1 February, Christchurch


I move to the Youth Hostel. I go to Perry St and chat for a while with the housewife who runs the local interviewing gang - yes, she can use me. I will go along on Thursday week for a training session - but the pay's not so good, $10 or 12 for a Saturday. I go to a flat miles from anywhere, where they want someone for a year. Then, a friendly curio shop owner gives me a lift to another flat I'd rung up about. There I natter to a guy, drank his beer, and listen to his records for nigh on two hours. He tells me I can have the place - and good place it is too. I visit New Brighton in the afternoon, sleep a while and go back to the same place for tea to meet the girls who live there. They are all having a laugh amongst themselves so I never get to join the conversation much; and then they decide against me. I go back to the YH feeling pissed off.

2 February, Christchurch


I hang around the YH until it close (a couple of eggs for breakfast). I think to go to the hills so I walk along Columbo St and walk and walk until I get a short lift to the end of it - then I have to weave my way through a housing estate and up through a paddock. The hill isn't as smooth as it looks from a distance - very long grass and thistles - almost bush - I think to climb as far as the radio mast at the top. After a couple of hours I'm very hot. I'm sure I'm out of sight of anywhere, so I take off my clothes and rest under the shade of a gorse bush. As I've completely lost sight of the mast I decide to go back to civilisation and scrounge a glass of water. In the evening, I visit the local folk club which isn't bad - 60 cents, a good variety - a fair number of people but no beer (the pubs are totally shut on Sunday).

3-8 February, Christchurch

Much the same pattern for several days: after a breakfast of poached egg on toast, mince on toast or sausage and egg, I buy the Press, check out the flats and jobs, maybe make some phone calls. I sit around the square or read in the library. I Buy the Christchurch Star as soon as it's available, check out the flats and jobs, and make a few phone calls straight away and more after 5:00. Sometimes in the afternoon and always in the evening, I go round to see some flat - most, in fact all, have not suited me - too far away, unlively people etc. The square is really interesting, most of the time I watch the people and the seagulls.

Letters from Anne, Phil, Colin, Julian, Consumer Association, Melanie, and Chris

9 February, Christchurch

I go hitching to the hills - a couple of lifts to the summit - a short walk and then I can see the whole of the bay on the other side - beautiful. A young guy gives me a ride right around the other side of the bay where I watch water skiers enviously. This guy tells me I can get back to Christchurch a different way - so I hitched some more the way he suggests. A landrover with some kids joyriding picks me up - I spend the rest of the day with them - they're a lively crowd - they keep me in beer. We visit a couple of broken down piers and collect oysters - dusty tracks, beautiful quiet bays, fields, yachts, sun.

12 February, Christchurch

Tonight, this minute, I feel in the midst of a giant flood, like those of India where water stretches all the way on all sides and you feel that soon you too will slowly be part of the great waters - but here there is no lake of water, only fields of food, a flood of civilisation - never ending roads bringing lights and noises for ever always, poles reaching for the sky, like trees, but I see few trees just wires and curly iron as far as the eye can see, shining at the sky tempting the mother of all nature to give her answer to a flood made solely by man - the mother of earth and trees and suns and water will have her vengeance when man forgets.

15 February, Christchurch


One and a half hours of briefing. The interviewing is not so easy - in the morning, I do five in the time it takes the girl I am with to do seven, in the afternoon we manage six each. People here are pretty slow, and basically friendly. And when it's over, I still have to check through the newspapers for flats and jobs. I ring up two mixed flats, and go round to see both - one is OK, lots of people etc. I leave all my papers and everything when I rush off to the second one. I stroll along to the coffee place where I meet an Aussie, David, and, no kidding, we talk solidly from 9:00 till 5:00 on books, love, films, music, ghosts, religion, work, friends, rivers, ducks - walking along the river and in his hotel room. When some lady told us to shut up, I left. Eight hours of nattering ace.

16 February, Christchurch


I don't make the big wide world until after 2:00 - my wanderings included the Town Hall, a short listen to a Scottish band (all dressed up), the provincial government buildings (looks like an old church, first built in 1850 - lovely furniture and some wood inlaid doors - the Maori Council still meet here) and the library (reading about psychology). Between 5 and 7 I sit in the square saying 'hi' to people who pass and ignore me. I watch an alsatian chase the seagulls and try to explain to a quiet, sad evangelical that I used to be a Christian. I ring twice about a flat at 100 Papanui Rd, and am told to come round tomorrow so everybody can meet me.

17 February, Christchurch


I received letters from Rob, Phil, Jacques and Margaret. First thing I make my weekly visit to social security first. I finished 'Future of an Illusion' by Freud. Basically he says that man will outgrow religion. In the afternoon I canoe for an hour - believe it or not this is the first time I've ever canoed. It was a bit laugh paddling up the river and drifting back - quite a cloudy day. A spectacular tea of sausage and chips. I whistle my way to 100 Papanui Rd - where I pass a pleasant half an hour trying to join in the conversation. Guy is very friendly, but on showing me out says the room has already gone. He says to come round any time I want. At the coffee bar I play a game of Tic Tac with some students.

20 February, Christchurch

Letters to Clare, Phil, Dave and Gwenda.

21 February, Christchurch

I receive a letter from Margaret, who says she's found a flat for three, so soon I'll start a new chapter.

22 February, Christchurch

14 whole interviews - it makes a lot difference having two pencils.

23 February, Christchurch

I go to Timaru - typical provincial museum and art gallery - it rains all day. Sundays in NZ are so closed. A PE student one way, and a separated leather worker coming back. I feel tired at the Folk Club and everybody makes mistakes. Maybe I should go mad some day.

24 February, Christchurch

I move into Flat 1, 11 Nairn Street, Addington, Christchurch. Mine is the middle tiny room up front, yellow doors, worn carpets, venetian blinds - could be OK - $23.

25 February, Christchurch

Letter from Melanie. I go junk shop scavenging - knives 30 cents, spoons 20 cents.

26 February, Christchurch

Letters from Maja - they are so beautiful, I can see her talking. Porridge for breakfast - I paint a bookcase white and gold - zip down town, visit a gallery, museum, town hall - tour for posters (Qantas lady most helpful - fly Qantas next time). I read a while in the library, and then go to 276 Barbados St for the rest of my stuff . I put an advert in the Press '1st class graduate offers reliability, enthusiasm and versatility for interesting position permanent or temporary - apply Press X7049' - cost me $1.68. A jug at the Gresham in the evening and some mediocre singing. I read Maja's letters again.

27 February, Christchurch

Another letter from Maja - how ready was I to love and leave Maja, as though I wanted the tears and melancholia.

28 February, Christchurch

We have one hard wooden threadbare divan, one moulting threadbare semi-armchair, one grubby beige plastic semi-armchair, a square wooden table and three matching chairs, a fire shield with ducks painted on, a small table and chair, a jooker and fridge in kitchen, three beds in three rooms, plus a couple of wardrobes. It's a pretty dull plain place, with yellow doors, grubby walls, grey flower carpets, and no rats. There's a big garden with three crumbling sheds, one crumbling garage, a washhouse and washer in half working order.

Books I've read in February (with rating out of 10): Karl Marx, 6; An enemy of the people, Ibsen, 7; The Erpingham Camp, Orton, 6; Basic economics, 6; Existentialism and humanism, Sartre, 4; William Blake, K Raine, 7; The Wild Duck, Ibsen, 8; The future of an illusion, Freud, 7; A collection of moments, 2; The Room, Pinter, 6; The dumb waiter, Pinter, 6; Short stories vol 2, Lawrence, 8; The confidential clerk, Elliot, 5; The stronger woman, Strindberg, 5; Mother and daughter, Strindberg, 6; Oedipus at Colonus, Sophocles, 7; Under Milk Wood, Dylan, 7; Sleuth, Schaffer, 6.

March 1975

Paul K Lyons


Copyright © PiKLe PuBLiSHiNG

1974 1975

1976 1977

1978 1979

1980 1981

1982 1983

1984 1985

1986 1987

1988 1989

1990 1991

1992 1993

1994 1995

1996 1997

1998 1999

2000 2001

2002 2003

2004 2005

INTRO to diaries