I have no voice left. Nor does the cat. The dog is not a lot better.
The dog started it in Hanmer. We popped up there yesterday on business. When we took her for a quick walk she went one way – we went the other. Pepper lost sight of us for all of a nano-second, then to say she screamed is an understatement. The dog, we discovered, has lungs on her that would make a fire engine sit up and take notice. As soon as she figured out where we were it wasn’t an issue – but unlike Ms Garbo, Pepper does not want to be alone.
I snoozed on the drive back, the cold medicine doing its job nicely. By the time we arrived back in Christchurch I was alert enough to wobble inside and crawl into bed for a late afternoon nap.
Our rugby watching last night was done in dressing gowns, in front of the fire. It was a magnificent final, a real game of two halves. Rugby was the winner on the day, and all that.
At half time as I opened the hall door and came to the almost instantaneous realisation that black cats should not sleep in the shadows, and no matter how short the distance you should always turn on the light before you wander barefoot at night.
“MIAOW!”, declaimed Zorro loudly and invisibly as I stood on her in the darkness. “@#$#@!!!!!” I replied even more loudly immediately afterwards. Attempts to regain our dignity and pretend it hadn’t happened were somewhat hampered by Kim’s howls of laughter from the lounge. It took lashings of pickled onions and cheese to settle back in for the balance of the match. What was left of my vocal cords disappeared along with Brad Thorn’s unawarded try and the Crusader’s well deserved hopes for an even more well earned Super 15 victory. Our Canterbury team understands as well as any team ever could that life, sometimes, is just not fair.
So a long sleep and still more cold medicine and today I felt a whole lot better. Just as well, since I’m on deck for the city at the moment, and it was down to me today to welcome the Crusaders back to Christchurch. (Yes, yes, I know – it’s a tough job but somebody had to do it.)
What a fantastic turnout. Quite literally hundreds of people, babies to retirees, turned out to the arrivals hall at Christchurch International Airport. A passage of cheering red and black fans erupted every time the customs doors opened, to the dismay of some unsuspecting travellers and the delight of others. “It’s just what we do in Christchurch,” I heard someone say. “Welcome to Canterbury. It’s always like this here.”
And to the strains of the familiar anthem “Conquest of Paradise”, our boys were back in town. They looked tired, they weren’t in party mode, but the crowd went crazy, and so they should. On the city’s behalf, I welcomed them back home, told them they were heroes, and when Richie McCaw finished his speech and the microphone was gone, I took the chance every armchair commentator would. “You were robbed, mate. That was a fair try Brad Thorn scored. Robbed.”
What a lovely bloke Richie McCaw is. He didn’t even object when I gave him a hug.
I wonder if it’s easier for the Crusaders dealing with a Reds scrum that outweighed them by 30-odd kilos or a media scrum the likes of the one today. There was even a French TV crew there, the first it seems of many as we build up to RWC 2011 which kicks off in not quite two months. I had a wee chat to them too. How the word for “shopping” could have left my linguistic memory when I needed it most is something I will ponder for a long time.
Kim and I then adjourned upstairs to check out the new restaurant area in our stunning new airport terminal. It is quite simply gorgeous. If you haven’t been there, make a trip on purpose and go for a look. Hats off to the CIAL team who’ve delivered us such a fantastic facility, and if you want any proof that business is alive and well in Canterbury the terminal should be all you need.
After-match refreshments there were the order of the day before we came back home and Kim whipped up steak & potatoes with french beans and a blue vein sauce. Spoilt? Me? Grateful? Absolutely. I gave him a hug too, a bigger one than I gave Richie in fact. He didn’t object either. It seems I’m on a roll.
Kim and I have sat here this evening watching “Walk the Line” together, and with Pepper snoring her little head off in the corner it is nearly time to call it a night. I’ve a radio call from The Breeze first thing tomorrow morning then a variety of things to do throughout the day.
It’s been a lovely weekend, even with that rugby result.
After all, you’re not always going to win the game. Sometimes just getting to the end of it is a big enough miracle. I’m so proud of our Crusaders, one of our many symbols of Team Christchurch.
Holding a trophy doesn’t make you a hero.
Doing your very best for as long as you possibly can, does.