Glass half full or glass half empty?

Glass half full or glass half empty? It depends what you’re drinking. If it’s John Chilwell’s turnip grappa it is never empty enough, on the other hand if it’s anything that doesn’t strip an Essex girl’s make-up off before it hits her lips – it’s probably half full – or it could be that if you’re Greek you may have lost patience with any form of optimism and you’ve simply gone out, got bladdered and thrown the glass in the fireplace in disgust.

It does seem that in this new world disorder– Pollyanna may have finally been the victim of a hit and run. Perhaps she had all her shares invested in a finance company as strong and trust-worthy as an old hay barn. An old hay barn in Christchurch.

It could just be that we are seeing the rise of the age of the Pessimist – Eeyore (the symbolic leader of the movement) may finally triumph over the epoch of Pollyanna positivism that frankly bordered on a cult like following of the power of thinking REALLY NICE THOUGHTS. All the time.

Under the Reich of Right thinking conflict is ‘negative energy’, asking difficult questions just brings everyone down and looking at feasible ways a project could possibly go pear-shaped before committing all your time and money was tantamount to heresy.

I’m guessing here but I bet Terry Serepisos wishes he’d had a few Eeyore like book-keepers around pointing out where the possible bummers might lie further up the road instead of surrounding himself with bankers and society show ponies who just kept nodding their heads and tossing their manicured manes at him.

Much as I hate to admit it, Annie was cute with the way that she’s always betting her bottom dollar that the sun will come out tomorrow. But what if it doesn’t?

You have to question the odds. Why put money on something as fickle as weather? Not after this summer anyway. And the bottom dollar? Shouldn’t she go and buy a thimble full of Fonterra milk with that last one?

It’s people like Annie that have gotten us into this global financial meltdown! There’s a reason why the sugar Daddy is Daddy Warbucks. A gilded era of unbounded optimism leading to a run on unsecured credit and the ensuing instability only being sorted out by a bloody great war – whereby someone who makes guns or sells food will be the winner at the end of the day.

I like the idea of a steady resilient hope – it’s just that I think we’ve been won over by her poor cousin; feckless and lets face it: clueless unbridled optimism.

Bullied into submission by the ‘power of positive thinking’ the natural worriers amongst us have had their input side-lined in favour of the bright and eternally happy believers who want us to think they are what they think themselves into being.

Kim Dotcom is an excellent example. Hire a private jet to make people think you are rich. And you will be. Look rich enough to buy your way into a country. And the gates will open. An optimist will see this as proof that positive thinking works. A pessimist will see this as proof that neither positive thinking or money prevents anyone from being an egg. Nor does it prevent them from doing dumb things with their money once they have it.

Come the revolution Pollyanna and Annie will be shot. As examples to all those others who believe in the power of positive vibrations. Failing that I condemn them to half a glass each of John’s turnip grappa. That should sort them out.

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Never smile at a crocodile

Never smile at a crocodile. And never, and I mean this, laugh out loud at a white supremacist Nazi when he’s having a beach day in Northland with his supremely white mini jackbooted toddler. I didn’t – the camo trousers and jack-boots on a frying Saturday morning were slightly scary. As was the camo flick knife that was attached to the camo trousers. But I was laughing on the inside.

I was also in slight admiration for the young right-wing extremist. It takes some dedication and commitment to be wearing heavy-duty jack-boots and to have your politics tattooed all over your arms on a sunny day. The swastika and the storm-troopy lightning bolts are fairly hard-core on such young puny white little limbs. It seemed all wrong somehow and so I went to offer him some sunscreen because I thought it might be deeply uncool if he had to go back to Wellington or Christchurch or wherever he’d come from to fight the cause of bright pink supremacy. He might get accused of ethnic diversity tolerance and beaten up for being gay. I also thought that his practically albino beautiful little skin-head son looked very cute in the jack-boots and could only be so blindingly white if he had been part of a special breeding programme – possibly on Kyle Chapman’s ‘Aryan Base’ farm in Rangiora where like-minded skinheads play paintball and grow organic vegies. I also hoped that if the toddler suddenly ran off into the waves, he’d do so between the flags so that someone who wasn’t wearing 10 kilo strapped up boots on would be able to save him.  

I wondered if young storm trooper was feeling the hate on such a sunny day with all the different coloured bottoms of the local kids covered in their surf club’s colours, going about their business of grabbing sticks and putting their foreheads on the sand in preparation for greater things like: saving lives one day. Somehow I always thought it would be easier to feel more hatey if you lived in a miserable climate. Maybe he’d come North to take a break from the right wing resistance – if so I hoped he wasn’t going any further North where he’d definitely be in the minority colour group because then he might get a radical boot camp of culture and politics somewhere north of Rawene.

If this young kid ever became a lifeguard would he still only want to save white ones or would the camaraderie, fun and responsibility shared among his multi-coloured companions make him  see things a different way?

It must take an awful lot of energy and a sense of impending doom and persecution to maintain unlimited hateyness against almost everyone who is not the same as yourself. I’m on the right wing resistance email list mainly because Kyle is a worse speller than I am which makes me feel good. A few weeks ago Kyle sent me this cheery missive regarding the Food Bill:
We really are in the last days of freedom. We know most of you will sit back and wait for it all to roll over you while you hide away and pretend you will be ok. Rabbits like that will get whats comming. But those who want to stand up and help us work against these laws and lack of freedom, join us, or start your own resistance. Prepare. Arm yourself. will you let Government inforcers take your food and arrest you for growing it?” (sic.)

I intend to arm myself with organic carrots and joust John Key if he approaches.

I laugh – but sometimes I think we should take these guys at their word. How many people laughed at Norway’s mass murderer Andres Behring Breivik and his lunatic right wing Knights’ Templar before he actually carried out what he had already calmly (albeit insanely) said he would?

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Get a grip on the real world

Technology is making us stupid. It allows me to write a nonsensical language of my own device and then press ‘spell check’ to make my spelling mistakes and idiosyncratic misuse of grammar completely disappear.

Technology lets me look up the weather forecast on the web instead of sticking my head out the window to see what the wind and clouds are doing.

About a thousand years ago when I was an exchange student my Thai host Mum smacked my legs with a stick for following her round with a note-book trying to write down the recipes for what was to me, crazy exotic food. Her logic was that if I wasn’t prepared to commit them to memory I was only pretending to be interested and therefore I should bugger off out of her kitchen and leave her in peace to cook. I have never forgotten a recipe that I’ve watched a good cook make since. But why would you bother to commit anything to memory or keep in a mind store from which you can later dip and call it ‘common sense’ or ‘general knowledge’? Why would you do that when you have the Internet?

Why bother slowly working on the same recipe over a life time until it’s utterly perfect and then handing it on to someone who’s interested when I can have 7 different mediocre versions of the same thing I can randomly choose from the web? As long as I’m not stuck somewhere without broad-band or there’s a massive power outage that is.

Years ago before iphone apps there were published guides. If you wanted to travel and see lovely things and lonely places and meet truly wonderful locals the first thing you did was to buy a lonely planet guide. You carefully noted all the places that it suggested seeing and then go somewhere entirely different – pick a place on a geographical – not a consumer map and wander there slowly. That way, in South East Asia at least, you could avoid the yoga pant wearing ganja-toking idiots with ridiculously young local girlfriends who were ‘doing’ Asia and a lot of magic mushrooms in between.

The point being that internet lists of things to do, places to eat and stuff to buy are slowly atrophying the muscle of discernment that allows us to make up our own minds about the world around us. We are also developing short term memory loss by constantly having everything on hand. Here’s an experiment: Ask anyone under 24 for their telephone number . Chances are they’ll tell you just as soon as they’ve looked it up on their phone.

Maybe we don’t need to know stuff anymore. Like the educational trend, which reeked of an abdication of all responsibility: the idea that teachers are ‘learning facilitators’ and students just have to know how to find resources and then collate the information. I still think it helps to have a grip on the real world by knowing your coordinates – socially, historically and geographically. Which brings me to GPS. I never tire of the GPS stories my parents, who run a lodge, tell. People who have had their range rovers dragged off beaches by Dad’s fergie tractor because ‘the GPS’ told them that heading into the tide was the correct way to get to a hotel. People who have ended up in Gisborne on their way to the Coromandel. From Auckland. The Italian captain of the cruise liner that ran aground this week insists that according to all the navigational charts and GPS there was not supposed to be any rocks there at all! Those sneaky goddamn heat-seeking rocks! I wonder if at any point, anyone looked out the window and thought ‘that cliff face is bloody close for such a big ship’! Or, if in such a technologically advanced monstrosity, you could see past the casinos and dancing girls to be able to see out any window at all?

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Nudey Rudists

Nudey Rudists. So christened by the small person, nudists will now always be known thus, and will continue to hold a special place in my heart. Mainly because they are so charmingly, harmlessly bonkers. Who can really be offended by people who play lawn bowls entirely nude? Who can fail to be amused by a group of knitting nannies completely starkers? I know that this is deeply immature but surely we have more compelling things to get upset about than a couple of nuts – making their own re-run of a free willy home video?

I wish I could feel the anguish of ‘outraged of Kensington’ or whoever has been writing all those letters to the ed about ‘prancing exhibitionists’ but I can’t quite muster the energy. Girls in Israel are getting thrown off school buses for wearing immodest head gear and hundreds of girls around the world are routinely disfigured by acid attacks for not knowing their correct place in the world. A place that does not include being anywhere near a school or often anywhere public. There does not seem to be much international outrage being vented on these girls’ behalf but one tanning extremist in our own backyard is enough to make the papers go into fainting fits and have the matrons of St Helliers and Maunu reaching for the smelling salts before whipping up some fetching tulle covers for the piano limbs.

I should declare in the interests of transparency that I would rather join the army or go to a Kiri te Kanawa concert than get my kit off at any beach. Unlike many high maintenance models from Latin America I am well aware that I am the wrong side of 40 and everything is following a migratory path south which at this stage is looking like it may be a one way voyage.

My personal disinterest in nudey rudism is therefore a community service but I really don’t give a fig leaf if anyone else wants to indulge – I doubt I would even notice. I have twice now been in the company of completely nude men in public and have failed to notice. Once I was deep in conversation with an old friend while walking late at night when we were accosted by a flasher. Not wanting to lose the thread of the discussion we went on arguing amicably on our walk until she burst out laughing and asked if we should perhaps go back and ‘scream or something’ seeing as we had obviously failed to react appropriately and the flasher was now standing dejectedly in the middle of the road behind us. The other time was out at Uretiti Beach. I had bundled kids dog and friends into the back of the truck because the waves and weather told me I had a good chance of getting a free feed of scallops from a big Easterly swell. Ecstatic that this had in fact proved to be the case I failed to notice the nude bloke wandering aimlessly at the high tide mark. The small person kept pestering me while I was getting more than my limit of snapping scallops to give this individual some money. In frustration I shouted at her that just because we couldn’t see his home or his lunch box didn’t mean that he didn’t have both. “But Mum!” she said speaking slowly so that I would get it “How can he have a home if he hasn’t even got enough money for some togs?” Good point. In my enthusiasm over the scallops I had missed that we were with three very small people at the local nudist colony. The other kids didn’t notice. They dress like that all the time. For a nano-second I thought about my responsibilities as a parent and whether this really was appropriate. There were still at least 3 sacks worth of scallops floating in the tide. Irresponsible to leave them all to the nudey rudists. Even if they couldn’t afford to buy themselves a decent pair of budgie smugglers.

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New Year’s resolution

New Year New Life so the saying goes in Spanish. I like the idea of having a new life as quite frequently I feel like I’m trapped in some really bad Almodovar movie where everyone is over acting and there seems very little point to anything at all. Mostly I think that if my life were a movie it would be one that would be described by critics as missing some important things that would warrant engaged viewing. Things like a plot. For example.

The problem has always been that while I like the idea of a new life and am very good at making resolutions I lack any kind of resolve, which means the follow through is always lacking. One New Year, I made a resolution to go to Argentina and marry a gaucho with an enormous… now don’t be silly… or rude…. Estancia. Yes. Farms there are about the size of small African nations. Cattle rustling is so endemic because it takes 6 weeks to ‘ride the fences’ to find out what’s missing by which time your livestock is someone else’s barbeque. The resolution was made in all seriousness -ok, well it might have involved a few drinks with some gay bloke friends and a religious portrait adorned with votive condoms, they’d given me which I later regretted taking through customs. The plan was that I would spend my days riding aimlessly round on horses, drinking mate and not doing much of anything except watching the polo (pronounced poulou) and buggering about. Which I thought I’d be quite good at. While the intention was quasi-serious I lacked the resolve that many women have when they are hunting down their marital quarry. I am easily distracted. And have a very low tolerance threshold to boredom. The only real chance I had of actually seeing out this ridiculous fantasy was the estancia owning mining magnate I went out with on a single date. He spent an hour and a half talking about business and then talking into his phone – I exited through the restaurant kitchen and for all I know he sits there still. I’m sure he wouldn’t have noticed that I was gone and my Spanish was too bad to stretch to convincing lies so a doing a runner seemed the appropriate thing to do. I had failed to pay attention to the details. Like; if you really want an estancia you might have to put up with living with a plonker. It hadn’t occurred to me there should be any sacrifices inherent in the resolution.

Life coaches and other people who can’t find a real job would say you have to be very specific. You have to float your intention out into the universe and the universe will magically deliver. Except in my case. When I ask the universe for peace and happiness I get a stray cat and an insane Polish neighbour.

It seems that the universe might be like one of those creative writing classes where they give you 3 completely nonsensical elements and you have to compose a narrative from them. Peaceful, happy or otherwise.

Self-knowledge has led me to have much lower expectations and so this New Year’s resolution is going to be much easier: I will always use the old Orewa road to get to our largest city from the North. I will admire its beauty and it’s distinct lack of ridiculously long queues of irate people waiting in front of toll booth machines that don’t work or are not written in the language of the person randomly punching at buttons in front of you. I will note that taking the slow way has saved me precisely an hour, which I wasted trying to pay $2 for the privilege of saving 10 minutes in a spiffy tunnel.

I will resolve not to vote for any more politicians who suggest that flash roads are the answer to the economic woes of the North.

Seriously – the one thing we’re not short of up here is time. What were we really going to do with that 10 minutes anyway?

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