This where the whole thing becomes remarkably difficult, not to say utterly impossible. You see, the true date is now Dec 26th – that is Boxing Day, so as you can see, I am a long way behind, further than I have been since I started this account. I’m not trying to make excuses, but really I don’t think I’ve had a single minute to myself in all that time. It’s been work + eat + work + shower + work + sleep. At any rate, that’s the way it’s seemed. It’s probably not really true, but I really can’t think of any times I’ve spent on less labour-oriented enterprises. I haven’t read, or spent hours listening to the Walkman. However, excuses, however well-founded, don’t help. Whatever the justification, I am now well-behind with this little story, + must now make strenuous efforts to catch up. However, I feel I shall temporarily have to abandon the chronological approach, + classify this by subject. Such as… Twin Pines!
Right… Twin Pines. A week of work of the normal sort, becoming increasingly hectic as Dec 25th approached. Fortunately, there has been plenty to do, so I haven’t been at all bored. One or 2 jobs were even quite interesting, such as driving to Paihia to have some keys cut. The man there is a craft teacher in the local school, but he cuts keys in his spare time. He was fairly interesting to talk to, even if, as I later discovered, none of the keys he cut actually worked. Ah well. Other than that, everything as normal. They’re taking on extra staff there to help cope with what everyone tells us will be the post-Christmas rush. I’m in a bit of a tricky position there, since I can’t apply for any new jobs while I still have my old jobs, yet my daytime one is tenuous. Have to play things by ear, I suppose. Val has acquired more work, with some cleaning of the old flat which they’re converting into more guest accommodation, plus the possibility of some waitressing in the evenings.
Cascade. Last night was a bit heavy. I started at 7, since Mike, the other barman, was also working. However, this was his last night, since he’s moving on to a far better job at the big hotel in Waitangi. A pity really – at first I was quite nervous that he’d be taking work away from me, but it looks as tho’ there’ll be plenty, + anyway he’s quite a nice bloke. Anyway, he left early, leaving me to finish off on Saturday night – he wasn’t stupid, since we had a big dinner party of 12 in, + they turned out to be real trouble. Partly my fault, since I decided to play the wine waiter, top up their glasses, etc – I should have just left them to it. Not only did they get very drunk – which they probably would have done in any case – but they also gave me a lot of hassles. I think they were a removal company having their Christmas party, + some of them were real rough slobs. And, of course, they got worse as they got drunker. Pinching ornaments, plants and table-lamps to put on their table; calling me names (in a mildly good-natured manner); turning the stereo up really loud. Bill + Marion were out for most of it, but when they came back, Marion had to deal with them – good luck to her. One bloke had his flies open, the plug from a table-lamp shoved inside his trousers, + the lamp round his neck… + was dancing. Ho hum.
I didn’t work Sunday, on Monday I stock-took (if that’s the right expression), + on Wednesday I spring-cleaned the bar. Thursday was my next night, + that was remarkably busy. There was a tour in, plus quite a lot of casuals, so I was rushing about till about midnight. When there are so many people in, they definitely need at least 2 to man the bar. Bill does give me an occasional hand, but it’s not enough. The tour party came back after the pub, so it was a pretty heavy session. Fortunately, the next night, Christmas Eve, they all went off on a disco cruise, so I could shut the bar early, and get off to…
…next section, a party. Parties. The first party was on Saturday the 18th, at River Park. I missed it, of course, since I was being abused by drunken removal men at the time, but Val tells me it was rather boring. She still managed to get drunk, so it can’t have been so very bad. She had to pay for it tho’ – $7, it was, tho’ it was a remarkably well-stocked barbecue.
The next party was on Sunday, the next night. Again, I arrived late, (so I must have been working, after all), + it wasn’t wonderfully exciting: 2 of the campers had invited Val over for a game of… well, I can’t actually remember what it was called, but it was word game. They were a little dull, but it was nice of them to invite Val along, + they gave us coffee + cake, so that made a pleasant change.
Tuesday night was Cascade’s staff party, + I was very disappointed when I heard it was a barbecue, since I’d looked forward to a proper Christmas dinner. However, the meal was very good – steak, chops, sausages + salads. It was afterwards that was disappointing, when a lot of the younger people just upped + left. It seemed incredibly rude to me, to eat + run, without so much as a thank you, but maybe I’m just being old-fashioned. I think I was just properly brought-up.
And finally, of course, the Christmas Eve party. This was at River Park again, + once again it looked like being remarkably dull: just a few people sitting around chatting about nothing. Val virtually didn’t get to the party at all – first of all she was later finishing work than I had been, then she was finishing off my jumper (true to my expectations of her, she just about finished it in time.) Then she wrapped up my presents, + finally, when she arrived, it was time to push off with the others to church (I didn’t go, along with a few other non-believers). It was a shame really, because the party (which had moved to the garage when it became too cold), was just getting going, with everyone dancing, when the majority suddenly shoved off. So Wayne + Ivor (a friend of Wayne’s) + his wife, just stood around + drank till they all came back. At which time it was time to break things up. The owner of River Park’s 2 daughters were there, a remarkably silly pair (+ enormous with it), especially Mandy, the younger. Quote of the Christmas period? Mandy – Are you going to church? Chris – No, I don’t believe in it. Mandy – Oh, that’s not very Christmassy, is it?
River Park I should mention River Park too because I also worked there. Val has more or less taken over cleaning out the block for me, but Wayne + Sue seem determined to make me work – they must think I’m lazy I suppose. On Tuesday I was nabbed to clean the windows in all the units, + on Friday I helped Wayne for an hour with some raking. Not a great deal of work, I admit, but I wish we knew where we stood, + that we could fit the work in to suit ourselves. Sue + Wayne are so variable – one moment they’re all smiles + friendliness – the nest they seem to be sure we’re taking advantage of them.
Presents I took Thursday afternoon off to hitch-hike to Kerikeri to buy Val’s Christmas presents. I had only a couple of ideas, hoping that inspiration would strike. It did, I suppose, tho’ it was a bit slow coming. First off, I arranged, + paid, for Val to have her ears pierced. Then a book – I tried for a hardback copy of The Thorn Birds, but they didn’t have one. I then wandered up + down, all to no avail, since nothing appealed. However, after a bit of a search, I scraped together a book (another Colleen McCullough book), a Frisbee, 2 miniatures, + some fruit (traditional Christmas pressy for Val). That still left a “main” present to buy, + I nearly got her a sweatshirt – it wasn’t especially wonderful, but I knew she wanted one. However, I decided to think it over over lunch. I treated myself to sausage + chips – I have never had such an enormous portion of chips in my entire life. I couldn’t finish them, + this is virtually unheard of. Afterwards, I was just on my way to the sweatshirt shop, when I saw a shop I had missed, advertising patchwork articles. I strolled in, + found a really good selection of pretty wrap-around skirts. (They were cheap too.) So I made my selection, + my shopping was complete.
Hitching home was difficult, more than I have ever known it yet, taking me 3 rides. On one of them, in a lorry, I nearly lost our Christmas chicken pieces out the window. I grabbed them again at the last moment. Funny really.
On the way out, I’d had just one lift, with a man with a Christmas cake on the seat next to him. He’d picked me up because he needed someone to look after it. He’d tried holding it with one hand, + had stuck his thumb in it. Which is what the spirit of Christmas is all about… maybe.
So this explains – up to a point – the absence of any post over the past few days. Except that as this was dated Dec 17th, that was when I should have posted it. But on the basis that it deals with those last few days leading up to the holiday itself, I allowed myself some leeway. Interesting that I quite frequently comment on the tyranny of the diary, how I am always behind, etc, and the same thing is happening now, that I find posting it, and even more particularly finding a photo, really quite a chore. But just as I am pleased that I persevered with the diary in the first place, it is good to see all that writing transcribed…even if it is me that has to do the transcribing, and that is quite a chore in itself.
At least there were some Christmas festivities, albeit of an antipodean – ie in the middle of summer – nature.