I appear to be 51

That might be me top left!

Jason Goroncy (http://cruciality.wordpress.com/) is a colleague of mine – a cheeky one, who stretches out into dangerous waters with a degree of carelessness that usually warms my heart.  But, on a very wide and mysterious unoffical cyber community we are part of he posted me a birthday poem.  Here it is followed by my miserable not-quite-poetic response…

“Today is Martin Stewart’s birthday. Martin is getting very old. To celebrate, I thought I’d share a poem by one of my favourite poets, R.S. Thomas. The poem is titled ‘Ninetieth Birthday’:

You go up the long track
That will take a car, but is best walked
On slow foot, noting the lichen
That writes history on the page
Of the grey rock. Trees are about you
At first, but yield to the green bracken,
The nightjars house: you can hear it spin
On warm evenings; it is still now
In the noonday heat, only the lesser
Voices sound, blue-fly and gnat
And the stream’s whisper. As the road climbs,
You will pause for breath and the far sea’s
Signal will flash, till you turn again
To the steep track, buttressed with cloud. 

And there at the top that old woman,
Born almost a century back
In that stone farm, awaits your coming;
Waits for the news of the lost village
She thinks she knows, a place that exists
In her memory only.
You bring her greeting
And praise for having lasted so long
With time’s knife shaving the bone.
Yet no bridge joins her own
World with yours, all you can do
Is lean kindly across the abyss
To hear words that were once wise. 

A wee dram will be enjoyed tonight in honour of the birthday boy!”

My response:
There is a bad boy in the church – Goroncy,
a theologian, in his prime.
Should we be asking Mr Baker* to send in a Commission,
or do we leave it alone this time?

If I wasn’t so old, doddery and frail
I’d give Goroncy a little piece of my mind.
But alas ‘little’ is all I have left, and what’s there I’m fast loosing,
(along with my money, my hair, and my time).

So I will suffer in near silence
at the passing of my years
And while envying him that wee dram, (of which I’d like to share!)
I’ll humbly give God thanks, for this life,
and Goroncy’s good cheers.
Mart the Rev


50 – music of the last year

As with every year for the last while I prepare a list of songs that I have enjoyed listening to through my 50th year and burn them onto a CD.
The list contains some new tracks and a number of old ones – some rediscovered, others really ‘heard’ for the first time.

[The last year included getting to the following concerts U2 in Melbourne, Leonard Cohen, Pink Floyd Experience, Dave Dobbyn all in Christchurch, NZ]

The List (in order of what sounds nice):

The Rip – Portishead Third 2008
[My favourite Portishead track brittle yet powerful]

Radiohead – Exit Music (for a film) Ok Computer 1997
[More brittle yet powerful]

One – U2 & Mary J Blige Duals 2006/2011
[Thanks U2 for releasing duals to the diehard ever poorer but always richer fans!]

Stranger Here – Cowboy Junkies Renmin Park 2010

Grind – The Church El Momento Siguiente 2007

All Along the Watchtower – Jimi Hendrix The Best of Jimi Hendrix
[My way of giving thanks for the great Bob Dylan on his 70th birthday]

Falling Dove – Crowded House Intriguer 2010
[Melancholy at its best]

Wire – U2 The Unforgettable Fire 1984 re-mastered version 2009
[Play it loud!]

Thistles & Weeds – Mumford & Sons Sigh No More 2010
[On an album with many fine tracks this one stands out – I particularly like the last third of the album]

Sour Times – Portishead Roseland NYC Live 1998
[What fascinating music!]

Cicadas – Cowboy Junkies Renmin Park 2010
[An unusual style for the Junkies – it grew on me]

Isolation – Crowded House Intriguer 2010
[Neil Finn always comes up with lovely new songs and is joined by his wife]

The Lady Don’t MindLittle Creatures Talking Heads 1985
[What a joy to buy the CD and remember this song on what I believe to be their most accessible album]

My City of RuinsThe Rising Bruce Springsteen
[A very pertinent song after our large earthquake in February]

Girl, Make Your Own Mind UpThe Sun Came Out Don McGlashan with 7 World’s Collide 2009
[Don is a NZer formerly with the Muttonbirds & Front Lawn]

Moment of Surrender – U2 No Line On The Horizon 2009
[this is on for the third year running – a great song]

Not on this mix but would if I could have found a way to download them in time:
Supernatural – Cowboy Junkies from their latest release Demons, where they cover songs of the late Vic Chesnutt http://latentrecordings.com/cowboyjunkies/

Girl With One Eye – Florence & The Machine Lungs 2009

the 30 places I have lived

Over the last 50 years I have lived in the following places:
Born in Hilljack Maternity Hospital in Dunedin, NZ (might have stayed for a week absorbing the lovely Dunedin late-autumn air), now  Columba College
House #1 Lived in Fairfield, between Dunedin & Mosgiel (apparently there was a ‘night cart’ – ie a chappie came in the wee hours and collected the family’s droppings)
Houses #2-5 Moved to Timaru for the start of 1962 – stayed three years lived in houses in Wai-iti Rd, Rhodes St, Coonoor Rd & Hobbs St
Houses #6-7 Moved to Whangarei in 1964 (in Timaru three siblings arrived to add to me and the older two – six children under 6!) Dad (Allan Stewart) had his first full-time position as a radio announcer
Lived in Kamo briefly and then at 14 Erin St (ph: 72063)
Started school in 1966, the first year of Tikipunga Primary
Houses #8-9 1970 (end of year) moved to Timaru.  Stayed in the Seaview Hotel for some weeks ahead of move to 36 Rugby St.  Attended Highfield Primary school.  Then attended Timaru Boys’ High
1980 started work at Plantorama Nurseries
Houses #10-13 Flatted in North St, Cross St, Wilsons Rd & Morgans Rd
House #14 Went back home for several months while preparing for university
House #15 Flatted at 95 Todman St, Brooklyn Wellington while at Victoria University
House #16 Flatted at 9 Devon St, Te Aro, Wellington for a few months
House #17 Knox College in Dunedin 1984
House #18 1 Somerville Courts, Glendinning Ave (married quarters at Knox College)
House #19 Evans St, Ohopo – a house that Janet Frame (noted NZ author lived in)
House #20 Newport St, Belleknowes, Dunedin
House #21 Hobson St, St Clair, Dunedin
House #22 Livingstone St, Duntroon, North Otago, the first manse after ordination and where daughter Hana lived after birth
House #23 Peebles, Waitaki Valley, Nth Otago – the other rural manse in the parish of Waitaki where son Sam made his start
House #24 4 Devon St, Gore – the manse at St Andrew’s in Gore where son Josh began the journey
House #25 83 Allens Rd, Ashburton, Mid-Canterbury
House #26 Philip St, Ashburton, with friends after marriage breakup
House #27 back to 83 Allens Rd (does this count?)
House #28 71 Drivers Rd, Maori Hill, Dunedin (the manse at Maori Hill Presbyterian Church), where I also served as chaplain at Columba College at the place of my birth!
House #29 53 Montague St, Northeast Valley, Dunedin – my first house, Anne and I bought it on a shoe-string… two and a half acres (1 hectare) of wild hill.  Loved it!
House #30 5a Truman Rd, Bryndwr, Christchurch – the manse at St Stephen’s Presbyterian Church – and we are still there!