Grumpy Old Men at the Grey Lynn library
Grey Lynn isn’t the old Grey Lynn, where boys became men in long nights at Crummer Road, when the blood ran free and the mating rituals in Foodtown drew better players and bigger crowds than the rugby across the gulch at Eden Park. These days there’s a lot of tofu around and agonising over whether the fried chook being wheeled up with the fries and salad is free-range.
Visitors should avoid letting anyone get started on the property prices. Four or five hours is as nothing to locals obsessed with these. Equally, keep out of the endless debates as to whether another couple of mortgages is what’s needed to get Emma and Josh out to Dio or Kings, or whether they should mix with the Real People down at Western Springs College.
There are far too many film types lounging in cafes and polluting the air with gas about options and renewals and German funding sources. Trying to avoid them are a lot of folk who cried “Hosanna” in a joyous, even lusty, way when word came through that same-sex marriage had become a goer.
For a lot of the souls out this way there has to be someone responsible for their inexplicable failure to conquer whatever branch of the arts has pulled them into its maw. All too often this turns out to be Old Rich White Guys. They seem to have strangely failed to look into the correct burning bush, realise how wrong they have been and race up and down Williamson Avenue forcing money into the hands of startled tyro artists.
The Old Rich White Guys know this resentment exists, and while it draws guffaws at the Northern Club, getting right up against the resentees could be problematic. There has been mockery, abuse, urinating on shoes, and general unpleasantness.
They had contributed to a book, 47 chaps writing pieces, called Grumpy Old Men, the first tome off the printers for Paul Little’s new publishing company. There has already been some light shone on it by Quote Unquote.
They know what they are doing. They were seen hopping out of the Corporate and Regency cabs at the Grey Lynn library, driven there by the right sort of jihadists, the ones from Pakuranga who played soccer at school, where being of Middle Eastern origin and playing soccer is grounds for an SIS file being opened and chaps from the GCSB fiddling the dial to snap into the Pakuranga one’s mobile.
While a few weren’t compromising on the threads, and were staying comfortably in well-dressed elegance, other had asked a few of their children’s friends what would pass for camouflage past the corner of Elgin and Great North Road. A few blended in among the Chuck Taylor’ed youth and the netful of media trash that had been hauled ashore. Others nudged the drive for Street Cred over the cliff.
There was one over-rich type doing Beggar Chic, togged up in just this side of actual rags with a light rubbish-tin fragrance wafting through the flies buzzing his head and whatever was moving around in his beard. His bouquet was a bit pungent and helped him chop through the pack to the sandwiches. There is also the worrying possibility he wasn’t a “Remuera doing Grey Lynn” type at all but was an actual beggar who’d floated in from the halfway house just up the road.
Most of the chaps settled for good-quality jackets and jeans, not the butt-rippling Levis of yore but more the generous sizings required as age and a certain spreading make butt-rippling ones frighteningly uncomfortable. There have also been shocking injuries, something shifting these chaps away from the bootleg lines. Besides, those butt-rippling Levis are associated with Brokeback Mountain and Remuera isn’t ready for that. Not in public.
One thing Old Rich White Guys do, without any apparent effort, is find themselves surrounded by attractive, intelligent-looking women. One or two former models roamed the place. These days they have nested with a lawyer or accountant and the only meth they use now is the stuff that gets the paint off the rimu floor before the House and Garden photographer turns up to do the snaps.
One woman made a point of standing apart from the crowd in a sheer dress, casually flicking her impeccable blonde hair across her perfect cheekbones. It must have been disappointing this didn’t attract attention. She should have been told these are Old Rich White Guys. Lots of them have traded down and have one, sometimes two, of the same at home.
Kerre McIvor, the Artist Formerly Known as Kerre Woodham, did a slickly professional job of the welcome and the introduction. Little’s co-editor Dorothy Vinicombe did well on her turn at the mike. Little did the thanks, made a few good jokes, and promised more tomes to come.
There was a reminder they had to be out by 7.00pm, having kicked off at 5.30pm. Libraries, Grey Lynn or anywhere else, work by the rules, and the rules said 7.00pm is the finish line and that’s that. Linger and expect a visit from the library police.
Standard of behaviour: Ten Impeccable. These folks don’t do public loutishness. They keep that for home.
Food and drink: Seven. This is a new publisher and we are sure there is more to come. Some very fancy sandwiches rounded out a generous table.
Sales at the event: Unknown, but there was activity over at the sales table.
So here is one of the book’s contributors, Grumpy Graham Brazier, singing for you in his bookshop: