Sunday, July 1, 2012

Restaurant critics

I hear Auckland faces major problems with its transport system. Specifically, the people of Aukcland were promised that the two transport companies that run their bus systems would have a single transferrable system so a swipe card would work for buses from both companies. i heard Mayor of Auckland Len Brown being interviewed on the radio about it. He sounded brightly defensive. He talked a lot about focusing. It seems he is focusing a lot. He is focusing on many things. He is absolutely focused on fixing the public transport system and is probably focusing on it even as we speak.

Down here in Christchurch i am amazed we even have a bus system. After the earthquakes the buses ran from several places on the edges of the Red Zone, because the old bus exchange had been destroyed. Back then you got a bus to the Red Zone, and another bus to get you to the other side of the Red Zone, and then another bus to your destination. But it sort of worked and everyone tried pretty hard. Now there is a new temporary bus exchange. Buses run more or less on time and most routes are covered, except those that run to the most damaged areas. i bus when i can, because i want to support public transport and i like the down time when i am not driving and can listen to Rage Against the Machine up loud.

We often scoff at Aucklanders down here. A few years back there was a major snow fall, and one town was without power for some days. Farmers were without power for over a week and did some pretty extreme things to save stock and keep warm. While they huddled under blankets beside their dying fires with their cattle in their kitchens, and their immigrant workers ate their sheep, and then the dogs ate the immigrant workers, and Oates said he would be some time and walked out into the blizzard,* the central business district of Auckland was hit by a power cut for several hours. Scandal! Auckland businesses complained that Auckland would become the laughing stock of the civilised world. New Zealand would be considered a third world county and nobody important would invest here.  And down south we tough buggers scoffed and scoffed. While we huddled, of course. Nothing like a good scoff whle you're huddling.

There is always a tension between warm climate people and cold climate people. In the northern hemisphere, think of European stereotypes. Southerners are mercurial, charming, urbane, sophisticated, imaginative, fickle, effete, soft, treacherous. Northerners are reliable, tough, independent, careful, solid, stolid, inflexible, and dour. We would expect nothing less of the warm climate Aucklanders than to moan about no lattes for the day. Presumably they expect us to tramp about in the snow with giant rams over our shoulders without complaint.

i imagined how that most urbane of Aucklanders, the restaurant critic, would survive here in the south, immediately post earthquake. No electricity, food spoiling, nothing open, rubble and dust and silt.

'The staff at the Roundabout Convenience Store did not seem to understand the term medium rare. In fact, the pie they served appeared not only pre-earthquake in age, but positively antediluvian in taste and texture'

'Now that Burger King is finally open, I easerly anticipated an adventure in gastronomy. However, while the food was at least consistent, the service, while expedient, was surly and the waiter was monosyllabic and appeared to understand little about the menu.'

*Some of that was untrue.**

** Oates was pushed. i think i've said that before.

Poor restaurant critics, with nowhere to go, driven out of town to warmer and more stable climes.

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