Trip Start Sep 09, 2004
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of New Zealand  ,
Monday, June 13, 2005

It feels strange being back in Christchurch; all too familiar, as if I never left in the first place. Though when I walked around Base and tried to remember the glorious Christmas madness, it felt like I was trying to drag up memories from twenty years ago. Very strange.

I've been persevering (for want of a better word) with my heap of shit MP3 player. It stopped working in Dunedin. When I say 'stopped working' I mean it decided to make itself invisible. Maybe my invisible friend took it? It actually works perfectly fine and I can listen to music whenever the mood takes me. It's just when I want to connect it to a PC I get problems. The PC no longer recognises it for some reason. Which is shit as all my pictures are on it and need to be accessed so as I can upload all the wonderful pictures on to the travelogue for you fine people. The things you don't need. I've tried everything and have now resorted to posting a desperate message on an internet message forum. I can do but wait.

Last night was a blinder. I'd agreed to meet up with Amanda (Rosie-Posie from the BB meetup in Auckland way back in September) who is currently in Christchurch working. We'd agreed to meet up in the Holy Grail as the rugby was on and the 'Grail', so it goes, has a huge cinema screen and caters perfectly for all sporting events. It was fantastic. As soon as the players ran on to the pitch the atmosphere was electric. It was the NZ Maori vs The Lions. When those Maori lads stood in front of the Lions and banged out that ferocious Haka, they did it with every emotion they'd got, with absolute conviction. It was show stopping. The hairs on the back of my neck stood taller than they ever have. Utterly superb! The game wasn't bad either. NZ Maori won in the end 19-13. I'm not really a rugby follower but just wanted to go along for the experience.

Around 11pm I had the shock of my life. I'd dashed off momentarily to pay a quick visit and as I approached the toilets I swear I recognised the big guy propping up the table opposite. On my way out I checked and I was certain. Ninety-five percent certain. He's got a gruesome reputation and he looked like he'd had a good few beers too. I still decided to chance it, so I walked over and interrupted. 'Excuse me mate, you Jacko?'
He looked down at me like I was a nuisance. 'Who's asking?'
Shit. Thing was, I knew him but I wasn't sure if he knew me. When I was around sixteen I used to go to the boxing/circuit training sessions at the local gym. Jacko had been my partner. As well as being considerably older, He was a lot bigger than I was and a lot fitter. A lot fatter actually (I thought at the time) but he never ever tired of the workout. He was fit as you could get. He was an animal. At the time he was one hell of a rugby player too, playing big league stuff. He was kind of a hero locally. So he wouldn't remember a sniffling little shit like me. Less than a couple of years ago I'd seen him again coaching Chasetown Rugby Club. I'd gone down there with my mate Black to film a bit of the game for his brother, who used to play for Chasetown but has since moved to Oz. This, I decided would be my introduction. 'Did you used to play for Chasetown?'
I'd got his attention. 'No I used to coach 'em. How d'you think I got ears like this?
'Aah, right.' I looked right at his thick, cauliflower ear. 'Do you know Nathan Black?'
He grinned this time, still looking confused. 'Yeah I know Blacky. His brother used to play for Chasetown.'
'Yeah that's him. Well Black's a good mate of mine. But you might know me from before. I used to be your partner at the boxing training. You used to kick the shit out of me.'
He looked hard in to me with a recollecting frown and then it clicked. 'Bloody hell.' He looked shocked and had understandably forgotten my name. We shook hands. 'The name's Scott by the way. More importantly, what the hell are you doing here?' The conversation kicked in to fifth gear and all was merry. We'd got a lot to talk about.

I mention all this because Jacko could only have lived no more than a mile away from me near Chasetown. Yet here we both were standing in the same bar watching the same game on the same night. What are the odds? By reputation, he's an animal on the field, absolutely ferocious. Black had previously told me stories that had left me numb and clutching body parts. But apparently he's a great bloke 'off-pitch-in-pub'. Well he certainly was. It turns out he came here in January for a look around, fell in love with the place in less than a day and said to himself 'Bloody hell. I'll have me a bit of this.' He's got a great job already and is currently signing his way through immigration. The wife and kids fly out at the end of July. Say no more. That's what New Zealand has done to two people from where I'm from. I was so pleased for him. They'll have a much, much better quality of life. Sometimes I get so frustrated that others can't get to see this. There are a few significant people in England that I'd give anything to be able to show them what I've seen, more importantly, watch their faces. I really would. The enlightenment would hit them like a ton of bricks. Undoubtedly so.

Anyways, I'm drifting. What a great and unexpected night. I didn't half know about it this morning though. I felt a little delicate to say the least so I took it easy today. After taking a long, hot shower, I cooked up a pile of comfort food for dinner and looked on the bright side: Shiny comes to visit tomorrow. She texted the other day to say she'd just done the dolphin swim in Kaikoura and was understandably ecstatic. It's probably the most life-changing experience I think I've had, so I've got an idea how she feels. I can't wait to see her, there is so much to catch up on; her job dilemma, travel plans, Mannion and Chicken updates, everything really. On my side, there's everything that's occurred since I left Queenstown to go and stay at Brett & Sylvia's in Te Anau. She's already booked us in to one of the suburban cinemas to see a special screening of Hotel Rwanda before it's released next Thursday. Amnesty International are holding a special screening evening to promote awareness of the genocide in Rwanda in 1994 and to raise and gain support for other issues. I got an excited text the other day saying we were booked in. One of a hundred and thirty two privileged places apparently. Fantastic. So that's tomorrow night sorted. After that who knows? What I do know is that the time is gonna fly!
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