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A Yellow Bug

December 28, 2019

Recollection 3: A Yellow German Bug

I was not in Dunedin very long. After five years, a yellow German VW beetle clattered me from there and transported me north. Twenty years after we beat them in a global stoush I was being given a lift in one of their cars. We were buying Japanese cars too but in an altogether different configuration. One of my earliest memories was of toy cars made from recycled tin. Thin plastic wheels. Painted passengers. But when you flipped the car over the undercarriage was revealed to be absent except for the thin wire axles. However the original advertising or branding on the reverse of the tin was visible. I recall blue images of fish, no doubt a recycled tin of tuna. And characters ascribed to the Japanese though how we knew that at such a young age I have no idea. But years before Toyota and their TQM and precision engineering we had a derogatory view of their quality. If it was of dodgy manufacture it was “Made in Japan” in the same way a more recent generation has grown up ascribing rubbish to the Chinese. 

In those early years however  the family didn’t have a car so we walked everywhere, were given lifts, or caught the bus. We lived on Carrington Road in a house Dad renovated. If I have my facts correct (always doubtful)  his father had loaned my parents enough money to buy the house. Renovated and sold, Dad repaid the loan and used some of the profit to purchase their first car. A Holden. HD or HR? But I get ahead of myself again. 

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Bay of Pigs in New Zealand

September 6, 2019

Recollections (2)

In April 1961 an attempted military-by-proxy (a favourite US formula) invasion of Cuba took place by those who were no admirers of Fidel Castro and his Communist buddies. Backed and trained by the CIA the invasion at the Bay of Pigs was reduced to naught in three days and is often used to define the word ‘fiasco’.  At least on the part of the Americans, for it cemented Castro as a national hero and helped stitch up the relationship between Havana and Moscow. Emboldened by the idea that they had a friendly ally so close to the US and from which you could throw stones onto houses in Florida, Moscow figured they would plant missiles there. So between April 1961 through into 1962 the world was drawn into an increasing period of tension which culminated in the Cuban Missile Crisis as Russia deployed SS-4 Sandal medium range missiles onto Cuban soil. Eventually Moscow and Washington defused everything and the crisis was considered over in November 1962 but not before everyone thought they would be cooked in an instant of ‘one flash and you’re ash’ ‘mutually assured destruction.’

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