One morning the 1980s, a man walked into my bedroom and demanded to know what I was doing there. "Sleeping," I mumbled, which did not mollify him. He was from the Dingwall Trust and had just discovered that the rooms in Swanson Street that the trust had been renting out cheaply as workshops were in fact being occupied as residences by the likes of me.
It was like that back in the day. There were some apartments, but in general it was difficult bordering on illegal to live in Auckland's central business district. For whatever reason, I was mad keen on it. I shared a dodgy warehouse conversion in Fort Street – makeshift internal walls and all – with future members of the Headless Chickens. I had a truly mint office floor above Progressive Studios in Symonds Street, where there was enough room for indoor cricket, and bands to play our parties.
But things have changed. Those lovely old rooms in Swanson Street were demolished to make way for a vile duty-free store. And the Auckland CBD's population is now heading for 50,000 – up from only 1400 in 1991. It's a massive change in after-hours density.
So what's it like now? What are the joys and frustrations of inner-city life? That's the topic of what will be the first of a series of Sunday lunch talk events under the brand Sunday Sense at Society and Nook in Exchange Lane, 95 Queen Street.
I've been talking to the manager, Chris Barron about doing something for a few weeks and he noted that it was actually local residents who'd been most keen for him to try something like this. It seemed only right that the first Sunday Sense should be about them.
So, on Sunday, March 1, I'll be talking about inner-city life with:
- Journalist and resident of Metropolis, Fran O'Sullivan.
- DJ, author and longtime CBD-dweller Peter McLennan.
- John Macdonald of Splice, a group that aims to foster community and connection between inner-city residents.
Society and Nook will serve brunch from 11am on the day and we'll have our chat for about an hour from 1pm. In between times, Peter will DJ some of the sweet rocksteady sounds for which he is beloved on Base FM and down at Webstock. Society and Nook is a really nice place and we'd love to see you (and hear from you) on Sunday week.
Sunday Sense: Living for the City
Exchange Lane, 95 Queen Street
11am-3pm, Sunday March 1.