Random Play by Graham Reid

Let them eat cake

You know how it is, you can go along with people for a little while -- indulging them even -- but then comes the tipping point. It’s the place where tragedy turns into farce, or rational actions suddenly become absurd. You walk away snickering.

There have been a couple of obvious tipping points in the past few days.

Who could not howl with laughter at the Reuters report that in Tehran some Iranians have taken to calling “Danish pastries” by a more politically appropriate name: “Roses of the Prophet Muhammad” apparently.

That right there is a tipping point. You just get a feeling that the outrage and street protests about the cartoons might be winding down now. Tragedy has turned to farce.

Protests will now morph into those against the abuse images coming through, although Danes are still being advised to leave Indonesia -- and presumably they should take their offensive cakes with them.

Another tipping point came halfway through the Herald front page article about the “eminent citizens” who have said they’ve had a gutsful of rubbish programmes on TVNZ.

Well, haven’t we all -- but, as far as I am aware, no one is sitting with a gun at our heads forcing us to watch it all. Yes, it takes some of our money but really, and it galls me a little to acknowledge this, it isn’t all rubbish.

And anyone who has watched state-sponsored television in other countries can tell you how bad that can be. Primetime viewing in Vietnam one night was a heart operation -- and they didn't even add dramatic music to the soundtrack in the manner of The Day My Boobs Went Bust.

But by and large you kind of agree with these eminent senior citizens -- who are obviously avid television watchers without remotes -- until you get to the line where Ian Johnstone, a former broadcaster, appears to bemoan the loss of McPhail and Gadsby and Close to Home.

That’s the tipping point, and the whole shebang was pushed right over the cliff when publisher Christine Cole Catley mentioned Upstairs Downstairs when interviewed on National Radio. What she sounded like she was arguing for was a return to colonial television about people in the Old Country who did things proper.

Yes, we should respect our elders and listen sometimes to their slightly archaic views -- but this was just getting absurd.

Soon they’ll be babbling on about The Planemakers, Bootsy and Snudge, The Donna Reed Show, Ironside, Supercar and Gumby.

We could all make a list of wonderful programmes of the Old Days --I’m for Lou Grant myself -- but when you see them on reruns most of them are embarrassing. Like the lady who recently returned to the library that long overdue Punch magazine observed, when you looked at it the humour in it, it just wasn’t that funny.

Geez, even Billy T didn’t seem quite as hilarious when his shows were replayed recently. And UK TV with its repeats of To The Manor Born, The Good Life and so on is more evidence for the defence.

Sorry eminent folks, we live in a whole new world and the old one isn’t coming back. Along with silence in libraries, getting dressed up to go to the movies, and saying “excuse me”, the world of McPhail and Gadsby has faded away.

I sympathise with the eminent citizens -- but more particularly people in retirement homes plonked in front of the idiot box every afternoon. Things just aren’t as good as they once were.

People are always complaining about something, young folk are rude and attached to cellphones, shop keepers don’t take the time to talk, and there’s quite a few of Johnny Foreigner on the streets these days.

I can understand why people prefer to live in the past. It was cheaper back then for a kick-off.

But goodness me is that the time already. Must be about time for that cup of tea and some cake.

Rose of the Prophet Muhammad, anyone?