Monday, March 24, 2014

A birthday

Today, 24 March, is Patrick's birthday. He would have been 45 - he was 18 when he died in 1987. His friend wrote to me, and I had phone calls from Ali and my sister. Here's the piece from my book about his birthday.
We placed his ashes under a pōhutukawa tree we planted in the Botanic Gardens, on a rise with a view over the city he knew and enjoyed so much. Although the tree is now so tall it’s hard to reach the lower branches, on Patrick’s birthday, on the day he died and on Christmas Eve I still reach up and leave a posy wedged there. One of his roses if they’re flowering, and a few forget-me-nots. Mock orange blossom, for the wedding he never had. Parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme. And a chocolate in the middle.
Of course I used to go with Harvey, but now I ask Lesley, the oldest friend I have in Wellington, to come with me. It helps when the sun is out, as it was this morning.
       The mock orange blossom has finished flowering. His rose, the original Remember Me, has died, and its replacement isn't doing at all well. So I took two other late roses, a red Dublin Bay for Harvey, and a creamy Jude the Obscure, as well as the herbs - and the chocolate.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Writing Women

On International Women’s Day, it was a great pleasure to hear two enormously impressive women speaking with great clarity and insight on two very differently scaled tragedies which could both have been avoided: Rebecca Macfie on the trail of corporate and government mistakes, oversights, incompetence and carelessness (in the full sense of the word) that led to Pike River; and Oxford University’s Margaret MacMillan on the complex mixture of politics and personalities that led to World War I. It’s hard to think of two more traditionally masculine topics than war and mining. This morning demonstrated, in the most effective way possible, how much the world has changed since women here rediscovered feminism in the 1970s. And in the afternoon, Eleanor Catton (the second New Zealand woman to win the Booker) in lucid and often very funny conversation about editing with her Granta editor, Max Porter - who looked, I have to say, only a few years older than her. The literary future is in very good hands.

Rebecca Macfie: Tragedy at Pike River Mine, Awa Press
Margaret MacMillan: The War that Ended Peace:  How Europe abandoned peace for the First World War, Random House

Eleanor Catton: The Luminaries, VUP/Granta

Posted on Beattie's Book Blog this morning.