Friday, February 5, 2010

Great Gee

On fine days - which in Wellington are more frequent than the city’s critics allow - I used to walk from my hillside home to the city, down Garden Road and across the Botanic Gardens. On one occasion I caught up with a small boy and his older sister. They seemed engaged in serious conversation until suddenly he started hopping on two legs.

"Why are you doing that?" she asked.
"Cos I'm a rabbit," he responded.
"I don't want you to be a rabbit. They don't talk."
"I can be a talking rabbit. Can’t I?"

Such innocence and assurance. At the time I chased the thought of being a child again, of returning to – no, was it such a magical time? Such a restoration would mean giving up a lifetime’s experience and learning. Within that elusive boy that once was co-existed a strange sense of early timelessness and a taught belief that progress was linear and upward. The resulting conflict with the reality that contradicted those two attitudes bruised me into writing poems as well as being a practical teacher and education administrator.

I began reading Maurice Gee’s novel ‘Access Road’ this morning. Magnificent opening! Gee’s work has never disappointed me. In this first chapter he presents a view of old age which fits my experience, a weary satisfaction and acceptance of the status quo, far removed from the young person who could have been a talking rabbit.

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