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Could there be a better place to get those vivid colours than Otago?
Last year The Wash columnist Dave Cannan asked you to send in your best photographs of autumn around the region. I'm keen to follow in The Wash's footsteps and would love you to email me the change-of-season photos you are most proud of.
They don't have to be fiery red or gleaming yellow trees or leaves; they could be puffy mushrooms or red-and-white flecked toadstools, or dewy garden gnomes covered in slimy snails, or someone stepping on a rake.
Let your imagination go wild! And there will be a prize of some kind for the best one. But I'll keep details of that deliberately vague at this stage.
Please email to the usual address in the logo. Well, what are you waiting for? Get clicking!
Town hall barrier
I've been amazed at the response to the story last week about the new safety rail that has been plonked on the front of the gallery in the Dunedin Town Hall, presumably in the name of health and safety.
``I turned up to the NZSO concert recently, looking forward to hearing and watching our world-class orchestra from my rather expensive front seat in the circle.
``I heard but truly saw little while peering through, and over, an ugly 5cm galvanised pipe standing up about 15cm above the balcony.
``I concede that we have to have safety regulations, but this structure is totally over the top, monumentally crass and, in its present form, unnecessarily robust in size. I'm sure it would stop a bull elephant.
``This could have been done much simpler. Lower the 15cm eyeline, reduce the pipe dimensions yet retain the strength.
``As things stand now, this monstrosity effectively destroys the enjoyment of patrons in row A in our beautiful town hall. It is just not good enough. Whoever signed off this work, please think again and have another go.''
Margaret rang to say she couldn't see either, and was given a cushion by a thoughtful usher so she could see over the rail.
Jennifer Bradshaw, of St Clair, is another perplexed:
``I too was horrified by the bars at the last NZSO concert I went to. I was sitting on the bottom row of seats.
``The worst is that I have a season ticket to the NZSO so will have to put up with this all year.
``Even if the height of the wall did contravene health and safety requirements - did it? - they didn't need to put up such visually intrusive barriers. There are alternatives.''
``I too was upset by the placement of the safety rail around the balcony,'' says Sandra Goodchild. ``It is ugly and definitely restricts one's view of performers on stage, particularly from the front rows of the balcony.
``It would be most interesting to know what triggered the necessity for such a clumsy addition.''
Well, I have sent a note to the Dunedin City Council asking if they can respond to these complaints in this column and ever hopeful there may be something that can be done about it.
Drinking in moderation
Do you remember last week I had a bit of a witter about a press release from the New Zealand Alcohol Beverages Council supporting drinking moderately. I said, ``Well, they would say that.''
I had a phone call from Prof Tony Merriman, of the biochemistry department at the University of Otago, to say, actually, it's probably true - moderate drinking may be better for you than not drinking at all.
``It's a really interesting question. There's some reasonable evidence that moderate drinking does help your heart, compared with people who drink none or a lot.
``There might also be something in the fact that going down the pub with your friends, sharing a joke and your worries over a pint or two, really does make a difference to your health.''
We've all done it - taken the phone out of our pocket to discover we have either called someone inadvertently or got very close to it. Or else been on the receiving end of a ring from someone we know which consists of a lot of whooshing and crackling, or, even worse, got those calls as 12-minute long voicemail messages.
ODT columnist Elspeth McLean called me last week - on purpose - to say she had accidentally pocket-dialled the emergency services' 111 number from her basic cellphone. She wanted to call 111 a third time to apologise but thought better of it.
Elspeth wondered why her pocket had a predilection for dialling ``1s'' and if anyone knows if there is still a charge for accidentally ringing 111.