Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Reading the paper

I like to read the paper in the morning with a cup of coffee before I head to work. I sit in the cafe and watch people come and go clutching their takeaway paper cups and their bags of bagels. I read the paper from cover to cover, lingering over the meagre world section and the comments and editorial.

I do this when I'm on holiday and I once read an article that said one way to extend the holiday feeling was to do the things that you associate with your weeks off. Unfortunately I can't laze in bed for the morning, go scuba-diving with shoals of angel fish, lounge on the deck of a yacht, or cycle through vineyards filling my panniers with champagne and baguettes. What I can do is leisurely catch up on the day's events and it is one of my few simple pleasures.

How I hate it, then, when someone asks if they can 'steal a bit of the paper'. For a start I loath the idiom. It is not my paper - it is thoughtfully provided by the cafe - so you wouldn't be stealing it. This is a Kiwi-ism I have noticed, whereby people try and lessen the impact of what they are doing by referring to their actions in a depreciating manner - apparently they 'swing by' the house to 'grab a feed'. Are they Tarzan?

Leaving the language aside, of course I mind! I don't wish to be disturbed. I wish to read the paper, chronologically, at the pace I choose without being hurried or harried. It bothers me when people fold the paper the wrong way (it's almost bad as realigning maps) or insert sections out of order. I consider it inconsiderate when people do the crossword in a paper that it is not their own, and as for tearing out a section or an article - you'd be surprised how much this can annoy me. Or maybe you wouldn't.

Sunday, 20 July 2008

Material dreams

Last month the Royal New Zealand Ballet auctioned off a load of its costumes to raise moiney for future productions and make some more storage space at its Lower Hutt facilities.

I went on a grim day to the exhibition on the waterfront. As the rain lashed the streets outside, I disappeared into a world of tulle and sequins, where dreams are material and can all come true.

I had to snap this peculiar thing from 1001 Nights - it is a 'blue flying man' according to the programme - but it looks like a cycling outfit him outdoors might wear in one of his more flamboyant moods. I can just picture the sheer white wings flapping out behind him as he pedals round the bays of Wellington.

There were costumes from Swan Lake, Alice, The Nutcracker, Cinderella, 1001 Nights, Jean, Le Papillon, and Coppelia. Apparently these costumes could be used as display in the home or office or for a fancy dress party - but only if you're a size 6.

Apparently more than 100 costumes were sold to the tune of more than $40,000 - so expect a lot of tiny fairies (is there a collective noun for fairies?) coming to a party near you in tutus.

I love seeing these things up close and personal. They look great from a distance and yet are designed for movement and practicality as well as embodying a vision. They combine creativity and practicality in a way which would gladden William Morris' heart .

From pretty maids all in a row, to Chinese men, Neoploitan dancers and Polish peasants, there is a wide range.

Despite the hideous lighting, I did my best to take photos of the sublime and the strange. Mad hats, green goblins and scary ogres nestled beside snow queens and hairdresser's assistants.

One of the problems before the exhibition apparently was the dearth of mannequins in Wellington for display purposes. Who'd have thought that a town full of politicians would be devoid of dummies - sorry, cheap gibe but it proved simply irresistable.

For little (and big) girls everywhere, one of the highlights was the Cinderella tutu. This was a protoype for the famous outfit, and featured hundreds of silk roses sewn on the skirt and tiny diamante sequins on the bodice. It fetched the highest price of the auction ($2,650). Everyone can dream...