Friday, January 25, 2013

I may have just done a 'Jaws'...

In the summer of 1975, I went to Australia for the first time by myself to take up a holiday job, and escaped the up-country property where I was working with horses to do a bit of Christmas shopping in Adelaide, and to go to the movies. That's where I saw Jaws, and it scared me so rigid that afterwards, when I went to the beach at Glenelg, I was unable to get into the water above my knees, despite the sunshine and the invitingly warm water. It wasn't so very stupid: I learned much later, when I was in South Australia again as a travel writer, that they filmed a lot of the shark scenes for the movie off the coast there, since they have so many great whites knocking about in the Southern Ocean. (You can cage dive with them if you're so inclined - here's the cage. Note the dings in the metal floats attached to it...)
Tonight I've just been to see The Impossible, about the Boxing Day tsunami, which I thought was amazingly well done and shockingly convincing. Full credit to the production team, and to the actors and extras who were tossed about in that terrible water - actual water, not CGI. And then next week I'm going to Waiheke Island, to stay in an apartment across the road from long and open Onetangi Beach, and though I know how unlikely it is, the images of those huge waves sweeping in aren't going to be far from my mind as I stand on the balcony or lie on the sand.

The last time I went to Thailand, two years after the disaster, it was to Phuket, where the tsunami did awful damage and killed so many people. Here's the end of that story: ...We sat in Baan Rim Pa, a fine and famous Thai restaurant where we enjoyed a magnificent multi-course dinner at a table on the veranda, looking down on local families fishing from the rocks 20 metres below. Out in the bay, lights looped through the dark where the squid boats were working, and a warm breeze made our candles gutter in their holders. Where we sat savouring fresh seafood cooked to recipes once prepared for the royal family, where the polished teak glowed warmly in the lamplight and the brass fittings gleamed, a wall of water had swept through on that terrible morning. Now there was nothing to show for it. Glasses clinked, people chatted and laughed, there was live music from the bar, and the air was scented with jasmine and spices. In Phuket today, everything is civilised again...

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