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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Good place gone in cloud of dust (Joe Bennett)

Good place gone in cloud of dust

Last updated 09:14 20/04/2011
They've knocked the Volcano down. And today the wind is howling like a goat in a trap.

You may never have seen a goat in a trap but if you've ever heard the noise a rabbit makes in one, multiply that by the number of times that a goat outweighs a rabbit and you'll have some idea of what the weather's doing. It's windy.

It's also raining, though when I say raining I wouldn't want you to think rain.

Rain is vertical. This stuff's horizontal, because of the goat-trap wind.

It's the sort of rain that renders an umbrella useless and its owner sodden. And the dog's bored so I'm going to have to take him out for a walk soon and I have no idea how I am going to stay dry. Actually I have every idea how I am going to stay dry and the answer's with difficulty.

A bloke in the Volcano, which is where I get all my useful knowledge - or rather got - once told me that if it is raining and you have to go from A to B it makes no difference whether you walk or run. You will get equally wet.

"Balls," I said. "If you run you spend less time getting from A to B, ergo you get less wet."

"Balls," he said. "If you run you hit more raindrops per second, ergo it all equals out."

It was a typical Volcano conversation and I have no idea whether the man was right, but I've just come up with a rival theory about horizontal rain.

If you walk in horizontal rain you get seriously wet, but if you could run at exactly the speed of the wind it seems to me that you wouldn't get wet at all.

You would be travelling, you see, at the same speed and in the same direction as the raindrops. So the drops in front of you would stay in front of you and those behind would never catch up and you'd be moving in a little oasis of dryness which would only be breached during the acceleration and deceleration at the beginning and end of a dog walk.

I can't put the theory to the test because my days of running like the wind are as gone as the Volcano, but I can see no flaw in the physics and would like to find out if anyone else can. And the place to do that, of course, is the bar at the Volcano. Or rather was. The earthquake buggered it. They knocked it down on Friday.

It was a bar and it was a restaurant. But it didn't do any of that celebrity chef stuff with too little food on too much plate. That sort of thing is so much nonsense. If you go to a restaurant for the food, you're just short of friends.

Nor did the Volcano inflate its menu, with drizzled this and vine- ripened that. Though actually I'm only presuming it didn't. I never read the menu. I just ordered fish of the day because it was easy and I was too busy making noise.

In short I ate and drank at the Volcano but I didn't go there to eat and drink. I went there to be happy.

It was a restaurant in the true sense of the word, a place that restored you.

The food filled the belly. The booze eased the mind. And the people made you happy. Food, booze and people. It's the oldest recipe in the book and the only one that matters.

Twenty-three years the Volcano stood, which is exactly how long I've been in Lyttelton. I attended its 10th and its 20th birthday parties and can remember little of either.

How many words were uttered within its walls? Trillions, I suppose. And how much did any of them mean? Not much at the time and nothing at all now. A good bar, a good restaurant, exists only in the present tense.

But the trillions of words and the innumerable gallons of air expelled as laughter accrete, just as a thousand years of services can hang in the gravid air of a cathedral.

But then the big yellow wrecking machine rumbles in on its tank tracks, and its claw sinks into the roof, and the iron buckles and the roof joists give and into the air goes something held.

And a couple of days later the wind howls over the rubble where a good place was and I'm about to take a dog for a walk in the rain.

- The Press

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