What time was the world meant to end

By Terry Sarten

I have now crossed the water to the great southern continent. The sky has put on its best blue suit and the clouds have all gone away on holiday.

The sun-burned landscape makes you think the entire country should be covered in sunblock to prevent further tanning. People are friendly and helpful.

I have seen strangers assist elderly get luggage on to the train. I have had a taxi driver give me the correct change despite my completely muddling the money.

Today when tired, weighed down with shopping and forgetful, we accidentally left a large notice board in the street outside the mall in Hornsby. We got home before realising what we had done. There was a high speed 20-minute walk back to the mall and, to my amazement, it was still exactly where we had left it.

My wife, who has already been working in Sydney for the past four months, was not surprised. She has gathered considerable evidence of the Australian way. On the other hand, the dollar coin thing - their two dollar is smaller than the one - does make you wonder whether this was decided by a committee at the end of a long day.

The baggage policy of various airlines must have been devised by a committee and it should be investigated by some sort of government commission. The transport of guitars is a mystery that requires closer examination. I was not asked if I had any talent to declare but the matter of taking my guitar on to the plane was a strange and convoluted one.

I have taken a guitar before, in a solid flight case with permission from the airline and flight crew, as hand luggage on flights to Australia and it has travelled safely in the overhead lockers. Now it seems you cannot do that anymore.

Instruments have to travel as fragile cargo. This is not ideal, as it involves trusting luggage handlers and we have all watched and winced as they throw things while loading the plane. On this trip, the fragile cargo handling clearly lived up to its name. The guitar (a beautiful and precious one) arrived safely in Sydney.

I checked it at the airport and it had not even gone out of tune. Mind you, the guitar in question is a resonator. It is made of metal, weighs 5kg and would probably take a bullet in a battle with a music critic.

The strange thing is that you are allowed to take a guitar on as hand luggage if it is in a soft case. This is bizarre. No musician in their right mind would take their cherished instrument on a plane in a soft case and put it up in the overhead locker. The odds on it arriving in one piece would diminish as other passengers pushed their luggage in beside it and then any turbulence would knock it about and wreck it. Whoever thought this up has clearly never travelled with an instrument.

But the world is full of mysteries such as this. According to some, the world will end on December 21 (I am writing this on the evening of the 20th) and, despite searching the worldwide web, I have not seen anything that says what time this is supposed to happen. How can the end be nigh when no one knows when it will be nigh o'clock? Has anyone turned the Mayan calendar over to see if there is more on the other side?

Terry Sarten is a writer, musician and part-time curmudgeon. Feedback email: tgs@inspire.net.nz

- Wanganui Chronicle

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