A BALLAD OF THE CHRISTCHURCH SUBURBS


(Vespers)

God spare me Merivalians;
the matrons and their sons,
their moleskin-wearing sisters.
From Fendaltonians
deliver us Lord, the mother
whose tongue’s a fearful lash,
and her younger brother
who married into cash.

In from the batch at Hanmer
two Sloane Rangers and a child
in their four-wheel-drive Pajero
brave the rough suburban wild
for cheese and wine with neighbours
(he’s a sot and she’s a bitch),
be they National or Labour,
doesn’t matter if they’re rich.

The glory of their kitchens
comes from a magazine
in Provençal or Tuscan
to keep the Joneses green.
God save me from the yuppies
and their ironic lives
of pathos, and the strangeness
of parvenu housewives.

Her jewels and bonhomie are faux.
With sneer curled on her lips
she asks of your position
among the first four ships.
It’s boat shoes to do gardening.
She wears a strand of pearls
with her Crusaders rugby shirt
for drinkies with the girls.

“It’s Fendaahwlton, not Bryndwr!”
despite the map’s divide,
“We don’t live in Linwood, dear,
we live in Avonside!”
The borders are quite nebulous.
Wish the social climbers dead.
Come lovely, friendly bombs and fall

on Avonhead.


First published in Quietus: Observations on an Altered City, Analogue House, 2012

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