Sunday, 27 January 2008

...The British...

Kiwis are fat and ugly. Our cities are disasters, and our wine is disgusting. Well, according to a new book put out by British author Duncan Fallowell, entitled "Going As Far As I Can".

In it, he goes spewing about how his trip to New Zealand was a disaster, and how New Zealand as a whole is a disaster. He criticizes every aspect of NZ, calling Christchurch a "visual disaster zone". Auckland is "not my type of town", and Wellington is worse. He said that NZers were fat and ugly, covered in too many tattoos (which is true in some aspects, but also true for every other nation, including Britain, as well). Our wine has no taste with a "slight chlorine finish".

And yes, he is from Britain. Beautiful Britain, with commieblocks, weird accents from all over, no real scenery (which you have to go to Scotland to view), and terraced worker's houses compromising most cities. Don't forget it was out-and-out socialist from the 1950s right until Ms. Maggie Thatcher (who, despite her very conservative outlook, did wonders for Britain considering the state it was in).

Cheap little hypocrite.


Duncan Fallowell said...

You seem to know a lot about my book. When did you read it?

Duncan Fallowell

Callum said...

Duncan, if that really is you, I can't claim to have read the book yet. The information I've gathered is from numerous sources from the internet, including NZ news sites. For intance, I also do gather that nice things were said about Christchurch and its people in the book.

Anonymous said...


I haven't read the book either, but I did hear Duncan on the radio this morning, being interviewed by Kim Hill. He sounded almost human, for a Pom (though I am biased, being one myself). I live in Wellington, and I can understand his comments. Wellington is, architecturally, an appalling jumble of second and third rate architectural inanities. The few buildings of quality remaining are trivialised by their surroundings. The proposed new buildings for the waterfront carry on this tradition of architectural sterility. I can easily imagine anyone with any residue of aesthetic taste visiting this town being very depressed indeed. And this is New Zealand's capital city?

What saves the town, contrary to first appearances, is that as a liveable place, it is probably the best city in New Zealand, excluding the possibility of being killed in an earthquake. It is small enough to be humane, the green belt surrounding the town is its greatest gift, as its proximity to a wild and unpolluted sea. It has all the facilities of a great city, in miniature, a bit like the country itself is a miniature worldscape. It also has some pleasant, characterful, village-like suburbs which, again, are under threat. Generally the people are friendly and welcoming and there is a pleasant social buzz. I live close enough to the town centre to walk in, a great boon.

But Duncan is right, the wasted opportunities, the destructive vandalism of the '60s and '70s, the poor transport infrastructure, the shoddy buildings and the general feeling of a town built and run by philistines is almost overpowering, which is not overcome by some of the improvements as say along the harbour. The proposal to deal with our traffic issues by building a new road tunnel under Mt Victoria is all the proof one needs that the council is still living in the last century and hasn't learnt anything from all the mistakes of the past. When we actually get our public transport right, then, maybe, we can think of a new road tunnel.

John Monro

Callum said...

John- I do agree that Wellington has many late 20th Century buildings of little value, and the Beehive and Te Papa have make little architectural sense, but our Victorian buildings are some of the best in the country, in my opinion. The Railway Station, Old Bank Arcade, pre-Beehive parliament buildings, Government House and the Victorian cottages are very nice with good aesthetic quality. Wellington seems to have copied San Francisco in the architectural styles it has adopted, for better or worse.

Wellington's transport problems are primarily due to topography first, than government sloppiness second. The Waiarapa or Marlborough would have made more sense for a city of Wellington's size. But what we're stuck with is a city stemmed in between its harbour, Cook Strait and the hills of the surrounding area. Although this situation can be put as either a good or bad thing, It certainly makes transport complicated. But the valleys to the north of the centre city have made rail viable for the entire Hutt Valley, and all the way out to Porirua (excluding the suburbs of Johnsonville and those that spill over the hills in Porirua). However, with no viable motorway or train links to the South, transport from Karori, Brooklyn, Seatoun, the Airport etc into the city and vice versa is a pain.

Also, Wellington, like any city ANYWHERE, is fulled with NIMBYs, and any five million and two year project will eventually become a fifty million and twenty year project, and I'm not kidding.

Hope that helps.

duncan fallowell said...

Callum - yes, this is the real Duncan. You've highlighted two of the modern Wellington buildings I actually admire. I think that the Beehive is a marvellous building. And Te Papa is too in its mad way - it will become like St Pancras Station in London - will go through a period of being ridiculed before emerging in a hundred years time as a masterpiece of eccentricity (the burial of the European Collection however is a disgrace - have they unearthed it yet?).

We've had something similar recently with the Dome - reviled as an expensive white elephant - but it is actually Richard Rogers's last great building and an icon of its era (the end of the twentieth century). Your suburbs are the best things you have, with the wonderful bay villa as their chief characteristic. Protect and save your pre-1939 suburbs! Get organised!

With best wishes, Duncan Fallowell

libertyscott said...

"The proposal to deal with our traffic issues by building a new road tunnel under Mt Victoria is all the proof one needs that the council is still living in the last century" as opposed to the British approach which is not to build ANY major urban roads, pour money into expensive public transport and have the worst congestion in Europe.

Duncan, how about you protect the suburbs. Buy part of them if you care so much, or is it all about moaning about what others haven't done.

duncan fallowell said...

I have enough work protecting mine. You protect yours. Get off your bum, you lazy sod, instead of dumping the job onto me

Best wishes, Duncan F