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Tuesday, 2 January 2007

Still There In The Morning

The old year went out and the new year came in very quietly in our household. ABM and I stayed indoors and watched two dvds - 'Brick' and 'The Inside Job' (at least I think that was what the second dvd was called - a Spike Lee film anyway, so his direction probably made it better than it should've been.) Both were okay - we didn't feel cheated after watching them, just pleasantly entertained, and no brain cells were damaged or mutilated in the process. I thought Denzel Washington looked old and fat. But I like him better like that. More jaded and bitter. More believable.

Meanwhile outside the sky greyed to black. There were fireworks at midnight. We were going to walk down our drive, along the street and around the corner, for a better view. However the last dvd we watched didn't finish 'til right on midnight, so in the end we simply stepped out on to our landing and in the cool night air, watched as each unseen firework-shower simply caused the sky to pulsate slightly, the underside of rain-filled clouds lighting up as pale-yellow as week-old cream.

On New Year's Day itself, the TV news showed a round-up of the nation's New Year's Eve celebrations, including a shot of our Mayor Chin in full regalia, gustily singing Christmas carols to a gathered throng of grinning, round-cheeked Dunedin citizens. It was as cheesy as Dunedin gets. And believe me, that can sometimes be pretty cheesy.

The next day even though the weather was drizzly and unpromising, I decided we would go on a picnic and cheerfully prepared the necessary. The males in my household grumped and chided me for thinking we could have a picnic in the rain. But I was obstinate and decided. I was going anyway - it was up to them. They could come if they wanted. They came. As I knew they would.

We piled into the car - all five of us - and followed a tiny glimmer of light, until lo and behold, we found a glimmer of blue sky above Aromoana. Here we found a sheltered spot on the beach in which to set up our chairs and food. Smooth, small waves quietly lapped and licked the shore. We sat in the lee of the sandhills and ate our picnic meal in perfect calm.

When a couple of squawking, strident seagulls approached, adamant that we throw them a crust (we didn't - it only encourages them) S said he hadn't missed there not being any seagulls in Japan. Then he said that they have crows over there and conceded that they're probably worse than seagulls. He told of one time camping out overnight and waking up to discover that in the night crows had picked over the food they'd forgotten to pack away. He said the methodical way they'd picked over the food, choosing and discarding, gave him the creeps. Which inevitably led us on to a conversation about Hitchcock's movie 'The Birds'. Am I the only one who doesn't find that movie scary? S suggested it's more suspense Hitchcock is so good at building up in his movies, rather than raw fear.

Aromoana is a pretty place, but full of a weird oppression. As if everything is covered by an invisible, clear film. As we drove through, all appeared normal - family groups were out walking, laughing and chatting. Nevertheless, the thought that ten years ago in this small seaside town, people - including children - were murdered by a man with a gun, seemed to bubble silently under the surface. It was as if we glided underwater, the merest breath of memory enough to disturb the surface. None of us mentioned it at all, so I have no idea if anyone else thought about it. Yet somehow, at the same time, I know we all did.

On the way home we bought ice creams. S wanted a gum-drop ice cream - it was one of his many cravings after having eaten only Japanese food for a whole year. Pies is another. Sausages and Raro drink sachets are also among the things he's missed. And Colgate toothpaste - Japanese toothpaste sucks, he says.


clare said...

Great post, CB. I really enjoyed reading this. Hitchcock's BIRDS frightened me to death when I first saw it - one of those hiding behind the sofa jobs - I was fairly young...but then when I saw it recently I thought it quite tame. I agree though it was the tension that was frightening rather than what actually happened. Strange how one's tastes change with time.

Found that detail about the Japanese crows from S fascinating, especially the way they eat. I thought everywhere had seagulls- I suppose I think of them as ubiquitous - the rats of the air. I am quite surprised that in some sea-side places (and surely everywhere in Japan must be fairly close to the sea) some other bird has taken their niche.

Does the Maori channel have things like the news in Maori? Do they have different programmes? I suppose like the Tibetans they must feel themselves to be a nation under threat in some ways, perhaps. Though don't mean to suggest the NZ government is at all like the Chinese one!

Anyway, thanks CB. It was a very good read.

chiefbiscuit said...

clare - Thanks for such a full and lengthy comment.
Yes I was surprised about there being no seagulls in Japan too - I must check it out with S to see if there are really NO seagulls - before he goes back. He's heading back again on the 4th (which makes me feel a little sad).

The Maori channel does have news in Maori (or te reo; which means 'the Maori language'.) In lots of ways Maori feel sidelined. The channel is a great way of helping redress the balance. NZ is a bi-cultural / multi-cultural nation - we have come a long way, but still a long way to go yet, for that to truly be a reality.

January said...

I keep forgetting that it's summer where you are. It's a cool but sunny fall-like day here. Should be much colder than it is.

Can't wait to see what you come up with for goals.

And I'll take a pudgy Denzel any day of the week and twice on Sunday!


Avus said...

Pity - I like the photos!
I am new to your site - why "Chiefbiscuit"?

chiefbiscuit said...

january - Thanks - yeah pudgy's far more cuddly ;)

avus - re photos ... I'm not saying never! And Chiefbiscuit is a play on my surname, so I'll tell you but then I'm going to have to ... you know the rest of that line ;) Pssst - chief cookie = chief biscuit.

ecm said...

This seems like a wonderful way to usher in a new year. May it bring you many blessings.

pepektheassassin said...

I will still love you whatever you do. I enjoyed your pictures, and will miss them, but the words are YOU. Whatever you decide, thanks, Chief!

pepektheassassin said...

BTW, did I ever tell you that when my second son was in the 6th grade he wrote a book called the Flaming Sword of Dunedin? And he also told me stories about the Japanese crows!--he says the woods are full of them. (But I think there must be seagulls, too).

I think he must have been influenced alot by Lord of the Rings, being somewhat of a Hobbit himself....

chiefbiscuit said...

ecm - Thanks - that would be rather nice!

pepek - That's amazing about your son - I love the thought of a flaming sword of Dunedin! I must check about the seagulls - like you, I think there must be seagulls in Japan - probably tho the crows outnumber them ... not like here where seagulls are very prevalent.

Catherine said...

I wonder if Japanese toothpaste is the same as Korean toothpaste - my daughter had some, she got used to it but I thought it was foul and disgusting.
I keep forgetting the Maori channel which seems to have good movies and documentaries from minority cultures around the world

mcdinzie said...

I like your newsie entry :)

chiefbiscuit said...

catherine - That's interestng toothpaste info! Yes the movies are always good - and other stuff too.

Mcd - Thanks. Hope your first day back at work wasn't tooo horrendous?


'how this all harbours light'