I've been struggling with this thought for some time now. I think most people will agree that New Zealand has a mild strain of racism running through its psyche. I think that if we're honest with ourselves, and ask ourselves the qurestion, we'll find that we're just as capable of having an unguarded racist thought as any white-hooded KKK bum.
So, perhaps I'm a little sensitive. But I can't help but wonder about Westpac's newish ad campaign. Is it racist, or is it just plain dumb? It is definitely the latter: they have a manager of the bank who's too dense to put his dick away before doing up his zip. The same man is so frigging stupid as to engage in all sorts of childish behaviours - blowing bubbles as he's doing the dishes, giving his outboard motor death as he test runs it, and so on.
He doesn't even know how to pick up after himself, and allows himself to be bullied by people who look at him accusingly.
The fact that the man is a Maori may be coincidental. But I can't help but wonder about the discussion around the marketing manager's table when the advertising agency came to him or her, pitching this idea. MM is marketing manager, AW is Agency Wanker.
MM: So, what have you got for me this week, chaps?
AW: We're going to have a Westpac Manager at home, being lectured by his ten-year old kid about environmental concerns. The Westpac Manager will be breaking all the rules, while the kid reads from some greeny magazine.
MM: I love it. It shows Westpac's willing to embrace the new eco ethos. But we need a hook.
AW: Way ahead of you there. We actually have two hooks. One: we're going to make the Westpac a Maori...
MM: Nice. It'll show we're equal opportunity employers, and anyone can rise to the top with Westpac...
AW: And his kid will be white! A pakeha kid! We could use yours - he's about ten, isn't he?
MM: Magic! Little Bartholemew should be on the tele. Now, that's one hook - what's the other.
AW: You'll love this one. The kid follows his Dad around, lecturing him about this and that, and when his Dad's taking a leak, the kid turns off the light. The Dad - we'll call him Hemi - is so flustered that he zips up without putting his cock away, and gets in caught in his zip!
MM: And I thought Jim Carrey was funny. Nothing on you guys. Hilarious! This has legs for Africa... we can follow up with the same limp-dick Dad doing other stupid things, to show we have a sense of humour... that we're willing to laugh at ourselves as we rip off our customers. Brilliant, do it, want it tomorrow.
Well, it may not have gone quite like that, but I'd put dollars to doughnuts I'm not far off.
It may or may not be racist. What it definitely is... is stupid.
LISTENING TO: Jeff Buckley, "Grace". Best cover of Leonard Cohen's song "Hallelujah" ever.
READING: I had to get it: "The Librarian", by Larry Beinhardt.
WORD OF THE DAY: Brother. Mine's pretty magic.
Quiet Woman starts here:
Everything was well in the Wrigley household. Treen was getting herself ready for school, Russell was buggering about doing whatever he was up to, Chutty was outside swearing at the cell-phone, at the truck, and the bloody weather, and I was where I like to be at this time of the day: in the kitchen.
Four plates on the bench. The first has a piece of toast, lightly buttered, and one poached egg. That’s Russell. After he scoffs that, he’ll be into a bowl of Weet Bix, and a man-sized mug of tea. The second plate’s Treen’s: one slice of toast, lightly buttered, and cut into soldiers, to dip into her boiled egg. She’ll then have two Weet Bix, and a glass of orange. Chutty’s plate has two slices of toast, two poached eggs even though he’ll grizzle, and then his oatmeal’s ready to shove into the micro-wave. Then there’s mine: like Chutty, two eggs on toast. I’ve been hungry the past few days.
Schooldays are always a bit hectic, but if I get up with Chutty, the kids’ll be all right.
“Treen! Come on, you great lump, breakfast’s ready. And throw a glass of water over Useless, would you?”
“Righto Mum,” she calls back. “Be there in a sec’.”
And so she is. She breezes through the door, dressed in her school jumper and a pair of pyjama bottoms. They’re decorated with little yellow bunny rabbits, and she’d be mortified if I told her she looked cute. While we’re doing this introduction thing, we may as well start with Treen. Treen’s my eldest. At 17, she’s not long for this household: she’s passed all her exams and assessments, and is off to Uni next year. She’s not a pretty girl – anyone’ll tell you that. But there’s a strength to her; and earthiness that she gets off her Dad. To me, she’s beautiful. She’s my height, just a little over 5 foot 4, whatever that means in metrics. I’ve got my hand on most of the big metric stuff: litres and kilometers and kilograms and so on, but I still struggle with the little bits, the centimetres, metres, grams. Still, as long as I can still whip up a half-decent sponge cake, I’ll be all right. Anyway, my Treen. By the time I was her age I was shagging my boyfriend, young Tarquin Russell Wrigley, half to death most nights. God, I’m glad she hasn’t taken after her mother in that area. Right little bugger, I was. And when I was only 18, and just starting to show, I told Chutty to bugger off. Me and my Mum went through the usual stuff Mums and daughters go through, and Treen – short for Katrina – was born. Chutty knew about her, and did what I told him to do: he shot through to Australia. I really didn’t want him mooning about wanting to marry me and smothering me. Mind you, he sent me half his pay packet every week. God alone knows how he survived. We kept in touch, of course we did. But I needed to do a lot of growing up.
Which I did by getting myself knocked up again.
Silly little bitch.
Mum was a brick. Never asked about it, never got on my case. Anyway, there I was, under 20, and with two kids. I never saw Russell’s father after I told him the good news, and I can’t say I’m sorry. What I did do was write the longest letter to Chutty. To Tarquin Russell Wrigley. I had already named the baby – a boy - after the man who wasn’t his Dad. Well, not completely. Call a kid Tarquin? I think not! And Chutty, bless him, came back home, and lived with my Mum and the kids while I shot through.
It took me two years to do my degree up in Auckland, and I did far too many drugs and shagged too many faceless men and listened to too much crap before coming back home to Northridge.