Crickets

On the spur of the moment, our good friend Fosdycke invited us to go to the cricket.

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The husband person is a very keen cricket fan, and a leg-spin bowler himself, so he was excited to go; Betty is big on sitting still, and wanted to see what it was like, so she was excited too. Plans to bring nice things along, like a salad in a Mason jar, and a homemade lemon-stevia-and-matcha drink, which Betty was looking forward to, were quashed – it turns out that Eden Park security suspect that any glass receptacles will be repurposed as guided missiles later in the day, and they flatly refuse to let you bring them in. Fosdycke, who is a teetotaller, had to pour out two plastic bottles of cordial brought from home; they refused to give them the sniff test, or Miranda them in any way, and would only point sternly to the wheelie bin provided. (Of course, glass bottles of Tui are readily available inside.)

Even so, the atmosphere in the stadium was still quite lovely.

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The fans were very well-behaved. This turned out to be mostly due to the fact that anyone having any fun was quickly asked to leave. Large billboards warned people against racist comments, which was nice, except for the pointed anti-Pom advertising displayed close by.

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This chap started several Mexican waves and was escorted out by orange-vested guards.

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He got a standing ovation and a kiss, though, so perhaps it was all worth it…

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And in the stands opposite, people were having a grand time batting around a large bouncy ball, one of those floaty transparent balloony ones; security took it off them, but one of the Black Caps managed to scoop it out of the sin bin and give it them back; much applause.

About the game itself, there is little to say. New Zealand lost the toss and, rapidly, the game. Fosdycke was beyond despondent. At the very end, Mr Mills here caught the ball on the full and was transfixed by his own greatness, and the entire northern half of the stadium chanted for him to give a little wave, and after a while he was able to do so.

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This was the last of the games that go only from two till nine-ish, but in a few weeks Betty and the husband person plan to go to one of the week-longs, in part. Betty will bring a plastic container and make her lemonade inside. They don’t take your folding knife, so that’s OK.

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It’s not the years, honey, it’s the mileage

Where long walks are concerned, necessity has always been the mother of any kind of motivation; Betty’s natural mode is one of inertia, adroitly held in tension with an irresistible homing instinct; the only way to ensure she gets a nice long walk is to abandon herself at some remote location and let her baser brain guide the way back to the nest, as it were. This has worked really well at certain times – for example, when she used to work at the home for the bewildered in the mornings and have to be at university in the afternoons (one hour’s walk) and then, of course, home (another hour). Or when she was a muscularly dystrophian caregiver in a relatively distant suburb during the day and had to be at the studio in the evening (one hour and a half). Or, and this still rankles, when she used to finish supervising meds for the gloriously unwell at ten in the PM and the bus wouldn’t come (also one and a half, but extra points for the pitch darkness and the homicidal rage). It hasn’t been working so well since she has been working ten minutes’ walk from home, which is five on a bike, barely.

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Her saviour, walking-wise, has come in the form of an app – it’s called Zombies, Run!, and its premise is simple. You are Runner 5, a stranger choppered into a small township that has been holding off zombie hordes for a wee while, and it has unceremoniously become your job to prove your worth and identity by running around the base to perform various tasks – retrieving supplies, distracting packs of undead scavengers, rescuing children, that kind of thing – at a nice, steady pace, through an unfolding series of missions. You are directed by radio contact from the base through your headphones, and you can set a playlist of music for running (or walking, which is what Betty does, or even something related like cycling or rowing, in a pinch). In between your usual Django Reinhardt and Babylon Circus and the Klezmer Conservatory Band, you get harried updates from the survivors of the zombie apocalypse, saying motivating things like “Oh, dear,” and “Just put on a burst of speed, now!“.

Of course, things are not all as they seem, et cetera, and it becomes quite exciting to learn dribs and drabs of the full story as the missions progress. There are about thirty missions in the season, but a few are supply runs which are quite replayable, and there’s a Radio Mode that kicks in at the end of each mission to continue the ambience, and you can do an entire run in Radio Mode, if you wish. If you’re feeling up to it, you can even enable zombie chases, and they will appear all groaning and heaving and make you go faster.

The only drawback is that Betty doesn’t have a smartphone, so the rather clunky iPad has to come along on these long walks. This precludes its use on proper slogs, but it has still been perfectly fine for those walks on which Betty would have taken a bag anyway – coffee runs via the beach, for example, or inter-suburb commutes.

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All in all, it’s a tremendous app, and it has certainly increased Betty’s walking habits by a considerable margin. Zombies for the win. We might have known.

Playing on Olympus

As the rest of the world already knows, the Olympics are being played as we speak. Unfortunately, Betty lives in a hollow in the ground, and the television signal for the only channel that’s playing them free to air is fuzzy there. It has been highlights only in the Scandretti-Person household. That hasn’t been all bad – curating, as it were, the endless hours Betty could have spent watching, say, rowing, which she can see live on the lake thirty seconds’ walk away any morning of the week – but it does make it difficult to nod enthusiastically when clients mention the latest obscure show-jumping champion…

Instead, Betty must revert to the past, which is readily available. The sad truth is that Betty has probably seen more Olympic coverage by Leni Riefenstahl at university than live on cable. Take this for some inspiration:

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Isn’t it interesting, though, to discuss the particular sports that keep being introduced to, and then dropped from, the Games? If Takapuna had its way ping-pong would be out and stand-up paddle-boarding (and possibly latte art) would headline. For me, I’d introduce the game most beloved of my childhood: it’s called “Are you there, Moriarty?”. It is played in this way: two players lie prone on the rug, one (who we can nickname Sherlock) blindfolded and holding a rolled-up newspaper in his right hand, and both players clasp each other’s left. The blindfolded one says to the other, “Are you there, Moriarty?”, to which the other replies, “Yes”; Moriarty then, if he is canny, rolls out of the way while Sherlock attempts to bash him with the rolled-up newspaper. Strategy and nimbleness. Just wait till Danny Boyle gets his hands on that.

Bioshock

The boy person fiance, in deference to the fact that Betty now has a new sapphire and diamond ring, bought himself an X-Box. The logic of this was undeniable, and Betty was only too happy to join him in one or two games of this and that, but it quickly turned out that Betty doesn’t really have the head for this kind of thing: she failed utterly at making Ricky Ponting hit cricket balls, and even though she was able to figure out how to get a Lego representation of Indiana Jones to swing from a light-fitting, it wasn’t enough to make the whole affair all that much fun.

But when she came across various trailers and posters for the newish game, Bioshock 2, Betty knew that she had found her niche. A post-apocalyptic dystopian dieselpunk shooter game, it’s full of portholes and mad geniuses and crazed little sisters. Betty dropped hints for a while, and the other day the boy person fiance went on a suburban mall mish and found the first volume, and now Betty plays it sometimes.

Betty likes the luscious graphics, the moderately intricate storyline, and the deeply-realised dystopian milieu. She does not like killing people with wrenches, or being tricked into completing educational puzzles at regular intervals (“hack this” my eyeball, Mr Bioshock, I don’t think). But, on the whole, Betty thinks she will enjoy finishing the game.

At the very least, it will give her an alternative to performing cricket commentary on a Friday night, which is a very good thing.