We are packing up!
Most of you reading this will know that the New Zealand Cricket Museum is moving while strengthening and refurbishing work is undertaken on the Museum Stand. The last day when we’ll be open will be the final day of the current BLACKCAPS’ Test against Sri Lanka. We, almost certainly, won’t be back next year. We hope we’ll return sometime during 2020 with a brand new Museum.
I am assuming that most of you have experienced moving and you know it’s like a bad dose of influenza. Studies have suggested that the stress level is akin to undergoing a nasty divorce. Now, you might imagine our Director sitting puffing on his pipe and sipping a dry sherry urging a highly trained group of packers on, “careful chaps, steady as she goes.”
Would that it were so.
It’s him and a couple of volunteers/students working out what to pack first and how we’ll pack it. Usually there’s a lot of muttering going on and the occasional chilled L&P. Most of our material will be stored with other museums, out of sight and out of mind.Some of our exhibition material, including Martin Crowe’s famous bat, will be on display at Bill Richardson Transport World in Invercargill.
I have been packing the library. So far I’ve packed around 90 boxes with an inventory as to what is in each box. It takes a lot of time but we have to go through this process for everything, not just the books, because it will help enormously when that blessed day of unpacking arrives.
Now, I love books. For years and years, wherever I have lived, I’ve surrounded myself with them. They have been the soundtrack of my life, helping me through good times and very bad times. I can’t remember a time when they weren’t central to my existence. I can smell an old book and tell you which country it was printed in. By the time I’d packed box 43, I was seriously thinking of burning all of the books in the Library. “You know it makes sense”, I would mumble to myself at four in the morning, envisaging the comforting glow that a good bonfire would provide me. I had entered a new, grim world. After a few days of incoherent sobbing I got through that phase. The paraffin and matches have been thrown away and all is well.
From that time onwards, I have found the packing quite moving – and a little worrying. It’s a worrying experience because we are putting the history of cricket in New Zealand in to boxes. You can’t find this New Zealand material – bats, photographs, papers, trophies, magazines, kit, programmes, stamps, postcards, autographs, news clippings, and everything else that makes up our collection – anywhere else in the world. The boxes contain New Zealand’s cricketing memory. Of course it’s a worry. It’ll be fine I know – but you can’t ignore how precious this stuff is. Losing sight of it for some time doesn’t sit well.
Packing the books away has suddenly also become moving for this old man. Many of them have provenance. Of course there are the luminaries; items from the libraries of Don Neely, Martin Donnelly, Harry Cave, JR Reid, and a host of others. Some of our books are signed presentation copies by the likes of John Arlott, Jim Swanton, Ray Robinson, and other famous writers who, for a time, shaped how we saw and understood cricket.
It’s not just the well-known names though. It’s the cricket book collectors who have passed on and whose families have donated their library to us. They were men and women who read anything they could get about cricket and their books are an essential part of this library. You experience a little sadness putting their collections into boxes for storage. We have a large collection from a gentleman who would regularly buy from our book sale and who suddenly passed. At the end of one summer I promised to look out for a spare Neville Cardus he wanted. One came in but it was too late. He never returned and I still can’t bring myself to sell it. Some are almost casual donations. People pop into the Museum with a box of books, ”Thought you might like these. They were my dads and we’re moving.” As you might imagine, we could write the same stories for any collection of material we have in the Museum, not just the books.
On we go then. We will get it done. Progress is being made every day. To quote the great Jessie Mathews, “Over My Shoulder Goes One Care.” By the end of January 2019, we’ll be away. We know it’s the end of something but, as every great novel teaches us, every end is a beginning. Come and visit during the remaining days of the Test match. The exhibits will be as fine as ever and we’ll hide the packing chaos backstage. Promise.
We have so much enjoyed you being with us for Part One and hope you’ll be there with us during our next chapter.