As if determined to prove that it was going to be outdone on the crappy weather front by summer, autumn arrived on the North Island today with a hefty dose of meteorological misery. While up in Jafaland we seemed to escape the full force of the fury, it was still a hateful enough mix of rain, wind, more rain and more wind for weathermen to declare that it was very much a ‘movie day’.
The problem with movie days is that they don’t happen in our house. Finding a consensus between the current Mrs Grimley and I on what exactly constitutes a flick worth watching is about as easy as negotiating a lasting settlement in the Gaza Strip. So rather than the cinema, we decided that the best course of action would be to have a nose around the Auckland Art Gallery, which came with the added bonus of being free.
For anyone in the area who has not yet popped in, I’d highly recommend it – the refurbishment has seen life breathed into a wonderful old building through careful restoration and the seamless addition of a fantastic modern atrium. The whole thing comes together beautifully and is a glowing example of a very talented architect’s craft. Unfortunately they’ve then gone and buggered it up by filling the inside with some absolute crap.
I accept that what tickles one person’s aesthetic fancy will not necessarily blow everyone’s frock up, but it should be blatantly obvious that anything which could be dreamed up and executed by a drugged gibbon is probably not worthy of lumping in the same generic category as Michelangelo’s ‘David’. A badly laid slab, UPVC door, pile of bricks and random sticks are not art; they are a products of people who dream of creativity but lack the talent to produce something truly beautiful yet are – for reasons completely unfathomable to a sane human being – indulged by idiots who misguidedly think that motivation is just as important as the end result.
A trip to Queenstown last weekend provided a stark reminder that no matter how good intentions are, all that really matters is the final product. Financial constraints meant that a budget hire car was the order of the day and on arrival at the airport we were presented with a Mitsubishi Lancer complete with a small engine and a continuously variable transmission.
Thanks to meagre budgets and a particularly twitchy finger when the ‘Buy Now’ buttons of online auction sites are involved, I have been the beneficiary of some pretty heinous motoring experiences over the years, but this took things to a whole new level. Any attempt to negotiate hilly terrain – something that those familiar with that part of New Zealand will know is devilishly hard to avoid – was met with the acrid stench of burning vehicular components and every journey was accompanied by an engine note that sounded very much like a crashing Messerschmitt 109 in any given war film.
Despite some people having a bit of a downer on CVT transmissions, I remain a strong fan of the concept. The idea of having a transmission system that can constantly adapt and adjust itself in order to let the engine get on with the job of running at a speed that will provide best power or economy is a good one.
Sadly in the little Mitsubishi with its pathetic engine, the topography of the South Island proved too much of a challenge and the poor car was completely flummoxed as to whether it was a better idea to aim for frugality, performance or just making it up the hills at all. The result was a continuous, ear-splitting cacophony and a thirst that would have made Oliver Reed look like a teetotaller.
Of course, it served as an excellent reminder of what a joyous thing a well engineered car really is. By experiencing such an abomination, it gives you a renewed appreciation and enthusiasm for the effort and skill it takes to put together a truly rewarding vehicle.
I’d love to think this is the same reason the curator at Auckland Art Museumchose to display the work of Kate Newby in the same building that currently houses pieces by Degas, but somehow I doubt it.