I had to go to Christchurch recently and it was an interesting trip. I left the house at 04:50 in the morning, feeling seriously smug as I had bought a new (to me) car the day before, it was from a repossessed car auction and I got it literally half price.
It is a 1994 Nissan Cefiro, in the UK it would be called a Nissan Maxima, it is the luxury car of the Nissan range and is seriously smooth and quiet to drive, being a 24 valve V6 it is refined and powerful, and at lowish speeds the power delivery is as unobtrusive as a well-trained Butler, hovering at one’s elbow with a freshly pressed shirt, but in keeping with multi-valve engines, above 3,500 rpm things change and it is as if the aforementioned Butler has caught his master dicking his favourite parlour-maid and the power comes through like cutlery being slammed into position on an immaculate white table-cloth in that surly yet restrained way that only the British can master.
All of which will add up to acres of fun on my regular jaunts to Auckland and beyond.
I cruised down the dark motorway, trying to find a radio station that worked but I hadn’t fitted a bandwidth expander yet and without one of these a Japanese import car will only pick up the direst of local stations; I endured ten minutes of “Radio Coromandel”….. waves of “easy listening” punctuated by adverts for chainsaw servicing and dung removal, I flicked on the CD
player in which I had hurriedly stacked my 6 favourite CD
’s the night before, the first track up was (appropriately I thought) by a band called “The Departure”, the track, “Be My Enemy (It’s easier that way)”, so I swished through the dew-damp streets of AKL
, blissfully happy and musing on the fact that the day before (12th Oct) was mine and Mrs J’s 22nd wedding anniversary….bugger! That is a long time! Especially when you consider we met in Mid-May and got married mid October, pretty good going for an impulsive gesture.
Now, I made an arse of myself by trying to check in at the QF
terminal instead of NZ
, I was booked to fly BACK from Christchurch with the Ozzies, not TO
Still, at who-knows-when o’clock in the morning, such errors can be had and a brisk walk to the other end of the Terminal Buildings saw me boarding the same yellow 737 that I flew back from WLG
on last time out, such an event is really only exciting to total geeks like us but there you go, some people collect stamps and others wear bobble hats and write down numbers from trains, I casually observe the aircraft I fly on.
I boarded, sandwich in hand, gagging for an Earl Grey and nestled into my seat, the express terminals had yet again yielded a window seat near the back (22A) with an empty seat next to me, these computers you know, they learn fast!
We were away on time and belted up into the atmosphere to the East, this time I was prepared for a lurching turn to the left but we turned to the right and my breakfast sandwich stayed put with no palm-sweaty surprises to encourage it out from under my intestines, I settled in for the non-stop version of AKL
But the flight was marred by a constant nudging and poking from behind me as some over-achiever wrestled with the minutiae of industrial growth management or some such boring stuff and there isn’t much room on the tray tables so his portfolio kept digging me in the spine. I didn’t look back to see who it was but built up a mental image of some OCD Accountant with a fetish for green pencils, scribbling furiously… at one point a rhythmic pulsing started and I was convinced he was masturbating…all mental images stopped immediately and I concentrated instead on the earthy beauty of NZ
flight attendants and the wonderfully, chainsaw-raucous tone of their voices, a cracked, husky and ultimately sexy (to me) lilt that has a suggestion of late nights, whiskey and a no-nonsense down to earth sensuality.
The blonde one had a crazy look in her eyes and beamed smiles at the pax in such a way that no-one dared to refuse a Kiwi Fruit biscuit and hot drink.
The Brunette had a wonderful profile and dizzy hair that made me wonder if she had spent the night sleeping in a sackful of cats but it was early and I felt that obsessing over an FA
’s profile at such an hour might end with me being blacklisted as a pervert and forced to fly in a straightjacket and dark glasses, early mornings you see, I am in some form of limbo between sleep and dysfunction at such an hour.
I turned away from my early morning reverie and gazed upon a sea of morning-lit clouds, heaving their way across the Tasman Sea to lurk unbidden on Sydney.
61 minutes of sky-gazing and making mental fists at the jerk-off accountant behind me and we were oozing in over CHC
, a northerly approach with the beach to the left and mountains to the right, I spotted a car breakers yard, a house with a very nice pool and a golf course with villa accommodation, and all too soon the reverie was over, it was time to switch on my cell-phone, grab my hire-car and plunge headlong into what turned out to be a 16 hour day.
Christchurch is a very mellow city, I love it when I go there but this may be due to the fact that I only ever go there in summer, it had snowed 10 days before my arrival but all was now fully cakes and pies with a clear blue sky and shirt-sleeve temperatures.
I was late for my first appointment because Jess (not blonde) had forgotten that it takes a few minutes to get off the a/c, grab one’s luggage and pick up a hertz rental but it didn’t matter, this is NZ
and there are worse sins than lateness (Supporting the Springboks in the Tri-Nations for one!) this was followed by an hours break before a change of shirt and the addition of a tie was necessary before presenting some awards to a group of Special Needs kids and adults, a task I always relish as everybody seems so pleased to see me and one bloke was so excited and overcome with emotion at the imminent arrival of so powerful a being that he had to be spoken to and subdued.
Prior to this meeting I stopped off at the “Honeypot Café” for an all-day breakfast that at first sight looked as if it was going to take all day to eat but luckily it was just the pile of toast that the bacon etc was draped round that made it look so huge, I settled down with the NZ
Herald, and tried not to look at the waitress, who kept calling me “Baby”, but a swift cappuccino soon brought me to my senses and I found myself pondering the fate of the nation and the all the horse-trading that goes with forming a government.
For once, my meeting at the special needs centre and the time on my parking meter were the same length and I sped off to a prison, which seemed far too nice a place to be a prison and the staff were all young and very casual, no frosty “screws” here.
It was then back into the Corolla to peruse the maps and soak up the balmy heat and tranquillity of the prison grounds before lurching once more into the fray…
By mid-afternoon I was wilting and my phone rang, exposing me to the full wrath and fury of a very pissed-off co-ordinator who had some issues with how my co-director had dealt with some issues he had raised about the timing of a meeting that had occurred a week earlier with the other 2/3rds of the management triumvirate and as luck would have it tonight was his meeting night so I scheduled him in for an 8:30 pm visit in order to deal with a raft of questions from his Rangatahi (youths).
I managed 40 mins at my Motel for a power-nap and with the evenings SKY
schedule memorised and lending an urgency to the agenda for the rest of the day I headed back out into the leafy streets of CHC
and at 6:30 pm I was back in the town centre looking for my evening carbohydrate fix, I found a very nice “Gourmet Fish and Chip bar and after briefly considering the “Macadamia Crusted Barramundi” dealt to a perfect “Moroccan Marinated Hapuka with hand cut chunky chips” which left me in very good spirits for the final two rounds of ordeal by meeting.
Finally, I made it to the last meeting and it all went very well, I mended fences, bridged the communication gap and resolved some queries to the satisfaction of all concerned and turned in to the Motel a wiser, man having saved the organisations reputation with a fellow organisation with whom we share a basic Kaupapa (Mission Statement).
The following day held only the spectre of a 3 hour training event at which the audience were all women of a certain age, lively, frisky and well versed in the art of “doing lunch”. I had a ball, marred only by my inability to find the toilets without help, I finished the tour with a very agreeable Lamb Burger marinated in whiskey and maple at “Bridgittes”.
Yawning my way through CHC
’s pathetic excuse for a rush-hour I managed to remember (for once) to fill the hire-cars tank before attempting to return it and checked in (correctly this time) at the QF
Watching a doco the previous night about the Concorde crash hadn’t induced too much paranoia and the words “Most air crashes are not caused by a single event, but rather a chain of bad decisions” I paid special attention to the interaction between pilot and FA
’s at the departure desk, listening intently for any suggestion that we may be overloaded, taking off downwind or missing any wheel spacers, I prepared to put my faith in Boeing once more but more than that I was aching to lay down and sleep, so much so that I accepted 14D on the assumption that I would not be conscious long enough to require the use of a window.
Boarding was on time and swift as, I requested headphones, turned on the Classical Music channel and half watched the safety demo through one glazed, drooping and almost disinterested eye.
We took off (upwind and at target weight), I was asleep and drooling before the gear was up.
Refreshed and eager to re-acquaint myself with my new wheels I was majorly glad of my error of the previous morning as my car was in the QF
car-park so I didn’t have to run the gauntlet of too many over-friendly and cash-starved taxi drivers.
After gazing at a South American 340 (either Lan Chile or Aerolineas Argentinas, I can’t remember which) and watching the arrival of a QF
747, I cruised back through the heat of an AKL
afternoon, oblivious to the traffic as the Red Hot Chili’s advised me that “This life is more than just a read-through”…spot-on mates, spot-on!
We, the undersigned, do hereby consent.....