I was dismayed to see that the French rugby team were fined for their response to the Haka at the World Cup Grand Final. Apparently there is a 10 meter exclusion zone for the 'cultural ritual.' This isn't the first time that a team opposing the Kiwis has been challenged for responding inappropriately. I can understand that the Haka has become a significant identifier for both the All Blacks and Rugby Union as a whole, but it should be seen as it really is. The Haka is a war dance, performed before a battle to intimidate the enemy. Sport plays a role in replacing war in modern societies by providing an outlet for aggression and national pride. Reenacting the war dance is then appropriate before a major sporting event, but it must give the All Blacks a major psychological advantage. I know I'd be intimidated by a group of large men screaming at me with muscles bulging aggressively. Interestingly, the All Blacks web site describes the Haka as a dance of welcome. If that's true, the welcome is one given as a warning that the host is not to be trifled with. Why must the opposing teams quietly allow themselves to be intimidated? In a real war, the opposition would be performing their own war dance. The French don't have a war dance so they tried to show that they weren't intimidated by forming a wall and walking towards the All Blacks. Rather than recognising the response, the International Rugby Board fined the French team. In 1996, the Wallabies decided to show they were not cowed by turning their backs on the Haka and warming up. The English also turned their backs on the Haka
I've been to London a few times and I've seen pretty much everything I want to see, done everything I want to do. In fact, London is the only part of England that I've ever seen. I really wanted to go for a walk through All Creatures Great and Small territory, crossing fields and climbing styles, but with two days in London, but my nights booked, it wasn't really possible to get far away. I spent the first wandering the shops and going to see a movie. Yesterday, I looked through the Lonely Planet in more detail and realised that I could get to Windsor castle and back in a day. And you can never see enough castles. Proper defensive castles, not just palaces, but castles with thick walls, bastions and wandering corridors. If it weren't for all the tourists, I think I'd like living in Windsor. From almost everywhere in the town, you can look up and see the castle that the queen considers her home. Apparently it's housed the royal family for 990 years and it's still well looked after. The state rooms are accessible to the public, but the interiors don't interest me too much. Except, surprisingly, the doll's house made for Queen Mary. Everything 1:12 scale and functional right down to the electricity and plumbing. My real interest was outdoors - the walls, the embattlements, the crenelations and towers. In this case, the walls were at least 4m thick, built to withstand the best that medieval armies could throw at them. Arrow slits and crenelations lined the walls, inside and out, but there was no way of getting onto them. I was limited to walking around the bottom and imagining what
My brother had arranged to take a Jack the Ripper tour with a friend, so I joined them for a night in stereotypical English weather. The guide was a Beefeater, who had a great knowledge of the city and a flair for story telling. He took us to each of the murder sites, described the environment and atmosphere as it would have been in the late 1800s and gave a summary background of each of the victims. He threw in a conspiracy theory about the then King, the Freemasons and an illegal affair, but the real interest was the victims themselves. All prostitutes, they were generally in their forties because they weren't attractive enough to work the centre of town. None of the murders was exactly the same, though there were clues to tie them all together. The key characteristics were placement of the arms and legs, the skirt rolled up to bare the pubic region and a double slit of the throat. The killer seemed to get more confident and more brutal with each killing until the last had her innards stomped into the dirt floor of her flat. Jack was almost caught one night when a passerby saw his feet when he first discovered the body. Jack left the mutilation incomplete and picked up another prostitute, who he proceded to butcher neatly in less than 14 minutes. The surprise for me was that he stopped at five women. To have a reputation like he has, I assumed he'd murdered twenty people. The conspiracy theory explains this, and seems to be the only theory that explains all the other facts - as they were presented by the guide. But I guess we'll never know.