Ngaio Marsh

Ngaio Marsh photographed during the 1940s : “Ngaio in the spotlight” [194-]

Many people think of Ngaio Marsh as the crime writer. But how many realise how much Ngaio Marsh enriched the cultural life of Christchurch with her devotion to theatre production and mentoring young people with dramatic aspirations.

People like Ngaio make a huge contribution to their communities as their influence lingers on in the people they have encouraged. It seems appropriate that her name lived on in a theatre – the Ngaio Marsh Theatre at the University of Canterbury (sadly closed due to earthquake damage), as well as in the Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel.

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Image of The Supply Stores

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We have digitised a rather splendid 1902 publication Tourists’ guide to Canterbury.

Wending my way between libraries I invariably used to spend the travelling time with the radio on, listening to myself trilling a completely unnecessary accompaniment to Kenny Rogers’ Coward of the County and The Gambler (seemingly the only two songs on the radio station).

It got to the stage where, similar to the Pavlov Dogs experiment (luckily without salivation being involved), as soon as the music commenced I would be ‘lyric and intonation perfect’. Yet when it stopped I wouldn’t even remember what the lyrics were, let alone having drawled along with them convincingly.

Realising that drastic action was needed, I decided to listen (and perhaps accompany) some other form of entertainment. That’s when spoken word CDs came to my attention.

Cover of Murder in the TitleSimon Brett’s Charles Paris character has been adapted for radio with the amazing Bill Nighy playing the title role (just as I envisaged him sounding when I was reading the books).

Charles is a middle-aged jobbing actor who, when not attempting reconciliations with his ex-wife Frances and indulging in both pithy and acrimonious verbal exchanges with his long-suffering agent, appears to stumble upon ‘murders’ with more regularity than his often lamented ‘potted’ acting jobs.

My time spent with Murder in the Title and Cast, in Order of Disappearance was brief but memorable and I am looking forward to listening to the other four spoken word CDs in this series in the library collection… The contemporary settings and authentic sound effects combined with the very witty dialogue really had me feeling I was THERE experiencing the story with them.

Cover of The Inspector McLevy MysteriesSticking with my murder/mystery genre, I then embarked on David Ashton’s  The Inspector McLevy Mysteries. Again, originally a BBC radio play, but now I had a chance to relinquish my South East Counties accents and polish up my rusty Scottish accents!

Inspired by the real-life memoirs of a Victorian Inspector in Scotland, James McLevy prowls the dark streets of 1860s Edinburgh bringing criminals to justice, with the assistance of Constable Mulholland.

With dour, dogged, determination, Edinburgh’s ‘Finest’ and I foiled an assassination attempt on Queen Victoria; lamented the death of a novice team member of the Force and brought a vicious serial killer to Justice –  and all achieved whilst behind the wheel of a car with my newly acquired and authentic Scots accent! Note to Mel Gibson, should he ever decide on a sequel to Braveheart

OK, so you don’t need to ‘react’ with them like I choose to do, but they are still really good to listen to – funny, realistic, poignant. Have you tried any? Which ones would you particularly recommend?

9781444720396Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock recently, you’ll know that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were in town last Monday. I joined the throng at Latimer Square with high hopes and low expectations. You see, I’ve been to Royal Walkabouts three times before and come “this close” to a conversation with Royalty. “Maybe this will be the day!” thought I, “But, lets face it, it probably won’t be.”

Back in’77, when I was just a toddler, my family went along to the Silver Jubilee Walkabout. The Queen stopped to speak my sister, telling her what a pretty dress she was wearing. My sister, with the honesty of a four-year-old, replied “It’s my nightie!” (She had flatly refused to get dressed that morning).

I slept through the whole thing.

1929049935Fast forward to 1981. Charles and Diana were engaged, and I thought Lady Di was like Cinderella and Princess Aurora all rolled into one. I treasured my scrapbooks full of carefully clipped pictures of her. The highlight of my childhood was getting to watch The Royal Wedding at our neighbour’s across the street – they had a colour TV! Oh, the dresses! The beautiful horses! The fancy uniforms! I loved it all (Except the Queen Mum’s outfit. I wasn’t impressed. I thought she had some crazy green punk-rock hairdo. Didn’t realize that fluffy nonsense on her head was actually a hat!)

Imagine my excitement when Charles and Diana came to Christchurch in’83. We all headed off for the Walkabout. I was beside myself! My sister didn’t really care. She went along with a “whatever” pre-teen attitude. In fact she was so bored by it all that she brought a book. I had a fantastic spot right at the front, Diana was walking on my side of the street, I was actually going to see her in person! Then, when she was just moments away from me, she swapped sides, and Charles was walking towards me instead. And he walked up to my sister, noticed the book in her hand (it was probably a Jinny and Shantih or something by Christine Pullein-Thompson) and asked her if she rode. They had a whole conversation about horses and show jumping… And once again, I missed out.

While I’m no longer that star struck little girl, I thought it would be pretty neat to see William and Kate, and since Monday was my day off anyway, why not? Miss Missy and I managed to find ourselves a pretty good spot, and once again I waited for the chance to see the Royals. We cought a glimpse of them as they came out of the Cathedral, the crowd was shouting, flags were waving, everyone was craning to see, people were leaning so far over the fence they were practically planking on it. The police officers were literally holding the fence up against the crush of the crowd as Kate was coming slowly closer and closer down our side of Latimer Square. I managed to get some lovely pictures of her, and shook her hand (yes, I have washed it, since) … kateBut no, I didn’t talk to her. The girl standing right beside me though, Kate asked her all sorts of questions. Yip, once again I was “this close!”

9781846073946If that isn’t enough Royalty for you, today is the Queen’s birthday. No, not the holiday, her actual birthday.

Have you ever wondered why Queen’s Birthday weekend is in June when her birthday is in April? Well it turns out it is all because George VI’s birthday was 14 December. I guess everyone thought that was a silly day to have a holiday, so they decided to have the first Monday in June off instead, and when Elizabeth became Queen, I guess everyone was so used to it, they figured why change it? Her Majesty “was graciously pleased” to let us all have a day off in June in honour of her birthday.

I’ve put together a list of my picks from our catalogue in honour of Her Majesty’s big day. And this year we even get to have a day off anyway for Easter.

 

21 April 1971
Court Theatre’s first production, “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie”.

22 April 1869
Visit of the Duke of Edinburgh (New Zealand’s first royal visitor).

23-24 April 1966
Visit by Queen Mother.

23 April 1895
Regular Lyttelton – Wellington Cook Strait ferry service inaugurated by “Penguin”.

25 April 1864
Canterbury Horticultural and Acclimatisation Society formed. This group introduced many animals, birds and fish to Canterbury, and helped to establish the Government Gardens, which eventually became the Botanic Gardens.

Photo: The Territorials Cross The Bridge Of Remembrance On The Way To King Edward Barracks (25 Apr. 1926).

The Territorials Cross The Bridge Of Remembrance On The Way To King Edward Barracks (25 Apr. 1926). Christchurch City Libraries, File Reference CCL PhotoCD 3, IMG0052 .

25 April 1977
Bridge of Remembrance becomes a pedestrian precinct.

25 April 1981
New $16 million postal centre in Hereford Street in operation. A determined fight by civic groups had failed to prevent its siting next to the old Public Library.

26 April 1852
Christ’s College moves from Lyttelton to Christchurch.

More April events in our Christchurch chronology.

Christchurch music lovers – every week get your Freegal on and download your three free music MP3s.

This week the theme is Easter.

Cover of Easter Cover of Easter songs Cover of Easter celebration Cover of Easter in the south Cover of Christian Easter Cover of Easter

Download with your library card and PIN. What have you downloaded this week? Do tell!

Gabriel Garcia Marquez One Hundred Years of Solitude Of Love and Other Demons
Love in the Time of Cholera Strange Pilgrims The Autumn of the Patriarch
Chronicle of A Death Foretold The General in His Labyrinth The Story of A Shipwrecked Sailor

Gabriel García Márquez was considered one of the greatest Spanish-language authors, best known for his masterpiece of magical realism, One Hundred Years of Solitude.

The 1967 novel sold more than 30 million copies and he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982.

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