This page written circa 26 September, 2023.

Five Visions of Captain Cook, III

Two chronometers the captain had,
One by Arnold that ran like mad,
One by Kendal in a walnut case,
Poor devoted creature with a hangdog face.

Arnold always hurried with a crazed click-click
Dancing over Greenwich like a lunatic,
Kendal panted faithfully his watch-dog beat,
Climbing out of Yesterday with sticky little feet.

Arnold choked with appetite to wolf up time,
Madly round the numerals his hands would climb,
His cogs rushed over and his wheels ran miles,
Dragging Captain Cook to the Sandwich Isles.

But Kendal dawdled in the tombstoned past,
With a sentimental prejudice to going fast,
And he thought very often of a haberdasher's door
And a yellow-haired boy who would knock no more.

All through the night-time, clock talked to clock,
In the captain's cabin, tock-tock-tock,
One ticked fast and one ticked slow,
And Time went over them a hundred years ago.

Kenneth Slessor

As of now, New Zealand has the highest homelessness rate per capita in the OECD. If you are homeless, this is probably a good place to do it, apart from the weather! (Not so dry, not so warm.) Between news reports and Nomadland I have come to appreciate that condition a little better.

As Fern says, "I may be houseless, but I am not homeless", meaning she has friends and connections, and she knows where she will sleep. I don't know for sure what that feels like, but I guess that what I feel now, have felt on similar occasions in the past, is similar. This is because I have set my dates and I know when I will leave NZ. It is as if this house is not home any more. I feel without roots, but I know where I will sleep. The "Ker Conway tractor" drags me away, as Arnold dragged Captain Cook to the Sandwich Isles.

Of course I will return, for colleagues, my family, and friends, but I will feel as if my anchor is in Newtown and being in NZ is being "in the field", to quote Darius Jedburgh. My furniture and tchotchkes will reside again in Chelmsford St, Newtown.

Today a copy of the DVD of The Road From Coorain arrived. It is not nearly as wonderful as the book, and the plot has changed in a bunch of ways, but the message is the same: There can come a time when you have to move on.

The price of housing in Australia and New Zealand has been mentioned in despatches as a matter of humanitarian concern. Even the NY Times noticed (permalink). For much of the 20th century, and perhaps centuries previous, a person could expect to buy a house they considered suitable for around 3 times their annual salary. Now it is closer to ten times, especially in commute range of a city. The median house in Sydney now costs almost A$1.4M! NZ is working on this harder than most places (permalink). It is sad that the upzoning is not accompanied by a law against ugliness, builders here embrace ticky-tacky.

Sydney is described as an inheritance city, meaning you can't break into its housing market, you have to inherit to afford to buy. Rents can be crippling. It may thus come as a surprise that renting has become cheaper, at least in comparison to capital value, if not income. In the 1980s in Sydney renters paid about $100/week per $100k of value. Now it is closer to 2/3 of that figure. Similar here in Hamilton. Rent is still outrageous given salaries, though.

The ideal, for me, is the "15-minute city". Perhaps that is why I like Paris. 15mC is a many-decades-old idea in urban planning, the name more recent. Under its new, catchy name, 15mC hit TED more than a decade ago. These days there are conspiracy theories, which tells you it is becomong popular.

I will miss this house, I will miss the large private garden, the ponds. Nevertheless I look forward to Chelmsford St. Newtown approximates a 30-minute-city environment. I will enjoy the shedding of responsibility. No pets, no kids, no garden, no car, less to clean, less to maintain, more uncomitted time.

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