It started a week ago when I had my first house guest arrive, southern Dave from Invercargill. It happened on Thursday. The arrival had been expected as it is customary for Dave to visit me for the 24 Hour book sale at the Regent Theatre. The difference this year was that an old school friend had contacted Dave that he was coming down to Dunedin for his capping ceremony. This involved two families coming to Dunedin, one from Christchurch, the other from Whakatane. Arrangements were made for the Christchurchonians to stay with me. This was not alarming as my study had been occupied comfortably by several rather large bikers returning to Wellington last year from the Burt Munro Rally. Dave would have the sun room.

Of course it fell to me to provide bedding and mattresses for the aforesaid visiting family. This provided momentary alarm until I realised I could easily track down people from church who could loan me bits and pieces I needed to make the study a comfortable space for people to stay overnight. The study was set up with two single mattresses and a queen-sized one. Plenty of duvets and pillows for everyone and I had spare sheets. The Christchurchonians arrived, a Samoan couple with two girls. They changed and freshened up and left for the capping.

Capping in Dunedin seems to me to be somewhere between the Unseen University and Gallifrey. It does not involve giant tripods wiring children to be obedient citizens. This one involved a Samoan teacher receiving his Master of Education with Credit and being saluted by an impromptu haka. I have seen the video of it and it was fantastic stuff. The Credit goes to Southern Dave for correcting the spelling! We joined them for tea at a buffet restaurant. At home the family settled into my study and raided my bookshelves, especially my copy of Jabberwocky illustrated by Graeme Base. Beware when a large man takes a quick nap before going out again. It involves snoring!

They departed the next morning in the direction of the Cadbury’s factory before returning to Christchurch. (See the factory before Kraft closes it down would be my advice, bloody globalisation!) In the afternoon I dragged Dave along to the War Brides display at the Settlers Museum. He was recovering from the aftermath of a flu (this nearly always happens when someone goes on holiday!) and the walk proved to be too long.

Monday night we went out to catch up with the remaining family in Dunedin and spent the evening with them. We had pizza and wedges at Filadelphio’s before we visited (Mannekin’s, my first choice, was not open on Mondays). The leftover pizza provided us with tea for Tuesday night while dreadful rains closed in. The family left on Tuesday to return to teaching the next day. Wednesday, seven days after he arrived Dave departed back for Invercargill. So Tao and I are home again, by ourselves.

I enjoyed the company. Especially with people whom I only knew distantly. It was fun having children in the house, much to Tao’s chagrin. She fled at the sight of them. Children are sort of like having extra pets. In discussion with Dave I realise that I don’t understand the character and motives of other people, especially people with which I have lived or flatted in the past. I’m not going to apologise for it, it is part of who I am and I need to be aware of it. In some respects I don’t think I am a tolerant person.

As for the book sale this was one of the better ones. I found a French grammar and a Hindi one. I’m taking notes from them for the eclectic language I’m working on. I’m thinking of doing Local Conlang Writing Month in July this year so I need to finish and incorporate the new notes in the next month. I picked up several easy listening CDs that were going for a couple of shillings each. The other good hunting was in the children’s section. I now have all the Narnia books, and four of the Dark is Rising sequence, the one I’m missing is Silver on the Tree. Others include The Minnipins and a couple of Robert Westall’s; The King of the Copper Mountain, Quag Keep by Andre Norton, and the last book of O by Maurice Gee.

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