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.
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.
It’s difficult to top the Viaduct, quite frankly.
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?
Just a few days ago, the ubiquitous chain bookstore Whitcoulls went into voluntary administration, possibly never to be seen again. Terrible things have also been happening to Borders, both in New Zealand and in the USA, and the Queen Street one now devotes more of its real estate to picture-frames and terrible coffee* than to stocking the finest in print.
This means that, in the central city, there are only a tiny few bookshops left that are still inspiring places to pop into. Chief of these is Unity Books. It is in High Street, one of Betty’s favourite places; it’s close to the Chancery, where one can find lovely things like extravagant mochaccinos and perfume for one’s wedding and upscale Korean cosmetics and expensive shoes (one generally doesn’t, but the Chancery is still a lovely place to wander around).
Betty has been in there once or twice recently, and finds any excuse to go again. They have the full collection of Penguin Great Ideas, walls full of poetry and philosophy, almost an entire shelf of Umberto Eco, a confessional memoir about an ex-Mennonite that Betty has her eye on, and a selection that Betty is considering as part of her medical humanities course, which starts in a fortnight. Last time she was there Betty picked up The Shaking Woman or A History of My Nerves, and she is enjoying it immensely.
*Terrible, terrible coffee. Worse than you can imagine. Betty could tell some stories, by golly.
It is well-known that Betty has a fairly hefty thing for Augustine. She also has a committed fondness for Unity Books and Penguin. Imagine her excitement when she gets to go in and peruse the Penguin Great Ideas display.
And these are the tip of the iceberg — the series includes Robert Louis Stevenson’s Apology for Idlers, George Orwell’s Decline of the English Murder, Virginia Woolf’s Thoughts on Peace in an Air Raid, Søren Kierkegaard’s The Sickness Unto Death, William Morris’s Useful Work versus Useless Toil, Plato’s Symposium, Marco Polo’s Travels in the Land of Kubilai Khan, even Revelation and Job in one slim volume. Each book is small and pleasing, in lovely paper, beautifully designed, and cheap. Great ideas, indeed.