Fuzzy The Kiwi

Once upon a time a furry wee kiwi named Fuzzyfluffyleft the comfort of her dark forest floor for the BIG WIDE WORLD. It was a pretty daunting prospect for this seemingly timid wee bird with no wings and a big nose but kiwis are, if nothing else, gutsy! As if to prove this point Fuzzy chose to go The Long Way, that is instead of ‘jump on a plane at Auckland, skip through Australia, SE Asia, Middle East to London’, she elected to ‘jump on a plane at Auckland (there aren’t too many alternatives to THIS) and get off the plane in Beijing’!summer palace beijing

While there Fuzzy did what all self-respecting visitors to Beijing do- she had a McDonaldsmacdonalds beijingand went and checked out a wall!great wallHaving practiced her ‘sher sher’ and ‘ni hao’ for a few days, she got on a train (not just any old train but ‘The Vodka Train’), left Beijing, and set off for places West! The first proper stop was Ulan Bator in Mongolia where Fuzzy visited what she thought was a yurt camp but was told was something else!ger camp Ulam Bator-it was a ger camp! She reckoned it was a lot warmer than the burrow back in the bush even though the snow was thick outside! (Snow, what is that!!) The Vodka Train stopped off near Irkutsk to visit Lake Baikal to see ‘the nearly midnight sun’ and Fuzzy took this neat photo of his travelling companion holding the sun in her hand!983642_10152370513757905_2694208329901715258_nClever little Fuzzy! It was just about another 4000 kilometres to her next stop, Moscow where one of the ‘must see’ places was Saint Basil’s Cathedral.st basils moscowShe reckoned this one was aaawsome, but the travelling companion said she liked the onion-topped church in their next stop better- having a bit of a ‘classical romantic’ bent Fuzzy had decided to take a train ride to St Petersburg.soul kitchen st petersThis snazzy wee eatery, the ‘Soul Kitchen’ was a place that was a ‘must do’ to remove from the bucket list but Fuzzy wasn’t completely taken by the salty pickle- it spoiled the taste of the vodka, she said!

Now it was get on another plane and head to Spainspainwhere she had a relaxing time playing with some cats on a wee farm in Orgiva before popping across the Mediterranean to exotic Marrakesh! Wow!marrakesh moroccoBazaars, souks, markets and lots of coffee bars and fragrant smells! Having got REALLY laid back for a while Fuzzy wondered where to go next, and thinking that ANZAC Day wasn’t far away Turkey was an enticing destination. blue mosque hagia sophia istambulFrom the Hagia Sophia Fuzzy was able to see the minarets of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, and, of course if she looked the other way she could see where she’d been!!! Sort of- Asia, anyway!)

Still determined to take the long way Fuzzy then made her way through some of the Balkan countries before arriving among the tulips of Amsterdam!amsterdam flower stallShe then crossed into Belgium to to see what the European Capital had to offer,Brusselsbecause it HAS to be an important place to be! (…and it was best viewed from the hat of one’s travelling companion!) Moving on, and because it wasn’t too far to go Fuzzy trained to Gay Paris! It was funny but she had thought that the leaning tower was elsewhere! You learn something every day, huh!!leaning tower of eiffel

While in this supposedly gay but definitely somewhat grubby town Fuzzy paid a visit to a very famous lady, who some call Mona and others La Giaconda.

smiling back at la giaconda

She didn’t say much so after a quick baguette and a carafe of wine it was on another train and north- to Norway! Fuzzy had heard of a place that was supposedly just like Fiordland back in Aotearoa-New Zealand so after she got off the train and just escaped a horrible fate in Oslooslo norwayshe made her way up the ocean coast to Lysefjord where she climbed up to what is known as Pulpit Rock or Preikestolen.preikestolenShe knew that the family back home would be scared out of their wits by it so she got her travelling companion to take a view from the pulpit. Thinking a base-jump might be a step too far Fuzzy then went a-wandering around Norway a bit and while there made a quick side-trip around a lake to Sweden!swedenThat’s Swedish lichen that Fuzzy’s sitting on with Norway across the lake in the background. Next time up this way this lichen would be under several feet of snow and she and the travelling companion would walk across the lake!

There was a bit of a lull in the clouds of volcanic ash that was drifting across Europe from Eyjafjallajokull Volcano that had been popping off a bit so Fuzzy decided to go to this mythical land of ice and volcanos. She found that EVERYTHING was unpronouncable

reykjavikand quite expensive but she put this down to the fact that everything has to be imported. Their only export was volcanic ash.

Luckily the aeroplanes were still flying and one of them took Fuzzy back to London for her to start the British part of her OE. London was great, and being an artistic bird with a bit of dramatic flair she took her travelling companion along to The Globe and she tried treading The Bard’s boards. It was a wonderful experience but the audience were a bit hard to please-The Globe Londonthey kept walking around!!!

After London Fuzzy visited a couple of acquaintances at Beatrix’s placemy mate peter at beatrix potter worldbefore going down the road to a school that New Zealand has a special connection with-rugby school rugbyRUGBY! Without the influence of this school and the crazy antics of one of its pupils, William Webb Ellis Aotearoa-New Zealand would probably have a national pass-time that involved little more than horse-racing and beer!on a rugby ball in rugbyHer travelling companion helped Fuzzy to visit the playing fields and the museum where she recognised a few other kiwis, sorry- Kiwis.more kiwis

After trying a few tries, and kicking a few goals Fuzzy moved on to visit the Eden Projecteden projectto see how we should be doing things. Fuzzy was DELIGHTED to see that what we were doing in Aotearoa-New Zealandeden project refreshmentwas bang on!! Having had it confirmed that the world was in good hands in Godzone (God’s Own- get it?) Fuzzy moved down a road, and down a road and down a road until she came to Land’s Endlands end cornwallwhere the Cornish people made her a few pasties and poured a pint or two.

Having been away from home for quite a while now Fuzzy was delighted that she was easily able to remind herself of what she was so far away from by simply going to a store and picking up one treatwhat else would a kiwi drinkor another. These sustained Fuzzy and her travelling companion as they headed northwards to their roots. Along the way Fuzzy picked up another friend, who paid for the drinks do ya thinkHairy Coo. While Hairy Coo was a quietly spoken wee bovine it quickly became obvious that he had one or two vices!!only single malt thanksOf course Fuzzy is always ‘up for it’ so she joined in!gizza straw my nose isn't THAT bigShe couldn’t understand why they made bottles so deep! Of course it was little better for Hairy Coogive hairy a couple and hes a show offbut they had some REALLY good timesfuzzy and hairy coowending their way through Bonnie Scotland.May ye ne'er want a frien', or a dram to gi'e him! Tir nam beann, nan gleann, nan gaisgeach“May ye n’er want a frien’, or a dram to gi’e him! Tir nam beann, nan gleann, nan gaisgeach!” Some VERY good times! Some of the mornings weren’t too flash but Hairy Coo showed Fuzzy a GREAT remedy for a cotton-wool head-a round at the royal and ancient at St Andrewsgowf! Fuzzy and Hairy Coo golfed a golf or two at the Old Courseparred itat St Andrews, the home of another one of the ‘traditional’ games of the Home Land. Fuzzy shot a couple over par and blamed the caddy, sorry, the travelling companion for providing bad advice for the couple of slips that happened ‘tween tee and cup.

The next step on the journey of our brave wee kiwi was across the Irish Sea to The Emerald Isle, for it is almost certain that the roots of the roots grew deep in Irish soil.in ireland doing irishdespite the fact that Fuzzy was no great fan of Jamiesons. Obviously Hairy Coo was prepared to work at blending the single malt and the juice of the bogs though.

Fuzzy bid a fond farewell to the Celtic Lands and prepared for the journey home by going into the frozen wastes of Norway to ‘chill out’ for a while before getting on a big silver bird. She decided to take the short westerly route home and was doing very well until she got hijacked on the way by some tropical fruits and juicesaloha from hawaiiand exotic vegetation on the islands of Hawaii. Having thawed out (after the snow of Norway) Fuzzy made a final boarding at Honolulu and jumped a day arriving back in the bosom of her flightless family for a slightly delayed Merry Christmas.

What a bird!! Welcome home.

SPORT & BALLS

INTERESTING OBSERVATION

1. The sport of choice for the urban poor is SOCCER. (I’m sorry- in due deference to my Pommie mate- FOOTBALL)soccer ball

2 The sport of choice for maintenance level employees is BASKETBALL.2012 NBA All-Star Game

3 The sport of choice for front-line workers is RUGBY.rugby ball

4 The sport of choice for supervisors is CRICKET.cricket ball5 The sport of choice for middle management is TENNIS.tennis ball

And….

6 The sport of choice for corporate executives and officers is GOLF.golf ball


THE OBVIOUS CONCLUSION:

The higher you go in the corporate structure, the smaller your balls become.

THE OTHER OBVIOUS CONCLUSION: 

There must be a ton of people in the Government playing marbles!marbles

Just saying.

Dirty and Stupid

If there was ever any doubt that dirty players were also stupid I believe that doubt’s been removed by the events that led to the decision to bench Scott Higginbotham for 4 weeks for his cynical and unsportsmanlike actions against Richie McCaw in the last test.

With McCaw lying on the ground Higginbotham first kneed McCaw in the face and then, only moments later in another on-the-ground melee head-butted McCaw while he was being held by another player (I don’t suggest that the other Okker colluded with Higginbotham.)

So that’s the ‘dirty’ stuff- simple thuggery that has no place on any sportsfield, including those involving hard contact.

The ‘stupid’ comes from the environment that Higginbotham committed these offences. For any player to imagine that firstly they would not be seen in such an open game situation by the refereeing team, (it’s not just the bloke in the middle with the whistle who can rule on such infringements- he’s got two ‘touchies’ who are eager to see and report stuff so they have their moment in the limelight too) is a bit of a stretch but the REAL ‘stupid’ is proven by Higginbotham even remotely dreaming he wouldn’t get seen by even just ONE of the several TV cameras that put the game under what almost equates to a microscope nowadays.

In my view the man’s a thug, but it’s clear he’s also a stupid thug!

Promote The Game

The IRB (International Rugby Board) will be rubbing their hands together contemplating the enormous income that’s they will receive from the 2011 Rugby World Cup tournament currently under way in New Zealand. (At the same time the NZRFU [New Zealand Rugby Football Union] will be gnashing their teeth over the lack of income they will receive from the 2011 Rugby World Cup. Who’s fault is that? Surely it can only be the NZRFU’s!)

The IRB will be celebrating with the rugby watching public of New Zealand and The World over the fun results, the performance of most of the ‘minnows’ and, in general the quality of footy on display. The NZRFU will also be patting themselves on the back with the way the tournament is running- satisfactory crowds ALL of whom are well-behaved and having fun.

The IRB may not be quite so chirpy about the hiccups that have occurred that have taken a bit of the gloss off what should be a glowing show- heavy-handed bullying of local businesses who have (apparently) innocently infringed the rules of sponsorship, players’ after-hour revelries that should be a no-no, naughty tweeters who have been told not to but who think they’re above the restrictions, on-field cheating that is punished by wet bus-ticket slapping, and over the top punishments handed out to a couple of players who carry almost invisible non-official sponsorship on their mouth-guards ($10,000 fine each!!). Of course the IRB will have little problem in taking a ‘hands out’ position over these tournament problems by laying responsibility for dealing with such trivialities up to the NZRFU/Rugby World Cup Inc..

The IRB will probably be snorting at the fracas that have been caused by, at best the shortcomings, or at worst the displays of incompetence by some the referees controlling the games but will again shuffle responsibility for these issues sideways into the court of the International Referees Board.

So at the end of the day/tournament the International Rugby Board, over a few convivial drinks (Heineken?…or perhaps Dom Perignon) will congratulate themselves on another job well done, and move on to reviewing the laws to make sure they cater for the stodgey game played by some of the more influential/wealthy Northern Hemisphere countries (although, to their credit, some of the ‘smaller’ nations did stoop to quite a attractive running/passing game on occasions!) or restrict the mobility of most of the southern hemisphere nations, and to work towards commercial contracts that are more to do with television scheduling and sponsors’ imperatives than they are to do with benefiting The Game.

I have always suffered under the impression (now obviously illusion) that sports administration is there to nurture, foster and promote the game (netball, rugby, athletics, soccer, etc.) It is now my belief that various sports are very poorly served by their collective administrations. This can hold true at the very basest level with clubs becoming more and more susceptible to the whims of the few who are prepared to put in the time but becomes more obvious when at a provincial or national level, then reaching a self-serving rock-bottom with international bodies such as IRB (or ICC, IOC, FIFA, and others.) These closed and apparently self-serving societies have had the sight of their prime imperative clouded by the influence of the mighty $$$. Professionalism has done little for the various sports than made them a trade that now generations of sportsmen and women have been able to make a healthy living from. Neither have the lesser nations gained from the advent of the professional game even though individual players from these countries have travelled to take up contracts in foreign lands. This doesn’t grow the game to the extent that I believe the international administration has a responsibility to do. I can cite the New Zealand national rugby team as an example. It is one of the most visible rugby teams in the world, and is even recognised by many who have little or no interest in the game. The All Blacks are a team that could be a boon to the growth of the game if only they were used as wider-ranging ambassadors. The World Olympic Champions in rugby are the United States but to my knowledge the All Blacks have never played a test in the States and neither have the All Blacks toured there. They have a following, especially among the universities of the Western US and with the success of The Eagles, the US rugby team in tournaments such as the World Cup and the ‘Sevens’ there is a ready market for the game to grow. All that would be required would be for the contact-sport loving spectator-dominated US public to see the stars of International Rugby teams performing live.

The same applies in many other nations of the world where rugby is played as a much more minor sport in soccer dominated countries, Central and Middle European the most obvious but also Asian and the once ‘Iron Curtain’ states. My Club Captain from WAY back went to Europe and Russia on business on a regular basis and he once told us, in the early 70s that when he was in Moscow he was told there were as many club rugby players in that city as there were in New Zealand. You would expect a country with such a player resource would be fairly active on the international scene, but this is certainly not the case. This is another country that has never seen the All Blacks. The All Black international involvement has been pretty much confined to IRB countries (no, not all countries are represented on this august body!) If we went through the list of participants at this year’s Rugby World Cup I am sure that the countries who have had tours by the All Blacks or who have played full Test Matches against them (outside the Rugby World Cup tournament) would be significantly less than those who deserve to have. I have singled out the All Blacks, but to varying degrees the same holds true for all of the other Test-Playing Nations of the IRB. And so I say the IRB are not fulfilling their role in promoting and growing the game world-wide. They should!!

Something that could help some of these underprivileged rugby nations is for the IRB to be convinced to extend their membership to include representatives from those countries on their Council. If you believe they should do this, you can put your name to an on-line petition that calls for Samoa, Tonga and Fiji to have a seat at the Council table as of right. Perhaps then these nations, and others who have largely been ignored by the IRB and the BIG BOYS of international rugby can get a fairer deal and the game can grow in those countries and not just by exporting their players to points around the globe, away from home, family and hardly benefiting the game ‘back in the homeland’.

Death Taxes & Shit Happens!

Dan Carter is a wonderful 1st five- that can’t be disputed. Dan Carter was definitely a vital part of the overall plan we had for the Rugby World Cup– that can’t be disputed. Dan Carter ruptured important bits and pieces in his groin and has been ruled out of the Rugby World Cup- that can’t be undisputed. Without Dan Carter New Zealand‘s chances of winning the Rugby World Cup are dashed. That certainly can be disputed.

Dan Carter is a fantastic player, perhaps one of the best in the World today, and some would argue, THE best. BUT he is only one man in a team game that allows for 15 players to be on the field at any given time. He has been replaced in the full New Zealand squad by Aaron Cruden (who I think should have been there in the first place, but that’s a horse of another feather!) Whether Cruden makes the teams to play the remaining matches is something the selectors will sort out, in their infinite wisdom (and that’s another thing I have a contrary view on, but that also is a horse of a different feather!)

If we win the World Cup it will not be because of Dan Carter, clearly, BUT if we lose the Rugby World Cup it will not be the fault of Slade or Cruden or whoever fills in at 1st five eigthth. If we find ourselves in that terrible position we will surely be able to find plenty of other reasons for the failure. Yes, perhaps Slade will have lapses at important times, but so also might McCaw, Weepu, Nonu, Dagg, or any of the other superstars of the game we call ‘Our Boys In Black’. But we can’t lay any team failure at the door of one player. If one player happens to fall short of realising his potential then it is up to the players around him to help him through it and to compensate for it in another way (score tries instead of relying on the boot for points would do it in my book), up to the captain to re-jig on-field tactics to compensate until he hits his straps again, up to the 3 Wise Men in the God-Box to pass down sage advice of what to do about it. Surely to goodness the team are good enough to be able to get through to victory as a team and not on the back of one player?

As a Nation we should also be above blaming one player- is Dan Carter the winning or losing of the Rugby World Cup? If our thousands of passionate rugby fans believe the whole effort hinges on one player then we, as a rugby nation are in BIG trouble.

We have won the Rugby World Cup just once which means we have LOST the thing 5 TIMES!!! But guess what? The world didn’t end, we came through it, we chose new players and contested the next and the next (…and the next, etc.,) we did all sorts of navel gazing and soul searching, we became the top rugby nation in the world several times over in the intervening years, and we did this despite the fact of losing important players at various times! We will do it again (and again, if needs be.) We are far too proud a nation to let this hiccup distract our one-eyedness! We are a great rugby nation and for some years have been getting away from being a bunch of ‘tall poppy‘ syndromists, and I see no reason why we should revert, because in a funny sort of way that’s what this grief and dispair is, reverse ‘tall-poppy’ syndrome.

Dan, get well and back into shape- you’re young enough to still be the magic player again in 2015. (You can guarantee that if he’s fit, he’ll be selected!)

Come on, New Zealand! I don’t care whether you have a different preference from me for 1st five, let’s give whoever gets the nod ALL of our support so whoever runs on the firld KNOWS his country is right behind him!

GO THE ALL BLACKS! (Pity that has become such a Keyism, isn’t it? UNdervalues it, somehow!)