Random Play by Graham Reid

Death and passion

Without wishing to diminish the death threat to Tariana Turia might I just ask this impertinent question: You mean she’s had only the one?

I would have thought that in public life, especially if you are saying things which might get right up the noses of some people, you could at least expect one a month.

Maybe we are still the passionless people that Gordon McLaughlan once said we were?

In good news however the prime minister still gets them -- and an axe in the window of her office on the corner of my street which was very inconvenient for us, traffic-wise.

Might I politely ask that if activists are going to get creative with their vandalism could they please factor in the bus lane and the works with road cones up on the corner by Kingsland Station The last thing we need is a dozen cops, a couple of journalist and a few photographers standing on the roadside for 90 minutes at rush hour. It’s a one-lane thoroughfare, guys, let’s have a little consideration for the average commuter-cum-rubbernecker.

And some of these slow-driving people are already of the kind you’d cheerfully throttle. Which reminds me . . .

Like Dover Samuels, who said you just toss death threats in the bin and get on with the job, I have put my various menaces behind me. I don’t know that I’d want to trouble the cops with them, and certainly wouldn’t ring 111.

And not because of the taxi-thing -- which is becoming a very bad joke and credits no intelligence to the teller, or the person laughing -- but that the cops might not answer for about 30 seconds. Which must be a bitch if someone has done a runner with your handbag and fled the scene, as happened the other day to a lady. If we are to believe what was reported in a newspaper. Seems she waited for ages for her call to be answered and by that time the villain had not only fled the scene but probably the immediate vicinity, if not the province.

Imagine how far he could have got if she had been connected and a car had been dispatched. Hamilton is my guess, probably one of those outer suburbs, in a garage with a red roller-door, the street near the park with the dairy on the corner.

Anyway, that thief got away and neither victim nor perpetrator was in danger, unlike Mrs Turia and I who have been on the sharp end of threats to our person.

My first came when I was about seven and my mum threatened to kill me for setting a mattress on fire. In the attic.

It had smouldered for a couple of days before it burst into flames and had to be cut up and tossed out bit-by-bit through a tiny window where it burned away on the lawn for another few days.

I’ve never smoked since. At least not for life insurance purposes anyway.

I also recall my dad having a go at me when I came home drunk and bloodied after being set upon by thugs near Albert Park one night. I was about 16 and they were much older than me, but of course they also had the advantage of nimble sobriety. I had the disadvantage of youth and three mates who buggered off quick when the fists flew.

When my dad recovered from seeing my nose plastered across my face and realised that I had been less than abstemious on the alcohol front the said: “By God boy, I’ll bloody throttle you!”

(Words which sounds eerily like the threat made against the prime minister when you think about it. Hmmm.)

“Against an ugly backdrop” -- to steal a quote from the Herald on Oneday journalist Jonathan Milne writing about the Turia complaint -- I protested my innocence and vowed that the next time I would “fight to the death”, to cop a phrase from Pita Sharples.

Which only goes to show when it comes to death threats, outrageous statements to get attention, and even name calling (I have been a “white maggot” more than once but you don’t se me running of to the cops now, do ya?) no one has a monopoly on them.

Turia was right to get in the police, just as Sharples was right to rack up the rhetoric on an issue about which he feels passionate. To hear Don Brash condemn Sharples’ language as not befitting New Zealand made you wonder which world he was living in: the one Gordon McLaughlan wrote about all those years ago perhaps?

Although that said, frankly I could do with a whole lot fewer people feeling “passionate” about things right now.

In the past month I have read of people being “passionate” about their vodka, fashion designs, oddball cooking methods involving coriander, sport, the hair they style, the books they write, and the wine they make.

As Graham Parker sang back in the late 70s, “passion is no ordinary word”. So, as with “awesome”, let’s save it for when it might actually means something.

Like the foreshore?