23 January 2010

Down the Line

L is on the Overlander train (from Auckland to Wellington: 12 hours away,  681 km of track, 352 bridges and 14 tunnels). His dad is taking him away for a boys' weekend in the capital city,  my hometown. All day I have been getting increasingly manic texts. The last time I heard they were passing through Palmerston North and had written a poem together:


 Palmy, Palmy, don't take this wrong
We're on a train to Welling-ton
We'll stay with you another time
But for now we're on the main trunk line



New Zealand Railways  Crown Lynn cups and cutlery sell for heaps these days, but passengers used to swig their tea and then chuck the cups out the window. It's all polystyrene and plastic these days, I suspect. At least the train is still going; it was saved from imminent extinction in 2006 by loud public outrage and a 'Save the Overlander' campaign by the Greens.

I heard actor Ginette McDonald on the radio today, talking about Wellington. She lives there, so she's allowed to be rude. "It's like being trapped inside a Leonard Cohen song," she said, referring to Wellington's notoriously crap weather. "You walk outside and it's like being sandblasted." I was born there, so I'm allowed to be rude about it too. Someone always says, then a tad defensively, "But you can't beat Wellington on a good day." That's true - Wellington on a good day is a beautiful heavenly  city, and you feel like you could live there forever - but like now, it's often being lashed by rain and smashed by southerlies. The latest text says : 'Wet and cold. Streets like sheer ice.' They are going to see Alvin and the Chipmunks. Oh dear.


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