If you're at all familiar with Wellington, the one thing you'll always recall is the high freak factor.
There's blanket man, who has a surprising number of mates to hang out with on Tory Street. Science guys, if you ever wanted to harvest the gene for 'hardy', go to that dude. Five minutes without a cardy in winter and I have the sniffles. Blanket man? What, five or six years flashing noodle from under that rug? He'll probably be the only one of us to survive the Bird Flu.
Then there's the old codger who plays air guitar and amplifies the sound of himself making up lyrics to almost completely unrecognisable hits. And the two pillows for the "busking" money. What, he makes that kind of racket and is afraid of the sound of coins hitting the ground?
Then there's Kenny, still trying to get his amplifier back so he can croon in Courtney Place. A little moustachioed dude who was just turning into a street kid when I lived here back in the early 90s, still out there, and Mad Marty, a idiot savant who apparently took too much LSD back in the 70s or 80s.
Actually, this guy is pretty interesting. I tried talking to him when he turned up to a party I was at in... 92? Anyhow, he can give you the square root of any number you name, and carries this book full of fractal drawings he's whipped up out of equations he's done.
So, so weird, but so, so cool. All I remember was trying to make sense out of what in the hell he would like to be able to say, if he hadn't fried his frontal lobe in Alice Springs or somewhere (obviously a wee Jesus fixation there, 40 days temptation and all that). He had these eyes that spoke intelligence, but somewhere in there two power points just weren't, quite, touching.
A couple of days ago I saw a new one. It was this woman, average height, but dressed entirely in camouflage. Camo hat, camo tunic, camo trousers, camo ammunition belt, the whole picnic hamper. Like an olive green and tan shadow slipping through Manners Street, blending effortlessly into the, well, grey.
And, it just wasn't really working for her as a fashion statement, you know what I mean? I'm not exactly Yves St Laurent myself here, but damn, what in the hell was she thinking?
And then it dawned on me, and how could I miss it.
Damn that thing was big. Big like two panda bears fighting under a lumpy duvet big.
Again. Camouflage not working.
On a less cruel note. The other hard case situation was heading out of Courtney Place and overhearing a conversation between this young guy, his mates, and two hapless women.
The guy had bumped one of them by accident, and she might have felt his jewellery. Big gold thing, sparkles, the whole nine yards. She turns, sees him, becomes instantly less pissed off, and asks, "What's that?"
He says, "It's my bling".
"Bling?" She says, "What's a bling?"
"Bling, baby! Bling! This ring's worth more than all that... that... Glassons shit you got on!"
Yup. Very bling.
We were livin' large on a No.1 Bus to Newtown.