Random Play by Graham Reid

Of cabbages and kings

Between promoting my travel book -- Postcards From Elsewhere ($29.95) which is not just a collection of previously publishe Herald pieces I hasten to add -- and trying to write for money to pay the mortgage, being on the case for Random Play has been slightly problematic this past fortnight.

But in keeping with the “random” bit, here are some things which have been battering around in the upper floor.

Sick of reading about the Barmy Army yet? The only good story had been by Tim Watkin in the Listener where he questioned some of the bullshit figures being thrown around about how many are supposed to be coming here.

And speaking of the Barmy Army. Doesn’t it strike you that a mixed message about drinking is being sent right now. We seem to be celebrating this influx of pub-crawlers (“Win or lose, we booze“) yet bemoan binge drinking? Just a thought.

And speaking of drinking. The talk about raising the drinking age? Here’s a thought, let’s get specific in our targeting of problem drinkers. Let’s ban sportsmen from drinking after a big game. That way you won’t get bouncers bashed in clubs at 2am, civilians won’t get their legs pissed on in pubs, and windows might not be broken. Just a thought.

And speaking of banning. Don’t you think things have gone weird when even political commentators try to work in a mention of Dancing with the Stars like this was some kind of metaphor in the current political climate. People, it isn’t. It’s just another crap television concept which has been getting an unnatural amount of coverage. God, we must be bored. A moritorium on mentioning it please.

Winston Peters Part One: When will he wave a piece of paper and bellow, “I have here the names of . . .” Oh. He has?

Winston Peters Part Deux: Is anyone prepared to make an excuse for this man? And here’s a thing: if you agree with him about the race/immigration thing then there is a word for you. It is “racist”. Oh, I hear you, “Gee, that's a bit harsh, he’s raising important issues . . .” No, stop. You’ve fallen for it. He’s a racist, and you are too. “But if you look at the figures …” No. See. Now you are confusing yourself. Stop. Listen. He is a racist. You are a racist. That’s it. There is no more.

Landscape and art. I’m pleased I’m not the only one who thinks the design for Shania Twain’s big house is actually pretty nice and looks like a very harmonious thing in the landscape down south. But, as I was told when I started at the Herald many years ago by an old hand: “Never ask permission from anyone in a position to say no. They will always say no.” I guess someone who can say no is drinking a good chardonnay, looking at the southern light and congratulating themselves on what a fine fellow they are that they can wield such power over people who have the temerity to be rich and famous. Mate, you might just be being petty.

But what do I know. I live in Auckland where we are used to crappy architecture and design. Amanda Reynolds, a Kiwi designer working in London, was interviewed on the National Radio this morning and was right on the button: New Zealand architects are concentrating on the iconic. We’ve got enough iconic. Buildings, especially apartment blocks, that look nice, can breath and don’t leak might be a better priority.

And finally: isn’t it sad that someone felt the need to say of the couple murdered in Fielding that they wouldn’t have hurt anybody. They were aged 73 and 76. Sigh.