From the editor - August 2010
It’s my birthday tomorrow. “What do you want to do?” my husband and daughter have asked at intervals over the last few weeks. And I say, airily, as I do every year, “Oh, just something simple”. What I mean is I don’t want big-ticket presents or anything that involves nominating a sober driver. I’d like my family to sit around the fire in our living room. I’d like someone to pour a frosty glass of wine and cook a tasty meal. I’d like a couple of presents and a card with nice things written in it.
Sounds simple. But, if I am honest with myself, I know that it’s not. I know that – in terms of personal effort – a calm, home-made occasion can be a complex thing indeed.
In a family like ours – Nick and I work full-time in the city and my daughter Kate is a med student – time is in short supply and the easiest thing by far would be to have dinner at a smart city restaurant on the way home from work. A “simple” birthday dinner on the other hand involves my long-suffering family members in thinking up a menu, stopping at the supermarket, collecting my mother from the other side of town, etc.
What I am craving, then, is not something simple, but something that looks simple because all the hard work has been done behind the scenes. That is something completely different, as anyone who has ever hosted a dinner party knows. And, if you move this same idea of hard-earned simplicity beyond the domestic scene, you get people like gymnasts and dancers, who absorb that message into their bones, putting in hours of grinding work to produce routines that look stunningly easy.
What made me think about all this (apart from my birthday) is the ballet theme that runs through this issue. We’ve got a pre-ballet supper menu with blini and pink cocktails (page 124), ballet tickets to give away (page 75) and Tamsin Cooper’s ballet-themed accessories as a gift to subscribers (page 120).
In the spirit of reminding ourselves about the behind-the-scenes hard work, we are also giving away six copies of a new book called The Dance Parent’s Survival Guide (page 55) – 230 pages on how to tie ballet shoes, prevent leotard snags and so on. It makes my head reel thinking about the thousands of hours of parental effort behind the dancers in productions such as the RNZB’s Nutcracker (without even starting on their own personal efforts).
But then – I say this with the wisdom of my ever-advancing years – worthwhile things never come easy: ballet, birthdays or, indeed, beautiful homes and gardens. Enjoy this issue. Feel free to have a birthday drink for me (though by the time you read this, of course, my home-cooked birthday dinner will be no more than a warm fuzzy memory).
PS: Exciting news! Our editorial director Kate Coughlan has just been named Supreme Editor of the Year by the Magazine Publishers Association for her work on NZ House & Garden. The judges described Kate’s revamp of the magazine as “spot on” – and our growing number of subscribers shows many of you agree. Congratulations, Kate.