In Northern Ireland every year they have a Marching Season, when the Prods put on their suits and their bowler hats and go marching behind a big bass drum to celebrate battles won by a Dutch prince three hundred years ago, while the Papists (in whose neighbourhoods the Prods insist upon do their marching) hang about looking sullen. The Papists also have their marches but they have nothing to celebrate, except Mass.
It seems that Auckland is imitating this fine tradition. We had the march against the Electoral Finance Bill a couple of weekends back and we will be getting a sequel soon. Tomorrow we have the march for Civil Rights, in which folk will demonstrate for the Civil Right to form private armies and plot to kill innocent people. Your correspondent will be there, in search of lulz and radical chicks.
In between these two very serious events we had the Santa Parade, which was a lot more cheerful. Your correspondent attended, despite severe misgivings about the effect the event might have on his highly-developed aesthetic sensibilities, involving as it did Christmas and children. Santa, you will be relieved to know, was jolly. Numerous others came along to demonstrate in favour of festivity.
Santa and his helpers were joined by a lot of pipers. It seemed that if you missed one pipe band, there would be another along in a minute. I am not complaining: I love the skirl of the pipes; its part of my Scottish cultural heritage, along with an enjoyment of bad weather and odd food. A Salvation Army band played as well; they are not a marching band - they sat on the back of a truck.
There was also a very peculiar drum band. They all wore black and berets. They were very stern and probably frightened quite a few children. They had black flags; I think they might have been Anarchists. Quite what they had to do with Christmas I do not know. Perhaps they turned up for the Civil Rights march a week early.
Ronald McDonald was there with his purple friend and some children they had kidnapped; so were TV3 and Sky TV and other traditional commercialisers of Christmas. Even Barfoot and Thompson, real estate agents, were there. So was a Hare Krishna woman who, with characteristic lack of tact or sense of occasion, pounced on mums and dads to tell them all about nothing.
Between the commercialisers there were some real people. Remarkably, without the impetus of financial gain or the desire for marketing success, they had constructed their own floats, made their own costumes and choreographed their own routines. And that, in the end, is what the Santa Parade is all about: looking at girls. There were teenage girls of all sorts in the parade, many of them wearing very little, to the delight of young and old alike.
My friend Conor was doing the PR for the parade, so I would like to offer him some evaluative feedback: vet the floats more carefully next year. One merry group of paraders had tied children, dressed as angels, to stakes on the top of their float (I am not making this up) so that the children hung out over the street; they also had a baby on a crane. It could all have gone terribly wrong. Fortunately for them, the social workers did not have a float in this year's parade.
Everybody seemed to have a good time, which is more than could be said for all the other marchers. The parade was all well and good but it should be more representative of the diversity of Auckland. Next year, I would like to see the emo kids in Myers Park rounded up and herded down Queen Street, slouching towards Bethlehem and complaining "you're not the boss of me." I would like to see the mothers of Remuera holding up the parade with their SUVs, as they drop off their little treasures at kindergarten and park badly outside Smith and Caughey. I would like to see the street-corner evangelisers mocked by fashion-conscious children for wearing polyester slacks and cable-knit sweaters. I would like to see even more girls, wearing even less.
Christmas: it's a time for perving.