'A summer's day in Wellington'
The day was white hot. It was a day without wind, holding its breath as if afraid to inhale that searing heat. Far below the university, a visible haze distorted the cityscape into the shimmering shapes of glass towers and tall office buildings being melted together by the sharp soldering point of the sun. From that shimmering form, like a huge glistening lung curved round the ring of harbour, pulsated the heat-muted sounds of the city's labouring breathing. The dip and roar of endless traffic traversing streets and highways. The jarring clatter of pneumatic drills and earth-juddering thumping of demolition machinery on sites where derelict buildings stood like broken teeth. Now and then, the solitary clanging and rumbling of the cable car winching its way up into Kelburn. And underlying it all, the soft sighing of a thousand people breathing in and breathing out, breathing in and breathing out. Above, a huge jet punctured the dazzling skin of sky. Beyond, tugs tracked across the silver harbour.
A crowd was milling again at the intersection, waiting for the signal to cross. Breathing in and breathing out. Waiting. The signal to cross buzzed and the crown surged across the intersection in an unthinking response, triggered to shove and push through to the other side the buzzing stopped. We threaded across with them, among the drawn and listless faces of people pale with the heat. The sun slashed into Sturdee Street, and, for a short while, there was respite from the sounds of the central city. But as we approached the Cuba Mall the jangling fanfare of noise trumpeted again.
Traffic varoomed past: cars, lorries, a silvered motorbike with its visored attendant like a metallic mantis. Two girls walked the hot pavement, splitting the air with their laughter. A red-crossed ambulance sirened down the street, its red light flashing semaphores of urgency. Far away, the tinkling carillon* of the Dominion...