Lucy in Nelson
May 30th, 1999 at the reopening and 100 years celebrations of the Suter Art Museum

Report & Pictures by Liz

Lucy gives a speech and the rain

Lucy and her policeman and the horse and the rain

Summary - good for me, bad for you.

Well, listen to my tale of troubles and tribulations. A most ordinary set of events.

My camera. A nifty little Canon. New battery popped in on Friday and it goes haywire. Down to the camera shop - sorry love, that's a circuit board error it will have to go to Auckland for repair. Drat! I had just been in Auckland the previous week.

Getting flight to Nelson - on a tight budget from my gf (don't spend any money) but could only get nearly full-price tickets. Non-refundable tickets.

Try to borrow a camera. No luck. Try to borrow a video camera - yay my workmate Trish who is happy to lend me her camera and give me a quick lesson in return for taking her to the airport. No problems - her flight is half an hour before mine, I'll pick her up at 10am Sunday morning.

Check the weather forecast - RAIN and 14 degrees (about 58). Ring sister in law in Nelson - yes it's peeing down. No she can't come to the parade - her parents are coming for lunch and to watch the rugby. Drat again.

Last check of email before picking up Trish - she rings saying her flight is earlier than she remembered, can I pick her up at 9.30am not 10am. No worries, out the door with everything I hope, across central Wellington to the supermarket wher I buy one of those little film/camera thingies. Then pick up Trish and off to the airport. The lesson goes well with the camera. She leaves for Auckland and I am reading the Sunday paper when I hear the dreaded words. "Will passenger Wilson please report to the standby counter."  Oh boy. Well what a suprise - my 10.30am flight to Nelson cancelled. Did I mention the tickets were not refundable?

But the next flight is at 11.20 - it should get me there before 12noon. The parade Lucy is leading is due to start at 12.30pm.

So I go and sulk in the business lounge for an hour.

The plane takes off on time, but the weather is dodgy in Nelson - a 45 minute flight. Which takes 50 minutes. We touch down 20 minutes before the parade is due to start. Maybe I should stay on the plane and just go home at this point. But no - I race through the airport (about the size of my livingroom) and lo and behold! there are no taxis.

Back into the terminal, find the free-phone for the taxi and then back out the front to pace and mutter and pace. Also muttering and pacing are an elderly couple - I bet they are waiting for a taxi too. I wonder if they have found the free-phone. I bet they want MY taxi. But, dammit, Lucy is waiting. Sorta.

TEN frigging minutes later (where were you mate? Blenheim?) the taxi arrives and sure enough - elderly couple number 1 want it. But it's MINE! Two negative Taurean traits surface - possessiveness and a propensity to sulk.

The taxi-driver wants to be nice though, so they bundle into the back. At least I'll get dropped off first. All the taxi driver can talk about is the weather and the parade and the rugby until........ "and they say the Princess Xena is going to be there! Lucy Lawless. (much general incomprehension from the back seat) yes... apparently she has stainless steel armour. It will probably rust today. There were cops everywhere this morning. And TV cameras too. Shame it's raining. I wonder if her flight got in......" and so on and so on.

Sure enough he drops me off at the start point of the parade - I just throw money at him and leap out. There are hundreds of people and it is (in the vernacular) really persisting down.

Just as I wiggle into a position and drag out the video camera, Lucy appears and cuts some ribbon. Well she looks fantastic - it is strange seeing a face which is so familiar to me, yet in a completely new context. Do I manage to capture the moments on the video? Don't know. How is that? I hear you ask - more later.

Lucy then disappears as the parade starts - into a nice dry cafe or car I hope. 'Cause the rest of us are getting soaked. The parade starts and it's lots of fun. Each decade of the 100 years of the Suter Art Museum is represented. Now Kiwi parades are traditionally on foot - with few if any floats. But this parade was not on foot - cars, floats, wagons and carriages and horses with (real) bum-bags! Argo would have been intrigued.

And it rained. Just like Seattle. Or Auckland.

So I practised with the new camera - trying the pans, the close ups etc etc. No worries - I had a spare tape and a spare battery. Trish promised.

Lucy was in the very last thing - wasn't a float, maybe more like a big wagon  (about 6 feet off the ground) drawn by two enormous horses. She was with 3-4 others (including Daisy I think) and seated facing the back. She was wearing a heavy black coat and a big floppy hat with the brim turned up. In short she looked gorgeous. As she was the last thing in the parade she was immediately surrounded by kids. Every time the wagon stopped they would race up and shake her hand, high five her and get autographs. She had a big grin on her face for the entire parade.

At the end of the parade was all the official things. Lucy was seated on a podium with a Maori elder, the mayor, head of the art gallery, a famous local painter and the emcee.

She spoke for a couple of minutes - saying how she had enjoyed her 4 previous trips to Nelson, how she was used to the rain (coming from Auckland) and how important the arts were.

While others were speaking she sat and exchanged words with the elder and the mayor, waved at the people. She really has that self-deprecating lop-sided smile down pat you know.

I can now hear you saying - gee Liz, sounds great, where do I sign up for the tape ring??? Well alas - along with the other slight problems I had one major problem. The video camera conked out. At the end of the parade. I tried a new film and a new battery - but that pretty much exhausted my expertise with this thing. So I missed all the interesting stuff and I'm not sure if I can salvage the pictures of the parade. On Wednesday (once I'm finished this monster of a report I am supposed to be writing as I do this) I will take the camera off to a repair shop and I will let you know then.

All I have is some not very good pictures....... sorry.

Lucy then presented some prizes for winners in the parade competition. They gave her a gift (and one for Daisy too) to which she made the classic "oh you shouldn't have gone to any trouble". She then went off to officially reopen the Art Museum and I lost sight of her.

I then trotted off (swam would be more accurate) to my sister-in-law's place and watched the rugby with the in-laws (Canterbury won, thanks very much) while I dried out. Then off home to Wellington - fortunately the weather has started to lift by this stage. (But too late!!!)

My friend Julia taped the TV1 news, but I have yet to check if there was any mention. TV3 had a very short item which no-one seems to have managed to catch. Apparently Lucy did it for free. And, one would hope, a free box of tissues.

She was all people in Nelson were talking about - I overheard some people saying how disappointed they were she wasn't wearing her armour! Me too!!!

And kids were proudly showing off her autograph. And the officials were really obsequious - to the point of embarrassing her I think.

So I had a great Lucy day. But not a great day for my on-line buddies I'm afraid. I will ring up the Suter to see if they had an official video record. I will keep you posted.

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