Each year around this time, Queenstown heralds the arrival of winter with what they call "Winterfest". Which is an amalgamation of the words "Winter", and "Festival", for those of you conceived after twelve Bacardi Breezers in an alleyway just outside Romford. Or for those of you that use the same word for Christmas while tiptoeing around people who aren't offended at all by the word, and probably more offended that you have taken offence at Christmas on their behalf.
Quite why they need this festival to mark the arrival of winter is beyond me. I know it's winter, everyone does, it's Baltic outside. It's Baltic inside for Christs sake. The fact that I have to spend a good ten minutes coaxing my inverted penis out of the warmth of its inner sanctum before I pee is a clear indication that it's brass monkeys outside. Any kind of camp parade through the streets only serves as a twisted reminder that I currently have a mangina. But then this is probably the primary reason as to why I will never be on the town planning committee.
Running for 10 days, the festival kicked off with a firework display which I was able to watch from the comfort of a van while I was working. I ooh'ed and aah'ed as I tried to avoid the idiots standing in the road of all places watching the display, and then cursed as it seemed wherever I tried to make a delivery no-one was available to receive as they are all watching the display that lasted all of a minute and a half. Personally, I wasn't impressed. I never am. Mainly because I am not 7 any more, and haven't been for a few years now. Other things were going on, but I have paid little attention to any of it, and successfully avoided any kind of social interaction during this period.
Due to the festival, and school holidays this week, work has been manic. For the first time in many years, I am actually having to work to earn money. I hope to have normal service restored soon. However it has meant a lot of driving and delivering which has led me to discover that no-one out here knows how a roundabout works. For me, this is a good thing as I can just fly straight on without worrying about the idiots all sitting around at each entrance waiting for someone else to go. There have, as yet, been no accidents. But being a delivery driver has most certainly given me an over-inflated sense of self-importance and a complete disregard for laws. No seat belt?? Check. Breaking speed limits?? I have deliveries to make for Christ's sake. No parking?? I LIVE for no parking signs, parking in front of them fills me with childish glee. I have deliveries, did you not hear that the first time?? The van is now filled with empty cookie wrappers and coffee mugs, the only thing yet to do is import a yellowed copy of the Daily Sport and leave it on the dashboard.
As in all ski towns across the globe, hitching is a big thing here. In a strange twist of fate, the only times I have been offered a lift have been when I haven't been hitching, and was quite happy to walk. One of those times was from a gay fella that kept banging on about the Mardi Gras the night before. Don't get me wrong - no rant coming. If you are picking me up and saving me from walking I wouldn't care if you had sex with microwaved melons. I just thought I may be more likely to be picked up by him if I had a digit in the air. As soon as I make an effort to get a lift I am largely ignored, which I don't mind too much, because I never pick up hitchers myself. I have deliveries to make for Christs sake.
During the festival, my cousin from Auckland came down to stay for a few days, which was really nice. Growing up we never really spent much time together as she has a brother my age, and she was my sisters age, so we have probably spent more time hanging out together on the other side of the world than we ever did in the UK. And it was awesome. We went out skiing a few times, a tiny bit of touring, and some drinking (as there is literally nothing else to do in Queenstown), caught up, and exchanged family stories of which some were invariably similar albeit happening a few years apart.
It was while she was here that I read the news that has shocked the world, and please accept my apologies for taking a slightly morose turn.
I am very used to famous people, idols, and cultural icons passing away while I am out of the country. It seems to happen every time to all the people I love that have played a major part in my life as a child, and sometimes as an adult. Tony Hart, Mike Reid, Wendy Richards, Jeremy Beadle, Richard Whitely, all have died whilst I am abroad leaving me in a bewildered state of mourning, and leaving everyone else wondering why I am in that state. Every time I leave the country I am petrified of who will be next on the list. I have my fingers crossed for Dion, but it seems the people I despise are immortal.
This time round, it started with David Carradine. I can't say I knew much about him, but as a bit of a martial arts fan, I was starting to get a bit worried. My concerns were furthered by the death of Shih Kien. At 96, I guess he had a good innings, and I knew very little about him too aside from his star turn in the legendary Enter the Dragon as Han. I hoped and prayed every night, as it was following a bit of a martial arts trend. How would I cope if - God forbid - next on the list was Jackie Chan?? Or Van-Damme?? Or even Seagal??
And then the worst happened. Someone huge, someone who I remembered fondly from my childhood, someone I would watch on the television wide-eyed and with utmost admiration. I am talking of course of Farrah Fawcett. Most will remember her from her role in Charlies Angels, but for me her seminal work was the classic The Cannonball Run. It had the elements EVERY great should have. Cars racing across America, Burt Reynolds 'tache, a rubbish super hero, Roger Moore parodying Bond - even more so than he did in his way too long stint AS Bond, a pair of drink driving priests (which is always hilarious), a motorcycle stuck in a permanent wheelie due to a morbidly obese guy on the back (again, always hilarious), Jackie Chan, a cross-eyed doctor with a drink problem and borderline mental health issues, 2 pendulous chicks in a Ferrari, and Farrah Fawcett.
One could draw parallels between the tragic passing of Fawcett and Mother Teresa. And here is a full list of two very tenuous reasons why. They both provided enlightenment in their own way - Teresa more sensual, Fawcett slightly more sexual in my case. And both tragedies were eclipsed by someone slightly more famous, who had a history of touching children. So as expected, out of the woodwork come the thousands of fans shedding tears for someone they felt they knew but had no idea about whatsoever. It sickens me to see so many people in mourning, and getting caught up in the drama of someone who they loved but never met passing away, when half of them would barely shed a tear for a close relative.
Fortunately, aside from a few hits being played in bars and shops out here, it seems to have passed by without incident. There have been no vigils, no collective crying sessions in the streets, in fact the most I have seen is a sign on a whiteboard by a chairlift which are usually reserved for telling skiers they have left their lights on, saying "RIP King of pop. Black Subaru Legacy, your lights are on". A fitting tribute I feel.
So it is with a sense of sadness that I say, Rest In Peace Farrah Fawcett. You were MY Mother Teresa.