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The International Writers Magazine: New Zealand

Atlas Shrugs
The Wizard of Christchurch
• John M. Edwards
John M. Edwards gets vertigo following an upside-down “mappa mundi” created by a Magic Realism Magi in New Zealand.

EVERYONE knows J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings was filmed entirely on location downunder by Kiwi director Peter Jackson. But did you know that a real sorcerer, a magi of magic realism straight out of the Oscar-winning series, only rather recently left New Zealand after the nasty Christchurch Earthquake of 2011.

Born Ian Brackenbury Channell in London (4 December 1932), “The Wizard of Christchurch” is an inspired soap-box orator, comic genius, and eccentric occultist. His irreverently dadaist “Upside-Down World Map,” which places Antarctica on the top and the North Pole on the bottom, is a fitting re-view from the Southern Hemisphere heavies, who notice that the stars here are different and water spins counterclockwise down the drain.

       According to the museum world, The Wizard of Christchurch is now not only a curiosity but also a national icon. On 17 September 1974, The Wiz began preaching in Christchurch’s Cathedral Square about an “inside-out universe.” He has been revered as “a living work of art,” as well as a gifted “Cosmologer.”

       Instantly recognizable in his black gown, wizard’s hat, and staff of life, the Wiz at first acquired only wild hoots and snorts of derision, as well as expertly lobbed eggs from local clergy and laypersons. But now he is much more than just a tourist attraction.

       In addition to creating his upside-down mappa mundi, the overaged wiseguy geezer, a former Royal Airforce pilot, travels around to various speaking engagements in his “Wizardmobile” (made from the welded front ends of two VW Beetles). In fact, he founded both the Imperial British Conservative Party and Alf’s Imperial Army, wherein “Alf” is not the TV show alien but an acronym for “Action for Love and Freedom.”

       Also, he promotes the “Save the Males” campaign against mean venal dames who “cause wars with their shopping habits.”

       Unfortunately, The Wizard of Christchurch has drifted to another point of the magnetic compass, like the golden Mont- Blanc pen of a Metaphysical Poet scribbling: “Oamaru.”

       This sage move is evidence once again of the Commonwealthy Wizard avoiding being included in the evil census and having to pay any taxes at all.

       And according to reliable eyewitnesses, The Wizard of Christchurch was recently spotted on an American Airlines flight to San Juan, Puerto Rico, with an onward connecting flight to one of the world’s most famous Caribbean offshore banking retreats. . . .

© John M. Edwards, 2012

BIO: John M. Edwards is a freelance photojournalist, writer, editor, and poet who has traveled worldwidely (five continents plus), with stunts ranging from surviving a ferry sinking off Siam, to getting caught in a military coup in Fiji, to bussing Vietnam with a Larium buzz. He has received five NATJA (North American Travel Journalists Association) Awards, two TANEC (Transitions Abroad Narrative Essay Contest) Awards, a Road Junky Hell Trips Award, a Literal Latté Travel Writing Award, a (trips) New Millennium Poetry Award, a Bradt Independent on Sunday Award, and three Solas Awards (sponsored by Travelers’ Tales).
© John M. Edwards March 2012

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