I think it’s true to say that Nelson’s Elma Turner library is now in a state of overcrowding chaos. At this stage, any extension project won’t be considered by the council until 2018 or 2019 – but it needs to be done now.
But to be honest it’s like talking to a brick wall with the council, because for the last two years I’ve told them that the vacant bicycle shop next door would be a cheap and quick extension to the library reading space, and this is needed now. we see Lewis Stanton removed and are given assurances that rate money will not be used in any of his court charges.
Councillors represent us but do not invite our opinions on the decisions they make.
While I congratulate them on their upgrading of attractions like Tahuna Beach and watch the hundreds who happily use it, I would like assurance that the city infrastructure is sound enough to support us and all the new subdivisions.
We simply cannot afford many things, like Stanton and the beaded curtain over Saltwater Creek.
Will the council sue us for rates?
Or will they label us as ‘‘freedom campers’’?
In fact, 1.32 per cent of Maori men are in prison while this is only 0.11 per cent for Maori women and 0.21 per cent of the total population are currently in prison. treating it as a health issue. Getting caught now means a small fine and referral to a treatment programme, instead of a criminal record.
The number of drug-related deaths in Portugal now averages 3 per million, compared with 44.6 in the UK and the EU average of 17.3.
Rather than listening to the experts, politicians in New Zealand and the United Kingdom just raise their wetted fingers into the wind. An example of this kind of ‘‘thinking’’ is given by Professor David Nutt in his book Drugs Without the Hot Air, in which he relates the following conversation he had with a Member of Parliament:
MP: ‘‘You can’t compare harms from a legal activity with an illegal one.’’ Nutt: ‘‘Why not?’’ MP: ‘‘Because one’s illegal.’’ Nutt: ‘‘Why is it illegal?’’ MP: ‘‘Because it’s harmful.’’ Nutt: ‘‘Don’t we need to compare harms to determine if it should be illegal?’’
MP: ‘‘You can’t compare harms from a legal activity with an illegal one.’’
Sometimes, ‘‘thinking outside the box’’ means just that – thinking.
Satisfying simply as an historical novel, the book intrigues because in post-modern fashion, Fowles breaks the novelistic spell by interrupting the narrative with comments on the mores and sensibilities of the Victorian era.
He explains the Victorian understanding of science, religion, economics and sexual politics, with the hindsight of a man writing almost exactly a hundred years later.
Writing in 1969, Fowles knows what his 19th century characters did not: of Darwin, Marx and Freud, two world wars, the fall of the British Empire and scientific advances that changed the world and how human beings would think in the 20th century.
In rereading The French Lieutenant’s Woman in 2017, 48 years after its publication, I felt as superior to the Fowles of the 1960s, as Fowles felt about the Victorians of the 1860s.
When he wrote the book, Fowles didn’t know that the future contained the internet and the smartphone, genetic engineering, global warming, the fall of communism, the rise of religious fundamentalism and terrorism, and how this would change the world, and how human beings would think in the 21st century.
When I began to read through the letters I had written from Brunei in 1994, they evoked a similar feeling of travelling backwards and forwards through time, though on a smaller, more personal timescale.
The 41-year-old self who wrote the letters didn’t know what her 64-year-old self would know.
My present self is amused at how, in the grip of culture shock, I describe myself as ‘‘an insatiable monster of discontent’’.
I’m in a fury that innocuous books, confiscated by Customs, are sky at night frightens her. And me.
The ceiling in the lounge begins to leak so ‘‘the globe of the glass lampshade has filled with water and looks like a dangling goldfish bowl’’. Nothing is as I want it to be. On New Year’s Eve we find only one restaurant open. ‘‘It was a Chinese restaurant but the cooks had gone home. The waiters scoured the kitchen and served us with 4 dim-sums and beer served in a teapot because alcohol is banned.’’
However, the letters also show that that I aminching towards my desire to become a writer.
‘‘I am sitting at my computer in what should be a servant’s room. There’s a fan so I don’t drip sweat onto the keyboard.’’
I attend a writing workshop run by New Zealand writer Joy Cowley at the University of Brunei.
I amanxious about my reliance on books for pleasure and refuge and ‘‘I’m afraid of what will happen if they desert me.’’ I complain that ‘‘If I’m not writing I feel less than a whole person. When I amdoing it, I feel a kind of despair.’’
My 64-year-old self, reading this litany of complaints knows how much of that impatient, scattered energy I still have, and how much thought I still waste in argument with the universe.
But she also knows that when that past self returns to New Zealand, she will compress all that fevered, water-logged introspection into a short story.
A story which will feature palm trees, stray dogs, sweat, the smell of spices and rot, beer in a teapot and an unhappy narrator. And that story will become one of the first pieces of writing she has published, and is paid for. Read more at www.greyurbanist.com