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On the tragic deaths of a mother and three children – a dissenting view.

pic - George FM

Pebbles Hooper 

I read that Pebbles Hooper, described variously as a “socialite” and “gossip columnist” in today’s Sunday Star Times, has removed a Twitter comment in which she described the deaths from carbon monoxide poisoning of Ashburton mother Cindy George and her three children as an example of “natural selection”.

Tweets are of course easy to remove: ideas are a different matter. It remains a fact that Hooper thought and then gave public voice to the thought that George’s mistake in leaving the car engine running in her garage was an example of such stupidity that it rendered her unfit for survival in the modern world.  And, unfortunately, her children too.

The unspoken conclusion from this line of thinking would seem to be that when people make stupid mistakes they deserve what’s coming to them. And, unfortunately, it would seem, their children too. No point in wasting  your sympathy on such lost causes. C’est la vie!   Read the rest of this entry »

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Good news from MediaWorks. Story!

heather-du-plessis-allan-duncan-garner

Good news from MediaWorks – their new current affairs programme at 7pm, Monday to Thursday, is to be hosted by Duncan Garner and Heather du Plessis-Allan.

It’s good news because these are, in my estimation, two of the most professional and accomplished reporter/interviewers in the county. And, if we have to make the comparison, both could hold their own anywhere in the broadcasting world.

So what could possibly go wrong?

Well, there are some hints in MediaWorks’ news release about the new show:

First the title: Story. Well yes, journalists do refer to items as ‘news stories‘ and maybe I’m being picky. But when you take the word by itself, it does rather suggest that 7pm Monday to Thursday on TV3 will be story-telling time. Are we all sitting comfortably?    Read the rest of this entry »

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Sh*t happens, but what the f*ck!

 Alex

[As predicted, the National Business Review did not republish this post. Entirely their prerogative of course. And they were kind enough to promote the post on Twitter.]

Here’s a question: when you read the title of this post, did the fact that the “i” in the first word and the “u” in the last word had been replaced with an asterisk mean that you had no idea what either word meant or referred to, or that you did know what the words meant but, thanks to the asterisks, weren’t offended by them?

I would be astonished if anyone over the age of 10, and quite probably many under that age, could honestly answer “yes” to either part of that question. What will come into the minds of the vast majority of English speaking people when they see “sh*t” or “f*ck” in print are the words “shit” and “fuck” and the sound and meaning of those words.

So if I’m right and the absence of these letters makes absolutely no difference to a reader’s understanding of what the words refer to and no difference at all to their feelings about those words, then what is the earthly point in removing the letters at all? I’m b*ggered if I can see any.

Now if these words really are offensive to a majority of the readers of a publication intended primarily for adult readers, then the most sensible thing to do would be not to print them at all. That definition would presumably include every newspaper and most magazines available and on display in New Zealand. Read the rest of this entry »

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There’s always more room at the bottom of the barrel.

Rachel-Glucina

The departure of “gossip columnist” Rachel Glucina from the pages of the New Zealand Herald will be warmly greeted by lovers of quality journalism across the country. Had Glucina’s role been restricted to showbiz gossip and the back pages of the paper, traditionally reserved for this sort of material, her influence on the general tone of the Herald might have been less malign. But the volume, scope and placement of her material over the past year or so have led to an exponential increase in that influence. Glucina has been a major player in the “tabloidisaton” of the Herald.

Her departure to join the ranks of MediaWorks, whose stable includes TV3, TV4 and a raft of radio stations across the country, was announced by Glucina herself on Twitter:

“I’ve resigned.  MediaWorks has headhunted me for a joint-venture partnership to create, run and co-own a new digital entertainment platform.”

Mediaworks CEO Mark Weldon, helpfully explained:

“Digital entertainment brands featuring snackable, shareable content [especially video] are the fastest growing part of the media landscape, and there is a gap in the New Zealand market in this area.”

“Snackable, shareable content” – interesting! A quarter of a century ago media guru Dr Joe Atkinson coined the term “morselisation” to describe what was happening in the field of television news and current affairs in New Zealand. The term referred to the view of television executives at the time (and ever since) that the viewing public was not interested in watching lengthy news or current affairs items or interviews. They wanted their information served up in “bite-sized chunks”. He could equally have said, “snackable, shareable content”.

I rang my friend Joe this morning to inform him of Glucina’s departure from the Herald.

“The trouble with this,” he said, “is that these people don’t realise that there’s no room left for them at the bottom of the barrel. TVNZ’s already taken the entire space!”

My personal view is that, with determined digging, New Zealand television executives will always be able to find more room at the bottom of the barrel.

Watch this space.

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Hanging’s too good for them! (I rule on humourless people.)

Paul Henry Mug 2

Over the past three or four months I’ve made several appearances on The Paul Henry Show, theoretically in the role of informed media commentator. If you type ‘Paul Henry’ into the search box at the top of this page, you’ll find a number of seemingly contradictory posts on the controversial Mr Henry. They range from enthusiastic approval of his jbroadcasting skill to a call for his immediate sacking in the aftermath of ‘moustache-gate’, his mirth at the name of New Dehli’s Chief Minister, Sheila Dikshit, his description of Susan Boyle as ‘retarded’ and his offensive question to John Key as to whether the next Governor General after Anand Satyanand would look a bit more like a New Zealander.

I was right on both counts. Henry is a brilliant broadcaster who is never far from and occasionally crosses the line of acceptable broadcasting standards. I know I will regret having said this, but he’s also extremely bright.

Henry and I are of course politically poles apart. I stood as a Labour candidate in Miramar in 1972; he stood for National in the Wairarapa in 1999. And Judy and I were media advisors to Helen Clark for well over a decade. So there’s a bit of generally good-natured sparring between us on the morning show. A month ago, after he had described something I’d said about him as ‘vile’, I responded, ‘I like you Paul – when I am world dictator your death will be swift and painless.’  (I stole the line from one of my stepson’s T-shirts!)

This morning I told Paul that my appearances on his show were costing me my friends and cited an entirely fictional email from Helen Clark in New York warning me against any continued association with him. This gave Paul a wonderful opening to get stuck into the bullying, humourless bloody left. In response I felt obliged to withdraw my compliment of the previous month and inform him that I’d never actually liked him, though I very much liked his mother. Was he sure that this lovely woman really was his mother? It’s  quite a fun exchange.    Read the rest of this entry »

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Hey Kids, the rodeo’s coming to town! (Animal torture for all the family!)

The video below was sent to me by the cameraperson who shot the film for the animal protection organisation SAFE. He/she quite reasonably prefers to remain anonymous. The men in this video are not nice people. They are all guilty of animal cruelty and, in a just society, would be in prison. Those who attended, watched and enjoyed this spectacle are equally reprehensible.

This brutality occurred at several rodeos. What you see here, the cameraperson informs me, was only the tip of the iceberg. The bull was shocked much more frequently than is seen in the video. Such cruelty is common in rodeos across the country:

“I have been to other rodeos and can say this is not isolated, it is systemic. At that one event I witnessed shocking, anal interference, rope burning a cowering bull’s neck for several minutes, severe tail twisting and this was all done in front of children and their parents.”

This is entertainment only in the sense that what happened at the Colosseum in Rome was entertainment. It is the uncivilised and brutal torture of animals for sport and it should have no place in New Zealand society. It should and must be banned. NOW!

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Shit Happens! An Open Letter to John Campbell

 

Shit happens, John. I’ve been “let go”, sacked from more broadcasting jobs in New Zealand than I care to remember. And, more than once, with absolutely no warning.  To add insult to injury, the sackings generally occurred at a time when the show was enjoying both public acclaim and ratings success.

Top of the Morning (1994-1999)

In December 1999 my producer, Catherine Saunders, and I were summoned to Wellington for a meeting with Radio New Zealand CEO Sharon Crosbie, an old friend of both of us.  “Summoned”  is perhaps the wrong word. Catherine and I had made a habit of going down to Wellington just before Christmas to persuade Sharon that the success of TOTM merited yet another increase in our pay. Sharon would sigh wearily but to date had come to the party.

We were pretty sure of a warm reception. The latest radio survey had just come out. TOTM, whose previous incarnation had a cumulative audience of around 80,000 when I took over the slot in 1995, now had an audience of 340,000. It was the highest rating Saturday morning radio programme in the country, not to mention outrating almost every other programme on National Radio. We had every reason to expect a warm reception from the boss.

We were called in separately to be told the news. I’d been sacked.

To this day I have absolutely no idea why I was sacked as host of TOTM. Poor ratings? Get real! Poor listener response? Ditto! My role as media advisor to Helen Clark, the newly elected Prime Minister? Hardly, TOTM was a politics-free zone with the exception of one personality-style interview – with Jenny Shipley! Which leaves two defamation writs in 5 years, neither of which, in my reasonably informed opinion, should every have been settled.

Certainly not the second, in which Paul Holmes claimed $5,000 for allegedly having been defamed by yours truly on the show

This is what happened. A close friend of Paul had told me Paul had been highly disappointed by the low-key nature of a TV election debate he’d chaired between Jenny Shipley and Helen Clark. Paul had, according to the close friend, “been hoping for a cat fight”. I mentioned this in passing on the show. Paul issued a writ against RNZ for defamation and RNZ caved. I’m not sure which is more unbelievable – for a broadcaster of Pauls’ reputation to be so thin-skinned, or Radio New Zealand so chicken-livered as to settle this preposterous suit.

You know the rest, John. When the news got out, you interviewed me on TV3 News about the sacking. You were very supportive.

Then there was a public outcry. Thousands of people wrote to Radio New Zealand to protest. A couple of “offers they know you can’t accept” were made to me by  RNZ during all of this.

Sound familiar?

Shit happens, John.

But wait, there’s more! Read the rest of this entry »

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Teasing Out The Ponytail Affair

female-bully-1

John Key, the Prime Minister of New Zealand,  liked to tease Amanda Bailey, a waitress at the Cafe Rosie in Parnell, by pulling her ponytail. He did so repeatedly over a reasonably lengthy period, despite being asked by the waitress on more than one occasion to stop. His initial response was that he was, with his wife Bronagh, a regular customer at the the cafe where, despite his being the PM, the atmosphere when he was there was always jovial and jokey. He didn’t think he had been doing anything wrong. It was just a bit of fun, a bit of “horseplay”. He has since apologised publicly to the waitress, essentially saying that he’d misread the situation and got it wrong. He won’t, we can be reasonably certain, ever pull a waitress’s ponytail again.

So what we’re talking about here is teasing. The school playground is probably the most common place to encounter teasing. If ponytails are allowed in New Zealand schools, I have very little doubt that girls (and quite possibly boys) with ponytails will have had them pulled on numerous occasions and will be thoroughly fed up with it. They will no doubt have asked their tormentors on numerous occasions to ‘cut it out’. Their pleas will almost certainly have been ignored.    Read the rest of this entry »

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From Omaha to Hotel California

View from the bach at Leigh

View from the bach at Leigh

About 6 months ago we bought ourselves a bach in Leigh. It’s not terribly posh. You could easily mistake it for a Lockwood, but it’s half way up a cliff and all you can see from the deck is the sea and the horizon and, jutting out, the distant peninsula that is home to the Tauwharanui Regional Park and, on a clear day, Great Barrier Island. And all you can hear are the waves breaking on the rocks at the bottom of the cliff.

To get from Auckland to Leigh, you head for the Warkworth turn-off to Matakana, then on to Leigh bypassing the turn-0ff to Omaha.

I remembered that John Key has a holiday home at Omaha where he barbecued chops and sausages for John Campbell.

I’m a nosy bugger and about a month ago could no longer resist the temptation to check out the resort which our Prime Minister had chosen as his Kiwi  – as distinct from Hawaiian – holiday destination.

I gather there’s a fashionable and unfashionable part of Omaha. Homes in the “unfashionable” part have apparently just hit the $3 million mark, so the price of a “bach” in “fashionable” Omaha must be astronomical.

To satisfy my curiosity about Omaha Judy and I made  a detour on our way from Matakana to Leigh.

There are a lot of posh and a lot of not-so-posh-looking houses. The land in front of the houses is flat, so the only elevation above sea level, and therefore the only view of the sea, is from any storey above ground level. The streets in front of the houses form a grid of roughly parallel lines.   We drove down Street One for as far as we could go, then did a U-turn round the median strip into Street Two which ran parallel and brought us back to our starting point.

It was a deeply depressing excursion.

I’m sitting on the couch in our “Lockwood” now, looking across the sea to the horizon, interrupted on one side by Great and Little Barrier and on the other by the Tauwharanui Peninsula. Occasionally you can see the Coromandel. But you can always hear the waves breaking on the rocks.

I’m listening to my all time favourite LP, The Eagles’ Hotel California – The Last Resort:

“Some rich men came and raped the land,
Nobody caught ‘em
Put up a bunch of ugly boxes, and Jesus,
people bought ‘em
And they called it paradise
The place to be
They watched the hazy sun, sinking in the sea

“And you can see them there,
On Sunday morning
They stand up and sing about
what it’s like up there
They call it paradise
I don’t know why
You call someplace paradise,
kiss it goodbye”

Love that song!

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The Campbell Live Debate – A Considered View

Campbell Live

I’ve signed the on-line petition which effectively invites TV3 to abandon its intention to replace Campbell Live with what we now know will be a stripped soap-opera made by Julie Christie’s former company Eyeworks.

What has to be acknowledged straight away is that TV3 is a private company and under no obligation to continue producing a prime-time television programme that is losing ratings and therefore revenue. The channel cannot be asked to produce Campbell Live at a loss or to give it preference over a potentially higher rating programme in the same time-slot.

The dilemma here arises from the fact that Campbell is a public service broadcaster working for a private television network. The fault here lies not with TV3 but with the failure of successive governments to provide New Zealanders with a true public service television channel.  While Campbell continued to rate with TV3’s youngish target demographic, his position was relatively secure. The show, which the channel advertises as “New Zealand’s leading current affairs programme”, has been around for a decade. Not a bad run in anyone’s books. But, under the private broadcasting system, once viewers begin to turn off a programme, its host is likely to be shown the door.    Read the rest of this entry »

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Australians: Bad Losers; Worse Winners

AP, Getty Images

AP, Getty Images

It would be tempting to attribute the character of the professional Australian sportsman and sportswoman to that of their nation’s first arrivals. But that would be racist, another area in which we cannot compete with our trans-Tasman neighbours.

The Australians see themselves as a sporting nation. And in one sense they are. The Aussies are very good at sport; they win a lot of games. But in the other sense of the word “sporting” – characterised as sportsmanlike conduct, fair-minded, generous – they are considerably less adept. In that sense, whether in cricket, netball or rugby, they are an unsporting people. It is perhaps the one area in which we have nothing in common.

The difference between the two nations can be seen exemplified in two photographs in this morning’s Herald. In one the gracious Grant Elliott is seen helping a distraught and weeping South African player to his feet after his country lost the semi-final against the Black Caps. In the other, three Australian players – Brad Haddin, James Faulkner and Pat Cummins – are seen sneering and laughing at Elliott, as he walks away after scoring a brilliant 83 in last night’s World Cup Final. And that was merely the culmination of the sledging to which they had subjected Elliott throughout his innings.

These are not sportsmen. They are thugs. The word comes from the Hindi “thag”, meaning a “thief” or “rogue” and specifically a member of a confederacy of professional assassins who travelled in gangs throughout India for several hundred years. Of course that is not what we mean by the word now and I would certainly not want to suggest that this sneering trio deserve such a comparison. They don’t. Today the word suggests something along the lines of an uncivilised, offensive, ignorant, aggressive, nasty and thoroughly unpleasant individual. So that will do quite nicely to describe these three Australian “sportsmen”.

As I said, “It would be tempting…”

 

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Ten Ways To Lose A By-Election Without Even Trying

Ballot box

  1. Assume, as you have always assumed, that voters who have tribally supported you in the past will automatically do so again now.
  2. On that assumption shamefully neglect the infrastructure and social needs of the electorate for years.
  3. Choose an uncharismatic, overweight candidate whom no-one has ever heard of on the basis that he or she can expect no real opposition from anyone else.
  4. Be totally unprepared for any real challenger to that candidate to emerge.
  5. Be totally unprepared for strategic voting by other parties.
  6. In the event of a high-profile, hugely charismatic, popular, extremely well-dressed and well-groomed opponent appearing from nowhere, panic.
  7. Insult the voters in the electorate by assuming that their votes can be bought with a humungous and patently transparent bribe, essentially consisting of all the infrastructure and social items you neglected to provide in the past.
  8. Insult the voters in the electorate further by assuming that all that is required to change their minds is the opportunity to catch sight of the Prime Minister in their electorate, presumably with the prospect of being able to kiss the hem of his garment. And possibly that of a couple of overweight cabinet ministers as well.
  9. Undermine the confidence of your remaining supporters by conceding publicly that you could well lose the seat
  10. Repeat 1 to 9.

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A Response to “Euthanasia-Free New Zealand”

8am Sunday. Just opened the following news release from an outfit calling itself “Euthanasia-Free New Zealand”:

“Application  for a change to New Zealand Law on assisted suicide and euthanasia is not in society’s best interests.

“Lecretia Seales is a courageous woman, afflicted with a terrible disease. It is impossible not to be moved by her tragic situation. Yet her application to the High Court for a ruling on whether current N.Z. laws in respect of euthanasia and assisted suicide breach her rights under the Bill of Rights Act, although intended only to relate to her case, will, if successful, in the long run adversely affect the rights of many others in our society” says Professor David Richmond, a spokesperson for Euthanasia-Free New Zealand.

“Ms Seales’ request is superficially a simple one based on personal choice and autonomy. Unfortunately the issues are far more complex for society than that”, he said. “Current laws were drawn up to guarantee citizens the right to life. If Ms. Seales’ actions were to lead eventually to the decriminalisation of euthanasia and assisted suicide as she apparently hopes they will, citizens will be guaranteed the right to State sanctioned death – presumably at the hands of doctors. Our observation of how these things work in Holland and Belgium where euthanasia and assisted suicide are legal does not encourage us to think that significant abuses, including being killed without a specific request, will not occur”, he said. “There are compelling reasons for leaving the law as it is whilst concentrating on providing every care possible to relieve suffering in dying and upholding the dignity of those close to death.”

“Euthanasia–Free New Zealand hopes that this court action will result in a fresh impetus in our society to uphold the right of every citizen including the most vulnerable of us: the elderly, those with disabilities, the dependent and those near the end of life, to respect, care, support, honour – and life.
ENDS

:”CONTACTS: Professor David Richmond MD FRACP. Phone; 09 5705458, Email: d.richmond@clear.net.nz
Renee Joubert, Executive Officer. 021 167 4042″

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9am Sunday: Replied as follows:

“I suggest you visit my website brianedwardsmedia.co.nz for a contrary view. Type “euthanasia” into the Search box. The arrogance of your view that the decision of a person of sound mind to end a life which is intolerable to them should be in your hands not theirs never ceases to astonish me.”

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“Lecretia Seales is a courageous woman, afflicted with a terrible disease. It is impossible not to be moved by her tragic situation.”

On the contrary, Professor Richmond, it’s entirely possible for you not to be moved by her tragic situation. Indeed, far from being moved by it, you have now put your name to a petition whose effect would be to make that tragic situation even worse. It would deny her hope. And not just Lecretia, but every other person whose life has become intolerable to them and who wish to end their misery.

But that, according to you, is not their decision to make. It is yours because it offends your personal morality and the morality of those who would support your application.

Your Hippocratic Oath requires you to do no harm. Perhaps the definition should include  the harm of denying those whose lives have become intolerable to them the right to end their suffering in a peaceful and dignified way and not in one of the horror scenarios available under the current law.

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Judgement Day for X-Factor judges – my pennyworth!

Natalia Kills and Willie Moon

 I’ve just been invited to sign a petition to take Natalia Kills off The X-Factor. The invitation and the petition are now de trop, since Ms Kills and her husband Willy Moon have already been dumped from the show. An excellent decision by TV3, if I may say so.

I have watched The X-Factor occasionally. Real talent can emerge from the competition. Benny Tipene and Jackie Thomas spring to mind.

Talent among the judges is a rarer commodity. The qualifications for the job appear to be that you should be pitch deaf and have the depth of personality of a stone. I will except Melanie Blatt from this unkind assessment. She is both beautiful and bright. Stan Walker occasionally reminds me somewhat of the Harry Enfield character Tim Nice-but-Dim, but that is an unfair and inaccurate judgement of a likeable personality who tempers honesty with mercy in his assessments of The X-Factor’s invariably trembling seekers after fame. Read the rest of this entry »

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Some free media advice for Dean Barker: Ditch the sad-sack look!

 Dean Barker

I read that my friends and esteemed colleagues in the media-training business, Bill Ralston and Janet Wilson, have been employed, in media guru John Drinnan’s words, “to handle the Barker overboard debacle”. Drinnan notes that Janet “recently completed two videos on the Team NZ Facebook page, and interviewed Grant Dalton about what blows his spinnaker.”

He goes on: “But methinks much more will be needed before he has a warm and cuddly image like Spot the Dog.”

I disagree. The last thing a Team New Zealand Manager needs is “a warm and cuddly image”. Quite the reverse. Ambition, strength, drive, determination and perhaps a degree of ruthlessness might be more appropriate, and my impression is that Dalton has those qualities in spades.

Nor do I find too much wrong with his image: amiable, firm, no-nonsense, a man willing to compromise but unwilling to yield on the core issue, in this case Barker’s fitness to lead New Zealand to victory in the next America’s Cup.

Dalton has spine.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Jiminy Cricket! Now Rachel is really, really huge as well!

Rachel Smalley

Jiminy Cricket! Now Rachel is really, really huge as well! Yes, Rachel Smalley now commands a full-page Newstalk ZB ad in today’s Herald. It will no doubt be followed by a half-page ad, and the campaign will perhaps roll on until every NewstalkZB talk-back host has been made really, really huge.

Rachel is already really, really tall. She is also the best radio/television interviewer in New Zealand by a country mile. No exceptions.

So I’m hoping that Rachel didn’t write the trite, overblown copy for this ad, which has all the purple prose hallmarks of an advertising copywriter. Have a taste:

A JOURNALIST’S NUMBER ONE OBLIGATION IS TO GET TO THE TRUTH AND EVERY TIME I ASK A QUESTION, EVERY TIME I BEGIN AN INTERVIEW, THAT’S MY MOTIVATION. GET TO THE TRUTH, GET OUT THE INFORMATION, CUT THROUGH THE SPIN, AND GET TO THE FACTS.

JOURNALISM IS A TRANSACTION. IT’S ABOUT GETTING INFORMATION FROM ONE SOURCE AND PASSING IT ON TO ANOTHER. IT’S ABOUT KNOWLEDGE. IT’S ABOUT BEING A WATCHDOG. FOR A COMMUNITY. FOR A COUNTRY. FOR THE WORLD. AND IT GIVES A VOICE TO THE VOICELESS.    Read the rest of this entry »

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Sufferin Succotash – Mike Hosking is really, really huge!

 

FullSizeRender

 

Sufferin Succotash – Mike Hosking is really, really huge! Well, Mike is so huge that his employers can’t fit him into anything less than a full page in the Monday to Friday (tabloid) Herald and half a page in the (broadsheet )Weekend Herald.

Mike is so tall and rangy in the tabloid that you could imagine he might dwarf Clint Eastwood. Which is appropriate because he’s got a sort of cool cowboy, dropped-hip stance and is wearing a don’t-mess-with-me, all-in-black outfit: jacket,  jeans and pointy turned up boots. The jeans are appropriately too small width-wise and too big length-wise so that they furl up at the knees and concertina over the top of the shiny black boots. Except for the fact that he appears to have lost his left arm in the picture, which may or may not have some sort of semiotic significance, the dude looks great.

He’s half-cut to the waist in the broadsheet picture so the cool cowboy look is lost, but you do get to see his bright, shiny eyes, his pearly white smile and his alabaster-smooth forehead. He still looks huge, but the cropped close-up really makes you feel that he’s smiling at you.   Read the rest of this entry »

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Extra! Extra! Read All About It! Small Table and Chairs Get Reprieve!

Ponsonby Hair

 

Following yesterday’s post “Shock! Horror! Local Hairdresser breaks law with small table and chairs!” Ponsonby hairdresser and all round good guy Ken Beguely,  owner of Ponsonby Hair, this morning received a gracious apology from an Auckland Council manager, an assurance that no further action would be taken to compel him to remove the small table and two chairs outside his salon, and an invitation to contact the manager at any time if he had further problems.

Now that is great news and I congratulate the Auckland Council manager on his eminent good sense in abandoning an ill-considered course of action.

Only thing is, Judy and I were kind-of looking forward to “THE SIT-IN”, as the table and two small chairs, Judy strapped into one, Brian into the other, were hoisted by crane into a waiting Council dump truck, against the chanting of a thousand angry Herne Bay, St Mary’s Bay and Ponsonby  yummy-mummies, “We’re as mad as hell and we aren’t going to take this any more! Save our salon!”

One can only dream.

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Shock! Horror! Local Hairdresser breaks law with small table and chairs!

Ponsonby Hair

The shop in the photograph above is Ponsonby Hair, located in Jervois Road, unsurprisingly in Ponsonby.

The Ken referred to on the sign in the window is Ken Beguely, the owner of Ponsonby Hair.

The feet and legs reflected behind the sign in the window of Ponsonby Hair belong to Brian Edwards and Judy Callingham, Ken’s faithful clients.

Brian and Judy think Ken is a great guy. Their haircuts are testimony to the fact that he is a brilliant hairdresser. So are all his staff.

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago Ken had an unexpected visit from a a representative of the ACBDD, the Auckland City Business Discouragement Department.

Ken was cutting a nun’s hair at the time. (No, this is not a joke!)

Now no self-respecting hairdresser will abandon a client in the middle of a cut. And certainly not a nun, God forbid. So Ken continued with his work, while the ACBDD official talked to the back of his head. Ken was in serious breach of a local body by-law.   Read the rest of this entry »

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Catch 22 and the war on terrorism

image

Some days ago I wrote a post in the form of a short story. In the story a young man walks into a New Zealand Army recruiting office. He’s 23 and his resume makes it clear that he’s the sort of candidate the Army would welcome with open arms. The recruiting officer can’t believe his luck. This kid is officer material for sure. He tells him as much. But the ideal candidate expresses a reservation about signing up. He wants an assurance that he will never be placed in harm’s way, that he will never be asked to go to war. The recruiting officer is astonished. With as much patience as he can muster, he points out that it’s the New Zealand ARMY the young man wants to join – a fighting force. Armies go to war. Soldiers are trained to fight. Though he might never be required to risk his life, the assurance he seeks clearly cannot be given.

“I know all that, of course,” the young man says, “I thought there might be exceptions. Thank you for your patience.”

Two weeks later a hooded gunman mows down 15 people at a Westfield mall. CCTV footage will  show him  hacking off the head of a late-middle-aged man with a serrated knife before running from the complex. In less than 12 hours Isis has claimed responsibility for the slaughter.

Within 24 hours the young man reappears at the door of the Army recruiting office. The recruiting officer looks up from the papers on his desk. “You’re back!” he says, “What changed your mind?”

Read the rest of this entry »

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