Brian Edwards Media

Archive for September, 2010

Salt Lovers of the World Unite!

I’m Irish. The Irish are great salt-eaters. We also like fat. Our favourite dish, the ‘Ulster Fry’, often served for breakfast, dinner and tea – breakfast, lunch and dinner for your toffee-nosed English – consists of bacon (fried or grilled), eggs (fried) and potato or soda bread (fried). A mouth-watering combination of fat, salt and carbohydrate. And, to be sure to be sure, the whole doused with more salt.

According to nutritionists, this is a highly unhealthy and potentially fatal diet. There are two reasons for ignoring these warnings. First, there can be few occupations so discredited as that of the nutritionist.  Can you think of any other group of ‘experts’ whose advice today will be precisely the opposite of their advice yesterday and their advice tomorrow? And second, had the Irish diet been so unhealthy, the race would have died out decades and even centuries ago, when in fact we have populated the globe with our offspring of saints, scholars and American presidents.

If there is a problem with salt, it is not that it hardens the arteries, my own arteries being as pliant as the bottom of a new-born babe, but that owners of cafes and restaurants are involved with nutritionists in a puritan conspiracy to prevent diners like myself from adding piquancy to their otherwise bland and tasteless meals.  

This is achieved in one of three ways: by proffering small dishes of rock-salt  which is both unhygienic and impossible to sprinkle; by  providing ceramic salt shakers with holes so small the tiniest known particle of matter could not pass through;  or by having shakers with screw-on metal tops, whose microscopic apertures are so caked with damp salt  and rice particles that nothing at all comes out.   Read the rest of this entry »


Survey Shows Andrew Williams Top Choice for Mayor of Super City


Pic: TV3


Confused about you should vote for as Mayor of the new Super City? Well, Family First has come to your rescue with the results of a simple questionnaire to the leading candidates, published in a full-page ad in today’s Herald.  The results make it absolutely clear that there really is no other possible option for upright and decent citizens to choose than the current North Shore Mayor, Andrew Williams. Let me explain why: 

John Banks, Len Brown, Andrew Williams, Colin Craig and Simon Prast were given 10 questions to answer. They could respond to the questions in one of three ways: Yes, Not Sure/Maybe or No. If they answered Yes, they got a white smiley face; if they answered Not Sure/Maybe, they got (appropriately) a grey, neutral face; If they answered No, they got a black, scowly face. 

Here are the 10 questions: 

*AFFORDABLE HOUSING  Will you take the lead to amend zoning restrictions to free up land so as to lower costs of housing for first-home buyers? 

*ALCOHOL OUTLETS  Will you introduce bylaws and lobby for the restriction of alcohol outlets in residential areas and reduce the number of licences issued and trading hours? 

*BILLBOARDS   Will you introduce bylaws and lobby for G-rated public billboards with a pre-vetting system? 

*BROTHELS   Will you introduce and lobby for bylaws restricting brothels in residential areas and close to sensitive sites such as schools, kindergartens, playgrounds and shopping areas frequented by families and children? 

*FACILITIES FOR FAMILY EVENTS   Will you introduce a bylaw preventing the hireage and use of Council owned buildings and facilities for R-rated events? 

*GST ON RATES   Will you campaign for parliament to remove GST on rates? 

*LOAN SHARKS   Will you lobby the government for greater regulation of loan sharks – especially those targeting lower socio-economic areas – including capped interest rates and registration? 

*POKIES  Will you introduce and lobby for a reducing lid policy on pokie machines, especially in low socio-economic areas? 

*PUBLIC NUDITY/MARCHES   Will you lobby the government to clarify offensive behaviour under the Crimes Act in order to prevent parades involving nudity and/or offensive behaviour eg boobs on bikes, beach nudity? 

*STREET PROSTITUTION   Will you introduce and lobby for bylaws to ban street prostitution? 

Now to try to work out who came out best, I’ve given three points for each smiley face, two for each neutral face and one for each scowly face. 

And the results – from worst to best, so as to create maximum tension – are: 

Read the rest of this entry »


Sexy knickers in the City.

New Zealand’s Next Top Model is my trash-telly fix of the week. I’m addicted. Will Danielle get to scare model agencies in New York? Will someone punch out Dakota’s lights? Will spending so much time with the twins give everyone diabetes?

Last night the leggy ingénues got to model a new line of underwear  – in St. Matthew’s in the City.

Although the Church and I parted company decades ago, it made me distinctly uncomfortable. And if I was uncomfortable I can only imagine what religious viewers were feeling. A couple of the girls, who are professed Christians, must have seen their wee souls heading straight for purgatory.

It’s not the first time St. Matthew’s has set out to shock. A few months ago a couple of tongue-in-cheek billboards created a nation-wide fuss and upset someone so much they were defaced. So I can’t help thinking that hiring out the church for a bevy of teenagers to strut their stuff up and down the aisle in nothing but a few wisps of lace might have been pushing the envelope a tad too far.

 Am I being a prude, or was this completely inappropriate?


The Secret of My Success

Picture: Mark Mitchell/NZ Herald

‘Bugger policies! Bugger Leadership! This really works. (Note to self: Must be careful not to pat kids from Thailand, Saudi Arabia and some Muslim countries on the head. Apparently they think it could damage their souls.  Not sure about Maori and PI kids. Think I heard something about the head being tapu.  Better check with Hone. In the meantime, maybe just pat Pakeha kids on the head. Shake everyone else’s hand. Pity though. Still, better not to offend anyone. So, what was it again? Just pat Pakeha. Just pat Pakeha.)’ 


Chain Gangs Tomorrow, Lethal Injections the Day After. Couldn’t Happen Here. Could it?

The State of Virginia will tomorrow almost certainly put to death 41 year old Theresa Lewis for hiring two men to kill her husband and her stepson. The actual killers, Lewis’ lover Matthew Shallenberger and his accomplice Rodney Fuller, were given life imprisonment in return for early guilty pleas. However, the fact that Lewis had initially denied involvement in the crime went against her and the judge handed down the death sentence.

 Lewis, it turns out is a gullible woman of limited intelligence and, according to Fuller,  the real instigator of the killings was Shallenberger.

Commenting on the disproportionate sentences, crime novelist and former trial lawyer John Grisham, wrote in the Washington Post that Lewis’ sentence had less to do with justice than ‘the assignment of judge and prosecutor, the location of the crime, the quality of the defence counsel, the speed with which a co-defendant struck a deal, the quality of each side’s experts and other factors.’ Such inconsistencies, he said, ‘mock the idea’ that the US system is based on equality before the law.

Though Messrs Garret, McVicar, Hide et al, would disagree, most thinking people would share Grisham’s view of America’s record in its treatment of serious offenders as being medieval and barbarous. Where length of imprisonment is concerned the Yanks have pipped even us at the post.

However, we at least do not put people to death. There were 3261 people on death row in the US at the beginning of this year. The State of Virginia has executed 107 people since the restoration of the death penalty in 1976, second only to Texas where the figure is 463. Lewis, as Grisham observes, was kinda unlucky to live in that state and to not be very bright. Well, them’s the breaks.

Read the rest of this entry »


Down With Dogs! (Revisited)



The following letter to the editor appeared in yesterday’s Herald:

In reference to the article about the cat shot near Queenstown, I would like to commend Sergeant Linda Evans for her common-sense handling of the incident. If the owners of cats allow their animals to roam unrestricted over other people’s property, there is no way of telling a pet from a feral one.  This country is infested with cats and it is high time owners were made to register them, put collars on them and keep them in at night. Any others could then be trapped and eradicated. Why should we have to put up with cat excrement being deposited on our lawns, flower beds, and vegetable gardens night after night? The worst offender is the SPCA with its policy of rehoming the thousands of unwanted cats each year. Cats are flea-ridden and carry disease that is harmful to humans. It is time they were controlled and their owners made to take responsibility for their pets, the way dog owners are. Pip Worliedge, Tauranga

I will come to what Mr/Ms Warlike has written later. But first, my Burmese cats, Max and Felix, have requested that I avenge this slight on their species by republishing  a column I wrote years ago when Judy and I were living in Eastbourne. It is called Down with Dogs! Read the rest of this entry »


The End of ACT – Good Riddance to Bad Rubbish

A ‘perk-buster’ enjoying the perks, a Law and Order spokesman with a conviction for assault who steals the identity of a dead infant to falsely obtain a passport, a party spokesperson who keeps an 82-page dossier vilifying the party leader, but kisses and makes up anyway,  a political fossil whom no-one takes seriously anymore…  In another party all this would be incredible. But it is curiously unsurprising for ACT, a collection of intellectual thugs led by a man whom I once described as ‘venomous and gutless’. That was after Rodney Hide had defamed my wife, Judy Callingham, then Deputy Chair of New Zealand on Air, by implying  in parliament that she had used improper influence to get me a talk show on TVNZ. Challenged by me to repeat the allegation without the protection of parliamentary privilege, he naturally declined. He had his facts wrong.

But what offends me most, given these latest revelations,  is the hypocrisy of ACT, a vigilante  rabble whose uninformed, unintelligent, 12th century views on crime and punishment would see us return to the brutality of the chain gang and ultimately the obscenity that is capital punishment.

Intellectual thugs. The word comes from the Hindi meaning a thief or scoundrel. Well, we are to be rid of them at last. They are, as Guyon Espiner observed on One News last night,  ‘a party now in tatters with no credibility whatsoever’.

Good riddance to bad rubbish.


Banks or Brown? Brown or Banks? Who’s really Mr Nice? Who’s really Mr Nasty? Who’s neither?


It’s confusing. I thought I knew who Len Brown was and I thought I knew who John Banks was. Crudely expressed, Brown was Mr Nice and Banks was Mr Nasty. There’s something reassuring about that sort of simplistic delineation of character. For one thing, it makes political options easier. Given the choice of having Mr Nice or Mr Nasty run things for us, we’d all choose Mr Nice of course. Or would we?

Deborah Hill Cone expresses an interesting view of this in this morning’s Herald. In a column headlined Bad is best – the good guys don’t get the job done, she writes: 

‘Personally, I’d choose a bolshie Churchillian with a filthy mouth and bad temper but great leadership chops over a well-spoken, mild-mannered, hand-holding type.’ 

She’s not alone. If you look at the men and women New Zealanders have chosen to lead the country, a very clear picture arises of our taste in Prime Ministers. A perception of strength, bordering on tyranny, is the essential prerequisite. We prefer the bully to the (perceived) wimp. Muldoon and Rowling provide the clearest example. Muldoon, most people would agree, looked like a bully; Rowling, in reality a very strong personality, came across as weak and ineffectual. Muldoon beat him in three elections. 

At the local body level, Banks and Hubbard illustrate this phenomenon. Aucklanders got rid of Banks because he was nasty and they thought they wanted someone nice. Hubbard was nice. But it didn’t take the citizenry long to realise that nice wasn’t what they wanted after all. Banks was back. As Hill Cone rightly observes: ‘Hubbard would be welcomed into anyone’s knitting circle but that may not be the first quality on the list for great mayors.’    Read the rest of this entry »


Gutter Journalism from the Sunday Herald and the Sunday Star Times

If you’ve ever wondered why journalists are among our least respected trades, have a look at yesterday’s Sunday Herald and Sunday Star Times.

Both tabloids carry stories about inappropriate relationships between teachers and their pupils. Among what journos like to call ‘sexy stories’ this brand of story may well be the sexiest. Why? Because they appeal to the most prurient fantasies of readers. Because the real people in these stories have actually done the very thing that so many men (and seemingly women) have only thought about – had sex with a schoolgirl or schoolboy.

This is not only the stuff of pornography, it is written into popular culture, from the girls of St Trinians, to the lyrics of The Police’s Don’t Stand So Close To me:

I’ve taught at school, polytechnic and university. Do you think that teachers and pupils at those institutions don’t have those thoughts? Then you are out of touch with reality. They do.

What makes these relationships dangerously inappropriate is the imbalance in age, experience and power between student and teacher. But it is futile to deny that strong emotional and sexual attractions can occur between pupil and mentor, particularly when the age gap between them is relatively small. Two such cases feature in today’s Sunday Herald and Sunday Star Times.

Read the rest of this entry »


Down With Work! (Why lethargy is the key to longevity.)

We spend too much time working and too little time not working. Our periods of employment are too long and our holidays too short. We have got things totally out of perspective. It’s absurd that we devote 48 weeks of the year to our jobs and only four to leisure. It’s preposterous that we take only two days off in seven. No wonder we’re all falling apart at the seams.

We’re being brainwashed literally to death by the purveyors  of the work ethic, by those who believe in the nobility of toil and the sinfulness of sloth. We’ve been intimidated by their moralising self-righteousness, browbeaten by their puritanical spartanism, seduced by their appointment-diary ethics.

People increasingly justify their existence in terms of their workloads:

‘You wouldn’t believe how busy we are at the moment.’

‘I’d love to, but I really don’t think I can fit it in.’

 ‘Things are just crazy at the office.’

 ‘Couldn’t possibly make it before Friday week. The diary’s simply chocka.’

 ‘A holiday? Maybe next year. I’m already up to here. You know  how it is.’

People now boast about being overworked in the same way they used to boast about getting drunk. ‘Boy, did I hang one on last night!’ Yet it makes about as much sense to admire people who are  driving themselves to an early grave through stress and hypertension as it does to admire people who are pickling their livers.  Read the rest of this entry »


The Canterbury Earthquake – A Bouquet and (Oh Dear!) a Brickbat


Herald/Simon Baker

A bouquet to the New Zealand Media – television, radio, the press – who have done such a superb job in bringing us coverage of the Canterbury earthquake and its aftermath. Informative, responsible, humane and never sensationalised.

And a brickbat – well, you might have guessed it – to Paul Henry.  Judy and I are speaking at a conference in Queenstown. We rarely watch breakfast television on any channel, but today we caught Paul Henry talking to Christchurch mayor Bob Parker. This, it turned out, was a case of the gracious meeting the crass. 

Parker’s concern is the human plight of the people he represents. Henry wants to know what will happen to those people who have not been ‘responsible’ enough to have insured their properties. The tone of the question quite clearly suggests that such people are undeserving of support. Parker replies to the effect that this is a community which will help everyone who has suffered. It’s not a matter of money.

Henry than wants to know whether Parker has been doing ‘a Rudy Giuliani’, whether he thinks this will improve his chances of retaining the mayoraly against Jim Anderton. Parker quite proplerly dismisses the question as inappropriate. But Henry can’t leave it alone. He tells Parker that he’s sounding like Giuliani [after the bombing of the World Trade Centre].

It’s hard to find anything strong enough to say about the crassness of wanting to talk about whether uninsured people deserve to be helped or a public figure’s chances of re-election have been improved two days after an earthquake when you’re standing in the middle of a devastated city.

My god, Paul, what else have you got in your compendium of horrors?


John Banks – A Personal Reassessment

In a slim file in my office, marked ‘Legal’, I have a document dated ‘Thursday the 9th day of December 1993’.  It’s headed STATEMENT OF CLAIM. The claim is made by one John Archibald Banks of Whangarei, Member of Parliament (Plaintiff) and TV3 Network Services Limited (First Defendant) and Brian Finbar Myram Edwards of Auckland (Second Defendant). It’s a writ for defamation.

The writ refers to comments I’d made about Mr Banks on The Ralston Group. I can’t recall the context, but I began, ‘John Banks has to go,’ and finished, ‘So he has to go.’ I can’t repeat the lengthy bit in between, because Mr Banks might decide to issue another writ for defamation. Suffice to say, it expressed my opinion of his character at the time and it wasn’t flattering.

Anyway, TV3 indicated that it would defend the writ, Mr Banks (to my knowledge)  did nothing more about it and that was that.

You’ll understand that I was not a fan of the current Mayor of Auckland then and continued not to be a fan, until very recently. On numerous occasions I expressed my dislike of him publicly,  though rather more circumspectly.

I disliked him as a talk-back host on Radio Pacific. His world, it seemed to me, was divided into ‘good people’ and ‘bad people’, a view I thought simplistic and untrue.

I wasn’t much impressed when he was Mayor of Auckland from 2001 to 2004 either and did my bit to see that he wasn’t re-elected.

More recently, during Jim Mora’s The Panel, I described him as ‘that dreadful man’.  Read the rest of this entry »