Home perm: SMS #67

SMS67#2 Home perm
J said the home perm kit had to be used. I said I wasn’t all that thrilled. She said even though it’s called a perm, it will grow out. I asked how long, she said about six feet. Sydney keeps shouting curly at me. I am trying to imagine life without him. Stupid bird.

Lost phone: SMS #61a

SMS61a #2 Lost phone
I’ve lost my phone and that’s not the all of it. Sydney’s got his feet sticking out the front. He said he was using them as air brakes, thus preventing me from getting a nasty whack on the back of the head. He said he learnt that in Toronto. I said he didn’t go to Toronto.
The long and the short of it, my phone is lost and Sydney is squawking at me. Sometimes I think the top of my head will explode. If only help were at hand.

Guffaws: SMS #61

SMS61 #2 Guffaws
Well, I told J that Sydney had returned. She said Sydney who? I said Sydney Seagull, you know our redbeak friend. Well she said, imagine that, then she seemed to wander off guffawing. I just can’t fathom her sometimes. Anyway, turns out I have to go shopping.

Sydney’s back: SMS #60

SMS60 #2 Syd's back
Well he is back. What a story. He didn’t make it to Canada, got caught in a northerly and mistook the Remutakas for the Rockies. Ended up in Featherston, thinking it was Toronto (apparently not a common mistake). Still I am so pleased to see him. I imagine he probably had a very tough time, though his plumage is in good shape. I must tell him to tone down the squawks while I work out how to tell J of his return.

Reading the memo: SMS #54

SMS54 #2 Reading the memo
A change in the cartoonist?


Memo to all shareholders, staff, and the cartoonist

As promised this is the announcement I signalled to you yesterday. I am excited to announce the Morning Squawk will now be published on Instagram sydneysquawk (no caps, no gaps) as well as on https://redbeakdiaries.com/ which is probably where you are reading this.

Thank you to those who contacted me following yesterday’s letter about today’s announcement. I was surprised at the number who believed there would be a change in cartoonist. This cannot happen because any sacking of the current cartoonist would result in him spending more time with his family. Imagine.

From the editor

Is there any … ? SMS #53

SMS53 #2I s there any you know what
Is there any … you know what?

From the editor

Good morning. Following a robust policy and operational discussion, the management team has decided to make a major change with the Morning Squawk section of our publications holdings. A full disclosure of the changes (and they will be substantial) will be made at 9 am tomorrow.

In the meantime the advice of the directors is to retain individual shareholding and not be tempted by the ludicrous offerings currently being made. Please be assurred that there is no truth to the rumour that the shares will soon be downgraded to junk bond status.

I apologise for this morning’s cartoon – there again I have felt like appologising for the cartoons on a number of occassions.

With kind regards

The editor

Ps No there isn’t any ‘you know what’ – the dolt forgot to buy it.

Trial pack: SMS #45

SMS45 Trial pack#2
Felt like a total egg. I was just doing a trial pack of the shopping bags, ready for level 2. J came in and laughed till she fell over. She said I do not need to do a trial pack, she said all I need to do is the shopping. But not yet. Not until level 2. I started to tell her I knew that… But its difficult to… Well never mind.

Shopping bags: SMS #44

SMS44 Shopping bags
Took my shopping bags for a walk this morning. Just a practice. Apparently we are maybe, just maybe, shifting to level 2 and I will be able to go to the shops. By the way, as far as Sydney is concerned, no news is good news. He must be far and away. Maybe he has met a lumber jack, or perhaps he joined the Mounties. Either way things are much more relaxed at home without him.


Shambolical, huh! SMS #42

SMS42 Shambolicle huh#2
Shambolical huh! I googled Shambolical and turns out it is a not word here in NZ. It was used briefly, in Australia, to describe a previous prime minister’s swimming attire, but like him shambolicals have fallen out of the news cycle. It really makes me mad to come up with perfect rejoinders a day late.

Sunrise: SMS #32

SMS32 Sunrise

Looking across the harbour from the top Rangoon street, just in time for sun-up. Day one of level three lockdown. The sun and the promise seemed profound. For us nothing changes: we stay home, we stay safe (though maybe I will walk on and get a takeaway coffee before turning for home).

Letters of complaint: SMS#31

SMS31 Letters of complaint#2
Good morning to you all
It has been brought to my attention that this cartoon series is seriously flawed. The two major reasons; one the artist can’t draw and it is time to replace him, and two his themes are all over the shop with many loose ends never being tied up.
My response to complaint one: I have informed him (the artist) that many regard him as a talentless layabout. He responded by resigning on the spot. He said it would give him more time to spend with his family. I turned his resignation down flat. Frankly, the prospect of him spending more time with his family makes me all shaky.
I have yet to discuss complaint number two with him. I am not sure if I have the fortitude to bring it up.
Yours sincerely
The editor


Still on vacation: SMS #21

SMS21 Shower
Syd’s still vacationing somewhere. Red beaks are not bound by the stay home lockdown rules.
I mentioned yesterday we had a Paris apartment. I guess it technically wasn’t ours, truth to tell we rented in for two months. It cost $350 a week NZ. I thought that was a bargain, J less so. It wasn’t a spacious apartment.




Boulangerie: SMS #20

SMS20 Boulangerie
Sydney is on a day’s leave today. He said he will be back tomorrow, though tomorrow is a fairly loose concept for a red beak. Anyway, as he flew off, he said I could get something from the archive. This is J looking in the boulangerie window just down from our Paris apartment in the fifth, a couple of years back.

J is confused: SMS #19

SMS19 J confused
J is confused about the tartan trousers (not PJs). I explained. I found them on the remaindered remainder rack of the buyer’s remorse section at a large shop that has a wide variety of goods of varying utility. I, being one to never walk past a stunning deal, got the last two pairs, hence when one pair ended up in the bin, there was the second pair ready and waiting.


The pen ran out: SMS #17

SMS17 The pen has run out#2
I am worried about Syd’s whereabouts. I am sure he will come back and probably tomorrow, however when we were in France back in 2012, he disappeared and when he finally turned up, he was the leader of a group of pigeons he met in Marseille. Still that’s another story. J thinks the worry is making me fade away. I said that is not the case; it is just that my pen ran out when I was doing the face bit. I fully expect to roar back into life tomorrow when I will have found my new pen. Also, I am determined to stay positive, maybe dear old Syd will pop out of the blue.




Clarification: SMS #16

From the editor

Thank you for all those who have sent cards, flowers and chocolates in the belief that the Sydney’s Morning Squawk artist suffered a nasty injury through falling over in the street. Please be assured that the artist is in rude good health and will get an editorial clip around the ear for worrying so many people. In addition, please be assured that Sydney has never been harmed in the production of the cartoons.

The offending cartoon passed the editorial process through some sleight of hand on the part of my staff. There are now comprehensive protocols, processes and policies in place that will ensure this situation will not recur. The artist did offer to resign, giving as grounds a desire to spend more time with his family. I knocked that on the head tout de suite.

In the meantime, I have enjoyed the chocolates. Remember to continue to send all cards, flowers, and chocolates to the editor and never directly to the staff.

Best wishes and stay safe.

The editor


SMH07 Jan reads the Tubby Boat news , Vancouver

Done a bunk: SMS #15

SMS15 Sydneys done a bunk#3
This is J editing. I know it is not easy. Trouble is though, Sydney saw the red penning of his squawk yesterday. He flew off in a huff and hasn’t appeared since. J and I are very worried. J is worried he will show up again and I am worried he won’t. I cannot imagine not seeing him again. J says the main problem is that I imagined seeing him in the first place. Sometimes. I think J lacks empathy though I wouldn’t say it out loud.

False squawk: SMS #14

SMS14 out of hospital
False squawk. Turns out the ambulance, sirens and lights were not needed. As Sydney pointed out J had tied the face mask too tight and once at hospital it was removed and I came round quite quickly. They did though, remove the tartan trousers. It was a bit painful; took off all the hairs in the lower regions. Be warned, don’t let the hairs on your legs grow through the fabric of your trousers. The calamine lotion helps. The hospital gave me some shorts to wear. J picked me up from the footpath outside the hospital. The good news is no one bothered me on the footpath.

Sydney’s morning squawk #11

SMS11 Nothing like an early morning run #2
I have changed the direction of my walk and sure enough, as I suspected, I do not need to climb as high. I won’t tell J about this bcause she will only say something smart and it’ll take me 3 days to think of a reply. And we all know that a rejoinder delayed is a rejoinder lost. Anyway, I say there is nothing like an early morning run and believe me, what I do is nothing like an early morning run. More tragic shuffle.

Sydney’s morning squawk #9

SMH09 at last peace and quiet resized1
There is debate about wearing face masks to stop the spread of germs. Initially I thought it was overkill. J said overkill is a really bad turn of phrase for the age we live in. She followed that by insisting I wear the tartan face mask. Still at least I don’t have to wear it around the house… yet. She gave me a cheery smile (at least I think it was a cheery smile) when I left for my morning walk.



Sydney’s morning squawk #8

SMH08 you have worn them 008 resized2
The tartan PJs are not PJs. They are judo trousers awarded only to top flight judo exponents from Scotland.

I came by them in one of the UK’s most prestigious op shops. They came complete with a label attesting to this. The label was authentic because it was handmade. They have caused some arguments with J saying they are PJs because they do not have pockets. I countered by saying that Scottish judo exponents wear a sporran and anyway you would never see pockets in a kilt. Sadly, I didn’t make this reply till two days later. I hate it when my best rejoinders fizzle because of a time lapse.

Sydney’s morning squawk #7

SMH07 Jan reads the Tubby Boat news , Vancouver
Happiness is a cafe table, a newspaper, a pain au chocolat and a long black.


Typical that we discover a great cafe on the day before we leave a place. There on the corner of Homer and Smith, just a couple of blocks or so from our hostel in Vancouver, we came across the Buzz Café, in an art gallery. It has vegetarian and vegan food, good coffee, and a super nice ambience. (Vancouver, 2015)

Sydney’s morning squawk #6

SMH06 Confusion resized smaller

Nothing but confusion followed by confusion. J says yesterday’s pic was all wrong in the caption department. She said it’s not her who is over-catering – she said she said it is me who is over-catering. I said no I am not over-catering. She said yes you are, you are cooking too much!! And then she called me a ‘dolt’. Four weeks of this – I ask you.


Sydney’s morning squawk #4

SMH04 Dose Cafe, Paris resized

Back in the day, on holiday in Paris, we found Dose cafe on rue Mouffetard. They served coffee just like at home. It became a regular morning stop. We would occupy a table near a power outlet, fire up the computers and sit drinking coffee and writing. I felt very chic when we did this. I hoped the locals would see me as a Hemingway type figure, and J, to me was just like the author of Travels with Myself and Another.

Sydney’s morning squawk #3

SMH03 Sydney on stretcherSydney was stretchered off, straight back to the SPA (Seabird Protection Agency). He is now under sedation for a sore beak and will not, I repeat, will not be allowed to leave for several days. And he will be limited to nothing more than Scrabble.  Knowing Sydney, though, it will soon turn to squabble. A phone call is bound to happen, maybe J and I could sneak off.

Sydney’s morning squawk #2

SMH02 Sydney comes a cropper
Champion crashes out of sand yachting

It seems Sydney hit soft sand at speed, broke off the nose wheel, and catapulted out the front. The silly fool forgot to fly. The phrase silly fool is from my grandfather. As a child I remember him describing old Wattie as a silly fool to my grandmother. I never knew who old Wattie was but I certainly knew he was a silly fool. As a child that phrase rolled around my tongue for years.

Sydney’s morning squawk #1

SMH01 Grandpa Syd
This is a detail from the Marriage at Canna. The Louvre painting that no-one looks at. Great-grandpa Syd is wearing the hat.

The Marriage at Canna is on the wall directly opposite the Mona Lisa. Make sure if you go to the Louve to see ML, that you do a one-eighty and there in the top right-hand corner is Great-grandpa Syd. He’s the redbeak wearing the hat.

The hat is really an empty red 2-litre ice cream container worn as a crash helmet. It is a tradition in Syd’s family and goes back a number of generations. I have done some research on the history of the hat and will probably write it up in a future posting.