It's been four weeks now. I am sick at the sight of my suitcase and the presence of my laptop backpack makes me want to drop it from the six floor of the Micasa Hotel. This is my current 'home' till Sunday when Singapore Airlines and the Oxford-Heathrow express take me home.
Going home has been an interesting experience. When I first arrived I thought it all seemed a bit provincial, and I started to notice the New Zealand accent. To be honest I was rather condescending towards it. OK, so I was very arrogant. After a week or so, I realised I was really enjoying myself. It was also nice to look at the issues of the day in NZ and realise that it's actually a good thing to be worried about little things. Don't get me wrong here, issues are as big or as small as they need to be, but given the choice of having to worry about the levee breaking or the price of petrol hitting $1.50, give me the petrol each and every day. When I first arrived the big story of the day was to do with Helen Clark, the PM, being asked to explain why her motorcade was doing 170 km/h on the road (the speed limit is 100km/h) and when the police motorcade drivers went to court she denied she was aware that the car had been going that fast. Most people would agree that unless you are in the space shuttle or an Malaysian Taxi, it is not that hard to spot that you are in a vehicle that is driving quicker than normal. Which goes to say that unless she regularly gets driven at 170km/h then I think she lied. But I would rather have a PM that lies about that than a PM that lies then starts a war based on that lie, or a PM who lies about what a desperate emigrant threw overboard and then whens an election based on that lie (she never did drop a baby, did she John?). I like that NZ has littler issues. Which is not to say that they are not important!
But issues aside, it was staying with Simon that did it for me. Simon lives not far from Auckand city centre and very close to Ponsonby Road. Simon has carved out a little world for himself, and in his words, he finally "understands how to live in Auckland" and from what I could see, it was a life that had many things in common with the life I live in the UK. May be it was there all the time and I had to go to the UK to see it. Wandering round the near central blocks made me start to ponder the reason I still live in the UK.
I've often been asked what I love about Oxford and what people should do when they go to NZ. Supposedly I'm an expert on both things. The reason I love Oxford is the people. That is what makes Oxford a great place to live. Just like what Rhys said in an email to me:
Like you say - NZ _was_ great. No, I take that back. A country is never great. It's the people that make a place great.
Auckland is also a great place. There are some good places to live, there are some fun things to do, but there are also some stupendously good people there too. The Simons, Muzz's, Ians, Sarahs, Craigs, Alices, Davids of this world will guarantee that. In the same way, Rotorua, a place I wouldn't normally go will be just as great cos that's where Jolinda lives, and Wellington will be great because that's where Chris, Sarah, Michael, Karen and wee Charlotte live. And damnit all, that is just the people that I know. The richness of these friendships makes me have a hell of hope for this world. Sure, there are bastards out there, and people will still try to screw me over, just like from time to time I'll be tempted to do the same to them. Maybe it's a bit cheesy, and I know I have a cynical streak in me, but when it comes to the human being, I believe that they are intrinsically good. Leaving NZ again yesterday just about made me cry. I'm not sure how many more times I can put myself through that. The names above are people I am going to know and love till the day I die, and the fact that there are about ten names there is pretty damn cool.
Yes I know I get repetitive sometimes on the topic of my friends, but sod it, this is my blog, get your own if you don't like it.
Before other cities get jealous, Oxford, Edinburgh and London are also great places.
I've been listening to Conscious Roots - The awakening of the Aotearoa Roots Movement, a collection of kiwi Dub. It reminds me that New Zealand song writers are some of the finest in the world. No, they are the finest. (Best poet I've read - Don McGlashan of the Muttonbirds.)
And Sarah and Craig introduced me to bro'Town. It's an animated cartoon made by the comedic group The Naked Samoans and if we must do the comparison thing, then yes it is kinda like a Samoan/Maori South Park. bro'Town is hits my spot. It treads a very fine line and, damn, it is funny when it gives the finger and declares "not even, ow" and jumps across that line.
Aotearoa, the whanau (that's a Maori word for family) make sure that it's a great place to live.
Let us sing together
All of us forever
Let the loving light
Lead us to your dawning