Catching Up

Image: AFL
So... we went on a little holiday to new Zealand. I know, I know, what self-respecting football fan books an overseas holiday in September? But the decision to take the family on a brief break across the Tasman was a form of tempting fate -- come on, surely the Bulldogs wouldn't still be playing in the last couple of weeks of the finals? At best we might scrape into the semis...

Well, unless you've been living under a rock, you know how this story ends. Our Bulldogs DID win a preliminary final, gaining entry to the Grand Final for the first time since 1961. We watched the astounding victory (underdogs for the third game in a row...) on cable TV in our hotel room in Wellington. A couple of days earlier, a random stranger had bounced up to Michael in the Auckland Museum and wished us luck (Michael happened to be wearing a jacket with a very discreet Bulldog logo attached).

We made it home in time to secure tickets. We were there, high up in the Southern Stand, to witness the game. We chewed out nails, plaited the tassels on our scarves, cheered and howled and roared. And before the siren sounded, I was already in tears.

Anyway, while we were away, I read a couple of books: The Spire, by William Golding, about a medieval priest who is driven to add a spire to his church, against the warnings of his master builder, and the effects of his misguided vision on the community around him; and also Landmarks, by Robert Macfarlane, an absolutely beautiful book which examines some of Macfarlane's favourite nature writers, and also gathers a glossary of local terms for landscape and weather, words that describe with precision and poetry the interplay of water and air, earth and sky. Macfarlane laments that with the loss of this language, we lose our ability to really see what lies around us. This immediately led me to think of the tragic loss of Aboriginal languages and place-names, which perform the same function of knitting together people, spirit and place. And it felt as if New Zealand, with its proliferation of Maori place-names, and its bi-lingual signage, is miles ahead of Australia in recognition and preservation of local language.

But since I finished Landmarks, nearly all my reading has been about football, and that glorious, thrilling victory: match reports, interviews, newspaper articles, blog posts... and I still haven't even unwrapped the Footy Record!!

This post has already gone on long enough, so I will conclude with a simple, joyous shout of GO DOGS!

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