Monthly Archives: July 2014

Tim Walker’s Yearning

I once stood at the bedside of an elderly woman as she wistfully breathed, what would turn out to be, her last few sentences.

Reaching my ears as the barely audible hiss of air breezing over 96-year-old vocal cords, these words, much as her captivated audience had to strain to hear, held more meaning, more poignancy, than most of today’s youth could muster in a twelve hour onslaught of quick-fire colloquialism.

Without going into verbatim, what she essentially said was that although she had already accepted this as her end, and while she was relatively content with the way her life had played out, if she had to do it over, there were a few areas that she would amend.

I recall her sighing deeply as she remembered all the energy that had been wasted over the years harbouring ill feelings towards others, often over matters so trivial her memory had long ago failed her on the reason for the discord. She spoke sorrowfully of how much effort is involved in maintaining any kind of negative emotion and how her life might have been that much simpler had she just let it be.

The point to take from this is that anger, hatred, enmity or in fact, disharmony of any kind requires a disproportionate amount of focus to maintain. To elaborate, look at the exact opposite emotion – bliss, love, passion or in fact, harmony of any kind. For the amount of energy expended in relation to the amount reciprocated, given that these positive emotions will generally yield a return of 90 – 100%, negative feelings are simply not a productive option. Many are easily angered, but nobody is easily angry.

This old woman regretted time spent holding grudges and I guess it would be fair to say, she now regretted ever having regrets at all.

The most meaningful thing she said though, the part of her speech that very much hit home and, although her glazed eyes weren’t truly focused on anyone, I could have sworn she was speaking to me directly: “Yearning for betterment … Such a terrible waste of time … Don’t pine … Don’t yearn for things to be … If it’s meant to be … It’s meant to be … Let life’s joys come to you … They’ll come to you … They’ll come … In the fullness of time … They’ll come … … Let it come natural.”

Circa 2003, mother to the mother of a close friend, in your memory, Phyllis, that one was verbatim.



Article by Tim Walker

Edited by Phyllis Surname

Photography by Wylie O Biddy

Tim Walker’s Working

Fair to say that within the bounds of my head, the term ‘working’ has taken a bit of a hit of late.

Twelve months ago, had someone asked me to briefly outline the criteria of the aforementioned term, I probably would have lowered my voice to its guttural pinnacle and uttered something wildly pretentious like, “Well, if it’s not causing perspiration to cascade from your brow or tearing chunks of skin from your hands, then it’s just not working, is it?” Yeah. I think 12-month-ago Tim should have worried less about delivery and more about paying attention to what was being asked.

The thing is, in my head, working has always involved hardship; blood, sweat, and some of the time, tears. Yes, I do realise that with the rise of technology, metrosexuality, and the desire to eliminate from life anything the least bit challenging; also the downfall of School Certificate, bulrush, and ‘walking barefoot to school in six inches of snow going uphill both ways’, this perception would now be considered archaic, even draconian, but that’s me, I’m old school. I was born with calloused hands for splitting wood and shovelling shit; reckon I’ll die gripping a block splitter with one hand and a wide mouth shovel with the other.

The term ‘working’ has become an idiom of sorts. Back in the day, work was defined by hard slog. Now, anything that generates income is considered work…

I surprised myself the other morning when in the throes of my daily chores – cutting my grass with a 1950’s style push mower, trimming my hedges with a set of well loved pruning shears, cutting back my roses with secateurs and without gloves – I downed tools to run inside and answer the phone. That’s a little surprising, admittedly, but not the truly surprising thing. It was my father calling. Again, not overly surprising. It was when, aware that I had a writing deadline to meet and not wanting to interrupt me in progress, he abruptly, if not sheepishly, asked me, “Started your work yet?”

Here I am, outside, doing my chores, slaving my arse off and yes, despite the ambient temperature having barely broken into the positives, with perspiration cascading; on account of the roses, there is a fair bit of blood around, too.

Yet when my father poses a query regarding the commencement of my writing project, but when he refers to it as ‘your work’, my response, despite the very presence of blood, sweat, and no tears – practically all the constituents of my very own definition of ‘work’ – is a simple, “No, not yet.”

That’s the kind of shit that makes our forefathers turn in their graves.



Article by Tim Walker

Edited by Soff Cox

Photography by I T La Douche

Tim Walker’s Tim Walker

Life is difficult. This much is fact.

Also fact is that within this game I call life, the single notable feature distinguishing any one task from the next, perhaps surprisingly, does not relate to the question of whether the impending duty will be difficult but relates in fact, to the level of difficulty it will invariably involve.

The point here is that this life doesn’t simply comprise an assortment of events of which some are bound to prove onerous, but from what I can make out it comprises an assortment of inherently challenging events of which some are bound to prove more onerous than others.

Therefore, I have come to accept difficulty as a way of life.

No, that’s not capitulation, that’s acceptance – acceptance because this life, my life, does contain far more than its recommended quota of gruelling endeavours. Admittedly, a great many of the aforementioned tribulations are brought upon me solely by me and nobody else, which now I look at it, does nothing to bolster my case…

Case..? Seriously? What the hell is even in dispute? The fact that you’re making reckless assertions regarding the inexorable and indeed, the unjustly difficult nature of life..? Why would someone even bother doing that? Ranting about the ills of existence as though the undesirables of the universe have selected their candidate to punish..? As if bitching about said plight is going to make any bloody difference to your cause..? As if this so called, cause, ever amounted to much of anything in the way of genuine hardship, anyway..? Dude. Come on..? Pull your head in.

I glance now at my hands, still adorned with the blood of the morning’s challenges. Such is their condition that to simply clench my fists causes pain. I think. I am longer attuned to that sensation. Not really. Why would I be if I didn’t have to be?

Ah well. Push on.


Article by Tim Walker

Edited by Sim Wan Olce

Photography by Anne Uther

Tim Walker’s Mental Fatigue

Recently I undertook a writing task of decidedly epic proportions.

In past years I found it rather an enjoyable challenge to churn out an 80 000 word novel in 40 days; I used to find it all the more enjoyable to revel in, and often brag about, the implication of what an exceptional writer that made me. Huh.

I applied for a job with an online company requiring 80 unique, automotive themed articles to be written, complete with my inherent New Zealand flavour. At the time of application I didn’t bother to inquire into any specifics of the position – as a novice Proofreader cum Editor cum Writer cum Whatever the Hell May; also a NZ raised former diesel mechanic, I just thought it looked like a pretty cool job. Moreover, I thought it sounded as if it lay within my capabilities. So yeah. I applied for it. As expected, my application was readily accepted.

It was only later, once the job had been set up via telephone; once I had talked myself up to the point of combustion; once the six day deadline had been set, the conversation terminated and the initial exuberance of landing my first Freelancing position dissipated, that I realised what I had done.

80 articles of 4-500 words to be written in under a week..? I almost cried. There seemed no possible way that I could pull off such a feat, meaning that I was going to miss my debut deadline. Failure appeared an inevitability. In an attempt to pull myself back into the game I quickly did the math on it. 80 400 word articles – which was more like 82 – to be tapped out with the first 3 digits of my right hand, in just 6 days. 10 by 6 is 60. 11 by 6 is 66. 12 by 6 is 72. 13 by 6 is 78. 14 by 6 is 84. Based upon that logic, I set the schedule at 15 per day. All going to plan this would give me 75 at the close of day 5, therefore only 7 to do on day 6. As I could appreciate that the chances of my maintaining such a gargantuan workload were slim, I was pleased to implement a schedule which gave me a leeway of 8.

That was the maths. In reality it did nothing to mitigate the tempest that was brewing in my mind other than to occupy it with something else for a few minutes. So I went to bed. That was at barely eight and a half.

5am I was stationed at my computer, frost on the grass outside; woolly hat, Swanndri, Stubbies and slippers on me inside, along with a mug of green tea and bowl of steaming porridge on the tray to my left. My three digits were frozen stiff; yet somehow I had knocked off three by eight, four by nine and five by ten. That gave me the confidence and set the benchmark – five by ten. Regular exercise breaks ensued, as did food breaks; I was ravenous all day and try as I might, I could do nothing to assuage the hollow feeling in the pit of my stomach…

It was then that I realised the feeling was nerves.

By 5pm – having written more or less solidly all day – 17 uniquely written articles had been saved.

That evening was a virtual replay. Eat, watch news and one other show; bed by eight and a half. Started again by five the next morning. Taxing, gruelling, mind-numbing behaviour.

By the end of day two, 30 had been saved.

End of day three however, I had slipped. Only 43 articles filled the job folder. I panicked. My mind was mush. 43 was all I could do but it meant that I was behind schedule. I stood up and walked out to the kitchen in the hunt of real food – food that wasn’t nuts. I felt awful; if I accepted dropping two today, by how many was I going to be behind tomorrow? The thought made me nauseas. It was my childhood nightmare becoming reality.

Too Much. That was the nightmare. Being inundated by a workload. Falling behind then never being able to catch up because the more I did, the more that I had to do.

I was in bed shortly after 7 that night. I awoke at 4am. I felt pretty good. The confidence had returned. I stood up, dressed, made breakfast, and started work. Either the article topics had become easier or overnight I had become smarter, because I was breezing through them – at least that was the way it felt. I checked the clock. 10am. I checked My Documents. I had written five articles. No better than any other. No worse though.

End of day four, 57.

End of day five, 71.

That night I was too excited to sleep. I had 11 to write the next day. I was going to do it. I was going to meet the seemingly un-meet-able deadline. Some time after 10pm I drifted into a restless sleep, waking at midnight and every two hours thereafter, until rising at four. Despite the knowledge that I had almost surmounted the insurmountable mountain, I felt panicked. On account of this the first couple of articles didn’t flow and required a lot of belated attention but by midday, I could smell it. By one, excitement had overtaken any fatigue. By two, I started to appreciate that if the challenge had been a day longer, simply, I would not have made it.

By three, not only was I finished, nor could I see straight.

The next day I unnecessarily rose at 5am, turned on the computer, prepared my breakfast, pulled on my Swanny and hat, and sat at the computer, in the dark, with nothing to do but revel in the accomplishment that had effectively fried my brain.



Article by Tim Walker

Edited by Celia Indi Tay-King

Photography by Fah Tua Motch

Tim Walker’s Union

There’s something in my head and it sure as hell doesn’t sound like my brain.

I’m sure that’s where it originated but whatever it’s become over past weeks, whatever the thing in my head is now, it doesn’t sound at all like me. Sounds like a question. Admittedly, that alone doesn’t sound terribly unlike me. It must be the nature of this query that is causing my upset.

Yes, from what I can make out, this seems to be the issue. The thing in my head has been evolving. Curse you Darwin. It’s been evolving and now it’s gone and evolved into something unfamiliar – a smugly arrogant, arrogantly smug; boastfully ostentatious, ostentatiously boastful; condescendingly vainglorious, vaingloriously condescending; powerfully bothersome question. Unquestionably, a few weeks ago the question in question was a slightly different question to the question today but still equally as daft although the voice, the voice behind the question, well, it was just as Goddamned haughty back then as the way it’s coming across right now.

“So smart guy,” it begins, “in a few weeks’ time,” it proceeds, “I was just wondering,” it continues, “once you’ve gone ahead and posted on your gay little Facebook page Moments Gone, Obsession, Revelation, and finally the climactic bombshell to your incendiary sequence, Raw, dude, really, what the hell, how the hell and, more to the point, where the hell do you plan to go from there?”

It should be said, for those of you who did actually take the time to read it, the level of obscenity seen in Raw, is not to be celebrated and nor is it to be replicated. I was a different person back then. By the sound of it a much cleverer person too – shit man, I had no idea you could pack so many expletives into a sentence and still have it contain some semblance of meaning. That blew my mind. What consistently fail to blow my mind however, are the moments leading up to an international rugby union test.

Yeah, that was probably more segue than I needed.

If I am anything to go by, we as New Zealanders, are a decidedly pretentious people. Even so, do we really think it necessary to exalt ourselves to the level that we so clearly do? Yes, unequivocally, ours is the greatest rugby union side in the world. Does that give us the right to keep people waiting, often channel surfing, sometimes drink refreshing, occasionally conversation engaging; seldom attention paying but invariably agitated, by New Zealand’s elongated display of national pride..?

I call to reference the June 14th match between New Zealand’s All Blacks and England’s English Rugby Union side, which incidentally, posed an identical issue to the week prior and as it turned out, the week thereafter. Here we saw a scintillating, single versed rendition of England’s national anthem, followed by a similarly exquisite, single verse of the Te Reo version of New Zealand’s anthem. Let it be known, I was suitably impressed. “Great”, I thought/mumbled, with emphasis this time on the latter, “they’re finally done putting us through two verses of God Defend New Zealand, then just when you think it’s over and you can watch the bloody game – only-to-be-reminded-that-the-All-Blacks-think-themselves-special to-the-extent-that-the-pre-dominantly-Caucasian-team-like-to-do-a-native-war-dance of-which-few-even-understand-the-relevance-anyway – the bloody Murray version of the anthem starts.”

Tonight appeared to be unfolding differently. One pretty lady had sung the English anthem in English then another pretty lady had sung the New Zealand anthem in Te Reo and it was brilliant. No one could have faulted it. So I’m now preparing for the native war dance of which I have recently reminded myself. Then the second pretty lady’s pretty mouth starts to open again. “This is odd,” I thought/mumbled, “what, is she doing two Murray verses now?” I had no idea at the time just how close I came to thought/mumbling upon the truth, as an additional two English verses of God Defend New Zealand rang out across Dunedin’s Forsyth Barr Stadium. I recall sitting in bemused rigidity throughout. Then the war dance began. I think I recall thought/mumbling a choking sound. I can’t recall if I felt more angered, indignant, embarrassed, cheated, or like laughing at such an audacious manifest of arrogance. Then it was over. Finally. Three verses of the NZ anthem to England’s one, followed by NZ’s decidedly threatening but apparently sacred war dance, to England’s perfunctory interest.

I pitied the English rugby team, standing, transfixed; knowing if their attention lapsed for the briefest of moments, some racial rights radical would likely complain to the NZRFU that the English showed disrespect towards the All Black Haka, and cause all manner of unrest.

Honestly. People. A four part anthem? Shit. We’re not that bloody good.



Article by Tim Walker

Edited by Murray Wright

Photography by Justin Thyme