Names, medals – the hon­ours list

Central Leader - - NEWS -

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?

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