I’m having a coffee at McDonald’s outside Christchurch Airport – my flight to Wellington is delayed by 70 minutes. I’m quite happy to be heading back. The high-stress Christmas wasn’t anybody’s fault – certainly not my brother’s – but I find even a normal Christmas (if there is such a thing) hard work. People are judged, analysed, scrutinised. Comparisons are made. When I was a trainee actuary, people wanted to know how many exams I’d passed since my last visit. Sometimes that figure was zero. Now I’ve got a menial job that only just pays the bills. After all the promise I showed as a kid, my relatives must wonder where everything went wrong. And of course I’m always single. “There must be something wrong with him.” As for my brother, all of his gossip has dispersed through the family like wildfire. No wonder he wants to jump on the next plane back to the UK. If only he could. Having Mum’s Australian friends over hasn’t been easy as we’ve all had to pretend everything is hunky-dory.
My brother and I went to Timaru for the New Year fireworks display. We parked outside the sailing club (to enable a quick exit after the fireworks) and while we were joined by a blue penguin we reminisced of a simpler time. In 1989 we often swam there. The water wouldn’t have been warm but at that age we didn’t care. Occasionally our older cousins took us out in a boat. A large family contingent would be there; we didn’t do much but that didn’t matter – everyone had more time then. For a town the size of Timaru, you couldn’t complain about the fireworks. Four or five times we said “this is it” but each time there was more. We had one unsuccessful attempt at the chocolate wheel and briefly watched the show at the bandstand. There were three female singers who looked like blokes dressed in drag. Almost inevitably they performed Gangnam Style.
Yesterday my brother and I hopped in the car. We drove as far as Methven (nothing much was happening there as you might expect in a town that functions mostly as a base for skiers). He was subdued and unusually for him he didn’t want me to stop anywhere on the way back. It was sad to see him like that. Last night we saw Mental, an Australian film, at the cinema in Geraldine. It didn’t do much for me. I’m not sure Aussie humour ever does. We did have a bit of chuckle when borderline personality disorder was mentioned. My brother’s ex-girlfriend (ridiculously) “diagnosed” him as having the condition.
The darts final took place this morning. After Phil Taylor’s bizarre antics following his semi-final victory, and general cockiness (I couldn’t imagine having POWER tattooed on my arm), I hoped van Gerwen would win. For a while it seemed he would, but he made one or two strange decisions towards the end (such as aiming for bull’s eye early in a leg) and couldn’t quite keep up what had been a very high standard of play. Mum has showed a surprising level of interest in the darts; I don’t know what her Aussie friends made of it. My guess is not a lot. My brother wondered whether the referees (one hundred and eighteeee!) still spoke like that when they got home. Could you pass me the keeeetchuuuup? Would you like a cup of teeeee? For some reason I found that utterly hilarious.
It’s back to work tomorrow. I don’t mind that, especially because it’ll be pretty quiet. My plane has been delayed by another hour. Bugger Jetstar. At least I’m travelling pretty light so I should avoid another $70 fee.