Monday, June 04, 2007

Queen’s Birthday

Today is Queen’s Birthday, a pubic holiday marking the official birthday of New Zealand’s reigning monarch, currently Queen Elizabeth II. Her actual birthday is in April. Without this holiday, there’d be nothing between Easter Weekend and Labour Weekend at the end of October.

As with so many other Public Holidays, this has become a mass frenzy of people who’ve suddenly decided their one mission for the day is to shop. This is aided, of course, by the stores that run sales and special no-interest credit deals to entice people to spend up large on things they probably don’t need and may not even want. It is, in other words, capitalism triumphant.

Naturally, we were among the “sheeple” out shopping today, though in our defence I need to add that we were looking for things we would have been searching for on a Saturday or Sunday. We took advantage of the sales to get a new iron for half off and new oven-proof glass casserole for 20% off. All up, we saved $46 off normal prices, which is nice, but the sale price for the iron was lower than the everyday price at the super-duper cheap appliance store we also visited. That sort of smug satisfaction only adds to the thrill of a successful hunt.

Oh yeah, some people were recognised for their work in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List. Clearly some people don’t place quite the same emphasis on shopping.


Anonymous said...

Do you miss the US? I often wondered why Canada, NZ and Australia still recognize a monarchy so far away and so removed from their cultures. I think Australia will be the first to become a republic. I have respect for the British monarchy and The Queen is a true professional, but after her recent visit to the US, she seemed like she was from another era. Did you see the movie "The Queen"


Arthur Schenck said...

Yes, there are times I miss the US, but it's mostly for the America I left behind, which doesn't exist anymore. I miss family and friends and favourite places, but I take it all with me wherever I go because despite everything, I'm part of America and it's part of me. Which is why I care so much about what happens there.

As for the monarchy, it's all a matter of culture and heritage. The three countries you mention were all majority settled from the UK and the British influence is still obvious (some ways more so than others). The conditions that drove America toward independence just didn't happen in these three countries, and they instead evolved into independence.

Australia may very well be the first to become a republic, and it almost did not too long ago, but Aussie Prime Minister John Howard (a staunch monarchist) had the referendum worded in a way that guaranteed its defeat. Nothing more will happen on that until he's gone. I think that Canada and NZ have no pressing urgency to become a republic (but a Canadian may tell me otherwise).

The Queen is definitely from a different era (she came of age in World War 2, after all). I did see "The Queen" and my impression is that it's fairly accurate, but how would I know, right? It's not like she's invited me round for tea.

DaveinSeattle said...

When I lived in South Africa (2 years) during my Chemical Engineering exchange program, I loved it. Cape Town is my favorite city in the world, but I missed the US, the people, the culture, baseball, football, Superbowl etc. and I found being foreign got old. I was a member of the American South Africa Club which had a large membership and that helped. I know I wouldn't be able to live outside the US permanently. I am considering working in South America in the next few years though just to see how I like it.

Arthur Schenck said...

Well, Dave, things were hard for me in the beginning, and I've talked about bits and pieces of that before. Here in New Zealand, though, there were fewer obstacles to assimilating than I would have found in other countries—the language was the same (more or less...), many of the things I was familiar with in the US were here (some food, for example, including fast food). I could watch baseball on ESPN International on our pay TV (never liked football), or CNN. American TV, movies and music are everywhere. As the Internet developed, I could easily read American newspapers online as well as maintain connections with friends and family.

Now, more than eleven years later, I'm fully settled. There was a time when I felt I could never live outside the US permanently, but I've come to believe in the old saying "never say never", and that includes whether I'll ever live in the US again, too, actually. Right now, though, I can't imagine living anywhere else.