Robyn Gallagher

Adventures in words and web

25 things

It’s that “25 things about me” list. Back in the olden days, the days of LiveJournal, these used to go around all the time and I’d never do them. But now it’s on Facebook, which is social media and cool, etc, so I’ll do it too.

Incidentally, this has taken me over six hours to write.

1. I can write backwards almost as well as I can forwards. I taught myself how to do it when I was 20, after seeing “The Last Seduction” and being impressed that the main character could do it (among other things).

2. Auckland suburbs I lived in, in chronological order: Parnell, Grey Lynn, Mt Eden, Newton, Mt Eden, St Mary’s Bay, before finally settling (ha!) in Mt Eden. All are within 5km of the city centre. I like to be within walking distance of the city and not reliant on a car.

3. My mother’s mother’s side of the family was dead posh Devonport stock, but my morphine addict great-grandpappy ended up drinking away the family fortune.

4. The first boy I had a crush on was Adam Ant, circa “Goody Two Shoes“. Sadly it didn’t work out – I was 8, he was 20 years older than me, lived in England and didn’t know I existed. I grew up disappointed at most men’s refusal to wear eyeliner.

5. I don’t like beaches. This probably makes me a bad New Zealander. It’s mainly the sand, but also the wind. Sand is, as a wise man once said, just dirt with better PR.

6. I grew up in a rural area on a “lifestyle” section. I don’t know what kind of lifestyle it was supposed to be – all I remember was feeling oppressed by its emptiness, and having an eternal longing to live in a city. I didn’t want a pony; I wanted concrete and public transport and people.

7. I’ve always like the culture of writing and photography around surfer and skater culture, even though I’m a complete outsider to surfing and skating. Dude.

8. I’ve never really had a nickname, possibly because Robyn is itself a diminutive of Robert (ugh!). But someone once called me Bob Marley, which was funny in a not-actually-funny kind of way.

9. If I travel overseas, I want to explore. I could never be satisfied relaxing by a hotel pool.

10. I received news of the 9/11 attacks on 11 September as I was in Melbourne. I was in bed, reading David Sedaris’s book “Me Talk Pretty One Day”, and was actually more interested in reading that than hearing about, woteva, some guy who’d flown a plane into a building.

11. I am a published poet, though under a pseudonym. I have also performed poetry in Newcastle, Australia, and spoken word in Melbourne. I am evidently depriving New Zealand audiences of my talent.

12. I really like living in Wellington. It feels like I am actively living here, rather than it just being where I happen to reside. I should also note that my 11 years in Auckland were splendid, but in a different way.

13. I’m a bit superstitious, which annoys me.

14. Best present – the Walkman I got for my 11th birthday. Suddenly music became more complex, lyrics clearer and so much more enjoyable. I eventually moved on to a CD Walkman, then an iPod. It’s portable pleasure.

15. The first building that thrilled me was the Beehive. On a family holiday in Paraparaumu in 1983, we got the train to Wellington. Straight out of the train station, I looked up and saw the Beehive and I got chills – moderne classical brutalist chills.

16. I left Hamilton in 1997 after I realised I just didn’t want to live there any longer. The last straw was when I was walking home along Clyde Street and someone in a car threw the slushy remains of a McDonald’s Coke at me. That did it.

17. I have Trinity College London’s level eight certificate in choral speaking. This consisted of performing an abridged version of Janet Frame’s short story “The Reservoir” (without the bit about condoms) and Keith Thorsen’s poem “Chit Chat“… for what good it did me.

18. I once lived on Karangahape Road. One night when I was walking home, a crusty old drunk asked me if I’d have sex with him for money. I got a bit depressed, thinking “Is that really the kind of clientele I’d attract if I were a ho?” Cos, you know, I’d always envisioned myself as one of those high-class prostitute types.

19. I’ve been thanked in the acknowledgements for a book that won a Montana Book Award, after lending the author my MC OJ and the Rhythm Slave CD. Though the book I was thanked in wasn’t the book I helped with, because the author forgot.

20. When I was in Paris, I chose to visit Disneyland over Notre Dame. I threw a euro coin into Skull Rock Cove and wished for a messy, complicated love.

21. Growing up in Hamilton in the ’80s, my two favourite weekend outings were visiting the Building Centre – especially for the fountain of taps, the insulation demonstration and the Fanta machine – and going to the liquor store with Dad. Again, I stress “Hamilton” and “’80s”.

22. Someone once described me as screwball. Initially I resisted the label, but then I realised I wouldn’t be resisting it if it wasn’t true.

23. I’ve only wanted to be married at one point in my life: in 1998 I decided it would be good to be married so if a fellow hit on me, I could get all outraged and say, “Excuse me, but I am a happily married woman!” Otherwise, (conventional) marriage doesn’t appeal because it would involve me being a wife.

24. I’ve been to one polytech and two universities, but I never got around to completing any degrees. I have, however, had some of my writing used as course reading for a first-year English paper at the University of Auckland. I’m going to hold out for an honorary degree.

25. I’m a great believer in self-mythology and the ability to alter the past, present or future simply by writing down how you remember your story.

5 Comments

  1. Keith Thorsen! Editor of Sliced Apple, the anthology of secondary students’ poetry. I was very excited to make the cut from 1990.

    #24 is of note for me as well. The Vice-Chancellors and the universities (and with them TEC) are focused on retention and completion as measures of student success at present. Programmes are expected continually to review the ways in which they can retain students through to completion, whether of certificate, diploma or degrees. Although funding is not wholly tied to completion, it is often suggested that it should be. It’s important, I think, to maintain the counter-argument that tertiary study need not be about completing qualifications alone. Some of the students who seem to get the most out of the certificate programmes into which I teach are those who decide that university is not for them.

  2. I loved the Building Centre. My favourite part was the Sauna and indoor/outdoor garden.

  3. I don’t remember the garden, but I do remember the sauna! The first time I went in a real sauna, I was surprised at how hot it actually was. Wot, you mean saunas aren’t heated by a single lightbulb?

  4. Keith Thorsen! performance pote. Visited my high school in 1990, found him inspiring in a vague way.

  5. I had to go to Hamilton for school holidays with an Aunt. We went to town one day to go a Vegetarian Restaurant. As that was the 80′s it was really just an all you can eat Salad Bar. I felt so ripped off that there was no meat. I was only 13 at the time and grew up in Rotorua, so Hamilton was a real city.

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