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May 17, 2010 | by  | in Online Only | [ssba]

U Ram It?

U Ram It. That’s what you get when you spell the name of my home town backwards. And it pretty much sums up Timaru’s attitude to life. We just do not care what other people think, preferring to exist in our own little bubble. News from the outside world simply doesn’t penetrate into South Canterbury. How else can you explain why my local paper, The Timaru Herald, ran a cover story about a black Labrador that ate bumblebees? Or a series, one summer, on personalised plates?

Despite its terrible news standards, Timaru has a top shelf history. We claim the WORLD’s first powered flight with Richard Pearse; Phar Lap; the boxer Bob Fitzsimmons, who holds the Guinness World Record for the lightest Heavyweight Champion of the World; Jack Lovelock; Michael Houston; Danyon Loader; Dick Taylor; the world’s oldest Amateur Athletic Club; Colin Murdoch, inventor of the tranquiliser gun, et cetera.

Not a bad set of claims to fame as far as small towns go! But these are not what make up the quintessential Timaru experience for the 21st century school-chum: despite its illustrious history, contemporary South Canterbury has a darker side. Nefarious for a proliferate spread of STIs, Timaru is notable for having the highest chlamydia rate in New Zealand, which has the highest chlamydia rate in the world, thus making Timaru the chlamydia capital of the world!

You have to be careful when sampling the night life as, limited to three main clubs, you can either hit the Sail and Anchor and be bombarded with lame 90s music and old men wearing kilts, Barkode which mythically switches to death metal and hoodlums in Metallica t-shirts at 2am, or the crème de la crème of the Timaru town experience: The Monkey Bar. This place is notorious for risky casual hook ups, disease ridden toilets, underagers climbing in the back, and knife fights between the rival youth gangs on the dance floor.

Fortunately Timaru has more to offer than nightlife. A standard feature of any Timaruvian’s experience would be Caroline Bay (which famously featured in the video of Deja Voodoo’s hit ‘Today, Tomorrow, Timaru’) and the associated carnival. For nigh on 100 years the Caroline Bay Carnival has provided summer fun and frivolity for the citizens of Timaru, as well as a magnet attracting folk from around the country. It is always worth trying your luck on the ‘rapid spin chocolate wheel’ or checking out the Carnival Concerts at the iconic soundshell.

Timaru also has an uncanny ability to produce ridiculous slogans. For several years we had ‘touch, taste, feel Timaru’ which was altered by a local street artist to read, at the entrance to the town: ‘touch pussy, taste pussy, feel pussy’. Charming. At the moment we have ‘feel the heartbeat,’ supposedly a reference to Timaru’s place at the centre of the South Island, but it reads more like a plea for resuscitation.

None of this takes away the best part of Timaru for me though. There is something so cool about getting up in the morning and gazing at a resplendent Mt Cook whilst simultaneously unloading your troubles into the toilet. And if you don’t think that is cool then I don’t care, you can just go and ram it.


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