Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Looking for meaning in song lyrics

So if you got a trumpet, get on your feet,
brother, and blow it,
If you've got a field, that don't yield,
well get up and hoe it.
(There She Goes, My Beautiful World - Nick Cave)

On the 3rd of November I quietly observed the fact that I have been in the United Kingdom now for four years. Crikey. Where does 40% of a decade go?? Now I qualify for the indefinite right to remain. I originally planned to be away from NZ for two years, and somehow I kept saying to myself "two more years", and after two years I was still saying that. I'm not sure I'm saying that anymore, and I get the feeling that with too much provocation I might end up taking SQ321 back to Singapore and then on to Auckland Airport. Yep, two more years might be a stretch. But... I reckon a year might not be out of the question as I will be able to to Charles Clark's citizenship test and nab a passport in a years time. When I originally quit NZ it was to see a bit of the world, but mostly to see my friends Sarah, Craig, and David, who had moved across in 2001 and 1999 respectively. Sarah, Craig and David have long since gone home, and I have seen them in NZ this year. Of my remaining kiwi friends in the UK, Rhys, Monica, Jane, Megan, Steph, Grace and Jane, Rhys and Mon are off home in about four weeks. I will miss them.

I spoke briefly with my friend Wendy the other day about community and about our commitment to it. Wendy's observation was that it is easy for people to move onto other things and places under the guise of 'it is what I need to do', but that very few people take the time to consider the effect that this will have on the people who are left behind. She figured that if you are a contributer to a community, be it a defineable one such as Hammer and Tongue, or a more intangible one such as my group of friends, then it is not simple to up and leave, but that you should consider the implications on that community. She also argued that the community should fight harder to keep them there. I'm not entirely sure what I think about this, especially since I am not the confrontational type, but I think it bears consideration.

Which is not to say that Rhys and Monica should stay, they go home with my blessing and love; this is more of a reflection of myself. The tricky thing about living abroad is that you invariably split your community and unless you can create this sort of solution, you're kinda screwed. And don't think that I haven't thought through the practicalities of such an enterprise.

And really I have to think long and hard about my movements. The scary thing is that I have a fair idea about what it will be that breaks the proverbial camels back and will result in me going home, and it's a reason that I have mocked a friend over in the past.


Last night I had dinner with my friends Sarah and Mike, who live up the street from me. At least I thought it was just the three of us. It turned out that there would also be four other people. And these four people just so happened to be single. Sigh... lovely people, one and all, but once I spotted this, and decided that it amused me rather than annoyed me, I resolved to do nothing about it. Funny that maybe because they were all a little bit older than me I felt I couldn't really relate to them. Felt a little bit out of my depth really. Odd experience.

I'm off to Indonesia in ten days for nine days. It's all work, I'm afraid, and I'm shitting myself a bit about it (don't really know the material I'm teaching). But I reckon I can wing it. Banjar is the destination. Should have some great material for blogging on my way back. Might get an ipod on the way home.

Have got tickets to the Go! Team next year. Chris (fellow GT junkie), Kate and hopefully Jane will join me. I've done a big thing and lent her my CD to convert her. The last time I lent it out Jon gave it back a year later.

Tonight out with Chris and Jim. Gonna watch the Daily Show and then find a pub.



Matt said...

Rich - i think you are on to some really important stuff here and it was really interesting to read some of the resonances between Wendy's thoughts and some of the stuff I was trying to express the other Sunday night when we talked about the monastic vow of presence (or 'stability').
i am also very intrigued to know what you think the straw that breaks the camel's back for you will be!

richard said...

i'm not telling you! In the words of the man in black when told by the inigo that he must know who he is: "get used to disappointment"...

Naomi said...

hey Rich,

Just came across this http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/4420670.stm
and thought of you...

richard said...

yep. saw that today.

But this bit is my get out clause:
New Zealand High Commissioner to the UK, Jonathan Hunt, says timing is key - expats must be ready to make the move, and some may need a little encouragement. "I say enjoy what you're doing, but don't fight when your own feelings tell you when it might be time to go back.

And I'm not ready yet.

Suzie said...

Hi Rich, I really hear what you're saying about community and the impact of someone leaving. But if I'm reading between the lines correctly, I'd say that the fundamental problem with that is that modern day communities can't provide what people need to be able to stay in them. I.e. a job, a marriage partner... These are the things we move to find or follow, and the problem is that our communities don't represent self-sufficient communities that can fulfil these needs, as I imagine the sixteenth century societies I'm familiar with to have done (though I better not overstate the case, the historian's caveat is that the sixteenth century was considered by contemporaries to be disturbingly mobile and fluctuating, which says something in itself).

richard said...

Those things I can accept - there are somethings that a community cannot provide, especially the marriage thing, but I think there is an element of doubt in the validity of the job thing. As Justice would say, what I do for a living is not what i necessarily do for life. Which is not say that what I do for a living is of little value, as we both know that isn't true. But I have an (admittedly hypocritical as I've done it twice) issue with the leaving on a whim or for a job thing. The reason i left NZ was to see some friends in the UK and to see the world. Both perfectly good reasons but at no point did I consider the implications on those who I was leaving behind. When I left Edinburgh to move to the shire it was because I was in a dead end job with a bully for a boss. I probably could have found a job that had more than a cul-de-sac on offer with a boss who didn't abuse me in edinburgh, but again I chose not to. Well, i didn't think to. Having said that i do not regret that I have moved to the UK and then to the 'ford as it has probably one of the best things I have done, and those who knew me before I left remark on the amount of change and the much greater strength of character I have. But I do regret that essentially a choice that revolved around the needs of only one person. Don;t get me wrong, I'm not beating myself up about this, merely consider it an learning experience. A few weeks ago I could have upped and left my job, Oxford, the UK and gone home. but there was no identifiable destination and it was feeling like I was thinking this because of a need to escape a few things. But this time I remembered that there are people here who I need and love and people who need and love me.

I guess in summary what I'm saying is that while I suspect few people take change lightly, I'm saying that we consider change, it should be considered in terms of the wider environment.

Although as Milhouse declared: 'hey! there's enough Milhouse for everyone'.