Category archive: Encounters

Christchurch today – wreckage, and renewal

Standing on the fourth-floor balcony of Tūranga, Christchurch’s recently opened library sited on Cathedral Square, I gazed down onto the sagging ruin that is the post-earthquake Christchurch Cathedral. From this angle the decision to restore makes even less sense than it did three years ago when I viewed the wreckage from behind a ground level wire-mesh safety fence.

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Community cohesion – where is it?

Why would anyone think I’d vote for them if they give me a leaflet I don’t want! Look – it says ‘NO CIRCULARS’!”  I consider explaining that local body election leaflets are actually not ‘circulars’, or indeed, advertising at all. They are instead an important part of the democratic process. But I fear a bureaucratic distinction will be lost on this vehement elderly woman intent on keeping her letter box clear of bumf, and for that matter, on most others whose letterboxes are firmly labelled as to what can and cannot be posted within.

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October miscellany

Our Kiwi friend loves her new home in Australia’s Sunshine Coast except that… one morning when she opened the doors to another glorious day, she saw  this on her back deck… a python. It basked on the desk railing, all 3-4 metres of it, and sent our friend scurrying back inside.

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‘NO JUNK MAIL!’

Apart from people, letterboxes are the most pedestrian sights on any street.  Without a  second glance we walk past  every one except our own, which is perhaps the way things should be.  But like everything else  post-digital, letter boxes are no longer the proud receptacles of mail – handwritten letters, invitations, birthday  cards and their  more sombre messages of condolence.

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Grandma lost her purse…

Grandma has lost her purse. She’s hurrying from one room to another and back again, opening cupboards and lifting cushions. Wispy white hair works loose from the floppy bun at the back of her neck, her hands twist together, her faded blue-grey eyes dart.

“I know I had it yesterday, where can it be, oh dear, oh dear, I know I had it yesterday.” Her litany of distress is on repeat and winding up.

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Among his souvenirs.. new shoes

To say he had a beard would be an understatement- his whole face bristled with pepper and salt whiskers so thick they looked like an uncut hedge. In one of Auckland’s coldest winter spells, he wore a coat which had seen too many winters and was at least two sizes too big for him. And then there were his shoes, or perhaps one of  them. It  remained  staunchly unflappable while  the other had  clearly given up the pretense of being a shoe,  and its uppers flopped open with every step he took.

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Two men, two wives, six daughters and…

Two men, two wives, six daughters between them.   So in their conversation, a liberal  sprinkling of domestic chit-chat –  the kind you’d also  imagine women having over a cuppa. Except  that these were two  old blokes  who’d notched up a  century of marriage between them.

And blokes  talk about sport, who should have won the one day cricket final at Lords,  politics –  and of course the good old days. There’s a pause between  all this chaff and then this:

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When was the first time you felt old?

When was the first time you felt, umm… elderly? Well okay – old? It’s not as if it’s something that  happens often because we live in a self-made reality, now and in the past.

But it’s right there if we bother to look: on the car radio Magic FM specialises in music for the ‘oldies’ – that same music which revolutionised the music world when we were in the Swinging Sixties, is now a commercially viable lullaby for early baby boomers.

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A hero at 14…

(Part two of John’s adolescent dilemma)

In the first episode which we ran in June, 13-year-old John Anderson is acclaimed for his heroism – rescuing his 18-month-old brother from a charging bull in post- war Britain. He makes the front pages of national newspapers is feted in London along with other young heroes – and dies just a little bit each time…. Here’s the sequel to his dip into the waters of celebrity…

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