04 June 2007
This makes me so very sad.
Simon Lindsay aka Dodderyoldfart of Rest Area 300m passed away last Wednesday.
He had one of the best blogs on the web.
Witty, serious, cultured, urbane, articulate, outrageous, ironic. Plain funny,too.
You have to delve down deep into his earliest blogs to find out why.
Here's a clue from 11 February 2005 - the day after he started and his third post.
The Road builders
My Parents were musicians of the long haired variety. The House was always full of amazing people. New Zealand was a very grey place in the '50's. Divorce Court proceedings in the tabloid weekly "Truth" were gossiped over, though no one admitted to reading it. Girls suddenly disappeared " to stay with relatives upcountry" after "I I told you so..." dalliances with louts who rode motorbikes. Curtains were peered through, partyline telephones listened in on, Communists were everywhere, the yellow horde might pour up the beaches any day. But in our house there were legendary parties, discussions, arguments, and life was tempestuous. There were composers, poets, artists, and eccentrics. Many of them were refugees from Europe. Pianists, fiddle players, opera singers, and they were exotic. One of my favourites as a kid, was a kiwi poet, Denis Glover. I remember him insisting on carting our pet lamb around under his arm and getting it pissed on whisky and milk, and proclaiming that this was the lamb of God and trying to sing the Agnus Dei. I remember the frantic efforts to hide the booze when Denis came up the drive. He could drink a town dry when he was "in his cups". His nose went red and his hair was slicked over, he fascinated me. He was, and is, my favourite poet.
The other day we were digging post holes for new road signs on Mt Messenger and hit a layer of red baked papa clay. The oldtimers used as it as road metal. The nearest shingle rivers were miles away. They fell trees and fired clay in huge layered bonfires. I thought of Denis.
Rolling along far roads on holiday wheels
now wonder at their construction, the infinite skill
that balanced the road to the gradient of the hill,
the precision, the planning, the labour it all reveals.
An unremembered legion of labourers did this,
scarring the stubborn clay, fighting the tangled bush,
blasting the adamant, stemming the unbridled rush
of torrent in flood, bridging each dark abyss.
Their tools were pitiful beside the obdurate strength of the land:
crosswire of the theodolite, pick-point, curved shovel,
small tremor of a touched-off charge; but above all
the skill and strength, admirable in patience, of the hand.
These men we should honour above the managers of banks
They pitted their flesh and their cunning against odds
unimagined by those who turn wordily the first sods.
And on the payroll their labour stands unadorned by thanks.
Who they are,or where, we do not know.
Anonymous they die
or drift away; some start the job again; some in a country pub
recount old deeds amid that unheeding hubbub,
telling of pitiless hills, wet mountain roads where rusting barrows lie.
Doddery neglects to mention that "the parents of the long-haired variety" were Alex and Wendy Lindsay.
Well he would, wouldn't he...
Alex Lindsay was Concertmaster of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and recognised as one of New Zealand's finest musicians.
I met Simon last year.
We'd linked blogs at some stage and I mailed him a tongue-in-cheek "Notice of Inspection" which he duly published.
So we're driving down SH3 at the end of October last year, see a road crew. see someone who might fit the pre-conceived image, wind down the window and ask " Any chance you've got someone called Doddery on the crew?"
Much mirth from many and a resigned sigh from one in particular.
So we leaned (shovel and all) against the side of the CRV, watching the rest of the crew working and had a chat for a couple of minutes. Confirmed that The Whitebait Inn at Mokau was indeed THE place for fritters (it is) and then
Him: "How did you find me?"
Me: "Registration plates on your truck. You blogged it a few weeks back"
Him: Pause "I'll have to be more careful in future, then ..."
The last time we mailed, we discussed fishing, the cricket, single malts, Don McGlashan and the Muttonbirds and the fact that we'd bought some land in Mapua.
"Enjoy Mapua and the scallops, you swine!" he wrote.
I shall, Simon.
I'll think of you often.