A New Year – 2023

New Year’s Eve Fireworks

Today is New Year’s Day, January 1, 2023. Kia ora!  I hesitate to wish anyone a Happy New Year; I’d prefer to  say May the Lord bless you and keep you. It’s also a Sunday, so that prayer seems rather appropriate. That  text, by the way, is from the book of Numbers, part of what is known as the Pentateuch.

I have to mention that on Friday evening we watched the Doc Martin Christmas Special.  It was very eventful, but my highlight was seeing the grumpy Doc smile! I don’t think I’ve ever seen him smile in this series before now. Spoiler alert: his mother had just died from a heart attack, and he remembered his experiences of Christmas as a child.  His son James also showed some interesting resistance to his Dad. I  was very frustrated that although it was snowing, the Brits did not seem to wrap themselves up against the cold, the grumpy doctor almost dying of hypothermia after falling down in the snow, coatless!  JD always carries a jacket (or 2) in the car; I think it’s a wise precaution, since you never know when you night need one.

Yesterday was quite a busy day. JD wanted to see the film Avatar: The Way of Water, and we’d planned to see it at the Embassy Cinema in Courtenay Place, having lunch beforehand.  If it was fully booked (unlikely), we could go and see it at the Penthouse in Brooklyn, and not pay parking fees, although the Brooklyn screening didn’t have any advice about the movie being shown in 3D.

We were scrambling to get ready, but there was an interruption. JD had an appointment in the afternoon. So some re-planning went on. We drove to Lower Hutt, and had lunch at Tutaki. I had a delicious salmon steak with mashed potato and silver beet.

It became very hot in the afternoon, and I feared I had overdressed. Eventually we found our way onto the State Highway 58, the Haywards road, and it has been much improved. We drove to Pauatahanui, and to the Lighthouse Cinema there, where they were screening Avatar 2 at 4:15 pm. We even had time to buy drinks and ice creams, and for me to visit the rest room.

The theatre was lovely, and there was hardly anyone else there, so we were very comfortable. It was quite cool, too, and I was glad I’d brought a cardigan in my bag. I was even more comfortable when I put a cushion behind my head, hopefully not blocking the view of anyone sitting behind me. An attendant handed us 3D glasses – different from the ones I’d carefully brought from home. We weren’t charged for these ones, but we did have to return them after the movie.  One does hope that they’re sanitised after use.

I’d have to say I found Avatar 2 to be an endurance test. At 3 hours 10 minutes, plus various trailers we had to sit through, it was much too long, and had some maudlin moments. I must stress that these are my reactions, and I’m probably not part of its target demographic segment.  I am not employed as a film critic, either. JD, on the other hand, quite enjoyed it, although not disagreeing with my comments. I remember thinking that he could see the next movie ( a further 4 or 5 are planned) with one of my grandsons, but as I noted hearing two swear words, it’s not a family film. Mind you, if the next sequel isn’t released for another 14 years, the grandsons will be quite old enough to see it, and JD may not even be around. There weren’t any elderly people there – I doubt if their bladders would cope! Apparently it has an R13 rating, which would rule any of my grandchildren out, at the moment. It has some quite disturbing violence, although only one death.

Well, I found it frustrating; from the ridiculous tails, to the tattoos and the peculiar Hobbit-like ears. Compared with J. R. R. Tolkien’s Rings trilogy, this long movie lacked the underpinning of a strong and epic foundation script. I do still think that the Lord of the Rings, the first movie of this three-long-movies sequence, was and remains a great film, and the best of the series.  Cameron’s movie lacked a good scriptwriter. I felt that if I heard “Go go go!” one more time I’d throw up, but of course I had to listen to it many more times.

Cameron’s visions are strange: there were echoes of the war in Vietnam and Space Wars, and the potential ineffectiveness of US military grunt, in spite of the immense noise and the theatre-shaking sound effects.

The women were universally thin, and had very small breasts. The males wore ridiculous loin cloths.  The water was always warm, and the Navi weren’t at danger from being bitten or eaten by sea animals. They never seemed to need showers, sleep, or food, although someone caught a fish at one stage. There were no shops, although alarmingly powerful military force. Was the fish to be cooked and eaten? Who knows. We weren’t told, but there were shades of 19th century dreams of south sea islands (never mind the humidity, the heat, or the mosquitos).  Nobody needed health care, no one was other than male or female.  There were children, but no old people. So it was a fantasy world, of course.

Then there was some moralising at the end – an annoying voice over, much like the moralising you get in Disney films; not Christian; a kind oof humanism, I suppose.

Like on a plane flight, I tried not to look at my watch too often. When it was almost 6 pm, I thought there was only about 30 minutes to go. Then I worked out the time, and in fact there was 1 ½ hours to go.

Finally the movie was finished, and we drive home, finding our way onto the Transmission Gully highway.  There were two motorways to negotiate, and it seemed counter-intuitive to actually get there, heading in the right direction.

We got home and had salad for tea, and then watched La Dolce Vita on Te Whakaata Māori.  I explained to JD why it’s so different from Avatar. There were fireworks being let off outside, seemingly very close to our house, but JD went outside to check and they were in a park quite some way up the road.  I couldn’t wait for the movie to finish, and went to bed.

This morning I went to church in Wadestown. It’s suddenly much cooler today; I had planned to wear a summer dress, but had to change my plans. It’s not raining, but it’s not sunny either; it’s not raining but seems as though it’s almost raining.

The service was strange, to me, although I didn’t know what to expect. The hymns were unfamiliar; the lady doing Prayers for Others spoke mainly in Te Reo Māori. I don’t have an issue with this, but I doubt if many in the small congregation were fluent enough to have some understanding. In this situation, I think one needs to speak in Māori and then translate, so that there is more understanding.  What really surprised me though was a bible reading from Matthew’s Gospel 2, which referred to the Magi as magicians!  I would not call them Magicians with today’s connotations.  I have never thought of them as sorcerers or magicians. So that was amongst the strange things that happened this morning.

Next Sunday morning we are to go to Johnsonville Uniting Church, which will be different again.

It’s now Tuesday January 3rd. It’s very hot today.

Yesterday was a very quiet day. In the afternoon we watered indoor plants for one son, who is away camping, and then we went grocery shopping again. New World Thorndon was much quieter than usual.  It was nice to go there and buy more lettuce, bananas and beans and another avocado. We miss them now if we don’t have them, although they’re not as cheap as they were.

In the evening we watched the latest remake of the movie A Star is Born, starring Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga.  We’ve also been watching the Tammy Wynette series on Prime Television, and I am so weary of talented men raising very talented women to stardom, and then being jealous of their success and quite paranoid about it, this paranoia fuelled by alcohol and drugs.

This morning I walked up to the local New World store. I managed to find perhaps the last packet of croissants baked today, carefully hidden behind ones baked on 01/01/23 or 02/01/23 It was very busy, although sadly lacking in check-out operators, with a queue for self-service checkouts. There were no packers, and no one serving at the few items (less than 10) checkout. It’s very unusual to have to wait here, and there’s usually no rush, but I was later home than I had hoped, and had to go almost straightaway if JD was going to drop me off on his way to his next appointment.

As we were leaving, my cousin rang me. She sounded very croaky. She informed me that she has Covid 19, although her husband is still testing negative. She is feeling very tired indeed. She has resisted it thus far.

In town JD dropped me off at the Railway Station.  That’s good, I thought, it’s a nice hub/transport interchange. Silly me! I made my way up to the bus departure points, only to be confronted by a Waste Land. There was an Airport bus, but the pavement was unusable – please cross to the other side of the road. I cautiously walked along uneven ground, where the former footpath has been torn up along to the new Stop A. There was no information board there. I walked to the next bus stop, and caught a bus heading for Kilbirnie. I was surprised to see that many places, shops and cafés, were closed.

The bus driver was grumpy. The bus sign said “Bus stopping” as it drew up to the former David Jones stop, but he refused to open the back door until asked, and then grizzled at the passenger who was alighting.

I was going to get out at the next stop and go to the Smith the Grocer café if it were open, but although someone had pressed the Stop button, the driver drove on past the next stop without stopping.

It did stop outside Unity Books, which was closed.  I was getting mighty nervous (and hungry) by this time. I thought Pandoro would be open, but it wasn’t, neither was Neo, another place where I’ve been, and they’ve fitted me in with a smile.

But there was somewhere open: a bar/café on the corner of Manners Street and Willis Street, where there have been several cafés, and several closures. Although there were a lot of leaves in the entrance, it seemed to have plenty of customers but several spare tables, and was quite roomy. The woman on the counter was having a long conversation with a gentleman customer, but eventually she took my order, for a BLT (thankfully without fries), and a long black coffee.

The coffee turned up quite soon, but it was very strong and rather bitter. I did get a glass of water, however. After what seemed like a long time my lunch arrived. It was very good, although I didn’t really need the hummus (pumpkin flavoured?), with delicious tomato slices.

There were lots of people in town, and I’m sure shops and cafés would have done a roaring trade.

I then walked down to Farmers in Lambton Quay, where, if it was open, I was hoping to change a shirt JD had bought. This was the excuse for going to town. I was almost there, when I realised he was ringing me. Suffice to say Farmers was open, I was able to exchange the shirt, and JD picked me up to drive me home.

It feels very strange today. It’s still a public holiday, whatever that means: perhaps it’s a public holiday for public servants, and for banks. Last week between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day one expected things to be closed. This week? There were many people in town today, and hardly anything open.  I guess hospitality outlets are still short-staffed, and their staff are trying to get a break.

In China, millions of people have Covid 19.  There’s a new subvariant doing the rounds, called XBB 1.5, and it’s very infectious.  Thousands of  Chinese people are flying all over the world, and many of them are infected when tested on arrival. Some countries are imposing testing restrictions, which is all very well, but begs the question of what happens then?  Do infectious arrivals go into isolation? If so, where?  Also, there are shortages of some painkillers and antibiotics. Paxlovid, the anti-viral drug, has gone on the market there and been snapped up right away. Yet again, three years later, the Chinese virus is infecting the world, and there’s not much we can do to avoid it. 

Covid 19 is still a serious disease here. Last week alone there were 78 deaths here. It would be most interesting to know how many of those hospitalised, in Intensive Care, or even dead, have been fully vaccinated.

In Ukraine, more Russian soldiers have been killed, and more rockets rained on Kyiv and other cities. It seems that Ukrainian forces have considerable successes, and yet this doesn’t reduce the brutality of Putin’s attacks on cities and on infrastructure.

That’s it for now. Slava Ukraini!  Ngā mihi nui.

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