Odd facts learned over the break.
1. In 1974 the new Chinese Embassy – allowed in to the country after Norman Kirk’s government recognised China 18 months previously – was being built and couldn’t get the electricity cable it needed. The Ambassador wrote formally to Finance Minister Bill Rowling asking if he could help them. Rowling checked with Government Stores and wrote back saying no: there was a shortage everywhere and they’d have to wait their turn.
2. The company once known as Silvios Recycled Records – back in the 80s the hippest grooviest Second Hand Rekkid Store in Wellington – later traded as Wellington Menopause Clinic.
3. Lashings of Ginger Beer is the name of a radical lesbian separatist burlesque collective.
4. Until the early 1800s people were buried in church yards and it is only since around that time the practice of municipal cemeteries has become widespread. This is why there are so few churchyards with cemeteries in New Zealand – they post-date the change in approach.
5. OK, I already knew this, but it was kind of made more stark: New Zealand governments never used cuts to interest rates to stimulate the economy in downturns prior to the 1990s. They couldn’t, simply because interest rates were already kept artificially by whoever was finance minister. There was no scope to do so. Muldoon, of course, tried to regulate finance company rates downwards in the early 1980s, but that kind of backfired on everyone.
6. There is a Wanganui-based horticulturist named Good Boy which produces the most delicious boysenberries and blueberries I have ever tasted.
7. Historians working on the Soviet desk for the British secret service developed a ‘Esau-Jacob’ theory of Russian despots. The smooth bald leaders were modernisers, while the hairy ones tended to be Slavophile reactionaries. Theory may have broken down a bit with Putin.
8. Danny John-Jules, the actor who played Cat on sci-fi comedy Red Dwarf, also sang backing vocals for David Bowie at one point in his career. Here he is, as Cat, making suggestions.