Sunday 10 March 2013

"Human Catherine wheels!"

So my camera let me down (not, of course, the other way round) and my fireworks photos turned out, hmm, let's say more arty than conventional. Never mind: it was a brilliant evening, up on the hill in the Domain last night, watching the Auckland Festival display by French pyromaniacs (probably there's a more correct term) Groupe F. It was called 'The Breath of the Volcano' and was specially created, incorporating video and sound recordings the team had done around the city - sea, birds, scenery - which were projected onto the side of the Museum and choreographed with fireworks, fire and dancers covered in LED lights. It was all very spectacular and exciting, enhanced by the Firstborn's enthusiasm about the Catherine wheels operated by the dancers; and by the perfect warm clear evening with the Southern Cross right overhead.

The programme included what I suppose we now have to call a cheeky sequence where a rainbow was blown up by some cartoon frogs. Only my New Zealand readers will understand that reference, I presume: the sinking in 1985 of the Greenpeace ship the Rainbow Warrior by French government agents when it was moored at a wharf in Auckland harbour, the second explosion killing a Portuguese photographer on board. I wonder if even the French, as a people, remember that as well as we do? Our own little bit of international terrorism, initiated by a friendly trading partner.

They didn't like Greenpeace interfering with their nuclear testing at Mururoa; and the fact that New Zealand was - is - vehemently nuclear-free was probably an additional, though incidental, irritation. I do know that when we were sailing up the Rhone last year and we went past this cluster of sinister-looking cooling towers at a nuclear power station near Montelimar, one of them decorated with a cynically innocuous painting, we four Kiwis on board all narrowed our eyes a little.

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