I’m in Petone – I’ll be going bowling here in about three hours (I couldn’t face being stuck at home with Kevin). I’m parked on the Esplanade on a sunny Sunday afternoon – it’s quite peaceful here. I expect that will change in mid-October when I start spending half my waking hours here.
Last Friday we had our morning coffee at Gotham on Chews Lane. This is a weekly event. There seems to be an unwritten rule that you get something edible (which I never do) with your hot beverage. Then you’re supposed to nonchalantly waft your plastic when the barista says “eleven eighty”. I hadn’t been to Gotham before. Instead of getting a number on a stand when you order, you get an animal on a stand (except me – I got a Batman figure. It is Gotham after all). So when they come to deliver your drink, they get to say funny things like “hot chocolate on goat” or “trim mocha on giraffe”. I’ve seen playing cards used before, but this was a new one on me.
We had our so-called mid-year function after work on Friday. Oh god. Not fun at all. We started off playing pool. I’m very bad at pool, but at least you’re doing something and that makes it just about tolerable. Even if everyone else is talking among themselves in twos and threes and I’m not. That’s a situation I’ve learnt to accept – I’m extremely used to it. We then had pizza. I’m better at eating pizza than I am at playing pool. Then we went to some bar on Courtenay Place where they had the Beat Girls, who sang songs from groups like the Supremes and the Seekers. They were pretty good, but instead of concentrating on them, I had to listen to my boss talk about saving the world. When he’s sober he only wants to revolutionise it. He tried to flatter me by telling me how many applicants there were for my position. The figure had gone up by eleven since last time. Things got a whole lot worse when people in my group – well basically everyone except me – decided to dance. I didn’t drink too much – it’s never worth it for me. I survived the evening but it was hard work – at least as hard as an entire week in the office – but I don’t think I made a good impression and I’m not looking forward to work tomorrow.
After the night before, the last thing I wanted to do yesterday was see real people. But because I have no choice but to see a real person, I didn’t particularly mind spending most of the day helping Rhiannon and her boyfriend look for a new flat. I used my Navman for the first time in ages and it worked really well. We looked at seven places including one on my street. I don’t have a lot of friends, and most of the ones I do have are carless. That means I’m now spending more time driving with other people. Getting used to that can only be a good thing.
I’ve got three Mandarin lessons left, and I plan to attend them, but it’s a bit of a waste of time because I find it extremely hard to practise between lessons. If I carry on my classes it won’t be until I get my place to myself again.
I heard an interesting radio programme about Chinese mental health. It sounds like it's almost a taboo subject over there. I expect mental health problems in China to balloon in the coming decades, with the pressure on children and young adults to succeed in an increasingly Westernised society.
Last night I went to the Lux light festival on the waterfront. I think it was better for kids than for adults; there were a couple of interactive displays where you could make a lot of noise and things would happen. That meant there were a lot of screaming kids.
Julie only recently went to Napier. Things aren't working out and she wants to come back. Apparently she has to move out of her serviced apartment by Thursday, and this morning she said she wanted me to drive the 400-mile round trip to Napier to pick up her stuff, by Thursday, while she flies back to Wellington. Seriously.
The National Party have become decidedly less awful now that Judith Collins has resigned. I still won’t vote for them though. John Key has been very astute in the way he’s positioned himself and his party as the Normal Party. If you perceive yourself as a normal guy (or girl) with a normal job, a normal wife (or husband) and 2.4 normal kids, voting Normal, I mean National, is what you’re supposed to do. I’m sure they’ll get many thousands of votes from people who like to think of themselves as normal, even if they don’t agree with the party’s policies.
Update: Bowling was pretty good actually. Playing, rather than talking, took precedence. I bowled 132 (I think I finished with four consecutive spares) and 111. The other guys were all easy-going chaps and it looks like they'll make a regular thing of it.