Monday, June 21, 2010


The shortest day - always one of my favourites. Reversing tracks the sun turns north again and slowly our hemisphere will warm up again. A relatively mild morning, cloudless. By midday it had clouded over and the threatened rain seemed increasingly closer. Part of the penalty of living in a temperate climate. My decision to dwell in Wellington determines the climate and the weather in which I exist. I have no choice on that matter.

On my first retirement someone asked did I plan to shift to Tauranga or Nelson. I had never contemplated that possibility. Gardening opportunities would be better, but friends, habits, identity were bound up in Wellington. I was happy here. The political buzz was part of my being. I enjoyed the cultural life. Above all, there was Anne, her work, her friends, her life. These were not Victorian times when the husband had complete say over such matters.

In Stonehenge people are gathering to welcome the sun rise – the morning of midsummer’s day. Some peoples’ gain, other peoples’ loss.

I confess I must eat humble pie. Amidst all the hype about the football cup I’ve been saying wait till the All Whites meet the world champions Italy. Well, they have met them and held them to a draw. Regardless of progress from hereon, soccer has received a boost in Kiwiland. The long term implications for rugby look interesting. The youngster recruitment pool is finite.

Seven years ago my diary records, ‘I watched on TV the rugby test, the All Blacks beating Wales comfortably 55 to 3. Carter had a good debut. Mehrtens can probably put away his test boots. Such is life.’ I watched the replay yesterday afternoon of last Saturday evening’s match. Carter had an outstanding match – I didn’t realise he’d been around so long.

The paper tells how the South African police are enforcing sponsorship rights at world cup venues. Trouble ahead for next year’s rugby world cup. [And the London Olympics]. I understand sponsor rights. But where’s that cherished word – in certain quarters – ‘choice’. Will there be a choice of beer at a match then. Not likely. Will fans be able to wear their favourite t-shirt. Not likely? In theory I have a choice of electricity supply. Do I have a better service. And ask the customers of Tranzrail the same question.

What choice did a wife have in the 19th and most of the 20th century? Not much according to Jane Smiley’s novel ‘Private Life’. It opens powerfully, but bewilderedly, with a scene in an American Japanese internment centre just after Pearl Harbour. What’s going on? It quickly moves to a 1880s Missouri farm where Margaret Mayfield is growing up. Her father and brothers dead, it’s a feminine household - ’Little Women’ with more character. My one boyhood reading of Alcott’s novel has left me with a sense of insipidness.

Anyone who has read Jane Austen can guess what will happen. Margaret’s two sisters marry and begin to bear children. It looks like she’ll be left high and dry, a spinster. Her mother and the mother of naval officer and idiosyncratic astronomer Captain Early combine to arrange a marriage. Sounds boring. No! It’s a gripping read. I’m up to the San Francisco earthquake. It’s one of those hard to put down novels.

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