Arrowtown book buyer Miranda Spary continues her regular
column about her recommendations for a good read, and life as
she sees it ...
My blood is still boiling from hearing about those grotty
little vandals wrecking part of our beautiful new cycle
I try really hard not to have a bad attitude about the kids I
see on trail bikes, but it's pretty difficult when they go
roaring past the "no motorbikes" signs, wrecking the peace of
Wakatipu, and generally showing the signs of a pretty bad
attitude themselves, leaving bottles and burger wrappers and
traumatised walkers in their wake.
I asked some of them who were hooning up and down Tobins
Track one day why they didn't go trail biking somewhere more
suitable, and they said no-one would let them.
I am sure there are plenty of property owners who would be
delighted to let them use their land in exchange for some
hard work, but somehow their sneery, snarly tone made me
suspect they would not be very interested in the hard work
side of things.
It's a shame fuel for trail bikes isn't far more expensive:
here, the cost of petrol is over $3 a litre and puts it way
out of reach for most people.
Many people have motorbikes, but they are a whole family's
main mode of transport. You often see mum, dad and the three
kids, all helmetless, puttering along.
Given that most people's monthly power bill is under $NZ100
and they find that outrageous, they aren't going to be
squandering money on unnecessary fooling around on
They don't really squander money on much here: I was back at
the imam's house yesterday getting a lesson in making
No kitchen whatsoever, so we sat on our bottoms in the
shadehouse, with all the bowls and boards and rolling pins on
a blanket and, after making the dough, rolled 45 tiny balls
into paper thin sheets of pastry which were stacked with nuts
and honey and oil, while a nosy bunch of goats and chickens
gawped at us, hoping a few scraps came their way.
Then the pans were put in the wood-fired oven and out came
Everything is made by hand: the imam built his own house
here, and he carves all the fishing lures his sons use. They
have just solar power, which is enough to run a tiny 12V
fridge and charge their cellphones.
I forgot to ask if I could use the loo so I could check that
out, but imagine it is not much more than a hole in the
ground, somehow, and I am always a bit squeamish about that
sort of thing, especially after seeing Slumdog Millionaire.
It's such a contrast between how they are living five
minutes' walk from the sea, and some of the superyachts tied
up nearby. I love watching their tiny wooden boat going round
the bay delivering the morning bread, and wondering if the
people in the posh boats realise where the bread comes from.
Some of them never even get off their boats for a swim or a
kayak or anything at all, just sit inside in the
air-conditioning. I feel so sorry for them.
And nothing could be greater than the sorrow I felt for the
parents of one of my daughter's friends who was killed in a
car crash near Auckland recently.
They were on holiday at the time, and I can't imagine how
terrible it must have been to get that phone call.
The funeral was on Monday and my daughter said they all wore
bright red lipstick, which was their friend's trademark, to
I'll never see red lipstick again without thinking of her.
But on a happier note, a huge happy 50th birthday to Jane
Turner, who still looks ridiculously young and gorgeous.
And also to Annabel Cohen, who is lucky enough to be just 21
this week and is so clever and capable that I am sure that by
the time she is 50, she will have done amazing things.
If you're feeling too happy, read Herman Koch's The
Two brothers and their wives go out to an expensive
Their children have done something unspeakably awful and this
colours the whole story.
It's a nasty read, and like We Need to Talk about
Kevin or The Slap, it makes you look at your own
parenting and the way you see the world.
It's most uncomfortable the whole time: one of those books
where you just can't stop reading, but you shiver at the
tension between the characters.
I despised both brothers and when I finally got to the end, I
was relieved it was over and could stop feeling like a guest
at a house where the hosts are simmering with anger at each
other but pretending everything is OK.
Terrific, fascinating writing, but not recommended if you
like things light and cheery.