Thursday, February 21, 2013

Heraclitan fire

You'll love the airport, we said to my husband. The airport is no longer a cold grey draughty hangar with nothing to do. The airport is fun nowadays, it all looks really cosmopolitan and you can even get a sort of decent coffee, even at five in the morning.

We went to the airport.

Where are the planes? asked my husband, always a model of perspicacity.

He had a point. There were queues and check in points, and shops, and a special place to unpack and repack your luggage because it was 500g over the limit and therefore the airline would charge you another $120 for it, and shops, and people from all over the world, and shops, and after you checked in and went to look for coffee there was coffee, and more shops.

No planes.

In other words, it was another shopping maul.

i used to take my small daughter to the airport to look at the planes. One day, i told her, we will go on a plane. We watched them sitting like fat white brides, being fussed over. We got excited when the planes took off and we found a place we could stand in Canterbury's usual howling wind and cover our ears while the planes roared around us. We would watch the people getting on and off and walking across the tarmac, coming and going from incomprehensible places. It was fun and it cost us little except the petrol and the parking, which was then relatively cheap.

Now, travel has become uncoupled from its means. i can fly to the other side of the world and never see a plane from the outside. i run the enticing and beautifully lit gauntlet of shops and cafes to, walk on a covered airbridge, fly across the globe, and the reverse the process.

My husband was not impressed by the new style shopping maul (oops, i mean airport). i have mixed feelings - i still like the buzz, the sense of transience, the glimpse of exoticism. And at least i got coffee. My musings were enhanced when we got to the pay station at the car park, and we saw this sign:

Change is possible? Inevitable, i'd say.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

A visit to Bexley

Bexley was never my favourite suburb. Some of it was the usual social housing, been there for many decades. Some of it was relatively new - pretty flash houses by East side standards, kind of low grade McMansions, mostly single storey two car garage four bedroom two bathroom media room neutral colours throughout brick and tile with nice lawns and about ten to fifteen years old. Not my kind  of thing (you can tell, can't you.)  It was the classic suburb designed for cars. There were no amenities within the suburb itself and little public transport. The streets have names that don't have street in them - like Seascape Gardens and Forestwood Mews and Fairpark Briars.* The suburb was hastily built by private developers and even then there was some controversy about how easily the city council had approved it. Given that it was built on ground even swampier than most of Christchurch, right next to a wetland, and all that. And given that the developers were not required to dig as deep as they might. This part of Bexley was built to fail.

Students of town planning would go there for university field trips to be shown a housing development that was doomed. And doomed it was. The February earthquake turned it into a sodden mess. For a long time it was tidal; people's houses would flood twice daily. The houses didn't exactly fall down, but the land turned into jelly beneath them. And it stank, and there was no power and no drainage and no water and half the time the roads were closed. And then it was gradually abandoned. People took the money and went. The electricity was unhooked. The postal services stopped. Now it is almost empty.

i didn't go there for nearly two years, because i didn't want to go and look at people's misfortune. But i rather like urbex and i am attracted to abandoned places such as Gary, Indiana, which emptied out towards the end of the last century leaving all its public buildings and inner suburbs like a modern ghost town.

Recently i took two trips to Bexley. It wasn't particularly Kiwi Gothic. It was just sad. People's hopes and dreams had been tied up in those houses. Now the lawns were wild and dry and the houses just looked sunken and hollowed out, starved of humanity. Nothing was in ruin exactly, just abandoned. There were small poignancies - a picture of a monster and the words 'Please let us live here' written on an inside kitchen wall - a floor mat concreted into the pavement by the liquefaction long gone. i didn't take any photos. None of it was photogenic, and all of it once belonged to someone who cared about it.

i did take these photos, of something a bit more Ruin Porn. This is the Holiday Inn, which is situated in the very damaged Avon Loop area.

* What the hell is with that? Why aren't streets called streets any more? And why are the new streets so ironically named? If a street is named to evoke the golden nostalgia of the countryside, like Forestheath Briars, for pity's sake,  you can guarantee it's a sterile little cul de sac lined with nearly identical McTickyTacky houses devoid of any real aesthetic sense. And what is a Briars? What sort of word is a Briars? And as for Mews - a mews is an actual thing. A mews is a converted stable. Not a horse in sight i'm afraid. i suppose the idea is to hint at the sort of wealth that implies we once had a stable, so people think we might be country gentlefolk. What would i know. i live in Linwood, after all.

Monday, February 4, 2013

My very own diet tips

These are my very own diet tips. i made them up.

A good tip is to consider colours when eating. Everyone knows that greens are good for you. This means everything green is good for you, including Green Lantern cocktails, peppermint ice cream and lime jelly.

Any food you bought in a restaurant is calorie free for complex ethical and ontological reasons which i will explain. It goes like this. The Universe is merciful. There is a cosmic justice which even we contingent beings can glimpse at times. Thus, we never pay for anything twice. If we have already paid money for the food, we cannot pay again in calories. It would go against some of God's most fundamental laws. If food you bought had calories, you might as well just go and be an atheist.

Here is a tip i discovered when i went to a movie recently. i saw the movie Lincoln* and one of the ads before the movie started was for ice creams to purchase at the movie theatre. The ad said 'Nobody can see you in the dark!' Golly, i thought, i wonder what they expect me to do with the ice cream. Then i figured, clearly food eaten in the dark has no calories, because you can't see the little buggers. Invisible food doesn't count.

This last one is my best ever tip. It is a known fact that owners and their dogs look alike. i have a little brown chihuahua foxy cross, which tells you what i look like. So if you want to be thin, get a whippet.

* Spoiler alert - slavery ends. **
** Further spoiler alert - so does the Civil War, according to some people.