St Patricks Day in New Zealand started with a bang – literally.
I heard the story from the Honorary Consul General who’d been stuck on a plane in Auckland airport for two hours. Bound for Wellington, the plane ended up being grounded due to a dog running loose on the runway. Ironically, we later found out the 10 month-old dog was actually an Aviation Security Dog (a ‘sniffer’ dog) who’d escaped its handler and panicked. The airport staff tried to catch it for three hours but in the end they resorted to shooting it. Sixteen flights had been grounded (including the Consul-General’s) and several more had been diverted. Apparently, they weren’t going to let an animal cause any further loss of income.
Even more ironically, I started the day by attending a St Paddy’s Ulster Breakfast celebration at the British High Commission. I was a bit surprised to get an invite to such a formal occasion, particularly from a British Government organisation. When I told K, she was cynical: “They’re probably trying to cover all options for the forthcoming Brexit trainwreck. Maybe they’re hoping to get jobs in Ireland.”
Actually, this turned out to be quite a bit of fun as the weather was stunningly beautiful and there were numerous people from Cork there. Apparently there’s some secret special deal between the New Zealand Emigration Office and Cork people at the moment. I used to be the only Cork person in Wellington city. Now the place is flush with the bastards.
I had an interesting conversation with one person (from Cork) who approached me to ask why I wasn’t wearing green.
Me: I’m green on the inside.
Him: Ah, sure, I know but it’s symbolic of the day. If you wear green people will know you’re Irish.
Me: All I have to do is open my mouth and people know I’m feckin Irish.
A lot of people were wearing Irish rugby jumpers. Given there were so many people from Cork they could have probably just have worn the red and white Cork colours. The High Commission staff were the only people who wouldn’t have got it.
As we were leaving the British High Commission, one of the senior staff was outside playing with a control handset for a drone set up on the pristine grass garden in front of the residence. ‘A communications package,’ he hurriedly assured us. ‘Just testing it out.’
We nodded knowingly. There’s no hiding the enthusiasm of a fifty-plus year old man with a new toy. While we watched, he pressed the ‘up’ button. The drone literally jumped a foot into the air, did a flip and collapsed, props spinning, back onto the grass. There was a stunned silence.
‘It’s not a drone’, my witty friend commented. ‘It’s some kind of new Flymo.’
That afternoon I returned to the home office to do some work on the Celtic Mythology Collection 2017. I’d decided to give the whole creative writing side a break for a month or so and it was actually nice to just write contextual notes for other people stories.
That night there was a party but you’re getting no further details on that.
I want to be invited to another Ulster Breakfast.