Some sundry impressions:
- Auckland drivers and the traffic get more abominable every time I come here. Unless I lived (somewhere sufficiently aesthetic) within walking distance or a direct <1/2 hour busride to work, I wouldn't live here. Mind you, that's my criteria with just about any city, after London.
- There have been some interesting blasts from the past. I found a cocktail bar called Mo's, on the corner of Federal and Wolfe Sts, which is open to 3am. Makes a change from the dive that used to be there which the sailors and protties used to frequent. It's a wee hole in the wall, and the cocktail list is only the "classics". A mai tai was not on the list, but who on earth puts raspberry syrup in it????? So, nice place, but perhaps I should have stuck to what was on the (limited) menu.
- After Mo's, I walked up to St Paddy's Cathedral, through the park were Tania was gay- or Maori-bashed (or both) in the late 80s. It's a nice wee park though. The waterfall with big rough-hewn slabs of stone is still there splashing away, nicely lit-up at night.
- The Formule 1 hotel here in Wyndham St is nice. I am only staying here as a last resort (cos the three in which I've stayed in Oz were horrendous), but for $75 a night, I've got a kitchenette, nice bedding (not the flashest sheets, but they're clean), no bunks, a good shower and, get this, sea views right off Queen St in Auckland. I gather that Formule 1 didn't build this particular place and only took it on in the last 6 months. I thoroughly recommend it for budget accommodation, before it gets grotty. I'll post up pics tomorrow, possibly.
- The Women's Bookshop is hardly worth the name, these days. Between the books by blokes, and "self-help" and "spiritual" twaddle, there were about a dozen different authors in the lesbian section. I think there are probably more at Borders. Let all us Alison Bechdel fans reflect on the irony. Two (small) paperback books cost me over $70. One of which is Bechdel's Fun Home, which was a fascinating read, on a number of levels.
- After talking to my friend D at great length about the need for an anthology of NZ nature poetry, I found a book published last year that is exactly that, complete with nice photos. It's called Nature of Things. Here's the first one, by Ruth Dallas:
Deep in the Hills
Once I thought the land I had loved and known
Lay curled up in my inmost self: musing alone
In the quiet room I unfolded the folded sea,
Unlocked the forest and the lonely tree,
Hill and mountain valley beach and stone,
All these, I said, are here and exist in me.
But now I know it is I who exist in the land:
My inmost self is blown like a grain of sand
Along the windy beach, and is only free
To wander among the mountains, enter the tree,
To turn again a sea-worn stone in the hand,
Because these things exist outside of me.
O far from the quiet room my spirit fills
The familar valleys, is folded deep in the hills.
- And the anthology is even better because it has my favourite ever NZ nature poem, as I go on about here.
- My friends are absolute treasures. Thank christ for their input and wonderful selves.
- I've needed this break, and to return to my turangawaewae (resting-place for feet, which metaphorically means the place where you have the right to stand up, and where you always return to).
- Off to the museum tomorrow to see an exhibition on the Pacific explorers... the original ones.
- The new titchy coins here are hilarious. Since they're completely different weights and sizes, I'll have to start feeding my old coins (still at home) into those Aussie parking meters. I'm so bad.
- Home to Canberra Wednesday night. When are they going to invent that goddamned matter transporter so that I can see all my loved ones anywhere when I feel like it?
Taken from us by
Now that you and
Maggie is the
Only one from the old gang
Unless you count
As you arrive in
The luxury wing of
I wonder if
And if you will have to pay for
Shakespeare, here 'tis:
Weary with toil, I haste me to my bed,
The dear repose for limbs with travel tired;
But then begins a journey in my head,
To work my mind, when body's work's expired:
For then my thoughts, from far where I abide,
Intend a zealous pilgrimage to thee,
And keep my drooping eyelids open wide,
Looking on darkness which the blind do see
Save that my soul's imaginary sight
Presents thy shadow to my sightless view,
Which, like a jewel hung in ghastly night,
Makes black night beauteous and her old face new.
Lo! thus, by day my limbs, by night my mind,
For thee and for myself no quiet find.
Horribly horribly apposite at the moment.
And, if I was bored, my friends, they were bored out of their tiny trees. Thus mad outbreaks of feyness happened at intervals. One of the best was sparked by one of the editors who was from England, who innocently asked what a choko was. Very quickly, he was provided with history ("Let them eat chokos!" cried Marie Antoinette), recipes (self-saucing choko pudding) and literature. And here's one of the best examples from literature:
Greenish blues - WH Audit
Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone
Shoot the pianist and with feelings glum,
Put away the coffee, don't let the diners come.
Let the waiters circle moaning all as one.
Scribble on the menu "It's all gone".
Put great bells around the red necks of rugby jocks.
Let traffic policemen wear white bobby socks.
It was my nosh, my spread, my feast, my boast,
My breakfast and my Sunday roast.
My lunch, my midnight snack, my feed, my scoff
I thought my choko frittata would last forever. It was off.
Pickles are not wanted now, put away every one.
Pack up the spoon and dismantle the bun.
Pour away the vinaigrette and sweep up the pud.
For nothing now can ever come to any good.
( Jabberwocky - Lewis Carroll )
Jabberwocky was the first poem I learned by heart, when I was 10, and I can still recite it, no problems. I attempted to memorise the Walrus and the Carpenter as well, but it was just a wee bit too long. With Jabberwocky, I loved the language--"galumphing" has always been one of my favourite words, and I think "mimsy" is perfect for expressing a certain frame of mind.
( Among School Children - WB Yeats (final stanza) )
Yeats is often overwrought for my taste, but this perfectly expresses one of my beliefs about how we can't separate our bodily health from our emotional or spiritual health. I memorised this when I was 16 -- I don't remember where I came across it originally -- and really, it's no wonder I studied homeopathy, with its emphasis on treating the whole person.
( Absence - Pablo Neruda )
I have spent too much time separated from people I love. And Neruda expresses exactly how that feels.
( My Lady Ain't No Lady - Pat Parker )
This poem always makes me laugh. And so expresses what I love about my lovers, even when they're being girly.
( High Country Weather - James K. Baxter )
One of James K. Baxter's quintessential New Zealand nature poems. There are a couple about the bush (forest) that I also love, but this one really expresses what nature/the earth/the universe gives to me.
( All day I am dreaming a forest - Caroline Griffin )
I flatted with Caroline when I first moved to London. The flatting situation didn't work out, but she is a damn fine poet. And it features forests and bees, two of my favourite things.