Hi-Viz

Give a guy or gal a hi-visibility vest, give him or her a clipboard, give them a badge and you give that person power.

At least, they think that’s what they have been endowed with. The right to control others.
To an extent, that is exactly what they have been given. Some sort of say over the actions of anyone else at a given time and place. And, before I go having too concerted a dig, most of those who take up the clipboard, don the neon coloured vest, are volunteers, doing a service off their own back with the goal of making somebody’s day that much easier, that little bit better.

Trouble is, a little bit of power in the wrong hands can often end up doing more harm than good. It doesn’t take much for someone to become officious, to weld that hi-viz as some form of baton.
Sure, when there is a big event on, a helping hand finding a park can be a godsend, desperate as you might be to get a bunch of crotchety children out a sweltering car. A bit of guidance to find a toilet for a child who just can hang on any longer, directions to a some water, the entry, the exit. If delivered with a smile and a cherry passing comment or two, highly commendable stuff from a generally older member of our society simply keen on lending a helping hand.

Some of these folk, at the more formal occasions – say a sports arena – are poorly paid employees. Maybe it is that pittance of a wage which sets them off, a bitterness at the hand they have been dealt by the wider world and a corresponding desire to drag everyone else down with them, seeing them adopt a holier than thou attitude.
Curt, bossy, sometimes plain rude, it is these types who can can stain a day out with a sour vibe.
I get it. Having your back to the game, the concert or whatever it is, must be annoying and surely takes a lot of willpower, avoiding the temptation to turn and follow the action.
Undoubtedly there is plenty of action taking place in front of you, more so as the event in question goes on. It just seems to me, the more we grow and change as a society, the less we are prepared to allow others to have a little fun and the less we are allowed the opportunity to self-police.

A bit of summer sun. A few beers. All good.
Individuals may get a bit out of hand, yell some silly things, do something sillier. Normally, your mates, your proper friends at least, are going to rein you in, get you to pull your head in.
Sure, it doesn’t take many individuals before a bit of mob rule starts to take hold but even then, the well behaved masses still have the upper hand. A crowd will swiftly and efficiently weed out those it does not want among them.
It’s just we no longer seem to be given that chance.

The Black Caps are not performing. For the estimated 16,000 Kiwi supporters at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, there is undoubtedly more entertainment to be found in the stands, the antics of their mates and fellow tour hopefuls, cricket tragics and  party groups finding their own ways to keep themselves entertained where the likes of Cane Williamson and co cannot.

One of those 16,000 was Jordie Barrett. A young man, noted for being a member of the esteemed All Black squad and a guy who has popped up in the media before.
I don’t know the guy, don’t particularity rate him all that highly as a rugby player but he seems to be articulate, intelligent and comes from what appears to be a successful and loving family.
It’s not rugby season. I’m sure Jordie is training hard but I am also certain he is taking a well earned break from the rigours and pressures of top level sport. Part of that is a trip to the cricket, complete with Black Cap regalia. He has a beer, he cops a bit of attention from fellow spectators because, well, he is an All Black and that is the life he now leads.
Officialdom rains down and poor old Jordie Barrett is ejected from the ground, for what would seem o be no fault of his own.

To his credit, the young All Black makes no fuss and leaves the MCG, under the guidance of Clipboard and Hi-Viz. He is banned for twenty-four hours, after doing no more than what everyone else around him was also doing…drinking an over priced warm beer on a hot sunny day at a cricket match.
Really?!Of course, he won’t have been the first, nor will he be the last, to be ejected from the cricket, or any such similar event under the same sort of circumstances. It is just unfortunate in Jordie Barrett’s case we all get to hear about it, because of what he does in life. The guy has a profile, one he has been at risk of tarnishing in the past and one I hope will not suffer because of the overly officious, power mad officiousness of Clipboard and his mate Hi-Viz.

I get it. There has to be rules and they have to be obeyed. As follows then, what is good for one is good for all and All Black or not, no one can be above said rules.
But rules are open to interpretation. Rules are applied. They can be a fluid thing.
As far as I have seen (not that I have been inclined to watch a great deal of the Black Caps abysmal performance), there has not been bottles thrown, there have not been racist slurs and chants, there have been no pitch invasions.
Sure, Steve Smith got booed. The guy cheated, he got caught and punished. Move on.
Enjoy your typically under-quality over-priced beverage, undoubtedly served in disposable turtle killing plastic. Slip,slop and slap, sing a few songs, have another beer, slip and slop and slap again, try and start a Mexican wave, have another beer and in Jordies case, sign the odd autograph, pose for a few selfies.

Get out and enjoy the summer.
Go where you want to go and do the things you want to do.
Accept a helping hand, graciously.
Hopefully, as graciously as it is offered.

 

First Rule of Being Cool

What’s missing? The bits, the pieces from the year nearly gone which made you laugh, shake your head in wonder, or simply defied belief. Maybe, just maybe, the stuff you wouldn’t mind seeing again?

Fat, dickhead, white trash, English tourists. The big hit of last summer.
Would I want to see the likes of them on our shores again? A part of me says yes, for the entertainment factor alone. Our media was besotted, apparently grateful for the post Christmas gift which just kept on giving.
January seems like a long time ago now (or does it?) but these tourists somehow managed to linger not only in our imaginations but also on our shores, for longer than would seem necessary. Scheming and scamming their collectively rude and obnoxious way around some of the most unlikely hot-spots of the north, I somehow don’t think this unruly mob (family) will be missed. In a land where attracting foreigners to our shores is king, have we unwittingly been introduced to a new form of niche market?
Trash Tourism anyone?

There is a rule in our household.
The first rule of being cool.
Don’t be a dick.
Those above broke rule number one with free abandon. Can anyone remember the name of the dude swinging from the wavy spike piece of ‘art’ on Wellington’s waterfront? Na, me either and maybe he gets away with going down as a dork, rather than a dick. Still, not being a dork comes in around number five in the Be Cool Rule Book.

Anyone else hear the rumour Ikea is coming?
Anyone else had enough flatpack headaches in their lives to date?

Worldcups didn’t go to plan. Mostly. That’s right, two significant failures for our so called national sports. Okay, I’ll admit the pervious sentence is a touch harsh. We still love rugby, right? Don’t worry, you’ll still be deciding what the best packaging recycling, up-cycling or ‘I should take up cycling to get rid of this Xmas paunch’ option is when rugby kicks off all over again.
And, wow, realisation time…The Black Caps are actually not too bad at cricket, moral victors if not trophy holders.
I got over the events in Japan pretty quick. And Lordes. Rugby is a game. SBW got over it all fairly quickly too by the sounds if it. A bunch of seriously uncool people gave him grief about it.
Netball went alright though.

There are a lot of things I reckon are quite steep in this country. Petrol prices, a pint of milk (does anyone still call anything a pint anymore?), the everyday basics like bread and fruit and veg.
One thing clearly not steep enough is Baldwin Street.
One of Dunedin’s claims to fame outside of albatross and drunken, couch burning students, has been summarily dismissed by a bunch of clearly delusional officials from a publication named after a pint!
It was always going to be an uphill battle to maintain the title of World’s Steepest Street. And yes, this article will go downhill from here…

Can anyone define ‘Woke’ adequately? Does anyone need to?

Clowns are invited as support to employment negotiations. On the surface, the move seemed a thing someone not conversant with the cool rules would do. In reality, it is probably the sharpest negotiating tactic ever used. Could the same clown deal with the clowns responsible for the ‘Con Air’ flights still winging their way to our shores?
Clowns? I meant to say dicks. And whatever happened to Nicolas Cage?

That’s all I’ve got really. In what was a very eventful year for our little nation, not much stands out. Especially if you are at least half pie trying to stay positive.
I suppose Shortland Street will wrap up the year far better than I can, providing you with a cliffhanger during a seasonal finale an hour and half long, time you will never get back. Not, of course, it is possible to get time back…
The Avengers thing is all over. Or is it? Star Wars has it’s final saga in a drawn out Disney process worthy of the name saga. Perhaps there is room for something original now?
People will still flock here looking for Hobbits, which will hopefully stop them from soiling our soils. Shitting all over a fair land is beyond something even a dick can do…

See what I did there…

 

 

 

 

No Winners

Is that true, what they say..there can be no winners?

On Saturday afternoon, the decision was made to cancel the scheduled round five Super Rugby match between the Crusaders and the Highlanders, set to be hosted at Forsythe Barr Stadium in Dunedin.

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Media outlets cited the police as saying there were no official fears held for the safety of the venue, its patrons or the players. The decision to call the game off must therefore have been made over sentiment.
Commendable. There is no denying the depth of feeling flooding the nation given the events in Christchurch on Friday. As a consequence, we were all encouraged not to view, share or partake in the filth Tarrant posted online.
Good call. Who wants to see such grotesque violence anyway, despite the ghoulish nature many people have.

So, with one hand we are denying this freak of a human the platform he so desperately sought, yet it seems with the other we are giving him the and his actions the credence they so badly do not warrant.
I have always liked to think sports is impartial. Free of politics or the whims of society and it’s ever changing standards. Just a bunch of men and women and kids running, kicking, jumping, throwing and catching, using whatever level of athleticism required to undertake their chosen physical past time.
We have seen time again how people will always persist in drawing a llink between sport and the wider issues of the world and indeed more and more we see modern sports people wanting to use the platform they have through their game as a chance to weigh in with their opinions.

Cool. I am all for wider debate, for as many voices as possible in any given debate and for perceived role models, such as sports people, making the most of what is a privileged position. Think the statements by TJ Perenara around the rainbow issue as a prime example.
To me, it just seems calling a halt to a rugby game because of the actions of a nutter is out of place. The cricket test to be held at Hagley against the Bangladesh team, sure. There is no way that game could have proceeded. But a rugby game in a different city over twenty four hours later? Out respect for the victims? Really?
I sincerely doubt the victims and their families were giving any thought to any game. All cancelling the game has done is extend the reach of Brenton Tarrant’s actions, furthering his hateful message.

I will admit, there is an element of selfishness to what I say.
I was looking forward to the clash between the Crusaders and my Highlanders. We took them down last season and while I don’t think we were likely to this time around, we were in with a shot.
Under the roof in Dunedin, a big derby match, the night of sporting entertainment would have been a spectacle, the Zoo in action and students and fans reveling in the streets.
The type of spectacle we as New Zealanders are more used to seeing.

Just what the doctor would have ordered don’t you think?

As for the name of the rugby franchise from the Canterbury, Nelson?Tasman region?
I for one, no fan of PC excesses, think it may be time for a change…

 

Bounce of the Ball

All Blacks give way to Black Caps as the kids turn blue and brown.

Yesterday was the first attack of the beach for the season.
The sun was shining, the day was warm if a little windy, the kids paddled and swam, dug and scampered, all as their dad failed yet again to prove himself provider, coming home with an empty chilly bin.
A big day of the first summer hit out. Consequently everyone was a little frazzled by the evening, not to mention a little red in patches. Even my own flexibility let me down, clear pink delineations marked on my skin where my hands fail to reach.

With a couple of late beers in me it was all I could do to keep one eye on the cricket test between Pakistan and the Black Caps. Not the biggest fan of the game, I do admit to being a bit of a tragic, fond of the longer version. Too long for me after a day in the sun, wind and sand, fruitlessly casting fish food out into the surprisingly warm waters of the Hokianga.  I went to bed not longer after the crew, my minds eye beginning to focus on the All Black’s vs Ireland.

That game came with a lot of hype and pretty much, it delivered.
Perhaps the AB’s were below par but if that was the case, it took an outstanding Irish effort to drive it home. They were belligerent, fired up, accurate and skilled. Everything the All Blacks weren’t.
The Irish defense was outstanding and they targeted our key players brilliantly, shutting down our play before we could gain any momentum. Pressure by the opposition resulted in mistakes by the All Blacks, which of course results in more pressure.
New Zealand were far from their clinical best, some players were off with a prime example being Captain Kieron Read. A poor start at scrum time didn’t help either, against a well coached and well drilled team.

We were beaten at the breakdown. I think right there was the winning of the game for the Irish, with players like C.J Stander and Peter O’Mahony nothing short of brilliant. Gone are the days where not throwing bodies into the ruck is an effective defensive measure. Fanning out flat across the field is one thing, but letting a team like Ireland get on a roll with repeat possession is quite another.
The All Blacks kicked a lot of ball early and I can’t help thing this might be under instruction. However, without the ball it is difficult to get into the game and for large periods of the game our back line in particular, looked bereft of ideas.

Where is the strong man? The hit-up man who will just tuck the ball under one powerful arm and just go, straight and hard? Yes, as a unit and individuals, the All Blacks made mistakes, individual errors and some poor calls. We were soundly beaten by the quintessential better team on the day. Ok, fair calls, but where was the man to wrestle the decision making around, to change tact, to put his hand up, or better yet a couple of guys like that?
We weren’t tidy enough, we weren’t mongrel enough and for whatever reason we didn’t seem to want to attack like we are known for.
Oh well, bugger. Well done the Irish, they won because they were better.

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There was one, if only one, really good thing I was able to take away from the game.
The kick off time.
On the couch, cup of tea, a blanket despite another beautiful Hokianga dawn and the kids starting to stir, making their fuzzy ways into the living room. Pretty much perfect.
8am New Zealand time is as about as perfect a kickoff time as you are gonna get for family entertainment in the weekend. If it was a local game, maybe not of course, but still a whole lot better than 7:30pm on a cold winter evening.

The kids didn’t last long though. Once Dad starts yelling at the television, they find better things to do. Even when we haven’t left the home, I still have the ability to embarrass my kids. Just part of my job.

In closing, Naholo in on the right wing, with Smith returning to fullback. Laumape in the midfield, or to at least come of the bench in tandem with the Lienart-Brown’s of the world and Mackenzie. We had no punch, lacked that little extra our bench normally provides and run Squire in the wide channels instead of Read. Seen that guy in full flight?
I could go on all day but I won’t
The sun is shining.

Something Every Day

There were some ‘learnings’ over the weekend, a weekend with ‘two half’s’ and which contained much I can gain ‘going forward’. 

Firstly, I discovered, when my wife puts on a mid-winter Christmas, a casual invite turns into days of prep, dressing up, decorations and all the rest. Took me by nearly as much surprise as it did the guests. My own fault for making the throw away suggestion. Lesson learned.

I learned too, the All Blacks lacked exactly what I have been telling everyone silly enough to listen to me over the last few weeks. Punch. The selection of Sonny Bill Williams gave the AB’s attack just what it needed…a big body to bend the line, take on the opposition midfield head-on and draw defenders. Perhaps Laumape would have been just as effective in the start but SBW played well and was a huge difference in the quality of performance in comparison with the prior two tests.

Squire

With no Liam Squire or Fafiti, guys I would like to see running wider and freer, looking for physical mismatches here and there and better utilising their size, pace and skill, it was nice to see the French defensive line genuinely tested. Also, it was obvious the French perceived a genuine threat in the form of Naholo and rightly so. He may not have been at his dynamic best and the game may not have played into his hands, but it was clear to me, with Ben Smith returning to the 15 jersey, that the best back three combination currently available to Steve Hanson was out there under the Forsyth Barr Stadium roof on Saturday night.

Over the course of this French series I have learned that Jordie Barrett is a good option for the future, as are Hemopo and Frizell, that Cody Taylor is capable of being a top flight hooker at that level, that Scott Barrett is playing the best rugby in his family right now and my tolerance for coaches testing and experimenting has increased. Great to see the depth being developed at 10, nice to see how many options are there at 12 and 13 and good to have a few things identified well out from next years world cup in Japan.

I have discovered that I care less about the outcome of All Black rugby than I used to and consequently do not rue our decision to let our Sky subscription subside. If there is not a decent stream to be found I can watch live then I no longer give the rat’s proverbial. Prime it is, adverts and all and who really cares. Though I still strongly feel sport is an integral part of any nations culture and our ‘national’ sports should be freely available…an argument for another day perhaps.

I also learned, these past three weekends, my kids only ever showed any interest in rugby because, really, they were interested in me. It was trying to discover what made their Dad tick, what it was they could share with their Father, even if a little on the fringes, which had them interested. The game itself is irrelevant.

My display of verve and passion and outlandish outbursts fired their interest and coupled with the attractions of a potential late night, some nibbled junk food, the drama of the Haka and national anthems, the whole scene and setting is too irresistible for young imaginations. Sure, their attention spans wane in no time, they slip away in their minds, falling asleep or giving up and shuffling off to bed on their own accord. Depending on the match up, I love it. Cuddling up with the kids for an extra snuggle or two is never a bad thing but they soon grown tired of their Dad’s manic mood shifts and swings, if the result hangs in the balance or there is some silverware on the line.

Number One has long since stopped paying any attention, diverted to a good book long before kick off rolls around. At the other end of the spectrum, Wee-Man has yet to feel the infectious attraction of sport, still finding more entertainment and pleasure in his mother’s nipple (and who can fault him?). Number Two will flit in and out, curious at times about results and if there is a favourite player or two involved but I can sense these days, it is a little forced. As you can imagine, E-Bomb is little more than a cute irritant. Sometimes a lot more.

The fact my kids are not interested in the All Blacks, not captured by the saturation of rugby on our winter TV screens, does not bother me. I would love to see my children involved in sport as their lives go on, particularly team sport. The health aspects, the social interaction, good things for people, certainly young ones. For now, the fact my kids are tolerant of their Father ranting and raving at a screen depicting images of men he doesn’t know but is freely offering advice to, particularly the one in the different coloured shirt tooting on a whistle, is enough for me at the moment. If, however, none of my children show any interest in sport I don’t think I will care. If they get their exercise through other means, their social contact and interactions from other quarters, then all good. As long as they are happy and healthy and all of that.

So, it was good to have a fella or two over in the weekend to enjoy a game with. Even if we had all partaken in more out of season festive cheer than our belly’s could cope with. Even if the rugby ‘product’ has been at or beyond saturation point for at least a few years now. It was good to have an, somewhat contrived, excuse to have a few drinks and an extravagant feed. It was good to socialise a bit, good to let respective sets of kids mingle a bit, to push them to the point of tired grumpiness. Ok, maybe I awoke the following morning the tired grumpy one, but there is not much different about that.

 

 

 

 

 

Be a Good Sport

The All Blacks play France at the Cake Tin tonight in their second test match up. Head high anyone?

Play hard and play fair. That was the message I received as a child growing up and learning various sports. I turned my hand to a lot of different options, from racket sports indoors and out, to water sports in and on, to all the others on muddy, frosty, grass paddocks with balls of numerous shapes and sizes. I learned to use my hands and feet and to hold sticks and to swing and hit and catch and pass. I never mastered any of it but a heap of fun trying.

‘Get into it’

‘Have a go’

All and any other cliched line Dad’s threw out there to encourage the gaggle of kids they were coaching to glory on chilly winter afternoons at poorly drained council recreation fields up and down the country to ‘Give it a crack’.

I didn’t then and don’t now, know what a crack is meant to be or how I was supposed to give one but I did understand the sentiment. The idea is to put some effort in, to apply yourself, to be a part of the team, to be involved and to do your best.

All of the above.

Let’s take a moment here, to thank all the Dads, giving up their own time to slog through the mud every Saturday morning, resisting the urge to yell out from the sideline shouts of encouragement, be one of ‘those’ fathers, taking his turn on the whistle, standing for an hour or so behind the stumps pretending he knows anything about the LBW rule.

And the Mum’s, forlornly hoping one day there will be an indoor sports venue in their town, one large enough to cope with multiple netball games, hordes of young girls sheltered from the worst of the elements as they spend winter afternoons and mornings dodging around in slippery courts in bibs and skirts. Think of all the bumps and bruises and scrapes and cuts and scratches. The tears and tantrums and fusses and fights. And that is just from the parents.

Thousands of kids giving it a crack. Those Mum’s and Dad’s are role models, the true ones of the sporting world. Personally, I have never felt just because someone is built athletically, can run and catch and pass, do it all at the same time, they are necessarily people we should, as parents, teachers and schools, the media, have our kids aspire to be like. Praise that sports-persons work ethic, their application and dedication and desire to succeed. Applaud the systems in place in many different sports and recreations which allow participants to reach pinnacles and peaks, to be at the top, the best in the world. So a thanks there too, for the administrators and managers and volunteers and everyone who contributes, often above and beyond, to make levels of success like that happen.

Sure, for every clap and shout out, there are going to be detractors. The good ole Kiwi tall poppy syndrome. I think we, as a nation, have gotten better. We a more prepared to celebrate success, the gold medalists and the big pay day professional contracts. It is no different for our All Blacks, the most high profile team, grouping of and individual sportspersons in this country.

Ryan Crotty took a dive. The guy should play football in Europe or South America. Or maybe take up a role on Broadway. He was way too convincing for Shortland Street. There, his antics wouldn’t look so ridiculous. Cane and Ofa made direct contact with the head of an opposition player and circumstances aside, should have been sanctioned, at least in the form of a penalty.

These are not the actions of role models. Heat of the moment stuff, ‘dynamic’ ‘fluid’ situations, call it what you will. I agree with the general consensus…It is a heavy contact sport and accidents are going to happen. There is no cheating, no intent. The All Blacks, Le Blue, the Kiwis, the Wallabies the Dallas Cowboys all play hard and fair. Some individuals, some teams, bend the rules, play to the letter of the law and the ref’s whistle and here we go with the cliches all over again…

It is how we, as kids, as teens and young adults, reinforced as senior representatives, are taught to play the game. Whatever that game may be. So I reckon, as media and avid sport fans, we need to not beat up on the rough stuff. By all means, legislate against the dangerous and the unhealthy, sort the rule books so the violent and the nasty is eliminated from the game and make it so the accidental, the reckless and careless actions are strongly discouraged. And then, move on.

Highlight too much of the bad and the ugly, you detract from the good. Participation in sport for our youth, particularly team sports, is a vital and healthy thing in society and needs to be nurtured, encouraged and given every opportunity to grow. It helps our kids do just that, grow. Think of all the bonds and friendships and good memories we can all take away from our time on the track, in the gym, on the pitch, the sideline, in the clubroom. Don’t forget to thank the ladies for the feed and honour the opposition for the half they contributed to the game.

Let’s instead show the good and the great and the excellent. Let’s not have photo after photo after video footage repeated daily via every media outlet imaginable showing forearms to the head, cracked cheekbones and swollen eye sockets. Mummy and Daddy aren’t going to want their precious little ones involved in all of that and sport will suffer for it. Not just contact sport, not just rugby or league. Kids love the crash and the bash of it and boys in particular, will find away to do it regardless of a contact sport like rugby. Bullrush anyone?

A controlled environment, with coaches and trainers and all the rest. Technique and back up and support and encouragement and praise. Show our young how to do it right, how to do it fairly. How to do it for the result. To win. Just not at all costs. Teach integrity. There is a culture in sport we cannot afford to lose.

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Show us the runaway tries, the behind the back passes, the banana kicks for touch. Tell us about the never say die attitudes, the ‘big engines’. Talk of the handshakes afterwards, the mutual respect given freely between two teams who have given there all, had a crack, played hard and fair.

And while we are at it, let’s keep our heads.

C’mon the All Blacks!!

(Last weeks performance lacked timing and there was punch missing. Where is Naholo? If not him, Laumape? Given it is the same squad, let’s see the likes of Squire running wider with a bit more room and freedom and the injection of Fifita, with the same remit, a little earlier. Expect a more attacking French outfit, their defense to be as resolute as it has been all season and the AB’s attempting to achieve the same hectic pace they started with, and stayed with, last weekend but add accuracy, timing and cohesiveness…AB’s by 12)

 

Frantic Fan

I was nervous leading up to the weekend. Now I am petrified.

A 20 year old rookie that can’t tackle in the younger Barrett, for a proven test performer and the only player that has looked to challenge out wide, Naholo.

A player dropped after two seasons of nothing, Savea, to provide what…more of the same?
Ioane went missing last weekend and now will not be given a chance to atone. Instead, replaced by a player, in Savea, that has been missing for quite some time.

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J. Barrett has potential, I think anyone and everyone can see that…but he is no better as the last line defense than Dagg, possibly worse.

Maybe he will be asked, on debut, to kick the goals. He has the skills in that department, but what a big ask that would be. I saw Jordy Barrett as a potential future AB, was surprised he made the squad. He wouldn’t have made my selection criteria though have a young man like that around during a time like this is no bad thing. Playing him though..?

He under-performed in the big clashes this season, namely against the Chiefs and BIL. I wish him luck. this is a make or break opportunity as they say and you have to give the coach and selection panel credit for backing not only the player, but themselves.
I wish Laumape luck too. At least he fits the game plan and will be part of a full compliment of teammates…he has a lot to prove and this weekend is more his chance than last. Defensive frailties aside, he is one of only two backs that have shown any thrust or ability to get overt the game line in a black jumper this series.

The other one was dropped.

There has been much talk about Cruden having no effect of the bench and yes, his option to kick late in the game was poor. But he does offer a different dynamic to B. Barrett and one that maybe the incumbent could take a look at.

Cruden takes on the line more, runs at the defense, something Barrett has not done this series. He needs to. It is as if he is looking for the cross-kick option first and foremost, trying desperately to negate the in your face defense of the Lions. Outside him he has had firstly SBW and now Laumape, two players who are going to draw defenders. Surely that leaves the occasional opportunity for Barrett to expose even the slightest of gaps he is normally so explosive at exploiting.

Up front we can match them but good to see Kaino back. His go forward and brutal physicality was missing last weekend, through no fault of his own.

Selections suggest the game plan hasn’t changed and now, even if we wanted t our our attack, I don’t think we have the personnel to achieve it…
In Hansen we trust.
Now Eden Park…hate them. Just bloody hate them.
C’MON the ALL BLACKS!!!!!!!!!
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Caveman

Tonight is our chance, fellow men, to be just that, manly men.

It has been a bit of a bugbear of mine for a while now. The emancipation of man. Not humankind, men.

I guess first you have to ask yourself, as a man, do you feel oppressed, downtrodden, neglected, swept aside, ignored? Harsh language, even excessive maybe, but to my mind, a necessary question.

Manhood, for want of a better term, has been trapped in a kind of malaise, a trick of the space-time continuum. I feel it, not as a loss, but something missing nonetheless. A lack of definition, that quintessential ‘thing’ that it means to be a man, in this modern time of change.

For a large part this is a very personal question on a very personal level. I was raised in a single parent household, an absentee father very conspicuous by that very thing, his absence. Not a hurtful thing then, nor now. Just the way I grew up. My Mother was legendary in her efforts, as most single Mothers must surely be. But she was just that and no more…a hard working, dedicated and above all, loving Mother.

My Mum is a woman, funnily enough. A strong and capable one. However, as Eric Clapton said in his epic track Motherless Children, sister will do the best she can, but there are so many things a sister can’t understand.  

So what is it to be a bloke then? Define manliness, being a male.

It is easy enough to throw all the cliches out there, the stereotypes. There is nothing wrong with that kind of response, don’t get me wrong. After all, a stereotype can only come about because of what is deemed a norm in society. Being stereotypical is not inherently a bad thing therefore, it is just the common thing.

Personally I can’t help but feel that a great deal of the definitions already out there, telling us what it is to be a man, are made up by women. We, as in us, as in guys/blokes/dudes/fellas/bros have been convinced that what a woman would like to see or have in her man, is what defines him as being male.

And too many neo-liberal, politically correct, wishy-washy, feel gooders have meekly caved to that premise.

Before you all start (I use the term ‘all’ euphemistically-six followers does not an ‘all’ make), I am not referring to feminists or feminism. If I was referring to one or either of those things, I would have said one or either of those things. I sincerely believe that the ideal of feminism is not to denigrate, isolate or deflate men and manhood. Feminism, as has been established, is about equality and that is not what I am trying to drive at here.

Perhaps I am talking more about identity. Manhood is so diluted I feel it is difficult to actually pick where the issue begins and ends. So let’s take a look at the things, in this country at least, that might readily be and have been, associated with maleness.

Rugby – too broad and wide ranging an impact on this countries collective psyche, be it for or against, for me to want to delve into here. Besides, I made a vow never to touch religion in my blogging. Leave rugby alone then, set aside with the note of Colin Meads being the iconic image our national manhood benchmark could be set at.

*The above is done in the manner you might test for the most intelligent animal on the planet, excluding primates for having a perceived unfair advantage.

Colin Meads gives us terms like big, strong, tough, resilient, powerful. There are many other figures like that, presented to us in popular culture. Hollywood loves the strong, silent type. Think Russell Crowe in Gladiator, all long, slow and I am sure, deeply meaningful silences. The picture of a man being heroic, stoic and resilient. Of being right, morally superior.

But Hollywood also loves an anti-hero. The morally confused but ultimately good guy, the Han Solo. No better example than Chris Pratt’s character in Guardians of the Galaxy. The ‘cheeky chappy’ that the Brits fall so in love with. Robbie Williams.

Or are we meant to be Chris Hemsworth? All bulging muscles and gym honed body, not a hair out of place, smooth skim, maybe some designer stubble just to man things up a bit, a perfect fitting suit with matching accessories. But take a look at the images that come out from that guy. I have no idea how much he is told to do it, coached to, how much he is ‘touched up’ in an editing booth/suite or there is a little bit of his own thing going on, but those beautiful blue eyes are hard, piercing, just a little bit sinister, like there is the hint of an edge underneath all the metro-sexuality. A hint of manhood? Of manliness?

All that is more of what we, as men, are told to be. What we are fed by the image-makers, shaping far more of our society than they have the right to. We lap it up, don’t we? It sells watches and cars and beer. So enough of Hollywood and the marketing people, who will just take us to the other extreme with their next breath, giving us guys swinging chainsaws wearing short shorts and steal-capped work boots, wiping the sweat from their grime covered brows as they set about tackling ‘manly’ tasks.

Hair product means nothing to me and many like me. I have no hair. I have one suit in my closet but rarely do I have the opportunity to wear it.

Looks aside, imagery aside, what of intellect? What about emotive qualities and content? What about sheer personality? We are fed the idea that the academic is awkward, a clumsy and shuffling fool, bumbling about from one mishap to the next. Just remove his glasses and you have a hunk. Or has he got elbow pads sown into his sports coat, a peppered beard and silver hair, chin in hand as he leans in to listen, only breaking away so he can top up your Central Otago Pinot.

Either way, great strides apart from a sheep under each arm, straddling a fence in the middle of a paddock in rural New Zealand. But any less masculine for it? David Beckham, does he manage the cross over? Model, sport-star, bit of a poxy ponce, attentive Dad…

So much of what it means to be a man, the identity of manhood, has changed, dramatically, from generation to generation. How we are portrayed, how we are perceived, how we act and think. Some is voluntary and for the better. Some is placed up us and even then, quite possibly an improvement.

I have only asked half the question, let alone found any answers. I was kind of hoping you ‘guys’ could do that for me. With me.

Actually, I have raised more questions than I ever intended so I will, for now, leave it here where it lies and come back to it, perhaps as a bit of a recurring theme…

SO tell me, are you less of a man because you can’t service the car? Change the tyre even? Should we all be taught to shoot and stab, reclaim our role in the hunter/gatherer partnership? Does fumbling with the knot on the fishing line make you feeble, effeminate? Do real men eat quiche? Cry?…

Most importantly maybe, does raising my kids, being the home hubby, the go to carer, make me more or less of a man? I know my answer to that one.

To be continued…

Close+enough+redneck+6+pack

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No pressure

We all have our passions, the things we care about greatly and get fired up over. How much of that is foisted onto our kids and is it fair to do?

I love music and I have my own taste in genre and artist. Wide and varied, eclectic styles, none of which are what the ‘kids’ are into.

No breaking the religious strictures Katy Perry, no meat clad Lady Gaga and no, I am not a ‘Belieber’ or whatever it is.

Just mentioning the above names most likely shows I am not ‘with it’. Sure, I am probably behind the times and I am happy enough to admit it. I was behind the times when I was one of the ‘the kids’, rocking away to Led Zepplin and Jimi Hendrix and The Rolling Stones while the world went crazy to Madonna and Michael Jackson.

I wasn’t ignorant and have never been shy to admit there has been the odd pop sensation that has grabbed me. I think I was blessed because I took things on a song by song, album by album basis and therefore never got too hooked.

My little bro had a thing for Duran Duran for a while there and even now there are a few tracks of theirs from that era on the playlist. But Billy Joel convinced a young Mike Bracey that he was an Innocent Man and David Bowie said Let’s Dance.

By the time I hit my teens I had found like minded individuals, peers, who were on the same path or could be convinced to walk along side. Now, many many years later, is it fair to hope that my progeny are going to be as equally like minded.

I am proud of the fact one of Kennady’s favourite songs hails from 1981, Soft Cells Tainted Love. I love it that Hazel sings along to Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Freebird.

Sometimes I have stop and consider if maybe my hand is too heavy in shaping the girls tastes. Okay, I have had no part in them listening to whatever latest fly-by-night chart topper is out there at the moment. Nor have I inflicted them with too much of my more fringe flavours. I doubt my little princesses are ever likely to be fans of Tool and while they like a fair bit of Macklemore, N.W.A would be new to them.

Wouldn’t it be great if our kids could be as enlightened, fired up and full of wonder, the same way we were, when their eyes are opened to the same things we fell for? Kenny and Hazel love Oasis, but have no time for the Happy Mondays. They can get a groove on to Young MC. They don’t get Wu Tang Clan and won’t go near The Dead South.

Told you I was eclectic.

They won’t croon along to the old school stuff their Mother puts on now and then. Old Frankie Blue Eyes doesn’t seem to do it for any of them even if I don’t mind a bit of Deano now and then.

Surely it is a generational thing. I don’t know how Kenny recites the lyrics to songs I have never heard her listening to, but I am glad she introduced me to people like Bruno Mars. If that is the commercialised, pop heavy route she is going to be drawn down, then fine. He’ll do. For me, it is still a wonder just how easily and readily accessible popular entertainment has become.

YouTube was, is and will continue to be, a revelation for me. The kids love it too. Now there is Netflix, live streaming and all the other platforms, right there in the palm of your hand. Our kids haven’t been afforded that privilege yet. We, as parents, still hold the reigns when it comes to the devices, the technology.

We will have to loosen those reigns eventually. When we do it will become a question of censorship, of monitoring. Spying? How we approach that as a family is a topic for another day, not necessarily one I look forward to. Oh, it will also be a question of budget. Start saving girls.

Claire and I are just stoked that the first thing the girls say when sent to bed, is to ask if they can read for a while. They then have to be encouraged to turn their lights off. All good. It is encouraging for us too, as parents, when they get as excited, if not more so, about the purchase of some kayaks, as they do about updating a notebook or phone.

If their Mum’s bum is anything to go by, the girls need to be careful. If their Dad’s belly is any indication, they need to be paranoid. So the more they get out into the great wide open, the better. I hope I can be just as influential there as I am in their dislike for the Blues, as much a guide as their singing along to the Heroes.

If just for one day.

PS: As tempting as it might be to start Barrett from the back, Dagg will shift there and Naholo will start on the wing. Now for goodness-sake can the Wellington crowd find a way to out-passion the Lions supporters as convincingly as the Hansen and his boys outplayed the opposition.

PSS: On the highly recommended list…toilet roll fight. Fun for the whole family.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What dreams are made of

Here’s that rain again. Inspiring sure, but not today…okay.

Not today because there are things on that could do without it. The rain will advantage others, or so it is said by those supposedly in the know.

Not today because this is the weather that should have me in the mood to write. The thing is, today, I am tired.

I woke up in a panic. Two things can stress me when I wake. The phone, and not knowing where the fuck I am.

A ringing phone stresses me because, more often than not, it means my dear wife will have to organise her shambolic morning head into some form of order and shuffle out the door at some ungodly hour. And boom, there goes my time off!

But let’s be honest, that doesn’t bother me as much as it troubles the Wee-Man. Arlo can be quite put out doing the crusty eyed roll over thing, only to discover the nipples he is clamoring for, are covered in curly, graying hair.

Ram some food in his gob and he is all good. A Wee-Man after my own heart. Though naturally, he captured my heart right at the outset.

The bigun’s will have an indoors day; reading, movies and whatever. All good until the noise escalates, as it will, and then it might be gumboots and raincoats.

Personally, I am going to need to get out and about at some stage. This is going to be one of those can’t sit still days. The pacing will begin soon, something my damaged knee will not enjoy, but is going to have to put up with. Neighbours new to us might pop down tonight, because we have Sky, and they will be enlightened about the fervor with which I follow my rugby…Claire will goad me with ‘It’s just a game’, the kids will tune in for the Haka, then lose interest, not batting an eyelid as I jump about yelling at the television.

Hopefully I won’t be so tired then.

Crawling into your daughters bed at whatever hour, beckoned by the warbled cry of ‘Daddy I need you’ tends to throw your slumber into chaos.

Unusually, it was Kenny calling out, our eldest. At nearly twelve, she is and always has been, the soundest of our charges. Not like her to wake in the night at all, let alone be driven from her sleep by her dreams. Kenny is the one that snuggles beneath the duvet, no matter the temperature.

A cozy snuggle with one of my crew is always welcomed and in Kenny’s case, the activity comes complete with a sprawling queen-sized bed. Sure, it is too soft for me and my back takes days to straighten properly again, but it is better than fighting that feeling you are about to plunge into a darkened abyss.

She is wearing her mothers shoes. She fits her wet weather gear. The same blonde sheen in her hair. Damn near the same height.

At a glance, one of those out of the corner of the eye moments you get when either I am entering a room or she is, Kenny looks just like her mother. Especially from the back. It is a realisation I have come to recently and it petrifies me.

Nearly 12. Not a child any more, still a kid. Not a women, not even a teen. Not a kid? Hell, I don’t know, but whatever it is, I am scared.

Scared because she has mentioned ‘cramping’. Scared because there are sports bra/crop top thingies in the washing I hang out despite the threat of rain.

I am frightened. She is growing up and I am beginning to wonder if I can grow with her, or will her Dad be left behind. Kenny is not going to mature into the world that I did. Things have changed. For the better or worse I do not yet know, but I fear it is the latter.

And just when does a Father stop snuggling? When is it a bit off for me to be crawling into Kennady’s bed, pulling her close and giving her the ‘there’ theres’? Is it ever going to be the wrong thing? Is it too late already…

I would hope I can cuddle, snuggle, kiss and tickle and giggle and roll around playing silly buggers with my daughters right up to the age they out-muscle me. Then I will pull the pin, the shame would be too great.

Is there a point where that behaviour is frowned upon? Do I even need to care, or do I care, about what the ‘norm’ might be? About what ‘society’ dictates?

In truth, the moment any frolicking and wrestling and general tomfoolery will come to an end is when the subject matter, namely Kenny, frowns down on her silly old Dad, no longer wanting to participate.

Perhaps that day is overdue. Perhaps it is a long time coming. When it does eventuate, I think I will be sad.

Briefly, to those that think the All Blacks will be troubled because it is raining…HA!

Good luck with that theory. We have a tight five that will man up, ball handlers across the park that will back their skill level regardless, a playing surface that can take it, a ball on a string wizard in Barrett-provided he gets the time and space-and the stamina to go the distance and beyond if required.

I, for one, am supremely confident.

Bring on the rain.