Wednesday, October 13, 2021

And now for something completely different...

From March through November 2019 I conducted weekly interviews with local composer, musician and teacher, Dorothy Buchanan. It had been a joint ambition to get Dotty's memoirs recorded and formed into a book. But I hadn't expected to personally get so much out of the process; transcribing, researching, the geneological tracing and chronological  ordering of material; visits to the Alexander Turnbull Library where the composer's ephemera is held; trawling through reference publications and microfiche material. So much pleasurable learning about a person and a process.

Dotty is an amazing individual who achieved so much so young, and simply never stopped. At just seventeen,  she was playing violin in the Christchurch Civic Orchestra,  – the forerunner to the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra; at eighteen she recorded her Mass in English and received performance royalties from the NZBC for the first time. At nineteen she was leading the Christchurch Orchestral Society, and at twenty – when long distance air travel was in its infancy - Dotty celebrated her birthday with a Pimms in a London pub whilst on tour with the Christchurch Harmonic Society.

Her musical pedigree comes through both sides of the family and goes back generations. But her origins are West Coast and humble. The opening chapter will evoke their own memories for New Zealanders of a similar vintage.

'The Birds Began To Sing' is about to be released by Cuba Press. The first few pages can be read here by clicking on 'look inside'.

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Long-term benefit dependency is growing

Long-term benefit dependency is growing, and it was growing before Covid, though the advent of the virus has obvioulsy played a role.

The blue line shows the effect of the first March 2020 lockdown and then returns to near  'normality'.

The orange line however continues to climb and the gap between the two extends.

A significant contributor to this is psychological and psychatric conditions - rising sharply after the first lock down -  keeping people on Jobseeker HCD (Health Condition and Disability). Over the same time frame:

There are also over 32,000 adults on a Supported Living Payment (ex Invalid benefit) suffering from pyschological or psychiatric disorders. That's up around 4,000 over the same period.

These numbers are very sad. It's just horrible to think of thousands of mentally unwell people unable to get treatment and live functioning lives.