Monday, November 29, 2010

November in Gerolstein

Spring gives place to summer, and Gerolstein is a blaze of colour ... the gardens which Wendy tended during the winter are now bursting with flowers, the rose bushes heavy with blooms, and our friend the peacock adds his bit to this crazy rainbow of colours as he strides across the lawn, usually in search of a vacant fence post on which to perch…

The babies are born, and frolicking in the paddocks... comical Thomas, of course, frolics highest …

the mares are reinseminated, and hopefully all four in foal .. the sunshine beats down … that dreadful breed, the New Zealand shoddy workman, has done its worst and been sent on its way … the earthquake commission stays resolutely silent … and once our reliable fencers, tree-trimmers and road-menders have been, hopefully that will be it for the year.

As for the racing game, yes, we have been off to the races, and this last fortnight the lovely Elena – in foal, all being well, to Royal Mattjesty -- has given us a pair of thrills with a dashing front-running fourth at Timaru, and a very fine, solid finish for third in a sixteen-horse field (she was 14th favourite!) at Geraldine.
Little sister Agnes (below) has made her first appearances on our home track,

and the final member of my NZ racing team, Fritzl, yesterday visited the beach for the first time in the hands of Lawrence (McCormick), now ‘by appointment’ the race-day driver of my horses here.

Off the property, and away from the sporting field, I made my visit to NASDA and spent a day with the young men and women of the second and third years classes during what was the last week of their term. We had an enjoyable and, I hope, instructive time as I put them through their paces before saying ‘goodbye’ to the graduating students, and ‘see you soon’ to the about-to-be-third-years, with whom I shall have another and more advanced session once the new term starts, in 2011.
Needless to say, I saw some interesting talent. And, no, I’m not putting the ‘results’ down here. They have gone, privately, to the school’s principal with whom I shall rendez-vous over the holidays to chat some and to plot future doings …

However, not all is sunny, winning, pregnant and well. Dear mother has been severely unwell and in hospital, and I myself am locked in battles with bureaucracy. To wit, the British pensions department (I am due mine in February), who simply don’t answer letters or questions, and the US Visa department, who insist that I fly to Auckland to be ‘interviewed’, before getting a stamp to allow me to change planes, or even dock, aboard my ship, in their country. The world has gone mad. Why don’t they just look me up on Wikipedia? That’s what their President would do…
And then there is the FDC (I should be sued for ‘disrepute’ if I de-acronymed), commonly known as the stipendiary stewards of the NZ Harness Racing Organisation. I hear their ranks are to be severely revamped. Good. Let’s hope their ‘rules’ and code of behaviour are too. For the present ones are so ridiculous as to inspire not one ounce of respect.

Oh … Ship? Yes, I have found one. And though I’m bound to repeat that flight from New Zealand to Berlin in April, I shall return south in August on the comfortable waves, in the owner’s cabin of the French cargo ship, Manet … ah! civilised travel again.

And now its outside, to shovel some civilised horse manure and pull some weeds. Whilst back in Berlin Paul is preparing for the launch of his record, PGB is rehearsing his new musical, Thomas Z has just opened his, Thomas H is zinging between stage and screen, Olli is off on tour in Russia and Vienna, and Kevin is launched upon a new journalistic job and completing his history of gay pornography..
And I? I am pulling weeds in the southern sunshine. I know they are all much younger than I, but sometimes I wonder if I did right to withdraw from the world of artistic action so completely. Well, come April I will be back … and come April, Berlin will no longer be shivering in the snow…
For now, I pull weeds.

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