THE most hushed up wartime incident to occur on New Zealand soil happened 74 years ago today. At least three Gisborne men were there but they are no longer around to tell their tale. Not that they seemed to ever have talked much about the mass shooting of Japanese prisoners at the Featherston prisoner of war camp.
The Rhythm and Vines festival was still going off with a pulsating end set in the hours before day break on New Years Day.
I wanted to spend more time at the festival, particularly to see Scribe and P-Money on New Year’s Eve, but other commitments came up.
So I got up early on January 1 and drove out to the site for a last taste. The new year was four hours old, and it was still dark, but the pop-up city’s shops were open and party people danced like there was no tomorrow because tomorrow had already arrived.
The air was warm and moist and the streets were solid mud but front of the Vines stage, a crowd of stripped down bodies heaved in the nuclear light to Australian duo Sweet Mix’s big beats and digital pyschedelia.
THE yellow soup we called the piddling pool at the McRae Baths was where my brothers and I learned to swim. When we got the hang of it, we joined Comet Swimming Club and graduated to hours of lane-grazing in the big pool.
With its corrugated iron, barbed wire perimeter and its barrack changing rooms, there was something of the prisoner of war camp aesthetic to the McRae . Even so, it is number 10 on my hit parade of 10 memorable swimming pools.
It rained a bit and a sub-tropical wind rustled in the stalks as I buried Toto in the sweetcorn paddock but he was already cold because the old man put him down at lunchtime except the injection wasn’t strong enough and the dog crawled under the house to die and the old man phoned me to ask if could come out and crawl after him, Toto, I mean, except it turned out he wasn’t under the house but was laying on the damp earth in the shadow of the villa and hardly breathing so I carried him into the sun and the old man came around the side of the house with a sack and a freshly loaded syringe but then he couldn’t find a vein in Toto’s leg so I rolled him over and he aimed the needle at his liver but he was too fat so we had to find a bigger needle to reach his heart which was a bit ugly except the he was too half dead to feel pain although he hyperventilated for a bit as I watched him fade away because I wasn’t going to put him the sack until he was gone then I said see y’later bae and slid the sack around him and carried him into the sweetcorn paddock and dug a deep hole so the dogs wouldn’t dig him up then went and washed my hands in the bathroom and rinsed out my mouth except my hands still smelled like shit and the beer we had afterwards didn’t taste too good either.