Let the good times roll. All year last year we were waiting for 2020 just to pack its bags and get the hell out of town, and now that great day has finally arrived. Already things feel better, brighter with promise, lighter with each passing hour. 2021 is set to be the year of sweet relief.
Yeah, okay, unless the plague returns. But while it's true it could strike at any moment - this very second, even; crazy to think you can completely and utterly seal the jar of New Zealand's borders – how many of us are worried about it to the point where we can even be bothered with the QV scan?
Lots do bother. They also wear masks in supermarkets and wash their hands and all the rest of it. Cheers! Eternal vigilance is the sensible option. But it's also a bit of a drag, and complacency ought not be shamed. It's the New Zealand way of life; it's very 2021.
Give the team of five million a break. We can go about our business exactly how we please. Living in Godzone has always been a matter of unbearable smugness and it now seems rather justified. England is closed, Italy is closed, Austria is closed. New Zealand is open all hours.
SP McMonagie, of Greenhithe, wrote this splendid letter recently in the Herald: "I was digging holes in the backyard when I struck a water main. Instead of getting upset, I took a deep breath and thought of all those poor people on the planet who are locked down. How lucky are we?"
Our correspondent should probably do something about fixing their water main but point taken.
We can go anywhere, do anything. The road trip is the new OE. This month, events include the Kaikohe A&P Show (buses will run to and from the showgrounds and the Ngāwha Geothermal Power Station), the Tamahere Country Market (goods for sale include cheese and goldfish, presumably at different stalls to minimise the risk of swallowing the wrong thing) and grass track harness racing at the Methven Trotting Club (based at the foot of the Southern Alps so quite scenic really).
AdvertisementAdvertise with NZME.
We can watch sport. Yacht racing is such a cliffhanger. You never know what might happen, if anything. Headline, Herald, December 19: "World Series sparks regatta into life." Headline, Herald, December 21: "Farcical ending to regatta as lack of wind leaves boats stranded."
We can attend concerts. In an age of brilliant and exciting dance music created by a wide range of black artists, it's nice to be able to sit down and float downstream to the otherworldly music of white-man prog-rock; Steve Hackett from Genesis is set to play in Auckland in March. So are the Pink Floyd Experience covers band. At a wild guess, you just won't be able to tell at either concert that November's referendum decided against legalising cannabis.
But the watercolour picture being painted here is of a New Zealand at peace, a New Zealand with beers in the fridge and the bills paid and long unconcerned days at the beach. This is the 1950s pastoral vision that many of us still cling to – a white settler's country, as evoked by that famous and risible Bank of New Zealand TV commercial made in 1990, which filmed a quaint old seaside bach and concluded with a voice-over saying of whoever owned it, "Who are you? You're a New Zealander." You're a millionaire many times over if you still own it.
New Zealand in 2021 is also the land of struggle, homelessness, despair. Let the good times roll? I waited for a bus the other day opposite a Pataka Kai and watched a decent person stock it with free food. Two cars parked up, and a man on a bicycle took his turn, too. By the time the bus arrived the only thing left was a marrow.
Well, the sun shines on us all. Everyone can enjoy summer. It looks so good out there. At high tide on the Auckland isthmus, mangroves spread out like water lilies, and the sun setting over the Waitākere Ranges is a citrus blaze of orange. This is the lucky city and the beaches, farms, rivers, and towns beyond it are in a golden slumber. We got through 2020. We knocked the bastard off. 2021 is all downhill and summer is our first reward.
There's more to come. The whole year could be one of the great ones in our post-imperial island history. There's a sense of optimism, a feeling of confidence in the air; New Zealand, the way many or even most of us want it, is there to be enjoyed and cherished all throughout 2021. It really is a happy new year.