Saturday, September 12, 2009

Sunday Scribbles X

Well, It's been a week. There have been many occasions in the past when I would get to 5pm Friday, put my work aside, and then wonder exactly what I'd done with the preceding five days. Those days are, I fancy, over. It's hard work that I do, far more physical than I'd imagined (a box of books is a heavy thing, and I'm pickin' them up and puttin' them down an awful lot on each and every day) and the simple fact of driving a large white van artound tight suburban streets requires a bit of endurance as well. But the rewards are out of sight. There's the people I work with (and they're a really trerrific bunch of people) and the people I work for: deeply appreciative of anything that done for them. Brilliant.

Lucky. It's a word I'm hearing a lot, these day. Mainly, it seems, from older people who have, or have had, difficult lives. It's refreshing to come from an environment where people feel deprived if they don't have the latest iPod or baffling techno-geewhiz device to a place where people feel genuinely lucky simply because someone drops by every few weeks with a couple of dozen books for them to read. Is their attitude nobility? I think it comes close. It certainly has had me thinking about the virtues of humility.

Genius: It's a well-hackneyed word, and grossly over-used. Rugby players are given the appelation, as are TV game shows hosts. Obviously, the word is duumb hyperbole in those instances, but there are times when it can be applied: not necessarily to an individual, but to an act. Each one of us is capable of doing something so sublimely inspired that it can be very correctly described as genius, even though we may be the furthest thing from a genius ourselves. There is, apparently, a yard-stick for genius: to score in the top 1% of the 3 standard IQ tests 3 times over a period of 3 months. There's not many people who can do it: I might nail one or two of those tests, but certainly not all 9. There was a good article on Slate that got me thinking: I'd recommend you read it.

Films seen: Well, nothing in the past week, although Jenny and I did see "Coco" with our friends from over the bridge a couple of weeks ago. I wasn't too excited by the prospect of seeing it, but ended up loving it. Mind you, when a movie features Audrey Tatou (name speling?) it's going to be good: she is the most luminous of actors.

READING: "The Kindly Ones", by Jonathan Littell. It's been described a s a latter-day "War and Peace" and it's weight certainly lends credence to that claim. However, having read the first 100 of 900 pages, I'm inclined to agree.

LISTENING TO: Bob Dylan, "Modern Times." Sigh. Another genius. Let's face it, he did change the face of modern music.

WORD OF THE DAY: Sacrifice.


“All right, you two,” I said. “I was going to tell your father first, but I haven't found the right moment yet.”
“Tell Dad what, Mum?” Treen, looking instantly worried.
“Look,” I said. “You've got to keep it to yourselves until I speak to your Father. Promise?”
“Cross my heart and hope to die,” said Useless.
“And may my corpse be left out in the open for blowflies and rats to eat,” continued Treen.
“And green pus to ooze from sores all over my body,” said Useless.
“And my bum to fall off and be turned into a boat for boogeymen,” finished Treen. It's their usual oath: one they made up when they were small. Actually, they're still small. I felt like weeping.
“OK. It's like this,” I was nervous. Suddenly, I was a schoolgirl again, confessing to my Mum. “I think I'm pregnant.”

Chapter Two.
I found out at that moment just how deafening absolute silence can be. I swear it took them five minutes to lift their jaws off the floor and say something.
“Pregnant?” squawked Useless. “Like – you're going to have a baby?”
“Well, I can see the biology lessons at school haven't gone astray,” I said, dryly.
Treen's reaction was short, and sharp: “That dirty old man!” Then she laughed. “Really, Mum? Really? Pregnant?” I think she was both thrilled at the thought of a baby, and shocked that her Mum and Dad still did it. Little does she know.
“Really, yes. I haven't been to the doctor yet, but I'm pretty sure. Now, remember: don't tell your Dad. Mum's the word?”
“Mum's the word, all right!” said Russel. Humour, from a 15 year old. “This is neat. If it's a boy I can teach him how to play footy.”
“Be a good idea if you learned how to play it first, wouldn't it?” asked his sister. “Can you even remember the last time you won a game?”
“We win our fair share of matches,” replied Russel, defending his manhood.
“You haven't won enough matches to light a fire,” she shot back.
“All right you two, that's enough,” I said. “And remember: your Dad isn't to be told.”
“Told what?” said Chutty, from the back door. He has a way of sneaking up on a girl, that man does. Mind you, I think I did the sneaking up on him, which is how I got this way.
“Eh? Oh – nothing, sweetheart. Just a little surprise I've got organised up for later this afternoon,” I stuttered. He didn't seem to notice that I was prevaricating.
“This afternoon? Hope it's not too early. I want to head down to the Club and watch the footy with Frank, Towser, and Wiri,” he said.
“Tarquin Russel Wrigley, you are not to go and watch the footy. Not after my protests!” I snapped.
The previous Saturday, I'd been down on the main street, outside the Post Office – which is the closest thing we've got to a Public Service building – protesting against the Tour. I'd taken Chutty's crash helmet, and a big placard saying “Have a HART!” and me and Sandra Westmere stayed outside the NZPO for the two hours of the game, shouting out our support for the anti-tour people. OK, it was only two people. But we did something. Why the NZPO? It's the closest thing Northbridge has to a Public Service office.
“Quiet, woman,” he said, with that grin of his. “You can protest all you like, and I'll do what I think is OK. And I think that it's just a game of footy, and it's a game I want to see.”
“But haven't you thought about all the things I've said, and everything John Minto said, and -” I was spluttering by now.
“I reckon Minto's as big a ratbag as Piggy Muldoon is, Moana,” he said. “I just want to watch a game of footy. The Springboks have made no fuss about Maoris or anything, have they?”
“As long as they're confined to serving the beer and polishing the Springboks' boots, no,” I retorted.
“Look – Wiri's coming down the club to see the game. You don't get any more Maori than him, and he doesn't mind, does he?”
I gave him The Look, but it bounced off. What's the point of having a secret weapon, if the Bloody Man Is Too Bloody Thick-Skinned? It's not fair.
“Look,” he said. “If it'll make you feel better, you can go and protest again. This time you may not outnumber the cops. After all, Barry is actually at the game.”
Barry's the local cop, and our next-door neighbour. He gets more done with a sock-full of dried peas than a horde of psychologists and councilors will ever do.
“All right then,” I said, defeated. “You go to the Club. I'm going to -” Then, inspiration struck. “I'm going to get a Wedding Party ready!”
There were two world-shaking events happening that day: the Spingboks were playing Taranaki, and the heir to the throne, Charles, the Prince of Wales, was marrying Diana Spencer.

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