Saturday, January 14, 2017

Not Wanaka, but Wisconsin

I could be writing about Wanaka today, spurred by the wedding there today of Richie McCaw - but for that to happen, of course, it would have to be in another life, or if I were another person entirely (seeing as how, non-Kiwis, he is a rugby star and that is a book that will forever remain shut to me). Bit of a shame, since it's almost a year since I was there and delighting again in its sheer beauty - and the Instagram fame of one lone willow tree that had the life of a fence-post imposed on it and, inspiringly, rose above it.
No, today's trigger is my reading Neil Gaiman's American Gods and coming across a scene that he set at the House on the Rock. Since I am literally the only person reading this blog who will remember, let me elaborate on that: in 2014 I went to the IPW conference in Chicago (a city which also features in the book, but no big deal there) and afterwards spent a few days with other attendees on a famil that took us to Wisconsin, where we visited said House, near Spring Green. I remember it so well, and not just because of Gaiman's description. 
It's an extraordinary, Tardis-like place that just goes on and on, getting more and more bizarre, room after crooked, mind-bending room filled with crazy collections of things: dolls, instruments, armour, teacups, clockwork figures, Tiffany lamps, guns, Fabergé eggs, stuffed animals, traction engines... It went on and on, getting more and more incredible, like Disneyland on acid, until the final room that we visited (the whole place would take 3-4 hours to do thoroughly and we, of course, were skimming) in which was the world's biggest indoor carousel, the Gladiator. It spun and played jangling music, 20,000 lamps lighting up the 269 animals, real and fantastic (but not one horse), and I felt like a kid again, totally overwhelmed by this huge, colourful, noisy, marvellous contraption - that no-one was allowed to ride on.
Except, in the book, they do...

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