Paris

I miss my time in Paris.

I was there just over six months.

It was where I started writing poetry.

I got a wonderful, but small apartment, with a balcony, in Rue de Bellevue, in Boulogne-billancourt, a nice area near the river.

I remember the first night I spent in that apartment alone, I was so excited to be in Paris. I had fast wifi, hit the booze and watched the Robert Mitchum movie, Farewell My Lovely, which somehow seemed perfect for the occasion.

I got a great teaching job there, within two weeks of arriving, teaching conversational English, mainly to people connected to the acting profession: artists, musicians, actors, directors, producers, technicians, computer people.

After the Bataclan attacks, I decided to quit my job and just write for the remaining months of my lease. The morning before the attacks, I was wandering around the Republique area, very early, before a class, looking for a Chinese huo guo restaurant. I recall thinking how many homeless people there were sleeping on the benches, and around the monument. Of course, next evening they would have to move on, after the shootings.

I got to the stage that I was drinking a bottle of Label 5 there nearly every night, yet in all my time there, I never found any trouble, no fights, no arguments with the locals or the neighbours, everything was nice and easy.

In Paris, I always felt free and easy, and also anonymous. In London, you can feel anonymous, but the city and weather is too heavy on ones shoulders. In Munich, I always feel slightly oppressed, and watched. In Paris, for example I always used the balcony, but in Munich I never feel comfortable using it.

I have to believe there is a calming energy for me there, in Paris. And perhaps most others who live there.

Waking up in Paris carries that feeling of contentment and happiness and excitement too. I felt it the first morning and it never left me, the whole six months.

Yes, it is always a nice place to wake up in.

I wrote this poem just before I left, for New Zealand:

LEAVING PARIS

The Celtic jewel
A nice snapshot in history
Hemingway
Almost earned her respect
And I used to think
All Parisian girls
Would be like Betty Blue
The Arc de Triomphe
And the Eiffel Tower
Still stand
Just as sure
As when
Hitler rolled in
Since then
The cup of political correctness
Hath runneth over
Spilling poison
All over the map of Europe
And cities such as Paris
Have suffered the affliction of dilution
Homogenized people
Slowly being milked of their humanity
The enemy is not from within
But without
Paris is one of those places
Like Stonehenge
The energy is good
The air is smooth
Soft
And the place itself
Is at peace
With itself
I finally found a good Beaujolais
It’s a 2014 Brouilly
I owe Paris this poem
She has been good to me
Kept me safe
During dangerous times of occupation
It’s a nice place to wake up in
And always will be
Eventually the French resistance
Will rise up
Just as before
It took time
It always takes time
You got under my skin
Six months in Paris
Will draw a tear in my eyes
When I leave
It already has

Review of Pork Pie, New Zealand Film

I have to say when I started to watch this my first reaction was, “Oh no, another copy of an old classic!”

But, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. Unlike Hunt for the Wilderpeople, which I loathed, I found this movie to be very enjoyable.

Throw in a fresh modern script, fantastic shots of New Zealand scenery, and good acting, to make the exact right balance, and at the end I was thinking, that was exactly how an old classic should be remade.

Can totally recommend it. Like how it shows just how tiny New Zealand is, in many ways, a fact Kiwis who live there often lose sight of.

Leaving UK

This time visiting the UK feels very flat.

The same thing happened to me when I used to visit Christchurch in New Zealand. Each time I visited it felt worse and worse, until eventually it had the earthquake.

I have the similar feeling with England. It is either cultural differences, financial disaster, something related to Brexit, war, or a natural disaster.

But I feel something is going to go down here.

I am heading back to Europe and then the East.

I miss the East. Everything about it.

I am Eastern bound.

Review of Top of the Lake – New Zealand TV Series 1

Well, at least filmed in New Zealand and co-written by a New Zealander, although Australian made.

I was wanting to see this for a long time after my sister recommended it to me.

I have just finished watching the ridiculous 800 words, so this was quite a contrast.

Brilliantly written, directed, filmed and acted, Top of the Lake was right up there with Happy Valley and Fargo 1.

What I loved about this series was how it captured the psychology of small town New Zealand. I loved how the scenery was shot in cold uninviting light. Yes Queenstown is stunning, but it is also a very cold foreboding place. Like many beautiful places in New Zealand I have often thought to live there must be very depressing. To visit and ski, great. This to me reflects a great deal of New Zealand. A good place to visit, but not to live.

The oppressive nature of beautiful landscapes and bored empty people. It used to be a few beers, a doobie, a root, and a boogie, now it is P, speed, coke, strong spirits, and whatever else one can get hold of. The Kiwi mentality of drinking until dropping, spewing, and worse is also reflected in it. Go to the Munich beer festival watch the Kiwis get the most fucked up, and obnoxious of all races. It is endemic.

Although sometimes there was a bit too much going on, and some parts were a bit too far fetched, overall it could not be faulted and was very memorable viewing. No surprises I suppose, when it was co-written by Jane Campion. An Angel At My table is one of my all time favourite New Zealand movies.

Highly recommended.

Review of 800 Words – the not so Kiwi TV series

I began watching the series 800 words. It sounded interesting, after all. A writer moving to a remote New Zealand coastal beach. I had visions of someone like me, moving to somewhere remote and beautiful in Northland, such as Taupo or Taronui Bay. I imagined all the interesting Kiwi characters whose little idiosyncrasies would be exposed. Something real at last, about Kiwis and the ever present and ever increasing New Zealand cultural divides.

Instead I was disappointed to discover that it was like Home and Away. The only easily identifiable Kiwi-ness I could find were the Maoris, and the odd classic Kiwi song.

The characters, perhaps with the exception of the McNamaras, just didn’t seem Kiwi to me at all. Especially not Kiwis from a small coastal town (which I grew up in).

Personally, having travelled extensively and lived in 6 countries around the world, I consider all Kiwis to be small town, though they don’t seem to know it, but the real small town Kiwis have certain characteristics which were sorely missing in the series.

Close-minded, judgemental, can be very standoffish to newbies, homophobic, and don’t forget of course their clear chip on the shoulders with regards Aussies. Plus I have always found small town Kiwis to be quite shy, reserved, and introverted, unless they are off their faces, which they seem to be on a regular basis to get over their introversion and shyness. The small town Kiwi parties I have been to mainly consist of stoned people standing around in small circles, drinking from cans of beer, with the occasional chuckle.

Conversations in such towns revolve around rugby, getting drunk, smoking weed, rooting, and fishing.

These characters however, were like small town Kiwis with acid, or E seeping into their drinking water. Small town Kiwis converted to all friendly wise Buddhists, along with philosophical sayings related to dolphins and whales.

I saw some of the indignant comments from Kiwis, who seemed disgusted that they Kiwis were made out to be stupid hicks. That part at least had some credence, and amused me, and I watched on as I was sure the series had been written by Australians.

I was very surprised however to find that it was written by two Kiwis.

I had the impression the series was set on a small remote island, though culturally closer to Australia than New Zealand. Like Great Barrier Island with a few spatterings of The Wicker Man thrown in.

The dialogue was cringe worthy at times, as was the Sex and the City voice-over, but the New Zealand scenes were nice, even if they were from multiple locations around the North Island. And the Kiwi songs were nice.

I suppose it goes again to show that Kiwis, Pakeha at least, don’t really know what they are, can’t really define themselves, unless they have lived overseas for some time.

Apart from that most of the time I was thinking, someone actually paid to make this?

Was that 800 words?