Wednesday, 31 December 2008

hoodoo breaker

I decided if I write anything today I will have broken the curse of inaction once again. My wife was loaned (passive tense) a copy of Ann Lamott's bird by bird and an impressive piece of work it is.

I am now all afire again to get rid of the great portrush novel (gpn) out of its current occupation of dictating an existence in daydreams.

I'm starting (positive note) at the railway station. I thought to myself that the introductory setting of a station throws up images of connections, missed connections, arrivals, departures ... all that kind of stuff. Oh holy God, am I thinking of the Enigma of Arrival? So? What if I am?

Today is New Year's Eve aka ne'erday if I believe the Sunday Post, a much favoured paper in our house on a Sunday. My mother always bought the Sunday Papers from McNicholl's after church. She claimed she was nervous about the minister seeing us or anybody else for that matter buying the papers. if this was the case why did she persist? The paper shop was only fifty yards (hey, let's see that's uh, just trying to do metres here, that's uh - fuck it I can't do it without a calculator) from our church and we all seemed to arrive at once. By all I mean the various congregations. The Presbyterians and the Church of Ireland and the Methodists (us) all were released from worship at around the same time. I think the Catholics got out of mass earlier just to spite us.

McNicholl's, The Gift Shop, was a great place to buy albums from at Christmas. The Beano, The Dandy ... If one was missing from my Christmas stocking I could count on buying it from Jim McNicholl. I hope I'm not mixing this memory of early consumerism with Brown's shop. I know we got my comics in Brown's - 'You mean comic magazines, Macmillan', said Mr Wallace, our Latin Teacher, when he asked about my reading material outside of school.

Do modern teachers humiliate their charges today? I nearly said I hope not, but maybe that kind of vicious treatment helps you to grow a spine or if you're lucky it doesn't and you have to become a writer.

That's enough. I've busted the hoodoo.

Happy New Year everybody.

Monday, 15 December 2008

Graduation day

Wednesday 10th December

Polly processes down George Street.
Polly graduates in Dunedin Town Hall.

Photos terrible. Darn! I was the photographer. Double darn!

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Graduation excitement

Tuesday 9th December 2008

We are invited to what I believe is a tea-party for James - an opportunity to celebrate his achievement and meet his family from the North Island. Polly and James have been friends practically since she began her degree at Otago and he has helped us out from time to time with stolid good sense and humour. I don't usually attend social functions for reasons I don't care to share here. Special friends get different treatment and it would have been a churlish act on my part not to lend support when it was often given with no reciprocity looked for or required.

We turned up in good time at the Hutton Room, Otago Museum and discovered it wasn't just James' do. All Maori graduands from Otago had been invited with their whanau and friends to celebrate their achievements and give thanks to their family who had supported them on a difficult journey. Apparently while overly represented in the prison population, Maori find it difficult to get through the doors of our tertiary institutions. Why this should be I do not know. I will not debate the issues here. I came from a country that seemed to be overtly sectarian and exclusive and know full well the complexities of trying to unravel, solve, treat, cure or identify conflict.

When I first came here and learned of Te Tiriti I was thrilled. A partnership, says I. One set of people is not privileged over another. Way to go Kiwis! I learned to pronounce Kia Ora and was astounded to learn it was a Maori greeting. When I was a boy in the Saturday matinees of yore Kia-ora was the soft drink you bought in the interval - if you remember, they used to show a big picture and a wee picture

We met a friend of Polly's in Akaroa and proudly I exclaimed "Kia Ora!" She gave a look of shock, horror and distaste muttering: "No need to use that here. I think they get enough already."

As I say I have known and experienced prejudice at first hand and I fear I no longer have time for it.

We had a wonderful if deafening time as an enthusiastic brother or two let great yells out of them. As the spokesperson said you won't get the opportunity for loud roaring as you tramp across the stage of the Town Hall tomorrow!