No longer the outlaws

Charlotte Rietveld relishes the opportunity to dress for an award-winning occasion.

In Home Block5 Minutes

I AM OFFICIALLY ROUNDING out the year on a high. In keeping with the nation, I have placed second in a competition. No need to travel to France for this grand occasion, more like an hour or two north to Amberley, bustling though it was.

By now you’re most likely thinking it was the Middle-Aged Miss Canterbury beauty pageant, and who could blame you. But no, this was in fact far more illustrious; I came second in a wool category at the Amberley A&P Show. It was in the half-bred category to be precise, but I always think that makes us sound somewhat dim-witted (heaven forbid you poor quarter-bred farmers), so I’ll leave it at wool.

For some, second place may have been an opportunity to embrace shortcomings, to learn, grow and perfect. But not for me, take the money and run.

Back in my schooling days The Boss once foolishly told me 51% was one hour’s too much study and I have lived my life by that mantra ever since. Average is just fine, thank you. Who needs the TAB when you can take a punt on your own everyday efforts to see if an input combo of mediocrity and hope result in seemingly successful output.

It seems the Labour Party had much the same mantra. Only this year their vacuous virtues were finally exposed. In fairness, they got second too, but ol’ Chippy didn’t look nearly as chipper as I did with my podium finish. Who needs a new flame Toni to put a spring in your step when you can win second prize at the Amberley Show.

Any capitalist childhood worth its sibling-scrapping salt – even the dim-witted, half-baked, wool-blind ones – hardwires the $10 prize for coming second place in a beauty contest (not to mention the free trip to Go to collect a coupla’ hundy) so I had lofty expectations. Take it from me and hold fire on the fruit cake entries, the year’s rampant inflation has dealt a harsh blow to any A&P windfall.

My $4 bounty was highly anticipated nonetheless. That was, until I realised I had naively ticked the ‘gift entry’ box. At the time I was quite sure this meant a placing would result in a Ballantynes hamper, not that I was forgoing any loot.

In a year where Countdown ironically changed its name to something suggesting wool was valuable, I concluded my net loss was negligible. Bally’s hamper or not, it wouldn’t rain on my grand parade.

Having spent considerable pre-departure time selecting my navyest of navy frocks for the occasion, one that perfectly accompanied Vince’s checkiest check shirt – no small feat given they’re all checked – it was time to mingle.

I was well aware the crowds would indeed want to behold a wool sub-section second-placegetter and did not wish to disappoint.

As it turned out, the awaiting hoards were queuing for bouncy castle tickets for their equally-navy, checked or navy-checked miniatures. Our own navy-checked (with some token taupe) little darlings got wind of this and insisted we queue too. Clearly unaware of my ‘gifted fleece’ foible, the wee mites were negotiating hard. Not quite Foreign Affairs and Finance, but certainly fighter planes and ferris wheels.

My expectations of a ticker-tape parade morphed into ticket-taking reality as we merged into the navy sea.

Navy check is rural New Zealand’s covert gang insignia – heading dogs tattooed on to our foreheads probably wouldn’t look all that menacing. While second prize has got me grinning, 2023’s greatest feat is that farmers are no longer the outlaws.