Gentlemen or Players?
In 19th and early 20th century sports, a distinction was made between amateurs (the gentlemen) and those who were in it for the money (not having the luxury of inherited wealth)- the players- who were generally looked down on and excluded when possible.
I’m not sure what this has to do with anything much now except that thinking about what it meant to be a gentleman back then maybe throws some light on a famous 19th century quote that I’ve never really understood, notwithstanding that I shamelessly quote it as a marker of erudition whenever the opportunity arises.
OK, OK, it’s “When Adam delved and Eve span, who then was the gentleman?”
Even after having eventually figured the meanings of “delve” and “span” in the context, all I can really get is that it’s probably some sort of comment to the effect that if all of us are similarly descended from this original sin, then no-one can claim blue blood superiority over anyone else- or maybe this is just what I want it to mean, having a meritocratic world view and all.
But this is by the by.
Unusually (and on account of our not having protectionist policies because we don’t have a local car industry), cars are cheap and plentiful in NZ.
Too plentiful; in some areas there are more cars than people- right up there with mobile phone ownership.
Apologies to the planet and all that but there are some advantages in this for us kite fliers.
Like, they make excellent kite anchors- even a middling size car is enough to hold a train of maxi kites in any wind that it’s comfortable to fly in, and it’s easy to shift around even with the kites up, so ensuring that every available sky niche has a kite in it. Which convenience and ideal I would like to respectfully, again, bring to the attention of various international kite festivals.
And also, having so many cars here, we have spares to lend to itinerant kite fliers and friends who happen to be passing through.
Which happens often, last week for example.
Which resulted in our Mitsubishi RVR getting a big surprise- a wax and polish- for nearly the first time in it’s life I suspect.
Then it had an unconnected second big surprise, and so did we.
On Thursday night last it was parked down the back beside my workshop with the trailer connected in preparation for loading up for the weekend when some bastard(s) stole all its wheels.
So naturally our first response was to get the police.
But this is another unusual thing about NZ. The procedure to contact the police here is not to ring them or to call at the bobby shop as you might expect. They don’t respond that well (or even at all) to being rung or visited.
Oh no, if you want to contact the police in NZ, by far the quickest and most reliable means is to head out down the main road, preferably during normal working hours when traffic is light and driving conditions are perfect. Marginally exceeding the 100km/hr speed limit will then get their immediate personal attention- and after other formalities have been dealt with, obsequious pleading and forelock tugging might get them to consider attending your burglary. And why is it best to do this during working hours and on a long straight under-used road in perfect driving conditions rather than by, say, joining the boy racers terrorizing some peaceful neighborhood with yahooing and sustained loss of traction in the wee small hours? Why, because, as for everyone else, police like to get the maximum dollar return for the minimum effort, don’t like after hours work and find mixing it with the rougher elements to be generally distasteful.
So this is what I did, 111km/hr actually.
No really, that’s a lie- we rang them, and 2 days later they did arrive- and managed to get some good finger and palm prints- only because the paintwork had been so recently polished- it’s an ill wind!
Recovering the wheels is a forlorn hope though, but in mitigation we did make a small gain from it all- the thieving bastards left us most of the wheel nuts, - and their 3 wheel braces and a jack.
So who were they- gentlemen or players, amateurs or professionals?
My hope is that they were players, because if they were, we’ll be able to buy our wheels back from one of the local wreckers.
Hope this happens in time for the next itinerant kite flier- Richard Jenkins, of WindJet fame, who’s due next week.
To cover our bets on this though we're looking closely at every other Mitsubishi RVR that passes by.
Ashburton, March 28th ’07- and just leaving for Berck, Valencia, Wasserkuppe, Cervia and San Francisco.
Kite progress? Below is a photo of (just finished) SLARC 8. It’s lighter, simpler and better than SLARC 7 in every respect- the power of incrementalism!
After maybe one more iteration, in response to public demand (we’ll maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, what’s the singular for public?) I’ll offer plans for this design to anyone who wants to build one.