Sunday, March 28, 2010

Splenetic musings on horrible places (and a chance to win $10 000)

Well, I can see we're in for some bad weather soon. The apricot tree down in the paddock has just flowered,  along with the daffodils and the primroses, which means that in the next ten days we'll have snow, or hail, or frosts, or a tempest, or maybe pigs falling from the sky. And if that fails, and by some miracle little baby apricots do appear on the branches, they'll just catch leprosy or something, turn black and drop off. Whatever, after five years of their non-arrival, I'm pretty sure we won't be eating any this year. Although I live in perpetual hope of being disappointed. But I'm still betting on snow, despite the temperatures being in the 20s. Although, thanks to Spain, the picture you can see is dessert tonight. Mwahaha!

Discussing with Margo where we would, if ever we should return to NZ one day, elect to live. We came up with a list, not too favorable I'm afraid:
  • Orcland: hate the place, inhabited by orcs, rule that out. Besides, it's a piss-poor excuse for a city, just a ratshit CBD and masses of suburbs with people in grotty cars trying to get from one to the other, god alone knows why. And what a joke the railway station is. And mass transport? Good thing they're not getting the Olympics any time soon.
  • Wellington: love the city, hate the climate. Have to be about the closest you could find over there to the feeling of Paris, without the small dogs shitting on the pavement. Nor, sad to say, having a boulangerie 200m from your door. And unfortunately the weather is, let's admit it, 90% foul.
  • Hamilton: damp, dull and flat. Responsible for most of NZs greenhouse gasses by the sheer volume of cow farts from the surrounding farms. Enough said. Except that if ever the Merkins want to field-test a nuclear warhead, they're welcome to Cambridge.
  • Palmerston North: been there, done my time. Forget it. Forget everything. I've done my best to do so.
  • Tauranga: all I can recall is the line of zimmer frames checked in at the entrance to every supermarket. And wrinkly old people tottering about, apparently turned into sort of zombie prunes by the sun. And Winston Peters. Ouch.
  • Napier/Hastings: population apparently up by 25% over the last decade. Probably means there are about 6000 technically alive people there now, then. Boring. Unless you're a lizard. In which case it'd still be boring, but you wouldn't care.
  • Wanganui. Whanganui? Phooey.
  • Coromandel? Nice climate, but too close to Orcland, and anyway I don't grow dope. 'Cos if we did we've have the kids inviting themselves to stay far too often.
  • Gisborne. Oh for god's sake, some places are a bit out of the way but Gisborne is right off the map.  In fact, I'm not even sure that it's on the globe. Yes, the climate's nice but it's so bloody isolated you'd have more company in solitary confinement somewhere in Siberia. I don't even know if they've had gravity installed yet. And I do know for a fact that the telephone lines are made of string. (Possibly because they'd be nicked if they were made of copper.)
  • South Island. We have snow and mountains here. I can see no reason to go there to get more of the same. And there are far too many sheep, anyway.
  • Nelson? Maybe, why not? Got wine, got climate, got sea ...
Got any ideas? Perhaps we should organise a vote on the least foul place to live. Or alternatively, the one most deserving of a five-minute tirade of insults. Or you could nominate some much-loathed dump for inclusion in the list. Winner to be decided by an impartial jury consisting of me, the cat, and the dog. First prize, for the most original, amusing and spleen-filled suggestion gets M$ 10,000 (that's 10,000 Monopoly dollars, if you prefer) and possibly beaten-up by concerned citizens of the lucky town. In case you hadn't noticed, comments are enabled, so feel free. (And anyone who nominates Foxton will be - politely - escorted to the door and have his or her lungs and any other useful organs removed by Boris the bouncer.)

We're supposed to be spending Easter with Karen at Mumblefuck, so she was on the phone for half an hour this evening trying to work out what to eat. The eternal existential problem. We eventually whittled the main course down to ham or lamb, and as a good Jew (snigger snigger) she wouldn't be able to go for ham, so that's one problem solved: now just have to work out what to have with it (traditional roast potatoes? gratin? refried mashed spuds?) and should we have an entrée or a dessert, or no entrée and two desserts? Vegetable accompaniments are now officially her problem, and as for dessert I think we'll definitely go with a pavlova at least, and either I find some sort of dish that I can either do at the last minute or, alternatively, get all ready ahead of time, either an entrée or some sort of swish dessert. Happily, there's yet a week or so to cogitate on the matter.


Well bugger me rigid, Bruce (as my old aunt used to say), that first paragraph was meant in jest but today it's bloody snowing down to 600m in some parts not too far from us. So far we've been spared, but I'm willing to bet that the high winds earlier this morning will have managed to shake some/most of the apricot blossoms off, leaving only a few healthy ones to be attacked by mildew. This is just so depressing. And we've got meuhs down in the paddock behind our garden again. Fortunately, the farmer that puts them there has now learnt that no-one in the neighbourhood thinks that cowbells are even remotely cute, and so refrains from equipping them with such.

Later ... after a grotty morning of  wind and rain (and, as mentioned, snow) it's turned out fine and sunny again, if a bit colder than I'd liked. Just goes to show.

Got a busy day lined up tomorrow: Margo's off somewhere at the arse-end of Grenoble for a salon, I've organised after-market drinkies with Brian (Sophie's down in Marseille for the weekend, and he's the only other semi-pro alcoholic I know who is willing or able to keep up with me), and we're off tomorrow night to Grenoble again to see the latest Upstage production: Joe Orton's "Loot" and a Pinter of some sort. We've been going for years - since Malyon's first year at Europole, in fact - and it would be a shame to miss it. It's getting to be a tradition. So I rang Mr. Simpson today (was surprised, the lycée dished out his cell number just on my asking) and he very nicely promised to get two tickets set aside for us.

Which is going to mean leaving Jeremy to fend for himself whilst Margo and I try to meet up somewhere for a kebab. And it's the last night, so the after-show party should be good. Shall have to be restrained, don"t know anywhere to crash in Grenoble for the night. Although I suppose I could call up some of Mal's friends, call in a few favours ... god knows they've spent enough time here. Mind you, having your best friend's father crash on the couch is perhaps not what they were expecting.

Later ... made it down to Grenoble and off to the Théatre de Ste-Marie d'En-Bas (which translates literally as "Saint Mary's Down Below", which is I suppose reasonable enough as, having been a church, it was converted into the city morgue before Diden the impresario took it over and transformed it into a theatre) with no problems. Speaking for myself. Margo, coming from the other direction, managed to get herself lost and then couldn't recall, having found the appropriate car-park, how to get from there to the actual place of torture. I went and rescued her.

The lovely young lady at the counter found the tickets that Mr. S. had, in fact, had put aside for us (and I always find it marvellous the way they can switch effortlessly from French to English and vice-versa) and as usual,  the production was excellent. It was the last night so they let themselves go a bit towards the end, which made the last 15 minutes a bit sloppy, but what the hell.

We're sort of becoming a fixture: six years we've been going now. Mr Simpson (I suppose I really should call him David, that is after all his name and we know one another well enough by now) manages to recognise us from across a crowded room (I shall not describe the bar at the theatre. Suffice it to say that it is not large, and seems even smaller when you've got 50 people shoe-horned into it) and in all appearance is genuinely delighted to see us. Which is, I suppose, not necessarily impossible, even if you may think it somewhat unlikely. Whatever, he said he'd even threatened the cast with us, which may well be true. Sadly enough we couldn't stay long: Margo had her salon again today and we were going to miss out on an hour of sleep thanks to the beginning of daylight saving so decided that discretion was the better part of valour, cut and ran around 23:00. Next year we'll try to be better organised and get Malyon to come with us. If she's not off saving whales somewhere.

OK, I'd better head back to getting a frikkin GPRS modem to do what I want it to.



  1. But, but, there are some excellent vinyards in Gisborne!
    As for Tauranga, yes there are still chronolocially-challenged persons there in largish numbers - but it's growing rapidly & most of the growth is in the younger demographic. (Anyway, won't you be in the zimmer-frame cohort soon? Should feel right at home

  2. Welly is our most likely destination, since Sue & Jeremy are there as well as Madeleine's family. However, since we've long-since shaken off the Kiwi aversion to living more than 10 minutes from town (it takes me an hour to get to most places I want to visit in London), we're considering going up the coast - Raumati or Paraparaumu, maybe. The climate's better than Wellington, but it's not that far away if you crave big-city amenities. Who knows, maybe they'll even have a decent rail service by then...