May 16, 2010

AWRF10 - Wednesday May 12: NZ Listener Opening Night

An evening of Bottoms at AWRF 2010

I double-timed it over from Central Library where we had been celebrating New Zealand Music Month with Nick Bollinger, and just managed to find a seat in the packed ASB Theatre before the disembodied voice of the PA began to declaim the names of the AWRF sponsors. Was it just the extra oxygenation from my jog that made it sound so incredibly dramatic?

“The Lion Foundation! North Shore City! The Edge! Geon!”

Positively Shakespearian. “Pea’s-blossom! Cobweb! Moth! Mustardseed!”

Come to think of it, it was "A Midsummer's Night's Dream" in more ways than one. Was not the evening's chair, Mark Sainsbury -- exuberant and hairy -- a perfect Nick Bottom?

My favourite moments from the evening's revels:

The passage about Aborigines Thomas Keneally read from his book Australians: From Origins to Eureka, which he referred to as “My book on Australian history, which no one else but Australians are interested in – and it’s hard to get Australians interested in it too!”

Colm Tóibín’s reading from Brooklyn: a beautifully described scene in which the girl who has to emigrate to America is looking at her suitcase, already packed, and thinking, if only it were somebody else who would be going to wear these dresses. I give him as well the award for the evening’s best quip: The difference between the two destinations available to Irish emigrants was made clear to him when as a boy he witnessed President Kennedy’s triumphal visit to Ireland, land of his forebears. “If your family had emigrated to America you could become President, but if they emigrated to England, it would be very hard to become Queen.”

Lionel Shriver, who did have notable shoes, lace-up ankle highs (Camper, she told me afterwards), when it was her turn to read from her book So much for that, which most people by now have heard is about a woman dying of cancer, “I’m here to beguile you into thinking that my new novel is not a drag.”

William Dalrymple, by way of introducing his new book Nine stories, in which he tells the stories of people who belong to strange religious sects in India: “I was brought up by Benedictine monks and consequently have had a lifelong interest in bleeding lunatics.” He also gave us, appropriately, a funny anecdote about Bottoms. To make a long story short (not me, this is part of the anecdote) he decides to tell a fussy Indian border guard that he is English, thinking that to bring Scotland into it would confuse and delay things even more. At which the guard asks: “Ah, English, is it? You like bottom, sir?” “Well, some bottoms” answers Dalrymple, not wishing to offend.

In the end it transpires that the guard is merely trying to ascertain if he is a fan of Ian Botham, as all the English are, or of a rival cricketer beloved of the Pakistani. I tried googling Ian Botham rivalry to find out who it was, so I could tell this anecdote the way it deserves, and I couldn’t find it, but I did get a Daily Mail article about Ian Botham the “squashbuckling cricketer” (sic), possibly written by a relative of the border guard.

And now, how could we end without a Best-dressed acknowledgement -- actually two!

Best-dressed (classic): Roger King, creator of the Taranaki Arts Festival, with a green linen jacket draped over his shoulders. 

Best-dressed (post-modern): Graham “Bookman” Beattie in fedora and bright red blazer – very Jazz Age.

Ditulis Oleh : tosca // 02:30
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