Today I am on holiday. The reason I am telling you this is that I firmly believe that one of the key purposes of provincial anniversary days is to skite about getting a day off to as many people outside your own province as possible, thereby fomenting jealousy where there previously was none.
It makes no difference whatsoever that everyone gets one of these holidays. The point is that I and my fellow Cantabs are having ours today and everyone else isn't. Nya nya nya-nya nyah. I will be mostly using mine to write this post, do a bit of Royals stalking, and struggling to fit five days' worth of clothes for my trip to Wellington into my carry-on (why do I always think I don't need to shell out for a checked bag when I book these things? Why?). And as we all know, in terms of packing, five days in Welly is really like two weeks away since capital city weather...she is changeable, yes? So it's not like I'm going to be having a picnic or going to The Show. But still, a holiday is a holiday. I even had a fake Friday night yesterday. Yes, that's right, takeaways, three glasses of wine, and then loud music from the neighbours. Brilliant.
But maybe I should get more in the mood of the day and think about what it is to be a Cantabrian. Is there anything distinctive about us? In short (and because I have often chosen to characterise people this way), what sorts of questions would we collectively be quite good at in a pub quiz?
What? You've never sized up your friends, family and colleagues this way? Never said to yourself "I bet Uncle Graeme would be a real Natural History sharpshooter" or "Sharon from accounts is definitely a pop culture maven"? How, then, do you mentally assemble your pub quiz dream team? Just grab the three people nearest to you and hope for the best? Madness!
So, though it's sure to be riddled with generalisations, here's what you might hope to get by way of "quizzing talent" from a Cantabrian.
Geology - Liquefaction, lateral spread, soil types, fault lines, tectonic plates. We all know way more about this than we ever thought possible. Or at least we think we do. Similarly...
House construction (also roading materials) - We all have a fairly good idea now of how buildings are put together, particularly older ones. There's nothing like walking past the exposed innards of a half demo-ed house every day to make you think "holy crap, there's really no insulation in those walls at all, is there?"
One game to rule them all - There's a Māori proverb that's trotted out ALL THE TIME (seriously guys, there are other whakataukī, could we maybe mix it up a bit?) that goes "he aha te mea nui o te ao? He tangata, he tangata, he tangata" which translates as "What is the most important thing in the world? It is people, it is people, it is people". In Canterbury we replace the word "people" with "rugby".
Local body politics - We know how the democratic process is supposed to work... because that's not what we have.
English vocabulary (also cryptology and codebreaking) - Recent interactions with certain ministers of the crown have had us cracking open our dictionaries so that we can figure out what the hell she is saying.
Sheep - Lincoln is in Canterbury. Nuff said.
I'm sure there are other things that Cantabrians know a lot about but those were the ones that leapt out at me. What do you think your town or region would have as its "specialty topic"? Do you size up your acquaintances by pub quiz usefulness? What do you think your general knowledge strengths (or weaknesses) are?