There is a thing I feel the need to share for the benefit of one of my readers (he'll know who he is). I can now look back at the behaviour of my hosts on that awful trip I had to New Zealand, and, well, just laugh at it. I drew the conclusion a little while ago that the attitudes and behaviour of some people just is not worth getting angry or upset about. All it does is empower them anyway. If people's behaviour is either very strange or very unpleasant in your view the best remedy can be to make light of it. Political Umpire told me that such a day would come and I did not believe it at the time. I do now, even if it is impossible to recall the trip with any fondness due to my personal experiences. I won't say any more about my hosts as they don't know I'm writing this, as far as I know don't care to read this blog so it's not really fair bitching about people online who aren't in a position where they can defend themselves.
What the trip did do was tell me that I could not live in New Zealand for any extended period. It is just way too remote and small population wise for my liking. Christchurch and possibly Auckland I could handle temporarily. But Wellies, or God forbid New Edinburgh? I think I'd rather curl up and, you know the rest. I cannot articulate for why I feel this way exactly. I don't believe that it was just my personal experiences on the trip, I believe there was something which I picked up about the actual places. Wellington with it's green belt of hills felt claustrophobic to me, although the locals felt that was part of the towns beauty. But I don't think it was just that really.
As for Dunedin I recall wondering where the Maori were, and I then heard most had been slaughtered there by the British settlers. I noticed it was a very white town. Who knows, perhaps the place had bad karma? The noticable protestantism and the prominent Queen Victoria statue was also telling. I also dislike the fact that it has been and still is an ongoing tradition in that country of pretending that it does not have a problem with racism.
New Zealanders tend to see themselves as South Pacific Canadian (being to Australia what Canada is to the United States. But I think they are still more English than they care to admit, as one very honest man on the West Coast of the South Island admitted to me. Funnily Dunedin seemed proud of it's Scottish background while the English settlements seemed to wish to shun theirs. It aint cool to be English these days, even in England itself one appears more attractive and exotic if they can claim foreign ancestry. I get told quite often that I appear Eastern European. I believe my grandmother had some Roma in her background so that may have something to do with it. At least I get looked at more often! It seems that the English have a bad reputation and a sense of guilt due to having been blood soaked imperialists.
Don't get me wrong, I don't want to be unfair on New Zealand. It is a lovely place for scenery, the pace of life is a lot slower and the people are for the most friendly. But I found the national insecurity that often expressed itself in an immature patriotism very grating (don't worry, I find Brit patriotism just as irritating, if not more so). I received a particularly nasty dose of it (combined with an anti English feel) from a girl who had two English parents. New Zealand as a country appeared to believe it had something to prove, probably because it is a young country which has not yet fully developed a full sense of it's own identity, like for instance Canada has, and Australia. This would account for a lot of the anti English sentiment there. There is also some anti American and anti Australian sentiment, but the anti English thing stands out more because it seems a little closer to self hatred. A prejudice seems to exist in that country that the English are lax in matters of personal hygiene. I think this might be due to the tradition of baths in England as opposed to the shower. However, I disliked being at a party when the person right next to me stated that 'English people don't wash' not knowing that I was British until I opened my mouth and said 'Don't they?' in the poshest voice I could speak in. I should have sniffed under my armpits. It also turned out that the person in question was a meat lover and seemed to have a slight distaste for vegetarians (I notice that this attitude is not uncommon among meat eaters of a certain class, i.e those who enjoy their fancy cuisine, I really haven't encountered much of that attitude among the proles, who seem pretty indifferent to the eating habits of others, whether or not they deem dietary preferences strange or not). That is a thing that probably does not matter wherever you go. However, when I left that night one of the guests nearby said it had been nice meeting me. I repeated the courtesy to my bette noir as well as to the person who gave the initial farewell. The result? I was not only ignored but given a dirty look. Perhaps being not only English but a vegetarian too was too much for that individual, who had should I say very Anglo features and if average demographics are anything to go by most likely had grandparents or great grandparents, if not an actual parent, who had grown up in England.
It is small things like that which made much of it seem incongruious, although on an intellectual level I can see the reasons. The country strikes me as being slightly akin to a surly adolescent child of what was the British Empire.