Monday, April 02, 2007

Two out of Three

When I left to go to Christchurch, I had a plan which involved doing three things (apart from the obligatory trip to Borders and various possible things): one did not happen but the other two were so much better than anticipated. I had hoped to catch up with Hera at the Wunderbar but when I presented myself there for her gig, I was informed that she'd just come in from overseas and was too tired to perform.

I had already had my mind blown, so that was probably just as well. I had gone along to the Madras Cafe to see something called "On the Bus" - four Maori writers on tour. I was particularly interested in seeing Kelly Ana Morey, as we have a shared Northland connection and her books sound like fun. I was not disappointed: as she said, the chapters in her books read like individual short stories, so it really didn't matter that I had no idea what On an Island With Consequences might be about. She read chapter 14, which was of a road trip ending in a kiss, in which the taking of a roll of film formed the framework for the narrative - the thing that really made this piece sing was the way in which she got the voices of the two young girls so right.

Speaking of singing, we had Hinemoa Baker there as well, who started with a brief waiata and then gave us several of her poems, the last of which was whenua (which I did not know meant placenta as well as land - she made use of the shared meaning). I'll need to make sure I pop in to the library to read them. Same with James George - he read from Hummingbird: I'm afraid his story was a little too dense to work well at a book reading, but when he was describing it, it did sound interesting.

But it was Apirana Taylor who was really outstanding, as much for his tales of poetic creation as for his poems. He told of an earlier reading in which he recited 50 poems in about 90 minutes, then felt the inspiration to sit down and write 20 more, something he had to do otherwise they'd be gone (despite the mounting toothache!). Even more astonishing: he had done two (or maybe three) readings earlier in the day before I saw him - they had stirred up the poetic rumblings once again, so in the two hours between readings, he wrote a longish poem. He read it out to us! Despite not being finished, it had the makings of being a fabulous comedic gem - initially about a pakeha who finds (her?)self in a waka full of Maoris going back to Hawaiiki, and then transforming into a modern tale of various iwi going by flying waka on the same journey. Despite the newness of the poem, he had voices for all speakers, and basically acted it out (no doubt his former life as an actor helped here).

The other major thing of my trip was a visit to the foodshow, which was very different to the humble little Oamaru one, mainly because for your admission money, you get given little samples at all the stalls - I ate lots of different sausages and cheeses, had some beer, became a regular at the coffee stand in the four plus hours I was there, tried some Louisiana BBQ sauce on a big chunk of steak, had an ice cream slice (it is a very long time since I've even seen these) and attended three cooking demonstrations. Alison Holst was all mumsy, and doing lots of product placement in her spiel. Julie Le Clerc was a bit vague (but made an interesting looking dish; tomato sauce over a mixture of pastas, rice and lentils). Peta Mathias - well, I've seen her lots of times on TV but never really got her, but live, she was a real comedian. It was Belinda Jackson, however, who stole the show - I don't think it was just the fact that she was giving us lots of wine to drink!

Apart from that, I meandered around Christchurch. I'm sure the people of Christchurch moan about their bus service, but compared to ours, it is a dream. A single ticket to ride almost any bus? Cheap all day fares? Unheard of in Dunedin with its three different bus companies and three different ticketing mechanisms. One thing I didn't like about Christchurch was having my car broken into - little of value was taken (some CDs, some beer, my bottle of Louisiana BBQ sauce) but I'd forgotten how much I hate the fact that some little punk has chosen to break into my car.

I have no idea what the story is with this:
There is not normally a Mig fighter jet in Litchfield Street, so it was a little surprising to see ones on my way to have breakfast (I must mention the Honeypot cafe - they gave me so much bacon that I'm sure they're involved in some pig smuggling operation that has gone awry and they're desperately trying to hide the evidence).

Home was via the Banks Peninsular, and Akaroa in particular - I'd never been out that way before, so I decided that since I unexpectedly had a car to drive, I'd pop out there. The peninsular is spectacular; lumpy land surrounded by numerous little nooks in the coastline. The road is forced by the landscape into having as many twists as a Harry S Keeler novel. Akaroa - very nice, in a Parnell-by-the sea sort of way. Not really my sort of place, but it did have good cafes and an interesting cinema.



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