Home' Greymouth Star : May 8th 2014 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Thursday, May 8, 2014
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uLetters to the editor
1429 - Siege of Orleans ends when French
troops storm the English forts in the Hundred
1794 - Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier, French
chemist who identified oxygen, is guillotined
in Paris by the Revolutionary
1886 - Atlanta pharmacist John
Styth Pemberton invents the flavour
syrup for Coca-Cola and it is ser ved
at Jacobs Pharmacy.
1903 - Death in Tahiti of Paul
Gauguin, French post-impressionist
1945 - British Prime Minister Winston
Churchill broadcasts to the nation as part of
VE (Victory in Europe) Day celebrations.
1978 - David Berkowitz pleads guilty in a
Brooklyn courtroom to the Son of Sam killings
that have terrified New Yorkers.
1999 - Dirk Bogarde, British film actor, dies
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
Joan of Arc, patron saint of France (1412-1431);
Edward Gibbon, English historian (1737-1794);
Henri Dunant, Swiss founder of International
Red Cross (1828-1910); Harry S
Truman, US president (1884-1972);
Robert Johnson, US blues musician
(1911-1938); David Attenborough,
British naturalist and broadcaster
(1926-); Peter Benchley, US author
(1940-2006); Toni Tennille, US singer
(1943-); Gary Glitter, British rocker
(1944-); Darren Hayes, Australian
singer (1972-); Enrique Iglesias, Spanish born
pop star (1975-).
“The power of accurate obser vation is
commonly called cynicism by those who have
not got it.” — George Bernard Shaw, Irish
dramatist and writer (1856-1950).
“The wind blows where it chooses, and you
hear the sound of it, but you do not know
where it comes from or where it goes. So it is
with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
— ( John 3.8).
The West Coast has
a wealth of attractions
to offer the overseas
tourist but it has to
forget parochialism and join in the team for
the national advancement of this big money-
earning industry. This is the viewpoint of
Reefton-born Mr P A Morganti, a Wellington
man who holds the position of director of
membership promotion for the New Zealand
and Holidays Association and who is currently
campaigning in Greymouth.
“Parochialism is no worse here than in some
other places. Yet I have seen it raise its head
and it has been here for a long time. But this
is the day when distance between places is
nothing and parochialism is as dead as the
dodo,” he said. “ The Coast has everything to
offer the tourist but there is a lot of it yet to be
West Coasters seem to pop up everywhere.
Therefore, it is not unexpected that the
province should have had a representative
on New Zealand’s last tram trip in the
capital last weekend. On the Wellington
journey from Thorndon to Newtown was Mr
James Drummond, son of Mr and Mrs K
Mrs Drummond now has a special printed
ticket as a souvenir of the journey.
Greymouth will be this year’s venue for the
annual New Zealand Draughts championships,
thus making it the third time that the
championships have been held here. The
annual national tournament is held alternately
in the North and South islands, and it is fitting
that the West Coast should again be chosen
for over the years it has provided some of New
Zealand’s leading players.
uFood for thought
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wenty years ago, Queen
Elizabeth II and President
braved the drizzle to cut
the inaugural ribbon of the
channel tunnel, realising
a centuries-old dream of linking France
and Britain under the sea.
A prodigious industrial adventure,
the project mobilised 12,000 engineers,
technicians and workers to create the
world’s longest underwater tunnel
nearly 38km from northern France to
southern England, earning it the Global
Engineering of the Century Award
by the International Federation of
But this tour de force, officially
inaugurated by the Queen and
Mitterrand on May 6, 1994, was
overshadowed for years by financial
problems that almost tore apart
Eurotunnel, the company contracted
to manage and operate the tunnel until
At the end of 1987, before work on the
tunnel kicked off, hundreds of thousands
of eager, small shareholders bought
Eurotunnel shares in the belief that these
were solid, safe investments.
But colossal debt, disappointing traffic
and quarrels between shareholders and
management nearly sank the company
over the years.
In 1987, shares were worth 35 French
francs (the equivalent of 5.34 euros now).
Fifteen years later, they were worth just a
few centimes each.
The group even saw its stocks suspended
for several months as it plunged deeper
and deeper into the mire, until a
restructuring deal was reached in 2007,
paving the way for recovery.
Shareholders finally received their
first-ever dividend in 2009, though it was
worth just 4 centimes per share.
In 2013, Eurotunnel, which employs
some 3700 people, made a net profit
of 101 million euros ($161 million),
prompting chief executive Jacques
Gounon to say: “For the first time in
the history of Eurotunnel, we think that
the situation of the group is altogether
The idea to end Britain’s isolation as
an island and dig a tunnel to France
emerged as early as the 18th century.
A first project was launched in the
1970s but was soon abandoned.
Then in January 1986, Mitterrand
and British leader Margaret Thatcher
officially signed an agreement to kick-
Thatcher faced considerable opposition
to the project within her Conser vative
Party. But she pushed it through and
famously insisted that “not a public
penny ” would be used.
As a consequence, the contract to
conceive, make and put into ser vice the
tunnel was awarded to a consortium
of 10 British and French construction
companies grouped under the name Trans
Construction lasted six years, cost some
15 billion euros and saw workers dig three
tunnels — one for each direction and one
in the middle for ser vice work.
Vehicles can only cross the tunnel on
board a rail shuttle, “as it is very difficult
to ventilate a tunnel... O ver a length of
50km, it ’s nearly impossible,” Michel
Levy of the Setec engineering group, who
worked on the project, said.
The huge, 1000-tonne tunnel boring
machines that dug through the ground got
off to a slow start on the French side due
to difficult terrain and were slowed down
by water infiltrations on the British side.
But finally, in a historic moment, a
British and a French worker shook hands
in December 1990 in the ser vice tunnel,
some 100m under the Channel.
The tunnel opened in 1994 and, six
months later, the first Eurostar passenger
train raced through.
After initial disappointing traffic,
the number of people using the tunnel
increasingly grew and some 330m
passengers have made the trip since 1994.
The tunnel, which carries passengers
and freight traffic in separate ser vices, has
now become a formidable competitor to
maritime ferry ser vices and airlines on the
Paris to London route.
A brief histor y of the channel tunnel:
February 12, 1986: The treaty of
Canterbury launching the construction of
the tunnel under the Channel is signed
in the presence of then British prime
minister Margaret Thatcher and French
president Francois Mitterrand.
The result of a 200-year-old dream
nurtured by both nations, the project
involves a 50.5km under water link, the
November, 1987: Eurotunnel,
the company entrusted with building
the tunnel, enters the stock exchange.
Hundreds of thousands of small investors
in France and Britain rush to buy what are
presented as safe investments.
Britain and France had agreed in 1986
that state aid would not be used for the
December 15, 1987: A tunneller starts
to dig on the British side, in the direction
of France. Digging on the French side
starts in February 1988.
December 1, 1990: A British and
French workman knock down the last wall
separating the two countries. The British
workman, dressed in orange overalls
with a yellow helmet and the French
worker dressed in khaki and white helmet
exchange a “ bonjour” and a “welcome”, to
May 6, 1994: Inauguration of the
tunnel by Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II
and Mitterrand at 100m below sea level.
Dubbed by locals “the building site of
the century” the tunnel was built at a cost
of 100 billion francs (15.2 billion euros,
$24.31 billion), double what was forecast.
From 1994, Eurotunnel shares begin
a long downward spiral, crippled by the
group’s debts and unattainable traffic
November 14, 1994: The first Eurostar
high-speed train ser vice for fare-paying
passengers runs through the tunnel. The
Paris-London journey takes three hours
and six minutes — 20 minutes of which
are spent in the tunnel — while the
London-Brussels run takes three hours
and fifteen minutes.
November 26, 1997: Banks reach
a financial restructuring plan, which
transforms part of the colossal debt into
shares. Eurotunnel thus avoids going into
April 7, 2004: Eurotunnel
shareholders, who have lost most of their
investments, vote to oust the board of the
troubled operator, the first time individual
investors have toppled the management of
a major listed company in French history.
September 11, 2008: a 1000 degC
inferno destroys part of the tunnel and
limits its capacity for nearly five months.
March 4, 2009: Eurotunnel announces
that it will pay for the first time in its
history a dividend, of 0.04 euros per share,
to its 400,000 or so shareholders.
January 22, 2014: Eurotunnel says it
achieved one billion euros in turnover in
2013 for the first time. More than 20m
travellers have used the tunnel in 2013,
and nearly 325m since it opened.
Channel tunnel milestone
An Eurotunnel freight shuttle exits the channel tunnel in Coquelles, near Calais.
It has been a remarkable week for
political anthropologists. Seldom have
the identifying cultural markers of that
venerable political clan — the National
Party Cabinet ministers — been on such
vivid display. Taken together with the
voluminous historical observations of
previous anthropological expeditions it is
now possible to say with some confidence:
You may be sure you are dealing with a
National Party cabinet minister when:
1. Extraordinary responses are made to
ritual demonstrations of generosity by the
people known as HNWI (High Net Worth
These may include providing the HNWI
with special shelters and even personally
refurbishing them on the HNWI’s behalf.
Even more exaggerated responses may be
forthcoming if the minister feels that the
personal liberty of his HNWI is being
compromised. Often these will include the
making of symbolic dominance gestures
intended to alert the HNWI’s captors that
they are holding a high-status prisoner.
Curiously, a National Party minister will
vehemently reject any suggestion that his
actions are motivated by friendship.
2. Increasingly complicated
reconfigurations of reality are offered to
explain behaviour which is likely to advance
the welfare of family members.
Ministers directly assisting family
members is an important tribal taboo
(even if most members of the tribe are
perfectly aware that it goes on). How well
a minister is able to construct a narrative in
which the very notion of assistance may be
sneeringly dismissed as an untrue allegation
is traditionally regarded as an important
measure of that minister’s prowess.
It requires considerable skill to keep
elaborating one’s alternative narrative
in such a way that the steadily rising
volume of contradictory evidence only
serves to highlight the minister’s creative
imagination. In extremis, a National Party
cabinet minister may turn on those whose
job it is to create the contradictory counter-
narrative — savaging their reputations in
the most salutary fashion. Fortunately, this
3. A completely impassive countenance
is presented to the tribe in the face of
the most contradictory prime ministerial
Contradictory judgements are frequently
meted out by the Chief of the National
Party cabinet ministers, the prime minister
— or PM. The improper making of
symbolic dominance gestures, for example,
is generally regarded as a lesser offence than
using one’s ministerial status to advance the
welfare of a family member (although both,
being taboo, should, theoretically, result in
the offenders’ instant demotion) and yet
while the former infraction might cause
the PM to act decisively, the latter may be
The PM is forced into such glaring
contradictions because not all National
Party cabinet ministers wield equal power
within the institution known as caucus.
This latter body is hugely important. No
one gets to be a minister without first being
admitted to Caucus and it is the members
of Caucus, not Cabinet, who choose the
If a Minister possesses many friends in
Caucus, punishing him or her could very
easily endanger the position of the PM.
A Minister without friends in caucus, on
the other hand, may be reprimanded with
relative impunity. That ’s why the Ministers
who are punished most severely are almost
always those with the fewest friends.
That minor breaches of taboo prompt
major retributions, while more serious
breaches go unpunished may strike the
observer as unfair, but within the cabinet
such behaviour must be accepted. No
matter how much the PM’s behaviour
offends a minister’s sense of natural justice,
his contradictions must not only not be
acknowledged but energetically denied.
4. Extreme contrition and abject public
apologies are ritually presented to the tribe.
When the PM feels obliged to act
against one of his fellow ministers, the
offending individual is often presented
with the option of resigning from Cabinet,
presenting him or herself to the tribe,
contritely acknowledging their errors and
moving without hesitation or protest to an
isolated spot well outside the village called
It is a lonely and humiliating journey,
but it is almost always undertaken in
the knowledge that, following a decent
inter val, they ’ll be retracing their
Chris Trotter is an independent
left-wing political commentator
Cultural markers of National’s ministerial clan
The doughnut, that classic deep-
fried American snack, is going forth
to do battle with European national
treats in their homelands: the
Belgian waffle, the Austrian strudel
and the Danish ... Danish.
After beating a retreat in the
1990s, American restaurant chain
Dunkin’ Donuts has been quietly
building up its presence in Europe
and now has 120 outlets, mostly in
Germany but also in Russia, Spain,
Bulgaria and most recently, Britain.
Dunkin’ Donuts’ head of
Jeremy Vitaro says the company
is now looking to open stores in
Denmark, Austria, Belgium and
the Netherlands. Despite the
weak European economy, it thinks
customers have money to spend.
“They ’re sophisticated, and they ’re
culturally very open (to trying new
foods),” he said.
Dunkin’ Donuts’ mainstays are
doughnuts and coffee, along with
muffins and more solid lunch foods,
such as bagels. Then the chain offers
variations to please local tastes.
In London, where the chain has
recently opened three shops, it
sells a savoury snack called “Bacon
Buttie,” as well as porridge.
Is that porridge as in, well,
“Hot cereal, yes,” Vitaro says. “ We
also do a Croistrami sandwich,
that ’s a pastrami croissant. So we do
localise. We have a curry doughnut
Joost Kling, a D utch food industry
entrepreneur, thinks the chain will
face something of an uphill battle in
“They don’t have much name
recognition, if any. I think a lot will
depend on their staying power,” he
He wondered about the
willingness of the firm to advertise
and lose money for a time when
stores first open.
Kling has some experience going
in the opposite direction. His
company, Eat Dutch Waffles, has
brought the D utch delicacy known
as stroopwafel — a hot waffle
cookie filled with syrup — into
1000 American stores and bakeries.
He guessed around a half
of D utch people know what
doughnuts are. But most have only
tried low-quality versions on offer
in grocery stores.
“A stroopwafel tastes very
different when it ’s fresh, and it ’s the
same for a doughnut,” he said.
In addition, Europeans may feel
attachment to their own local
In Belgium, the Brussels waffle
is light and fluffy and dusted with
powdered sugar, while in Liege
they are heavier and sweeter, with
caramelised sugar. The Belgian
Wa ffl e topped with powdered
sugar, strawberries and a flourish
of whipped cream is probably an
American invention. It is popular in
In Austria, people with a sweet
tooth turn to Apfelstrudel — or
In Denmark they also eat
Danishes, of course. But the Danes
in turn call them wienerbrod, or
‘ Viennese bread ’.
Vitaro said Dunkin’ Donuts is
already inter viewing would-be
franchise owners and plans to open
several stores in each new market by
the end of 2014, focusing on major
cities first, with many more coming
in early 2015.
“ We believe our basic offer
of speed and value and fun will
connect well with consumers,” he
“It has so far.” — AP
Doughnut takes on European national treats
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