Crickets

On the spur of the moment, our good friend Fosdycke invited us to go to the cricket.

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The husband person is a very keen cricket fan, and a leg-spin bowler himself, so he was excited to go; Betty is big on sitting still, and wanted to see what it was like, so she was excited too. Plans to bring nice things along, like a salad in a Mason jar, and a homemade lemon-stevia-and-matcha drink, which Betty was looking forward to, were quashed – it turns out that Eden Park security suspect that any glass receptacles will be repurposed as guided missiles later in the day, and they flatly refuse to let you bring them in. Fosdycke, who is a teetotaller, had to pour out two plastic bottles of cordial brought from home; they refused to give them the sniff test, or Miranda them in any way, and would only point sternly to the wheelie bin provided. (Of course, glass bottles of Tui are readily available inside.)

Even so, the atmosphere in the stadium was still quite lovely.

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The fans were very well-behaved. This turned out to be mostly due to the fact that anyone having any fun was quickly asked to leave. Large billboards warned people against racist comments, which was nice, except for the pointed anti-Pom advertising displayed close by.

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This chap started several Mexican waves and was escorted out by orange-vested guards.

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He got a standing ovation and a kiss, though, so perhaps it was all worth it…

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And in the stands opposite, people were having a grand time batting around a large bouncy ball, one of those floaty transparent balloony ones; security took it off them, but one of the Black Caps managed to scoop it out of the sin bin and give it them back; much applause.

About the game itself, there is little to say. New Zealand lost the toss and, rapidly, the game. Fosdycke was beyond despondent. At the very end, Mr Mills here caught the ball on the full and was transfixed by his own greatness, and the entire northern half of the stadium chanted for him to give a little wave, and after a while he was able to do so.

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This was the last of the games that go only from two till nine-ish, but in a few weeks Betty and the husband person plan to go to one of the week-longs, in part. Betty will bring a plastic container and make her lemonade inside. They don’t take your folding knife, so that’s OK.

The Sailors

Another sunny weekend! The city is still freshly preened for yesterday’s Valentine’s day.

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Betty and the husband person had a quiet lunch at the Wynyard Quarter.

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Food truck pizza, 1. Rubbish disposable shoes, 0.

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Mochi, as always, makes up for it.

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Then, beside the bridge that folds up, a little crowd gathered to watch a French circus duo perform their original show.

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The pre-show was a group of little fishies – and a splashy wee boy, whose identity I will protect.

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The show itself was called The Sailors – a very French caper inspired by silent movies, in which the duo performed hilariously on the beams, and dizzyingly on the rigging of their own sailboat.

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Punch and Judy have nothing on the French.

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They’re called Voiliers Spectacle, and not to be missed. Betty is keen to see their other show, Between Wing and Island, when they sail back in April.

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Waitangi adventures

Public holidays this year are a dime a dozen. This week, Waitangi Day.

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The weather was glorious – apparently it was horrendously windy early in the morning, but as Betty was sleeping in it really didn’t matter, you see?

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Betty and the husband person hopped on the bus and moseyed at a snail’s pace to Devonport. It would be quicker to cycle, except that Hanna, Betty’s genteel omafiets, has a puncture, the poor sausage. Once it’s fixed, there will definitely be a post giving a proper introduction.

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    Devonport was lovely, as usual.

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    I mean, more or less…

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    They really take the alternative transport idea to a whole new level.

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    But, not having easy access to a bike, a cruise liner, or a naval submarine, Betty and the HP took the ferry instead. It’s a short trip, but exceedingly pleasant.

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    The ferry building is one of Betty’s very favourite spots. This will be the last full day off for a wee while, sadly, but life promises to be pretty adventurous anyway – circus classes start again this week, there are exciting guest teachers at the studio, Betty’s university course is coming up fast (this time with twice the Charcot and more Richard Selzer, heaven help us), and the work party of the year is only weeks away. Onward and upward!

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Masterful

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The rest of the long weekend went lazily, with much lolling about Cornwall Park and strolling through the twilit university. Betty could develop a taste for having entire days off.

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In the evening, she and the husband person went to the movies. There has been rather a rash of this going around, of late: Betty saw Life of Pi with her sisters over Christmas, and Les Miserables just the other week. This time was The Master.

Betty feels the need to point out that though she has a very high tolerance – a soft spot, in fact – for Paul Thomas Anderson, his work is seldom seemly. The Master is nuanced and beautiful; it tells the story of the leader of a movement called simply the Cause, and the broken stranger who threatens to be either his soulmate or his undoing.

20130131-230236.jpgJoaquin Phoenix’s character Freddy Quell is breathtakingly tragic – a piece of ex-Naval jetsam, grimly kyphosed, post-traumatic, abandoned and out of place, alcoholic to a near-savant degree, still sparking from the burns inflicted on his soul by military action and peacetime missteps in love.

Philip Seymour Hoffman is the Master himself, a charismatic and down-to-earth auteur huckster. He is flailing somewhat in the process of writing his philosophical movement’s difficult second treatise, navigating the inconveniences of legal and domestic restrictions on his wishes that the Cause should allow him to cure, love, enjoy and experience all. In the face of disgruntled disciples, obstreperous policemen, and herself (beautifully played, again, by Amy Adams, qv), Freddy is a breath of fresh air – a blank slate, a listening ear, a second chance. The dance the two do together, under the wife’s suspicious eye, shows most sensitively the varied pulls of faith and love, of independence and of pain.

A fellow-congregant of Betty’s once remarked that a life lived in church had given him nothing if not a deep understanding of battered woman syndrome. He wasn’t being cynical – in faith, as in any good thing, opportunities to abuse each other abound, even before we face problems like significant doubt, or scandal. The Cause has plenty of worrying tenets, and the Master is unquestionably gifted to lead with authority, though he’s not the out-and-out deceiver one might want to believe he must be (comparisons to L. Ron Hubbard are justified but glib). To follow, or to go back, or to hang on for dear life is as natural as breathing, whether we’re grasping onto a violent spouse or a dangerous cult or a culture of painful potlucks; and, confusingly, we ourselves are often the party that’s no better than it should be. What then? If love, let go?

One suspects that the scars on Freddy’s soul would take as long to heal as Joaquin’s shoulders will take to complete the long migration to his back (his is a performance that excited Betty’s artistic admiration and professional horror in equal measure). But then one never knows. How few of us, really, are master of anything.

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We must all make sacrifices in the cause of Art

The first day of the long weekend was lovely – first, coffee and correspondence at Raw Power.

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And then a wander around the art gallery. Betty couldn’t find the Brueghel anywhere, but it was still very pleasant spending time with Colin McCahon and Len Lye.

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The husband person even created an abstract portrait of Betty.

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And on the way home, they watched some street performances (the Buskers’ Festival is on) and walked along the tram tracks and sat down in front of the cricket. Most idyllic! And there are two more days in the weekend!

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Springs eternal

Here is one of the nice things that happened over the summer holidays.

Betty, the husband person, and their eternally wonderful friend, best man, and tour guide (we shall call him Fosdycke, for privacy reasons) went on a walk near a tiny town in the wops, to a place called the Blue Spring.

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There are cows on the way, of course…

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All mod cons, in fact.

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The most impressive is definitely the running water.

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If you think you can’t see the trout swimming on the bottom, you’re just not looking hard enough. If you find it hard to count the pebbles, you must blame your education.

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The spring itself is a pure blue colour and life-affirmingly cold year-round – a bracing eleven, Celsius – and Betty went only so far as ankles, while eating her lunch. Fosdycke swam into the spring, which he estimated to be about twenty metres deep, and with some encouragement the husband person also submerged himself. He was pushed, if you want to know the truth.

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One could get used to living in a country like this.

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Art in the Dark

It took a bit of doing, but Betty and the husband person roused themselves the other day to go out at night, to see Art in the Dark in Ponsonby.

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Pretty much every nook, cranny, and clearing in Western Park was inhabited by some sort of interactive light display. People brought torches, and dogs. Indeed, it was one of the more popular dog-friendly events in recent memory. Betty’s mortal fear of dogs has been under reconstruction since several clients have begun bringing their dogs to Pilates, so that was ok.

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This one had trance music.

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This one smelled nice.

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This one made a lot of noise.

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This one made little boys dance.

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Nice, no? Well done, Poncy.

Naval adventures

The plan for this particular adventure was to end up in the city, but the bus’s battery light came on at Victoria Park, proving once and for all that if you want something done, you have to do it yourself. Shank’s pony to the Viaduct.

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Betty and the husband person had a glorious afternoon watching this ship – a rather ad hoc arrangement of mismatched uniforms and leaky hoses, but fun nonetheless.

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It’s difficult to top the Viaduct, quite frankly.

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And afterwards, there was a wander through Unity Books. Betty discovered Ready Player One there, and is halfway through it (a quarter of the price on Kindle, though, with apologies to a very fine bookshop). It’s quite corking. Has anyone?

Well begun is half done

Last weekend, Betty and two workmates and a dedicated client walked the Auckland Half Marathon together. It comes highly recommended.

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It begins in Devonport, which feels deliciously provincial at seven in the morning, even when packed with people and almost completely lined with portapotties. Speaking of which, Betty would advise going before one goes, or arriving at five.

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This lovely bunch played “When the Saints Go Marching In” outside their garage, in support. The deep north certainly wins the prize for roadside encouragement.

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The biggest encouragement, however, was the chance to walk over the Harbour Bridge. They close it at nine, so those who started at seven have to scurry. The Pilates crew ran all the downhills, and still arrived with only fifteen minutes or so to spare. And it was worth it.

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Down there is where Betty broke her ankle, once. Good times.

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These things are great – the benefits are 50% glucose-related, 10% caffeine-related, and 40% organic-smugness-slash-graphic-design-appreciation-related. The chocolate ones are also excellent.

The course finishes after a trip past the tank farm…

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…and the trendy restaurants…

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And the boats!

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And so on, and you get a banana at the end. No expense spared. Very well-organised. Betty has just a few tips for those thinking of doing the half marathon next year, viz:

1. Wear something decent, because between the finish line and Queenie’s Lunchroom an undies, undies, undies, togs moment does occur. In reverse, naturally.

2. Rent a flat with a bath, in future.

3. The Thorlos socks feel like an extravagance before the race, but they are not.

4. Zombies for the win.

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Twelve months to go.