Christchurch music videos: Beatnik – The Clean

“It was a terribly enjoyable afternoon in a scungy coffee bar in Christchurch. We gathered all their mates – most of whom ended up in later Flying Nun bands.” Simon Morris, director.



Search our catalogue for music by The Clean.

Find out more about  NZ Music Month at Christchurch City Libraries.

Change your brain

In Grade 1 at school in Toronto in the 1950’s, Barbara Arrowsmith-Young was put in The Turtles reading group and only because calling them The Tortoises didn’t seem nice. Barbara had severe learning difficulties.

In fact the list of things that Barbara could not do was very long – no spatial awareness for starters:

I could not judge where my body was relative to other objects, in particular moving objects coming towards me. You can imagine how badly my school mates did not want me on their sports teams.

She also had serious kinaesthetic problems (she was dreadfully clumsy) and her conceptual learning (reading and counting) was severely impaired. She couldn’t tell the time, tie her own shoelaces or read a map. Learning to drive (eventually) sent shock waves through her Toronto community.

And look at her now. She is beautifully spoken, has written a book on her method of improving the neuro-plasticity of the brain, has started her own school and now has 35 branches of them. She is successful in getting her programme accepted into American and Canadian State Schools where there are specially equipped rooms called Arrowsmith Rooms with teachers whom she has personally trained in her methodology. The woman who changed her brain is her first book on her experiences and her methodology, it tells stories from 30 years of working with people who have followed her programme.

What did she have that enabled this epic turnabout to take place? A verbatim memory, a photographic visual memory and capital M Motivation . With these tools, she developed her own series of mental exercises to improve her brain. She is living proof that it works.

Question time at this session was fascinating. The auditorium was packed with concerned parents, medical personnel and actual sufferers of  a variety of cognitive ailments. There was still a forrest of hands waving for the mike when the session ended. One of the last questions she took asked if our schooling paid enough attention to students with learning problems. Her chilling answer was:

Education neglects the brain

The queue at her book signing was one of the longest at this Auckland Writers and Readers Festival.

Read her book – someone you know could benefit. It may even be you.

The haunting hour- Stella Rimington

Another packed house and a slightly queasy start with host Sean Plunket  promising the audience to get the goods from Stella Rimington but all without resorting to waterboarding. Boom, boom Mr Plunket.

Dame Stella – who celebrated her 77th birthday yesterday – affirmed first off that writing “spook” fiction was significantly more fun and less responsibility than living a life in espionage. The realities of the spy game bear very little resemblance to fictional representations and while her heroine Liz Carlyle has been shot at, nearly blown up and kidnapped, Rimington’s role as Director General of MI5 involved the infinitely lesser threat of death by boredom with an endless round of budget meetings and ministerial briefings.

Alternating between writing and intelligence questions, Sean Plunket asked about MI5’s relationship with the media under Stella Rimington’s stewardship. There was, she felt, no relationship between the secret service and the media prior to the 1980s, and the most frequent headline used in conjunction with intelligence news was “MI5 blunders”. To address this she developed  an “openness strategy” and while still keeping operational information under wraps, MI5 presented a more visible profile and point of contact to the press and public. Her reveal as Director General was part of this transition but overall she feels the service could still achieve greater transparency and as a result gain the public’s trust.

Dame Stella is still obliged to submit all her manuscripts for scrutiny and this is now her only connection to the “Ring of Secrecy”.  After being owned almost body and soul by the service she is now on the outside. This adjustment from being at the “centre of things” was both a “relief and grief”, and the process of re-establishing control of the shape and direction of her life was at the time challenging.

Two of her novels have been optioned for TV, asked who she’d like to see in the role of Liz Carlyle she confessed that she watched insufficient television to match faces to names. She was however scathing about the series “Spooks” which she finds overly violent and too neatly episodic.

She has recently agreed to write two more Carlyle thrillers but feels age may be against her. Her mortality was raised again in the context of the West’s war on terror. Rimington isn’t sure she’ll live to see the end of this cycle of terrorism but while she laments the “unjustified” war in Iraq, and the US’s heavy-handed,  militaristic response to the terrorist threat, she also believe terrorism in some form will remain a constant and ever-changing danger.

A calm, measured and informative hour delivered by a calm, measured and inspiring woman.