It has been some time since my last communique from here, deep within The Zone. You remember The Zone, right? The Queensland fruit fly? Come on, you must remember that - it was a big deal in the news for at least a few days, if not a couple of weeks. It was the other story about Grey Lynn; the one not about house prices.
Anyway, the point I'm getting at is that The Zone still exists. We are still under lockdown here; our every move (or at least the movement of our fruit and vegetables) coming under the watchful eye of the Ministry for Primary Industries (the MPI) aka our Overlords.
Well, when I say "every" move it isn't every move at the moment because the MPI have switched to "winter mode", in which the master plan seems to involve doing bugger all until spring rolls round. Depending on who you talk to, this is either to do with the life-cycle of the Queensland fruit fly or it is the MPI's version of Napoleon's retreat from Moscow.
Either way, the outside world needs to know that there are still people alive in The Zone, trying to go about their daily business despite living under the jackboot of the authoritarian Overlords. The most visible sign (literally) of this state of affairs is that there are now new signs at the major checkpoints in and out of The Zone. Clearly, the sign-writers of Aotearoa are getting a little something out of our suffering, which is good.
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The worrying thing about these signs, however, is that they notify the general public that they are entering a "fruit fly controlled area". There are those within The Zone who feel that the wording of this sign is not just a case of unfortunate grammar, but that the MPI are acknowledging that the flies have won and are now in control of Grey Lynn - or at least they will be when they wake up after their mid-winter nap. Only time - and the change of season - will tell.
We now have MPI-approved retailers for our fruit and vegetables. There are rumblings in certain Grey Lynn circles that this is the Government pandering to big business and the supermarket chains, enabling them to cash in on the suffering of the people by selling them fruit and vegetables at supermarket prices. Mind you, these certain circles said that sort of thing about supermarkets before this all started, so it is kinda hard to see the point of difference.
The yellow bins that are the physical embodiment of our suburb's national shame are still there, on almost every street corner. These days, however, you hardly ever see anyone using them for the purpose our MPI Overlords intended. Maybe, in our winter of despair, we Grey Lynners are eating less fruit. Or possibly we are eating precisely all the fruit we buy. Or maybe, because it is winter, we are eating more brassicas than fruit. Whatever the reason, it is only a matter of time before someone here gets a Creative New Zealand grant to tag the bins with "Free Grey Lynn" slogans.
The MPI, on their website, refer to the Queensland fruit fly as the Q'fly. Is this, some people wonder, the start of a process of making the pest less of a pest by giving it a less threatening insect name? Is this a sign the white flag is being waved and we should learn to love our new Q'fly immigrant?
There is a school of thought, within The Zone, that the recent Blues Super-15 rugby season can only logically be explained by the Q'fly infestation and the fact that the main pitch at Eden Park is half in and half out of The Zone. The logic here is that the Blues players became confused and disoriented running back and forth over the fruit fly border. "Am I going into the Zone now?" Jerome Kaino would think as he charged up the field, swatting aside tacklers in that Jerome Kaino way. "If so, what are my rugby obligations with regards to biosecurity?"
Then Jerome would slow down to think about this and he would get tackled and drop the ball. Personally I think not even the Queensland fruit fly could explain how awful the Blues were this year.
So there you have it, people of Free Aotearoa. There is still life in The Zone and I will attempt to keep you updated on any new developments. Today I have to leave The Zone to go to the airport, to get on a plane to Sydney. Wouldn't it be ironic if somewhere, deep within my luggage, I was taking a Queensland fruit fly to New South Wales? Stick that in your State of Origin and smoke it, Australia.