Perched at the soaring summit where the celestial begins hovering over the seemingly microscopic clay like figurines on the plateau where bipeds were meant to roam I am bemusingly reminded of my bogus battle to crash the Olympus party. “Oh what a feeling when we’re dancing on the ceiling”.
Far from feeling vindicated of my yearning to float on cloud 9, those Lionel Richie words served more to enforce the existential crisis of my own mortality rather than unshackling my spirit free from its gilded corporeal incarceration.
Believing in an everlasting soul I may have prescribed to but a casualty at the tender age of 35 I did not aspire to be. Not to mention the respect for which I held for the beings below me. After all, for the medics who would have to scoop up my scattered remnants and what about the paint splatter? It would be as apocalyptically malevolent as spilling a pint of milk.
At this aperture you have probably surmised my reluctance to Meet Joe Black and take an early Sabbatical with Death most likely to Hotel California, my Kiwi obsession with lactose products and perhaps most poignantly my inner fears and loathings towards the tedium and perils of painting.
C’est la vie a kindred spirit may quip the harder hearted might advise me to get a life. Coming from a D.I.Y tribalistic Survivor like nation option deux would be emphatically out of the question. The mockery ringing like a mutiny of awful little earwigs “you hired a painter? Whaddarya Nancy?” Still a sentiment of alienation grasps over me like that forlorn astronaut in that classic Elton John Rocket Man ditty, however as I stare towards the rising tower of Babel before me I falter to find the appropriate parlance to express my umm je ne sais quoi.
Slapping paint on a roof was never a forte pour moi and the faculty was one which I never excelled at surmounting. Smothering acrylic over corrugated iron and hot tin wasn’t exactly an adrenaline inducing adventure. After all, what more was a roof other than a metal canopy to keep the thundering bolts of sunshine and honeydew drops of Zeus’s concubines tears out? What supplementary satisfaction can one derive from something purely fabricated with functionality over funk in mind? My Sistine Chapel peak which only garnered the affections of autumn leaves debris and winged wonders.
After my incessant purple prose fused rambling rantings over roofs you may be wondering where if not when the punchline will finally be signed, sealed and delivered. Well embrace yourself for my KO for my inner illumination came by way of a returning home sick expatriate. Over a hearty span of a decade he had devotedly set out to live out his vision to thoroughly visit all 50 US states. What’s more he had largely done this in a fittingly eco-friendly two wheeled manner and not of the combustible kind. An overwhelming shelf spanning Britannica could be mustered over this fellows unimaginably extraordinary pilgrimages.
However with the scent of oil in the air and paint on my fingers my sights were still set on the prize. Roofs were going to be a hot topic sooner or later. Acquired by an exquisitely icy toned Wisconsin girl they lampooned me for my jostles with the ‘Star Wars’.
They’re so one dimensional here in New Zealand, I can’t believe you guys are so uninspired and blasé towards such an enormous space. Well, it seems to be serving its duty suffice I thought rather sniggerishly towards this opinionated haughty taughty Norte Americana gringa. Yet, the cavalry came to assistance just before I was about to unleash my torrent of ammunition upon her assault against la patria. Camilla’s right, roofs in the States are so much more than dreaded 7 year coating errands. It was then that I realised my refutations would be futile against an individual who lived and breathed architecture.
From that point on I glanced on in awe like a 50s American seeing Marty McFly gliding on his hoverboard. On those stunned people in the Hot Tub time machine. Clearly, there was a dinosaur in cocktail lounge. So sedentarily subdued I stared on stunned into silence by the sages encircling the senile old savage.
What unfolded was a verbatim of epic proportions as mind blowing as any Kubrick showpiece. Lively banter of how the roof evolved morphing into roles that even it would find inconceivable. The semantic tacking duel went back and forth like a finely poised tennis rally. Often initiated by my friend and then the soft skinned Cheesehead (apparently that’s what their knack is in that part of Murica).
But holes in the debate were far from self-disclosing. These kids new what they were talking about. “Roofs are often rec n relax retreats”, asserted my friend. “It was quite common to find tennis courts, swimming pools, basketball and badminton courts graced upon them”. The cream skinned Camilla chimed in. “Retractable roofs would be like so freaking amazing.” “Well, there is the odd case” my friend conceded. “I remember one colleague who professed that she could peddle to her hearts content on an office block peek top”. Only in America I thought chuckling at the absurdity of it all. “Don’t dis it, bro” my friend added, “cycling’s an awesome way to kill the calories and I love the idea of a rooftop velodrome”. Camilla jived in the second the motion like a good cop who always had her partner’s back. “I totally agree. Greenspaces and grass are such a sight for sore eyes after the ardour of grey mindnumbing desk S’labours”. I was starting to take a shine towards this chirpy young fraulein. I was aware after minoring in a sociocultural psychology over the field of colour.
For simplicities sake, if the verity of colours is acknowledged over that over the conception of light, colours have a profound influence upon our mental and physical functionality. Given the complexity of our operating systems, nature’s hues profoundly shape our pleasures and preoccupations. Self-evidently obvious are the answers that the questions are quite frankly germane. Trust me, you would have to be trying spectacularly hard to bumble up this game of Jeopardy to land the wooden spoon booby prize. The electives of deciding upon slumbering on a leafy green patch of paradise or at a monocoloured cubicle is as facile a choice as a child being presented with chocolate or pak choi.
“Green spaces make people feel free” the fair maiden choired on heralding the praises of roof top jardins. “That’s right, Sweet. I’ve been on tops where small trees and shrubs grow and where one can pick fruits during their onces and afternoon tea breaks”. “Oh, yeah” Camilla responded with excitement dancing of her tonsils.
“I had a friend who used to work on a tower where they grew mesculin, rocket and herbs. They also had several sweet little lemon trees”. I could almost envision the culinary crop of savoury sensation swinging in my salvation oral cavity. “I also hear that some skyscrapers allow the folk to have free range chickens and other birds nesting on the perch of the building” grinned the giggly girl. Blushingly cherry faced, my friend obliged in reciprocatingly endorsing this assiduous observation. “Mmm organic fresh eggs. Sounds mouthwateringly tantalising, Millie” (his pet name for his bella petite copine).
“A Japanese friend tells me there are places where you can eat your bento while getting a fishy pedicure.” How indulging I thought while trying not to imagine Jaws or piranhas nibbling away over anticipatingly on my tender tired tootsies. Other remarkable suggestions which sprang from their minds were recounts of vertical floral and herbal libraries (plants on shelves) where fragrant scents titillated the olfactory sense while the taste buds were tantalisingly seduced by the mere thought of aromatic herbal teas. Another inspiring noteworthy reference was to the use of compost bins and the way it enticed people to turn food scraps into life giving plant tucker.
The Crowns of Tower reinvigorated as veritable eco jungles were buds and bugs collaborated to attract a symphonic cacophony of an audible avian awe inspiring master opus. An orchestral operatic fete which treated those around to a fecundity of dulce melodies. These places became bastions for stirring the mental juices. A site where people shared sandwich recipes, exchanged vegetables and munched merrily on dandelion ensalada. It seemed as of even the weeds couldn’t escape the feel good inc. manner of this hallowed club in the clouds.
These Spectacular Babies, for they were my juniors, had me engrossed and completely captivated. From proverbial pains in the buttocks, these patterns transformed into sacred placed Shangri Las of a universally all welcoming form of human spirituality. Regardless of race, place or case, this garden kingdom was a temple open to all creeds. From the book worm to the tai chi aficionado, from those seeking meditation in silencio to those wishing to have a good old fashioned chin wag, this was an inviting paradise unbounded by the exclusivity of other edifices.
These eco refuges straddling steel peeked mountains were forts of freedom which urged its occupants to be inspired by the panorama which abounded them. Beckoning them to port their easel and pastels and suck up the surroundings beyond the CBD and suburbia. While day beds, hammocks and luxuriously ample cane and wicker settee allowed the desk warrior to peel back and lounge while they took in some much sought after vitamin D. Long mocked at by the Northerly Protestant peoples, the siesta was beginning to somewhat of a comeback as people began to realise the advantageous pros of a quick refreshing kip to recharge the battery.
Enthralled by having hooked this fish with their cunning prowess at pitching the bait the wise pair commenced to reel their catch in. “These places are just so much more than mini pantries, arboretums or freshly cut strips of turf clipped to arose our endorphins while the smell of a freshly toasted ciabatta lined with lashings of pastrami kissed with dijonnaise did the rest. These were spaces where people came to socialise with other individuals. It was where friendships were forged and where romances often blossomed. “Remember Tammy? You know she met Kyle up on the blocks” declared the now vociferously passionate Camilla. “That’s true” exclaimed a supportively reinforcing Troy. “They met playing interdepartmental lawn bowls or petanque or something”.
Well, apparently roofs were places where many social gatherings unfolded from chess sets, backgammon and other board games to leisurely pursuits such as croquet to possibly flinging horse shoes (that last one being a figment of my wandering emporium of an imagination.) These places just kept on becoming even more fantastical than a Gabriel Garcia Marquez magical realist piece.
They were catteries, kennels (obviously some people just couldn’t stand to leave cuddly Fido and Fifi on their lonesome for any extended period of time), creches and even dojos. These evidently transformed the sweet vulnerable office girl into something akin to an Amazonian goddess warrior or Xena the warrior princess. Guys, tread with caution. Mess with these martial arts wielding mamas at your OWN peril.
However, not everything was a concourse designed to ignite rivalry and sexual polarisation. Other more inclusively incorporating outdoor activities these spaces nurtured included dancing and even a specially contrived team building obstacle course for developing strengths between staff mates. Not only did it furnish communal growth but it instilled the participants with the individual stimulus to evolve and flourish also. Subjects were also assigned to tend to a plant or care for a portion of the vege patch. This not only gave management a value insight into the individual’s effort and character but gave a vivid indication of their aptitude and duty towards altruism.
Beyond attracting pollinators to the raised bed, these celestial gardens also served to impress visiting guests and dignitaries from other rival companies often to psychologically to show fortitude and service to employee goodwill.
My friend said it regularly enticed other players to switch teams in order to move on to greener meadows with sweeter grazing clover. “Absolutely” buzzed up hyped up Millie “These spaces were engineered by human resource managers to be goodwill chummy hubs”. Hmm I pondered chumminess in an ambience which normally spins a rumour mill of adversity and fiery rivalry. What a praiseworthy philosophy? Has the commercial world gone bonkers? Chilling out on cloud riding reserves, natural enclaves, mini jungles whatever you will. “Building communal resilience” hailed my friend, “neighbours meeting the neighbours” chirped his beloved “neat little nooks for the young folk to make new buds while having good clean green fun”.
If I hadn’t being throwing back the bitterest black coffee on the universe I swore this could have been one of those surreal images from out of Pleasantville. Why couldn’t our world be like this dreamy Coca Colesque one where we were all taught to sing in perfect harmony? Where site occupants harvested gifts of daffodils, lavender and gave kris kindle gifts of homemade pot pourri and shared Shrewsburys over a piping hot bowl of thistle tea?
We in Christchurch could benefit greatly by seeing how our friends around the world are converting the most mundane spaces around us into the spaces where we yearn to canter to during our smokos (tea breaks) and moments of contemplation. To go there to be inspired, to extend a hand out to the divine or as they succinctly summoned on that old classic Cheers surely “you want to go where everybody knows your name.”
In an age of stunning technological progress at the price of colossal social communicational degradation, society, bosses and decent beings are driven to counteract against the contagion which is phone phubbing and constant face shielding. In an era where social mediums have never been so diverse it seems as if we have suffered the loss of the serendipitous encounter. Yes, computers can find me a potential mate who likes squash, who is Catholic, who loves movies starring Simon Pegg and who is a feline fanatic such as myself. But what about the joys of the chance encounter, the surprising stranger and the discovery of new delights? On paper, my amicable relationship may be doomed to flop. An yet here we are, and erudite scholarly white collared upper class gent having a cuppa and a genial chin wag with a didactic, calloused skinned working class battler.
In my modest view, it is the polarity which excites us, my admiration towards his worldliness while in awe of my parochial homeliness. My fortune at having established this bond was founded at a time when tech was still in its infancy. Perhaps it just comes down to the idea of the Kiwi Village where everybody just refers to each us as mate. However, in 2015 in a nation where over 85% of people live in cities and towns surely this is a decaying utopic fixation with fantasia.
All in all stated, how blessed would we be if roof top spaces became something more than the unbearably obnoxious painting projects which have my heart so forlorn with right now. Not to mention the uncontrollable fears of vertigo which have descended into my mind as I resolutely tussle with gravity to keep my chin up.