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Second Thoughts on “What Next”

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Tossed and turned during the night. Couldn’t sleep. A bad conscience will do that to you. Had I been too harsh on What Next? What would I say to John Campbell if I bumped into him at RNZ when Michelle and I were on The Panel? Not a violent man, thank heavens. Probably shake my hand and say, “No hard feelings, Brian.” But that would just make it even worse.

Trouble is I’d watched last night’s show and found no compelling reason to change my opinion. And there are still three episodes to go!

So here’s a more temperate analysis of what I see as the programme’s flaws.

*No contrary opinion is expressed anywhere on the show. On the core issues which the show addresses all the studio guests and all the people in the video clips are in fundamental agreement.

*This does not make for riveting viewing. On the contrary, the worthiness which the programme conveys is likely to turn viewers off.

*More importantly, it may invite the suspicion that this is a programme generally reflecting the views of the Liberal Left – people like me!

*New Zealand On Air funded the series to the tune of $1,219,288. That’s not excessive for a five-part series but it ought at least to buy decent pictures and high quality sound, not Stygian gloom and muddy audio. [Irony Warning!!!] Maybe that’s only in Ponsonby/Herne Bay of course.

And finally this: If you cared to look back on the posts on my website or on Facebook, you’d discover that I’ve been a longtime fan of John Campbell and, despite an early post entitled “I do not care for Nigel Latta”, of that gentleman too.

Damn! Another sleepless night coming up.

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Review of an Unnamed TV Programme


What Next?

My name is Brian and I’m a television addict. My addiction began when I was 10 and holidaying with my Aunt Jessie and Uncle Donald at their maisonette in Bromley in Kent.

Donald and Jessie’s TV had a 12-inch screen and delivered a rather muddy black and white picture. A rather bluish black and white to be precise, resulting perhaps from the limited luminance which the set was apparently capable of delivering. Drawing the curtains helped and added somewhat to one’s viewing excitement.

The first TV programme I ever saw was a stage production of Beckett’s Waiting For Godot. I have to say that this is not my favourite play, if indeed ‘play’ is the word. Not to put too fine a point on it, I would rather eat worms than sit through another performance of Mr Beckett’s renowned oeuvre. Call me philistine if you will. I don’t care.

But at the age of 10, I was transfixed, not by being kept waiting for Godot, but by the flickering images on the screen in front of me. “Hooked” would be a more accurate description. A lifelong addiction to the box had begun. Read the rest of this entry »

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A Parasite on the Body Politic

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There are very few people whom I actively despise. Being far from a model citizen myself, let alone a paragon of virtue either in thought or deed, I’m in no position to pass judgement on my fellow man or woman. But there are some public figures whom I do actively despise, without necessarily being able to specify what it is about them that sticks in my craw.

Peter Dunne is one such. I can’t stand the fellow. He reminds me a little of Tim Shadbolt whose unashamed motto was ‘I don’t care where, as long as I’m mayor.’ But Shadbolt was at least capable of self parody. He mocked himself. Dunne doesn’t really care which political party or group wins an election. The very fine balance in political support between the major parties which MMP has produced has made it possible for a minor party, even a party of one, to enjoy a degree of power entirely disproportionate to its numbers. And to introduce and quite possibly to see passed legislation which a majority of Kiwis might not support. Such is the case with Peter Dunne. Read the rest of this entry »

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Out for a Duck

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Duck shooting season about to start. Human versus duck. It would be a fairer contest if the ducks had guns and could take aim at the assholes who take pleasure in shooting these beautiful creatures out of the sky.

In an interview some years ago I put this suggestion (rather more politely) to the Duke of Edinburgh, then a keen hunter. We went on to discuss ‘the hunter’s melancholy’, a passing sadness which hunters apparently feel when they make a kill. His Royal Highness was familiar with the feeling and, if memory serves, suggested that hunting served a useful purpose in controlling the populations of certain species.

I wasn’t aware that we were about to be overrun by ducks in Godzone or that population numbers of lions, tigers and elephants were out of control in Africa and other tropical climes. But I left it at that. It would have been neither appropriate nor acceptable to harass the husband of the Queen. And actually I rather liked him. Read the rest of this entry »

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Thoughts on Andrew Little

Andrew Little

I’ve previously written a couple of posts about the Leader of the Opposition, Andrew Little. The first was extremely unflattering and noted that someone had credited Little with having “a dry wit”. I observed that “arid” might have been closer to the mark. To his credit, Little found this amusing.

I was kinder in the second post, observing that the Leader of the Opposition might bring to the Office of Prime Minister a degree of personal integrity all too rarely evident in party politics.

That second post was, I now think, a fairer summation.

But, as a media trainer who has advised several Leaders of the Opposition and a couple of Prime Ministers, I know all too well that integrity is no guarantee of success in politics and that how you ‘come across’, your ‘image’, is a significant factor. Read the rest of this entry »

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This is Driving Me Nuts!

Here is the first sentence from an Associated Press report which I’ve just finished reading in the online edition of today’s Herald:

“WikiLeaks has offered to help the likes of Google and Apple identify the software holes used by purported CIA hacking tools – and that puts the tech industry in something of a bend.”

Now I don’t know who penned this story but it wouldn’t surprise me if the author was a Kiwi.

Why? Because “the likes of” has almost entirely replaced “like” , meaning “similar to”, in New Zealand journalism and, I fear, in everyday speech. Read the rest of this entry »

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Profile of Leader of the Free World

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Donald Trump, President of the United States, leader of the free world, dangerous psychopath. No need to go on. Sometimes a picture really is worth a thousand words.

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Keep it simple, Stupid!

Franz Kafka

More than half a century ago, when I was a lecturer in German literature at the University of Canterbury, I was myself taught a lesson about effective pedagogy: Never use a long word when a shorter word will do. Keep it simple, Stupid!

I was lecturing on the Czech/German writer Franz Kafka, some of whose nightmarish novels and short stories you may be familiar with: The Trial, The Castle and The Metamorphosis whose central character wakes up one morning to find that he has been transformed into a beetle.

What did it all mean? Well, if you’ve got a lifetime or two to spare you could read all the scholarly books and articles that have been written on that topic. But basically it comes down to this: some people think the books are religious allegories; other people think they reflect Kafka’s relationship with his domineering father. I belong to the second group. Read the rest of this entry »

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Farewell to Sir Bruce Slane

Sir Bruce Slane

One of the finest men I have ever encountered has died. Sir Bruce Slane was a gentle, unpretentious, decent, life-affirming proponent of the very finest human values, the whole leavened with an infectious sense of humour, I am just one among thousands who will celebrate his life and mourn his death.

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Mind your head, mate!

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When I’m writing a post to appear on my site, I take great care to ensure that what I’m writing is factually  correct. I may then draw certain conclusions based on those true facts. The truthfulness of the facts will not, however, guarantee the correctness of my conclusions. Reaching those conclusions requires logic and independence of mind .

Those same qualities are required of those reading what I have written if they are to fairly assess or judge my argument. Race and gender are areas in which logic and independence of mind are most threatened by illogic and mental bias. This is scarcely surprising since those areas also provide the best/worst examples of prejudice against and mistreatment of one social, national or racial group by others.

In everyday conversation and debate, however, I am less likely to be so scrupulous. A conversation in which one weighed every word, sentence or statement of opinion before delivering it would be very stilted indeed. My experience of having given literally thousands of off-the-cuff interviews to journalists, whose editors then decided which bits were interesting or newsworthy and which weren’t, has led me to the firm conclusion that fairness and accuracy are most at risk in the reporting of ad lib chats with journalists on the phone. Read the rest of this entry »

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Old Gent gives Gratis Advice to Young Boxer

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I abhor the ‘sport’ of boxing but it would be graceless of me not to congratulate Joseph Parker on his World Championship win last night. I did not watch the fight but I have seen numerous television interviews with this modest and entirely charming young man and I congratulate him wholeheartedly on this remarkable achievement.

So in the highly unlikely event that you read this post, Joseph, here is a piece of well-meant advice from an elderly gentleman who still has a few brain cells left: Take the money and run!

Cheers!

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Memo to National Party Caucus: Please Pick Bill. Please, Please, Pretty Please!

Bill English

I like Bill. Bill is just great. Really, really great. And – sorry to blow my own trumpet – but if anyone should know, I should. Well, me and Judy really – the team that brought you Helen Clark. Back from the dead, some would say, but I couldn’t possibly comment. Anyway, back to Bill. Did I say Bill was great? What an understatement! Bill is stupendous, charismatic, a master of oratory and, no point in denying it, a real stud. The stats never lie. And here’s the thing: I’m a dyed in the wool Labour man. A socialist, to be strictly accurate. So this is really tough for me to have to say. But hey, truth is more important than politics. And it will out. Bill is supercalifragalistic, expial… Oh never mind. Bloody brilliant on the box too. And if anyone should know, I should. Did I say that already? Never mind, the truth will out. And here’s the acid test: if I had to choose between watching a 45-minute interview with Bill on some TV show on Sunday morning and watching Paula Bennett figure skating naked on ice, I’d pick Bill. And so would Judy. Charisma, mastery of the language, sex appeal. It’d be riveting, wouldn’t  it? Think of Bill as a rivet: solid, reliable, holding things together, grey-coloured. So please, please, please pick Bill to lead you into the next election. If only to please me and Judy and Labour Party voters from the Cape to the Bluff. Bill’s your man. And mine. Thanks. Brian

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A Media Trainer Muses on John Key, Helen Clark and the Nightmare Prospect of New Zealand under Paula Bennett

John Key

Being a media trainer is a bit like being a singing teacher.You have to have a very good ear. It’s not merely about being able to correct glaring examples of poor pronunciation, diction or tone. John Key’s tendency to insert a ‘sh’ into certain words usually before a ‘t’, producing a somewhat Germanic ‘sch’ sound (Aushtralia), and Helen Clark’s rather mannish tone and overly forceful delivery both invited derision and had the potential to prematurely end their stellar careers.

I once had the opportunity of giving a few pointers to John Key on his interviewee performance. TVNZ had decided to arrange some interview training for its high-profile newsreaders, including Simon Dallow. Each had to arrive with a guest of their own choosing, whom they would interview under the critical eye of Brian Edwards and Judy Callingham. Simon introduced us to his choice of interviewee, a chap called John Key, whom I had not only never met, but never heard of. Read the rest of this entry »

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Brian Tamaki – Saint or Sinner?

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Of the several thousand people I have interviewed in my broadcasting career, including forgers, prostitutes and train robbers, there is no-one I have held in greater contempt than Brian Tamaki.

Tamaki’s principal interest in life is not God, it is money. And no amount of money is ever enough to allow him and his wife to continue living the lifestyle to which this self-proclaimed “bishop” has become accustomed – a lifestyle of luxury and excess. Nor has any sight filled me with more disgust than Tamaki standing on a platform and inviting his disciples, principally the poor of South Auckland, to come forward and lay as much money as they can afford, or more perhaps, on the stage in front of him. A blessing! Read the rest of this entry »

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Ten No Trumps

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Well, now we have a racist megalomaniac or a brilliant political thespian as the most powerful man in the world. Or maybe both. I’m opting for both. Be very afraid!

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HEY, MAX!

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Just read that piece about you by that bitch in the Sunday Star Times. What’s got her knickers in a twist eh? Probably gagging for a good ride! That’s the trouble with the bloody Kiwi press – too many old sheilahs out of touch with the in scene.

What you need is a man’s take, Maxie. A real man’s take.
Well, you’ve come to the right shop there, kiddo – Dr Been There Done That, Still Crazy After All These Years, Bring In The Next One: At Your Service!

So here’s the first rule to staying cool: don’t make an ass of yourself. And especially not a total ass. Looking a total ass is really not cool, Maxie. Get it?

And yes, we all know that you’ve got special circumstances going on. And it isn’t easy.

On the other hand, it isn’t all that hard either. Read the rest of this entry »

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Suicide Note from a Deranged Narcissist

Paul Henry

Paul Henry has given a lengthy interview to the New Zealand Herald‘s Canvas magazine. The paper teases readers in a banner front page headline: ‘POTTY MOUTH PAUL – Has Henry finally gone too far?’ Having read the piece my preferred headline would have been SUICIDE NOTE FROM A DERANGED NARCISSIST.

Been there, done that. Though the interview I gave to a national newspaper in 1970, when I was making my name on the current affairs programme Gallery, was not riddled with expletives as this interview is. I’ve always thought that needing to pepper your language with ‘fucking’ represented a failure in communication. Or perhaps just trying too hard to impress. Read the rest of this entry »

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I GET A PERSONAL MESSAGE FROM THE GOVERNOR OF THE RESERVE BANK

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Hey you! Yes You! The wrinkled old guy with the funny Irish accent! God, you look ancient! Must be 90 if you’re a day! Hold on, I’ll check the file. Jeez, only 78! Time you retired, mate. You’ll bloody wear yourself out! What else? This is interesting: “Made a name for himself on the box. Started that Fair Go thing.” We hate that programme here at the Bank. Bloody consumers knowing their rights! Peasants! What would they know about high finance? No pleasing them. Moan bloody moan!

Which brings me to your letter DOCTOR!!! Passed on to me by our Head of Surveillance. Let’s see: “… saved all my life… told by every government this was the responsible thing to do… managed to buy a house and put away a nest egg for my old age… now being punished for having been responsible…. Interest rates at all time low… people with barely a cent to their name now borrowing hundreds of thousands… not fair… blah blah blah…”

God this is side-splitting, Doc. Tears (of laughter) are running down my cheeks. Can’t wait to tell Bill about this. Still, you’re right and you deserve an answer. And here it is, Doc – Take it to Fair Go, Mate!

Bottoms Up

THE GOV

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Never On A Sunday!


Andrew Little

Having of late been more critical than approving of Andrew Little’s efforts in television interviews I now come to praise him: he handled a lengthy and confrontational interview with the terrier-like Lisa Owen on ‘The Nation’ exceptionally well. His ums, ers and y’knows were gone, he was fluent, his eye contact was sustained and he looked confident. The interview should have been a winner.

There was only one problem – the long list of questions he was unable to answer at all! Not from lack of knowledge but because Labour’s policy on each of those topics was not due to be released until the Labour Party Conference on Sunday, which, as we all know is the day after Saturday, when ‘The Nation’ is first broadcast. The world – and Lisa Owen – would have to wait till then.

So we ended up with a whole series of questions which Andrew had to tell Lisa and the audience he couldn’t answer. Conference had to hear them first – on Sunday!

It was really embarrassing.

So here’s my question: How in god’s name did no-one in Little’s office notice that his interview with Owen was the day before the Labour Party Conference which would make it impossible for him to say anything new or of consequence about … well, pretty well anything.

That proved a disastrous oversight with Little repeatedly having to tell Owen he was sorry but he couldn’t talk about that.

Heads should roll!

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Is Judith Collins fit to be Minister of Corrections? I think not.

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Just listened to an appalling performance by Judith Collins with John Campbell on Checkpoint re Ngapari Nui, a gang member doing wonderful work for Maori prisoners. Unthinking, irrational, blindly bigoted, closed-minded, just plain stupid. With these attitudes Ms Collins is not fit to be Minister of any portfolio requiring forward thinking or social understanding. Least of all Minister of Corrections.

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