With all this talk of Jupiter and Venus being in close proximity in the sky right now (and St Patrick’s Day tomorrow) , I was reminded of one of the funniest moments of my life. It’s loosely connected to the stars through some man-made haze. I hope it comes across ok because this conversation really happened.
I was with Emmo in the small town of Punakaiki on the West coast of New Zealand´s South island. It was 2008. Punakaiki itself isn´t very famous apart from the Pancake Rocks which funnel the Tasman Sea into spectacular displays of water fireworks. The sea can be rough there. The winds whip up the waves and it comes together on the West Coast. Kiwis call it the Wet Coast.
Despite its limitations of one hostel, store and pub, the place (I can’t even call it a town) is peaceful with rivers to canoe up, some trails into the verdant forest and great views. I´d stayed on my first trip to NZ and was determined to stay again. I wasn´t let down.
The hostel was now owned by a German and I arrived at the same time with a German girl and two Brazilians. That night I persuaded them to go to the pub down the road. I wanted to watch some rugby. The two locals in the pub had never met Brazilian girls and were frankly astounded taking me aside as if I was their pimp. We all went out for a smoke and then the Kiwi locals invited back to their batch when the pub closed. We all went.
Kiwis use the word batch to describe a beach house. I’d stayed in one on Coramandel with Mel a few weeks earlier but the locals promoted this one as the oldest in town. In a town of maybe 20 houses, I’m not sure what status that deserves. So after some beers and a lot of smoking, we were all pretty baked. I went quiet and started mulling over the world while Emmo chatted away. The two locals went out for some air. What happened next still makes me giggle.
Upon returning, they were discussing what they’d seen particularly in the sky. Once the conversation started I had some clairvoyant instincts. I could feel the smile coming all the way from my intestines.
‘So its called Orion´s Belt then…yeah.’
‘That bit, up there.’
‘It looks more like a bucket.’
‘Yeah I suppose.’
By this point I was smiling away. Sure being stoned helped but I felt I saw the joke coming and yet had no idea these two could inadvertently pull out this comic masterpiece. After ten seconds of confused silence, one turned to the other and with dead-pan seriousness said,
‘I didn’t know the Irish were into astrology.’
I completely exploded in to hysterics, turning away to face the fire and laughing until my guts could take it no more. Tears were rolling down my cheeks and I was gasping for air. The Kiwis had sat down and Emmo was laughing at my uncontrollable giggling. I’m not sure if anyone except me got the joke. Or even if there was one.
We left soon after that. The air was cold and I continued gasping and giggling. I went to bed and woke up radiant. It was time to move on.