walk the line

Last May, after the exit-stage-left from my debut on stage, I boldly announced that my next project was to be learning the guitar. I had, for a long time, wanted to try this instrument more social than the flute I’d cut my musical teeth on. There really is no whipping out of a flute at a party for a rousing chorus of kumbayah. Campfire sing-alongs just don’t make the grade on the flute. And so the desire I had harboured burst forth from in me and I told all and sundry, “I’m going to learn the guitar”.

I did nothing. Well, I procured the guitar. It sat in the corner of my room. Apparently there is no osmosis in the guitar-learning journey, possession may well be nine-tenths of the law, but presence does not equal acquired knowledge. The black guitar sat in the corner, silently mocking my laxness.

Good things take time. I know this because I read it on the bottom of a menu. Statements such as these provide leeway. Leeway to take one’s time and herald the eventual outcome as quality because of the time that the aforementioned outcome took to manifest. Summer holidays are the perfect time for paused projects. January is even more perfect as scorning the idea of New Year’s resolutions is really just a smoke screen for the fact that there are several lurking there, but the fear of actually embarking on their realisation is overwhelming. Announcing intention is fraught. Once it’s out there, failure is the possible result of lack of achievement of said intention. I had made the mistake of announcing and now it was high time I took the bull by the horns, or the guitar by its neck and rather lovely curves and just did it.

I can play three chords. A, D, E. And, as the lovely young man on the website says, that means I can have loads of fun (in an endearing English accent) with tunes such as Bob Marley’s, Three Little Birds and Johnny Cash’s Walk The Line. He is right, that man on the website, it is absolutely fun. I can recognise what I’m playing, even if it is the William Shatner. Stilt. Ed. Version. Changing. Finger shapes. Takes time.

I have a newfound sense of respect and appreciation for guitarists. They pull some pretty complicated moves and there is a lot of coordination going on there. Strumming and picking and capos and singing too. Wow. I have a long way to go.

And what I’m really wanting here are Anna Coddington’s arms…

A few more rounds of kumbayah, and we’ll be there…no?


i think i’d be good for you and you’d be good for me

It can be a risky business, going to a concert by a band you loved years ago and with whom you associate a time, a place and feelings. A friend said he couldn’t go to such a concert as he would become overwhelmed with feelings of nostalgia and that there was something infinitely sad about a crowd of people gathered together and reliving their youth. He even used the word loser.

There was nothing loser-ish about the crowd that packed the Palais in St Kilda on a balmy 40 degree night. When Weezer announced they were playing the whole of their blue album from start to finish, there was an immediate demand for the same treatment for Pinkerton, the initially misunderstood and badly received follow-up to the band’s first highly acclaimed offering. It felt as though the crowd had a sense of pride in its own power to make the night happen…we asked for it, and we got it.

And there was certainly nothing loser-ish about the band itself. They were enthusiastic and full of energy and happy to be there. It must be great for the boys in Weezer who went through a dark time after Pinkerton came out in 1996 and was voted second worst album of the year by Rolling Stone records. But something miraculous happened with the gilding of time and by 2002, Rolling Stone readers had changed their mind and voted it the 16th best album of all time. That’s a pretty big change of mind. Now it receives cult-like appreciation.

Hearing it live was like living a memory. Has it really been 16 years? 

where are we now?

It’s familiar, but it’s not the same. And I don’t think that’s a bad thing.

Walking through the streets like a tourist in my own city, marveling at the small footprint of buildings that housed people, ideas, stories, life.

Go, Christchurch, you good thing. You’re doing the best you can. People not from Christchurch ask, is it all ok now? And the answer is no. It’s not. The journey to ok is long.

But it’s on the way to being ok and there is a lot of goodness in that.


Pirate espresso

Pirate espresso…who could say no?! Pirate espresso on board Jacques Cousteau’s French-built vessel, the Physalie…? Oh la la…it’s the stuff dreams are made of for a desperado French teacher.

Overlooking beautiful Ligar Bay in the bigger Golden Bay, lattes and flat whites abound. The coffee is good, even if it does take a long time. But perhaps that’s the idea. Waiting for coffee, there is time to feel the sun on your face, talk to the person behind you in the queue, anticipate the caffeine.

Arohanui, Aotearoa

It was my belief that Pōhutukawa on the beach, golden sand, Christmas on the beach, was the stuff of myth and Telecom ads, designed to evoke some sort of collective resonance amongst New Zealanders searching for a sense of belonging and shared heritage. I was wrong. It’s real. It’s ours.

In a rental car whose model name was particularly apt for the region (Nelson holds the title of sunniest region in New Zealand), driving from Nelson through to Pohara was breathtaking. I loved it. Green. Hills. Breathing. Feeling.

Camping in the Nelson region over Christmas is a Christchurch residents’ rite of passage. I had never done it until now. Now that I’m in Melbourne, of course I wanted to go camping in Pohara…

I stayed with friends whose family had made the pilgrimage north every year for over thirty years. Now the children have had children and they all go north to camp by the sea.

Pohara means poor, destitute, poverty-stricken in maori and yet this is a region rich in beauty, flora, fauna, kai moana, vineyards, hops, clear springs. Beautiful. Mythical. I loved it.