New Zealand is one of the first places on Earth to celebrate New Year. That’s great news for New Zealanders who can’t wait to crack into their New Year resolutions – they will have given up smoking, lost 3lb of body fat and helped a pensioner gain her independence whilst you’re still deciding which button-down shirt to wear.
And New Zealanders are just the sort of people who would do this, if for some inexplicable reason they had a smoking habit and 3lb of excess weight to begin with. Most choose to abstain from any remotely unhealthy pursuits such as smoking or binge eating, preferring instead to spend their time hillwalking and inventing new and imaginative ways to pronounce vowels.
As such, it’s no great surprise that the trendy Ponsonby district of Auckland in the hours leading up to 2017 is about as busy as Julian Assange’s ‘SWEDEN 2010!!!’ Whatsapp group.
Amongst the half-empty bars along Ponsonby Road is Conch, which is one of those bar slash cafe slash record store slash nail salon slash juvenile court slash Eritrean Restaurant sort of places that usually rings alarm bells.
At Conch, though, it’s all kind of ok, and just when you’re reconciling that it’s all kind of ok and in the process of filing another ill informed prejudice to ‘under review’ and that sometimes it’s nice to get a flatbread whilst record shopping, you take the opportunity to order a drink.
The drink itself will be somewhere between mediocre and completely undrinkable, this being New Zealand – what’s remarkable is the service. The staff are so friendly that it’s virtually impossible not to immediately load up Skype and introduce them to your mother. “Mother,” you will say, “I am in Conch and the beer is so unforgivably overhopped there should be an exclusion zone but please meet Stephen, he is family now”. And your Mother will agree and eventually Stephen will receive an antique sideboard.
So it’s fortunate, in a sense, that people are too busy powerwalking to make it out for a drink on New Year’s Eve in Auckland, the first place on Earth to successfully circumnavigate the choppy, effluent soaked waters of 2016. It means some quality, intimate time with Stephen, the perfect start to 2017.