Wellington's weather is not exaggerated by its detractors. It can be absolutely atrocious. It's the last place anyone of a nervous disposition should be expected to fly into. Nine times out of 10, MPs arrive in town with sour, queasy stomachs from what pilots insist on calling 'air pockets' and 'turbulence'. what it really is, is that Wellington's wind has tried very hard to knock the plane from the sky. It's as though no plane can land at Rongotai before King Kong has had a good play with it. We must all pray, now that the real King Kong has come to Wellington, that Weta Workshop never allows the beast to drop one.
Speaking as someone who adores Wellington and would have to be gassed out of the place, there is definitely something personal in the way the wind here biffs you. It positively boxes your ears. It slaps your chops; it tries to rip your clothes off and tear your shopping from you; it pushes you down the street and into the path of buses, then it tries to suffocate you. Wear too voluminous a coat and you become a land yacht. It's no wonder so many Wellington women have those boring wash-and-wear short haircuts, because any hairdo not constructed to Eiffel Tower specifications has absolutely no chance. Anything longer than a bob to the cheekbone will blow in your face and stick to your lipstick, which is a peculiarly irritating sensation. In the big-jewellery 80s, I nearly cracked a tooth when a big drop-earring I was wearing got wind-hurled against my face. Men in Wellington may as well have their ties stiffened with wire to stream horizontally over their shoulders, because that's the way you wear your tie most of the time in this town.
As a hardy, perseverant gardener, I've grown quite resigned to cultivating horizontal delphiniums and producing not so much rose bushes as regular snowstorms of fugitive rose petals. With its greeny-mauve hills and its petrol-blue, choppy harbour, Wellington is extremely picturesque, and many of its houses have sublime views. but they're always views of things - trees, people, buildings, cars - leaning to the north, or leaning to the south, or having the crap beaten out of them from every direction by that invisible thug, the wind. So even Wellington's beauty is not that restful.
But, Jane, that's why we love the place. Anyone can live with calm; it takes a special breed of man or woman to pick themselves up, shore up a broken window, and buy a new umbrella on the way to work the next morning - with a smile on their face. Or possibly an expression of the lips caused by air pressure, I'm not too sure. A special breed; possibly masochistic, definitely well-insulated.
And if anyone in the South Island finds my recycling bin, can I have it back, please?