January 30th 1982

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The sheep shearer at work

Sunday.  Val working once again, so I took my time in arising, cleaned the block fairly cursorily, + off to the football.  It ws alright, but all the excitement has been taken out of the Championship by the fact that Liverpool are romping away with it.  Again.  Ho hum.

In the afternoon, we borrowed Todd’s tape recorder, + I spent a fruitless half-hour trying to record tape to tape, + transfer the best of the tapes we were no longer going to keep onto one tape.  But no go. So I recorded the NZ pop chart off the radio instead.  While Val began, unsuccessfully, to begin a letter-tape to send home.  Something about the machine thwarted her.

Val had to work in the evening but I didn’t, so I strolled up to visit Robert.  He was just on his way out to go + have dinner with Tom.  A bit embarrassing really, tho’ I wasn’t too upset about it.  And hearing on someone’s radio that England had beaten the Aussies, so kept us in with an outside chance of reaching the final of the triangular series going on in Australia, cheered me somewhat.  England lost to NZ the other day in ridiculous circumstances.  We’d set a record score, then allowed the Kiwis to better it.  I was surprisingly depressed about the whole thing, especially since I’m not really a cricket fan.  I returned home + started reading “Daniel Martin” by John Fowles, the book Val had given me for Christmas.  And so far, at any rate, I’m enthralled.

Mostly news of events away from Haruru Falls – sports of various kinds, none of which seems to be going spectacularly well.

January 29th 1983

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Val worked for Sue this morning, helping to clean the units.  I had intended to go to Paihia with another attempt to buy a Time, but by the time I’d got up, done the washing, + cleaned the block, it was too late – this is New Zealand, you know, + shops shut on Saturday afternoons.  So we spent the reast of the day relaxing by the pool, feeling miserable (still).  Wrote a couple of letters, to Graham + Sue, + had a swift swim, then showered, + work again, without the slightest enthusiasm.  I was in a bad mood, largely, I think, because I was hungry + didn’t get fed again – a right pain.  Grabbed a couple of beers when we left, + called in on Robert on the way home – there was a quiet sort of party going on  there when we went past, so stayed for about an hour.

A familiar pattern for me when encountering new people is to take an instant dislike, and only later discover that I quite like them after all. Defiinitely appears to be the case with Robert. There are, alas, no photos of Robert, and I can’t say I remember him at all, except through the diary.

The photo references the other mysterious omission from the diary – a trip out to visit a sheep farm, and to see some shearing. Neither of us has the slightest recollection of such an outing, nor how we might have got there, but the p-hotos are in the album nonetheless.

January 28th 1983

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Val playing quoits

Slept late this morning (I wonder why.)  However, didn’t feel too bad, especially once I’d got some breakfast inside me.  I was then able to raise the energy to go up to the shop + to clean the block.  Big news of the day was a letter, finally, after all this time, from Graham.  A good one too – he was his usual amusing self.  It didn’t really help tho’ – still I was affected by an unutterable sadness.  I can’t even explain it – perhaps something of a backwash after the events of yesterday.  Val is feeling something of the same, she tells me.  Apathy about staying, moving on, returning home.  And having extra time on my hands doesn’t help.

In the afternoon, Val + I went into Paihia, mainly to bank the money we’ve earnt, + to buy a Time.  Except there weren’t any Times.  Ho hum.  Back early, + then read + wrote, before I had to go off to work.  A Con-Tiki tour in, but they soon all buggered off on a disco cruise, so I was able to close the bar down at 8.30.  I hung around for ages tho’, waiting for Athena, whose last day it was, so we could go to the pub for a drink.  However, Victoria, the other waitress, was her usual chronically lazy self, so Athena didn’t get finished till after 10.  No dinner either.

A regular feeling, of simply wasting time, which tends to affect us whenever we are stationary for a while. It is a relief at first to escape the daily toil of where to stay, how to get there, etc, but does leave more time for introspection.

January 27th 1983

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The back route down to Paihia

A small milestone today – probably.  Quite an easy day’s work, since I was told that we were swapping another 2 pallets worth of beer.  Which meant lugging out another 120 crates onto pallets, ready to be picked up by the supplier.  And then, of course, I had to carry down the beers we were given in exchange.  Tho’ unfortunately I was given some help this time, so it didn’t take too long.  And then Gordon collared me to give me the not totally unexpected news that today would be my last day, because they were cutting down on staff, + in any case I’d only been taken on for a couple of days… I made it easy on him, sympathising, agreeing, etc.  Various other members of the staff have been given the push in the past few days, + even Joe was cut down to just 3 days a week, so obviously I was in a particularly vulnerable position, being foreign, + with no particular skills to offer, especially since Robert is now about.  I didn’t feel too upset about it – in some ways it’s almost a relief, but it’s more that the timing is a bit off, as we reckon to be leaving around Feb 13th.  Ah well.  There were a couple of jobs to do to fill out the afternoon, + that was it.

Oh yes, during the morning a face from the past had re-appeared – Kent, a drunken Kiwi we’d met on Tahiti.  I was lugging crates when all of a sudden he appeared.  He was, it seemed, staying at Twin Pines.  Better still, he offered to take us out this evening in his car, arranging to meet us at about 4 or 5.  Val brought some clean clothes up for me to change into, + I had a quick shower, but still Kent didn’t show.  Tom reminded me at this time that it was the tradition in NZ for a person who is leaving a job to “shout” (or treat) drinks for all.  A bit strong that, but while in Rome, I suppose…  So, since Kent still hadn’t turned up, Val + I went into the pub + had a drink or 2.  We were with Tom + Robert, + started playing the matches on the bottle game, the one Rob had shown  us in Canada, which livened the proceedings a little, as well as getting the booze flowing down several throats.  After a while we gave up on Kent (+ quite right too, as the  bugger never did show) + had a meal – very nice – + then moved over to join some acquaintances of Tom’s in the corner.  And tho’ we didn’t really know anybody very well, still had a good time.  More games, much booze, some crazy events (such as Robert + one of the girls tumbling out of the window.)  Val felt a  bit left out of things, I think – she misses friends at home, + in any case isn’t into drinking at the moment.

Come closing time, I was pretty sozzled, + apart from picking Gordon up + giving him a hug, was ready to crash.  Which I did – heading back to Robert’s caravan for a lie-down, + then going home.  Val joined me later, after having coffee (she says) with Tom.  A big pity I went so fast really, since we heard the next day that it had gone on until the very small hours, with Brian, the bar manager, shouting champagne, since it was his birthday, as well as indulging his particular hobby – ripping girls’ knickers off.  He’s a nice bloke really – I wish we’d been in on the fun.  But we weren’t.

Don’t know what I can say about Brian and his antics, all the more so since I expressed a desire to be in ion “the fun” – hmm. Different times, different side of the world and all that. But maybe things have changed a little for the better, in that that sort of behaviour would more likely find one locked upo on a sexual assault charge nowadays… bjut should then, of course.

Does appear that my tenuous tenure at Twin Pines is finally creeping towards an end; all the better if that means we are on our way again. But the first mention of a date, and that just a couple of weeks or so away.

The waiting room

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Tick tock

The most encouraging thing about the last two sessions has been the attendance, which was excellent – we really do seem to have a more committed group at the moment.  Ever since we began, I have been hoping to find a consistent group, so that we could make progress from week to week, and try to create something a little more sustained and complex.  And at last, maybe, we are there.

We are still exploring sketches which reflect somehow on the idea of waiting, and added an idea I have worked on before, “Tick tock.”  It is based on a simple clock motif, with four characters announcing Tick and Tock, until one, growing bored of the tedium, tries to inject some variety.  I think it could be effective, but it does require a certain subtlety, and could prove devilishly difficult to learn.  Still, they seem to be up for trying it.

There are eight performers, so I wanted another scripted piece for the other four to work on, so I have written (or stolen Beckett’s lines) for a sketch based on “Waiting for Godot”.  This group does contain Ali and Abdulaziz, who do struggle a little with English, but it also contains some clowning, which ought to suit them both very well.  Again, we shall have to see how it goes, and we can reject any idea if it proves too difficult.

The meat of the presentation, however, will need to be those sections which reflect the asylum-seekers’ own experiences and frustrations, particularly those which associate with the basic concept of Waiting.  To try and help , I did have a lunch meeting before the actual session with 3 of the participants – Hamed, Aisha, and Frishta.  For this, we met at the place where Aisha and Frishta are doing some volunteering, the Mormon church.  I was surprised to find the huge modern building almost empty, with just a couple of family groups taking advantage of the warmth and hot drinks,  but nobody challenged Hamed and I when we entered, which was somewhat surprising, but we were able to discuss the content of such scenes.  (Curiously, as we were leaving, we did run into two of the Church’s young elders, who very much conformed to all of the stereotypes one has encountered.

The session which followed was somewhat hampered by the absences of Hamed, who had an appointment with an advisor, and Frishta, who had a doctor’s appointment, but even so we made some progress with the scenes we are working on.  As well as those mentioned, we are exploring the tedium of hotel life, told through a repetitive movement sequence, and backed by Elly Stone’s “Carousel”, a song which starts slowly but gets faster + faster.

As for Godot, we made a start.  But the target has to be having at least two of the “refugee” scenes written – they are the heart of the show so cannot be left.  But I am very pleased with the group, who have come together to make a most positive and cohesive unit.

January 26th 1983

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The Tiger Lily

Sewers again today – it’s alright tho’, you get used to it.  And since I shifted beer for part of the day, I was able to escape the sewers’ oily clutches for an hour or so.  Also, Robert has persuaded Gordon to get in some people to finish the job off properly with the right equipment.  So all we had to do today was winch out the grass + other foreign matter with a bucket.  And since it was Robert  down at the bottom of the hole in the shit, + me at the top, I shouldn’t really complain.  Finished quite late, as I wasn’t working in the evening.

Ah well, at least it seems this particular unpleasant task is coming to an end; could it mean a return to the cellar?

I have decided to rescind my earlier, somewhat hasty decision to abandon using photos to accompany the posts, where there are no obvious candidates. So,as you can see, photos are back. (I will also go back and pop something or other to fill in the past 2 days worth, but if you receive this blog by email, my guess is that you won’t receive the updated version, so will have to go back into the home page and archive to see it.

It also means I have the chance to correct, or rather add to, the diary. There is no mention whatever in the diary of two trips that we took around this time, though both are recorded (with photos!) in our photo album. So here they are. (I imagine they were simply forgotten during one of my frantic attempts to catch up, and bring the diary into real time.) Not that I can say all that much about either trip, since our memories are as fallible as the diary, but there you go.

One was a cruise around the bay on the Tiger Lily, a large catamaran. Local workers in the hospitality industry were given a free ticket (presumably so they can then recommend it to other guests) and eventually our tune came. And pleasant enough, my very vague recollection seems to suggest. At any rate, one of the very few perks we were to receive.

January 25th 1983

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View from the stern of the Tiger Lily

Back to the sewers again today – the work was rather more unpleasant, + Robert was a shade more obnoxious.  We constructed a sort of derrick over one of the tanks during the morning, + after lunch came the really unpleasant bit, hoisting up buckets + buckets of shit.  Most of it has been pumped out already, down the drain, but we still have to remove the black, evil-smelling sludge – we’re just hoisting it up + tipping it over the grass.  Robert is the one down in the tank, but my job is only marginally better, pulling the stuff + tipping it out.  At least he’s got some wellies.  I’m walking in the stuff in flip-flops.

Rushed home to get changed – I’d already showered + shaved when I went up to the tent to fetch my work clothes, + a half-asleep Val told me I wasn’t required this evening.  After last night, I can’t say I’m surprised.  So had a couple of beers, cooked dinner, + headed up to the tent for an early night.

An uodated message, to state that the photos will continue to be posted; briefly, this was suspended while I despaired of finding anything suitable, but has now been restored!

January 24th 1983

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Fellow workers at Twin Pines –

Blue Monday.  A sort of mixed blessing fell upon me today.  It seems I’ve got more work to do, which is definitely a good thing.  However, the job is helping another bloke to clear out the now defunct sewage plant.  Ho hum.  Still, I’m not proud, + money is money.  Where there’s muck there’s brass, they say, so I should be earning plenty.  About the worst thing about it is my work companion, another bloke who’s wandered in + got himself a job.  He’s called Robert, + isn’t really all that bad – it’s just that he’s big-headed + bossy.  Ah well, I can work with anyone… maybe.  We spent most of the day dismantling the pipes etc over the big concrete tanks.  So the cellar still hasn’t been finished.

The Cascade was dead quiet – just 2 tables of people in, so I spent most of the evening writing a letter to Pete.

My snap judgments – first impressions, I suppose – of other people are rarely positive, so I’d say Robert got off lightly. Not sure that clearing out a sewage plant is any sort of improvement on excavating a cellar, but there you go – work is work.

January 23rd 1983

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Cob Cottage, Blenheim – the third and final card from the series. There are 12, actually, but we only got these… and I don’t remember where they came from, Tea, or cereal, or something.

And Sunday rolls around again.  We slept in, of course, + as it was so late by the time we’d had breakfast, Val was good enough to let me rush off to watch the football, while she cleared up.  I made it with 20 secs to spare, but the games weren’t anything much, + in any case it seems as tho’  Liverpool have romped away with the title once again.  Val turned up after a short while, + then we turned into real slugs for the rest of the afternoon, just slumped in front of the dread machine.  And it wasn’t as tho’ there was a single decent programme.  Admittedly, we weren’t totally inactive – Val sewed + I wrote letters, but it’s still not a very constructive way to spend one’s day off.  Not that it was the complete day, of course, since, as usual, there was work in the evening.  A quiet evening, as it turned out, + very boring.  But Julia cooked me a huge meal, so that compensated things a little.

A dull Sunday. When we are on the move, days of the week don’t cont for much (except when suddenly the shops are all shut), but now that we are in a quasi-working situation, then weekends bring with them the familiar lassitude. Not that I am entirely tied to Mon- Fri, of course, as I pretty much work every day at the Cascade. Where such treats as a full meal achieve an importance beyond their status.

January 22nd 1983

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Another in the series of historic New Zealand buildings, this one of the Post Office in Ophir, in Central Otago.

I only worked in the morning, during which time I again managed not to finish off the cellar.  Went on an errand run into town, + bought myself a Time magazine.  Decadent of me, I know, but I do like to keep up with events.  During the afternoon I read it, then began a letter to Bruce.  The letters have been arriving so thick + fast recently that we’ve rather been caught on the hop recently, + now have stacks in the “in” tray + none in the “out”.  But that’s good, I think.  Writing letters + receiving no reply is the most dispiriting thing.

Work in the evening was mildly depressing, mainly because the policemen were having their bye-bye party, so everyone was having a good time except for the poor workers.  Not, I think, that I was wild keen to get out among ‘em, but the work is becoming too depressing.  Mike was having a good old moan about Marion as well – they’re having some sort of wrangle about some chickens or something.  It’s all very sordid – I don’t understand the story, + I’m not even remotely interested, but I don’t impose my problems upon other people (I hope), + don’t like it when others do the same to me.  I closed up the bar quite late – a Kon-Tiki is in, + were drinking when they got back from the pub + then went out to join the party remnants, but it’s not much fun being sober among a bunch of drunks, so Val + I soon packed it in + went home.  Incidentally, we’ve just selected our ten cassettes to take with us – we both made up our top ten of the ones we have + combined them.  They are: 1.Hi Pete (the compilation Pete sent us) 2.Peter Gabriel  3. Peter Skellern  4.  Kiwi  5. Rock Brittania (Police/Stones) 6.  Classic Breakfast  7.  The Wall  8. Roxy Music/Dire Straits  9. Elton John  10. Genesis Live

IK am surprised tht there aren’t more lists included in the diary, for I am an inveterate list-maker (and one of my favourite books of the Alma was a book of lists, even tho’ some of them (Jewish baseball players?) were a bit esoteric for me.

I need to be careful about being too ppompous in my assessments of other people – such things can come back to bite you. Actually, I cringe at lots of my snap judgments recorded, of books, films, people… anything really. But I don’t think I can be accused of whitewashing, of presenting myself in a better light, as I come out badly for quite a lot of the time.