Thursday 2 December 2010

All quiet on the West Coast

And throughout New Zealand at 2pm with the two minutes' silence at the start of the memorial service at Greymouth for the miners lost at Pike River nearly a fortnight ago. The slideshow of the photos during the silence occupied the whole two minutes: 29 faces take that long to scroll past.

Since the first shocking explosion on 19 November, there have been three more, each one dashing further the country's hopes first of rescue and then of recovery; so today there were no coffins, just tables on the grass at the racecourse, each one with a helmet, photos and mementoes of the lost men: a rugby ball, coffee mug, can of beer, surfboard.

It was a good service. Despite the messages from world leaders, it was personal, simple, honest and typically West Coast. At the end, people laid ferns on the tables: they grow lush and green in the bush that cloaks the hills on the Coast, but also all over New Zealand, south to north. Black, silver or green - the fern is our symbol.

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