Thursday, 19 May 2016

Z stands for New Zealander

I don’t know why it happens, but if a New Zealander sees the letter Z in a page of text their eyes flick down to it immediately to see if it’s mentioning our country.

The word “new” causes little interest, it’s too common to draw attention, but the letter Z is just odd enough to be arresting.

This is usually a slight nuisance rather than a problem, but today I was reading a paragraph about a girl named Zoe at the same time as someone on the radio said “New Zealand,” so spent the next fifteen minutes reading and rereading the text trying to find the name of my home country.

I was absolutely sure it was there but did have to concede eventually that my brain had confabulated it.

Fifteen minutes. I could have… ehm… I don’t know? Maybe played five lives worth of Scrubby Dubby, or something else enjoyable.

But my stupid national identity made me search fruitlessly for some words instead.

It’s not as though I get something out of it. Reading “New Zealand” in a page of type isn’t nearly as satisfying as I may have led you to believe.

For a start, the word New is misleading. I’m fairly certain that our country is approximately the same age as the rest of the planet.

And Zealand? I’m sure it’s a lovely place to live. Apparently 45% of Denmark’s population think so and who am I to disabuse them of that notion?

Of course, we’re not even named after Zealand. Don’t be stupid. We’re named after Zeeland. Obviously. Our second wave of founding fathers couldn’t spell.

Zeeland, whose claim to fame is the highest death toll in the North Sea flood of 1953.

I wonder if people in Zeeland have the same compulsion with the last letter of our alphabet. Or folks who hale from Zimbabwe.

Q is another odd letter. Do people from Qatar find themselves needlessly scanning rows of text in homage to their home country? Or does it happen to people from normal capital letter countries too?

So many questions. There’s another fifteen minutes of my life I’ll never get back.

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