Well the world has turned - or so it seems. The sun moves right to left across the skies, please Don't ask me which way is North and my children are rapidly learning that their trainers were not only left behind in England they were left there a good number of years ago.
Oh yes, I forgot, the AA (Yes the Automobile Association) seems to act as a front for the Tax Office!! What on Earth is that about??
AND they've stolen Middle Earth!! As I seem to recall JRR Tolkein wrote much of LOTR just six miles from where I USED TO LIVE!!! and many a dreary diocesan meeting (surely they can't have followed me too . . .???), had its sting drawn as I gently drove my pony over the hill which guarded my parish and The Shire with its soft rounded grassy hills hove into view, smoke rising here and there and even the odd Hobbit looking suspiciously at the passing Man. (OK I perhaps have romanticised Somewhat, in the summer we didn't have fires - well most of the time anyway, or at least occasionally (Yes, the memory of the English 'Summer' is still fresh!))
Of course many things are the same, cars on the Left and I have to say - contrary to some of the advance publicity (stories from foreign parts being held in both awe and suspicion at once in The Shire) - the food at local hostelries (bars?) is very good.
YET, (hushh!!!) therein hangs a cautionary tale about cultural differences, for a minor diplomatic incident was caused by a good friend who entirely unintentionally threatened the Entire Economic Structure of these fair Islands, not by denouncing the Dairy Industry, which would seem to be the direct approach, but by tipping the waitress - and Rather Handsomely!!!
Money of course Shouts - News of this travesty certainly spread fast. Hoards of teenagers were seen walking up to the bar in question seeking work in the hope this Faux Pas might have been repeated (Legal reasons prevent me from naming it and hundreds of Financial lawyers are crawling all over the neighbourhood night and day to threaten anyone with an injunction who so much breathes a word of it . . .)
Tipping - in the US 'is Federal Law and failing to do so punishable by a lengthy stay in what is somewhat quaintly termed a 'Correctional facility'' - in the UK it is sort of grudgingly accepted and a means by which certain large chains ensure their employees are paid as little as possible and kept on a minimum wage, the tips being used to make up the aforesaid generous dues - here in NZ, it is Not Done!!
[At this point I do hope I've made it Absolutely Clear that I disagree with all three approaches - I have no desire whatsoever to annoy my lovely hosts and the NZ Govt which has So kindly allowed me to reside here in the beautiful country which I already Love Very Much, by picking them out - No, I want to be even handed and say that All three approaches are Wrong]
Tipping - in the UK its what you do with your Rubbish - Trash - what is it in Kiwi??
[Fly tipping - well named, is where unpleasant creatures deposit microscopic amounts of unspeakables on your previously spotless property - particularly prevalent in China]
A much more lovely word is Gratuity, one which has been much ignored and Slurred by being largely used in Adjectival form to describe Violence.
Gratuity speaks of Grace - of a Free response of dare one say it Love - Of recognition of the Other.
It is Response
It is the overflow of the Full Heart.
Thus, it Cannot be legislated for,
Must not be discouraged,
And is Denied by 'grudgery'.
It is a small thing - but it is a sign of something far greater.
Like a wafer of Bread it is a reminder could we see it, that the world is Graced, that our Existence is Gratuitous, that our Lives are Gifts.
As children of Grace our lives are to be such gifts - received from the Father of lights and freely graced to the world
Methinks that if we Knew the Reality, the whole world would be revealed for what it is
A Heavenly Tip (like a small child's bedroom :-) )
and now I must go, for I heard a knock at the door - the men in dark suits!!