Sunday, February 12, 2012

One sleep to go

Things have been pretty busy the last few days but I've now got an hour or so to myself on this sunny Sunday morning. Mum and my aunt have just been to the Catholic church opposite my flat. They said there was a large (in more ways than one) Tongan presence in the congregation of 400. The Pacific Island community does add a lot of vibrance to the southern part of Wellington. Mum and her big sister have now gone to Te Papa to see an exhibition of wedding dresses on loan from the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. If instead it was an exhibition of beer bottle tops I might have been more interested in going. A four-day domestic cricket match has started at the Basin; the crowd is very sparse. I can't see much of the ground from here but the scoreboard man regularly pokes his head through a hole in the board to change it.

I wasn't in the best of mental states when Mum arrived on Wednesday. When I got home from work I rang Vodafone to get my phone and internet sorted for my new place. All the options were expensive; I said I would think about it. At 7:30 I met Danielle at the tramping club. Hordes of people unexpectedly filed in to see a presentation. Danielle, who didn't stay for the talk, said she'd never seen so many people there - I half-jokingly said that someone had probably been to the Himalayas. Which they had. A woman of about Mum's age - and without a full set of fingers - proceeded to give a talk about her intrepid Himalayan adventures in the seventies and eighties. She lost her boyfriend on one trek in the mid-eighties and she was badly frostbitten. Later she married a like-minded chap and they started up a school in Kangchenjunga region of Nepal (which includes the world's third-highest peak), bringing education, medicine and contraception to the area. Unfortunately they now face the task of rebuilding the school after a major earthquake last September.

Late on Wednesday evening I rang Vodafone again. I spoke to somebody (probably based in India) who was very knowledgeable about the phone network but who talked too quickly and didn't speak up. He was just doing his job, but he bombarded me with seemingly dozens of options that would all set me back hundreds. "Slow down a bit man, you're giving me too many options." The big mistake I made was phoning at almost 11pm; I was too tired (and depressed) to take anything in. Eventually I lost the plot and threw the cordless phone across the room. I felt terrible that I completely lost it like that in front of Mum. The front of the handset had come off but I snapped it back into place. He was still on the end of the phone! "Sorry but I'll have to ring off." The next two days I visited a Vodafone store in town. Those shops aren't much use because they really just want to sell you stuff. The one on Lambton Quay has a bank of five funky-looking world clocks which work but are surely just for show - the hour and minute hands are identical. I couldn't tell whether it was supposed to be 3:25 or 5:15 in London although I knew that in reality it was neither. I don't know when I'll get my phone connected.

Talking of phones, yesterday Mum's mobile rang while we were in the flat but she couldn't find it. I then rang her phone to locate it, but as I moved around the flat the ring never really got any louder. We did find her phone in the end. It was in the fridge.

The wedding. The main event. I didn't go to the wedding, just to the reception, but that was more than enough for me. The food was good and while the speeches dragged they did have a couple of moments of real poignancy. I ate too much and drank more than I normally do (which still wasn't that much). The tables weren't numbered but were given "meaningful" names - ours was called Castle Island after the town in Ireland from where Mum's great-grandfather emigrated in the 1870s (our family visited the town when I was ten). Despite Mum's efforts she couldn't persuade me to dance. It was good for the family to get together, even though the whole idea of travelling hundreds of miles and taking time off work to attend a wedding of someone who you share a few strands of DNA with but hardly know seems a bit ridiculous to me. I saw my aunt and uncle from Auckland for the first time in years (I worked in the same company as him from 2004 to '06). At around half-nine all that hip-hop crap started blaring out and I wished I could have changed the station.

Yesterday lunchtime they put on another wedding party at some friend's million-dollar-plus waterfront bach (bach!) but Mum and I didn't go. We were able to use all the packing (for my move) as an excuse. The two things I wanted to avoid, above all, were drinking and talking. Last night though we did have a much smaller non-wedding-related dinner at my cousin's place.

Tonight will be the last time I sleep in this flat. The block looks a bit grotty from the outside but I get a lot of sun here. The extra vitamin D has given me a boost I'm sure. The next place won't quite have that. Tomorrow at 9:30am, three men are coming to shift my big items the quarter-mile or so into the new flat. Mum has been very helpful with a mixture of organising all my bits and pieces and motivating me to organise myself. This weekend only three people have used the word "exciting" to describe my move. Mum flies back tomorrow afternoon.

Yesterday morning I found the time to play three games of Countdown when Mum was here, winning two of them. I won the first game - at the time I didn't seem to play very well but looking back I did better than I thought with some tricky selections of letters. In the second I finished strongly but was still fortunate to win. With four rounds to play I was 14 points down but I found SAINTLY to halve the arrears. We both then got ATTEMPTS for eight and a difficult numbers game ensued. I got three away and expected to be beaten but my opponent blanked so we were tied going into the conundrum. PRROTESTS seemed to leave us both stumped but only having two vowels and knowing that conundrums are never plurals ending in S, at least I had something to go on. I saw SPORT and then buzzed in with SPORTSTER (which I wasn't sure was even a word) with under three seconds to go. Apparently it is a word, so I won the game and avoided a tie-breaker. In the third game I faced a better player; my first-ever nine-letter word (SHARPENED) gave me 18 points and a slightly flattering (for me) 11-point loss.

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