... was the first city I visited, when I was a boy, about eight. I went with my sister Rachel on the Landliner. I remember us getting on the big bus at the military base at Waiouru, the desolate mountain, the windy tussock, the wide empty road. And I remember arriving in Kelburn, at the house of Noeline & Rex Bruning, with whom we stayed. There was a concrete wall and steps we had to walk up to a white painted house within which lived a sophistication that I had never imagined. Noeline painted in oils landscapes I already knew from around about where we lived. Rex made wine. We may have tasted some. There's a photo of Rachel and me on an elephant at the Wellington zoo, which I almost recall being taken. I do remember on that visit seeing monkeys fucking in their cage and the adults looking away.

That was the late 1950s. In the late 1960s we moved to Upper Hutt and I knew the city a little as a place where there was another life from the sport-afflicted, booze-soaked, sex-obsessed, gambling existence I endured in that last year of school at Heretaunga College. Coffee bars in Majoribanks Street with black-painted fishnet ceilings. Widgies and Bodgies, maybe even Beatniks. But when I left home I went to Auckland.

Returned to Wellington in 1974, in the throes of an unadmitted nervous breakdown (breakdance?) and over a few years got back on my (dancing) feet and, not coincidentally, found my direction in life. Always felt gratitude for that, primarily to the people who showed me the way but incidentally also to the place where it happened.

Headed out in 1977 for Auckland, San Fran, N.Y. etc etc. without a backward glance. Since then have returned in a casual fashion, as you do, when the opportunity was there. The Clash's London Calling (op. cit.) is a Wellington record for me, listened to it blasting out at Gaylene Preston's place in Roxborough Street, Mt. Vic., while Barry Saunders was painting the house. The first time I felt the power of expression descend, not as potential, an actuality. Those texts are lost but never mind.

To get to the point: this visit I went without expectation and found ... astonishment. All the times I have known the City were present as I walked around it; even those eras I researched without 'knowing' were there; those times my father told me of; times before when he was there; ghost clacking in the titi palms telling of the time before there was time.

Green flash from carbon cradles on trolley poles; paperboys calling out eeeeve-ening po-ooost!; breath steaming from mouths going somewhere not anywhere; a man trying to wrestle a double bass into the back seat of a taxi, on his way to a jazz-and-poetry gig; seeing inscribed in stone the words this is the capital city of the verb and laughing to think it was my mother wrote this absurdity.

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