Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Melbourne Cup


Two days ago Kiwis went mad over a very old English tradition celebrating a person who spectacularly failed to blow up Parliament. Today, they went mad over an Australian horse race in which we can almost always guarantee that any New Zealand horse will get thrashed. Why exactly does New Zealand stop for an Australian race, when it never does for the New Zealand ones? And why, for that matter, do we never bet millions on which Opera Singer will win the Mobil Song Quest? Or which writer will win the Montana Book Awards? It is interesting to see what it is that will bind a country together, and in New Zealand’s case, what binds us is always sport and never art. Let alone calligraphy. Now wouldn’t it be wonderful to put money on who would win the Auckland Calligraphic Strokes. Or the Christchurch Quills. And don’t laugh. In the 1590’s, calligraphy had nationally recognised competitions in Holland and Britain and the top calligraphers were not far off being the equivalent of Rock Stars, or sporting heroes. Funnily enough, calligraphy back then was often taught in the same schools as fencing. Oh well…..

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