Posted by BE on June 14th, 2014
In an earlier incarnation I had my luxurious dark brown beard shaved off by Kenny Everett to raise money for Telethon. Viewers donated several thousand dollars to see my naked visage, complete with double chins.
I interviewed Basil Brush at the same Telethon and got into terrible trouble for asking Basil his views on sporting contacts with South Africa. The owner of the hand up Basil’s brush, a conscientious objector to apartheid, had earlier privately suggested that I ask Basil the question. And I was happy to oblige.
This was in 1981 when I was still hosting Fair Go. It was of course also the year of the infamous Springbok tour. As I was leaving the building a senior TVNZ executive took me aside to remonstrate with me about the Basil Brush question. ‘Why is it,’ he asked, ‘that you always have to spoil everyone’s fun with these serious political questions?’ Boom boom, Mr Derek!
Eight years later, Everett would be diagnosed as HIV positive. I recall, on hearing the news, harbouring the unworthy and utterly silly thought that I might think twice about being shaved with an open razor by the brilliant Mr Everett in the unlikely event that both of us should appear on a future Telethon.
I was reminded of one of Kenny Everett’s great characters by an episode this afternoon at Fusion, an iconic Ponsonby café which Judy and I have frequented on and off since we first came to Auckland in 1989. We’d been for a long walk from Herne Bay down to the Viaduct Basin and back again and decided to have a snack lunch at Fusion. It was sunny but cold. Only one of the three tables outside the café was in the sun, but it was already taken by a young woman sipping on a coffee and leafing through the Herald. We decided to take a seat inside, order our meal and move to the sunny outside table when the young woman had finished her coffee and left.
Well, our meals arrived and were duly eaten with a glass or two of wine and, roughly 45 minutes after our arrival, the young woman was still sipping the same cup of coffee, still reading the Herald from cover to cover and still monopolising the same sunny table for four in front of the café. We ordered coffee for ourselves. The young woman was then joined by a friend: two Herne Bay ‘yummy mummies’ – a term I learned from my colleague Michelle Boag – which, even in the absence of offspring, seemed to fit the bill nicely.
Ten minutes or so later, the waitress approached the two women and asked if they wanted anything else. No, they didn’t. They were still chatting away, still ordering nothing, still monopolising the sunny table for four, when we finally left the café, perhaps an hour after we’d first arrived.
In deference to my wife’s finer feelings, I have long since given up making my views on the behaviour of other diners known to them in cafés and restaurants. But I have to tell you that it required considerable will power for me to walk out of Fusion without telling this woman that she was a selfish bitch.
She would of course have had no idea what I was on about. The sense of entitlement of people like this blinds them to the interests of others and to their own selfishness.
And Kenny Everett? Well, it was during our walk home that it occurred to me that my near-permanent rage at so many largely inconsequential social misdemeanours of my fellow man and woman might suggest that I was turning into one of Everett’s least endearing but funniest characters – Angry of Mayfair.
Judge for yourself. I’m off to buy a new umbrella. Broke the last six!
O them First World problems…
It seems to be a cultural thing. I’ve lived in places where this sort of thing never happens or hardly happens at all. Returning to NZ was somewhat of an eye opener (although Britain is far worse in my experience).
My guess is that we’re now in the minority, Brian. Most people either do it themselves, see little wrong with doing it, or don’t care enough about it.
Case in point: cell phones. I think it’s rude and inconsiderate to talk loudly on your cell phone in a quiet restaurant or at any volume during a movie (even texting in movies is a pain, since the light is distracting). Apparently, it’s technically possible to block cell phone reception in just these places, but when I’ve talked about it with people you’d think I’d proposed legalising paedophilia. Apparently people consider being able to act like a jerk to be a fundamental human right.
Was that the Telethon to raise money for the International Year of Disability? Just been doing some research on that. Money raised started some good initiatives.
I think I remember my Scout troop participating in some meaningless, ridiculous, and uneconomic activity to raise money for that Telethon.
Those were the days…
I’m really not sure, Hilary? But that does sound familiar.
I am sorry to go off topic but I really would like to know the state of health of Felix. This is of far greater importance than the behaviour of one of Ponsonby’s smart set.
In the days before smoking was outlawed a well directed stream of smoke would usually shift someone. Flatulence may also work but is a two edged sword.
I don’t smoke but the flatulence remains an option. Less effective outdoors though.
Felix is progressing well though stir crazy from cage confinement. He’s not supposed to walk too much and certainly not to jump or climb. Max is also hissing and wants nothing to do with Felix. BE and JC are quietly going nuts.
Judy will report with photo hopefully later today.
She got there before you and chose her table. You arrived and took a table. I’m really puzzled about what she did wrong.
I agree. She had every right to be there. Brian, you need to settle.
If you ran a business I wonder how you would react if someone hogged a space without buying anything.
There are many things in this life where we may have a ‘right’ but out of consideration to others, those of us who are not totally narcissistic do not always fully exercise those rights. We have a right to stand in the middle of a crowded supermarket and hold a long conversation. It is however intensely irritating for those wanting to get past and forces me to give reign to my base instincts by ramming the offending parties accidentally with my trolley.
For Rosie and Austin -
Well, leaving aside my view that it is unreasonable to other customers for one person to occupy a table for four people in a cafe for more than an hour while ordering and drinking one cup of coffee, it is even more unreasonable to the cafe owners who don’t make money from empty chairs.
I don’t share your philosophy that getting there first justifies subsequent selfish and unreasonable behaviour. However, it is commonly held in Europe by people who ‘book’ the loungers and deck chairs at hotels and on beaches by getting there early, depositing a towel or other belongings and coming back an hour or two later, presumably after breakfast.
On the other hand, if I ever find myself in a Titanic disaster situation, I will take your advice and leg it as fast as possible to the nearest lifeboat, scattering women and children as I go. The last words they will hear will be me calling out: “Sorry, but I did get here first.”
She may be a regular who spends much more than the solitary cup of coffee in over one hour indicates. Or she may be in future. Or her word-of-mouth may influence other present and potential customers – hence the indulgence of the management, and their reluctance to intervene if they were even aware of the issue.
But as it is their business perhaps they would have asked her to move on if it had been pointed out to them.
I think the staff exercised the traditional way of reminding customers that it might just be time to move on. They asked the two women whether they wanted anything else. Lacking the sensitivity to take the hint, the original woman simply said No. They remained chatting and were still chatting when Judy and I left.
Good grief, that’s a bit harsh. I just said that she had every right to sit there. Nek minnit I’m elbowing children out of the way to get to the lifeboats on the Titanic!
I know that people who linger in busy cafés can be a pain when there is a queue of people waiting. But this just sounds like she was at a table you’d have quite liked to sit at. In that circumstance, she has every right to be there for as long as the cafe is happy to tolerate her.
I think my trigger word to comment was the use of the word “bitch” in your piece. That’s a hundred times uglier than any cafe faux-pas that this young woman might have committed.
Actually it was me who was elbowing women and children out of the way to get to the lifeboat first. But you really ought not to be offended by a bit of hyperbole designed to make the point that ‘being there first’ isn’t a necessary excuse for bad or inconsiderate behaviour.
And yes, it would have been nice to be able to sit in the sun rather than freeze inside. Fusion were kind enough to provide us with blankets. But we didn’t expect the woman to make way for us. It was 20 minutes or so after we arrived that we began to get frustrated that she was still reading the paper and sipping on the coffee she had ordered before we even arrived.
In the hour or so that she and later her friend occupied the table, ordering nothing, a young couple with a child and a baby in a pram arrived and manoeuvred themselves, child, baby and pram into the table next to us. They might well have preferred to sit outside in the sun and we’d have been happy to give way to them.
As it happens, Judy would agree with you on ‘bitch’. We agree to differ. I’m happy to be called ‘a total bastard’ or even ‘arsehole’ if I deserve it and I’m thoroughly tired of the widespread language censorship that is increasingly a facet of New Zealand society.
Ooohhh this is fun!
Seems to me a matter of manners. Some people are pretty clueless about these things when they are occupying cafe tables, to the detriment of other patrons.Having a little ‘self&other’awareness would lubricate proceedings and make everyone a winner. Sadly some have it and some don’t!
Hilary isn’t this racist?
Brian ~ David Ford. Currently in Portland Oregon. Ran as an Independent in the Waitaki electorate, 2011. Portland really is the Worlds most liveable city~ what other city has an annual naked bike ride.
RIGHT ON with your “cafe society comments”. I’m 62; a PROUD Kiwi (sorry Sam Neil!), I have become more & more alarmed~ verging on the horrified in some cases, at the state of the STATE in NZ.
I left on a 3 year OE in 1973; kinda had a Rip Van Winkle experience,here I am 41 years later~ an “outsider looking in” in two country’s :- to my country of faith NZ; and of adoption the USA.
It horrifies me to see the way NZ has been SEDUCED by the really UGELY side of American culture and it’s ENDLESS focus on WAR against EVERYTHING; it’s irrational fear of “other” ; it’s germ and life phobias as a body politic; it’s relentless drive to “convert the whole world” to its juvenile Southern Baptist~Church of Free Market~ EARTH EATING greedy pursuits in the name of “MORE”~ and CONSUME!
George W Bush, a few days after 9/11 urged American citizens to ” be good patriots and “go flying and go shopping ~ I, in a brief flash of Flight of the Concords brilliance came up with a better ditty ~ ‘patriotic flying while shopping’, I was rather pleased with myself, still am.
I ask myself the ‘curious question’ ~ Why do WE Kiwis keep chasing the smelly butt end of the violently wagging tail of two very violent Empires, both now past their Zenith, all of us running round like dogs on heat consuming crap we don’t even want~ to impress people who don’t give a toss?
This thought is ALWAYS followed by another~ Why can’t KIWIS get it~ ALL of us collectively~ how much we are loved, admired, honoured, looked up to, and cherished by other peoples and Nations all over the world. WHY? Because of our KINDNESS, sense of humour, can do attitude, work ethic, GENTLENESS, INVENTIVENESS; our willingness to fiercely compete on the field of play and in the mosh pit of Capitalism with a capital C, while deeply respecting each other in a playful non competitive way once off the playing field, boardroom or workplace. (remember that of style capitalism of the 50′s 60′s and 70′s? More genteel it seems.)
I think the three major party’s for grabs at this years elections have all become prostitutes ( sorry to reference a more noble profession) for large faceless multinational corporations who don’t give a toss about small family farmers, small business’s, nature, the ‘families of innocents~ all the sacred beautiful voiceless beings in their beautiful forms who have the same rights as we humans to “Liberty, Happiness, and Freedom” on this ‘Blue Green Jewel’; and; whom we seem hell bent on destroying at the current estimated rate of 10,000 Species extinct per year~ as the adage goes ~ Extinction is Forever.
I know one party for sure I will not be voting for; I urge all Kiwis to Google “The Great American Bubble Machine” (Rolling Stone magazine 2009) and read how GOLDMAN SACHS deliberately engineered the 07/08 Global collapse.
Guess who invited the SAME company to be the “Lead Dog” in the SELL OUT of “WE THE PEOPLES” SOE’s ? Mr John Key!
I ask myself another curious question; why has no Kiwi done some DEEP DIGGING on JK’s actions as head of Merril Lynch international~ money traders are money traders all over the world~ they don’t give a toss about the truth.
AND who is doing background checks to see if the “new” farming & rental housing corps in NZ aren’t just shell company’s for same said Global thieves? What happened to the CULTURE in Agriculture? If you listen to business men and RNZ AGRI~CULTURE is now called wait for it~ AGRO~BUSINESS.
CITY FOLKS who buy farms have zero relationship to right relationship with land and animals ~ they’re strangling, poisoning, and laying waste the land; and abusing the animals ~ tell me the last time you saw a cow looking happy walking into those DUTCH FACTORIES? They all look totally depressed. I’ve stopped eating dairy in protest.
I reckon it’s time us old grey hairs shoot our TV’s get on the streets singing Joan Baez, Crosby Stills Nash, and John Lennon peace songs and begin the Re~evolution BACK TO KINDNESS.
Let’s begin that RE~evolution by going back to shops closed at 9.00pm Friday night , reopened at 9am on Monday morning and take our collective LIVES BACK. THOSE FAMILY WEEKENDS were delicious and Numinous.
If we Truly want to save the human race from self and other destruction the whole Human race needs to STOP! How about the second item on the agenda be a Global law passed in every sovereign nation ~ that we all have 3.5 weekend days and 3.5 work day; and we “re-learn” how to have playful RECREATION without consumption, all these toys we salivate for become nooses around our collective necks, bigger credit card debts.
It was the Fourth of July here yesterday; as the rockets boomed & Red flaired all around me like so many of the hundreds of cities that America has bombed into oblivion since 1945. My favourite bumper sticker in America after “W’s”~ ‘Weapons of Mass Distraction’ IRAQ announcement was:
WHATS OUR OIL DOING UNDER THEIR SAND?
That was the first “negative karma” war of the 21st century were the old adage ” War is Good for business” go flipped on its head ~ the West Will be dealing with the poisonous consequence of THAT debacle for the next 40 years.
As I listened to this cacophony of cracks, screams and booms I re-read the Declaration Of Independence; as I do every year for 41 years; last year I read 6 books about the lead up to, debate and writing of, and signing of that Writ. And the lives of Jefferson and Hamilton (Labour / Democrats ~ Vs National/ Republican).
I am of the opinion that the circumstances under which the worker bees of this Planet in every Western Democracy, are labouring under, is the same ‘King George’s yoke’ that the founding mothers and fathers risked their lives for in 1776.
When I re-read the Declaration 4 hours ago I’m even more convinced that “We the People” need to go on a mass Gandhi / MLK non violent shutdown of the machine. Time to totally re-tool the Church back to a more fairly disturbed egalitarian model
Oh, and by the way ~ In the 41 years I’ve lived on and off in the USA I’ve never ever seen one single act of violence, not even a fist fight ~ yet the average Kiwi child, from 0 to 17 will witness 18,000 murders on USA made T shows, non of them anything to do with the reality of ordinary American life
. How many people where murdered in NZ BETWEEN 1900 and 1973? (The year Kiwis got TV en-mass. How many murders since? Escalating every year?
Let’s all WAKE UP ~ shoot our TV’s and start the RE~evolution ; screw the power brokers~ they badly outnumbered ~ RISE UP.. Let’s make it OUR NATION that leads the planet back to KINDNESS and into the SOLAR AGE.
Like the final scene in AVATAR~ let’s KICK the bastards out!
WE KIWIS collectively, as individuals, and as a nation, have in our short and storied history “batted above our weight” ~AND~ We’ve been a BEACON to the Whole World with our Social~Capital contract based around fairness and a reasonable equity for all.
Thomas Jefferson, in his preamble to the Constitution wrote ” It is the supreme and ultimate right of all human beings to live in individual liberty, happiness, and freedom. HOWEVER (my emphasis) if your liberty happiness and freedom impinge on the ‘CommonWeal’ you don’t act”. My observation is that the Extreme Left AND the Extreme right stop reading at the period. Violence and Hate are not part of the “right to free speech”.
That could be a good place to start too?
Please excuse the typos & the length of the rave!
The US Stock exchange went over 17,000 on Thursday. People ask me how things are in the USA . For the last 12 years my response has always been the same; and I believe applies to the Whole Western World; “Rock Star Economy” NZ included. My reply is ‘WALL STREET IS BOOMING~ Main Street is b~l~e~e~d~I~n~g.’
It’s still the same response now.
WALL STREET seems to have a historic pattern of loving to “CRASH” after these long irrational run ups ?
In principle, if you buy something, you can sit at any free table you like for as long as you like (or until you are asked to leave by the owners). But if you made this the only rule you abide by when selecting a table or deciding how long to stay, you would be a total jerk.
Is basic cafe etiquette so hard to grasp?
completely and utterly missing the point. You didn’t mention whether or not the cafe was full and people were having to wait for a table. This would be a different situation. Was she aware that you wanted her table and wanted her to vacate ASAP? If there were tables available then the proprietor was missing out on nothing. You simply wanted something better than what you had.
See my reply to Austin.
Next time I go to the movies I’m going to saunter in just before it starts, choose a seat and tell whoever is already sitting there to please move because I’m here now ant that’s the seat I want. If they protest that they were there first I’ll tell them that has nothing to do with it. Obviously my needs are way more important than theirs.
One person at a table for 4? It still doesn’t click?
Two would be so much better!
You’ve missed the great big obvious point, Rosie.
Another irrelevant comment. I have still not recovered from you leaving Saturday mornings on National Brian & have not managed to listen since.
Well, thank you, Rose Carey. But you’re missing the best radio broadcaster in the world whose shoes I could never hope to fill, as she filled mine. Give it another go.
I concur with Rose. KH does a fair job, but the wildly varying vocal modulation makes her impossible to hear unless one’s prepared to sit in front of the radio and just listen. She swoops from adagio to vivace to piano and back several times a sentence and it drives me mad. Try listening (to Kim, or Beethoven’s Pastoral, or -Piano Concerto #5) in a fast-moving car, or whilst emptying a dishwasher…just plain hopeless, really. She’s a good talent wasted by lack of professional direction. I certainly can’t agree that she provides a superior product than the ringmaster himself.
Tim Dower – ZB’s Broadcaster without Portfolio – is another, when reading the news: “AND inthe WAIKATO, fourhorseswerefound WANDERING AROUND CAMBRIDGE towncentrelooking for GRASS ….”
This is not a new phenomenon. The “Mersey beat’ poet Adrian Henri in his poem “I shall vote Labour because . . . ” written in the 1960s adduces as one reason (and my preferred one also) for voting Labour in those long ago day: “And I shall vote Labour because/ Upper middle class yahoos annoy me in expensive restaurants.”
I suspect that each generation huffs and puffs at the antics of the newer ones. As I get older I have to keep reminding myself that everything changes, including attitudes, morals, behaviours, etc. Thus, unless I wish to emulate ‘Angry of Mayfair’ I also have to change, otherwise much of my dwindling energy and health will be lessened further, which doesn’t serve me or those close to me or around me.
Very good advice which I have no intention of taking. Remaining schtum in the presence of bad behaviour is not in my nature. Pass the Alka Seltzer!
I don’t like it. I don’t do it. But…it is a public area.
It’s not a public area; it is part of the cafe.
I have a favourite running machine at my gym – the tension on the others is not quite right. Probably psychological but there it is.
Anyway, I get REALLY annoyed when someone is on it for an hour doing about 5km/hour. I feel like shouting at them, “This is a gym! You are meant to exercise with a modicum of effort. If you want to stroll, go to Herne Bay!” A totally unreasonable response on my part but there it is.
Also, you can just see it at the end of the video clip, but Angry of Mayfair has a respectable bowler hat, umbrella and pin-striped suit, but revealed lacy women’s underwear when he turned his back to the camera.
You’ve just indicated your relative youth, Kimbo. Those of us who watched Kenny the first time around knew exactly what he would – and wouldn’t – be wearing on his backside.
Sorry – should have clarified I was pointing out what was the running gag re A of M. I remember the Kenny Everett Video Show very well – Sid Snot, “All in the best possible taste!”, and…Hot Gossip! (cold shower time!)
How rude. That damn woman sitting on her own should have been sitting at a small table for one in a dark corner. How dare she take up a table for four when a couple could have been using half the table themselves.
See my reply to Austin. But I’m going to take your irony as indicating that you think it’s acceptable for a customer to occupy four places in a cafe for more than an hour having paid four dollars for one cup of coffee. I don’t.
However, I have a plan for the unlikely event that a similar situation arises again. I will approach the person concerned and very politely say, “I hope you don’t mind if my wife and I join you. It’s so pleasant out here in the sun and so cold and dark inside.”
No doubt the same woman thinks that the homeless should be swept out of McDonalds if they linger too long over a cup of coffee in winter so as to stay out of the cold.
I think that would be a very nice approach Brian. I’m sure anyone sitting alone in a cafe would be more than happy to sit down and have a conversation with you and Judy.
The reason for my irony ? I often travel away from home for work, so consequently I end up eating in restaurants on my own. I prefer to have my partner with me when dinning out, but I do not find dinning alone an arduous experience. A lot of people find it to be so. I don’t know about you ? But in my experience, one tends to get treated in a rather second class way, especially when it comes to seating.
BE: “But I have to tell you that it required considerable will power for me to walk out of Fusion without telling this woman that she was a selfish bitch.”
Totally agree, this selfish ‘cow’ was ‘hogging’ the table as if it were her private and exclusive real estate. If it hadn’t been for the miserable cup of coffee she ordered, you’d be well within your rights to call her a squatter.
Note, that the posters who defend this act of wanton selfishness are other wimmin.
Brian, from previous posts you are no shrinking violet in a restaurant; admirably so as I recall. Why not ask the sole person sitting at a table for four in full sun the simple question: “do you mind if we sit here?”
I’d already replied to Charlie along these lines, Adrian, before I came to your comment. Great minds…. We’ll forget about the ‘fools seldom differing’.
“Why not ask the sole person sitting at a table for four in full sun the simple question: “do you mind if we sit here?”
Adrian that’s far too polite considering the context.
Better just to sit in the spare chairs , belch loudly , spread your paper over the table and talk loudly on your cell phone. If that doesn’t work then there is always flatulence delivered with drama.
I have to admit that I’m speaking from the benevolent cafe scene of Nelson. It’s entirely possible that posing that question in Ponsonby is a very different proposition, to be met with narrowed eyes and a frosty negative rejoinder.
I recall my exhausted family of 6 flying nonstop across the globe to Scandinavia once, stopping in Frankfurt. All the chairs at our departure gate were taken up by a group of sleeping 20-somethings sprawled across three seats each and we (including a baby on the breast) had nowhere to sit. I woke some of them up, almost getting into a fistfight with one of them who continued to send volleys of abuse across the waiting area for some time. When we got up to board I realised the cheeky bastard and his mates weren’t even on the flight! Top that for bloody unreasonable occupancy…
My wife has little sympathy for those she regards as unthinking or selfish, and has no reticence at all, remonstrating with said people.
Luckily, I’m getting used to it, but others aren’t so lucky – her Grandson will never go to a Cafe with us again………
If you’re getting the ‘Angry of Mayfair’ umbrella, does that mean you’re going to complete the outfit (three-piece suit on front half of body; bra, garter belt and knickers on rear half of body?) for that authentic ‘Angry of Mayfair’ look?
Watching the cafe-bitch wildlife of Ponsonby finding something absorbing in the NZ Herald is a self inflicted wound.
You should’ve sat down beside her (not opposite) and whispered: “Will you be my friend?”
If it’s any consolation, her coffee would have been stone cold.