Random Play by Graham Reid

Home again, naturally

Well, that two months went far too quickly: from London to Berlin, then Paris and Bordeaux, a drive across to Uzes and on down through Venice, Florence, Rome and Naples to Sorrento where we picked up a car and drove down into the heel of the boot, back up the east coast and across again to Naples. Flight back to London, then to Singapore for a few days r’n’r at my sister’s place and then back here to . . .

Well, before I left I recall writing a blog in which I said that whenever I come back things seem pretty much the same: every woman on Queen St is wearing black, Dave Dobbyn is winning awards and some opposition politician is telling me how shitty things are.

We came to find Dave had picked up another gong, that Fashion Week had come and gone and nothing had changed, and . . . The rest you can guess.

We knew very little of what was happening in New Zealand during those two blissful months of long lunches, old churches and modern architecture, good conversations and the occasional lousy bed.

There was a paragraph in a London paper saying Jonah Lomu was looking to play for an overseas club (I thought he already was) and then in Naples we caught CNN and a running thread across the bottom said the New Zealand finance minister thought our dollar was over-valued. We just about exploded at that one having watched it convert in euros and, worse, English pounds.

We were in Singapore and my sister told us Winston Peters was foreign minister. We all laughed -- but then realised she was serious. She and her German-born partner have lived for years in Australia so she explained to him that this was like Australia having Pauline Hanson as foreign minister. We would have liked to have disagreed.

So we come back to that farce and cannot imagine how bizarre those post-elections must have been. And can‘t be bothered going back through old Herald’s to find out. Not that we could, much of it might be “premium content” -- as is my stuff these days.

I did hear about that via e-mail while I was away (in Paris, at which point it is hard to take seriously. I was more concerned about the tornado that ripped through our apartment block which according to the cryptic message from the woman staying our place “turned everything upside down everywhere, but everything is alright“).

So I came to “premium content” -- which on paper sounds very flattering -- but am pleased to report that I have already negotiated with the relevant person there and walked away with exactly what I wanted. Papers need to be signed but when they are I shall let you know just in case you wanted to check out some of my previous travel writing and not have to pay for the pleasure.

And I hope it is a pleasure, believe me it is my pleasure to be out there in the world traipsing around picking up stories for various publications -- and maybe my next travel book.

At which point I now give a naked pre-Christmas plug for Postcards From Elsewhere (which is available through this website, thank you Russell).

I returned to see, for the first time, an account of how many books had been sold -- and I was impressed. If it hadn’t been for Harry Potter and Michael King’s book I coulda been a contender.

A friend of mine told me that he’d bought a copy and “It’s really good,” he said enthusiastically and as if surprised. I was sort of flattered and mildly insulted at the same time.

A chapter -- about going to Clarksdale in Mississippi, the home of the blues, and staying in the hotel where Bessie Smith died -- has been picked up by A Famous Rock Music Website (more details when that is finalised) and this being the beach and backyard lazing season there is some belief that the book could get a new wave of interest.

It’s that kind of thing, and neither CK Stead nor that offshore bore Ms Mansfield need feel threatened by my modest effort.

Anyway we are back and full of questions: Like when did the tele-blondes start going brunette (again?): when did Kerre Woodham become reinvented as a cultural commentator; if Judy Bailey has been “dumped” as I keep hearing why is she still on the tele . . .

Finally, we were back in time for The Great Blend and I have to say hats off to Russell and all those who pulled that one off: intelligent and thought-provoking talk, decent wine, good nibbles, lotsa nice people . . .

I am back, and proud to be associated with this website. So next time I will be much less self-serving.

Righto, I have to write something for Lonely Planet who seem keen to secure my services, someone generous has made me a travel offer I can’t refuse, my website needs a huge overhaul because of lots more content arriving soon and I have no idea where to start, and I still have dozens of stories from Europe which need considering.

Yep, time for a cup of tea and a lie down.

Hmmm, Naples? Noisy, polluted, edgy, crowded . . . My kinda town I think.

But it is very, very good to be home.