Lots has happened since the last episode. We have moved in. This means we are no longer outside. It does not mean we are unpacked – that may never happen. But we are settled. We have unpacked as much as will fit into the house and stored the rest in the garage. It is no longer a garage.
We have sold quite a lot of surplus goods on TradeMe where most Kiwis do their trading. It is like eBay for locals and very popular. An honour system dives the whole site. We have made about as much money as we paid for the goods – which is better than having to pay for disposal.
While we are slowly settling in we are also enjoying life as can be seen from our various ticket stubs.
Yup Clever Trevor made it all the way down here and the show was an instant sell-out. In fact he had to put on a second show on the same night. As the doorman mumbled to me as we filed in “Brown’s Bay must be deserted tonight” because every Saffer in town was in the audience. I am not sure Trevor understood that there were only about 5% Kiwis present – he kept trying to explain things that everyone knew. But we all laughed until we cried. Etienne is still doing renditions of the Zambian escalator sketch, and we keep calling each other “Profanity” – you had to be there. Catch him on YouTube.
Then Rob Tilney and I decided to see Bryan Habana‘s final appearance in NZ at the North Harbour Stadium – just a few minutes from where I work. What a terrible game. it had rained earlier in the day and the field was wet. Both teams played an aerial game and there were a huge number of handling errors because of a slippery ball and poor concentration.
The Stormers supporters were there in force – probably the same crowd who went to see Trevor. They even imported their own praise singers in the form of a Kaapse Klopse troop – it confused the hell out of the locals. Here’s a clip I took of them – pity WordPress won’t allow it to be embedded without payment. The stadium does not lend itself to great atmosphere and despite the fact that the game was decided in the last seconds by a failed drop kick and that the final score was 19-18 to the Blues there was really very little tension and nothing much to watch.
Nothing like variety, so after Trevor and Bryan we went to see Giacomo. The NZ Opera have a great scheme where they sell tickets to their final dress rehearsal exclusively to schools. Instead of $70 (R525) for the cheapest ticket, they go for $10 (R75). Groups of 10 kids get accompanied by a parent or teacher. The theatre was packed to capacity and 16 of Jules’s friends paid to come along. It was an absolutely magnificent production. The singing was great and the staging was so innovative and enthralling that the kids (some quite young) sat through all three Acts without a sound. Even though the action does slow down at times and there is a lot of waiting, the director kept people spell-bound with lighting and set effects.
I think it was quite significant that the tenor who sang Pinkerton was booed by the audience, not because of his singing (which was good) but because the kids despised the behaviour of his character. It reminded me a little of the audience reaction during one of Janice Honeyman’s pantomimes. What was really surprising was that in some of the real performances that followed he was booed by adults! This from a nation that would never be that impolite in public. An indication of good acting from the tenor (Piero Pretti) and I would not be surprised if the Prime Minister phones him to apologise for the reaction of the nation.
OK – we missed this one but the MAN was here. I thought I would just throw in the advert to make certain people jealous. One of the people working for me actually just wanted to see Rufus Wainwright – didn’t much care for the second half of the programme…
And then there was Sixto. On the first leg of his Australasian tour Rodriquez popped into Auckland for a one-only show. Again the audience was mostly South African. Unlike the myth created by the documentary he was actually known in NZ and Aus to the extent that he toured here in the early 80s. The doccie seems to suggest that outside of SA he was a complete nonentity.
I guess most people have seen him on stage by now – and although I enjoyed the music I was quite astonished by his lack of stage personality and his frailty. He had to be led on and off stage by two helpers. He was about 20 minutes late and then shuffled on like a very old man. He stood dead still and sang – not moving about at all. His eyesight seems to be very bad – a band member had to whisper the next song into his ear. He cracked two jokes and for the rest it was just song after song. Obviously a deep introvert who has been thrust into the limelight – literally. The audience was very appreciative and got him to do an encore which was another excruciating logistical feat. Karen kept marvelling at his arms – they are huge because of his manual labour.
While on the topic of music I am extremely proud of Jules who has again been selected to take part on the school musical production – this year it is Les Miserables. And not just any old part mind you – a prostitute, a MAIN prostitute. I think it is wonderful the way schools try to multi-skill their pupils. Skills for living.
Needless to say we have been teasing her incessantly. We have even devised a new nickname for her (actually it was Mark). We were discussing gardening and I mentioned that really needed to get into the weeds with a “skoffel” – which is her new nickname because everyone knows the English inequivalent is “hoe” or “ho”…
In between all this music we had a chance to take a breath and head over the bridge to Devonport. It is a Victorian suburb with a Nouveau-style cinema (we watched Great Expecations – an outstanding new production with a stellar cast including Ralph Fiennes as Magwitch, Helena Bonham-Carter as Miss Havisham and Hagrid as Jaggers). It also has a very interesting array of small shops – antiques, bookshops, weird stuff, bakeries, coffee shops and peculiar little alleys.
The main street had knitted lamp-posts. No, I am sober – look at the pictures. Each lamp post had a different pattern or theme and the intricacies of the handicraft was fascinating. Devonport also has a famous ferry terminal which runs a very short leg to the CBD. We ended the day with a short drive up Mount Victoria (another volcano) which rises up above Devonport and affords great views of the city – especially when there are Turner clouds overhead.
We were amused by the fact that one alley housed the Anglican Community Shop as well as Cauldron Craft (a pseudo wicked shop selling hocus pocus artefacts). Must make for very interesting conversations at the Java House Café. We discovered a coffee importer and wholesaler, a factory shop that specialised in clothes for skateboarders, we had lunch at the StoneOven Cafe and enjoyed many other earthly delights. Our favourite ice-cream shop was closed for the winter.
The most recent event was Skoffel’s School Ball (read Matric Dance) even though she is only in Standard 9 / Grade 11 / Year 12. She looked stunning – even if I say so myself – with a figure that would make most teens weep and a hairdo that was reminiscent of Audrey Hepburn. She carried herself very well and looked positively regal. I guess we may need to reconsider that nickname. Naaah.
So that’s enough for now. I leave you with a snap and a clip from my drive home yesterday.
The weather here has been very South African – long dry autumn with sunny days and mild temperatures. Here it is called a drought. It has had a serious impact on the agricultural sector and we are expecting brilliant wines this year. The price of lamb has plummeted as farmers slaughter because there is little fodder. A leg of lamb costs $7.99 (R60) which is cheaper than chicken. Anyway the rain has come eventually but we still have spectacular sunsets every now and again. Here’s another clip I took from the car. Small mercies.