Friday, September 18, 2009

Grinnin' Bill

It’s hard to be completely sure about a lot of things. Is cheese made from bits of the moon? If so, is it fresher when the moon sets in the country, over a dairy farm? Why is pink? Or, if it comes to it, Pink? Who was it that suggested that sports players and commentators might be proof of intelligent life? And can Grinnin’ Bill English really be really real?

When the question was asked about Grinnin’ Bill English’s moral stature, why is it that no one has actually pressed the issue… or, indeed, has gotten all mad and steaming under the collar over this weasel’s prevarication and obfuscation? Just because something carries the stamp of legality does not mean it shines with moral turpitude.

English and his family have lived in Wellington since 1996. They live in Wellington, school their children in Wellington, pay rates in Wellington, eat, breathe, and fart in Wellington. At least for nine months of every year. Yet Grinnin’ Bill says, without a tremor in his voice, that his primary home is somewhere in the harshest latitudes of the Deep South.He makes this claim because of another one: the claim he can make on the public purse for the away-from-home living expenses.

Let’s be straight about this: he does not live away from home. He lives in Wellington, with his family, for the vast majority of the year. He has used the loophole to scratch some extra money from your wallet into his wallet. He’s a dissembler, a liar, a foulness on the body politic. And Key is backing him up, although he does at least refuse to suggest that English has been acting morally. He is kept busy using the “meets the legal requirements” argument.

That ain’t good enough, Johnny-boy. Fire English’s unworthy ass, and send him to the home he claims to live in, in Otago. And then let’s forget about this worm.

READING: The Littell book’s finished: I heartily recommend it to anyone who needs to have their brain exercised. I’m reading purely for leisure this weekend, and will start with one of Peter O’Donnell’s excellent Modesty Blaise yarns, “The Night of Morningstar”. Modesty Blaise is the shemale version of James Bond, but with wit, intelligence, and a complete lack of sadism and misogyny. Would have made better movies too, because there’s no way in the world Roger Moore could have played Modesty Blaise.

LISTENING TO: Jeff Buckley, “Sketches for my sweetheart the drunk”.

WORD OF THE DAY: Weary. It’s been a long, hard week.


Someone had taken to her, and recently. She wouldn't tell us who.
“Treen love, could you go and start a bath running? And Mum, if you'd pop the kettle on, I think a good hot cup of tea will do us all the world of good.”
“OK, Mum,” said Treen. She left the slop-room, and in a moment I heard the bath taps start. The cold one's always had a bit of a whine in it, and chattered a bit if it wasn't turned up hard enough.
I glared at my mother. “Mum? Kettle?”
She looked a bit dazed, which is understandable. Northbridge is a quiet little town, and everyone knows everyone else's business. Treen and I had buzzed of down to St Crispin's to pick Mum up, and found her at the lych-gate, on her knees, next to Wendy, who was weeping. Wendy, as they say, came from the wrong side of the tracks, although as the train ran around Northbridge, we were all on the same side of them. Wendy's mum was a bit of a hard-case, a woman who liked a drink a bit too much, and had enjoyed a succession of men through her front room. She had a good heart, though, and didn't do anyone any harm. Wendy was her only child, and had more or less raised herself. She was a few years older than Treen, and had worked at the sock factory since leaving school the moment she turned fifteen.
Mum started at the sound of my voice, and got up, muttering something. I paid her no attention. Mum is always muttering something, and some days none of it seems to make sense. Today was one of those days. She got up to put the kettle on.
“Now, Wendy, love. Tell who did this to you, dear. I won't tell anyone if you don't want me too. Was it Johnno?” Johnno is Wendy's boyfriend, a young man who always looked a bit rough around the edges.
“No, Mrs W, it wasn't Johnno. Ouch!” I'd just wiped a bit of mercurochrome onto the wound on her elbow. Stings like the devil.
“'Course it wasn't Johnno,” snapped Mum. “He's a good boy, he is.”
I peeled the backing plastic off a piece of Elastoplast, and did my best to pinch the edges of the wound together as I taped it. Treen came back into the room, with some clothes. “Here you go, Wendy,” she said. “I reckon we've got to get those clothes off you, and into the wash. Your Mum'll have kittens if you turn up up all bloody and bruised.” She showed Wendy the clothes – just a couple of blouses, a pair of jeans, and a sweater. There are moments when I know my daughter is, quite simply, the best daughter anyone could wish for. Wendy burst into tears, and Treen helped her up, hugged her, then took her to the bathroom. Mum poured the tea, and I took a cup into the bathroom. Wendy was sitting on the toilet, lid down, and watching as Treen busied herself at the bath, pouring in a few bath-salts, and some bubble bath.
“Here you go, love. You get yourself wrapped around that, have a nice long soak, then we'll see what needs to be done,” I told her. She pulled a hanky out of her sleeve, blew her nose, and said “Thanks, Mrs Wrigley.”
I went back out into the slop room, and looked up Wendy's mum, Mandy, in the phone book, and called. No answer.
“Right then,” I said.”We'll try again in half an hour, and if there's still no answer, I suppose we'll have ourselves a guest for the Wedding.”
Treen came out, carrying Wendy's bloody sweatshirt and jeans. She looked worried, and said “That's a nasty beating, Mum. Do you reckon it was Johnno? I asked Wendy, but she said it wasn't.”
“She told me the same thing too, love. Look, you go off to the club with your Dad, and have a bit of fun. You're probably running a bit late, now: kick-off's in ten minutes. You leave Wendy to me and your Nan, all right?” I knew that Mum and I would get to the bottom of this whole catastrophe somehow, but first I wanted a few moments alone with her. “Off you go, Treen. We'll see you when you get back. There's no hurry, the wedding doesn't start 'til real late. As long as you're back by 5.30, OK?”

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