Thursday, August 29, 2013

Flying away

I've cleaned everything in sight ready for the housesitters, and I've ticked off  everything on the list except the last scraps of packing tomorrow - those awkward things you have to wait to the very end to stow away, like your glasses and make-up, because you need them at the last minute.
       By Sunday evening NZ time I'll be in Berlin. I know I'm really lucky to be going, and I intend to enjoy it thoroughly. But I still can't help feeling Harvey's absence intensely when I get to the point of leaving home on my own for a major expedition like this. We travelled very well together. Still, I'm going to see some really good friends who knew him well
        This will be the first time I've gone away without taking any actual books. I have six new ones in my iPad instead. And when I come back I'll look forward to reading this year's NZ Post Book Awards fiction winner, Kirsty Gunn's The Big Music. It also won book of the year, the first time a work of fiction has won since 2009. The full list is here.
          Meanwhile I've been reading a book Harvey rated very highly and wanted me to read too - only I didn't get around to it until now: Hugo Young's biography of Margaret Thatcher, One of Us. It seems strongly suited to the times, given the abject failure of the policies she drove through, which were then copied here, to deliver anything more than a minimum-wage existence to so many people, while a small proportion grow every richer. Overall, according to Statistics New Zealand, employees’ compensation as a proportion of GDP fell from about 55% in the early 1980s to about 45% in the 2000s (it was 46% in 2009). And that was surely the whole point - to reduce wages and increase profits. To them that hath shall be given even more. I wonder what the reaction will be to tonight's documentary, Mind the Gap, which focused on inequality. Is it too much to hope that there may be some kind of tide-turning going on?

1 comment:

  1. How exciting to be going to Berlin! - an interesting city, by all accounts (from the various writers in residence there). I can understand the pangs that come from doing yet another thing without the Harvey being there. I hope you find comfort from being with his good friends, and that you have a marvellous trip.