The well-mannered read

In this world of alternative truths, acts of terrorism, online dating and climate change, sometimes what one really needs is a well-mannered book. In well-mannered books there is no gratuitous swearing, sex is private, and war (a sometimes necessary evil?) is viewed from a big picture perspective. These are books in which Mr Please and Mr Thank-you have not yet left the building.

A Gentleman in MoscowAnd if you are thinking the descending scale “Boring”, you could not be more wrong. Take A Gentleman in Moscow as an exquisite example of a well-mannered read. Count Rostov (an unrepentant aristocrat) is placed under house arrest for life in 1922 in The Metropol Hotel opposite the Kremlin. The book is 462  pages long and almost all of the action takes place in that grand old hotel.  Count Rostov is an urbane, witty, positively likeable character – what is more, the book is peopled by a fascinating array of eccentrics.

As time passes, the world outside of the hotel changes and in a conversation with his lover Anushka, Count Rostov gives his view on the conveniences of modern life such as remote garage door openers:

“I’ll tell you what is convenient,” he said after a moment. “To sleep until noon and have someone bring you your breakfast on a tray. To cancel an appointment at the very last minute…….To sidestep marriage in your youth and put off having children altogether. These are the greatest conveniences Anushka – and at one time I had them all. But in the end, it has been the inconveniences that have mattered to me most.”

Hector and the Search for HappinessAnother contemporary author who writes in a very well-mannered way is Francois Lelord. In his novel Hector and the Search for Happiness, a young French psychiatrist (Hector) surely knows about love, sex, anxiety and behaviour problems. Indeed, this novel touches on all manner of problematic topics like prostitution and drug dealing, but in a very polite way.

You will be on a spectrum with your opinion of these books: from charming, to naïve, to patronising and worse. But I myself was charmed. So much so, I was delighted to hear that a film has been made of the first book. Imagine then my dismay when I learned that the film had turned its back on its French origins, been cast with a British psychiatrist, and set in the USA. How rude, not at all well-mannered. This would not have happened had Hector and Count Rostov met and formed a political party and taken over the world!

In the end Hector comes up with 23 “Life Lessons on Happiness” from all his travels. It seems appropriate to end with lesson no.5

Sometimes happiness is not knowing the full story

Just read the books!

Sergeant Henry James Nicholas V.C., M.M

He was a carpenter, a sportsman – a boxer – went to Christchurch Normal School (local boy), his photos show a nice face, and he wasn’t married. Just an ordinary kiwi bloke, maybe. But he did extraordinary things.

Sergeant Henry Nicholas
Sergeant Henry Nicholas, File reference: CCL-2011-11-17-November2011 358-HenryNicholas

Henry Nicholas enlisted in February 1916 with the 1st Canterbury Battalion, and landed in France in September 1916. With his Regiment was involved in fighting at The Somme, Messines and Polderhoek, (Belgium).

It was from the action at Polderhoek on 3 December 1917 that he was awarded the Victoria Cross for “conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty… exceptional valour and coolness”. He destroyed an enemy strongpoint that was inflicting heavy casualties and overpowered a sixteen-man enemy garrison, capturing four wounded prisoners and an enemy machine-gun.

While on leave in England in mid-1918 he was invested by the King, the first solder in his regiment to be awarded the V.C., and he returned to France in September 1918, promoted to sergeant.

The Regiment had the duty of holding the town of Beaudignies, near Le Quesnoy. A skirmish on 23rd October with a German patrol cost Nicholas his life, and earned him the Military Medal.

Armistice was just a few short weeks away.

The funeral of Sergeant Henry Nicholas, VC, in World War I, France. Royal New Zealand Returned and Services’ Association :New Zealand official negatives, World War 1914-1918. Ref: 1/2-013667-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/23124751

For more information:

Anzac Day in Christchurch 2017

Tuesday 25 April 2016 is Anzac Day. All our libraries will be closed on this public holiday. Read our page on Anzac Day and Gallipoli to find out more about this commemoration.

Wreaths in Cranmer Square
Wreaths in Cranmer Square, Anzac Day, Monday 25 April 2016 File Reference: 2016-04-25-IMG_3816

Commemorative services often begin before dawn with a march by returned and service personnel to the local war memorial, where they are joined by other members of the community for the Dawn Service.

Christchurch services and events

The following information is from Christchurch City Council:

Dawn service at Cranmer Square

  • 6am to 6.15am: Gather in Cranmer Square
  • 6.15am: Parade begins
  • 6.30am: Service begins centred around the Memorial Cenotaph
  • 7.15am: Service concludes with Mayor Lianne Dalziel laying a wreath on behalf of the citizens of Christchurch.

Organised by the Canterbury Branch of the Malayan Veterans Association in conjunction with the Christchurch Branch of the Royal New Zealand Returned and Services Association (RSA), and the Christchurch City Council.

There will be a volley of shots fired and a fly-over by the Royal New Zealand Air Force. The New Zealand Army Band will be in attendance and a bugler will play The Last Post.

The service runs for about 30–45mins and will be projected on two large screens.

Citizens’ Service: 10am – ChristChurch Transitional Cathedral, Latimer Square 

The Citizens’ Service is organised by Christchurch City Council in conjunction with Christchurch Cathedral and the RSA. An address will be given by Air Commodore Andrew Woods, RNZAF and representatives of the NZ Defence Force, Consular Corps and various Christchurch youth groups will be attending.

Find more Anzac Day services

The RSA website features a Find an Anzac Day service resource. The Christchurch City Council also has a list of Anzac Day services.

More Anzac related events

Fields of Remembrance

In 2015, the Canterbury Province Field in Cranmer Square contained 632 crosses commemorating the men and women of Christchurch who died in 1915. A further 825 crosses were added in 2016 and the field will gain more crosses again this year.

Field of Remembrance
Field of Remembrance, Cranmer Square [2015] Flickr 2015-03-27-IMG_6781

Exhibitions, displays and events

  • Heathcote WWI Soldiers Remembered – 31 March to 30 April at Linwood Library at Eastgate Mall. The soldiers from Heathcote Valley who died in WWI are individually remembered in an exhibition at Linwood Library.
  • Remembering the Anzacs papercraft – 10.30-11.30am Friday 21 April at Spreydon Library. Poppy-making and memories.
  • ANZAC Commemoration Linwood Cemetery (Sunday 23 April)
  • Eastside Gallery: Anzac Exhibition 2017 Opening Wednesday 19 April – Friday 28 April. A multi-media participatory experience on the theme, “We honour, we remember, we reflect”. Photographs, artworks, installations, memorabilia, talks, readings, poetry and prose, printed and audiovisual material. With a poetry evening on Friday 28 April.
  • Anzac Day Peace Vigil 6-7pm, 25 April at the Bridge of Remembrance
Bridge of Remembrance rededication
Bridge of Remembrance rededication, Anzac Day, Monday 25 April 2016. File Reference: 2016-04-25-IMG_3756

Find out more:

 

The magic word ‘Anzac’

On 25 April we will stop to remember those who served in the conflicts New Zealand has participated in, from the world wars to Iraq and Afghanistan, via Korea, Vietnam and others, and not forgetting New Zealand’s 19th century wars and the Boer War.

“Indian Troops at Gas Mask Drill.,” by Unknown. The Imperial War Museum via First World War Poetry Digital Archive, accessed April 13, 2017, http://ww1lit.nsms.ox.ac.uk/ww1lit/collections/item/3616.
“Indian Troops at Gas Mask Drill.,” by Unknown. The Imperial War Museum via First World War Poetry Digital Archive, accessed April 13, 2017, http://ww1lit.nsms.ox.ac.uk/ww1lit/collections/item/3616.

There is much to remember, and this year the focus will be on the 100th anniversaries of the Battle of Messines in June and Passchendaele in October, in particular 12 October which saw more than 800 New Zealanders killed in a single day.

As the First World War disappears from living memory, we are fortunate to have access to historic newspapers either on microfilm at Central Library Manchester or at Papers Past. They can show us how Anzac Day has been commemorated and represented over the past century. An editorial from The Press on 25 April 1917 explains that the “magic word ‘Anzac’… tells us how Australians and New Zealanders fought and died shoulder to shoulder in the cause of freedom” and that “time has not yet mellowed the memory of that day.”

CoverThe editorial also makes a passing reference to some of the Indian troops who served during the Gallipoli campaign. Around 16,000 individuals from the Indian Army served during the campaign and their neglected story is well told in Die in battle, do not despair: the Indians on Gallipoli, 1915 by Peter Stanley.

Ever growing access to different sources and new publications means that we can uncover and share more stories than ever about the First World War and other conflicts New Zealand has been involved in.

Lord Jellicoe inspects the First Canterbury Guard of Honour, ANZAC Day, foundation stone ceremony, Bridge of Remembrance [25 Apr. 1923] CCL PhotoCD 15, IMG0023
Lord Jellicoe inspects the First Canterbury Guard of Honour, ANZAC Day, foundation stone ceremony, Bridge of Remembrance [25 Apr. 1923] CCL PhotoCD 15, IMG0023

Anzac resources

This article was published in issue 3 of our quarterly magazine, uncover – huraina. Read it online.

Upcoming opportunities for Māori writers and students

Pikihuia Awards

The biennial Pikihuia awards have returned for 2017 bringing with them the chance for fame and cash prizes. Selected winners and finalists will be published in Huia Short Stories 12.

Pikihuia Awards poster 2017Six categories including:

  • Best short story written in English
  • Best short story written in te reo Māori
  • Best short Film Script
  • Best Novel Extract
  • Best short story by a school student in English
  • Best short story by a school student in te reo Māori

With $2000 up for grabs for the winners of the first four categories and winners of the school student categories are up to win a cash prize of $500 and $250 worth of HUIA books for their school be sure to get your entries in.

Enter online at Huia or The Māori Literature Trust, entries close 5pm Tuesday 18th April and winners are announced at the awards ceremony in Wellington this September.

Check out some of the books in our collections from past winners:

Or try the Huia short stories collections.

Sir Āpirana Ngata Memorial Scholarship

Cover of He Tipua The Life and Times of Sir Apirana NgataUp to 10 scholarships are on offer at a value of between $1000 and $3000 and are open to all Māori students, in any field, from any iwi. Preference is given to applicants who are descendants of Māori WW1 veterans. Applications close 1st of May 2017.

The Sir Āpirana Ngata Memorial Scholarship, created by the Māori Soldiers Trust to support higher education amongst Māori, is administered by Te Tumu Paeroa. Funding for the scholarship comes from Hereheretau Station, an investment of the Māori Soldiers Trust Fund set up at the urging of Sir Āpirana Ngata, who was once a recipient of a scholarship himself.

Download an application for the Sir Apirana Ngata Scholarship

Whāia te iti kahurangi ki te tūohu koe, me he maunga teitei.
Pursue excellence – should you stumble, let it be to a lofty mountain.

Conscientious Objectors: Cowards or courageous?

There has been a lot happening recently with the centenary of the First World War. I have been exposed to many stories of the brave men and women who went to ‘fight for their country’.

Military defaulters list, Archive 685
Military Defaulters’ List [1919?], National Peace Council of New Zealand, CCL Archive 685
However there is another side to this and that is those who decided to become conscientious objectors. The conflict came from their beliefs, what their conscience demanded of them and the expectations of government and the beliefs of society.

Looking back on the massive loss of life and at times questionable “intell” and propaganda that has led to many these conflicts it could be said that pacifism is now more widely embraced. Also the massacre at Gallipoli is still widely discussed to this day. Not only were you going to a foreign country to fight but also your life ant trust was place in the hands of your commanding officer.

Little is mentioned these days of conscientious objectors and the courage it took to stick to their convictions, but those that chose this position were degraded, despised, accused of being traitors, and ostracised.

However in recent times opinions have changed somewhat, for example Professor Richard Jackson deputy director of the National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Otago recently stated,

People who say conscientious objectors were cowards are crazy. They were so brave… they put their lives on the line without participating in the war system and killing other people. North & South magazine, Aug 2016 Issue 365,  ‘Cowards end?’

What is your stance on this subject?

Christchurch City Libraries have some good reading on this subject including books, eBooks, large print versions, and magazine articles. On our website you can access our page of suggested reading on WWI conscientious objectors and WWII, and our eResources – a plethora of interesting databases from all around the world you may search for information on this and many other subjects.

Or try the following:

Cover of Bread and Water  Cover of Indeterminate Sentence  Cover of Everyone Brave Is Forgiven

Cool Stuff from the Selectors

9781770858084The Secret Life of Equations: The 50 greatest equations and how they work.

Before we go any further I need to come clean.  I have no interest in equations and I have no mathematical ability, but even I could appreciate this book!

l=Iω: Apparently this is useful for iceskaters and explains why when an iceskater pulls their arms in, they decrease “moments of inertia,” and the velocity or speed automatically increases.  Who would have thought there was actually an equation for this?  It would seem that there is an equation for everything. How to choose your next secretary? Try p( χ) = – χln(χ) .  Filled with pictures and set out in a way that you can dip into this could well be a good introduction to viewing the world from a different perspective.

Real Raw and Relatable: A Collection of Stories from the people of South Auckland.

This is a lovely book.  Humans of South Auckland was created out of the tragedy of suicide, and from that came this book, a gentle reminder of humanity and the power of story.

These are usually the words that follow when I tell someone I’m from South Auckland…

“So do you carry a knife with you, you know like…just in case?”

My answer is generally “yes, I do, but I carry a fork too, ’cause I never know who’s going to invite me to dinner.’

Hacksaw Ridge9781629131559

The book that inspired the movie.  This is the story of Desmond Doss, a conscientious objector, who served in the American Army’s 77th Infantry Division in World War II.  Desmond was a medic who refused to carry a weapon and, for this,  was often insulted by his fellow soldiers.  However, during the battle for Okinawa he rescued 75 soldiers and became the first and only conscientious objector to receive the Medal of honour.  The DVD is on due for release in March and is on order for the library.

And from the Fiction Selector…

9781784297268The mystery and thriller genre leads the fiction and it shows little evidence of it tailing off. For a start, vast numbers of readers will be waiting for the new Paula Hawkins novel Into the water. For those who like the historical mystery, Lindsey Davis  is back in Ancient Rome with The third Nero. Two men on the trail of a woman on the run is the focus of the latest Mason Cross novel Don’t look for me. William Shaw is described as a crime writer with a social conscience  and his latest, Sympathy for the devil is worth waiting for.

Bestselling French writer Delphine de Vigan has an intriguing story of what happens when a close friend tries to steal her friend’s life. If the dark Scandinavian thriller is to your liking, there’s an interesting one, Quicksand, by Malin Persson Giolito. And if all these thrillers keep you up at night, why not try one of the many British Library Crime Classics which give you light thrills but not shudders.

Gas Mask: Picturing Canterbury

Gas mask. Kete Christchurch. Pearce_family_photos_06.jpg. Entry in the 2013 Christchurch City Libraries Photo Hunt, CC-BY-NA-SA-3.0 NZ.

One of the Pearce family wearing a WWI gas mask at the Pearce family home on Aikmans Road, Merivale, about 1919.

Kete Christchurch is a collection of photographs and stories about Christchurch & Canterbury, past and present. Anyone can join and contribute.

Armistice Day 2016

This year marks 98 years since  “The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” – the moment when First World War hostilities ceased on the Western Front in 1918, with the signing of the Armistice.

The 2016 Armistice Day RSA service in Christchurch is at 11am Friday 11 November on the Bridge of Remembrance. This is the first Armistice Day service on the Bridge since the earthquake of 2011. It’s a most appropriate location, since the Bridge of Remembrance was opened on Armistice Day 11 November 1924. The Bridge is dedicated to the memory of those who took part in World War I, with further plaques added later to commemorate the battlefields of World War II.

Bridge of Remembrance rededication
Anzac Day, Monday 25 April 2016. Flickr 2016-04-25-IMG_3756

More about Armistice Day and the Bridge of Remembrance

CoverCoverCover

Photo of Crowd in Cathedral Square, Christchurch, celebrating Armistice Day.
Crowd in Cathedral Square, Christchurch, celebrating Armistice Day. Head, Samuel Heath, d 1948 :Negatives. Ref: 1/1-007108-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22898377

Remembering the Somme

September the 15th marks the day the New Zealand infantry joined the battle of the Somme, and this year marks exactly one hundred years from that catastrophic day. It was our first major experience with the Western Front, a very, very different kind of battle to the ones we had experienced in Gallipoli, and would turn into the largest loss of new Zealanders lives in our post-1840 history.

More New Zealanders lost their lives on the Western Front than in Gallipoli, although Gallipoli still overshadows the Somme in the public memory. Today, let’s look at some of the local boys who lost their lives that day, and remember them, and the thousands and thousands of others that would follow them.

Frederick Everard Turner signed up in the very early days of the war in August 1914. He was an Anglican lad, who lived on Princess Street on Woolston. Though he survived the Gallipoli landings of the 25th of April, 1915, he was shot and killed on the first day of the Battle of the Somme. When he died, he was 25 years old.

Frederick Everard Turner, Canterbury Times, 18/10/1916, CCL-TurnerFE
Frederick Everard Turner, Canterbury Times, 18/10/1916, CCL-TurnerFE

Thomas Arthur Raxworthy grew up in Upper Riccarton, and was living in London Street, Richmond, when he enlisted. He worked for the Christchurch City Council, and married his wife Margaret in November, 1912. He was killed when he was 23 years old, on the 15th of September, 1916. His two children, Edith and Thomas, were still only toddlers.

Frederick Reginald Ashworth
Frederick Reginald Ashworth , Kete Christchurch

Frederick Reginald Ashworth grew up in Hornby and went to Hornby School. He and his brother John, who was also killed, were from a well known and highly respected family. Frederick enlisted in October, 1915, but less than a year later, on the 15th of September, he was killed in the Somme. He was 23 years old.

Travis Armitage grew up in New Brighton and went to New Brighton School. He had two younger sisters, Constance and Mary. When he enlisted, he was living up in the Manawatu with Ninna, his wife of four years. He was killed by a shell on the 15th of September. His friend, William Scott, witnessed his death. Travis was 27 years old.

In the days that followed, many more were lost. Edmund Lincoln Gate from Addington was killed the second day; Thomas Henry Ellis from Spreydon was wounded on the 19th of September and died the next day; Cyril Bigthan Cooke from New Brighton was only 20 when he died on the 1st of October, the same day that we lost Bernard Gabriel Joseph O’Shaughnessy from Halswell. The list goes on and on.

You can read more about these soldiers, and more, by searching ‘Somme’ on Kete Christchurch.

More information