Recovering Christchurch with Bruce Ansley – New Zealand Book Month

In one of the first Christchurch City Libraries events for New Zealand Book  Month, Bruce Ansley will be at South Libary at 2 pm on Sunday the 4th of March.

"Gods and little fishes" book coverI always think of Ansley as a Christchurch writer,  probably because of his outstanding book about growing up in New Brighton, and because I read him for years in The Star as he managed that most difficult of journalistic gigs, the regular column. He was also part of the Christchurch talent producing those fondly remembered TV shows, A Week of It and McPhail and Gadsby.

"Christchurch Heritage" book coverAnsley’s latest book is Christchurch Heritage, a beautiful commemorative work on buildings that were lost and damaged in the earthquakes, but Christchurch isn’t his only subject. He also wrote for The Listener for years, and has written other works of non-fiction on undercover police work, and on his year cruising the canals of France.

In a long and distinguised writing career Ansley has ranged widely over subjects and styles, but stories are the basis for all of his work; I’m looking forward to hearing him tell a few on Sunday. Why not join me?

If you go down to the woods today…

Teddy Bears are optional at the Co-operative Bank Children’s Day at the Groynes on Sunday 4th March. But why wouldn’t you take your teddy bear? Thinking about dusting off my eyeless teddy, who has been present at many a picnic and library event over the years, got me to pondering favourite fictional teddy bears.

Cover of Brideshead RevisitedAloysius, the cherished companion of doomed old drunkard Sebastian Flyte in Brideshead Revisited, immediately sprang to mind. Sebastian goes to the barber on the High in Oxford to buy a hairbrush ‘to smack Aloysius when he is naughty’, but sadly Aloysius fades out of the story when Sebastian begins to really hit the bottle.

Winnie the Pooh is of course immortal and then there’s Michael Bond’s Paddington Bear, the originator of so much merch he has his own stall at Paddington Station in London.

Favourite fictional bear of the non-teddy variety is as far from cuddly as it is possible to be: Iorek Byrnison, of Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass. Iorek is an armoured bear and the scene where he fights the bad bear king Iofur for the right to lead the bears to his kind of beardom is one of the most memorable I have ever read. Even the pallid movie they made of this wonderful story couldn’t ruin it.

Other favourite fictional bear nominations?

Beth El Synagogue: Picturing Canterbury

Beth El Synagogue, Christchurch [1906]
The Jewish Synagogue is shown decorated on May 30, 1906 for the Season of First Fruits or Feast of Pentecost; also the anniversary of the Revelations of the Decalogue.