Monday, December 26, 2005


It never rains but it pours.

Haven't written diddley for squat and now I can't shut up.

Boxing Day is such a curious, anticlimactic holiday. The streets of Auckland were busier than yesterday, but still the tumbleweed tumbleweeded down Queen Street.

I find myself watching 'Four Weddings and a funeral. The only reason I can think of is: because it's Boxing Day, the holiday with no point. So pointless excercises in media consumption suddenly make sense.

I do feel slightly awkward by some of the film's insights. The girl who corners Hugh Grant in the corridor of an hotel at one of the eponymous weddings with the accusation that he is a serial monogamist makes me squirm. And the death of the old fruit who's lover reads the WH Auden poem is a poinant moment that stops my clock:

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

The reason I watch at all, in truth, is to hear that rendition. (Who was it that said New Zealands national pastime is not reading poetry?)

It makes me sad. For a couple of reasons.

First of all: change the gender to "She was my North, My South, my East, my West...." and away we go. I think of Megan, my first wife and am guaranteed to well with remorse and sadness.

Ironically I had never seen the film before I was sorting Meg's things immediately after her death. The film soundtrack was among her treasures. The monologue is featured on the playlist but, at the time, I couldn't hear it through. It was consigned and sealed in the box with her answerphone message tape and a cassette of a clairvoyant reading (apparently Megan would live a long and happy life. Pretty sure it was a happy life for the best part, so that, at least, was accurate).

The second cause for remorse is the loss of my Scottishness, ipso cultural self. In the immortal words of Hugh Grant in his whatsisname character…"fuckadoodledo".

My heart turned black when Megan died and I have had trouble experiencing joy on anything more than an intellectual level since--when I struggled in the first place. The Scottish trait I never lost.

I miss her terribly at times like these and feel cheated by the speed with which her illness overtook us all.

Let that be a lesson to you.

Movie marathons

Got through another Christmas. I am not prone to cheap sentiment at this time of year. While I am not cynical about the holiday - I appreciate the idea of refocusing on some of the more pleasant aspects of human character as much as anyone - I do find the pressure to spend money and offer gifts has become something of a burden.

Of the gifts I received the DVD of a television programme The Long Way Round (from my son) was my favourite. It follows a couple of soft actors - Euan McGregor (Trainspotting, Moulin Rouge, Star Wars) and Charlie Boorman (?) as they traverse the planet from London to New York - across Europe, through Russia, Khazakstan, Mongolia, Siberia etc, across to Alaska, Canada and the USA. The seven episodes are riveting. It shows the planning to the completion of the journey with hand held cameras and cameras mounted on the bikes (big BMW enduro machines). There are moments during their trip when I wondered how I would have dealt the hardships they endured. Imagine being bogged down in the Siberian wilderness or your bike's frame snapping in half in the middle of nowhere. I have to admit to getting a little annoyed by the two travellers from time to time - but only in the same good natured way they became annoyed with each other, in frustration with being in one another's company without interruption for such a stretch (yes, I watched the whole seven hours in a marathon sitting).

It occurs to me that this simple style of film making can be as compelling and as epic as blockbusters like King Kong - which I took my son along to watch on the day before Christmas eve. It, too, is quite a spectacle and I was thoroughly entertained. Kong is much better than The Lord of the Rings . My main criticism of Peter Jackson's latest his his inclination to fall into a sense of cloying sentimentality with big strings. By that I don't mean the central proposition of two lonely or misplaced souls finding they can relate improbably across species and scale is tenuous - that is the Kong story, after all. But there are moments when Jackson's films fall into a syrupy bog with symphonic accompaniment. And am I alone in wondering if the music in Kong is almost the same as that in LoTR?.
Final thought on Kong: what happened to the scary Skull Islanders? After a fierce resistance they simply vanish? Expedience I suppose. I overheard someone telling a friend that they felt parts of King Kong didn't seem real. Aherm...

Idealog got a mention in this weekend's Herald Time Out section What We Are Reading - "Pretty hip for a business magazine." Maybe it is. But we have work to do to make issue two better than issue one.

So I better crack on with it.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Odd sized shoes

My shoes are different sizes. I came to this realisation in a curious way. When I took my beloved RM Williams boots in for repair I noticed that the left was bigger than the right. "These can't be mine." I pronounced with absolute certainty. The welt of one seemed to protrude further out the other. I was more stressed than I should have been and insisted that the matching boot be found. It couldn't. As things transpired I was given a new pair of boots. But even then I was unhappy and gave them away. I've learned to live with my odd boots. Noone else has noticed. Perhaps I'm just picky. Or obsessive compulsive. Or both. Anything is possible. If truth be told, I have become rather fond of my idiosyncratic footwear. I like that they are unlike and take great pleasure in massaging leather cream into the cracks. I make no distinction between left and right. I don't even know which is the original and which is the adopted sole.

I'm learning to let things slide. I never know what will happen next when I allow a little randomness into the frame. After all do I want a realisitic picture at the end of my life, or an expressionst one?

The latter I think.

This morning I was on Breakfast TV. Thought, perhaps, that noone would have seen me - with the exception of desperate housewives (the segment aired at 8.45, when all diligient workaholics were stuck in traffic).

But the phone has been ringing all day with compliments from friends and colleagues. It's gratifying to receive positive feedback. Likewise with the magazine. People seem to like it.

I like that.

I've opened a hobby store to promote my art . The price of bespoke, hand-made printing was putting some people off. You can still have t...