Brian Edwards Media

Sometimes life’s a total bitch! [Old Italian saying!]

NZ Herald

NZ Herald

Other than referring to a female dog, a rare enough occasion since we’re cat people, “bitch” has been a taboo word in our house pretty well since the first time I used it within earshot of Judy. She doesn’t like it. And I’m comfortable with her not liking it. I’m not a swearing sort of person myself; I think comedians who pepper their material with “fucks” are properly insecure in their comic genius; and, as reported elsewhere on this site, I have on numerous occasions approached total strangers to remind them that the f-word is unacceptable to others sharing the same public space.

But sometimes… Well sometimes… Sometimes “bitch” is quite simply le mot juste. Anything less offensive simply won’t hit the mark.

I would have missed such an occasion if Judy and I hadn’t headed up late this afternoon to Dida’s in Ponsonby for a couple of flat whites and two biscotti. (If you’re only having one, by the way, you should ask for “a biscotto” not “a biscotti”, but only if you’re willing to look a prat!)

Anyway there on the table was a lonely-looking copy of today’s Herald on Sunday. One does not read the Herald on Sunday if one resides in Herne Bay, unless one finds it lying on a cafe table, its garish tabloid headlines signalling an invitation as unmistakable as a madam’s crooked finger.

Anyway,  there was the story of the Italian forklift driver, Luca Cicioni,  who, on his first day working for an Auckland branch of Gerard Roofs, got lost during his break and said to the first person he saw, a woman, “Hi darling, can you help me?”

Well, the woman turned out to be his manager and, he says, became angry and told him he’d be in trouble with the management. Which apparently he was, since he didn’t keep his job more than that one day and Gerard Roofs made specific mention of the episode and his communication skills to the recruiting agency.

So if this is more or less what happened, that a female manager in a company reported a day-one-employee, whose first language was not English and who was looking for assistance, for having addressed her as “Hi darling’, then..

Sometimes…. Well sometimes… “bitch” just won’t  cut it by itself…. You really do have to add “What a total”!

And then there’s this: what goes around comes around. Refurbishing the old bach?  Doing up the lean-to? Building a new house? Could need a new roof. Which company to choose? Tricky, isn’t it.

And while you’re thinking about it,  if you live in Auckland, pop down to Gina’s Italian Kitchen for a coffee. They were delighted to offer Luca a job. Just the sort of person they were looking for. Isn’t it great to read about really nice people!

[Footnote: When we got home from Dida’s we found that Judy had stolen their copy of the Herald on Sunday. Sorry about that. See you domani!]

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  1. I have heard you use this epithet yourself in relation to a certain Kiri te Kanawa. (This is an opinion I endorse entirely, by the way, having had dealings with the same lady many years ago while I was working for the Arts Council)

    • Correct. This was on Top of the Morning. To be fair she was fed up with being asked about Sister Mary Leo and preferred to talk about the present time.I think she had a point. Things got better when we turned to the issue of the opera diva’s life and how lonely it could feel walking home alone after all the applause and encores. And then of course the challenge of ensuring that your instrument, your own voice, on which your career and fame depended, never failed you. Far more relevant and interesting material as it turned out. So she probably didn’t deserve my comment, on that score at least.

  2. What am I to do? We have a delightful NZ solo mum as our tenant and she calls me (a male) “darling”. It has no attachment whatsoever and is just a figure of speech she has grown up with. And what about those cockney barrow men who pepper the open air markets of England with “Darling”. Lock em all up, I say!
    PC gone mad.

  3. This must surely be part of the problem with the 90 days sack with no reason legislation.Without this the result of calling someone darling would surely be contested.Perhaps he thought that her surname may be Darling.Stephen Fry created the definitive use of the word darling in Blackadder goes Forth.

    • Absolutely right, pjr, an iniquitous piece of legislation by a government increasingly shameless in its disdain for working people and its willingness to line the pockets of the already affluent.

      • 3.1.1

        Well, in this case it seems the employee found a far better employer in consequence. The alternative, assuming he would even have been taken on without the 90 day probation, would have been to continue working under a manager who hated and resented him. Why on earth would that have been a good thing?

        • Its always been easier to change the system than attitude. Old management adage from values days, Alan.


            Not for the first time, your relevance escapes me. But there is a practical issue here. When it is easier to get jobs as well as lose them there is more chance of a good fit between employers and employees. That is the American system which is actually good logic.

            • You miss the point. The 90-day rule has no proper process and no contestability. It’s a bully’s charter, and the fact that you are spinning ludicrously to justify it says a lot about your authoritarian tastes.


                No, you miss the point. It is better that employees find it easy to find another job if they want or are forced to leave one than to be trapped either in a bad job or out of any jobs. Your comment says a lot about your ignorance of the job market for unskilled and inexperienced people that are high risk for employers to take on if they don’t work out.

                • The ‘unskilled’ or inexperienced deserve justice no less than anyone else. They may even deserve it more, because they are less able to stand up for themselves.
                  Your argument is utterly silly authoritarian nonsense – essentially you claim that by making such people less secure you make them more secure, i.e. by allowing them to be thrown out of a job on a whim it means there are lots of vacancies where they can maybe thrown out on a whim again, while replacing the previous person who might have been thrown out on a whim too.
                  And I have considerable experience hiring people.


                  Your comments belie your claim to experience. No employer willfully changes employees without cause because of the costs and risks of retraining.

                  Yes, a system that provides more job opportunities rather than less is much better for unskilled and inexperienced people. That is why the US has queues of people trying to get in and France has massive youth unemployment.

    • Don’t think that applies to temporary agency-supplied staff, does it? Either way, he was sacked because the ‘manager’ he accidentally and unknowingly bumped into, was indeed an unsympathetic, stuck-up bitch who you can expect to manage any company into receivership, toute suite.

  4. Mostly called “darl’ or “darling” when I lived in Australia.

  5. One does not read the Herald on Sunday if one resides in Herne Bay, unless one finds it lying on a cafe table, its garish tabloid headlines signalling an invitation as unmistakable as a madam’s crooked finger.

    Hahahaha. You owe me a new keyboard. ;-)

  6. The thing nobody seems to have pointed out is that the standard Italian greeting is “Ciao Bella” – Hi beautiful.
    Pretty similar I would have thought.
    Being very sceptical about the heralds ability with facts I would be reluctant to read too much into this. On the surface I certainly agree. Ciao

  7. Like John G, I would not take the Herald’s words as gospel before chucking around the B word.

    It made precious little effort to seek her side of the story. Perhaps he had an over-familiar manner which made her feel uncomfortable. Perhaps there was more to the incident than his recounting of it, or it fitted a pattern of behaviour that made others wary of him. You could go on perhapsing for a long time, but be none the wiser if the Herald was your only source of information.

    I don’t like your attempts to suggest consumer boycotts, however. Half-cocked.

    • I don’t really imagine that my comment will produce a national boycott of the company. You need a roof, you need a roof. Quality and price will probably determine your choice. And I didn’t advocate it, I warned of the possibility. As for credibility, you’ll note that I emphasised “he says” by putting it in italics.

    • Perhaps he was dressed in a silly superhero outfit like Maurice Williamson and showed her offensive videos on his smartphone? Perhaps he jumped out from behind a bush stark naked? Perhaps, whatever.
      Yes, the NZH is tory sh*te, but it’s impossible to believe that they got it so wrong that something which justified sacking on day 1 actually occurred.
      Any company that enforces the 90-day rule deserves to be boycotted.

  8. I think we should ask Donald Trump for his opinion. I bet it would be a terrific opinion.

  9. Where I come from in England (Wiltshire) a stranger of the opposite sex is often addressed as “My Lovely”. Further west, in Devon, it becomes “My Lover”.

  10. Perhaps the person who should have been fired is the person who chose hate and resentment as part of her work protocal.The workplace who chose this as part of the workplace policy really doesnt belong in a reasonable society.

  11. Prior to the 90 day rule people were taken on as a casual or temporary employee which allowed the employer to judge their worth.The 90 day rule was never required by anyone who had sufficient knowledge to employ people under reasonable terms. .

    • 11.1

      So the 90 day rule made no difference then? So why the fuss?

      Actually it does make a difference for small businesses who can’t afford specialist employment lawyers every time they make an employment decision that could cost them a ransom in the Employment court.

  12. Sorry Alan but if employers dont know the basic process of employing someone then perhaps they shouldnt be in business of employment.With Temporary and casual employment both parties had a fairly good idea of where they stood.The 90 day rule left at least one party with no idea where they stood.Its rubbish law.Its a step towards complete casulisation of the work force.The zero hours contract enabled employers to extend the 90 day law ad infinitum

    • 12.1

      Zero hours contracts have nothing to do with the 90 day law. If you think terminating employment is not an expensive minefield for employers you haven’t much experience. Even within the 90 day rule it has turned out to have its legal pitfalls.

  13. .With the atitude you take to employment its no wonder that your experience ended in legal battles.When I employed people if they proved to be suitable they continued in employment.The ones that werent suitable were weeded out during their casual or temporary contracts.Both zero hours contracts and the 90 day law allowed employment to be ceased with no onus of responsibility on the employer.

    • 13.1

      Your presumptions are all wrong including that the 90 day law does not align the expectations of both employer and employee.

  14. The case in question proves my point.I would not expect to be sacked on my first day for calling someone Darling.

  15. 1)Madam? a)What sort of madam? b)Why would a madam crook her finger at you? c)Is this some kind of male fantasy in-joke? d) Am I missing something?

    2) What was the context of “darling”: a leer? a smile? a presumption?

    3) Bitch? a)Definitely gender specific, often insulting to female dogs b)most often used by misogynistic males of which NZ has an over-abundance.

    4)Fuck: gender neutral, a)impolite: as used by people who do not wish to be polite? b)emphatic declaration.

    5)”What a total…” I don’t follow your reasoning, it appears as if this is somehow intended to increase insult to female dogs and targetted women…

    6)So what do we call ‘bad’ men? a) Dick wipes? b) What a TOTAL dick wipe? c) Coz lotsa men like to be called dog/beast/maniac/horse/prick/evil fuker/mo’fucker/bastard … etc

    7)As most insults are gender specific when directed at either sex: cunt/bitch/slag/twat/hag/crone/witch/cow/slut/ho/skank/dog/girly …

    …I gotta ask you Mr E, when you gonna start considering that men in ‘your age group’ have begatted and contributed to a whole world of pain for women, and raised sons who are the same, look at the stats’, jeez.
    When are ‘your lot’ going to cut women some slack, extend dignity and respect as a mature male, and start working at undoing generations of damage?

    I say let’s see some real balls!