Construction Companies in Auckland – How to Find the Best Contractors


You want to find the best construction companies in Auckland. It’s good to know that you can use the internet to your advantage and find the best, cheapest and most professional builders in Auckland. You can find them online by simply doing a little bit of research on your own, but it would be easier if you could find out a few things about each company.

The first thing you need to know is that the construction companies in Auckland will all be different in the way they run their business. They are all different businesses with different needs and specifications. Some build for residential buildings, some build for commercial projects, some build just for residential or some build a mixture of both.

The best construction companies in Auckland will be able to build exactly what you need and work to your specifications. While some will not be able to do this, you should be able to find one in your area that is able to, but make sure you check their qualifications first.

In order to find the best construction companies in Auckland, you need to take your time and look around. When you start searching online, try to find a website that offers a list of different companies, and narrow your search down to just a couple of them. This way you can get a better idea of which ones are in your area and which ones are not.

A lot of the construction companies in Auckland will have their own websites and there should be information about each of them on their website. This is where you want to begin your search. You should also be able to visit their construction site and look at the quality of work they have done and how long it has taken them to build their projects.

It’s a good idea to get estimates from as many different construction companies in Auckland as you can. You can easily request one or two estimates and then see what they give you. After you have a couple of estimates, you can start working with the company and ask them about their rates and how long it takes to build a project.

Once you find the best construction companies in Auckland, you can go ahead and hire them. Take your time and make sure you feel comfortable with them. You should try to find someone that has a good rapport with your builder, so make sure you like the person you hire.

The best construction companies in Auckland will provide you with a contract and all the materials and other equipment that you need to build the project. This way you don’t have to wait for things to come to you can start building right away. These companies will also help you set up and finish the job within a specified time frame.

Most of these contractors will charge a flat rate, but it’s a good idea to find out how long each job will take before you sign any contracts. If you find out that your builder won’t be able to meet your deadline, then you might want to look elsewhere. The project manager is a great resource for making sure that you know what you are getting yourself into and how much work you are signing up for.

The best construction companies in Auckland will provide you with access to resources and software that will allow you to stay organized and help you keep track of what you are working on. You should also be able to save your materials so that you don’t have to worry about running out of anything before your job is finished. These tools will help you save time, money and energy.

Make sure that you get one estimate from the contractor that you like and go with. Ask for a written estimate so that you can have a clear idea of what you are paying for. Don’t be afraid to ask for a copy of the completed project and ask the contractor if they can send you one.

Once you find the best construction companies in Auckland, be sure to ask for references. These references will give you an idea of how the company will be when you need them. and how good they are at what they do.

Why You Need Linux Mail Server ForYour Business


There are a lot of reasons why you need a Linux mail server for your business. Not all these reasons have to be related to email, but it is an essential requirement for your business operation.

Email can be a great source of income for your business. It doesn’t matter if you are doing marketing, advertising or online sales. Email is a great tool that can make a lot of money for your business.

However, for some people, email does not offer the same benefits as traditional business functions. Some people do not like to deal with people, and that is why they prefer to log in to their online accounts. The only time they get to see the human face is when they call in.

If you want to retain your customers, you need to promote their email accounts. Send them special offers on a regular basis and encourage them to give their email address. You should also ensure that they can freely contact you at any time, even while on the road.

Not everyone has the time to respond to emails, so the only way to reach them is by calling them. Since they are not online, they may not reply to your calls. Therefore, you must have a dedicated server, where all these people can enjoy great services at one place.

This is the reason why you need a Linux mail server for your business. Your mail can be sent from your office, making it easier for your employees to access it and then forwarded to their inbox. In addition, you can also set up groups or contacts for your employees, or even manage emails that have been sent to your employees’ private email addresses.

Aside from email, you also have important files that you want to maintain an image of. You have probably taken an image of all your employees’ physical IDs. You also have files on your computer such as emails, documents, pictures, or data that you want to keep as evidence of your company’s activities. All these files will need to be backed up every day.

Now, imagine having to send a note to your company for a meeting using your user account. Since your laptop is offline, you have to wait until your desktop comes back on. That would be inconvenient and impractical, wouldn’t it?

With Linux mail server, you can perform all your email functions from your desktop. Since you can use a remote desktop connection, your entire office won’t have to be placed in a different location. Therefore, you will only have to worry about what you can do online.

Before you take on the responsibility of having a dedicated server, you need to ask your hosting company if they provide this service. If they do, you can get your hardware ready and install it yourself. Once you are done, you can start setting up your mail server.

If you decide to buy the hardware from a third party, you should inquire the service provider about the technical details, and how they can help you. When you are done with your hardware, you can try sending mail. Since you can access it from any computer, you don’t have to worry about being anywhere else but your desk.

Having your own dedicated server is a good decision for any business, and it can also be a huge benefit to your online operations. With Linux mail server, your business can now concentrate on its strengths, without having to give up its flexibility.

Car Phone Mounts Are Very Important To Make Sure You Get The Right Fit

When it comes to your car, a car phone mount is an absolute must. For some people, their phones are just one of the many things that they have in their cars. Other people use their cell phones for just about everything.

Phone calls on the road can be very frustrating because your feet get tired and the radio sometimes doesn’t help. Adding an additional phone to your car is a good idea, but you’ll need a nice phone mount to get the job done.

You can mount any size phone from any manufacturer. A car phone mount can be mounted on a dash or on the back of the dash, or it can be put behind a seat or even behind the door of your car.

Finding a car phone mount is very easy. Search online and look at all the different car phone mounts that are available. Once you find one that you like, look at the warranty that they offer to see if it covers any accidents that could happen with the phone.

If you have a lot of miles on your phone, a warranty may be a good idea. Most companies give a one year warranty on most phone mounts. Even if you have a faulty mount, a one-year warranty is a good thing to look for.

When choosing a mount, there are some things that you need to keep in mind. First, make sure that you know how big the phone is. Some phones can easily extend out past the front bumper of your car. If you have this problem, then you’ll need a mount that is very stable and is easy to use.

Also, remember that the phone is one of the things that everyone wants in their car. You want it in one spot so that you can easily use it. Make sure that you choose a mount that is designed for this. A mounting system that is not stable will cause the phone to fall out of the mount and will eventually break.

If you’re worried about the mounting process, don’t be. Car phone mounts are designed to make the job easy. If you try to do it yourself, you will find that it is very difficult. After you do it once, you’ll never do it the same way again.

There are many options available when it comes to a car phone mount. They are usually designed for driving in the snow, rain, and driving in different types of climates. If you live in a warm climate, you may want to look for a mount that has a handle. This will make it easier to take your phone in and out of your car.

When looking for a car phone mount, there are a few things that you will want to consider. A mount should be able to hold your phone and your car. If you want a mount that can hold more than one phone, then you will need to look for a mount that will hold several phones.

If you have a phone that is large, then you will need a mount that is large as well. Many mountings are sold separately and you won’t want to purchase them all. Look for a car phone mount that fits all the phones you want to take with you, but which won’t interfere with other uses of your vehicle.

When choosing a phone mount, you need to think about the area where you plan to use it. Car mounts that work well for your car are the ones that are designed for the weather conditions that you will find in your area.

Buying Cheap Furniture: How to Find Cheap Second Hand Furniture

A lot of people think that buying second-hand furniture is too expensive and that they will be paying out a lot for what they buy. Actually, there are many ways that you can buy cheap second hand furniture and still get a good quality product.

A good way to buy cheap furniture is to visit online stores that sell second hand furniture. There are many online shops that you can use to buy cheap and second hand furniture. By going online you will find more choices than if you were to go to a local shop.

Another thing to consider when purchasing furniture that has been previously owned is that you should try to get furniture that has a warranty on it. Often times this type of warranty can be as little as 30 days.

When you are looking for cheap second hand furniture then try to get a used or slightly used sofa that is in the same style. Many people look for used furniture that looks new but is actually been used.

If you look for cheap second hand furniture that has been used, you should be able to get a good deal. You will be able to get the furniture that is in good condition.

For cheap second hand furniture then you should look for furniture that has been thrown out by the previous owner. Most people choose to dispose of their furniture in a fire safe or dumpster.

While you may not be able to reuse the furniture if you have to throw it away it may be worth it to you. You can still save some money by going online and purchasing it at a discounted price.

If you can not find a good seller of furniture then you should make one. By having your own place for selling your furniture, you will be able to get a better deal.

By creating your own website you will be able to market your furniture and make more money. This is a great way to earn extra money while living on your own.

You may also be able to sell off your second hand furniture to those who are in need of it. There are many people who are downsizing and need to find a place to store their belongings.

By being able to help others out you will be helping yourself by being able to find a way to earn money. A great way to make some extra money is to find a way to make other people rich.

Do not let yourself be afraid to shop around for cheap second hand furniture. Many of these people will be willing to pay a fair price for quality furniture.

How to Save Money on a Heat Pump in Auckland


Heat pumps are a great way to save money on energy bills. A heat pump can lower your heating bills significantly by taking some of the strain off your main system. The process is not instant, but if you do it correctly the savings can add up very quickly. If you’re looking to install one, then you’ll find there are plenty of different models out there to choose from, so you will want to spend some time researching what is available for you.

Making the most of your equipment can be a common mistake that homeowners make. Some people think that because the unit is new, they should be prepared to pay more for it than an older model. In reality, your costs are going to be the same no matter what the age of the unit. This means you’ll want to look for any warranties that may be offered with the unit, as well as any maintenance and repair services that are included.

Make sure you are prepared to pay for installation as well. Installation is costly, especially if you are choosing a prefabricated heat pump. It will be your responsibility to pay for this part of the installation, but don’t let that put you off trying to save money. It’s unlikely that you’re going to be able to get a rebate on your installation, so you should still expect to pay the full amount in order to get a pump that works well.

Get the unit fitted before you install it in your home, as it will come with a manual that will explain how to set up the pump. Always make sure you read the manual thoroughly to find out exactly how to use your unit. You don’t want to get any problems with it, as it could have been a lot easier to deal with if you had done it properly.

Take a look at the sales of other new pumps in the area, and see if there are any in stock that you can take advantage of. You may find that it’s cheaper to purchase these units, as you will be getting them much sooner. Keep in mind that this may mean that you will have to pay for delivery, as many of these pumps have a very large size. You can also be charged shipping and handling fees, which can add up quite quickly.

A new heat pump will need to be returned to the manufacturer if it doesn’t work correctly or is broken. If you have decided to purchase an energy efficient pump, then this may be one of the best ways to save money, as it means that you’ll be able to find another unit that is already working. This means that you can get a heat pump in Auckland that is cheaper than you might otherwise have been able to.

In colder climates where the amount of natural heat is often very low, a heat pump can be an excellent source of heat. It can allow you to sleep in at night and wake up to a comfortable temperature in your home. Whether you are looking to heat the water for your swimming pool, or just to keep your home at a comfortable temperature, a heat pump can help.

As long as you do everything right, a heat pump in Auckland will help you reduce your overall energy costs. It is possible to save a significant amount of money over the years, especially when you consider that you can install and maintain it yourself. Take some time to research the different models available, and you’ll soon see that these units can help you live comfortably in any climate.

What Landscaping Companies Are All About?

The Auckland cityscape is full of the handiwork of some of the best landscape architects in the country. Many Landscaping companies are located throughout Auckland, providing the same quality service that they provide in all other areas of New Zealand.

One of the most popular designs of African influence is near the southern suburbs of the city, at the Interisland Link. The route links Pelion to the township of Karangahape. Pelion has been well known for it’s famous wooden bridge that crosses a creek.

Some of the designs of African influence on the city are present on streets and alleyways, in the form of elaborate fountains and water lilies. Gardeners have created a beautiful eco friendly garden and while some may prefer to pay the fees of other companies, the level of experience and knowledge within the design team may make the extra investment worthwhile.

One of the main sites of African influence is on the largest commercial block in the city, located on Henderson Street, in the suburb of Queen Street. This design, with its narrow driveways and ferns, has attracted many African designers. Many buildings in this area have been designed with an African influence, the design of which has included fountains, carvings and stones.

One of the most popular features of African influences is in the bay area, on the South West side of Auckland. Many of the structures along the bay are examples of the craftsmanship of a designer, and many have a high level of intricacy and detail.

These sites have incorporated themes and designs of African influence and design into the design. Some of the highlights include:

Not all of the designers you see in the city are native to the city. Some of the companies may have trained and gained experience in other areas of the country. The amount of experience between designers in different cities can vary greatly, but when it comes to the designs of African influence, many different design teams from different cities across the country have the skills required to design a design that is not only unique, but reflects the individuality of each designer.

There are other areas of the city that are of interest to architects, and a number of these areas are based in the suburbs. These areas include Mt Eden, Taihape, Manukau, Temuka and Selwyn. These locations include some of the most beautiful landscapes and the highest levels of complexity and ornamentation.

The main sites of African influence in the city include:

It is important to note that each company will have their own unique styles and designs. Most are expert designers that have successfully integrated local and overseas experience to produce outstanding pieces. They often have experience working alongside many other companies as well.

Learn Acoustic Guitar – Tips and Tools For Newbies


When searching for Rhino tutorials, you will probably run into two or three different types of Rhino based tutorials. Some are provided by companies that have found themselves in the “Rhino Space Opera” spotlight, and which has become the standard for instructional video tutorials for Rhino users. Other Rhino tutorials have come from hobbyists who like to make their video tutorials themselves. Whichever type you find, you can be assured that these tutorials will provide you with the information you need to successfully and efficiently use Rhino.

There are several sites online where you can find video tutorials for Rhino, but only a few of them have the level of detail and quality that will truly benefit your use of Rhino. While the tutorial sites you might stumble upon may have some useful information, they also have some of the most basic tutorials available online. The majority of these sites have video tutorials that are poorly recorded or offer only a portion of the lesson and nothing else. You will be much better served by using a tutorial site that offers both actual lessons and a comprehensive library of videos and other lessons.

Another way to learn guitar chord patterns is to purchase a comprehensive product like Learn and Master Guitar Chords. This type of product includes a wide variety of videos for you to watch, as well as helpful text and graphics that will allow you to learn all of the chord variations. The video lessons are especially helpful if you don’t have time to go to the guitar store. They can teach you in about five or ten minutes, making it a perfect way to learn guitar chords on your own time, without having to go out in the cold.

If you are already a beginner and want to learn guitar chords faster, look into getting an online course. These are great because they give you all of the information you need in just a little bit of time. You can get started on your lesson within minutes and be playing by the time you’re done. This is also a very convenient option for busy people because it doesn’t involve any traveling or getting up early to a class.

The good news is that there are websites online that can teach you how to play any chord. Some of them even offer video lessons so you can get a visual idea of how it’s played. They will also provide you with different styles of music to learn guitar chords from. If you don’t have a lot of time to devote to learning the guitar chords, these are the sites for you. Some of them may even offer you access to a personal tutor who can come to your home and teach you the guitar chords.

With guitar chords online, the hardest part is already taken care of. You don’t have to waste time going to guitar stores in your neighborhood just to buy strings or a guitar chord teacher. You can do everything online and learn the guitar chords yourself. If you don’t know anybody, that’s great too because you will have private guitar teachers that can give you the expert guitar lessons that you need to be a successful guitarist.

As long as you are patient enough and if you know where to look, finding a good guitar lesson is not that hard. The thing is that, you will have to really study your favorite guitar chords so that you can learn to play them properly. It is important for you to know how these guitar chords are made so that you will know the proper way on how to do the playing. A basic guitar lesson for beginners should teach you the fundamentals such as how the guitar strings are linked, the difference between major and minor chords, the use of the flat pick, the use of the half-tone and the full tone picks, and of course how to strum the guitar. It is a must for you to know the difference between the treble and bass notes as well. You have to practice until you can read music or play music from the guitar.

Once you know all these basics, it is now time to practice the playing of the guitar. Beginners should not rush their learning; instead, they should take their time and practice. The reason for this is that it takes some time to adjust the body of the guitar to the right position and for the instrument to learn to resonate. It is recommended that the beginner acoustic guitar players practice two to three times a day until they are able to play music from the guitar without much problem.

Beginners should not be afraid to call out chords or make a sound on the guitar even if they do not know how to play it yet. Doing so can be quite helpful in the learning process. They can also look up videos from their favorite guitar lessons website and get an idea about what the song sounds like before they actually start playing the piece. This will help them develop a musical ear that will help them master the acoustic guitar in no time at all. So, the key here is to simply play what you know.

There is no reason at all for you to be afraid of learning this type of guitar. It can really be fun. You just have to remember that the most important thing is that you are enjoying yourself. Also, practicing guitar is a must. When you first start learning, you should definitely practice for at least an hour each day. This will go along way to help you become a better guitar player.

If you want to learn acoustic guitar then there are many books and DVDs that are available. With the internet being so popular, these types of resources have become more accessible. You can find information and step by step instructions on how to play. The best way to find out is to research and find a course that suits your personal needs.

Choosing Cheap Furniture Movers in Christchurch


It is common for people to hire cheap furniture movers when relocating to a new area, especially when the existing furniture is not in very good condition. It is true that moving to a new place, whether it is in the city or not, is a difficult process and it is not easy to find someone who can help you move your furniture.

However, before you choose to hire a cheap furniture mover, it is important that you consider several things, especially when it comes to hiring a mover from Christchurch. You must always keep in mind that hiring the cheapest one does not necessarily mean that the job will be done well, in terms of your furniture and the quality of their services.

When you decide to hire a cheap furniture mover, you should do your homework first. Find out about their background, their experience and what their requirements are before choosing one.

There are many things that you need to consider when choosing a cheap furniture mover. You have to be sure that they are licensed and certified, so that you do not risk harming the furniture if something goes wrong. In addition, you should also ask how long the company has been in business, and whether they have any testimonials and references to back up their work.

One thing that you also have to look out for when hiring a cheap furniture mover is if they have an insurance policy. It is always better to have such insurance as it protects you from any damage that you may have during the move. As a matter of fact, you also have the option of having them come and pick up your furniture at a later date.

You also have to decide on the kind of insurance that the cheap furniture mover is offering. Some companies will provide you with coverage for damage that may occur during the move. However, this coverage may not be enough. Therefore, you should also check if the company offers any type of reimbursement.

Another important thing that you have to look for is the level of customer service that the company provides. It is important that you make sure that you get to know what the moving company is all about, and you are always happy with their work.

There is nothing wrong if you go for the cheapest option, because you do not want to pay a lot for moving your furniture, but you also have to ensure that you do not pay an exorbitant price for it. If you hire a good company, then you will be very happy with their service and you will always get your furniture to the new location in good condition.

However, if you go for the least expensive option, then you will be paying an affordable price. This is a good option if you live in a rural area where it would cost you too much to hire movers. If you do not own a property, then you can save some money by doing the move yourself.

In addition, hiring movers will also make your moving process faster. By using a good company, you can be sure that your items will be moved in one piece without any damage.

Remember, the moving company that you will use should also be insured, so that you can claim for any damages to your belongings during the move. The company should have a website, so that you can get more information about them easily.

When it comes to choosing a cheap furniture mover in Christchurch, you should take the time to do your homework and research about the company before hiring them. You should also ask to see their past services and how they were able to get the job done.


The Baby Wars
Sunday 14th October 2007
If you don’t have a child under ten, you’re unlikely to appreciate the significance of Gina Ford’s attack on Claire Verity last week. Verity is the 41-year-old “supernanny” who is currently appearing on a Channel 4 series called Bringing Up Baby in which she advocates a return to the Spartan child-rearing philosophy of Truby King. King was a Victorian health reformer who believed it is in a baby’s best interest to be kept on a strict routine when it comes to feeding, sleeping and bowel movements — an attitude that was passionately argued against by Dr Spock, the American pediatrician who advocated a much more flexible approach, including feeding-on-demand.

Ford’s attack came in the form of a letter to the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children in which she accused Verity of “child abuse” and the reason it was such a surprise is that most people think of Ford as being in the anti-Spock camp. Ford’s main claim to fame is The Contended Little Baby Book, a child-rearing manual based on her own experiences as a maternity nurse in which she argues for a return to routine. The crucial distinction between her and Verity — the reason Ford has “gone nuclear” in the Baby Wars, so to speak — is that Verity believes parents should feed small babies every four hours, whereas Ford believes they should be fed every two or three hours, depending on their size and weight. In addition, while both are passionately opposed to feeding-on-demand, Verity recommends ignoring babies who cry in between feeds, whereas Ford believes in trying to “settle” them.

To those of us with small children, it is not surprising that such infinitesimally small differences should provoke such a ferocious dispute. Among my peers, no topic is more likely to polarize dinner-party conversation than child-rearing techniques. The War in Iraq pales into insignificance by comparison. I imagine that it is now one of those subjects that ambassadors are trained not to bring up at state dinners, alongside religion and politics.

Why should this be so? My theory is that childrearing has become the new battleground in which the ideological disputes that divide Generation X are being fought out. The main fault line is between those who were brought up in liberal households and have reacted by becoming more conservative and those who were brought up in more conventional circumstances and now embrace a hedonistic libertarianism. The former subscribe to the childrearing philosophy of Gina Ford, while the latter adopt a more laissez-faire attitude, often presented as a more “natural” approach. The irony, of course, is that the Fordists are the products of Dr Spock’s teachings — Spock was very popular with liberal parents — while the parents of the Back-to-Nature brigade are more likely to have been influenced by Truby King.

The conclusion would appear to be that no member of my generation wants their children to turn out like them. (For a different take, see this piece by Frank Furedi, the author of Paranoid Parenting.)


The Muhammad Ali of British Politics
Wednesday 10th October 2007

Has David Cameron rope-a-doped Gordon Brown? “Rope-a-dope” was the phrase coined by Muhammad Ali to describe the strategy he used to achieve his famous victory over George Foreman in the 1974 World Heavyweight Boxing Championship. In essence, it involved lying back against the ropes during the first six rounds of the fight and allowing Foreman to punch himself out before launching a ruthless counter-attack in the eighth round that culminated in a knock-out punch.

There’s certainly a striking similarity between the Rumble in the Jungle and the battle between Brown and Cameron. Foreman was an old-fashioned heavyweight, relying on his punching power and methodical cunning to win his fights, while Ali was much more agile and light on his feet. During the bout, Foreman looked much stronger than Ali in the first five rounds, just as Brown completely dominated Cameron during the first three months of his premiership. By the sixth round, however, Foreman was clearly exhausted and his punches became increasingly wild, just as Brown’s have done in the past 48 hours.

In this context, Cameron’s performance in the House of Commons today was the verbal equivalent of the devastating combination of punches that Ali used to finish off Foreman in the last 20 seconds of the eighth round. Ali preceded his onslaught by taunting Foreman — “Fight hard. I thought you had some punches?” — just as Cameron has urged Brown to call a General Election. Then, Ali unleashed his barrage. Here is Norman Mailer’s description of it in *The Fight*:

Now Ali struck him a combination of punches fast as the punches of the first round, but harder and more consecutive, three capital rights in a row struck Foreman, then a left, and for an instant on Foreman’s face appeared the knowledge that he was in danger and must start to look to his last protection. His opponent was attacking, and there were no ropes behind the opponent. What a dislocation: the axes of his existence were reversed! He was the man on the ropes! Then a big projectile exactly the size of a fist in a glove drove into the middle of Foreman’s mind, the best punch of the startled night, the blow Ali saved for a career. Foreman’s arms flew out to the side like a man with a parachute jumping out of a plane, and in his doubled-over position he tried to wander out to the center of the ring.

Of course, the analogy’s hardly perfect. There was no moment of fatal hesitation on Foreman’s part just before Ali turned the tables on him — on the contrary, he was going after him, hell for leather, from the very beginning — and Brown clearly isn’t about to fall to the canvas. Nevertheless, there are enough similarities for Cameron to have earned the right to be called the Muhammad Ali of British politics, particularly after today’s performance at the dispatch box.


Moonlight & Magnolias
Monday 8th October 2007
“The movies are one of the bad habits that corrupted our century,” wrote Ben Hecht, the veteran Hollywood screenwriter. He claimed that of the sixty movies he wrote, more than half were completed in two weeks or less — and he bragged about using the two Oscars he’d won as doorstops.

Fifty years ago, when Hecht wrote those words, such sentiments were fashionable among the literary intelligentsia — and even today most intellectuals still look down their noses at Hollywood. Small, independent films are one thing, but how can a movie created for the sole purpose of making money be considered art? By its very nature, a big-budget studio picture will have to appeal to a huge number of people if it’s going to recoup its costs — and the only way to do that is to pander to the lowest common denominator.

Against this can be arrayed the dozens of Hollywood films that were made for purely commercial reasons, but are now acclaimed as masterpieces — films like ‘Gone With the Wind’, generally considered the first ever blockbuster. Ironically, Ben Hecht was one of the many uncredited writers on ‘Gone With the Wind’, having been locked in a room by the film’s producer, David Selznick, and told to come up with a screenplay within seven days. Hecht didn’t have time to read Margaret Mitchell’s book, so Selznick and the film’s director, Victor Fleming, acted it out for him, scene by scene — an episode now regarded as a quintessential example of the seat-of-the-pants style in which films were made during Hollywood’s golden age.

The week that Hecht, Selznick and Fleming spent locked up together has been turned into a terrific new play at the Tricycle Theatre by Ron Hutchinson, himself a veteran screenwriter. Called ‘Moonlight & Magnolias’, it manages to combine a good deal of low comedy — Selznick insisted on restricting Hecht’s diet to peanuts and bananas, which he regarded as “brain food” — with a high-minded exploration of the art v commerce theme. What makes it particularly interesting is that Hutchinson is at least as sympathetic to the film’s producer as he is to the writer, portraying Selznick as a visionary prepared to risk everything in pursuit of a dream and Hecht as a talented, but self-loathing hack.

Of course, it is hardly news that great art is often created for low-minded reasons. Samuel Johnson famously said that anyone who doesn’t write for money is a fool and there are countless examples of classic novels being written by authors to pay off their debts, beginning with Walter Scott’s ‘Waverley’. Nevertheless, ‘Moonlight & Magnolia’ is a salutary reminder that the films regarded as great works of art in their day — such as Antonioni’s ‘L’avventura’ — are nearly always forgotten, while the studio pictures dismissed as schlock often go on to achieve immortality.

‘Moonlight & Magnolias’ is running at the Tricycle until November 3. For tickets call 020-7328-1000 or click here.


The New Sloane Ranger Handbook
Monday 1st October 2007
In 1956, Nancy Mitford wrote a famous article in ‘Encounter’ in which she outlined the various linguistic rules whereby the Upper Classes differentiate themselves from everybody else. Thus, “napkin” is U, while “serviette” is Non-U. It was the first example of what would become a journalistic staple: a posh writer unravels the mysteries of the Upper Classes for the benefit of the General Reader.

This tradition reached its zenith with the publication of ‘The Official Sloane Ranger Handbook’ in 1982. Co-authored by Ann Barr and Peter York, it did for the British aristocracy what John James Audubon did for the birds of America and was a massive bestseller — thanks, in part, to the recent emergence of Diana, Princess of Wales.

Now, 25 years later, the book has been updated, though with Olivia Stewart-Liberty standing in for Ann Barr. This time round, the authors distinguish between eight different types of Sloane and claim that, contrary to appearances, they are more plentiful than ever. The message of ‘Cooler, Faster, More Expensive: The Return of the Sloane Ranger’ couldn’t be clearer: the efforts of Margaret Thatcher, John Major and Tony Blair to usher in a more meritocratic society have failed. The British aristocracy is still going strong.

Less clear is whether the book’s authors approve or disapprove of this state of affairs. ‘The Official Sloane Ranger Handbook’ anatomized its subjects with a good deal of affection — partly because Barr herself is a Sloane. The attitude of York and his new collaborator is more ambiguous, something that’s reflected in the names they’ve come up with for their different sub-species: Chav Sloane, Thumping Sloane, Turbo Sloane, Euro Sloane, Sleek Sloane, Eco Sloane, Party Sloane and Bongo Sloane.

“These are not the decent Sloanes I wrote about,” says Barr. “They are basically selfish jet-setters.”

Could it be that the authors of this new work are closet socialists? Is this book a thinly-veiled attack on David Cameron? York himself is certainly no Tory. Educated at a progressive school in North London, he now runs a successful market research company called SRU — and his own fortunes have been closely intertwined with those of New Labour. Indeed, he once employed Peter Mandelson. It may be that ‘Cooler, Faster, More Expensive’ is a gift to the new Prime Minister, a silver bullet that Gordon Brown can use to assassinate his Eton-and-Oxford educated Conservative rival.

Interestingly, Evelyn Waugh came to a similar conclusion in his assessment of Nancy Mitford’s article. He summarized its message as follows: “Hear me, comrades. I come from the heart of the enemy’s camp. You think they have lost heart for the fight. I have sat with them round their camp fires and heard them laughing. They are laughing at you.They are not beaten yet, comrades. Up and at them again.”


Boris Johnson’s Mayoral Campaign: A Disgraceful Attack
Friday 28th September 2007


Can Food Criticism Ever be Objective?
Monday 12th November 2007
In an interview on Classic FM recently, Gordon Ramsay kindly offered to do the canapés at the funerals of food critics free of charge. The question that prompted this outburst was about Frank Bruni, the chief food critic of the New York Times, who had the temerity to give Ramsay’s Manhattan restaurant a bad review Ramsay isn’t the only restaurateur to express doubts about the infallibility of food critics — and a recent scientific experiment in France would appear to bear out such skepticism. Frédéric Brochet, a Ph.D. student in oenology at the University of Bordeaux, conducted a study in which he invited 57 wine experts to taste an inexpensive Bordeaux that he poured from a bottle with a label saying it was vin ordinaire. The following week, he served the same wine to the same people, but this time from a bottle indicating that the wine was grand cru.

The tasters described the wine from the first bottle as “simple”, “unbalanced” and “weak”, whereas the wine from the second was acclaimed as “complex”, “balanced” and “full”. The conclusion, obviously, is that a wine connoisseur’s judgment about the quality of a particular wine isn’t simply a matter of how it tastes; it is inextricably linked to the cognitive parts of the brain. (My source for this story is a recent piece in the New Yorker that you can read here.)

It seems a fairly small leap to extend the same conclusion to the opinions of food critics. As someone who worked as a food critic for five years, I know from experience that my particular view of a restaurant’s cuisine was inseparable from such factors as how long I’d been made to wait, where I was seated, who my dining companions were, who else was seated nearby … and so on. The best restaurant critics — such as Adrian Gill — are almost wantonly capricious, capable of wild over-reactions to seemingly meaningless details. Indeed, it is this volatility that makes them so entertaining to read.

Interestingly, the one restaurateur who takes this subjectivity on board is Heston Blumenthal. Indeed, the tasting menu at the Fat Duck is based on this idea, with the Professor Brainstorm of the kitchen constantly demonstrating to his customers that their perception of whatever it is they are eating is intimately bound up with a range of completely arbitrary psychological factors. He is, in effect, proving that the way something tastes changes from individual to individual and that any definitive pronouncements on the subject, purporting to be objective, are nothing more than hot air.

And how have the critics reacted to this lesson in humility? They have repeatedly acclaimed Blumenthal as a genius and declared the Fat Duck to be the best restaurant in the world.


No More Films About the War, Please
Monday 5th November 2007
In Hollywood, it is generally believed that the reason so many great films were made in the 1970s was due to the national crisis of confidence prompted by Watergate and Vietnam. In trying to articulate this disquiet, filmmakers like Robert Altman, Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola redefined mainstream cinema and — for a time, at least — placed it at the heart of America’s ongoing conversation with itself.

This may help explain why there is suddenly a glut of studio pictures dealing with America’s military presence in Iraq and the War on Terror, including A Mighty Heart, The Kingdom, Rendition, Redacted, In The Valley of Elah and Charlie Wilson’s War. The writers and directors responsible for these movies — as well as the executives who have released the money to finance them — may well be under the impression that getting to grips with these big, political issues is a sign of great filmmaking. Certainly, the reason they are all being released this autumn is because the studios regard them as their best bets when it comes to the Oscars.

This Friday sees the release of what may be the highest-profile film in this category, Lions For Lambs. Directed by Robert Redford and starring Tom Cruise and Meryl Streep, it is an unapologetically didactic attack on the foreign policy of the Bush administration and its allies in Congress. Indeed, Redford himself plays a college professor and about a third of the film consists of him delivering a stern lecture to a smart, but apathetic student who is repeatedly told, in effect, that the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

The problem with Lions For Lambs, as with the majority of these films, isn’t simply that its treatment of its subject matter is entirely one-sided; it is that no attempt has been made to dramatise the issues. If you compare the approach of the current generation of anti-War filmmakers to their 1970s counterparts, they emerge as disappointingly unimaginative. Their idea of how to persuade people that the War on Terror is wrong is to recreate some appalling event that actually happened — such as the rape and murder of a 14-year-old Iraqi schoolgirl by US soldiers that forms the subject of Redacted — and depict the American political and military high-ups who either condoned it or covered it up as Very Bad Men.

In the 1970s, by contrast, writers and directors understood that a less direct approach could be much more powerful. Thus, when Coppola wanted to explore the issues surrounding Watergate, he chose to make The Conversation. Similarly, when Sam Peckinpah decided to take on America’s military-industrial complex he opted for Cross of Iron. Even MASH, the most famous anti-war film of the period, is set in Korea rather than Vietnam.

What this earlier generation grasped — and the reason they made so many great films — is that a well-chosen metaphor can be a much more effective way of making your point than tackling an issue head-on.


Death at a Funeral
Sunday 28th October 2007

The traditional British farce hasn’t been doing very well lately. The Whitehall Theatre has been re-invented as Trafalgar Studios, Alan Ayckbourn hasn’t had a new play in the West End since 2001 and Ray Cooney doesn’t even get a mention in State of the Nation, Michael Billington’s recent history of British theatre. Is the bedroom door about to slam for the last time on this well-loved comic form?

I’m happy to report that the answer is no — at least, not yet. Next week sees the release of Death at a Funeral, a dazzling example of the genre directed by Frank Oz and written by Dean Craig. Set in a country house, the film unfolds over the course of a single day in which an extended family gather to attend the funeral of the clan’s patriarch. The tone is set in the opening scene when the undertakers turn up with the wrong corpse and it isn’t long before a combination of hallucinogenic drugs, a wheelchair-bound uncle and a homosexual dwarf are threatening to derail the proceedings.

The reason it works so well is that Craig, a 33-year-old British screenwriter, has managed to retain the essential components of the form while jettisoning some of its more out-dated aspects. For instance, at no point are any of the male characters discovered with their trousers round their ankles and there are no cases of mistaken identity. The problem with most farces, in my experience, is that they require too great a suspension of disbelief. Events unfold — and people behave — in a way that stretches an audience’s credulity to breaking point. That doesn’t matter if you’re a member of that generation who grew up with the genre — you’ll be willing to accept its bizarre conventions — but modern audiences tend to baulk at just how implausible the farcical universe is.

Fortunately, Dean Craig has injected a much-needed dose of realism into the genre. There’s nothing too theatrical or over-the-top in Death at a Funeral; the big comic set-pieces seem to emerge, organically, from the situation. Far from being comic stereotypes, the characters are people we are familiar with from our own lives and they behave in recognisable ways. In this regard, Craig and his director are helped considerably by an extremely talented British cast, particularly Matthew Macfadyen as the put-upon male lead, Andy Nyman as his hypochondriac cousin and Daisy Donavan as the closest thing Death at a Funeral has to a sexpot.

It is particularly heart-warming to see a British farce work so well on the big screen. In recent years, the most successful celluloid farces have all been the work of a Frenchman named Francis Verber, the writer and director of La Doublure, Le Placard and Le Diner de cons. In Dean Craig — who has already directed two shorts and is about to direct his first feature — we could have found the British equivalent.


Abigail’s 30th Birthday Party
Saturday 20th October 2007

Next week sees the 30th anniversary of a significant cultural event in Britain’s post-war history: the television broadcast of Abigail’s Party. At the time, the BBC had little idea of just how iconic this one-off comedy would turn out to be. It was running as a stage play at the Hampstead Theatre and, rather than commission Mike Leigh to adapt it for television, Margaret Matheson, the producer of Play For Today, decided to transplant the stage production into a television studio and shoot it over four days. The production values were low — Leigh says he can’t watch it without wincing with pain — but Matheson succeeded in capturing lightening in a bottle. In the list of 100 Greatest British Television Programmes drawn up by the British Film Institute in 2000, Abigail’s Party was ranked number 11.

Why should this 90-minute play have become such a classic? Well, for one thing, the comedy is played out against the backdrop of the English class system and that is a feature of British life that hasn’t changed much in the last 30 years ago. The central character, Beverly, is still a recognizable national stereotype: the petit bourgeois social climber whose constant stream of snobbish remarks inadvertently reveals his or her lack of sophistication. There are echoes of Beverly in David Brent, the character played by Ricky Gervais in The Office, and, indeed, Mike Leigh more or less invented the comic genre that The Office falls into: the comedy of embarrassment. (For my 2003 tribute to The Office, click here.)

Then there’s the fact that Abigail’s Party is so controversial. A few days after it was broadcast, Dennis Potter condemned it as “a prolonged jeer, twitching with genuine hatred, about the dreadful suburban tastes of the dreadful lower middle classes” and, to this day, people are bitterly divided as to whether Abigail’s Party is an instance of the snobbery it purports to condemn. Are we being invited to sympathise with Beverly as someone whose life has been blighted by class consciousness — or merely laugh at her because she gets everything so hopelessly wrong? Leigh is adamant that it is the former, claiming that Abigail’s Party “is not a play about them, it’s about us.” Whichever side you come down on, the fact that the reaction to the play is so polarized — and can provide the fuel for endless dinner party discussions — is a guarantor of its longevity.

Finally, there’s something monstrous about Beverly that strikes a chord with people the world over, not merely in Britain. (There’s currently a production of Abigail’s Party running in San Paulo.) She’s the Lady Macbeth of the suburbs, a castrating bitch-goddess of the type that has transfixed audiences since the beginning of theatre itself. In Abigail’s Party, Mike Leigh and his collaborators succeeded in creating a Medea for our times.

*BBC4 is devoting an entire night to Abigail’s Party on October 28.*


The New York Times Reports on the Making of How to Lose Friends
Sunday 14th October 2007
There’s a piece in today’s New York Times about the film version of How to Lose Friends & Alienate People.