Searching for locations: Auckland, New Zealand, a rare day for the port

We were staying at the Hilton and advised there would be a large cruise liner berthing next to the hotel.  There was the Arcadia.

2013-03-08 11.51.48

This is the view from the other side of the hotel.  Where our room was, we could almost walk onto the aft end of the ship.

We were also told this was a rather extraordinary day because there were two cruise ships in the port. particularly because it was near the end of the cruising season.

The other ship was two berths along, the Sun Princess.

2013-03-08 11.56.17

Not as big as the Arcadia, up close it was still very impressive.

The cinema of my dreams – It all started in Venice – Episode 13

Cecilia changes the subject

Being an up-and-coming movie start was not all beer and skittles, as the saying goes.

Juliet gave her a look that I thought was her death stare, annoyed by her arrival at what might have been a critical point in the conversation.

Cecilia saw her and shook her head.  “Oops, I’m intruding.  Sorry.”  She stood

“You’re not,” I said, which earned me a harsh look too, “We’re just having coffee, but you might want something stronger.”

“No, I’d better go.”  She was looking directly at Juliet, putting the onus directly on her.

“Stay.  We’re just having coffee.”

Cecilia waved to a waitress and sat down again.  “Great, I wasn’t looking forward to going back to an empty room.”

For effect, she touched me on my arm, her seat being closer, and I could see what she was doing. 

We opted for more coffee, Cecilia ordered a bottle of champagne, and three glasses, an attempt to smooth the rocky waters.

Juliet was definitely annoyed.  Another death stare in Cecilia’s direction, then, “would I have seen anything you’ve starred in?”

“Me?  I’m not a star, not a big name, just bit parts in series like Midsommer Murders, and Silent Witness.  I get to play dead bodies and murder victims.  My last role was a little better, I got a half dozen lines.  But I’m just one of the hundreds of hopefuls out there.”

“Do you have a day job, then, if parts are so few and far apart?”

Interesting question, Juliet was thinking on her feet.

If she was trying to catch Cecilia out, but she was ahead of Juliet.  “I do.  I’d like to say that it’s being a high-class escort, but they make more money than I’d know what to do with, so I toil away as a supermarket checkout girl.  Gives me the most flexibility regarding time off, and I get to meet so many different people, who become part of my repertoire of characters.  What do you do?”

“Pathology.”

“A doctor.”

“A disgraced doctor that can’t practice medicine.  Perhaps that might be material enough for another of your characters.”

Cecilia had one glass of champagne the moment it came, and then refilled for a second.  She offered it to us, and I nodded, taking half a glass.  Juliet declined.

“Played a hospital patient, a bomb victim, swathed in bloody bandages, been a doctor in the background once, got to spill coffee over another doctor.”

“What is the best part you’ve had?”

 “A fallen nun.”

The best said about that the better, but not before my mind went to places it shouldn’t.  I changed the subject.  “What will you be doing after the festival is over?”

“Going home.  I have an audition for a part in a film about mercenaries, they want me to be a mercenary would you believe?”

Apparently Juliet didn’t think so.

“But I have a spare few days if you want to show me more of Italy.  I’d like to see a little of Tuscany, try some wine.”

Another touch and a smile.

“I thought you were going to Sorrento.”  Not unexpected from Juliet.

“It can wait.  I’ve been thinking of going home, and can take Cecilia to Tuscany, send her on her way, and go visit Larry’s mother at Sorrento “

“And if I take up your tour offer to come with you?”

Cecilia gave me a Juliet look.

“Then I’ll send you a text saying where and when I’ll meet you.”

Change bottle empty, Cecilia gave me one last look, one that would no doubt get a reaction from Juliet, and sauntered away.

Juliet watched her leave, and after she disappeared out of sight, said, “it seems to me she’s more than just a friend.”

“That’s just her, no doubt playing a role.  She asked me if you were a girlfriend, and I said, once maybe, but not now.  Seems she didn’t quite believe me.”

“I think we both know where that ship is headed.”

The rocks, perhaps.  “It’s too soon after Violetta to contemplate anything like that.  But, that doesn’t mean I can’t be friends for now, and see what the future brings.”

“Not much if what you say about this Larry character is true.”

“That said, you might also want to be careful.  Larry’s not averse to using or killing close contacts of only to send a message.  So, if feel unsafe, or he makes an overture, tell me and I’ll pass it on to my minders.”

“If he does, I’ll definitely let you know.”

“Good.  It’s getting later.  We should get back to the hotel.”

© Charles Heath 2022

What the hell time is it anyway, and why should I care?

And why is a coyote baying?

Oh, that’s right, at the time we were in Canada, and the ice hockey channel was running in the background while I was trying to work.

It brought to mind, then, the interesting concept of movement through time zones, and how it was possible to live the same day for nearly two days, which is as close as I was going to get the ‘Groundhog Day’.

It’s not something that I’ve considered when writing stories because usually we are grounded in one particular time zone, or if we’re travelling, we just go from one chapter to the next, each a different location, and the reader is no wiser.

Except the editor is and pulls me up when it appears I think it’s during the day, when in reality it’s really 3am.

But, just to illustrate my point, the following is what I wrote two Christmases ago, and boy was it confusing at times.

Alright, we’ve arrived in Lake Louise from Kamloops, and there’s been a time change.  Being from Australia, we lost or gained so many hours I don’t know whether I’m coming or going.

Yes, I left on the 26th of December, travelled around half the planet, and it’s still the 26th, after a stopover in Shanghai where it was the 27th.

Can someone tell me what the hell is going on?

On another day in Canada, it was the 30th.  The day before, back home, it was my wife’s birthday in Australia and we got a number of calls on the 29th, which was amusing, to say the least.

Now, we’ve gone from Kamloops to Lake Louise, and apparently now that we are in Alberta, it’s an hour later.

The rental car we’re driving didn’t get it, and we’re still an hour behind.

My phone didn’t get it, but it is understandable because I didn’t connect it to the Canadian network to give us an internet connection because it was going to cost money.

It did on my wife’s phone which is connected to the network and it’s the only device we have that tells the correct time.

And why do we really need to know what time it is?

So we make the plane the day after tomorrow, from Calgary to Toronto.

I never realized that time was so important, and I wonder how people who travel the world remain sane with all the changes to the time zones.

Just how do road warriors get on?

Searching for locations: Auckland, New Zealand, a rare day for the port

We were staying at the Hilton and advised there would be a large cruise liner berthing next to the hotel.  There was the Arcadia.

2013-03-08 11.51.48

This is the view from the other side of the hotel.  Where our room was, we could almost walk onto the aft end of the ship.

We were also told this was a rather extraordinary day because there were two cruise ships in the port. particularly because it was near the end of the cruising season.

The other ship was two berths along, the Sun Princess.

2013-03-08 11.56.17

Not as big as the Arcadia, up close it was still very impressive.

The cinema of my dreams – It all started in Venice – Episode 13

Cecilia changes the subject

Being an up-and-coming movie start was not all beer and skittles, as the saying goes.

Juliet gave her a look that I thought was her death stare, annoyed by her arrival at what might have been a critical point in the conversation.

Cecilia saw her and shook her head.  “Oops, I’m intruding.  Sorry.”  She stood

“You’re not,” I said, which earned me a harsh look too, “We’re just having coffee, but you might want something stronger.”

“No, I’d better go.”  She was looking directly at Juliet, putting the onus directly on her.

“Stay.  We’re just having coffee.”

Cecilia waved to a waitress and sat down again.  “Great, I wasn’t looking forward to going back to an empty room.”

For effect, she touched me on my arm, her seat being closer, and I could see what she was doing. 

We opted for more coffee, Cecilia ordered a bottle of champagne, and three glasses, an attempt to smooth the rocky waters.

Juliet was definitely annoyed.  Another death stare in Cecilia’s direction, then, “would I have seen anything you’ve starred in?”

“Me?  I’m not a star, not a big name, just bit parts in series like Midsommer Murders, and Silent Witness.  I get to play dead bodies and murder victims.  My last role was a little better, I got a half dozen lines.  But I’m just one of the hundreds of hopefuls out there.”

“Do you have a day job, then, if parts are so few and far apart?”

Interesting question, Juliet was thinking on her feet.

If she was trying to catch Cecilia out, but she was ahead of Juliet.  “I do.  I’d like to say that it’s being a high-class escort, but they make more money than I’d know what to do with, so I toil away as a supermarket checkout girl.  Gives me the most flexibility regarding time off, and I get to meet so many different people, who become part of my repertoire of characters.  What do you do?”

“Pathology.”

“A doctor.”

“A disgraced doctor that can’t practice medicine.  Perhaps that might be material enough for another of your characters.”

Cecilia had one glass of champagne the moment it came, and then refilled for a second.  She offered it to us, and I nodded, taking half a glass.  Juliet declined.

“Played a hospital patient, a bomb victim, swathed in bloody bandages, been a doctor in the background once, got to spill coffee over another doctor.”

“What is the best part you’ve had?”

 “A fallen nun.”

The best said about that the better, but not before my mind went to places it shouldn’t.  I changed the subject.  “What will you be doing after the festival is over?”

“Going home.  I have an audition for a part in a film about mercenaries, they want me to be a mercenary would you believe?”

Apparently Juliet didn’t think so.

“But I have a spare few days if you want to show me more of Italy.  I’d like to see a little of Tuscany, try some wine.”

Another touch and a smile.

“I thought you were going to Sorrento.”  Not unexpected from Juliet.

“It can wait.  I’ve been thinking of going home, and can take Cecilia to Tuscany, send her on her way, and go visit Larry’s mother at Sorrento “

“And if I take up your tour offer to come with you?”

Cecilia gave me a Juliet look.

“Then I’ll send you a text saying where and when I’ll meet you.”

Change bottle empty, Cecilia gave me one last look, one that would no doubt get a reaction from Juliet, and sauntered away.

Juliet watched her leave, and after she disappeared out of sight, said, “it seems to me she’s more than just a friend.”

“That’s just her, no doubt playing a role.  She asked me if you were a girlfriend, and I said, once maybe, but not now.  Seems she didn’t quite believe me.”

“I think we both know where that ship is headed.”

The rocks, perhaps.  “It’s too soon after Violetta to contemplate anything like that.  But, that doesn’t mean I can’t be friends for now, and see what the future brings.”

“Not much if what you say about this Larry character is true.”

“That said, you might also want to be careful.  Larry’s not averse to using or killing close contacts of only to send a message.  So, if feel unsafe, or he makes an overture, tell me and I’ll pass it on to my minders.”

“If he does, I’ll definitely let you know.”

“Good.  It’s getting later.  We should get back to the hotel.”

© Charles Heath 2022

What the hell time is it anyway, and why should I care?

And why is a coyote baying?

Oh, that’s right, at the time we were in Canada, and the ice hockey channel was running in the background while I was trying to work.

It brought to mind, then, the interesting concept of movement through time zones, and how it was possible to live the same day for nearly two days, which is as close as I was going to get the ‘Groundhog Day’.

It’s not something that I’ve considered when writing stories because usually we are grounded in one particular time zone, or if we’re travelling, we just go from one chapter to the next, each a different location, and the reader is no wiser.

Except the editor is and pulls me up when it appears I think it’s during the day, when in reality it’s really 3am.

But, just to illustrate my point, the following is what I wrote two Christmases ago, and boy was it confusing at times.

Alright, we’ve arrived in Lake Louise from Kamloops, and there’s been a time change.  Being from Australia, we lost or gained so many hours I don’t know whether I’m coming or going.

Yes, I left on the 26th of December, travelled around half the planet, and it’s still the 26th, after a stopover in Shanghai where it was the 27th.

Can someone tell me what the hell is going on?

On another day in Canada, it was the 30th.  The day before, back home, it was my wife’s birthday in Australia and we got a number of calls on the 29th, which was amusing, to say the least.

Now, we’ve gone from Kamloops to Lake Louise, and apparently now that we are in Alberta, it’s an hour later.

The rental car we’re driving didn’t get it, and we’re still an hour behind.

My phone didn’t get it, but it is understandable because I didn’t connect it to the Canadian network to give us an internet connection because it was going to cost money.

It did on my wife’s phone which is connected to the network and it’s the only device we have that tells the correct time.

And why do we really need to know what time it is?

So we make the plane the day after tomorrow, from Calgary to Toronto.

I never realized that time was so important, and I wonder how people who travel the world remain sane with all the changes to the time zones.

Just how do road warriors get on?

Searching for locations: Old Shanghai, China

The old Shanghai refers to a small area of Shanghai that used to be walled in and remained that way until about 1912 when all but a small section of the wall was demolished.  With the advent of the concessions, Old Shanghai became the administrative center until later when it became a shopping complex.

Now it has many restored historical buildings as well as new buildings in a somewhat traditional style that has become one of Shanghai’s main tourist attractions, housing many shops and restaurants.

The “Old Town” is not exclusively old, as you still have a chance to take in the atmosphere if you wander into the quaint side streets.

But, on first viewing walking down the street towards the complex, I’m not sure I’d go as far as to say this is in reality old Shanghai, except for what appears to be a true representation of it architecturally. 

The buildings, which are shops and restaurants, are set out symmetrically, with streets, alleyways, and squares which may prove that it was specially built for the tourists, and no mechanized traffic.

Anyway…

The buildings are magnificent, and a photographer’s delight, and you’d finish up having hundreds of photos by the time you leave.  All the buildings are exquisite representations of traditional Chinese architecture. 

As for buying stuff, remember if you’re not Chinese you have the sucker tourist stamp on your forehead, so be prepared to walk away if the vendors will not bargain.  

Nothing here is worth the price tag and in our group discounts like from 130 RMB to 50 RMB and from 1 for 1,200 to 2 for 950 RMB are common.

Here common t-shirts that we can get for 3 dollars back home start at 150 RMB which is roughly 35 dollars.  It’s that kind of market.

We end up is a tea room, on the third floor of the meeting point below, and discover all the tour guides sitting around a table counting money, and I have to say it’s the most $50 notes I’ve ever seen in one place.  
It is, we were told, where they discussed ‘strategy’.

The cinema of my dreams – It all started in Venice – Episode 12

Let’s talk about Larry.

Over the main, and desert, I told her about Siena and the Palio, painting a vivid picture of horsemanship and rivalry over the course of several hundred years, making it sound so much better than it was.

It the heat, the tight confines of the square, and the large number of people crammed in, it could be quite oppressive.

It wasn’t until after coffee arrived I decided to take a different tack and surprise her.

“You know, back in the old days, when I was working a desk, I used to do research on criminals for task forces.  I longed to get out in the field, but back then you had to be a particular sort of bastard to get those jobs.  I just didn’t have that mean streak.”

“Any I might know of?”

“One that springs to mind, Larry Pomisor, head of the so-called Waterville gang, though as an organization, is went downhill quickly after Larry’s father died and he took over.”

I’d been watching her carefully, and, yes, no matter how hard people tried to mask their surprise, it never works.  I got the hit I was looking for.

“You’re saying he’s not a crime boss?”

“Exactly.  He’s little better than a complete moron.  Blames me for the death of his brother, failing to understand that he is ultimately responsible.  If he hadn’t dragged him into the business, he’d still be alive today.”

“Why would he blame you?”

“He thinks I was at the scene of his brother’s death but whoever told him got their dates mixed up.  But Larry is nothing if not pathological in his beliefs no matter how wrong they are.”

I could see she was processing how to deal with this turn of events.  Being handed to her on a plate, exactly what Larry wanted me to talk about, I could see she was mid-way between confused and surprised.  In other words, off guard.

She now had to come up with questions that were not obvious.

“Not exactly the sort of enemy you want, then.”

“No more than any of the others I’m sure are waiting in line.  I was there, yes, but not when his brother was killed, he was alive when I left.  It was a meeting his brother called, and we believe he was going to inform on Larry, and Larry had him killed, then pinning the blame on us, and me in particular.  His brother never wanted anything to do with Waterville, but Larry never gave him the option.”

“I can’t believe that he would do that, not to his brother.  No one would do that to family.”

“Like I said, everything I learned about Larry pointed to the fact he was a moron.  His father hated him, and his mother moved to be as far from him as possible.  She lives in Sorrento you know.  His father was a piece of work, and I first met him on a domestic call-out when their neighbors reported gunshots.  She had taken a beating, not the first, and not the last, and I had to say, I’d never seen anyone more relieved when the old man died.”

I wondered what Larry was making of this if he was listening in.  He had once told me, in passing, in one of many visits to the parent’s house to intervene, that he would kill his father if he didn’t stop.

But, Larry was all talk and no action and did nothing to stop it.  In the end, it was his wife Gabrielle, who finally ended the violence. 

When it happened she called me, the most familiar face, and told me what happened.  I then told her what to do, and it eventually kept her out of jail.  Over the years since our paths rarely crossed, but significantly I was on her Christmas card list.

She had, when she learned I was living in Venice incited Violetta and I over for tea, and we went a few times, but the last was a long time ago.

“He doesn’t blame you for that too foes he?”

“Probably, but Gabrielle can put him straight on that.  I should go and see her, it’s been a while.”

 “What do you mean?  Go see Larry’s mother?”

“Why not?  The chances of Larry being there are remote.  It’ll have to be after Cecilia goes back home.  You want to come, see a bit more of Italy?”

“What?”

The shock of the conversation direction had finally caught up with her.  I’d seen her glancing more than one at her phone, and equally wondering what Larry was making of it.

“Go see Larry’s mother.  We’re old friends.  I’m sure she’d give him a stern talking-to if she knew he wanted me dead, don’t you?”

“I don’t know.  I’ll have to see.”

“Of course.  Too short notice.”

I gave her one of my winning smiles, just as Cecilia loomed out of the darkness and came over, dropping heavily into the seat next to me, and complaining, “Well, that was a spectacular waste of time and effort.”

© Charles Heath 2022

Searching for locations: Old Shanghai, China

The old Shanghai refers to a small area of Shanghai that used to be walled in and remained that way until about 1912 when all but a small section of the wall was demolished.  With the advent of the concessions, Old Shanghai became the administrative center until later when it became a shopping complex.

Now it has many restored historical buildings as well as new buildings in a somewhat traditional style that has become one of Shanghai’s main tourist attractions, housing many shops and restaurants.

The “Old Town” is not exclusively old, as you still have a chance to take in the atmosphere if you wander into the quaint side streets.

But, on first viewing walking down the street towards the complex, I’m not sure I’d go as far as to say this is in reality old Shanghai, except for what appears to be a true representation of it architecturally. 

The buildings, which are shops and restaurants, are set out symmetrically, with streets, alleyways, and squares which may prove that it was specially built for the tourists, and no mechanized traffic.

Anyway…

The buildings are magnificent, and a photographer’s delight, and you’d finish up having hundreds of photos by the time you leave.  All the buildings are exquisite representations of traditional Chinese architecture. 

As for buying stuff, remember if you’re not Chinese you have the sucker tourist stamp on your forehead, so be prepared to walk away if the vendors will not bargain.  

Nothing here is worth the price tag and in our group discounts like from 130 RMB to 50 RMB and from 1 for 1,200 to 2 for 950 RMB are common.

Here common t-shirts that we can get for 3 dollars back home start at 150 RMB which is roughly 35 dollars.  It’s that kind of market.

We end up is a tea room, on the third floor of the meeting point below, and discover all the tour guides sitting around a table counting money, and I have to say it’s the most $50 notes I’ve ever seen in one place.  
It is, we were told, where they discussed ‘strategy’.

The cinema of my dreams – It all started in Venice – Episode 12

Let’s talk about Larry.

Over the main, and desert, I told her about Siena and the Palio, painting a vivid picture of horsemanship and rivalry over the course of several hundred years, making it sound so much better than it was.

It the heat, the tight confines of the square, and the large number of people crammed in, it could be quite oppressive.

It wasn’t until after coffee arrived I decided to take a different tack and surprise her.

“You know, back in the old days, when I was working a desk, I used to do research on criminals for task forces.  I longed to get out in the field, but back then you had to be a particular sort of bastard to get those jobs.  I just didn’t have that mean streak.”

“Any I might know of?”

“One that springs to mind, Larry Pomisor, head of the so-called Waterville gang, though as an organization, is went downhill quickly after Larry’s father died and he took over.”

I’d been watching her carefully, and, yes, no matter how hard people tried to mask their surprise, it never works.  I got the hit I was looking for.

“You’re saying he’s not a crime boss?”

“Exactly.  He’s little better than a complete moron.  Blames me for the death of his brother, failing to understand that he is ultimately responsible.  If he hadn’t dragged him into the business, he’d still be alive today.”

“Why would he blame you?”

“He thinks I was at the scene of his brother’s death but whoever told him got their dates mixed up.  But Larry is nothing if not pathological in his beliefs no matter how wrong they are.”

I could see she was processing how to deal with this turn of events.  Being handed to her on a plate, exactly what Larry wanted me to talk about, I could see she was mid-way between confused and surprised.  In other words, off guard.

She now had to come up with questions that were not obvious.

“Not exactly the sort of enemy you want, then.”

“No more than any of the others I’m sure are waiting in line.  I was there, yes, but not when his brother was killed, he was alive when I left.  It was a meeting his brother called, and we believe he was going to inform on Larry, and Larry had him killed, then pinning the blame on us, and me in particular.  His brother never wanted anything to do with Waterville, but Larry never gave him the option.”

“I can’t believe that he would do that, not to his brother.  No one would do that to family.”

“Like I said, everything I learned about Larry pointed to the fact he was a moron.  His father hated him, and his mother moved to be as far from him as possible.  She lives in Sorrento you know.  His father was a piece of work, and I first met him on a domestic call-out when their neighbors reported gunshots.  She had taken a beating, not the first, and not the last, and I had to say, I’d never seen anyone more relieved when the old man died.”

I wondered what Larry was making of this if he was listening in.  He had once told me, in passing, in one of many visits to the parent’s house to intervene, that he would kill his father if he didn’t stop.

But, Larry was all talk and no action and did nothing to stop it.  In the end, it was his wife Gabrielle, who finally ended the violence. 

When it happened she called me, the most familiar face, and told me what happened.  I then told her what to do, and it eventually kept her out of jail.  Over the years since our paths rarely crossed, but significantly I was on her Christmas card list.

She had, when she learned I was living in Venice incited Violetta and I over for tea, and we went a few times, but the last was a long time ago.

“He doesn’t blame you for that too foes he?”

“Probably, but Gabrielle can put him straight on that.  I should go and see her, it’s been a while.”

 “What do you mean?  Go see Larry’s mother?”

“Why not?  The chances of Larry being there are remote.  It’ll have to be after Cecilia goes back home.  You want to come, see a bit more of Italy?”

“What?”

The shock of the conversation direction had finally caught up with her.  I’d seen her glancing more than one at her phone, and equally wondering what Larry was making of it.

“Go see Larry’s mother.  We’re old friends.  I’m sure she’d give him a stern talking-to if she knew he wanted me dead, don’t you?”

“I don’t know.  I’ll have to see.”

“Of course.  Too short notice.”

I gave her one of my winning smiles, just as Cecilia loomed out of the darkness and came over, dropping heavily into the seat next to me, and complaining, “Well, that was a spectacular waste of time and effort.”

© Charles Heath 2022