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international librarian of mystery

Friday, December 10, 2004

At the Zoo

I was slogging my way through about section F of the gargantuan Saturday edition of the Dominion Post, when I flicked over a page to be startled by a big photo of myself standing amongst the book-shelves at the Library, peering coyly over my glasses from behind Vikram Chanda's book Love and Longing in Bombay (which I had randomly pulled from the shelves as a prop to hide behind).

It was from a photo-shoot and interview I'd done with the Dom a fortnight ago, which I had never quite believed would make it to print, so flimsy did my story really seem when said out loud. When it didn't make the following weekend edition or the IT pages on Monday, I had assumed the media moment had passed. Turns out my story was flimsy, because the reporter had spent the rest of her time talking to fellow NetGuide Best Personal Blog finalists Russell Brown and David Farrar whose serious non-blogosphere credentials gave the story some much needed gravitas. Reading my own story and quotes was an exercise in teeth-clenching mortification. Did I really sound so ... vapid, when I spoke out loud?

"It wouldn't bother me too much if people didn't read it, I hadn't thought about it too much."
"It's nice to get recognition, but, on the flipside, if people stopped reading it tomorrow, I'd probably still do it."

Ugh. From this point on I'm only doing written interviews. I looked up from my paper, took a soothing sip from my traditional Saturday morning latte, which I had managed to purchase after a manic stray coin-finding mission that had lasted most of the morning, and left me with all of six dollars and fifty cents to last until pay day. I had already spent half of it on my caffeine addiction, and I knew the second half was destined to go the same way tomorrow morning. As I drank, I surveyed the people at the tables clustered around me.

I was at Eva Dixon's, the cafe by the Wellington Zoo, just down the road from my flat in Newtown. Eva Dixon's had, until earlier this year, been situated on the corner of Eva and Dixon streets in town, and was a smoky little hang-out accessible through a hole in the wall and up a super-tight flight of stairs into a smoky and small corner room where the uber-chic central city crowd were, on occasion, known to hang out. For cafe management reasons not known to me, the cool city coffee-shop closed and was then reincarnated out by the zoo, with the same name, but as a baby-friendly, kids-menu, familys-welcome type establishment. Still, they continued to make one of the best coffees in the city, and, oddly enough, it seems the glitterati of Wellington are still spotted at Eva Dixon's, despite it being so remote.

Today, for example, I found myself exchanging a second glance with local-born rock god Jon Toogood, who, up until that moment, I wasn't even aware was in New Zealand, his band having been based overseas for upwards of a decade or so. In fact, there were a couple of the other Shihad boys there as well, so they were presumably back visiting family, or recording, or both. I had taken a quick second look because, well, not only is he a skinny white-boy rock god, he is also a skinny white-boy rock god whose social circles I'm not entirely removed from. A prime candidate for further investigation should the chance ever arise*. I then noticed he had his paper open on the page that featured the article about me, and that he was looking at it, and then back up at me. The dawn of recognition started to light up his face.

I spun in my chair and buried myself in the paper again. I had been recognised by a famous person; what was the world coming to? As I dithered between leaping up and introducing myself, and just playing it cool and letting him come to me, I was completely distracted by an even more unlikely sight: the Brewer's woman - the one who had held me up in Reference the day before. She looked away when I caught her eye, but I could see that she, too, had the paper open on the incriminating page.

That was it. I drained my latte, quickly pulled the blog article from the cafe's copy of the paper, and fled home, checking behind me all the way to make sure Mrs Brewers wasn't following me. She wasn't, but I locked the door upon getting home anyway, and just about jumped out of my skin when there was a knock at the door about ten minutes later. I peeked through the letterbox. It was only Josh.

He had made me a concilatory compilation CD for me during the week, and had now come around with a bag chocka-fill of CDs, a couple of spindles of CDRs, a a few dozen empty jewel cases, and a CD labelling kit so I could make full copies of anything that had taken my fancy.

Ahhh, the old wooing tricks work the best on me. I let him in, and we set up shop in the lounge. I picked out my favourites and we spent an industrious afternoon burning and labelling my 'Best of 2004' collection. We did it in a typically librarianish way - not only did we copy the CDs, but Josh took the time to find, download and print-out as much of the original artwork as he could, while I carefully updated my own database of CDs on my laptop, making mp3 copies of each album as well, rating them, adding genre tags, the whole works. We then had a stupid fight triggered off by a minor disagreement over classification systems (and his disregard thereof), and he left in a huff, leaving his laptop behind. And if you leave your laptop lying around in someone else's house, you're asking for trouble in my opinion. Yes, I had good look - I know I shouldn't have - but it was on, and well, temptation and all.

And it was very enlightening.

[ * A quick google leads me to discover that Jon is married. Meh. ]