After the ball is over,
After the break of morn -
After the dancers' leaving;
After the stars are gone;
Many a heart is aching,
If you could read them all;
Many the hopes that have vanished
After the ball.
(Foster and Allen)
Someone worked out the the cost of hosting the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand was $168 for every man, woman and child in the country. This cost included the building and upgrading of stadiums for the event (or should that be stadia??). Costs like that are always open to debate, and the numbers depend on who does the adding up, what ingredients are put in the mixture, and what amounts are actually known. Our nearby city of Dunedin, population of about 120,000, erected a NZ $200 million stadium in time for the RWC, and we actually hosted a couple of early games down here, although we haven't yet seen the All Blacks (the NZ national team)... not even for a victory parade!
Well, the RWC has come and gone, NZ managed to bag the trophy, beating the French side by one point in a low scoring final game, and the dust is settling. There was some after match nastiness in the form of a $5000 fine to the French team for advancing down the pitch when the NZ side were performing a Haka at the beginning of the match. Well, the Haka is a war dance, and the sight of the French forming a V formation and walking slowly forward was an inspiring one and added to the drama of the occasion. I understand that technically the French team is said to have infringed a new rule about coming into the other side's half, or something, but I found the $5000 fine distasteful and it saddened me to think of the losing team having to pay out money before getting on the plane to fly home.
|I made these ages ago, and moved them to my wooden shed. Nice to see them again. I have to make a big modification to my wood fired kiln to be able to fire them safely as they are too big and heavy for my kiln shelves.|
All Black and Lacey....
This fine was one of a string of petty, small-minded deeds that the Rugby officials did over the course of the whole event that rather blighted it. The Rugby Monster was given rights to control advertising within a wide radius of the stadium when the matches were on. In one ridiculous case, women's lingerie shop, with an "All Blacks" display was told that they could face legal action for infringement of "the brand". Another stupid example was that a man attending a match in the company of his Toshiba lap top computer was made to cover the Toshiba label with a black sticker in order to enter the stadium, because only sponsor's logos were allowed to be shown there.... the list of such things goes on and on.
The Scary bit......
The thing that was actually scary about all this was the complete licence that the Rugby Machine had on what we all said, what we advertised, and what we did.
Knights of old...
In the hours that followed the last match, some commentators began to discuss the likely knighthood of the team captain and the coach, or even knighthoods to all the team. There was a warm fuzzy glow to such things that again rather got dampened... this time by discussion of eye gouging, kneeing and other foul play that apparently had been part of the final game. Did knights of old behave in such ways? (Sadly... they probably did!)
|Out now..., a lovely tulip!|
Meanwhile a rather more important drama had been unfolding a few miles off the coast of the North Island of New Zealand, near the port of Tauranga. There the Rena, a container ship, had struck a well charted reef at normal cruising speed, and was slowly dying, leaking oil and dropping containers into the sea. At first, when the body count of wild life killed by the oil spill was 6 penguins and one shag, this "environmental catastrophe" seemed to be almost embarrassingly hyped up by the media. Overseas experts were consulted and flown over, and opinions sought, answers demanded. We had reports from the beaches, from small vessels and helicopters by a throng of media who almost seemed impatient to see the first globs of oil on the pristine sand.
As time dragged on, and the body count of dead birds went to 1000 (and more recently to 1300 birds), the words "catastrophe" and "disaster" seemed more fitting.
Other words have been used too... Many have expressed disbelief as to how a container ship can steam onto a well charted reef in good conditions in broad daylight. (It was rapidly put about that it was the captains 44th birthday that day). Many have also expressed disquiet and amazement as to how long it appeared to take before there was any apparent effort to pump oil off the ship or to deal with falling shipping containers. There are various conspiracy theories circulated, and we all became impatient "arm chair experts".
Probably the thing that has surprised me most about the recovery of oil has been that the attempt began with a long length of 7.5 cm hose and a single pump. The consistency of the bunker oil on board the ship was that of Vegemite, or Nutella. This heavy oil was almost impossible to pump without first warming it, and the attempt to transfer it to a waiting tanker barge through such a small diameter pipe seemed to me to be like asking someone to drink a whole keg of beer through a straw! In the case of the stranded ship the "keg" was 1700 tonnes of fuel oil!
Some days the weather was too rough. Other days 60 to 90 tonnes would be pumped off. The pounding of the ship onto the reef in the heavy swell caused it crack around its middle. At times the ship was given only hours more to live. The salvage crew had to send divers within the broken ship to try to access a submerged oil tank. Can you imagine that, a ship listing more than 20 degrees. Hull cracked open. Access below by slippery and leaning companion ways. No power below, so navigation in that dark place was by torchlight. The hull half filled with water, filth, oil and stinking refuse. The ship groaning and creaking with each lift and fall of the sea. Imagine submerging into the foul water, deep within the ship and searching for the fuel tanks. The drama dragged on.
Amazingly, over 1000 tonnes of fuel have now been pumped off the ship, which is an astonishing achievement given the difficult conditions and the nature of the oil.
Whilst on land the question of knighthoods for sports people has been given some attention, I wonder if awards for the people that actually risk their lives pumping oil from the ship has been given any thought at all?
Sadly the achievement of the "small people" often gets tarnished by the actions of those in power. There was some good rugby played in spite of the heavy handed action of the rugby officials, and there is heroic work being undertaken by people trying to mop up the mess from the stranded ship, a ship that should not have been stranded at all.
Behind a Smoke Screen....
Well, you may not know it, certainly many in New Zealand seem almost unaware of it, but we have an election coming on November 26. This election has slipped under consciousness rather like a navy destroyer manoeuvering into an attack position behind a smoke screen. Actually the last three years of National led government have been like that too. Rather more has been going on under the watch of these grey suited leaders than people seem to notice or care about. Those that might care and are suffering, probably have little power, money, or voice.
Occasionally the opinions of those who do speak out, or are outspoken, are wiped off the record, take the recent case of a a regular guest on New Zealand's National Radio afternoon programme who was critical of Mr Key, our Prime Minister. The man was banned from appearing on the show again, and I noticed, when I searched for the pod cast of that broadcast, that the relevant episode had been removed from the archive! The man I am referring to was a Left wing commentator, known as Bomber Bradbury. Three New's coverage of the incident and the text of what was said can be found here. I will leave it to you to decide if what was said was so bad as to warrant a ban of this kind.
What really disturbs me about the radio incident and some aspects of the Rugby World Cup, is the feeling that those who can... are exercising the sort of power that is not normally associated with a society that embraces the principle of free speech.
Here are one or two photos to finish off with for those who have bravely trundled through this long post to the end!
|New pots drying in the kiln shed.|
|Laura is busy painting lovely new things.|
|At this time of year the garden brings colour and pleasure.|