Tuesday 27 July 2021


 For me, the worst thing about this year and a half of Covid madness has been that New Zealand has effectively become a closed country, cutting us from the Wellington family and them from us (though they might be braving the horrors of Kiwi quarantine to journey to the UK later in the year). When we last said our goodbyes back in those innocent days of January 2020, we little thought that it would be for so long. How I miss them – and how I miss Wellington, a city that I had no great expectation of even liking but which I grew to love. Memories of Wellington now seem like scenes from an enchanted city, one that I might never see again, if its government continues on its zero-Covid, China-friendly road to ruin. 
  One thing about those visits to New Zealand I don't miss – getting there. Long-haul flight is surely the most punishing and exhausting ordeal any of us voluntarily endures. It is not a subject for poets – but Les Murray (who else?) takes it on. His 'Touchdown' is a brilliantly observant evocation of the exhausted, brain-scrambled end of a long-haul flight. 'Kliegs', by the way, are powerful arc lamps used in film lighting; 'freak lemon Kliegs' exactly describes the dazzling, anomalous flashes of early sunlight penetrating a darkened plane. And, come to that, the background sound of a flight does indeed rhyme with 'forth'...

The great airliner has been filled
all night with a huge sibilance
which would rhyme with FORTH
but now it banks, lets sunrise
in in freak lemon Kliegs,
eases down like a brushstroke 
into swift cement, and throws out
its hurricane of air anchors.
Soon we'll all be standing
encumbered and forbidding in the aisles
till the heads of those farthest forward
start rocking side to side, leaving,
and that will spread back:
we'll all start swaying along as
people do on planks but not on streets,
our heads tick-tocking with times
that are wrong everywhere. 


  1. Same feeling. Just change Wellington and write Winnipeg...

  2. I can only sympathize - I have the good fortune to be married to a Wellingtonian, and lived there for 8 years. We visited last autumn, and endured the quarantine - not as horrific as we were anticipating. But it would be nice if Jacinda were to think about opening things up a little.

  3. Ah, we miss you so much too Nige. Simon, good to hear the quarantine wasn't too bad. Two weeks in a hotel room with the children fills me with some trepidation...

    1. I bet it does! Let's hope things are a bit softer by then...