Names, medals – the honours list
Two men, strangers caught up in a ceremonial line. His face had none of that traditional aloofness which Asian artists have bestowed over the centuries.
His was alight with happiness as he edged closer to me, lightly tapping my top pocket.
First question. ‘‘You get medal from Queen too?’’
I nodded as he asked an important subsequent question: ‘‘When you wear it later?’’
As I puzzled for an answer which would cover most eventualities, my words came: ‘‘On happy occasions.’’
His smile widened with the tone and value of his words. ‘‘Ah, like happy occasions – like birthdays?’’ ‘‘Like birthdays.’’ ‘‘Thank you, thank you.’’ For all the world as if he was thanking me personally for the Queen’s honours we would both receive within a few minutes that morning in Wellington in 1981. A different medal, different citations. It was a happy day for both of us. The memory has stayed with me.
As has the fact that my decoration – Officer of the Order of the British Empire – disappeared from New Zealand lists as successive Labour governments made controversial revamps. And, wisely, knights came back.
In the mailbag, a reader makes valid points on medals, merit, smiles and frowns.
‘‘Dear sir, I read the New Years honours list with my usual sardonic grimace. Talk about emperor’s new clothes. Are we still kidding ourselves that we have an egalitarian society? So the people who make lots of money and have successful careers get all the top honours and the people who spend a lifetime doing good deeds, who actually make a difference to our society, who give and do not count the cost, who care for children and animals, seem to get a mention at the lowest possible level.
‘‘So we have people who earned plenty of money and retired on generous pensions, receiving all the extra perks that go with having a title in our status conscious society.
‘‘We have people who’ve been named in the rich lists for selling so much of their products overseas, which were also made overseas, and have not therefore benefited this country at all, getting the top titles.
‘‘We’ve got people who created famous restaurants selling fish and chips, who’ve been honoured.
‘‘We’ve had people who’ve pursued their hobbies like gardening, using huge resources of money, and who have been honoured for services to their hobby.
‘‘And people with earlier lesser medals become knights and dames.
‘‘On the other hand, the real heroes/heroines and benefactors of society like David and Diane Broderick who over 34 years have cared for and fostered unwanted babies in the Manawatu and started several organisations to help children are given the lowest medal on the table – the Queen’s Service Medal. They both deserve the top decoration.
‘‘We have Lynette Thornton retiring at 78 after helping oldies keep fit for more than 50 years and we have only one SPCA worker in the same list.
‘‘Where we read for ‘services to business’ in those top lists, we can presume the recipients are all rich and successful. Where we read names in the bottom community list we know they’ve given a life of service to earn that medal.
‘‘And somehow it’s typical of the hypocrisy of our society that for all the lip service we pay to the welfare of children, the only major media mention of children is in the Diana and David Broderick citation.
‘‘The Brodericks’ 34 years of service to children is unique and yet there are many other heroes and saints caring for children whom nobody wants. How often do these wonderful people get the recognition they deserve, the support they need or even the monetary assistance they require?
‘‘The honours list has not changed, ending up being a disappointing reflection of the inequalities and self-serving aspects of our society. No wonder I and others feel cynical about it . . .’’ – Name provided
Feel strong enough now to talk cricket?
I was right when I worried that Black Caps was a bad label selected to put on the team those years ago. I assumed that no-one who took part in the decision knew the age- old derivation of ‘‘Black Cap’’.
It came from the moment in the old court system when the judge sentencing a criminal to death after a verdict of guilty of murder put on a small black silk cloth over his wig.
The accused was on the road to their gallows. With that history, I feared the cricket name change could be a bad omen.
For lots of good/bad reasons, there’s now a generally accepted rule involving New Zealand cricket over the years: That you can never count on them to play well two matches in a row or even two overs some times.
The disaster of the first South African test innings made it clear that old rules still apply. The much better performance in the second innings seemed to bear out even more that so often obvious lack of consistency.
But after what the national cricket executive did with captain Ross Taylor a new level of idiocy seemed to have joined their weird rule book.
The performances of these desk drivers seem linked with the strange happenings involving the captaincy – a hark back to some wonderful Boy’s Own Annual script which had a captain like Taylor told he was inadequate as a captain and who then went on to lead the team to victory, and for him a winning century.
In my mind’s eye I could visualise an illustration from Chums Annual for Boys, a must-have Christmas gift in the late 1930s, as an upright, handsome centurion left the pitch waving a victorious bat, surrounded by gushing third formers. As those rascals who had attempted a captaincy coup disappeared towards the great ivy-covered gates with inscribed panels of former school heroes there was another great new name now to be added.
If there are still people interested in the farce a great game has become, here’s a quick set of life’s cricket disasters and triumphs which may help our battered spirits during whatever comes in the (possibly immediate) future:
New Zealand’s very worst day in cricket history involved its still lowest score – bowled out by England at Eden Park for 26.
Australia lost long ago to powerful Yorkshire – and was out for 23 in 1902.
England made 903 for seven at home in 1938, when Len (later knighted) Hutton scored a then record test 354. Australia lost by an innings and 579 runs.
Another world record from this match which may make you feel happier: Australia’s FleetwoodSmith, a spin bowler, ended the England innings with one wicket for 290. In 1956, England’s spinner Jim Laker who once played two innings in Auckland, claimed 19 of the 20 Australian wickets to fall in a Manchester test. Talking about frail openers, at Leeds in 1952, India lost its first four wickets without scoring a run in a match against England.
Walter Hammond scored 621 in three matches here in 1932 – with a tour average of 310! Any wonder my first bat was a Wally Hammond autograph?