Saturday, November 28, 2009

Sunday Scribbles XV

Back, after a coupleof Sundays away. Blame laziness - I do.

The Erebus Disaster. Is there something wrong with me? I can't help but think the whole 30th commemoration of the Air New Zealand crash on Erebus has been an overblown parody. It was a terrible and tragic event that saw hundreds of New Zealanders die in an instant, and blah blah blah. The cause of the crash was folly, stupidity, venality, and incompetence sob weep wail. The years after the crash saw nervous little men found out and justly pilloried, sigh oh dear me. It saw fine and noble men suffer in the cause of the truth, yawn and stretch. But the last sod of earth was shovelled onto the grave of the whole miserable affair years ago, and it should have been allowed to rest.

But along came a new Air New Zealand chairman who wanted to do the right thing. He very publicly apologied to the families of the crash victims. This was a good thing: Air New Zealand had behaved badly. Thirty years ago. Three decades. A generation and more ago. He offered to send a half-dozen family members, chosen at random, to Antarctica on the anniversary of the disaster. Nice of him. It should have ended there. Excellent PR campaign, done well.

Instead, it became a ghastly media circus. Camera crews from a dozen different "news" programmes told the story, over and over. Family members were interviewed until they burst into tears.. yes folks, the money shot. It has been a dreadful imposition on the actual people involved. A prominent businessman was pilloried for trying to help another businessman organise a commemorative flight.

Yes, people died. Sad, tragic, and all that. But it was 30 years ago. I doubt very much if we'd be having this sort of carry on if the tragedy had been the result of, say, a ferry sinking. When was the last time anyone got all tearful about the Wahine disaster? The "news" organisations rush about like demented jackals because it was an aeroplane crash in a stange place. Any plane crash is automatically interesting: The headlines will bellow "Small plane crashes: two dead" and will follow up with a breathless story about a Cessna crashing in Paekakariki... while relegating the car crash that killled four to page three. Air New Zealand has behaved well. TVNZ and TV3, TRN, Radioworks, and Radio New Zealand, Fairfax and Newsmedia have all behaved like slavering offal-eaters. They've disgusted me.

Rugby. As I write this, the All Blacks are playing France. I've just heard on the news that the ABs are leading. I'd be quite happy to watch the game, but I can't: we dropped our SKY subscription. Acxtually, even with a SKY subscription I wouldn't have been able to watch it, because one has to pay extra to watch sport. So, rugby has become less relevant. It's a game that needs to be seen: I can imagine cricket from the radio commentary, but not rugger. And they wonder why the game is becoming irrelevant: they've taken it away from its audience. The TV drama "The Wire" was broadcast here in NZ at 11.00pm, and sank without a trace: everywhere else in the world it waqs hailed as the best TV drama ever, full stop. Rugby will go the same way: a great game, perfect for TV, disappearing because over three quarters of the potential audience have been disenfranchised by the money-grubbers.

Strawberries are back on the shelves, and all is good with the world. About $2 a punnet, making them cheaper than they've been in years. And they're plump, juicy, full of flavour. My favourite fruit.

LISTENING TO: The radio. Media Report - 9.00 o'clock, Sunday morning. Excellent programme. Apart from that - yesterday, I dragged out an old Doris Day (!?) CD, and it was more fun than a barrel of monkeys. So i slapped on a Dean Martin CD, then a Perry Como one. Great music, full of joy. I ended the day with the Neil Young DVD, "Heart of Gold". Bliss.

READING: John Birmingham, "Without Warning". In the first six pages he had stripped the North American continent almost bare of people. He doesn't think small.

WORD OF THE DAY: Johnkey. Rhymes with donkey. Means shithead. Our prime minister isn't going to Copenhagen. Keeping (or making) New Zealand clean and green means nothing to this scabrous fool. Prediction: a one-term National government.

More RATS:

She looked deep into the younger woman’s eyes, and was only mildly surprised at what she saw there.
The pair bound Arthur’s wounds, and then went to look for the old man. They found him, snoring at the back door, with the old man’s old black cat licking at the huge blue knot on his forehead. Amy’s hand reached out, and took Jayne’s, which tightened fiercely around her fingers.
Amy said “I,” and stopped, at a loss.
Jayne replied “I know. And it’s good, Amy. It’s very, very good.”
Chapter Three.
The war in Europe and the Middle East had proceeded another four months, and the thin Radius bone in Arthur’s forearm had healed well. He bore two scars from the earthquake: a Vee-shape on his forehead, and a ragged coin of pink on his left forearm. Old Man Smith, after having had his eyesight restored, had worked his godson hard, and the arm had made an almost complete recovery. The muscle had been torn, and the scar glistened in a deep dimple: but Arthur’s strength had hardly been impaired.
The war was on everyone’s lips. The casualty lists had been a black-bordered horror in far too many copies of the Northridge Oracle, the local newspaper. Jayne Francis had devoted the left hand window of her General Store to make a memorial. She had arranged black ribbons and black bunting at the window, and every day she placed a different photograph there, for people to see, and remember. She had started with just the two pictures: the Cornwell boy, and his mate de Mille, both of whom had perished on the day of the earthquake, in far-off Turkey. Now, five months later, she could put a different photograph in the window for every day of the week, and she wept at the day’s end when she took one loved son away from public view, and replaced him with another. The seven photographs were rotated each week, even on Sunday when her store was closed. None of the boys whose photographs she displayed had been older than her when they died: the youngest, Adam Hall, had been just 19.
Conscription was now a reality, and the conversations in the smithy were heated, tempered, beaten, quenched, and thrust into the flames again. The old man was adamant that the war was evil, and nothing could budge him.
As for Arthur? Arthur was discovering that he wasn’t the man he’d fondly imagined himself to be.

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