Had a beer with a beard the other day to celebrate the relentless commercial onset of Christmas. The beard was my old friend’s familiar trademark and I told him once more how much it suited him.
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.
In South Auckland’s Ihumatao, a peaceful group of Maori activists continues the campaign it began in 2015. Their aim? To stop Fletchers building 480 homes on what they believe is sacred land.
And a few miles away in the leafy suburb of Mt Albert early last month, middle-class Pakeha began their protest.
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.
We do not have a housing crisis. The housing market works perfectly for those it was designed to serve. Landlords are now protesting because the precarious position of renters has (finally) been acknowledged.
But who knows how long it will it take before the talk ends and the watered down action begins? And even then if the result resembles the government’s affordable housing fiasco where do we go from there? But we are not alone.
The early television days were staffed by competent, experienced staff with mainly radio experience coping with second hand BBC equipment in small make shift studios with tape, lighting and telecine (film) operators in cramped uncomfortable cupboards/offices. Staff like Barry Warner, Colin Harrison, Geoff Eady, Robyn Petrie, Ian Hill, Stuart Murray and Russ Lambert and Bob Smith. We owe them so much.
‘Have a beer’, said a friend recently. ‘No thanks, juice will be fine’, I replied. Remembering me as a keen beer drinker, he looked bemused. ‘I’ve become a bit of a wowser, these days. Grandma would be proud of me.’
On another recent occasion, I was offered a glass of wine by one of my quiz night teammates. All the other members were imbibing. ‘No thanks. lemon, lime and bitters, will be fine. I don’t touch the stuff these days. Grandma would be proud of me.’
‘What you mean – your grandma would be proud of you?’ one asked. And so began my tale.
Bob strolls to the new coffee house not far from his home. The sun’s out, shadowed now and then by fluffy white clouds. He’s on his way to meet his old friend John and despite the weather he wears his faded raincoat – because, as he always tells everyone in summer and winter, you just never know with Auckland weather.