Friday, September 05, 2014

Haloumi, spiders and war

This post is part of the 100 Days Project

Day 57

I attended a dinner party tonight for the first time in a long time.  There was a neurotic black dog and someone I hadn't seen in a while plus home brew and some pretty decent fried cheese. I regaled the group (they laughed - I was funny) with tales of large spiders encountered during overseas travel and this brought to mind a poem by one Richard Reeve, a man of great brilliance and irritation.  I quote it here in full because I love it, it's on the web already and nothing else on earth encapsulates what it is to live with a huntsman spider (not any other kind):
    A small mass of shadow
    on the attic wall, it
    was simply there one evening.
    Incapable of arriving,
    of scurrying shyly
    from its lair under the sofa,
    it moored itself
    in the berth of my mind
    like the Pacific.
    The presence startled me.
    Some prodigal fear
    of those long legs, bunching
    at my pillow's edge,
    sent me reeling from the walls.
    I lay on the floor
    admiring its symmetry -
    fluent, rarefied,
    like a vintage umbrella
    then socked it with a shoe.
    But it survived.
    Shrank to a dark
    blotch in the ceiling corner,
    and had vanished.
    The hole it reverted to
    seemed brazen, obtuse:
    not at all like it.
    Those shrill feet peppered
    my imagination
    till I believed I existed
    maker of shadows
    shimmering and spiralling down
    my own dark hole.
    - Richard Reeve
Talk turned to war eventually - Gaza, ISIS, Syria.  I listened but had nothing to say.  The trouble with conversations on war is that I don't want to read about it.  It makes a crappy story.  Apart from the death there's one of two ways this can go - either it feels like the story has been going for ever and nothing ever really changes (Gaza, Iraq), or no one either observing or fighting has a clue what's happening or why for ages (Ukraine).  The consumption of war for someone without a natural fascination is necessary to feel informed, but as I sit here writing off the top of my head, I'm wondering what else it might achieve.  Bearing witness from this far away feels so useless.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Climate change debate

This post is part of the 100 Days Project

Day 55

After an eleven-hour day I cut loose and watched the climate change debate via streaming.  I've really been enjoying the town-hall flavour of these events - last night's leader's debate in Christchurch was good as well.  You don't get the roar of the crowd when everything's done in a studio.  The grassroots flavour of people who give a crap is always very heartening.  Democracy is not done yet.
Two things stuck out for me about tonight.  The first is that I'm really not as engaged with the substance of political issues at home as I should be.  Sam Hayes did a creditable job framing what is a complex debate, especially since it was a freebie on her part, and if she's put in the hard yards on the detail, I certainly can too.  Carbon tax vs the emissions trading scheme might be dry but if you don't have an opinion on that stuff you need to get one.  And by that I mean *I* need to get one.  In fact, thanks to the debate, I have one now.  Carbon tax is better, but god knows how we're supposed to switch horses now.  Still - staying with something that isn't working is not exactly a recipe for future success. Time to vote Green.
The other thing that no one watching at home could have easily missed was Sam Hayes' very humble self-assessment of her performance off stage at the end.  Someone hadn't turned off her radio mic.  That sort of slip is fingernails on a blackboard from a professional perspective (who was the technician????), but I could certainly relate.  You can take the girl out of the South Island...
See the archived video here if you missed the debate - I learned plenty: