Sunday, 14 September 2008

A Fantail runs through it

Yesterday I accompanied Polly on one her field trips to the Dunedin Botanic Gardens hunting for tree families (a weird lot the botanists). We were seated enjoying a picnic lunch when a small fantail landed on her head. She kept very still while it rummaged for insects in her thatch but failed to find any. It came back several times and repeated its efforts. I slipped off my hat - bought in a sale in Ballantyne's, when we still lived in Christchurch - but the tiny fantail ignored my barnet in favour of the wife's.
According to the native kiwi no fantail has ever landed on her head before. I'm glad she told me this as I would have thought it an everyday occurrence in this exotic land.

How I know New Zealand is exotic is that your apples are juicier. Whether this a result of buying them from the Farmer's Market in Dunedin every Saturday (while stocks last) and not the dry specimens from the supermarkets of old Ireland I cannot say. I am tempted to think that the apples we bought in Ireland no longer came from Co. Armagh but possibly were imported from some useless orchard in Europe thanks to the complicated European Union rules and regulations surrounding what used to be referred to as the Common Market. When I hear farmers in New Zealand lauding the EU subsidies and attitudes to agriculture I can only pray that it never happens.

Similar opinions surround the Celtic Tiger and how New Zealand might emulate such a runaway success. Short answer is, 'You can't.' We aren't comparing like with like. The Republic of Ireland embraced the European Union like no other nation. From a seriously dirt poor nation to a modern hi-tech country in a short time was a result in the first instance of lots and lots of lovely European money. Motorways were built, roads improved and slowly but surely standards of living got better and people's expectations of life were enhanced.

In the nineties during the white hot excitement of the digital revolution workers had to be imported into our island nation because the supply of any countries most valuable resource - trained and trainable humans - wasn't there. More money! Training the natives. Entice emigres back! Uh, is this sounding familiar? Good. Don't fall for it. It is an illusion.

Take my advice. Stop with the dairying already and bring back the sheep. Oh and one more thing - I will vote for the party who does not tinker with daylight saving. Smoke and mirrors, folks, smoke and mirrors.

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