Culture, wind, and a blast from the past
Got a surprise on the way home last night – I was walking across the campus when l heard someone call my name. The person talking to me looked familiar, but I couldn’t quite place him. But then, I met a lot of people while I was doing union work, so I’m used to people recognising me even when I’m not sure who they are. But as we chatted, it suddenly clicked into place and I realised where I knew him from: the science fiction club I was in coughty-cough years ago as a young undergrad! Amazing that he recognised me after all these years!
Christchurch is known for its strong nor’west winds, but I’ve never seen any as strong as on Tuesday night. The met service was reporting wind gusts of 133 km/h at the airport, and I reckon they hadn’t slowed down much by the time they reached my house. The bedroom window (which the wind was pretty much hitting face on) was shaking and creaking so much that I went through to the lounge and slept on the couch just in case it blew in and showered me in glass. Then the power went out, which of course made the wind sound so much worse – funny how the dark can do that 🙂 It was well after midnight before the wind quietened down enough that I could get to sleep, so it was a very long and tiring day at work on Wednesday (made even more exhausting by the fact I spent most of it training our new staff).
Thankfully there was no damage to my place, but there’s a lot of people around Christchurch who can’t say the same. Trees down all over the place (I counted at least 5 big trees on my way to work, including one that had fallen across the road around the corner from me, resulting in the road being closed for two days while they cleared it), and roofs and fences blown away. At this rate there’ll soon be nothing left of the city at all.
The Arts Festival is on at the moment, and I’ve managed to get to a few things. The highlight so far was Gifted, Patrick Evans’s new play about Janet Frame. Those of you who heard him talk at the Christchurch convention will understand when I say he managed to capture her voice incredibly well. I was actually a bit aprehensive going to see the play, because the last play of his I saw wasn’t that great (Lytteltonwitch, I think you went to that one too? This one was so much better!). It was such a relief to actually enjoy it, so when I ran into him at work the next day I could genuinely tell him how much I liked it 🙂
Another highlight was Rosemary McLeod’s talk about her book With Bold Needle and Thread. Sister-in-law gave me the book for my birthday, and it’s absolutely gorgeous – full of beautiful photographs of vintage crafts and McLeod’s recreations of them with modern materials. So it was great to hear her talk about the project and the book – she even had a little show and tell of some of the original objects.
I’ve been to a few non-Festival talks lately too. One was the Royal Society’s Rutherford lecture, given by Margaret Brimble. She talked about the process of discovering new molecules that could potentially have medical use, taking natural products as their starting point – it’s a lot more complex than I ever imagined!
Another fascinating lecture was by Craig Stanford, who works with the Jane Goodall Research Centre. He was talking about primate behaviour, and the many environmental (and political) threats to the great apes’ survival. As well as being interesting, he was a really entertaining speaker, which always helps.
So yeah, life is busy. And good.
Rosemary McLeod gave a version of her “With Bold Needle and Thread” talk to what was Jack’s men only Probus group. A falling role there finally made them decide to admit women to their group and the very first month their membership went up 25%. That first month was the night that Rosemary spoke and I think she tailored the talk knowing that there would be mostly men in the audience. I wonder if she showed you the wonderful embroidered ex-sheet that was full of animals and birds and had been worked by an injured soldier during his long convalescence.
She is such an entertaining speaker as well as being a regular, enjoyable and oft-times provocative newspaper columnist. I agree with so much of her writing.
She didn’t show us the sheet – she said most of her favourite pieces are being used for a museum exhibit at the moment, so she could only bring along a few bags and tea cosies. What she did show us was wonderful, though.
I’ve always enjoyed her columns too, right back from reading her in the Listener as a teenager.