Monday, August 16, 2010

In a Manor of speaking

I grew up in Wellington province 60 miles (100km) north of the city and I remember the excitement of early independence, emerging adolescence, around 12 or 13 years old when I and a couple of other boys were allowed to travel away from home, if we agreed to stick together and not talk to strangers. On school holidays this included Friday day trips to Wellington, 9am railcar down and the 9 pm railcar back [ this later trip ran on Fridays only]. My mates and I  scoffed endless rubbish food,  rode escalators up and the cable car up and down, and took the tram out to the zoo and back, gigling ourselves silly with our secret stock of endlessly repeated "in" jokes and special sayings ("We laughed to the tears ran down our legs").  On at least one occasion we even went to see some movies in  a middle of the day,  I vaguely remember a tarzan movie amongst these, showing at the continuous movies theatre, the Roxy, with a distinctive curved deco style facade and a foyer plastered with gaudy posters of  brazen passionate women and macho heroes. 

Small town boys in the early sixties mesmerized by a city. every bit as exciting to us as New York!

It's cliche' but has to be said - Wellington, with its ornate Victorian houses cascading off the hills into the gully of narrow city streets below, the slithering whisper of trolley buses has always punched way above its weight in visual intensity, noise, smell and atmosphere.

This has nothing to do with transit [but it's my Blog, yeah, so I decide!] and I use this wee nostalgic rave as a chance to promote another NZ blog I enjoy - The Architectural Centre . This blog currently has a posting showing a wonderful set of photos of cinemas around the Manners Street area in years gone by.

Isn't it amazing with all the modern technologically we can not achieve the magic combination of exuberance and dignified power and restraint of the best of the old picture palaces. Or the wonderful depth and complexity of old Edwardian facades, dozens of elements beautifully composed and balanced. An advantage of being a city bus driver, in and out of the city centre several times a day, sitting at traffic lights enjoying the micropause -  the city landscape, the these grand old buildings become your workplace, as familiar as the rooms of your own house. Even today I can generally remember what once stood on this or that corner, if it is on a bus route or former bus route.

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