Wizard's Wizardry Answer to Quake Struck Canterbury

I love the fact that I live in a country that has an official wizard. The wizard of New Zealand (nee Christchurch) chose Christchurch as his new home and potential gallery for himself as a living work of art in the early '70's. He came as a prophet to bring good news of levity and logical silliness to the conservative uptight little hamlet tyrannized at that time by what he claimed was an abomination of evil (otherwise known as the Christchurch City Council.)

Last week amongst the most dire news of collapsed stairwells and pancaked skyscrapers and sour faced bank economists announcing falling stocks in hushed tones – the wizard burst onto the radio prescribing at least half an hour of silliness each for all the survivors of the quake and insisted how important it was to 'commit random acts of fun' at such an awful time. He recommended, in all sobriety that the population come out in full force to decorate porta loos with tinsel and engender unity by the wearing of silly clothes. It made about as much sense as liquefaction and chemical toilets had done and had the added benefit of being the only thing on the radio that morning that had made me laugh.

The wizard is undoubtedly one of our most treasured pieces of artistic heritage. He is so outrageously annoying to anyone in authority (his claims to inhabit other realms during the census is one of my particular favourites) and his assertions that he will ascend into heaven rather than just die like everyone else is directed for the sole purpose of baiting anyone in organised Christianity. Yet he pokes the proverbial stick so equitably and not infrequently at himself that his anti-establishmentarianism (if there is such a word) is nothing short of endearing. There is no violence and a serious amount of fun in everything he does.

If anyone should be consulted about the reconstruction of Christchurch the last person on the list should be Gerry Brownlee (an abomination to the art form of public speaking), the first, should be the Wizard who made Christchurch his chosen abode partly because of its aesthetic value. His war against telecom in the late eighties using the foot soldiers of lunacy that he had helped form (Alf's Imperial Army) to repaint the 'poofy blue' of telecom's new corporate telephone booths to the regal red that the citizenry were accustomed to was an inspired piece of street theatre and political activism. The ensuing street battle which he described as 'historical restoration by direct action' and the C.C.C. insisted was vandalism, was so farcical it could have been scripted by the Monty Python crew. Councillors waded in and offered free red paint and ordered Telecom to stop harassing the wizard or they would charge rent for the telecom booths, others threatened to take him to court. The citizens of Christchurch rejoiced in the restoration of their bright red telecom booths.

Surely this should qualify the wizard to be the chief cultural advisor to the council in terms of a restorative plan for the battered city. In his hands it is unlikely that Christchurch would suffer from the conformity and breath-defying blandness that other cities have endured at the hands of council directed architects. He could even be appointed as an emergency artistic dictator - it's not like he hasn't been one before. Early on in his career he spent two and a half weeks as a self appointed (is there any other kind?) dictator where he still managed to abdicate all responsibility and powers to a temporary female tyrantess with a very revolutionary cleavage, invent his own personal enemy to keep the populace paranoid and obedient, tax the peasants and then when everyone else was selling those appallingly uniform tee-shirts of Che Guevara he raised funds by selling his not very popular 'Dictator' tees. Which could explain why his campaign could never extend to amassing weapons of mass destruction. If nothing else at least he wouldn't be boring and he'd give the citizens of Canterbury a laugh. God knows they're going to need it.

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