Friday, May 15, 2009

A Containable Entity

Little River in Banks Peninsula where I grew up was a containable entity for a child - everyone knew everyone, their history, their follies, and their successes. It was a closed community, homogeneous and inbred. `Peninsula people' defined themselves as country folk in comparison with "townies" who forgot to shut gates behind them, rarely grew vegetables, ignorantly rolled boulders downhill to smash fences, had uncontrolled dogs which chased sheep, all in all ignorant people with an inferior lifestyle.

Town existed as a place of hard pavements and people who didn't know or want to know you, an abode of temptation and luxury, its very existence dependent upon the farmer's labour. The symbiotic nature of the relationship received little acknowledgment. Deep down though, Little River people resented the cultural dominance of Christchurch. Of course the city people in turn cringed before the superiority of the Old Country.

Every now and then Christchurch police would raid the Little River pub to try to catch after-hours drinkers or illegal bookmaking. Along the way they would be spotted and the publican alerted by phone. Gleefully the story would be told again and again by even the most devout teetotallers or anti-gamblers - stupid townies tricked again.

One new ranger, tired of trying to catch farmers grazing their horses and cows on the "long acre" (the roadside outside their place) flung a wire across the telephone lines to prevent warnings being phoned ahead. Rounding up the stock he filled the pound, but the locals considered his action unfair, indeed dishonest. Even those who'd been on his back to clear the stock off the road were not supportive. A stranger, he failed to understand the area's morality. Sometimes it proved hard to pin down, even by those who lived there.

No comments:

Post a Comment