Who is Dan Carter?

I was going to send the above 4 words as my entire column. They would have looked pretty on the page floating there – in space; leaving readers time to think about things other than Dan’s groin. A philosophical question perhaps. Is Dan the Man or is there in fact an entire team of All Blacks and he just had a bad day at the office and now the other 29 have to go to work? I even thought about wondering out loud if Dan was in fact a rugby Jesus. We follow Dan into the light. He leads us out of the darkness of having to think about elections or listen to Don Brash. He fights against evil. Australians. In his undies. For example. But I’m not that silly. I’d still be opening hate mail from Christian fundamentalists at Christmas time, which would take all the fun out of it. Besides, I know that is not true because an ex-property developer in Brisbane is claiming that title.

It would have been fun to write an existential column consisting of four words but I chickened out and the editor would have gone mental anyway.  There would have been the embarrassing phone call, ending with the droll ‘Now give me the real bloody column because no one pays you to be a smart alec.’ And so, in the interests of responsibility, I’m not going to. Instead I’m writing to the Chinese Premier and asking him to invade. I will tell him to hurry up because if he does it right now… no one will notice. The first thing I will request in the new regime, is a reduction in free speech which I hope will curtail anymore stories of weeping women crying over Dan’s nether regions. Somehow I can’t imagine the Chinese getting so swept away in a Tsunami of irrational nationalism over a game of table tennis. Under the new authorities we could do away with elections all together which, given the lack of a credible opposition – it seems we’ve done here anyway. At this stage, John Key would actually have to streak across the field in green and gold body paint and knee Sonny Bill in the groin, rendering him incapacitated, to even make the election look interesting.

Thankfully, I can console myself that New Zealanders are minnows in the international arena of taking sport to the extremes of religious ecstasy and our ability to rope an entire country into a St Viticus dance of national pride, is still in its juvenile stage. For true professionalism in this quarter, we have the Argentines. I am under express orders by the mad Latin to never speak of the ‘superstitious bollocks ’ which is the Maradonian Church. Which is why I’ll write about it instead. A spiritual congregation of fanatics who have somehow taken the fact that Maradonna, perhaps the world’s greatest footballer, wore the number 10 (diez) on his shirt which is similar to the word ‘Dios’ to mean that he actually is God incarnate. White robed priests carry footballs crowned with barbed wire to altars with Maradonna’s image. The fans celebrate Maradonian Easter on the 22nd of June.  The day that Argentina knocked England out of the 1986 world cup.  Followers must name their sons Diego. It’s hard to tell how much of this is extreme football fanaticism, and how much is the general Latin American taking of the proverbial. I note that many of the makeshift shrines and altars seem to be placed in bars and pizzeria joints and I imagine there are many conversations with partners which begin: “I am going to worship.” “No you’re not, you’re going to the pub with your mates to watch 20 year old video clips of that old cocaine junkie Maradonna.” “How dare you question my spirituality?!” We’re not quite that bad. Yet.

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