A poignant moment as my daughter and her partner walk through the airport departure gate on their way to Sydney, after living down the road for a decade so that we were a part of the characteristic Blackball extended family. Even more poignant as she is hapu with the baby due in May. At the same time it’s absolutely right for them to explore some change – she’s established herself professionally and needs time to herself; he has family and work in Aussie; it is only three hours away and as I helped them pack and organise things we felt closer than ever… nevertheless.
Meanwhile grandchildren from another part of the family have been staying with the insistent energy of children, the dog’s got a buggered knee, we went to the last Tui Folk Festival where the nostalgia of folk music could be given full reign; the Zapatistas issue an extraordinary manifesto for the world to sign up to; the US is as politically crazy as ever; viruses rule and I learn a part in Beckett’s Endgame, Beckett being a writer who does absurdity remarkably well. We will, with suitable absurdity, be performing the piece in the old Blackball bathhouse.
At a loose end reading wise I picked up from the bookshelves Knight’s Drama and Society in the Age of Jonson (a relic from student days), to find myself immersed in the story of early capitalism: of land becoming commodified, of the riches brought to England by early colonising ventures, of sheep farming leading to enclosure and the wool trade which in turn led to the industrial revolution, of early entrepreneurs with crazy schemes, of the breaking down of the manor house subsistence where an estate could provide for a thousand people and where money was irrelevant.
My daughter’s shift has involved the selling of house and cars. I had an ugly experience getting an assessment at Turners: ‘Scruffy and over capitalised’ was the verdict – it’s carried dogs around a bit and to keep it going involved the spending of four grand a couple of years ago – but it carries a lot of memories. Their house had a couple of dogs buried there… you can’t sell a life, but that is what we have to do.
In Europe there is a movement to take land and houses and culture out of the marketplace. A land trust buys up land with the promise that it will never be sold. People may build upon it and ownership of built property can change hands but the land is sacrosanct. Another trust is buying houses and apartments with the same promise – these properties will never be sold.
Meanwhile my daughter and partner have their worldly possessions in a storage container – goods extracted from the market. So we enter and leave the market place, some people stay there all the time, buying and selling as a life purpose. Perhaps the market and the virus are one and the same paradigm.
So, one strange year has run its course, another begins and one day Beckett’s prophecy will be fulfilled: ‘Time was never, time is over, reckoning finished, story ended.’