It was many years ago now and so my memory might not be exact, but it went something like this. Back then the Herald had a wonderfully witty, slightly eccentric, scholarly and rather marvellous senior writer called Ted Reynolds.
One day a theatre reviewer -- it might even have been Peter Calder -- was, at the last minute, unable to make the performance of one of Shakespeare’s great tragedies and asked Ted if he could deputise, just this once.
Ted’s reply was along the lines: “Shakespeare? Oh good, I always want to see how it ends . . . ”
This wry wit -- whence comes Ted’s like again? -- came back to me on the weekend: how often we simply observe the action unfolding to an inevitable end. And it sometimes involves a body being carried from the stage.
Yes, it occurred to me this past weekend because . . . well, actually because I’m reading a biography of John Lennon to review for the Listener. It’s pretty good, but it’s not like the end is a surprise.
I didn’t sit upright and say to my wife, “Shit! Suddenly this guy comes in and kills him! Jeez. Who knew, huh?”
But prior knowledge of the outcome didn’t stop me following the action to that point, of course. As with Shakespeare, it is all in the detail of the telling.
And so it was as The Results rolled in: which happened about a third the way through The Three Amigos, incidentally.
By the gift of MySky and live pause/fast forward/live record we felt a pattern was emerging so changed channels for the duration, doing the FF through the ads and some of the “media commentators“ dragged out . . . and hey, it wasn’t like we didn’t know how The Three Amigos ended either.
So along with most of the nation we observed the inevitable and -- as with a Shakespeare tragedy or the life of someone who was shot almost three decades ago -- it was the getting there that made it . . . interesting?
Was this election interesting? I don’t think so.
The campaign was full of stumbles by Labour and some downright stupid stuff. A politician saying the defining issue was “trust“? You gotta be kidding!
Mr Key seemed determined to follow Kevin Rudd’s proven path (“me too”) but mostly tried to avoid saying anything that might be less than a bland platitude. Even if they were sometimes delivered with what I take to be his version of “forcefully”.
Mr Peters ended his own career, despite how much he might subsequently spin it -- and he took a few down with him when he went, much in the manner of a Shakespearean tragedy come to think of it. Bodies were carried from the stage.
Some might say the Labour Party was among the collateral damage, and no matter what you thought of Clark’s handling of Peters (in case she needed him later), the talk on the street was she should have cut him loose a long time ago. The street is powerful and street songs kill the quickest. This one was over for Labour a long time ago. We were just observing the inevitable.
I’m not one who is sad to see Mr Peters go. I was weary of the Comeback Kid Cliché around the time Ted stopped going to Shakespeare and I always felt the man’s arrogance -- not to mention his racist and expedient politics -- were abhorrent.
I liked the Maori Party’s smiling cop/smiling cop routine and on the night (if the crosses on Maori TV were to be believed) it looked they were going to have the best time of it, regardless of the outcome.
Others will tell you how the various television channels performed on the night, frankly I couldn’t care less who was good/better/best -- or what the blogosphere was saying. (Like, you were sooo totally sitting in front of your laptop? Really?)
During this campaign we got to witness some of the worst and witless from our media: how can any editor let a journalist ask -- and then have printed! -- a street-stop question to Helen Clark’s husband which is, “do you like sex?”
That is crass, insulting, stupid and just plain irrelevant. The editor who let that go should have to stand in the corner with that pathetic journalist. It told us nothing -- other than how base “journalism” could be.
And Charlotte Investigates on the small screen? Asking politicians if they were a piece of stationery what would they be? (An eraser to rub you out?)
I guess it gets a laugh when Charlotte’s friends chat about her on Bebo. But that stuff insults our intelligence . . . not to mention wit.
I suppose that was just kid journalists having their fun at their first election. I thought it bloody awful and puts those two people off the Serious List forever for me.
Because the big stuff was mostly bland maybe that was why that small stuff which got my grumpy attention.
But as the results came in the other night and we observed the inevitable, we farewelled some layabouts in Labour we were glad to be shot of, shook our heads at the thought of Roger Douglas having anyone’s ear at all who is close to the new government, and wondered aloud once more about this new look/familiar faces National Party. I find them worrying, and I’m not alone in that. They have to prove themselves to many people, not just those who gave them their handsome mandate.
I genuinely wish all these politicians -- new, departed -- well: the new ones because they have a big responsibility to the people of this beautiful country, and the departed because I am sure somewhere deep down most of them genuinely did what they thought was right.
So now we have a new government. I’ll be watching.
Because -- as with Shakespeare, any biography of John Lennon, or the leadership of Helen Clark -- I always want to see how it ends.
And what bodies will be borne from the stage.
Life goes on: Meanwhile over at Elsewhere life goes on as usual and there is more new music posted (Ryan Adams, a strange percussion outfit, some Mexican hip-hop, cool jazz, Pasifika poetry and more), a recipe for a fierce cocktail to get you through summer daze, Kraftwerk on DVD, the life story of a classic animator (with a clip) and much more.
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