Tuesday, July 31, 2012


Yes. the opening ceremolny of the Olympics was brilliant. So it should be when so much money was spent on it, but I spent Sunday afternoon at a much smaller, and more enjoyable celebrationm, viz, the annual Eisteddfod of the Waimate Federation of Women's Institutes, and it did not cost the Government (taxpayer) one cent.

At 12.30 I climbed the outside staircase of the Regent Hall in Waimate, pulled open the glass door and joined a throng of middle aged women who all seemed to be busy taking off their clothes! Others were carrying bits of scenery and stage props up the stairs. I found Glenavy's corner where I was greeted by a little white duck and an old grey mare. Bridal gowns and guardsmen's dress uniforms hung from window rails,

At one o'clock exactly everybody stopped talking, Performers for the first items lined up,the eisteddfod began, and ran like the provcerbial clockwork, because everything was superbly organised. The nine branches of the Waimate Federation had been practising their entries for months,as well as making making the costumes. These branches are not from big towns, Waimate is the biggest of several clusters of sttlements and farms. like Glenavy, Studholme or Blue Cliffs. Their populations number in the tens, hundreds ar most.

Three groups competed in the 'Musical Animal Song' section, every performance was polished, differed from the others and was fun to watch. Six of us entered for Poetry. I borrowed fishinbg gear and read Waitaki Hogmannay, but the best, in my opinion was the apronned housewife watching a T.V. chef programme, and reckoning she could do what he did, reminding us about cooking for shearers, unexpected visitors and all the things demanded of country women cooks, all recited in rhyming couplets. It was brilliant.

Choral items, besides the musical animal song were rounds and a hymn, and despite their grey hair the performers had young, tuneful voices. They were a pleasure to listen to and items ranged from Wesleyan Hymns to ABBA, most unaccompanmied, but one with ukulele and another with piano.

Eight of us sight read Jenny Joseph's 'Warning.' Each with slightly different interpretations.

The drama section was re-enacting a television commercial. Sorry I do not have a television, so the thirty second dramas nid not say much to me. but they were funny and carefully staged.

As for Music and Movement, we are all a bit beyond leaping about in Leotards, but Glenavy capitalised on that. Six women 'of a certain age' gathered on stage to 'twist and shout'. got carried away and finished with cricked backs, huffing, puffing and collapsing ijn heaps without missing a beat. The other memorable group, Waihauranga, gave a marching display, watched by 'ERII' and 'Kate and Wills'. Do cities still have marching girls? That sport began in New Zealand. it was fun.

And finally the tableaus. The rules specified a wedding scene and there were strict times for setting the stage, holding the scene. and clearing it. In one the bride was about to throw the bouquet, another the bride had knocked the three tiered cake over. Each tableau told a little stpory in absolute stillness.

At the end of the afternoon the performers gathered on stage for masased singing.

And that, folks was a winter afternoon in Waimate. More fun than watching sport on T.V.

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