Give it Some Welly

23Mar10

We landed in a cold, rainy, blustery Wellington at around 1am. Inspired by tales of Steve’s derring-do, we had originally planned to spend the night in the airport and catch the bus into town at 6am. However, all thoughts of building primitive sleeping accommodation using giant bars of Toblerone were scuppered when we discovered that the airport shut at 2am.

My tactic of stalling for time by pretending to tie up my shoelace for five hours failed almost immediately and we were ushered outside by Security. We stood slumped in the filthy downpour with our faces pressed up against the glass of Arrivals Gate 2 like a couple of Dickensian orphans eyeing up a fat turkey. 

Fortunately, we’d managed to grab a pamphlet of hostels before being evicted from what I’d already begun to think of as our new home. We unsuccessfully worked our way down the list, being met each time with a dial tone, an answer machine or a flat out ‘no’. 

Eventually, we found a hostel that said ‘yes’, bringing a potentially fascinating anecdote about surviving on the streets to a disappointingly anti-climactic conclusion. 

Our heads finally hit the pillow at around 3am and then left what I can only assume to be the same pillow at 9am. Desperately trying not to work out the cost per hour of our stay, we headed to Wellywood, the hostel for the remainder of our time in Wellington.

Despite it being about 10.30am, there appeared to be a party in full swing in the room next to ours. Highly excited, young American voices exclaimed, giggled and yelped their way through the thin walls. I couldn’t hear exactly what they were saying but I believe the general gist was that something or other was “awesome”.

Susie went to explore the rest of the hostel while I remained in the room to shave. As I unsheathed the own-brand, plastic handled blade, my chin bristles began to quiver with a sensual anticipation. A sharp knock at the door interrupted my weirdly inappropriate grooming process. I responded to this knocking by opening the door.

I’d guessed that Susie had forgotten her key so was slightly surprised to find a bleary eyed girl of about 20 standing there with ostentatiously metal braces on her teeth. “Would you guys like to come drink with us?” she Americanized. As she spoke, her face fell into a mixture of confusion, distaste and disappointment while her ears spoke only of melancholy. I’m not sure what she had been expecting. Perhaps a dorm full of guitar playing teenage boys with sensitive pectoral muscles. Instead, she was faced with a shirtless 35 year old man in the process of shaving in a rakish pencil moustache. That must have been quite the bucket of cold water. I politely declined the invitation while she managed to hide her disappointment behind a convincing facade of overwhelming relief.

Having successfully avoided any further interaction with humans I set about exploring our new city. So what did I discover? I’m relieved you asked as it leads me neatly into the bullet pointed list below:-

Bar of choiceThe Library. A toasty, low-lit bar, packed full of books. Books, books, books everywhere. That’s why they call it The Library. Because it’s full of books. Like a library.

Favourite event – Japanese Film Festival with free screenings. The standout film was ‘Summer Days with Coo’, an anime, technically for children about the adventures of a cute water sprite. At one point our lovable protagonist squats on a high building, contemplating suicide while holding the bloodied, rotting stump of his murdered father’s arm – the kind of plot development that would have Walt Disney spinning in his freezer.

Oddest exhibition – Wellington City Gallery showed a short documentary about two women who are passionately in love with the Berlin Wall. One of them refers to the wall as ‘her husband’. They both use trolleys to carry around miniature replicas of the monolithic Hasselhoff perch. Join in with the harmless fun poking of the mentally unstable by watching it here

Best activity involving a large, plastic ball – tiny, tiny people or ‘children’ spend their afternoons mucking about on the quay in transparent spheres. In my day, I’d be given thrupence, a piece of orange peel and some shrapnel. I tried explaining to my parents that it was 1986 and everyone else was getting a Sega Megadrive but what can you do?

 

"Mummy, why can't I play in the big ball like that other boy?""Because you're a 48 year old commodity broker Clive.""Mummy, you don't think anyone will use this conversation as some sort of weak photo caption do you?""Of course not Clive. Now do please be quiet."

 


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