The Rugby World Cup 2011 is proving a bonanza for the complaints industry. Never before have full-time whiners had so much raw material to work with. As well as the genuine problems, every day brings us ever more petty and ludicrous niggles.
A small sample of recent brainless whinges: the drug-testing regimen is too strict, flags flying from cars are a safety hazard, Sky didn't show signers signing the national anthem, an ad showing Ruapehu as a giant party popper was offensive.
Which is why for me, this Cup will be about Fleur Hansby, the woman who had to wee in the train.
If anyone has had reason to moan at length it is Fleur. The Nelson Marlborough District Health Board member gets about in a wheelchair, generally a more reliable form of transport than an Auckland passenger train. She also has a condition that requires her to urinate every four hours or risk a heart attack or stroke. She was one of those stuck in a carriage, with her husband and many others, on the day the RWC opened. An hour passed, then another. After four hours had crawled by, Fleur had to go, using her catheter.
Fellow passengers rallied around. They lent their souvenir flags to provide a screen for her and obligingly turned the other way till it was all over.
"People were really good," said Fleur in a TV interview in which she failed to show indignation or bitterness, neglected to demand an inquiry or request compensation, and generally displayed a dignity and forbearance that's been sadly lacking in most responses to the RWC's first-week stuff-ups.
Fleur and her fellow passengers demonstrated virtues that sport is supposed to represent - creativity, teamwork, leadership, problem solving and quick thinking.
You got the impression that if her shirt got ripped, she'd even be able to change it without anyone else's help.
She probably deserves some sort of reparation. She definitely deserves a medal.
Even by our dismal national standards, it's some kind of achievement that after the first week of the RWC we are still arguing over how the waterfront will be organised for the event. Many thought that kick-off on September 9 would bring an end to the six years of dithering over the issue but no, we obviously have many more weeks of dithering to come.
It's been a grand week for mayoral stuff-ups. Len Brown came in for his share of ridicule before Murray McCully handed him a huge sympathy vote. Visitors will have written home about Whangarei mayor Morris Cutforth. He must be the last elected official in the world to think he could shrug off his use of the phrase "nigger in the woodpile", in a newspaper interview, as "an old family saying". And which family would that be? The Hitlers?
Fortunately, the sight of Wellington's Celia Wade-Brown spraying crocodile tears all over the funeral of former council tenant Michael Clarke provided some much-needed light relief.
Clarke was a loner whose demise in a council flat was mourned by none - to the extent that no one even noticed he'd shuffled off for more than a year.
What could be more fatuous than the mayor of a city turning up at a funeral to pay someone the sort of attention she would never dream of giving him when he was alive. Wade-Brown wanted to express not only "our sorrow, but also our regret". She also said it was the council's duty not just to be landlords but to build a sense of community. That could prove tricky given the block in which Clarke lived is about to be demolished.
Clarke got in death the sort of attention he went out of his way to avoid in life. Not a people person, he shunned human company - in fact, seems to have had a gift for repelling it. It's a mercy he wasn't alive to see the supercilious fuss being made about him in death.
It's hard for the soft-hearted to accept but there are people who genuinely want to be left alone. Try telling that to Wellington City Council, which is now threatening to create a new species of busybody who will visit tenants a minimum of twice a year. Let's hope they get special training in how to handle having doors slammed in their faces and being told to sod off.
LOUIE THE FLY
Fly spray manufacturer Mortein has decided to retire Louie the Fly, who has been part of its marketing since 1957. That's how long it's taken them to work out that a fly who can survive for more than half a century may not be the best advertisement for an insecticide.