The Southern Cross bar on Abel Smith Street is large - it must hold as many as 200 drinkers when full, and many of them sit outside when the weather permits or (in the case of smokers) when the law insists. It's the outdoor voices that you can hear the most from our apartment. But from six floors up, the distance is sufficient to filter out all content, just leaving the carrier signal, a white noise that is distinctly human in its cadence but devoid of even a single recognisable word. Tomorrow morning, that's how these conversations will be remembered even by those who are engaged in them now. I'm hearing 8 hours into their future.
I love the noise. I love being back in the city. The only thing you could hear in our Christchurch house was Willard the cat occasionally mewing and the canary next door whistling the first two lines of Happy Birthday To You. That was very peaceful and welcome for a while, but by the end it was the constantly murmured rosary of city life that I was praying for.
I love Wellington. I love the fact that we exit our apartment practically onto Cuba Street which feels a bit like Newtown in Sydney. Undeniably smaller, but unmistakeably urban and confidant. Using my recently developed Index of School Uniform Skirt Length (which I recognize is borderline perv, but I am a Man of Science, dammit, and data are data) I can report that the atmosphere in Wellington is much less austere than Christchurch. I love the fact that there are too many museums and places of historical and political interest here, and that I will have to choose carefully the ones I plan to visit. I love that at the end of every day here so far I feel I've seen something worthwhile and only added to the list of things to be seen before we leave.
Let me give you an example of a day well spent. Letizia went to get her hair done today, something that ladies (and especially Italian ladies) will know is the kind of service that one can only safely look for in a town that you either know very well, or trust based on its appearance of sophistication. Together with Nina and Sara, I toured the parliament house and executive wing and then crossed the road to see the decomposed remains of an original Maori version of the Treaty of Waitangi (the 1840 'agreement' between Queen Victoria and the collected heads of the various Maori tribes that brought New Zealand into the British Empire as a colony - a document held in such disdain by Maori that the National Archive provides a wooden bowl of water outside the Constitution Room where it is displayed room, so visiting Maori may symbolically decontaminate themselves after viewing it).
This evening, after chilling out at home for an hour, we went to the Opera House to see a superb performance of Cats. Well I'm assuming it was superb. A man can only be expected to devote a minimum of attention to the appreciation of music, when he is watching a troupe of lithe actresses, dressed in figure-hugging body stockings, crawling around the stage on all fours. Oh look, people clapped a lot. I clapped a lot. It was all good.
And this was a typical day for us here in Wellington. Not every day involves leotard-clan feline impersonation of course, but at the end of the day, when we relax back 'home', there is generally a feeling of having seen something worthwhile. Accompanied as ever by the satisfying background music of people with more stamina and fewer responsibilities than us having a good time into the wee hours.
In point of fact, as I write this I've noticed that the noise has faded away. It must be damn late. And there's lots more to do tomorrow. Goodnight, and pleasant dreams (purrrrr).