Wednesday, March 18, 2009

WOW-Friday Wanaka and Cromwell

You have to love provincial towns and the people who choose to or are forced to inhabit them. Our first stop for the morning was Mount Aspiring College, or MAC as they affectionately refer to themselves. Our talk was held in the senior common room, and this common room had a rock climbing wall. Naturally Anna felt compelled to climb it, and naturally, I didn't. We were learning new things about our fellow busees every day, so we could add rock wall climbing to Anna's impressive resume.

I don't know what it is but they seem to breed incredibly energetic young male English teachers down here. We met Alan at Twizel Area School, and now Chris at MAC. MAC was also blessed with Florence, the librarian, who was French and wins the award for the most outstanding baking provided by any group during our tour - still warm from the oven chocolate chip cookies, and a selection of sandwiches and wraps. Yum - thanks Florence. It was great to see what they were doing with their library.

I think the bit the students enjoyed most was Steve regailing them with stories of his meeting with Michael Jackson, the gloved one, and the live demonstration of what happens if you make the mistake of trying to shake his hand.

Funny moment of the morning - looking out the window and seeing a boy piggybacking another boy and a girl perched on top of him. Don't worry, one of the teachers quips, they're farming boys. If that wasn't funny enough, this aside caught coming from the mouth of the young man later as he walked back unencumbered - "Must find me a heavier girl."

Words on Wheels display in Cromwell Paper Plus

Our next stop was Cromwell College, and despite being only forty minutes down the road, it had a completely different feel to MAC. The students here were harder, though still lovely and engaging. The auditorium we were in had the most amazing colourful relief mural of a local Maori legend involving a taniwha, the wind and two headed dogs. They inspired David to get the kids to do an improvised play about Maui fishing up the North Island. The kids had a great time with it, and we were all amused at their sugestion as to what Maui could use as bait for his hook - his brothers!

Anna was delighted when the school librarian told her they didn't have her books at the moment as they kept getting stolen! That has to be one of the best endorsements of a writer's ability to capture their audience.

Friday was a three-eventer and the last gig for the night was a talk at Cromwell's Golden Gate Conference Centre. (Before the event I got the award for furthest inadvertant flight of a cherry tomato at dinner - can't take me anywhere.)

Our evening event went well, despite a few equipment issues - the podium and microphone (I have an allergy to them) and Steve managing to break his reading glasses and having to borrow some off the audience. The audience responded well to all our readings and questions, and particularly enjoyed Janet's poetry and Steve's reading about dear Mr Wilson in Death of a Ladies Man.

It was lovely for us all to kick back after a hectic day and enjoy a few quiet drinks and scintillating conversation out on the balcony. WOW has been out of this world.

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