How should my kiwi comrades get back at the high Australian dollar? Given that the NZ dollar is about AUD 0.75, you should make your coins – up to the $2 one – exactly the same as the Australian ones. That way you would be able use them in all the Australian coin machines and save heaps. You’ll find them at railway stations, bus stops, cigarette machines, as parking meters, and so on.

And seriously, people, you should travel on your local trains. The Northern Explorer (which I have taken now on three occasions) is one of the great train journeys of the world. It travels daily between Auckland and Wellington and passes through some stunning countryside. It’s comfortable, relaxing, therapeutic and amazing.


Soon I am off, for China and New Zealand and a few lectures and papers. In one of my regular acts of shameless self-promotion (thank God I don’t have one of those silly facebook accounts!), the titles:

Venerating Lenin – invited public lecture, Beijing Foreign Languages University, 20 August.

On the Myth of Classicism – keynote address at Renmin University Summer Institute on Christian Culture, Suzhou 27-31 August.

A Dead Spouse, A Vegetable Garden and a Cousin’s Field: On Private Property – paper at Bible and Critical Theory Seminar, Auckland, 1-2 September.

Trading Ventures and Other Tall Tales of the Hebrew Bible – seminar at Otago University, Dunedin, 7 September.

As you can see, both ‘The Matriarch’s Muff’ and ‘The Music Album Musical Bum of the Bible’ have yet to be unleashed.

Does Norman Gottwald, author of The Tribes of Yahweh, really live in Napier, New Zealand? Is he really the owner of all the port equipment in Napier, moonlighting as a Marxist biblical scholar?

How exactly do you get from one carriage to another on those gloriously modern New Zealand trains?