Saturday, January 22, 2011

Please don't take it too seriously, chaps

My comments about cricket in the Curmudgeon column (see below) provoked some mild indignation, though in my defence I should point out that I also received emails of support, including several from people who described themselves as cricket lovers. Donald MacDonald, who was a couple of years ahead of me at Central Hawke’s Bay College, gently rebukes me for categorising cricketers as coming from comfortable, white, middle-class suburban homes with indulgent parents. Donald played cricket and clearly resents the implication that he came from a privileged, molly-coddled background. He points out that his father – who, like the parents I referred to in my column, watched all his games (including those played at Russell Park and Onga Onga Domain, names with a certain resonance to a Waipuk boy) – was a shepherd, so it can probably be assumed he wasn't a stalwart of Rotary.

Point taken, Donald, but you must understand that we journalists deal in sweeping generalisations. We couldn’t function otherwise.

A reader calling himself Santiago good-naturedly takes me to task for suggesting that the Wellington suburb of Tawa was an example of the type of bourgeois setting in which cricket thrives. Granted, Tawa may have changed a bit over the years; but in the days when I lived at Titahi Bay and commuted to and from Wellington by train each day, I prided himself on being able to pick which of my fellow passengers would get off at Tawa. It was then an extremely conventional suburb, populated by middle- to upper-level public servants and insurance company employees with neat haircuts and Hallensteins suits (Hallensteins in those days being a rather more conservative gents’ outfitter than it is now). I don’t believe things can have changed that much.

On a more serious note, over at the Stuff website, a reader named Tony Penman (and good on him for using his real name) gives me a right old working over. “If cricket is a representation of middle class values then I say all the better for it,” he writes. “If being middle class means respecting education, aspiring to excellence, valuing good manners, taking responsibility for one's own conduct, attaching importance to independence, building families, fathers engaging with sons, then it is something to be celebrated and not derided or mocked by this piece of lazy journalism.

“I ask you what is wrong with being middle class exactly? Maybe the middle classes can be smug accountants who run ordered lives with aspiring children but NZ is the better for it. After all through their work and endeavour they provide the vast tax revenues that finance New Zealand’s  burgeoning underclass and inflated welfare state.”

To which I can only say, much as it may surprise Mr Penman, that I entirely agree. (Well, perhaps with the exception of the lazy journalism bit. That hurt.) The column was not intended as an attack on the middle class, whose values I generally share. My comments should be read in the knowledge that I grew up in a cricket-free household, shunned team sports with all the slyness I could muster, and regarded cricket as a Protestant sport (the du Fresnes were Catholic) played by goody-two-shoes from only the most respectable homes. In the circumstances it’s only natural that I should develop a thoroughly jaundiced view of the game. In the words of an old country song, I’m surely to be more pitied than scolded.


pdm said...

I enjoyed your response above Karl - good stuff and there was of course the Otane Domain and the College grounds which these days don't resemble what we played club cricket on.

As far as Tawa is concerned there were also a lot of bankers living there who were cricketers, including my brother in law. His father was a barber in Waipawa and a fanatical cricket follwer who actually knew bugger all about cricket.

I wonder if the Tony Penman who responded is a relative of Monty Penman who I playedcricket with for Havelock North in the early 70's. An opening batsman Monty was not the epitome of the conventional cricketer you described in your original post.

The probligo said...

As a cricketer who played a grand total of two games, dropped the only catch to come his way, got bowled first ball, and took one wicket (with a very rank full-toss) for 15 off two overs my qualification to comment on that aspect is severely limited.

you must understand that we journalists deal in sweeping generalisations. We couldn’t function otherwise...

That is a statement that explains a very large part of the "wrongness" of the modern "news" media. It accounts for most everything on the front page of my morning newspaper from "the rugby player arrested for assault" to "the celebrity continuity idiot who thinks our GG is not a NZer."

Hard news is dead, and your explanation fits the bill exactly.

Thanks Karl.

Vaughan said...

Even though I like to watch cricket sometimes on TV, I hated playing it when I was a kid.

For a start, summer in the Antipodes should be enough to put you off.

Then there is the pain.

The ball is hurled at you at a speed that makes it difficult to see. So dangerous is it, that you are supposed to wear some strange plastic thing to protect your nuts. Madness!

Then you supposed to catch that little cannon ball, which has been smashed in your direction from just a few metres away by a bat. Crazy!

Or you wait for ages at the edge of the field in case the ball comes in your direction. Ho hum. How to feign interest?

If your summer option is surfing, yachting, swimming, lawn bowls, croquet, why choose cricket?

fillip said...

Karl, Karl, where have thou been? Have you erased all traces on Facebook with a bush tied to the tail of your speeding horse?

In case, you are wondering who has been tracking you, it's that guy from Malaysia who sat in the same bus as you when we headed towards Bleinham Palace in 1985.

Anonymous said...

Hey Coward why are you so quiet now that your beloved Muslim Albanians in Kosovo killed countless Serbs for their kidneys and organs? Why are you so quiet? Come on coward, let's hear it?

We are going to sue you we are going to expose you like the truth has been exposed, we have been quietly waiting for the truth to come out... it is out. There are one million Serbian refugees and internally displaced people in Serbia, have you written about one?

You coward, you lost, read the truth, read how your hero Albanians robbed Serbian children and innocent of their internal organs and that is just the surface of what the Muslims did to Serbs in Kosovo, Bosnia and what the nazi croats did in croatia.

YOU LOST. How does it feel to sell your soul to the devil?

Karl du Fresne said...

What a pleasure to hear from you. I still have on my wall a photo of us in London with (I think) Sir Edward Pickering (RIP). But I might have to correct you on a technicality. My recollection is that while the rest of our group went to Blenheim Palace in the comfort of a bus, Slender Glenda and I hired bikes from Oxford and rode there.
As for the reason I'm no longer on Facebook, the explanation is here:

Karl du Fresne said...

What have we here? Obviously an apologist for the vile nationalist butchers Milosevic and Karadzic and their bestial followers.
It's rich that you should accuse me of cowardice when you cower behind the anonymity of a pseudonym. Piss off.

Moshe said...

For those of us born and raised in a Catholic environment, cricket was also a mystery (compounded by the fact the players spoke another language! :-)

Excellent column, Mr. Du Fresne. I enjoyed it very much.

Anonymous said...

There you go again with your accusations do you ever get tired of that boring talk...this is the last comment I will leave and after that you will enjoy a time of silence and then get ready for the truth to overcome you - you personally, not you physically but your career and everyone like you. We will SUE you, we will EXPOSE you. We have money, we are organized we have been waiting many years for this moment...and now the time is right.

Have you ever heard of FALSE ACCUSATORY ATTACKS? It is well known in all psychological circles - covering the truth through accusation after accusation. That is all you and the Islamic agenda and the Nazi Croatians have no SCIENTIFIC DATA NO TRUTH. Tell me something tough guy, if Milosevic was such a butcher why are there countless Muslims living in Serbia proper that have lived there for centuries and decades without a hair touched on their heads? Even though they fought with every oppressive empire the Turks, the Austrain/Hungarians, the Nazi's. If you can find me one racist, hateful speech that Milosevic or Karadzic or any OTHER Serbian leader/general made - I will write you a blank check and with my resources you would be retired immediately. Go ahead search and find one statement surely if they are the butchers you constantly accuse them of and repeat the same boring story over and over again there would be some evidence.

Your story is tired and old and has no truth, no evidence...would you in New Zealand live under Sharia Law? Would you? What would your government do if Muslims were killing your people, bombing your institutions forming a parallel army? What you would you write then? Would you write they are freedom fighters then? Did your people live under 600 years of Islamic rape and slavery like the Serbs did under the Ottoman Turks?

Tell me something have you written about the 200 churches in Kosovo that have been erased from existence under NATO's "democratic" eyes? Have you written that Sarajevo used to have 200,000 Serbs and now have less then 5,000? Have you written how Croatia is an ethnically pure state when it used to have 30% Serbs and now has 2%? Have you gone to Kosovo and see how the Christian Serbs live there?

Am I an apologist or is it the truth? All you have are accusations, come on all knowing Westerner, democratic wise man, go to Serbia yourself and see the Truth. See that 400,000 Serbs were cleansed out of Kosovo and live in Shipping in containers today while you get your cafe latte at starbucks in the 21st century, in Europe there are over 700,000 IDP's and refugees living in Serbia, oh wait just like Jewish lives didn't matter a short time ago Serbs lives don't matter now.

Read the Muslim leader from Bosnia's "Islamic Declaration" and then come back and start writing. If Serbs were such aggressors why did the Croats fight the Muslims for much of the war and why did the Muslims from Kosovo fight Macedonia in a war? Do you think that the world is going to listen to your lies just because you are from New Zealand. That time my friend is done, here is FAIR warning prepare with some real evidence because we will NOT give up until we expose you and your accusations that mean nothing without scientific evidence.

I can go on and on but for people like you it is useless...Serbs don't need you or anyone else in time the Islamic agenda in Bosnia and Kosovo and the neo Nazi Croatians will be exposed. You still haven't responded to the PACE European Council report about your poor victim Muslim Albanians from Kosovo that murdered Serbs for their organs - why so quiet big guy? Why are so quiet that thousands of Mujahadeen Jihadists cut the heads of hundrends of Serbian peasents across Bosnia? WHy are you so quiet that Osama Bin Laden traveled for years with a Bosnian passport? These are scientific facts - where are your facts oh wait you don't have any...

Anonymous said...

Even if you were so brave and honest to seek out the truth and find it you are so scared of Islam you wouldn't open your mouth, you FEAR muslims. You write whatever you want about Serbs because you know they have never or will never attack anyone.

Sit back and analyze closely every empire who has attacked Serbia...the Ottoman's, the Bulgarians, the Austrains, the Hungarians, the Germans, the Nazi's, where are they now? They are buried in ashes...Little Serbia stands.

Can you hear the footsteps...

And yes i am anonymous isn't that a democratic right??? I won't tell you who I am now, I don't trust your agenda but you will know soon...

Kelly Slater

How did you like Novak Djokovic's win? How does that feel?

Karl du Fresne said...

Yes, I do hear the footsteps, and I think it's the men in white coats coming to give you your injection.

Anonymous said...

hahahaha typical response from a coward, go play your mind games on someone else -

you are boring

pdm said...

Goodness Karl the nutters that frequent other blogs have found you as well.

They do get their jollies in strange ways.

The probligo said...

Forget the little men in their white coats, Karl.

For taking in vain the name of one of the greatest surfers of all time - GUILTY!

It should be dealt to in the same way any good farmer would deal with a dog that chases after sheep.

Tepee said...


Yes I am his son.