don't like being roused, however they moved pretty damn quick once they saw what was lying next to them.

Maria's cousin was unceremoniously hauled off the floor by Rodney and his friends. Clad in rubber gloves and wearing teatowels over their faces to dull the smell they hauled the poo monster out side where he was stripped down and hosed off with the fire hose. His clothes, which no-one really wanted to touch, were gingerly consigned to the rubbish bin. Now you may think that things were bad enough at this stage but they got worse as the flatmates discovered just how he'd managed to get himself in such a state. Being a student flat it was definitely budget accommodation and it had the bathroom to match. As you walked into the bathroom the toilet was on the left and the shower was on the right. It seems the alcohol had so befuddled poor Maria's cousin's brains that in his drunken and desperate haste for a dump his sense of direction got confused and before he realised he was in the shower, not the toilet, it was too late. His dire state was further confounded that he obviously knew he was doing wrong and tried his utmost to salvage the situation by trying to capture the turd in mid-descent in one of the girl's shower caps. As you already may have guessed his equilibrium wasn't up to it and down he went in a sodden sewage ridden heap. There was shit everywhere, on the walls, on the floor, on the ceiling! That's not to mention the copious amount he managed to smear all over himself. The morning after saw the rubbergloves and teatowels out again and the most strenuous cleaning a student bathroom ever saw. Though to be fair it can't have been that good as there was a vicious rumour that later that year mushrooms were found growing happily in poo residue under the sill of the shower.

Naturally the cousin was told off in a big way but it pretty much fell on deaf ears as the vodka had removed his entire memory of the night. He was very irate at not being able to find his clothes convinced he'd been the victim of some sort of set-up and departed in a bit of a huff. For the very great fortune of that flat's residents and furnishings he never darkened its doors again.

Finally, for those who are curious as to what relevance the title 3PO has to this tale. Well it became the nickname Maria's cousin has been labeled with ever since. Piss, Puke, Poo - 3PO.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Tales from the Tours.

I'm going to go away from my usual style of writing about the latest happenings in Christchurch and instead post a little part of my history. The following story is all true. The mists of memory, and the necessity to protect the reputations of others means some of the names have been changed. In the early 1990's I spent two years working in Japan helping to manage a showjumping team for an obscenely rich businessmen. This is just one of many interesting interludes that I experienced.

Evey summer the showjumping team would go all around the country as a part of the national championship circuit. The team I was working with was pretty decent. The boss's son was one of the most naturally talented riders I have ever seen and has subsequently represented Japan at the Olmpics. Anyway there was a lot of money and prestige involved which is why the boss hired foreign workers, such as myself, to provide the expertise that the locals simply couldn't match. Our set up was two Japanese riders, one foreign rider (who was also coach to the two Japanese riders), myself , and two stable hands. Generally when we were at a show we'd have upwards of a dozen horses competing so it made for a lot of hard work. With competition running from nine in the morning to five in the afternoon I'd be starting my work day at four AM and finishing sometime around ten at night ..... as you can imagine it was pretty intense stuff.

The thing was that the foreign staff, like myself and our French riding instructor Andre, only got to get together with our other gaijin colleagues at these events, and when we did we made the most of it socially. So by the time you've worked a 16 hour day and then spent upwards of 16 hours of socialising it didn't leave a lot of time for sleep. This conundrum was fixed courtesy of some wonderful little pills, speed to be exact, which kept the motor running during the day and enabled us to do what had to be done to keep things running smoothly. Unfortunately after three or four days of competition, little or no sleep, and a headful of drugs our collective judgement tended to be a bit wanting. Which probably explains the really dumb things we got up to!

It was the end of a spring show in Sapporo, we'd done well, and had got well and truly trashed at the formal event afterwards. But because we were well and truly buzzing all the gaijin decided to carry on. Anton, the French riding instructor, was in his element as he'd come across a couple of fellow countrymen and he finally had people he could talk to with no language barriers (he spoke no English or Japanese and no-one could speak any French .... which left him in a very solitary predicament). Anyway Anton was in his element and in the mood to party, so he and his two French friends (Jean-Paul and Jacques), along with myself, an Aussie called Craig, and an Irish girl (Melanie) decided to hit the town. To be honest we sort of had to leave the official celebrations as Jacques had fucked his boss's wife in a toilet somewhere and all sorts of suspicions had been raised by those that had heard the noise of passion emanating from the aforementioned cubicle. So in the true French tradition Jacques decided a hasty retreat was called for and we all just sort of got dragged along.

We ended up at a little bar somewhere in the city. I don't recall what it was called, just that it was dark and had stunningly attractive bargirls (as most Japanese city bars do). It very soon became obvious to those of us of non-gallic persuasion that there are certain dangers in socialising with Frenchmen when they're in a pack. Now I'm no angel, and upon occasion my behavior towards women has been somewhat wanting, but I have never witnessed such a scene as I did that night. Their treatment of the bargirls was outrageous, demeaning, and despicable. Then their personal habits hit new lows. Instead of getting of their backsides to go to the toilet the trio decided they'd just flip out their willies and piss under the table. We discovered this when one of the bargirls discovered it wasn't a drink that had spilled, but it was Jean-Paul pissing on her leg. Needless to say we were unceremoniously kicked out.

So after a few casual car vandalisms and the occasional sidewalk urination later, it was back to the show venue and the acommodation that had been set aside for us. The night was still far from over. Anton and Jacques amused themselves by spitroasting some poor female Japanese groom while the rest of us continued drinking. it was about this stage the real trouble began. Fresh from his tag team episode with Anton and the Japanese groom Jacques decided he now had a fancy for Irish Melanie. A fancy he declared had to satisfied through mutual passion. Needless to say Melanie told him where to go in the way only an Irish girl can which left our Froggie friend in a very miffed state. The problem was Melanie had decided if she was going to bonk anyone it was going to be Jean-Paul, who she'd taken a fancy to (me and Craig were left right out .... Antipodean accents just don't work that well on foreign women). As it turned out it was not a wise move on her part as, while she was briefly out of the room, the spurned Jacques cooked up a nasty revenge plan with Jean-Paul. Their strategy was that Jean-Paul would go along with Melanie's advances, get her in a state of undress, and then take a heap of revealing photos of her which then could be used to humiliate her.

The plan was put into effect and off to a secluded room went Melanie, Jean-Paul, and the camera. The moment the door closed Jacques told the rest of us what was going on and we waited for the flash of the camera and the expected squeals of female rage.

Sometimes fate takes some funny twists.

On cue the camera flashed ..... silence. Then it flashed again ...... more silence. No angry feminine outcry whatsoever! There was a collective exchange of puzzled glances in the living room, then out strode a fully clothed and happily triumphant Melanie. We made a rush for the bedroom to see what possibly could have happened and were greeted by the sight of a naked Frenchman bent double, whimpering in pain, and clutching his gentitalia. It turned out Melanie had been onto their game from the start and made plans of her own. She got Jean-Paul into a state of arousal, using methods I'm almost positive aren't approved of by the Catholic faith, and when he was almost in a state of bliss she bit down hard on his fundamentals, grabbed the camera and had a Kodak moment or three.

French pride was battered, and Irish eyes were definitely smiling. Meanwhile two young Antipodean lads were left wondering if this was what people when people went on about the sophistication of European culture.