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Tangi for Sir Ed

  • January 12th, 2008

The DomPost’s massive coverage of Sir Ed’s life is just right. It is a celebration, not a maudlin pretence of sorrow.

What a relief.

On waking to H Clark on radio claiming to be “shocked” by our “profound loss” I feared that my country might be heading into the hysteria of mutually induced grief, like the Lady Di aftermath for Britain. The day came right when I heard John Banks saying his life was “not lost, but a cause for celebration” , and then retrieved the DomPost from the garden.

To be fair to H Clark, she found safer ground when she identified Sir Edmund’s essence as “modesty” and “humility in greatness”. 

His passing will of course be a sorrow to those close to him, but the public ceremonies will only truly honour him if they reflect on what has been lost, or is being lost, when the men of his generation slip away, as we all must eventually.

That generation’s modesty was more than shuffling humility. Their modesty had in it a wholesome pride - pride in stoic understatement, in the stiff upper lip we’re now supposed to mock.

Their values were generated by demanding parents and schools, untroubled by worries about injuring self esteem, and in taking risks our young are denied by pervasive nanny laws and attitudes.  Imagine the “authorities” condemnation today if a climber came adrift in the kind of practice young Edmund put himself through. Cycling alone from Blenheim to the base of Tapeunuku, climbing it and cycling back, without rest and all in gear less specilalised than today’s requisites for an hour at the gym.

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