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Old 06-30-2020, 03:48 AM   #16
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It sounds like we're reading it almost in tandem. I just passed 50%.

I read A Clockwork Orange not too long ago so the milk bar reminded me of that! But I was thinking here it was probably a bar for milkshakes, like a soda shop?

As for pikelets, I'm ashamed to say I thought maybe it was some type of little fish cakes made with pike, lol. I'm glad your post set me right.
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Old 06-30-2020, 06:41 PM   #17
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...But I was thinking here it was probably a bar for milkshakes, like a soda shop?...
That is exactly correct. The novel was set in the 1940's but written in the 1950's - "milk bar" was certainly a very familiar term used here in the 1950s, familiar due to they being a hangout of the "Teddy Boys" subculture (the same as the British one) started in the early 1950's. I don't know if it was a common term in the 1940s though. As far as I know they don't exist anymore, I certainly haven't heard the term used for a long time, and its use may have been a NZ thing as the "milk bars" in England and Australia are not the same thing.

People are probably far enough along in reading for me to mention the fire. Small town "rubbish dumps" were commonly used to fill small gullies in hilly districts (as in the town I grew up in) or for filling against sloping ground, earth being pushed over the accumulated rubbish once a day, or week, or whenever (farmers did the same or dug pits if ground was not hilly). They were insecure with no one in attendance managing them and usually sported many fires burning in them, sometimes getting well out of hand with the local "fire brigade" having to attend. So while I also thought the accident was covered fleetingly by Frame it did not seem improbable.

It is quite possible she built the story from recall of a real life accident, I recall quite recently a young child getting badly burnt falling into a farm "rubbish pit" which was burning but with adults there to rescue it (it is illegal to burn rubbish in urban areas though). Most city and larger town "rubbish dumps" such as our own town's are well managed and secure with sorting of rubbish, recycling, composting, etc., but I don't know the current situation in small towns. However, a little over only 20 years back we lived for a short time while doing an assignment in a very small town (around 600 pop.) close to Oamaru which is the book's rough setting location (hence "Waimaru"), the small town's "rubbish dump" was still of the insecure type, fires burning most days (I believe set by members of the public), etc.

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Old 06-30-2020, 08:48 PM   #18
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As for pikelets, I'm ashamed to say I thought maybe it was some type of little fish cakes made with pike, lol. I'm glad your post set me right.
So did I until I searched on it!
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Old 06-30-2020, 09:00 PM   #19
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Thanks for the explanation, AnotherCat!

Can you please help me understand the references between north and south? Are they referring to the North and South Islands, or are they referring to within the South Island? I think Waimaru in the novel is representative of the South Island coastal city of Oamaru where Frame lived.
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Old 06-30-2020, 10:47 PM   #20
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Thanks for the explanation, AnotherCat!

Can you please help me understand the references between north and south? Are they referring to the North and South Islands, or are they referring to within the South Island? I think Waimaru in the novel is representative of the South Island coastal city of Oamaru where Frame lived.
Yes, I took Waimaru as being an allusion to Oamaru. North and south means north and south from there in South Island, not the North and South Islands (although Toby does go "north" to Wellington in the North Island). Being a long narrow country it is not uncommon to hear people talk of heading north or south (but not very common to hear of going East or West, as is heard in the USA ).

For example, Bob works, I took it to be, for the railways (he "came home, with his workbag of coal in one hand, and his dirty blueys in the other", the coal he gets from work and doesn't pay for) and just before that Amy is told by the doctor "I take it your husband is up north with the Limited". The main railway in NZ runs most of the length of the country, "up north" one would assume to be as far as Christchurch.

Toby, late in the book, goes "north" to Wellington and he is reminded that the train goes right through to the boat (alluding to Picton at the top of South Island), not to get off at Christchurch. Where, Mrs. Robinson is said to say of his uncle and aunt in Wellington, "they took him on a train where the doors shut without being touched, as if they were told to." This alluding to Wellington's electric commuter trains (newly introduced during late 1930s so the timeline is correct) and is to me part of the theme that knowledge and sophistication increased as one heads north.

That theme in the storyline that knowledge and sophistication increases as one goes northwards comes up right from the start. Early in the book, for example, the town councillor's (the elected town government representatives) say "The northern towns go ahead, becoming bigger and bigger, while we stagnate here, in the south." That is, even now, not an uncommon belief of those in the furthest north who are uninformed or parochial, but the four main cities do indeed increase in size as one goes from the southmost, being Dunedin, through Christchurch, Wellington then Auckland (none of which are anything close to being classed as big by world, or even neighboring Australian, standards though).

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Old 06-30-2020, 11:06 PM   #21
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Of a number of things I noticed in the book that might be confusing one I recall was the reference to shopping at "Woolworths". The name has a long history in NZ and Australia (and the UK too, but as far as I know never any relation) and without going through all the gymnastics of its various owners over that time it is, in the main, a supermarket operating company (the most common of several market names in NZ is "Countdown").

But in the 1940s setting of the book it was, in NZ, a chain that sold small and cheap type variety goods such as toys, stationery, kitchenware, beauty items, sweets, etc. The shops were nothing like modern supermarket size and the selection small. Nothing to do with the groceries (except for sweets) that the name is now associated with.
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Old Today, 12:28 AM   #22
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Thanks for all the information on NZ-specific knowledge, AnotherCat. It's very interesting and definitely helps me understand the book better. One other thing I have a question on is toi toi. What is it exactly? I'm listening to the audio so I don't know how it's spelt in the book but I was thinking toi toi or toy toy or something like that.
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Old Today, 12:31 AM   #23
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So did I until I searched on it!
Great minds think alike! Or in this case, ahem, incorrect minds think alike!
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Old Today, 02:21 AM   #24
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It is strange to think of Woolworths as a supermarket. I saw it in the news recently - maybe pictures of people waiting outside in lines in the Daily Mail Australia?

We had Woolworths US which then expanded to the UK. It shut down in the US long before the UK. Woolworths was a five and dime general store. We had one at the mall when I was growing up. We liked to go there because it was a special treat to get a Coke Float at the soda fountain counter.
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Old Today, 02:53 AM   #25
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Thanks for all the information on NZ-specific knowledge, AnotherCat. It's very interesting and definitely helps me understand the book better. One other thing I have a question on is toi toi. What is it exactly? I'm listening to the audio so I don't know how it's spelt in the book but I was thinking toi toi or toy toy or something like that.
Friends who grew up in NZ taught me to call it "cutty grass", toetoe apparently.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Austroderia
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