When you emigrate, you lose your history and are painfully aware that you need to get to grips with the past of the place that you now call home.
Last night at The Press Literary Liaison, I felt immersed in a tiny aspect of Christchurch history for the very first time. Author Peter Graham chatted to a full house on his book So brilliantly clever in which he has done further research on the 1954 murder that shocked Christchurch and the world, the Parker-Hulme murder.
Under flying albatrosses in the Bird Room at the Museum, I sat behind a woman who had been a classmate of the two girls. Five rows back sat a couple who had visited the small town where Juliet Hulme (now well-known author Anne Perry) currently lives. Right next to us sat a terrifically fidgety lady who still had unanswered questions – but Graham himself was relaxed, chatty and happy to answer any questions that we could muster.
This was real life history about an iconic murder which Graham had felt needed more research before all the contemporaries started dying off. Not everyone wanted to answer his questions though, and he said it was almost as if they felt :
They may be murderers, but they are our murderers
Graham will be talking at three libraries around Christchurch over the next few days. You are sure to find some aspect of this matricide absolutely compelling. For myself, I am intrigued by the murals drawn on Pauline Parker’s cottage walls in her home in Scotland – only discovered by the new owner when he moved in. As a person who thought it quite dashing to paint her living room in a shade called Enchilada, I am moved by the woman who tells her life story in a mural such as this. But if murals don’t float your boat, how about: troublesome teenagers, inept parenting, clandestine love affairs, murder most foul and prison life?
So brilliantly clever has it all and is an exposé into a life and time in our city that is both far enough back to be almost gone and yet close enough to be terribly real.