Yesterday

Yesterday. No, I haven’t seen the movie yet. I have seen the trailer. I really like this wonderful song.

But back to reality. Yesterday was a strange day.

Tai Chi restarted for Term 3. I think we were all pleased to be back, although the ladies I enjoy talking to weren’t there. Some of the tutors were missing as well. Unfortunately we were growled at!!! This was not a good experience. It was difficult to hear in the Hall too, with one leader’s voice dominating proceedings. I don’t go to Tai Chi to be challenged! I go because I believe in its philosophy, it’s gentle, doesn’t require a change of clothes, and sometimes for me it’s an achievement just to be there, getting to Mana by 10 am, especially if I’ve had a bad night.

Afterwards I did not hang around, and caught the train into Wellington. I think Metlink have taken carriage off the train – it is quite busy now, but it’s good to see the trains being well used.

I had lunch at The Old Quarter in Dixon Street – a delicious Banh Mi and a long black. It was (unusually) not busy here.

Then I headed off for Matthew’s Memorial Service at the Methodist Centre in Taranaki Street. Matthew was Professor Matthew Trundle, formerly of the Classics department.
I was quite early so I sat down outside the (now closed again) St James Theatre. I hadn’t dressed quite right – I was a bit overdressed for Tai Chi, but under dressed for a funeral service. The day had begun frostily with heavy condensation and beautiful sunshine, and I expected it to be warm in the early afternoon, but instead by 1 pm it was cold and drizzling with light rain. Having said that, it has been a really mild July here, despite cooler mornings and evenings.

I saw many well-dressed people walking up Taranaki St, so I figured that, early as I was, I had better go and be sure of getting a seat. I went with some trepidation, not knowing who would be there.

The Wesley Methodist Centre is a lovely wooden church, an heritage building, which reminds me of both the St John Presbyterian Church in Dixon St, and St Peter’s in Willis St. I sat beside the lovely Hannah Webling, almost the only person I knew there. She told me about an acquaintance of mine, whom I also tutored for, who has had a stroke and is still at Kenepuru Hospital.

I had assumed, from the church venue and Matthew’s son being called Christian, that this would be a Christian service, but it was not so; there was a reading from the Iliad about the funeral of Patroclus (close friend of Achilles, killed in the Trojan War) and we sang William Blake’s Jerusalem. Evidently Matthew had planned this service. There were no prayers.

Before the service Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata and Pachelbel’s Canon were played. Other than that, there were several tributes, and two slide shows. Matthew’s wife was one of the first to speak. She said many kind things about him but noted how untidy he was and how he was always ready to argue, even if she didn’t feel like having a discussion!

Some had come from overseas to speak, including a friend from Canada, and David Rosenbloom from the US; I had taken one of David’s honours papers on Euripides’ plays, and had tutored for him, when he was in New Zealand. David gave a very affecting tribute. Matthew came across as a very gregarious person, with a loud, booming voice, generous with his time, who made an effort to keep in touch. After the service, Matthew’s wife left the church first – apparently unsupported.

I remembered Matthew well. I first heard him lecture at a Continuing Education Course run by VUW on ancient empire – the Assyrian, the Persian and the Greek Empires, which I found fascinating. For my graduate diploma in Classics I had started out doing a Stage 1 course in Greek history, which I then changed (104 for 401) for the Euripides drama paper. I also did an Honours paper on the Roman Empire with Matthew. My topic was the three Punic (Carthaginian Wars) against Rome, in its progress towards Empire. My main memory is of him dressed as a hoplite, a Greek soldier. He was a popular lecturer and promoted regular meetings of the Classical Association. I have been to his house several times but did not meet his wife or young son.

All this fits in rather well with some podcasts I have listened to recently – Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History. I have particularly enjoyed the three King of Kings ones, although they can be hard to listen to, at times. One of the benefits of podcasts is that there is always more to learn – how did I miss that last time? I must have had some sleep, after all, when I first listened to that. I think that Matthew shared Dan’s interest in warfare, which I do too, in a detached fashion.

I realise that one must discriminate over podcasts, but some of them are really interesting. This guy quotes ancient sources, especially Herodotus, and says when his sources may have clouded views.

After the Memorial Service I did not stay for refreshments (always tricky, if one can’t sit down). It was 2:45 pm, so I caught the first bus to Johnsonville. There, I met an old acquaintance and caught up with her.

That night, it was podcast time again – I listened to lots of them – BBC4 about the anti-vax movement, climate change, and the need for sleep (yes I get it!) and I picked up Dan Carlin talking about the battle of Marathon. Wow! quite exciting. Quite a day.

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