I’m sorry this took so long. It’s odd. It’s partly that, not to get all….uppity….on it, but partly that New Zealand’s wireless internet availability is kinda….shoddy. And, expensive. Everyone seems to have it at home, but hotels still appear to be under the impression that they can charge pretty much what they like and somehow nobody will notice that it’s exorbitant. Or else they just don’t have it. I’m okay with it, it just makes blogging a bit challenging.
Or I’m just making excuses. I started feeling like I was going all Hemingway, like I was going to have to start waking up at 5am, fixing myself a vodka and OJ and just sitting here til it happened. The juice weren’t flowin.
Or else it was all that free Jaeger.
I think I might just sit here and try go through it, and no doubt forget all the funny bits and it’ll come out boring and Dan will go ‘yeah your new blog’s crap.’ But nobody’s OBLIGED to read it.
We drove to Dunedin. Checked into a hotel. The proprietor told us, in some detail, about how they’d just had new tarmac laid in the driveway. Raife was giving him odd looks but I was kind of into it.
Sammy’s in Dunedin is fucking wicked. As is everyone in Dunedin. It felt like the first show proper, I guess. There’s something about NZ crowds, I’ve never seen anything like it anywhere else. I remember when I first moved overseas and started going to shows I would get super weirded out because everyone would just sorta…..stand there, during them. It wasn’t the point of shows, in my experience. Now I’m used to it. I guess it’s different for different kinds of bands, I’m sure there are some bands people go all nuts to, everywhere in the world. But at home, everyone goes nuts for everything. And when you’re the one on the stage, it’s the best thing ever. So Dunedin was….well it was coming home, I spose. Coming home and seeing someone stagedive during Nux. And I loved it.
Afterward we got invited to a party in a warehouse. Raife and I left after a time, and walked back to the hotel. We got a bit lost, and ran into a Candian tourist. A little full of the joys of the day, we spent some time pointing out a poster of us to him, yelling ‘THAT’S US!’
He didn’t believe us. He genuinely thought we were lying to him. Despite the fact that it was a photo. Of us. After a long time trying different approaches - pointing to eachother’s faces, then the faces on the poster, and yelling ‘SEE! US!’ went on for ages - he conceded that I ‘do look a bit like that girl’ and went on his way.
We didn’t let it bother us. We spent the rest of the walk home deep in an elaborate fantasy about the kinds of chocolate we were going to buy should we walk past a shop selling chocolate. Didn’t though. Freddo frogs. Didn’t though. Settled for a mug of powdered hot chocolate in the hotel room and fell asleep.
I woke up in the morning feeling suspiciously cheerful. Slightly TOO cheerful. Light headed.
I went to wake up Dan and Raife. There was someone in the living room.
It wasn’t Dunedin we were driving to! It was Christchurch! Wasn’t it! Yes! A show with the Buzzcocks!
Southern Amp got cancelled, and we ended up on a bill with the Buzzcocks, Bats, and Emerald City. I was excited about the Bats and did that thing where I talk too much and sound like a dork. Not as bad as the time I yelled HOLY SHIT in Jack White’s face, but still. I’m not good at admiring in a cool way. Not good at all.
The Buzzcocks had a Special Room with a TV in it and Special Drinks. I spose they are legends. I dropped my toothbrush in front of the guitarist as he was going down the stairs, nearly causing him to fall, and he was nice about it. The rest of them looked sort of like they were a bit fed up. Which maybe you would be. We were forbidden from eating their snacks. Raife got in trouble. He may have taken revenge. Best not to mention.
We did an interview before the show, for Nightline, where somehow I managed to say a sentence in a way that when it was cut sounded like I was saying how I love London cos I get to be a wanker to everyone. If you saw it and thought that was what I said it wasn’t. Just so you know. I was attempting to explain why people in New Zealand seem nicer, in general, and used some dodgy pronouns and then it was edited and…… Now I look back on it I was sort of one giant fail the whole first part of the tour. Maybe the whole tour. Not the whole tour. Hopefully.
The show was wicked though. We began to love Tex and Mike, our tech and soundman. Tex’s name is Tex Houston. Seriously. And he has this jacket.What’s not to love? The Bats played North by North, as well. Happy.
The first time we ever came and played in New Zealand, we started in Christchurch. Dan and Henning went out after the show and ended up taking party pills. We had warned them, but they didn’t listen. Henning read four books in a row before he could sleep. This time, still lagged, we just went to bed.
I was sewing. Finn nudged me in the side. I looked out the plane window. There were a lot of mountains. Really a lot of mountains. With snow on em. Then there was a glacier, I think. And some rivers. And more mountains. More snow. I stood up. Dan and Raife were about six rows back.
I mimed that he should nudge Raife to wake up. He looked at Raife, whose sleeping head was lolling sideways into the aisle and shook his head.
It was quite something. I’d never been to Queenstown before. Apparently the pilot doesn’t always do a loop of the valley before landing, but this time he did. Quite. Something.
I only brought one sweater to New Zealand. I wore a coat to the airport but I didn’t expect to need it. I never thought I’d be so grateful to London Autumn.
'This is the furthest south I've ever been.'
'Y'know, me too. Weird.'
Golly it’s pretty. Really pretty.
There’s a shop in Queenstown that sells, aside from sheep face masks, hats with plastic fists on them that when you squeeze an air pump raise a finger. Didn’t buy one. Don’t know why. Jet lag, probably. To blame for all bad decisions.
Barry and Nancy were in charge. Promoters, ostensibly, occasionally they like to get out on the road and drive some musos around. God knows why - Barry spent the whole trip finding whatever item Raife had happened to lose the night before and then got ill on the last day. Nancy blossomed. But that’s to come. They also had the answers to all the questions.
'You know how this tour is sponsored by Jaeger?'
'Does that mean…..we get free Jaeger?'
'Yeah it does actually. We've got a case up in Auckland for when we get up there. All you can drink, basically.'
The next day we drove to Dunedin. We stopped at a beautiful lake and I regaled everyone with tales of going to the high school national rowing champs in the late nineties ‘at a lake JUST LIKE THIS’ only to turn around and see a sign and realise it was in fact the very same lake. At fifteen, as fit as I’d ever been and probably will ever be, hauling 200kg of boat through 2km of glaciermelt in eight minutes or so, did I ever think I’d be standing on the shore ten years later on my way to play a show in Dunedin?
No. No, I didn’t. I don’t know what I thought I’d be doing. It seems like a long time ago, and in another way not long ago at all.
It’s nice to be home. Nicer even than I thought it would be. The only really bad thing about New Zealand is that not everywhere has internet, and as a result I’ve gotten behind. Also being sans camera means I have to rely on other people’s cameras, and other people’s cameras get lost, or left in places that aren’t where I am. So for photos of Dan chasing sheep you’ll have to wait.
I might try to do it in order, but there’s a lot to tell and I’ve forgotten, probably, some really good parts, and whenever I forget good parts people get All Upset and come up and go ‘But you didn’t put in that part where I said such-and-such and I thought that was SO FUNNY.’ Aside from shows, I’ve been hanging out a lot with this muppet, and her mum. We fell into a pattern where I’d tuck her in at night, and we’d discuss what she wanted to do the next day. It’s nice to hang around with a small somebody whose idea of the most perfect and glorious possibility for the future is hunting for strawberries.
‘Yes.”Hello, I’m Gareth, just introducing myself, I’ll bring you some drinks from up front a bit later on, is everything okay?”Yes everything’s fine. I don’t drink so don’t worry, I’ll be alright.”Oh, okay. Well, give me a shout if you need anything.’ What’s so special about Donna? She’s sitting next to me in economy. We DO have the best seats in economy, the ones by the emergency exit, where you have a clear two metres of leg room in front. I thought maybe Air NZ was secretly thanking me for appearing in their inflight entertainment system (‘A thirty minute interview and acoustic session with Kiwi band THE VEILS’) when I found out I was sitting there, and the appearance of this clearly special Donna person backed that up….but it was mysterious. Nobody was introducing themselves to ME. It had cheered me up a bit though, the seating. Hadn’t been a very good morning. I don’t like goodbyes. The plane got in the air. I thought I’d get my ipod out of my bag. I opened the overhead locker. An orange handbag fell out. Right on Donna’s head. She screamed. I guess if something falls on your head, and you’re on a plane you would scream. I apologised. It was her own bag, at least, but it was a bit like when you accidentally hit someone in the back of the ankles with your trolley in the supermarket queue, and then have to stand there waiting behind them, knowing they’re loathing you. Except worse, because Donna and I were sandwiched together for the next twelve hours. I resolved to try not to do anything else to irritate Donna. She was rubbing her neck in a slightly irritated way. About an hour later I thought I’d get my book out. This time my plastic bag full of sewing supplies cascaded over Donna’s head. Picking spools of thread out of her hair, I apologised as best I could, resigned myself to the waves of loathing pouring over the armrest and discovered that Death Note part 2 was in the movie selection. Thought about listening to our Veils Air New Zealand special. I remember when we did it, we went off on a little rant about how if anyone was listening to it they should jump up and yell out ARE THE VEILS ON THE PLANE because chances were we would be. Nobody did that. I didn’t listen to the special. And ten hours just flew by. As we got off the plane, some stewardess cheerfully told Donna they thought they’d have a seat for her in business on the next leg. It all became clear. Someone at Air NZ had overbooked the business class, and poor old Donna got booted. I wonder how they decide that. Ask for volunteers. ‘Anyone fancy some slumming??’ Got out in LA and sat in a transit lounge watching WWE for a bit. 'Air New Zealand is paging passenger Ian McKellan. Would Mr Ian McKellan please make himself known to an Air New Zealand staff member.' No idea if it was THAT Ian McKellan. Seems possible. Though you’d think paging him would be kinda unnecessary. Just have a glance round the first class section, surely. Or start yelling GANDALF. I wish HE’D been the one to get downgraded. Got back on the plane. Donna sat back next to me. I decided against getting anything out of my bag. Then another stewardess appeared. 'Are you Donna?”Yes.' Jesus. 'Come this way please, we've got you a seat…' And Donna was ushered up the front. Our time together was over. I was so glad not to have to keep sitting by her, terrified of falling asleep and spasming and smacking her in the face, or spilling my coffee on her, or some other horrifyingly gauche incident that I didn’t even resent her for getting to go business. A nice tall man ended up in Donna’s seat. He offered me one of his eye masks (he had two eye masks! TWO!) and though I didn’t drop anything on him I bet he wouldn’t have minded if I did. But just as I thought my trials were over, I heard a noise. A sort of….oh not even a sort of. A bona fide retch. A LOUD retch. A definite retch. From behind. I resisted looking behind me and awaited further developments. It’s weird, planes. I think that’s why the Donna thing was so bad. It’s so rare to be so closely quartered with strangers, to fall asleep inches from another persons sleeping face. All sorts of subtle etiquettes. It’s like that Curb episode where Larry hates that the guy is wearing shorts on the plane. Actually, I was wearing shorts, but I had tights and long socks so I don’t think Larry would’ve minded. Anyway. I feel like one of the things you’re not supposed to do is get too interested in anyone. Like, your neighbour, fine, maybe a short chat. People behind you…they might as well be in another world. Besides, nobody who’s retching wants to be viewed. I heard a stewardess approach. 'Are you ok?”Um, no.' It was a young girl’s voice. 'My friend and I are both really ill and we….we don't know what to do.”Do you want to be offloaded?”……..n……no…..”Well, if worst comes to worst we have oxygen on board. And I'll bring you some sick bags because you won't be able to get to the bathroom during takeoff.' I dunno why she offered oxygen. Maybe oxygen cures nausea. Who knows. They WERE pretty ill. It was rough. The PA came on. 'Hello, uh, this is your captain……uh…..we're being held at the gate, because for some reason…..somehow the plane has been overfuelled by about twenty tonnes. Um…..that takes us way over takeoff weight. Luckily, we're carrying a lot of freight, so I'm afraid we're going to be held here, and they're going to offload 15 tonnes of freight to get us back down to weight. Uh….might be some time, I'll keep you updated.' Lucky for the retchers. They spent the next hour doing bathroom relays. By the time the flight took off an hour later, I’m just going to be honest, they were pretty messy. Like…..damp. I missed Donna. I fell asleep. Seemed like the best option. Put the ipod on, let it run on shuffle, and doze. I may have snuggled the tall man a bit, but I think he was asleep, or at least he was polite about it. In Auckland I saw the retchers at the baggae carousel. They seemed to have recovered. Didn’t see Donna. It turns out that 12 hours of ipod on shuffle is only 200 different songs. I thought it would be more.
I’m going home for the first time in two years on Friday and for some reason I’m really anxious about it. Having those dreams where you thought you were packed and then you discover that for some reason instead of having one suitcase you have five and they’re all full of things and you’ve packed some of your stuff in each of them and now you have to re-pack but theres NO TIME YOU WERE MEANT TO BE AT THE AIRPORT HALF AN HOUR AGO.
On the bright side, leaving London before winter really starts means I will avoid my usual December norovirus panic, where I spend three weeks looking askance at fellow bus passengers, in case they’re about to start projectile vomiting on me, then going home to wash my hands. And the shows are going to be wicked, and it’s going to be sunny and I’m excited about seeing everyone. My camera is still bust but if I can get a new one expect many smug pictures of ice cream and swimming, in the near future. PS another big slow machine that thinks it’s alive.
Got up early and spent the required hour on the train into town, only to go straight back underground.
A friend of mine got a little trigger happy on the booking site, and ended up with spare tickets to this. For some reason we chose to take the early slot, and ended up being led by a nice young man in fluro safety gear, down into a disused tram station under Holborn. He advised us not to touch the walls. When it was built, people were still being towed around by horses.
Didn’t think to bring a camera, so the phone had to do. Call it atmospheric?
It’s a rope making machine.
There was something quite chilling about it. This vast, imperceptibly moving creaturemachine spinning away under the street. And the rope itself was so very pretty.
What I didn’t get a picture of was the way the wheels at either end looked like trees, and the whole thing creaked slightly as it spun, resolute and rainbow coloured. It makes 20cm of rope per hour ending with a 100m length as thick as my wrist, some time early next week.
I dunno if anyone from Sydney comes here, so this is a long shot, but we once found a cat that had been missing for eighteen months on the doorstep of a complete stranger’s house, so you never know.
My mum’s lost her cat. Bella. In the Edgecliffe area. Bella is small - some might say runty - silvery striped, with ears that as you can see border on the ridiculous, and you’ll know her because she makes up all she lacks in size by being the loudest cat you have ever heard in your life. So if you’ve seen, or more likely heard, a small cat going WOW! WOW! WOW! MAOW! WOW!…..get in touch.
Seriously, if I find Bella though this blog, I’m never going to hear ‘maybe you should’ve stayed at law school’ ever again - so you’d be doing me a favour too.