I was looking forward to Christmas as a chance to unwind, but instead the tension here has ratcheted up to the max. The situation between my brother and (let's face it) his ex-partner has gone from bad to worse. Something happened the night before last which I can't write about here. It meant I spent most of yesterday away from my family - a welcome break for me.
Yesterday I met Phil in Timaru. We played mini-golf again. I lost again, this time by five shots (60 to 65). In 1989 it cost $2.50 a round. Last year it was $3. Now it's $5. Everything else at the carnival has also gone up this year, including the darts game which doesn't seem to have increased its cash prizes to compensate, so I didn't play.
Talking of darts, the World Championships are taking place in London and I've been watching some of the games on my parents' Sky. Whether you think it's a sport that requires pinpoint accuracy and steely determination, or a game played by 21-stone beer-swilling halfwits sporting tattoos and blinging jewellery, you can't deny that it works well on TV. I'd prefer it if they cut out the American-style cheerleaders and breaks after every set (they managed without such gimmicks in the nineties) but the game does produce its fair share of characters and dramatic matches. The requirement to "check out" each leg with a double (one of the thin slivers on the outer edge of the board), or the bull's eye, certainly helps in the drama stakes, as does the format of sets and legs which can result in an engrossing tennis-style tie-break. And the game does require the use of brain cells occasionally. Take a check-out of 126. Logic would suggest that to finish on a even number you should aim for even numbers, but your best bet is to go down for 19s. Of course, for us mere mortals, finishing 126 in three darts would be such a monumental task that you'd just try to make a decent score and reduce the target to something manageable. When I used to play (some time ago) both of us would often be left desperately hammering away at double one.
Phil talked about the difficulties in buying property in Auckland. "I can't believe how racist I've become," he said when bemoaning the influx of Asian investors who keep driving up prices. From that point of view, my move to Wellington was a positive one, even allowing for all the earthquake stuff. I'd quite like to fly to Wellington right now, but I've looked on the Jetstar site and flights at such short notice at this time of year are pricey as you'd expect, so I'll tough it out here for another four days.