President’s Ramble – April 2016

This time last year you had a vice-president’s ramble, as my family and I were away vacationing in Europe. Somehow the world seemed a safer place a year ago with fewer refugees. In our euro-centric world view, at least as predominantly presented to most NZers by both traditional media and social media, what has been happening in Europe has caused quite an outcry. The reality is though that even greater atrocities with higher death tolls have been happening in Turkey and Pakistan recently. I suspect many of the everyday killings in Pakistan don’t even make our media forms, but I have no proof of that suspicion and have no intention to follow it up with research.

I will not claim to understand what is behind many of these killings. I think it is probably more than religion, especially in Turkey, as some of the killings at least appear to be related to the Kurdish liberation movements rather than ISIS origins, and that is the point where I am lost for words. All I want to say is that I think freedom of travel and freedom to express our thoughts should be the right of all. I believe mass murders, war crimes, bombings and other doings have been common place in most if not all peoples’ histories. Even NZ has not been immune. Our soldiers committed war crimes against the village of Surafend in Palestine immediately after World War 1. Reports vary, but it appears some 200 troops, mostly NZers and a few Australians murdered between 40 and 120 Palestinian men (reports vary on casualties) because a New Zealand soldier had been shot whilst pursuing a thief. Remember that the government in South Africa as well as the freedom fighters both at times killed without mercy. The same happened too to many of the losers in battle in Medieval times; sometimes only the prisoners with ransom value were safe. The IRA was guilty of many disappearances and bombings in Northern Ireland and Britain, but equally the British troops had their own uncalled for shooting sprees. Where I am going with this I am not sure except to say that over time many of these things have healed, the situations settled down and once -warring people have started to live in harmony again. I just hope that many of the world’s current political/religious/humanitarian problems can be sorted sooner rather than later and we can go back to being able to tour the world again without fear – other than that of the common thieves and occasional murderers who likely will always exist in society.

It was never my intention to get onto the above subject, it only came about because I reflected on where I was a year ago, thinking it might add some inspiration into this month’s ramble. I had already decided on a couple or so of things to write about and was looking for a little inspiration on others.

Firstly I have had a pre-ramble chat to the editor. Dennis Lowe has provided an article – that I believe will be published in two parts over the coming months – so thank you Dennis for taking my hints and providing your writing skills and accounts of your experiences.

Secondly Nick Watson has fathered a beautiful baby girl – Lucy. Heartfelt congratulations to you and Wendy.

Thirdly I have decided last month’s magazine didn’t say enough about the Gymkhana. It gave results and an idea of who turned up but little more. Greg and I were first on the scene setting out the courses that Greg’s fruitful mind had conceived. Not long after we were followed by Don who set out flags etc to reassure those who hadn’t previously been to John and Wendy’s farm, where to go. Greg had us all doing slaloms, forward and reverse, throwing articles at a centre stake from our cars, doing goodness knows what manoeuvres with dropping balls into buckets and finally doing an egg and spoon type rave complete with mini speed humps.

The day was sunny – but not too hot. Many arrived, some competed; others sat under our club tent and chatted, took photographs and maybe even watched some competitors. A few of ours came from up north, two in one car, one in a Fiat. David Holmes, I am pleased to say, decided to turn up just to earn the club points and watch – and ended up working as a marshal.

I ended up marshalling the slalom, ran the stop watches, had a course long enough to take a few photos and made a few observations and have come up with the following awards.

Taking my traditional title of The Driver that Created the Most Dust – Neale Batchelor in his Fiat. In the Citroen magazine Paul Absolum referred to Neale as ploughing the field.

The Most Frustrated at Road Works Award goes to Robert Morgan who hit so many of the road cones it must have been a revenge act.

The Julie Andrews Sound of Music Award – because it seemed nothing could faze him goes to Martin Burton. He seemed to happily cruise through all of the events.

The He Should Have Been a 3rd World Dictator Award to Greg Winkley who was by far the strictest of the marshals, “do it his way or the highway!”

The Brought to You by the Sponsors Product Award goes to Paul Absolum who somehow had his 2CV staying upright = yet looked like he or it had had a tipple with the lean he got it on in some of the corners.

The Bell Puller Award (aka the Hunchback of Notre Dame) is given to David Holmes who spent a lot of time bent over bending his back to measure accurate and inaccurate object throwing.

The Just Has My Admiration Award goes to David Jones whom I thought drove his long and bloated CX ambulance brilliantly in reverse at a fine mettle of speed. Having competed in a 505 wagon in the past, I know how difficult it can be to drive long wheel base vehicles at speed – especially in reverse. David it did it well and came home as the first member for the Citroen Club. Well deserved.

The Mother Teresa Award for Humility was won by Shayne Mathieson who put up with a lot of comments and redrafts based upon various scenarios of her publication of the results spreadsheets. All apparently without too many expletives being aimed at the email writers (mostly me).

And lastly the Dai Henwood Award For Comedy I’ll give to myself, as I quite like the humour I have put into the Gymkhana awards. 

Others deserved awards and mention too, but I have said enough, thank you to all whom participated and attended. Hope you are chuckling, despite my serious start to the ramble.

Brent. 
PS Paul Paice talking to us at Southern Autos.

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