“Never fall out with your neighbours”, my wise father once told me. I’ve done my best over the years, but it’s not always that easy. I remember shaking the hand of a new neighbour years ago, as a form of welcome, only to be told by that ‘we’re not really neighbourly types’. These people have since become ‘good neighbours” in the best sense of the term.
Category archive: Encounters
Man hurries into the Auckland airport’s domestic terminal and stops. It’s just not the place he once knew so well. Not many airport officers around to ask for directions but he does spot a tall Polynesian officer standing nearby. Man thinks he should know and so he stops and asks:
Auditioning acts for Television had a success rate of about 300 to 1. Not every session could produce a Shona Laing or Bulldogs All Star Goodtime Band, and although my musical director and I treated everyone with courtesy, our patience was pretty stretched by day’s or week’s end!
However, occasionally an act walked through the door, and though unsuccessful as television talent, was never forgotten.
Thinking again of the delightful Alan Bennett’s wonderful play, ‘An Englishman Abroad’ brings much to mind if one is an Englishman abroad. Bennett wrote of the Soviets, that while the comrades were very good they could not do this that or the other.
An Englishman living in New Zealand often has similar thoughts. The Kiwis have an abundance of strengths. Most notable is the ability to use cows to turn grass into a very profitable endeavour and of course, the ability to play rugby union. How and what then are my Kiwi friends lacking?
At first they nodded and smiled as usual on our daily walks. Nothing unusual there, it’s our neighbourhood.
But then the pandemic arrived and didn’t leave. For a few days we were confused and offered the same greetings, though we all knew nothing would ever be the same.
We sat on a wide verandah and looked out on a backyard. Backyard? This one was huge, park-like and its green flowed past crimson flowered jacarandas on both sides for more than an acre. Finally it gave way to a to a lily-covered billabong under the shade of towering ghost gums.
He boarded the outbound 737 from Auckland looking out of place and time.
He was a Buddhist monk, replete with flowing brown robes, practical sandals and on his left wrist, corded bangles. Not a sober sort, he joked with other passengers as he settled into his seat. One asked him what religion he belonged to. A pause.
Like many other New Zealanders of my age, I was weaned on innumerable cinema and television versions of American high school experiences; films such as Grease, Fame, Mean Girls, Donnie Darko, and TV programmes such as Freaks and Geeks, Happy Days, Beverly Hills 90210 and Room 222. There is also a long-established sub-genre in the school reunion movie, with films like Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion, Peggy Sue Got Married, Grosse Point Blank and Class Reunion spinning tales of rekindled lusts, long delayed revenge enacted, and various levels of disappointment.