I write these few words to you, the people of free New Zealand, from the suburb formerly known as Grey Lynn, now the Controlled Area under Section 131 of the Biosecurity Act 1993, where we are slowly adjusting to our new way of life, thanks to the incursion into our territory of the dreaded Queensland fruit fly. We call it The Zone for short and I hope these words find a way out, unlike the apple I am currently eating.
I first became aware of the existence of The Zone when I drove past a man erecting a sign bearing the large words "Fruit Fly" just down the road from my house. Given I had just turned off Ponsonby Rd, where there were signs about the upcoming Pride Parade, I was more than a little confused. Was this the gay community reclaiming the F-word in the way the rap community has reclaimed the N-word? Then I got home and watched the news and it made more sense and I realised that if the sign was a gay thing it would have had more sequins.
I immediately checked every piece of fruit in the house for Queensland fruit flies. I found none. I did find some fruit slightly past its best-by date. I felt guilty for not eating more fruit.
A couple of days into the siege and I check the internet for news from the outside world. Instead I find a clip of His Smugness, Mike Hosking, mocking Grey Lynn and all those suffering inside The Zone. The irony of being mocked by someone who is the televisual incarnation of a Queensland fruit fly is not lost on me.
There are yellow bins popping up on nearly every street corner now. At first I thought these were giant traps for the Queensland fruit fly, because Queensland produces more than 90 per cent of Australia's bananas so it might be attracted to yellow things. Then I find out they are bins for the survivors inside The Zone to deposit their rotting fruits and vegetables, rather than them being transported out of The Zone on rubbish day. This makes more sense, though I still wish they were traps.
It occurs to me that due to the gentrification of Grey Lynn many households now dispose of their food waste via waste-disposal units. Can the Queensland fruit fly swim like the Queensland salt water crocodile? If so, The Zone is meaningless.
I suppose, even in an overtly food-conscious suburb like Grey Lynn, it could have been worse. Imagine the panic if it had been the Queensland kale fly.
I wake in the middle of the night to the sound of people milling outside my house. Is it a gang of vigilantes, going door to door to seek out those who brought this pestilence to our fair suburb? No, it's a bunch of drunk people stumbling home from Ponsonby Rd. I go back to sleep.
With every passing day of this siege I appreciate more and more the vigilant work of the under-funded men, women and canines that patrol our biosecurity borders, guarding against that stray orange in the bag of a traveller that could unleash environmental havoc all over the country. I worry especially for the fruit-sniffing dogs, who can never leave their work at the office, because every time they go walkies past a fruit shop it must drive them crazy.
What if the next attack from across the Tasman is the Tasmanian meat, dairy and forestry beetle? Then we're economically screwed.
I think about the Queensland fruit fly almost constantly now. Are there things about it the Ministry of Primary Industries isn't telling us? Being an Australian animal, does it also have fangs capable of administering a poison powerful enough to kill 100 humans? Does it have tentacles that cause unimaginable pain? Or does it just eat fruit?
Why did we ever stop that thing where the cabin crew on international flights into New Zealand walked down the aisles spraying fly spray on everyone and freaking out everyone who wasn't a New Zealander? What the heck was that stuff they were spraying on us anyway?
There is talk now, among the Grey Lynn underground, that it is only a matter of time before the airstrikes begin. It is the painted apple moth all over again. Nouveau Grey Lynners, upon hearing stories of the blitzkrieg of 1999, start parking their Audis on the street and converting their excavated off-street parking into fall-out shelters. Old-time Grey Lynners mock the Audis, so no change there.
I have to go now, for there are men knocking at the door, and they are wearing white hazmat suits. Or are they men? Or has the Queensland fruit fly evolved?
Do not come into The Zone, there are fruit flies here.