Random Play by Graham Reid


So. I'm off Te Radar again

Even though some may prefer to presume otherwise: I don't know Te Radar.

Yes, he and I have met briefly on social occasions in the company of mutually reprehensible friends, but I have always been uncomfortable with that notion that because you might have a “name” or media presence – and I would lie if I pretended that once upon-a-tilly-ti-to I didn't – that you all sorta “know” each other.

In fact a person whose work I once admired on television walked across a wide room (I saw his company-sponsored double-breasted coming) and said, 'Hi Graham” and then talked like we'd been longtime intimates.

I extended my hand and said, “ Hello, my name is . . .”

I hate that.

And worse: some fuckwit famous American in the early 70s/feminist browbeat days who inaugurated political polling here before the Dawn of Rob/Helen once said to me, as I was being politely formal, “So you're one of those guys who shakes hands, are ya?”

I – quick as a flash, which surprised me afterwards for my rare aggression but deliberate insensitivity to the times – said, 'Oh yeah, and you're one of those cunts who doesn't?”

So, as the American might have said if he'd been fast enough, “Sue me”.

But to return to our mutual non-acquaintance, Te Radar.

No, I don't “know” him, and I am confident he would say he doesn't “know” me.

But once he and I met over rather surprising common ground: Thomas Brunner, that 19th century explorer who tramped around the top and middle bit of our South Island. Brunner came up in boozy conversation. (Just think about that for a moment.)

My feeling has always been that we, as a “young country” (copyright), take our history with such a po-faced attitude we forget the ridiculous nature of it: Shitfuck, history – here, there and everywhere – has always been about accident and idiocy. And in conversation Te Radar and I met on that common ground.

In this country we would like to pretend otherwise however: because, let's face it, it suits some people to believe there was a guiding Pakeha and/or Maori ideology.

But mostly they were all stumbling into unknown territory: for the English-educated coming from the Home Counties on the promise of a idyll worthy of Watteau; or innocent Maori who would pretend they always resisted land purchases (and vessels to Sydney and the blankets were for . . . ?)

History, huh?

We'll always see it from our own disadvantage point: I like Detroit rocker Bob Seger's worldview: “Take it calmly and serene”.

That's Zen to me. Slow down and receive our “history” with a pinch of scepticism and humour. There was probably no guiding ethos, folks.

So, Te Radar and I had the briefest of encounters over a mutual appreciation of accidental encounters, and the journal of Thomas Brunner (1821-74). And that, as they say, was that.

But on that occasion he also told me of his next . . . what? . . . performance/show/appearance . . which was about Brunner and his journals, which I guessed to mean some kind of comedic and angular presentation of ol' Thom.

Well, as Lawrence Sterne once wrote, “digressions is the soul and art of wit”, so it sounded interesting to me and said to Te Radar, “Wow, let me know . . .”

And, of course, he said – as musicians always do in my experience – “I'll put your name on the door”.

My three sons (copyright) were in rock bands in Auckland and – because I know more than something about that world from considerably damaging experience – I would always tell them that rock'n'roll was “pay at the door”.

I am sure I said as much to Te Radar about his kind but familiar invitation as I always do: “I'll pay at the door.”

Then I got an e-mail from Te Radar inviting me to Eating the Dog. My name was on the door.

Frankly, I was astounded he would have remembered our brief conversation let alone my interest .. but I gratefully accepted the double pass to his show in the Comedy Festival at the SkyCity Theatre.

It was as as funny as a historian-on-hooch and I vowed to myself I would write about it on Public Address to encourage all others . . . etc.

But before I found control.alt.save an send I learned the show I'd seen was a one-off.

I was, in the words of Mandarin-speaker I know, “dumb-shocked”.

Eating the Dog was one of the most informative, funny and digressive one-man shows I've ever seen in this country (and I've seen more than a few one-woman shows too)

Eating The Dog is, in my opinion, a performance everyone should see if they can . . . because they'll get to laugh, learn something and walk way with a new view of our history.

We've had serious.history, earnest.history, and of course alt.history.

But Eating the Dog for me, was just history as we know it in the present tense. We live in this world with all its foibles (that prick Chris Carter), the madness (the SCFinance bailout) and the inane (“our”/”your” TVOne “news”).

We have people on the margins who dramatically impose themselves onto the media-mediated view of this country (bastards like red-light runners and property developers) . . . and once upon a time we had Those Real Others; like the foolhardy, courageous and probably heroic/inspired and silly Thomas Brunner.

Eating the Dog may remind you that this has always been a slightly mad, bad, but always interesting country . . . and it was always about what happens on the margins.

These days we get Big Important and Award Winning History.

Eating the Dog addresses our very wide margins. I think it should be adapted for television (easy, it is like Al Gore's Inconvenient Truth with its mix of stand-up, powerpoint and footage)

So why would I mention this now seemingly apropos of nothing?

Because my friend Te Radar (joke!) is presenting Eating the Dog on tour again at these places .

Christ-onna-bike I hope he reads this and I can see him in Howick or somewhere close and I can drive there fast, through red lights and drunk coz that's whut we do inna Auckland.

And then not have to pay at the door.

(If you've been reading carefully that is a called “A Joke, Joyce”)

Eating the Dog is "important". Not a word I use lightly these days.

By the way: Nothing more to be said about my one-man music/travel.arts Elsewhere website other than this: I 'm reliably informed it is one of the top million websites in the world. And if you think that doesn't mean much, I agree.

Except . . . there are billions – and more – websites out there. So I'm glad – and yes, proud – my free cottage industry is among that top million. Hmmmm.

“Irregardless” as they said on The Sopranos, it seems my ducks are all on the same page as they say at Corner.Gas .

Chur bro'. I'm going to open a bottle and . . . [not] eat the dog. See you at Te Radar.

Graham Reid is the author of the book 'The Idiot Boy Who Flew'.

(Click here to find out more)

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