The Longest Night.
“Carter kicks off to begin the 2nd test against the most hated rugby team in the world. McCaw jumps high to gather the ball from in front of the faces of the ponderous English forwards, quickly passes back to a flying Sivivatu who thunders through several English attempted tackles to cross between the posts, turns and runs to the corner to dot the ball down for a try. Carter lines up the conversion from the sideline and calmly sends the ball right over the black dot. All Blacks 7 England 0 after only 23 seconds! Ha-Ha - have some of that you English Rugby Players.”
At least that’s how my imagination saw the game beginning while we were waiting at the Drury Services for the start of the annual Night Trial. We were quite preoccupied with the hope that Gary had brought the start time forward by 60 minutes so we could all be home in front of the television by 7:35pm to see the aforementioned beginning to the test match. It was not to be and the evening literally took on the astronomical fact that today was the Winter Solstice and it was the longest night of the year.
There is a school of thought that all things should adhere to the K.I.S.S.* system of preparation, so we were glad to hear the the organizers had done so for this trial. We would be home in time for kickoff! Gone were the comprehensive instructions of trials past, nowhere could we see any straight through line diagrams, tulip diagrams were conspicuous by their absence and very few street names meant there would be less chance of marital disharmony when peering into the night for anything resembling a street sign. I bet those English rugby players would have plenty of signs to show the All Blacks the way forward - I’m guessing they’d be using their white team shirts as surrender flags for 80 minutes!
During the briefing, I heard mention of Newton’s 3rd Law which states: “That for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction”. Feeling pleased I could remember these laws, who introduced them and what they meant (school was a while ago now!), let me explain what this means.
Action: Gary had used the K.I.S.S.* method for the instructions.
Reaction: There was plenty of room for error - more than usual! (An approach perfected by the England rugby Team.)
Action: Tell us the average speed it would take to complete the trial, but not the time it should take.
Reaction: Confusion reigned about how quickly to approach the tasks and execute the game plan. (Just like the England Rugby Team.)
Action: Take the cars onto some of the most scenic roads in the Franklin region.
Reaction: It would be ‘all black’ so no chance to see anything other than a blackout rushing by. (Exactly what the England Rugby Team would be seeing.)
After heading off into the great blackout, it was quickly apparent that it was indeed going to be a long, black night as the answer to the first question took a bit of spotting, although we went longer than the aforementioned 23 seconds before getting stumped. The route took us out through the back roads of Karaka and Patumahoe and then led on to the Waiuku district and Awhitu Peninsula. It was up here that we had our one disagreement with the course directions. After a turn right, we went speeding of what was to be a no exit road - that ended with a boat ramp and the Manukau Harbour at high tide. The words of the famous Toyota ad came to mind - “bugger”. Back we went and continued on the right way - we had a little bit if time to make up now, as we had been sticking strictly to the average speed required. I can see it now, the next Tui ad! The question about the Pollock School motto was an interesting one. It was a black as the inside of an All Black scrum and you could easily have missed the school, let alone find the motto. (This was vastly different from the England Rugby Team motto which is “You shall not pass..unless you are wearing black”.) An out of (car)body excursion was required here and the fresh batteries in the torch helped.
At this point, we were a long way from anywhere and still on the first page of instructions. How could this have been devised using the K.I.S.S.* method we wondered. As we wound down the peninsula (and the clock because by now the England Rugby Team were probably 25 - 0 down as the game had started and we’d missed the first 23 seconds and plenty more), it became very difficult to maintain a sense of direction. Care was needed to follow the directions carefully in order not to get lost. At one point, I believed we were heading back up the peninsula towards Kariotahi when in fact we were moving the opposite direction and emerged at Otaua. It is quite possible that Otaua was the inspiration for the movie ‘Deliverance’ as the locals seem to be very unfriendly and more. But, that’s a story for another day! From here, it obvious that we were now heading back towards Bombay and the finish. My estimation that the optimum time was 2 hours and 10 mins appeared to be either very wrong or we has gone very wrong somewhere. Our quick sightseeing trip to Te Toro Beach hadn’t taken that long! It was 8:30pm and we had been going for about 2.75 hours and we were still on the wrong side of Pukekohe. However ,we were getting to the end of the directions and the last remaining miles were clicking off quickly. Arriving at Paerata, we considered going straight up to Bombay, but Gary had obviously foreseen that and put one last question in so we had to carry on following the directions.
Arriving at the finish, we had covered 170 km’s and taken slighly over 3 hours I think (we didn’t note out start time) so the average was close to 55 kph. The instructions must have been simple (apart from the one instance!) and the evening didn’t seem like it had taken 3 hours. They say time flies when you’re having fun and it certainly flew for us. I hear the England Rugby Team thought they’d played a 5 hour test match. Still, they had plenty of time to discuss the flight home, while standing under their goal posts watching Carter kick another goal.
As always, thank you to Gary and Catherine for another outstanding event.
We then headed back home to watch the delayed broadcast of the test and to see my confident predictions had come true. Finally, some algebra for all you mathematicians out there. Solve this:-
GA + NT + RT - KISS = TLN