Island Life by David Slack

The Long Run

The first thing you do after an election like that one is buy something handy from cafepress. They have all the usual in-your-face T-shirts; redneck victory whoop-ass caps and what have you, but I quite like the messenger bag that declares this:

Once you've done your online consumer's duty, maybe it might be time to do a little long-range contemplation. Greil Marcus is especially good at it with this obituary of George W Bush who expires from heart failure, it turns out, in October 2018. My money's actually on another pretzel, but the rest of the piece looks spookily prescient.

America has produced some remarkable presidents, often in times of greatest adversity. You never know - the first great one in half a century might now be only four years away from entering office.

But enough already. The net is full of this stuff. Let's talk some more about getting locked up for not paying your parking tickets. I wrote last week that I wasn't sure if anyone had ever actually gone to jail for it. Well, it turns out that at least one person has. I got a somewhat abashed email telling me this cautionary tale, and my correspondent is happy for me to share it with you, albeit anonymously:

I did go to jail for a parking infringement back in the early 1980s.

The original $3 ticket was issued in about 1972 and had been unpaid since. My habit of moving flats from time to time without informing the authorities probably had something to do with it.

A young and somewhat embarrassed constable knocked on my door at about 7am on a Monday morning and proferred a document known as a committal warrant -- go straight to jail, do not pass go, do not call your lawyer.

I could get out of that bind by immediately producing $145 in cash, an enormous sum then, and unavailable in those days before ATMs.

Having been strip searched (cheeks apart please) given a number and made aware by the prison officers that I was a worthless individual, I fetched up in a cell in Mt Eden with a murderer. A middle class chap like me in there! I did in fact pinch myself.

The whole thing was made more bizarre by that prison's almost joke-gothic-halloweenish architecture.

I had no legal right to a phone call and thus was incarcerated, as I understood, for two and a half weeks. Fortunately a kindly screw conceded to allow me a consultation with the prison social worker who in turn conceded to make a phone call on my behalf at about 11.30am.

A friend fronted with the required cash, now more like $156 for some reason, at about midday. It took three hours, while he waited at the gates, for the paperwork to be undone and my release to be achieved.

I was then required immediately at an urgent client meeting but apparently my concentration was lacking and my whole demeanour less than satisfactory. We didn't lose the client but it was a damn close run thing.

Terrible what can happen, but character-building I suppose.

There you go. If the election weren't proof enough, bad things do happen to good people.

Discouraging things also happen to middle aged people who try to keep fit and healthy. I had a most excellent time in the Auckland Half Marathon on Sunday. Marvellous morning for a run. Went out at a careful early pace, poured on the petrol through the middle 6 or so k's and then settled down to a solid pace for the last ten. I got home in 1.35.58, which was a four minute improvement on last year. I fully intend to make 1.30 next year, and declaring so here is a good way to start.

I was walking around comfortably for the first few minutes after the race, but then I gradually sensed that the foot was a bit tender. Blisters from the newish shoes. They gradually got more uncomfortable so I made my way over to a St Johns station and asked them if they might have a couple of spare band aids. No trouble, come and sit over here.

As I peeled on the plasters, the nice woman in the St John's uniform began filling out her incident record - name injury, address, and age. 44, she said brightly, that's the same as my Dad. Damn straight. And I'll still be running that marathon when her own daughter is on the St John station.

I'll lay you any money you like that by then there won't be a Bush in the White House.