Some years back I introduced the idea of a local carol service in the Working Men’s Club. The Greymouth minister was keen. We sit around the bar with a guitar or two and there are books of carols available. For a while there were snatches of service in between the songs but the minister’s dropped that and substituted a quiz halfway through. People enjoy the event, especially some of the oldies. As I strum and sing I wonder whether I’m being a hypocrite, but then it always seems useful to revisit the Christ story, a rather amazing myth which has some historical context. It’s no more fanciful than Maui fishing up the north island or slowing the sun and hypocrisy is not an accusation in that regard and Christianity has been at the heart of European culture. Few of those gathered are practising Christians, but we sing with gusto. In fact the singing has become smarter since the minister started bringing along a very competent guitarist. It’s the closest I get to playing in a band so it’s something I look forward to. And as someone commented, It’s the only Christmassy thing about Christmas. The rest is consumerism.

But this year the event created great controversy. I put out a simple invitation on the local facebook page and it generated eighty responses. For those not vaccinated weren’t able to come  – the Club being a bar can only admit the jabbed. But surely a carol service should be inclusive, the story is about inclusivity, Christ was born for all of us etc. etc.? How can a carol service discriminate?

The anti vaccers in Blackball run the gamut from anti 1080 to professionals, with all the shades between: of conspiracy, of deaths unreported, of dislike of government regulation and mandates, to big pharma profiteering to species arrogance… And it is all hypothetical, because I can guarantee that last Sunday night no one in Blackball had covid. No one in Blackball has ever had covid.  So the debate is in many ways, mythological, like the Christ story or Maui acquiring fire.

Anyway, we sang our carols, the crowd was slightly reduced. There were no protestors outside. Perhaps there should have been; but it’s simpler to socially message. And it did seem a fittingly weird end to a weird year.