Wednesday, 28 November 2012

A long-awaited party...

I looked across at my alarm clock. It said 4.05am. Today I would not be rolling over and settling in for a few more hours sleep. Instead I was out of bed, collecting my laptop from my office and getting a little fired up.

Today was the day that the world premiere of the movie The Hobbit would be happening in Wellington, New Zealand.I’m a Hobbit fan, a Tolkien fan and a serious Lord of the Rings fan but I was 18,000 kms away in France.

 Such an event. Such an atmosphere. Such a lot of time and money spent on it. For a little country of only 4.3m people, they had really gone all out and thanks to the wonders of live-streaming online via TV3 I could watch it from bed in Epernon, France.

Clearly, I had entered the competition to win a trip to NZ and attend the premiere in vain. Hot knee voyeurism was all I could muster up. The enthusiasm of the event participants, stars and media was rampant and even Wellington put on her sunniest and least windy attire. The only niggles I had were the Prime Minister’s usual slurring and silly tie, and the transmission being interrupted for a considerable length of time by the News. By the time they got back to the event it was all over. The speeches were done, the guests had entered the Embassy theatre and the crowds were starting to clear the red carpet.
Good effort NZ and I really liked the 777-3000 low-level flyby.

I’ve been thinking about NZ lately, not in nostalgia or homesickness, just thinking and wondering what’s in store for it and me. As I watched the ad breaks for the Warehouse and other businesses I knew there were things back in Kiwiland I don’t miss at all. I spent 55 years in NZ and I can say I took anything positive it offered me. It wasn’t enough. NZ couldn’t ensure my survival by letting me have a job that suited my talents. I doubt it does even now. If I’d had a great job I’d never have left home for France.
I’m a Kiwi, it’s even the nickname Jean-Claude calls me. I read the NZ Herald online everyday and read the news on TV3. I keep an eye on Rise Up Christchurch Facebook and tweets. I don’t forget my country and I hope I’ll get to come back from time to time when money can permit but I no longer live there and I no longer need to.

France is fascinating, interesting, beautiful and irritatingly and frustratingly backward in so many ways but it’s a place that has given me the chance to continue to work, to explore parts of the world, to try a lot of new things. Stress aside, I still marvel that I’m here. Looking at NZ almost every day, as I do, there’s nothing new there to offer me right now. I know NZ so well and I remember the struggles to survive there. I’m struggling to survive in France too but it’s more stimulating here. Most expats have much better jobs than me, heaps more money and financial safety nets. Most of them never come back because it’s too difficult to find an employer who will hire them. Being a member of Kea network has taught me that.

So, a very proud Kiwi thoroughly enjoyed watching NZ, Wellington (where I lived for 5 years and made other visits there from time to time).  I was charmed by the genuine affection that international guests seemed to have for Kiwiland – folks like Royd Tolkien (great-grandson of the great author).

Today I celebrated being a Kiwi. One who loves the country but doesn’t need to live there. It’s liberating and exciting. What’ll happen to us next? Will I be back? I don't know but I count myself lucky to have the best of both countries in my life each day.

Photos courtesy of Classicfm and Stuff.


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