Looking at the newly-uploaded video of the conversation I had with Bill Direen for the New Zealand Cultural Icons series, though, I have to admit the brutal truth: I am well bald. Iconic Bill's thick brown locks only serve to emphasise my nakedness (Bill is a decade and a half older than me, but I have speculated before that, like his good friend Lemmy Kilmister, he might have been made immune to the normal attritions of time by a rigorously hedonistic rock 'n roll lifestyle). My chat with Bill was recorded last October, and has been uploaded as the thirtieth instalment in the series produced by Devonport's Art Depot. Bill had wandered down the road to the Depot, which is blessed with its own film studio, from the Michael King Centre on the side of Mount Victoria/Takarunga, where he was serving a six month spell as writer in residence. I had already thrown Bill a few foul balls at September's Going West Literary Festival in Titirangi, where Ted Jenner and I had spent an hour on stage with him exploring his biography and obsessions.
The Art Depot conversation started sensibly enough, with Bill answering questions about the pagan folk songs and Catholic rituals which were part of his upbringing in working class Christchurch, but then moved into a series of debates about the place of Latin in southern hemisphere schools and the literary qualities of punk music. Either tiring of or warming to my provocations, Bill suddenly donned a funny pair of glasses, announced that he had assumed my identity, and began demanding that I answer questions about "Bill Direen's next move" and "Bill's greatest secret". My replies were inevitably rather fanciful. For reasons which I can't quite understand, the folks at the Depot chose not to upload that part of the interview.
Last weekend Peter Simpson's Holloway Press published the diary which Bill kept during his stint at the Michael King Centre; I'll be reviewing this extraordinary text soon.