Hard News by Russell Brown


Here and There

I had mixed feelings reading the Guardian's comprehensive coverage of Glastonbury Festival over the past few days: on one hand I lamented the fact that the whole thing has become so respectable - nearly $400 a ticket respectable - as to warrant blanket coverage in the daily papers. And the rain and the mud didn't look at all appealing.

On the other, I thought: I'd be there again like a shot. I had some of the more memorable times of my life in those fields: joining some mechano-pagan-art event with the Mutoid Waste Company though the night, then walking further up the hill with my buddy Greg to watch the new morning's sun strike brilliant white sheets of fog in the valley; watching Elvis Costello play a solo headline spot then burst back on for an encore with the Attractions to play a momentous version of Abba's 'Knowing Me, Knowing You'; seeing New Order and deciding they were probably more out of it than I was; visiting spooky old Glastonbury Tor on the way home; and generally just feeling part of some vast gathering of community that made Sweetwaters look like a barbecue at the beach. I always liked pagan England when I lived there, and that paganism was never more out to play than at Glastonbury.

Best pic from the coverage: the she-pee in action.

But I'm not there, and I'm not in South East Asia either: I'm back in New Zealand, where it is cold, with a fritzed computer and a whole lot of work to do. You'll forgive me if I don't pitch straight back into local politics.

Still, there was the All Blacks. I didn't get out of the airport until 1.30pm on Sunday, but I managed not to hear the result of the test match, and thus was able to experience the thrill of the comeback against the Boks. Do we have one of the great loose forward trios, or what? How sweet was it that after Rodney So'oialo had swerved and stepped his way up the field and was finally held in a tackle, Jerry Collins was there, right there on his shoulder, to take the ball up?

I'd have been complaining about some of the bizarre refereeing if the All Blacks had lost (that carried-back decision!), and the cheap shots from Burger and others, but it's enough now to pay tribute yet again to the great Carl Hayman. How can a man so large run, tackle, lift, drive and, above all, scrum for so long? And all with such silent intent? Truly, he is a giant in more than one sense.

PS: Tracey Nelson's game stats are up if you're interested. Excellent effort at the breakdown from Flavell - enough to make anyone but a hard-arse forgive him his lapses.

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