A few days ago I visited the Auckland Lantern Festival for the first time. I went at 4pm because, as I’ve said before, crowds + small children = stress. The fortunate thing about going at 4pm was that the crowds were minimal so my small children coped just fine. The unfortunate thing about going at 4pm was that the beautiful, handmade Chinese lanterns weren’t lit, because, well, it was 4pm
But the food stalls were open, and I discovered that you apparently don’t need to be a purveyor of Chinese food, or indeed Asian food of any variety, in order to have a food stall at the Lantern Festival. Apparently nothing says Chinese New Year like a plate of tacos and a ginger beer
As I was gazing at the food stalls, trying to decide what to try (yes to steamed pork buns, but pass on the fried octopus on a stick), I noticed a donut stall. And in front of the donut stall was a police officer. Now, in my life there have been few moments so serendipitous as this one. A cop at a donut stand? This was a real-life cliché I was witnessing, and I had to stop for a moment and appreciate it.
I parked the pram with Miss Five Months happily snoozing inside next to the footpath and not-so-surreptitiously took in the scene before me. Was the cop buying a donut for himself or someone else? Would cops perhaps get free donuts by virtue of their profession? As I pondered these Important Questions, I accidentally bumped into someone standing next to me. It was another police officer, and he was watching me watching his colleague at the donut stall, and the look on his face could only be described as Profound Amusement. I met his gaze, and instead of being embarrassed to be caught, I carpe diemed and nodded toward his fellow Officer of the Law.
“The irony!” I said brightly (unsure of whether this was an actual example of irony, because I can never remember the precise definition of the word, which may in itself be ironic, or may not.) “A cop at a donut stand!” My new friend the police officer continued to look Profoundly Amused, and so I blathered on, “Are we the only ones paying attention enough to see this stereotype in action? He just smiled, and we watched together as his colleague started to leave the donut stand, and I suddenly realised: “I should have got a photo! ”Profoundly Amused Police Officer said, drily, “Looks like you’ve missed your chance.”
The moment had passed, and he began to move away. As I wandered off in the opposite direction, pushing my pram, he called after me, “We’ve got senses of humour too, you know.” Because police officers, after all, are also human beings with lives and families and appetites for donuts (or maybe tacos) and yes, senses of humour. And if I could go back to that moment, I wouldn’t have taken a photo – I would have bought both of those cops a whole bag of donuts and thanked them for what they do to protect our lives and our families.
What I’m reading this week… The Girl Before, by JP Delaney (Hachette $34.99)
I love mysteries, and thrillers, and this mystery-thriller had a bit of crime drama thrown in for good measure. In a similar vein to Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, the protagonists are hiding secrets which make them unreliable narrators – but also very human, which is why this book made me squirm. Told in alternating chapters from the points of view of Jane and Emma, two tenants of an ultra-modern, ultra-minimalist house called One Folgate Street, what happened “then” with Emma is eerily echoed by what happens “now” with Jane. One Folgate Street is less a house and more a living, sentient technological being, and the elusive, enigmatic architect who designed it may be the key to unravelling the mystery that Emma left behind for Jane to discover. Or maybe not. The suspense kept me captivated throughout, and I alternately loved and hated and loved most of the characters, and the ending was unexpected. A great weekend read.
Have a great week