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Thursday, 16 May 2013

Disappointment? Not a chance

Most of us hate admitting we're disappointed. Often we've spent money, waited ages, had a hair-cut, bought new clothes. To go through all that and fall short; you feel so foolish.

Especially with places. Even Paris didn't match my youthful imagination. Venezuela was humdrum. Mauritius offered the dullest food. Better to come upon somewhere unexpected: Dompierre-le-Bouton, Montreal, Kuala Lumpur in the fifties. But the unexpected denies us anticipation and that's half the fun.

Eventually New Zealand filled the bill. But decades before one place had met and exceeded all the hype. That our hotel was on El Camino Real (The King's Highway) was a good start.

San Franciso 1969. We may, as the song says, have left our hearts there.

It helped that I arrived as a golden boy. I had taken over a project that had languished for years: the editing of a long, long technical manuscript: in bits and pieces and with hundreds of illustrations. My boss's expectations were low. Finally the MS was ready and he was ecstatic. "Check it out with the author. Take your wife. Hire a car." Guess where the author lived.

We had lots of spare time. There was no toll driving north on the Golden Gate Bridge, only driving south - into the city. How blessedly snobbist.

We ate abalone on Fisherman's Wharf; you'd be jailed for that now. The redwoods were as tall as they said they were, remote and still. You could get legless tasting wine for free at the hacienda-style vineyard shops. Cannery Row. The Cartmel peninsula. Zig-zag Lombard Street (pictured). All the tourist junk; nothing let us down. Great heartfelt songs afterwards.

But best of all: the relief at not having to make excuses. We'd got what we'd hoped for.

3 comments:

Joe Hyam said...

Perhaps because my expectations are low, I am seldom disappointed. But perhaps optimism, if naive, ensrhines a more healthy attitude. It would be hard to be disappointed by San Francisco and the Redwoods down the road. For some reason I remember the sour-dough bread queued for on Fishermen's wharf.

Rouchswalwe said...

My dream is to stand at the foot of a Redwood before they're all gone.

Roderick Robinson said...

Joe: I think youth - or comparative youth - had something to do with it. And perhaps I went there in a triumphalist frame of mind as I mentioned. At my present advanced age there is nowhere left I feel I must visit and, in contemplating one or two possible options (eg, in South America), my immediate reaction is towards ways and means of overcoming the horrors of long-distance flight.

Also, I am more experienced, more sanguine these days about glittering destinations. What matters are the folk you meet (that represented at least 50% of the pleasure in NZ) and there is no way you can plan for, or anticipate, that.

There is a limited amount of time one can emote with a landscape.

RW (zS): VR and I might have remained with the redwoods for all eternity. Our hired Dodge Charger was running out of gas and one of the defects of redwoods is they never suggest there might be a filling station just round the corner.