30 Jan 2019

Mt Vic Tunnel: Let the people beep!

3:27 pm on 30 January 2019

By Jerome Chandrahasen**

Opinion - At the end of the no.14 bus route, some days the driver would go an extra 100 metres to drop me off at my door.

Mt Victoria tunnel in Wellington.

Mt Victoria tunnel in Wellington. Photo: Google Maps

On the train from Waterloo, I got the odd conspiratorial wink from a train guard as my 10 trip ticket got an extra clip.

We would hold onto these trophies of civil disobedience and compare them down at the Eastside pub, 'ooh I got a twelver!'

Minor moments of civil disobedience, a little spark of joy, in an otherwise ordinary commute

How sad then, that Wellington councillor Chris Calvi-Freeman is calling for one spark to be put out. The delightful Mt Vic tunnel toot. Not only a capital euphemism for flatulence, but a friendly greeting, an acknowledgement of our fellow travellers, and citizens.

However, our local curmudgeon claims it creates 'a great level of annoyance'. Oh dear.

I'm surprised Mr Calvi-Freeman has enough time to complain about well-loved traditions, what with his busy schedule of presumably shushing the dawn chorus each morning, or yelling at the southerlies to keep it down.

But sometimes it pays to remind people, to stop. To listen. The hiss of the cafe's espresso machine. Barking of a neighbour's dog. A co-worker's conversation on the cricket, the Lime scooter, the Irish (or otherwise) travellers and their escapades. The sounds of a city in which you exist and participate. Inhale. It's a symphony of tunes that lets you know you're a part of something bigger than yourself. That little beep says, I see you friend! You're small, but you are one of us, and you matter.

Let's face it Wellington, we're a ridiculous city. Dull and delightful.

Built on a faultline and reclaimed land that will one day be claimed back. An amphitheatre of green hills and a grey phalanx of government workers whose BAs resulted in short-lived punk bands and comfortable policy jobs with regular tea breaks. A cable car that technically isn't a cable car but a funicular and we pretend like it's not an issue and charge cruise ship passengers good money to go a little way up a hill. At the top we say, look at this city. It's silly, and you'll love it. Beep!

You have to make your own fun here.

Start a superfluous brewery, biff a road cone into the Frank Kitt's lagoon, it's acknowledged that a certain amount of rabble-rousing is allowed and accepted in the capital city of a southern country that ultimately can feel sometimes of little to no significance.

So let us sound our barbaric yawps from the horns of Camrys and Corollas, utes and people movers. Mr Calvi-Freeman, let the people beep.

But should it come to pass, that no sense can be made, no compromise found, then Wellington, we must make a choice. If something does not spark joy, you throw it out. Local elections are this year. You know what to do.


**Jerome is Wellington-based comedian, writer, and producer. You can find him most nights at a comedy gig somewhere either MCing, performing, or helping put the chairs out. He's also a loud and proud Mt Vic Tunnel tooter.

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