The headline on yesterday's Stuff said "NZAF fly to the rescue". Or somesuch. I stopped, curious. I had to read why the New Zealand Aids Foundation would be flying to the rescue of the unfortunate buggers in Tonga. Now, I know that republicanism is steadily eroding the sensibilities of those who adhere to Bet and Phil as though they really are descended from heaven... and I know there's a grand conspiracy to get us to accept the fact that actually, Bet and Phil don't matter. But they'll need to be more subtle than dropping the R off the RNZAF.
Of course, it could have been ignorance. But I don't think so. After all,if we can't trust our electronic newspaper, who the hell can we trust? After all, we pay for i... oh, right. Nor we do.
They do say that there's no such thing as a free lunch, or a free newspaper, and they're right. I was chatting to the manager of a local giveaway paper the other day: they operate, he told me, on a 70/30 basis. 70% advertising, 30% editorial. And a good half od the editorial will be related to the advertising. Makes you wonder why anyone advertises in them: don't they understand they're being completely swamped out of visibility?
Meanwhile,of our giveaway electronic newspaper, things keep ticking over. At least the editorial is a lot more obvious: it's easier to avoid the ads.
Mind you, I have to wonder if I'd be avoiding the ads so much if we weren't still astonishingly broke? When you have no discretionary dollars, there's no need to check out Hardly Normal's shrieking and gibbering ads.
We're expecting guests this afternoon: a dear friend, and her four year old son. I can't wait. Whislt acknowledging that our grand-daughter must be the most beautiful child in the world, I must admit to a sneaky admiration (Well,all right: adoration) for Gillian's Theo. We're sort of Extra Grandad and Granmas: the lucky child has adoring adults around this island nation of ours.
LISTENING TO: Today's seen some serious msic listening and watching. By memory - Jennifer Warne's "Famous Blue Raincoat"; Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds "Dig!!!Lazarus, Dig!!!", Bob Dylan DVD, from Newport 1963 and 1964; Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens of old) in "Yusuf's Cafe" - terrific; and currently Paul Simon and Friends from when he was named the songwriter of the centur at the Library of Congress. He is a clever fellow.
READING: Have finished the Connolly novel. I'll review it tomorrow. Have started David Downing's "Silesian Station". Spy thriller, Berlin, 1939. So far, so good.
WORD OF THE DAY: Lazy.
“I’m sorry,” said Henry. “I didn’t know I had an appointment.”
The woman smiled kindly, revealing blood-red teeth, and she pointed to the piece of paper in Henry’s hand. He looked at it, and it read, in large, childish block letters made with a green crayon, “You are to meet at Courtroom 23, 15 minutes ago.”
“It should be all right,” said the woman. “You didn’t kill Brian and Fudd, the way Mr K. wanted to, so the court will be lenient with you.”
“Oh,” said Henry. “Thankyou. But before I go in, I would like you to know that Mr K. didn‘t want these chaps dead. That was a mis-understanding.”
He pushed the door open, and there it was: the same courtroom he’d seen in the movie. The five Judges sat up high, on a scaffolding of steel, and the galleries packed with people, who chanted in whispers “Guilty? Guilty! Condemn him. Guilty? Guilty! Condemn him.”
A thunder of gavels hammering counterpoint, and the judges cried out together “Quiet! Let the accused stand to.”
Henry looked behind him, but there was no one else. “May I ask what I’m accused of,” he asked, politely.
“Yes!” shouted the five Judges.
“Yes!” shouted the crowd.
“But we shan’t tell you,” said the Judges, speaking as one. “So you may as well not bother.”
Four of the judges then turned and looked expectantly at the fifth, a slender individual who had a distinctly feline face and a bright yellow eye-patch. Henry groaned: we’ve gone from Kafka to Bulgakov. Europeans! East Europeans, at that!
The Cat picked up a large bowl of cream, and said quite conversationally, “You know we have no choice, don’t you, Mr T. We have to find you guilty. We have to condemn you to death. We have no option. We’re all reasonable men,” said the cat, extending its claws, “and all reasonable men know what we must do, and know that what we must do is reasonable.”
The crowd murmured, than started pelting Henry with pieces of paper. He looked, and saw they were all $100 notes.
“You can’t bribe us, you know,” shouted the middle judge. “We can’t be bribed! We’re reasonable men, making a reasonable judgement!”
“Guilty? Guilty! Condemn him. Guilty? Guilty! Condemn him,” chanted the people in the gallery. “We have our thumbs down, down, down!”
And they all did, except for two: there, in the middle of the crowd, and seated at an elegant linen-covered table, were Mary and Adam. They were drinking champagne, and eating salmon and Caspian caviar blintzes. They waved to Henry, and he waved back. He turned, and walked back to the door. Opening it, he turned and looked at the Judges. “Thankyou,” he cried. “Thankyou.”
And the ten year-old Samoan girl, dressed in Gingham, closed the twenty-third door behind him with her psalm-filled palm, then applauded as he walked back down the corridor, and onto the desolate plain. He looked toward the tree, and saw it was in flames, and burning debris was falling upon the little village at its feet.
Well, look: it’s a dream, all right? Probably means nothing.
The longest period Henry and Mary had spent apart from one another during their marriage had been the month Harry spent in an Australian jail.
It happened in 1988, when Henry was a young buck at
McAlester, Brunton, and Whey, Barristers and Solicitors. He dressed then much as he did when all the foo-feraw, as he likes to call it, the foo-feraw of the getting shot happened. That is to say, he dressed sensibly, and his work was done in a judicious and sensible fashion, and he was much loved by the blue-rinsed old ladies who used the services of McAlester etc. for their conveyancing and trusts and general wheeler-dealing. The Brunton, Whey, and McAlester triumvirate took care of the legal matters: young Talbot maintained the books. The old women loved him for his clear eye, his deferential manner, and for the depths they could all feel were hidden under his tweed jacket. No matter how worried or concerned they may have been when their court shoes stepped over the McAlester, Brunton, and Whey doorstep, they left with a little frisson of delight at having spent a few minutes with their Henry.
The male clientele, oddly enough, felt the same. Not that they harboured lustful thoughts, as a number of the women did – no. That would be going much too far. However, they were all, to man, reassured by the young Talbot’s trustworthiness.
And, when he came back from his sojourn in the Australian lockup, they all took him to the Northridge Gentlemen’s Club, made him a Life Member, and toasted him well into the night with gills of the finest malt whisky.
Here’s the story.