Mystery solved?

Fuzzle solved at least part of the mystery of the спасибо-shouting woman. Apparently this is common in Russia – if a performance is particularly good, someone will start slow-clapping and shout out something about how good it was. Other members of the audience will then take up the clapping and add their own praises. It’s kind of the equivalent of a standing ovation. So if the woman was Russian, she probably was waiting for other people to join in, which is why she kept it going so long.

The real mystery now is why she was removed from the theatre. Even if the staff of the theatre didn’t know about this tradition, then surely it would have just taken a quick conversation of the “This is how we do it in Russia” “But it’s not what we do in NZ” variety to sort it out?



Fuzzle is now Ffuzzle, having been inducted into the world of bookcrossing (what, you thought she could stay in my house for more than 24 hours without becoming a bookcrosser? ;-)). Some inconsiderate person had already taken her preferred nickname, hence the “posh” double-F’ed version.

I took her into town yesterday to visit our new OBCZ, and she was suitably impressed. I was impressed too, because the shelf has obviously been getting a lot of use – quite a few books gone, and a lot of unregistered books on the shelf to replace them. So obviously people are getting the book exchange idea, even if not everyone is journalling the books.

The Fuzzle has landed

As predicted, a busy and social few days. On Thursday after work we had drinks for a union colleague who is getting married, which meant I missed my lace class after all (I could have just turned up late, but I hadn’t had any dinner, and I wasn’t feeling all that creative anyway, having been bunged up with hayfever (or at least what I thought was just hayfever, but which had turned into a cold by Friday afternoon)). Oh well, there’s always next week.

On Saturday morning we got up bright and early (well early-ish, and maybe not so bright) to go out to the airport to meet Fuzzle. We decided to walk out there to save a taxi fare (there is a bus, but there’s an airport surcharge so it’s not much cheaper than a taxi, and anyway it’s only about a half an hour walk). Of course, we managed to mis-time leaving home so that it was a pretty brisk walk to get there on time (“on time” being a relative term – as we were crossing the carpark towards the terminal we could see the Singapore Airlines plane already being unloaded), but we made it to the arrivals hall just a few minutes after Fuzzle had come through the gate, so she hadn’t started to panic about our absence yet. I’d been a bit worried we wouldn’t recognise her after so long, but she looks exactly the same. Sounds different, though – she’s acquired a very English accent!

Once we’d got her home (by taxi this time – don’t worrry, we weren’t going to make her walk back with all her bags!) and plied her with cups of tea and a shower and all the other necessities of recovering from a long-haul flight, we went for a walk to the supermarket to give her a chance to stretch her legs (and to stock up with food for the weekend). It was funny seeing her “this is familiar but it’s not” reaction to being back in Christchurch. I remember that feeling from when I came home after 5 years away – it’s so disorientating to see so much that’s familiar (when you’re half expecting it to be completely changed), but then just when you’re getting used to the familiarity you see something that *has* changed, and it totally throws you. I think the biggest shock for her was seeing how much the price of food has shot up in the 8 years she’s been away – especially because she’s still thinking in pounds, so a few bags of groceries adding up to nearly a hundred dollars almost gave her a heart attack!

Much catching up later (Saffy didn’t seem to recognise her, by the way, but was very happy to have yet another human fussing over her :-)) we had an early dinner, and finally let her get some sleep. And I headed into town for some “culcha”.

Many many years ago, when I was about 6 or 7, a friend and I somehow got hold of the idea of Swan Lake. We didn’t know anything about the story, or the music, or anything much except that it was a ballet, and it involved swans. But we had a short period of obsession with performing it – which involved dressing up in her mother’s dressing gown (don’t ask me why – all I remember was that it was an essential part of the game, and probably made perfect sense in our 6-year-old logic – maybe it was white and fluffy or something), putting on some floaty music, and gliding around in what we thought was a swan-like way.

I’ve never really thought about it since then, but when I saw an ad on TV the other day saying that the Imperial Russian Ballet Company was touring NZ with Swan Lake, and would be doing a performance in Christchurch, the memory came back and I knew I just had to get a ticket.

So last night I went to the ballet. And it was wonderful. It’s the first time I’ve seen a full-length classical ballet live. I’ve been to a few “selections from” type performances, and to several modern ballets, but for some reason I’ve never been in the right place at the right time to see a proper one. I had a pretty awful seat (no way was I going to pay the hundred and something dollars for a good seat for something I was only going to out of a whim brought on by a childhood memory) so I couldn’t see one corner of the stage, and the music, disappointingly, was recorded (though I suppose expecting them to bring a full orchestra as well as the ballet company would be a bit much), but it didn’t matter – I still really enjoyed it. The dancers were so skilful, and the costumes so amazing, and the whole spectacle just so spectacular. I still didn’t know much more about the ballet than when I was 6 (yeah, I really should have at least googled the storyline before I went, or forked out for a programme), but it was actually pretty easy to figure out what was going on (and in the first intermission the woman sitting next to me was explaining the plot to her granddaughter, so that filled in a few gaps :-)). Definitely worth waiting 30-odd years to see!

And surprisingly enough, none of the swans were dressed in their mother’s dressing gown :-)

Oh, and there was a very strange incident during the second interval. As the curtain came down, everyone was applauding wildly, except for one woman who was slow-clapping and shouting something out in what sounded like Russian. It sounded to me like she was saying спасибо (“thank you”), but the way she was shouting it, and the slow clapping, didn’t sound like praise, more like criticism. Anyway, she kept this up for several minutes, with the people sitting around her looking more and more uncomfortable, until one of the ushers came and talked to her. He went away and brought another usher, who in turn brought someone in very formal dress who looked like he might be the manager, and after some discussion he escorted her out of the theatre. Very odd.

I’d been going to get a taxi home afterwards, but me being my usual cheapskate self decided to try and catch the last bus instead. Which would have been a good plan, except for the fact that I had half an hour to wait for it, during which time I was getting more and more tired. So when the bus finally arrived, I wasn’t paying enough attention, and somehow managed to get on the wrong bus (Easier to do than you might think, because the bus exchange doesn’t have dedicated platforms for each route, they just assign the buses to platforms as they arrive. So you have to watch the information boards and when your bus comes in they flash up the platform number. And often several buses come in at the same time, so you have to look carefully to get the right one.) Anyway, it wasn’t until the point where the bus should have turned off Riccarton Road and didn’t that I realised my mistake, which left me stranded at Church Corner with my last bus already gone. And as that area’s mostly populated by poor students, there aren’t a lot of taxi stands. And while I could have phoned for a taxi, at midnight on a Saturday night with virtually every taxi in Christchurch busy ferrying revellers around the clubs in the centre of town, I was going to have a long wait. As a last resort, I checked the timetable at the bus stop and discovered that the last Orbiter runs an hour later than the other buses. So in the end I only had to stand in the cold and drizzle for about 10 minutes, and then walk a few blocks at the other end. So if this cold gets worse, you’ll know why!

Busy busy busy

(Yeah, when am I not busy?)

After a nice quiet weekend, life has reverted to its usual whirl of activity (but it’s ok, it’s in a good way). Last week of term, so work has been the usual madhouse, of course, and it’s turning into quite a social week as well.

On Monday night I dropped round to visit my ESOL student. I haven’t seen her for a couple of months, because we didn’t have any lessons during Ramadan (because at this time of year sunset falls right at the time we’d normally be having a lesson, and feeding her family after their fast is understandably a higher priority than English lessons), and since then she’s been busy with Eid parties and visitors. So I dropped round for a cup of tea and a chat, to make sure she got a bit of English speaking practice, even if we didn’t have time for a formal lesson.

Last night was meetup night, but MrPloppy and I also wanted to go to the UC in the City lecture on Research in Mathematics (once a maths geek, always a maths geek, even if my academic interests lean more towards linguistics and psychology these days), so I used my organiser privileges to change the meetup time to 7.30. The lecture was fascinating – a lovely mix of mathematical history and glimpses into the seriously exciting research going on now.

Unfortunately the meetup wasn’t so exciting. Just me, MrPloppy, and MarcieNZ there. Which isn’t to denigrate MrPloppy or MarcieNZ’s conversational abilities – we had a great chat and the meetup was most enjoyable – but it would have been nice to see a few more people there. I’ll have to put a bit more effort into re-inspiring the local bookcrossers again.

Oh well, at least MarcieNZ and I were able to do a bit of book-swapping. She took Vegan Virgin Valentine by Carolyn Mackler, Mean Season by Heather Cochran, Emotionally Weird by Kate Atkinson, Lucy Talk by Fiona Walker, and Bookends by Jane Green to read and distribute to her fellow musicians at The Bog, and in return I grabbed Getting It by Jane Blanchard to read (yeah, I’m still feeling like reading light and fluffy stuff, so I can’t be 100% well yet), and Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen and Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy for the OBCZ.

Went out for lunch with Jenny today. Just to the Chinese place just off campus, but at least it was off campus, so made for a pleasant break in the day. We’ve been talking about escaping for lunch for ages, so it was nice to finally do it. Now I’ve just got to catch up with all the other people I keep saying “we must have lunch sometime” to…

Tomorrow night my lace class starts again, after the school holidays. I missed the last couple of classes of last term, what with being unwell and then being away, so I’ve got a lot of catching up to do. Luckily it’s pretty much a work at your own pace sort of class, so I will be able to catch up.

Then on Saturday we’ve got a visitor coming. This is the big news: it’s Fuzzle! For those who don’t remember her (which will be pretty much everyone, seeing as she’s been gone for seven or eight years – longer than I’ve been a bookcrosser, anyway), she used to be our flatmate, and was Ming and Saffy’s original owner. She left the cats with us when she went overseas, supposedly for “a year or so”… yeah, I think she underestimated that one :-) Anyway, we got an email from her totally out of the blue the other day, saying she was coming home and asking if she could stay with us for a while when she gets to Christchurch. It’ll be great to see her again – I wonder if Saffy will still recognise her?

Oh, and apparently Mum & Stepfather are going to be in Christchurch for a few days too. Don’t know if we’ll see them though, because it sounds like they’ll be in meetings most of the time.



It’s been a while, so time for a catch update (good thing Steve changed his mind about the links!):

I should go down to Alexandra more often! (Though at this rate, I reckon the entire population must have caught one of my books by now :-))