Save the date 2021 Festival 21-31 October

For the last time, I sat in the Crystal Palace waiting for the final breath of performance on the traditional day of rest. The dance floor I’d been immersed in the night before had become my cosy solace; melting into the rich maroon booth ready to usurp some goodness from a collection of assorted story-telling, to take home and unwrap later on.

At 95 years young, Sir Lloyd Geering is still sharp as a tack and on first impression I thought he was at least 20 years his junior. I wish that I had retained the brain cells that I may have drowned the night before, as Sir Lloyd’s entranced audience was packed to full capacity like a Church congregation on a Sunday morning. Oh how irony weaves its magic wand.

Not of a religious nature myself, I appreciated his interesting ideas which has now encouraged me to delve into his mind through his books. The passion for his philosophies echoed out of his mouth, with unfaltering delivery and astuteness of mind. He left me with the sentiment that with a world full of different ideas and opinions, it is imperative that we need to learn to find harmony. I am pleased to have had the opportunity to hear this man speak live.

After a coffee and cake break with moments to share the new tonal range in my voice, Steve Braunias who’d hosted Sir Lloyd had then swapped into his seat to enlighten us on his journey through writing Civilisation. Admittedly, the random thought of doing something of a similar nature had popped into my head several years ago, so it was great to hear about someone who’d pulled through with the idea.

Steve is an entertainer both from the page and in person. I noted that his failed beginnings in Journalism institutes have been a means to add humour, as he does clearly have the last laugh in that regard. This was a suitable programme follow on from Sir Lloyd, where Steve remarked that Kiwis can’t all be lumped together as ‘good jokers’. I was moved to tears when his penchant for court room stories emphasized the feeling that life can change in a moment and that you have no inkling of how you will respond at that given time. I noticed an older gentleman blurred through my glaze, with his head bowed and eyes downcast too; the visible effects of a damn good yarn.

A stretch and shuffle and I joined Jo the festival director and Claire the producer and publicist, in their booth. We sat like three little birds, twittering utterances through the trance of tiredness; the kind of conversations that we probably won’t be able to recall.

Poetry & Song was the digestif of the festival leaving a tantalising taste on your tongue, with the emotion of the last ten days and nights poured into a glass to sip and enjoy from. Bill Manhire’s poetry was transformed from the page into the mesmerising duo of Nathan Meehan’s piano playing and Hannah Griffin’s stirring voice. It lightly danced around in my head, reminiscent of Billy Joel in both instrument and singing. It was ok to close my eyes, sway and just be… and not because I’d gotten into bed at 3am that morning, but because my ears were being delighted to something so serene. I felt that it must have been quite humbling for Bill sitting on stage, listening to his poetry melodically come alive.

Through my weariness, Poetry & Song delivered an impeccable ending to the journey that’d been. Announcing the final piece came with a deep inhale for the end was right on nigh and the words of Rain interpreted from Hone Tuwhare, metaphorically provided a heart-warming cleanse to the close.

Love ‘All Good Things Must Come To An End…. Sigh’ NJ