No laughing matter by Trevor Plumbly
By general admission mainstream news is a bit of a witches’ brew of late. Despite wearing my ‘Pennies from Heaven’ (PFH) raincoat, I’m finding it hard to avoid dampening spirits. Sight loss (mercifully) killed off the newspapers as a source while the radio seems pre-set to dollop out hourly doses of depression. Sure, there’s heaps of the bad stuff out there that all of us need to be made aware of, but despite the relative insulation of life down here in NZ, the willingness of half-baked hacks to trumpet the mundane as news strains my ‘Sunny side up’.
Eye of newt and toe of frog
OK; however depressing, some stuff like war and pestilence needs to be ‘out there’, but it’s the fillers chucked in the mix masquerading as serious that we need to wean ourselves off. Some are patently silly, others an indication of the importance some folk place on tittle-tattle. I’m all for a bit of eccentricity to jazz things up, but let’s not confuse it with news.
My favourite for the ‘nothing’ award happened years ago in the UK when concern was expressed for the survival of the Natter jack Toad; it seems they were becoming a major part of the road kill. Outside fairy tale princesses, toads don’t have much of a fan base, but predictably the protectors of the obscure rallied round, and special tunnels were created under roadways to allow the little croakers to go about their business unsquashed. The details of the rescue process failed to add anything to my quality of life, except perhaps to illustrate that where the news is concerned the recipe can get seriously over-spiced.
Toil and trouble
‘Info-farce’ usually occurs of its own volition; down here, we’re a nice enough bunch, but we have trouble ignoring the inconsequential, especially when it involves us. Recently our Prime Minister (the one the world likes more than we do), took her mask off while posing for a photo-op on the steps of Parliament with a group of aspiring politicians. The nit-pickers immediately sounded the bugle and the press brigade showered us with ‘breaking news’ and 30 second sound bites.
That ‘event’ was overshadowed by the All Black team loss to Ireland which for most Kiwis was more important than stuff like the health crisis and the growing crime and poverty rates. A few called for the boss’s execution, but sending a couple of coaches into exile was accepted as more appropriate. It seems in such times our media find tar and feathers easier to dish up than in depth journalism.
Further reflection on the PFH philosophy has led me to believe that life is pretty much a stick and carrot affair for politicians, culture vultures and those committed to chaining our emotions to their concept of a higher being. Theirs is a harsh world, ruled by influence. I’m sure there’s tons of stuff they can squabble over for the foreseeable future, but even though Joe and Vladimir have got their finger on the button, we need to think PFH! If they’re just talking (as they do), there’s nothing to worry about and if they do jab the thing there won’t be much left worth worrying about anyway.
We need more silliness to get us away from the dark messengers and there’s plenty of stuff out there worth a jaundiced look. The fourth ‘new’ leader of our opposition was recently shown revving up kiwifruit growers in Te Puke at the same time as sunning himself in Hawaii. This should have been golden stuff for those of us hoping for a bit of light relief. Imagine! Here’s a guy capable of being in two places at the same time, which to my mind is patently unfair and whatever happens at the next election I shall demand a scrutinised recount. Despite being an ex CEO of Air NZ he seems to have trouble deciding where he is at a given time, or with whom; but as the late Kenny Rogers said ‘there’s someone for everyone’ and we of the PFH school of thought wish him well in that regard in the hope that there’s nothing untoward posing as a partner. Meantime, can we cut out the sinister ‘nothings’ please? I’m sick to death of social obituaries (excuse the pun).