Drunk moments celebrating independence

GORDON BURNSIDE
Last updated 07:45 05/02/2013

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OPINION: For all these years I have suffered, less so lately admittedly, from an occasional excessive intake of alcohol at social events.

I thought I was the only one of course and that made the shame even worse. So imagine my recent delight when I discovered that way back in the year 856AD the Dunhuang Bureau of Etiquette insisted that local officials use a standard issue letter template when sending apologies to offended dinner hosts and other guests.

Translated from the original Chinese, it reads:

"Yesterday, having drunk too much, I was intoxicated as to pass all bounds; but none of the rude and coarse language I used was uttered in a conscious state. The next morning, after hearing others speak on the subject, I realised what had happened, whereupon I was overwhelmed with confusion and ready to sink into the earth with shame".

I feel so much better now and the very next Whanga Republic Day I'm going to make sure anyone out there who didn't read this column is advised of the actual situation.

Just in case.

Speaking of Whanga, what a fascinating place; or more accurately the people there are fascinating.

I doubt you'd go and live there if socialising in cafes and shopping was at the top of your bucket list. But as you can imagine, they are quite a diverse bunch of square pegs more at ease with their own company than others.

I'm led to believe there's the odd ongoing fracas running just beneath the surface, but they are not at all elitist in their feuding - they'll do it with anyone. So with that background it is a real credit to them how they all pull together and work hard towards the common goal of a successful and hugely enjoyable Whanga Republic Day every two years.

I always like to get out there the night before and stay in the old cafe with the man now titled President Murt and his First Lady, Marg. Murt's an old campaigner now and while Marg is wont to turn the air a bit (or a lot) blue, she has a heart of solid gold and the pair of them are as hospitable to visitors as anyone in the backblocks ever was or ever could be.

On the morning of the big day I was accosted on the doorstep by a handsome, youngish bloke in his 60s. He told me he was selling, for only $5, a specially written recording of a new Whanga Republic Day song, which of course I felt obliged to buy.

I can't give too much away for fear of copyright infringement, but it may be enough to say I could tell it was sung by an inebriate with no teeth and composed by a person more at home in a hearse than a hotrod.

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Strangely, the Republic was not offering these CDs at the merchandise stand. So while it's obviously keen to raise money, it has good taste which can not be overcome by mere cash.

For many of us it's good to have that opportunity to rub shoulders with back-country life and its simplicity and removal from what we refer to as first-world problems. They're not too far from convenience though; the garage has not closed for 10 years since Murt took it over.

The service might be a bit ordinary, the petrol among the most expensive in the world, but at least the door's open.

Murt tells of the time he heard a bit of noise over there late at night and he discovered a young bloke from Stratford welding a big bore exhaust on his car in the workshop!

Long live Republic Day and long live Whangamomona itself.

? So the New Zealand Transport Agency thinks the Princess St intersection with SH3 at Waitara is a bit unsafe. And it has dropped the speed limit to 80kmh through that section to reduce the severity of any collision that may occur. What a good idea. One of the most disturbing sights I have ever seen was a motorcyclist lying dead, partially covered under what appeared to be a kid's single bed sheet, on the road at that intersection, his legs sticking out one end and the top of his head the other with emergency personnel standing about and going through the motions.

Except that, while they'd closed off SH3 they omitted to close off Princess St and I'd come in from the country on my bike, oblivious to what all the action meant. I wound up at the stop sign, right there by the poor bugger. He had been a living, breathing, happy guy on his way to meet family and friends until that car, moving from zero kilometres an hour and through a stop sign, pulled into his path and killed him in an instant.

Might he have survived if he was only doing the new 80kmh through there? Who knows, but having ridden and driven through it several times at the new speed, I think it only gives local traffic more time to decide whether they can beat you. In reality the new speed limit is a stupid idea and is not even as useful as an ambulance at the bottom of a cliff.

The intersection needs a complete redesign and drivers, as well as riders, need to engage their bloody brains.

- Taranaki Daily News

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