“Words without actions are the assassins of idealism.” ― said President Herbert Hoover nearly a century ago. It was if he was addressing his present day successor Donald Trump’s inadequate response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Before television, families gathered each night around the essential piece of lounge furniture – a stylish floor level radio console (perhaps branded Atwater Kent or Gulbransen) – or faced the ornate mantle model (Philco), waiting with expectation for the crackling radio valves to warm up.
At first they nodded and smiled as usual on our daily walks. Nothing unusual there, it’s our neighbourhood.
But then the pandemic arrived and didn’t leave. For a few days we were confused and offered the same greetings, though we all knew nothing would ever be the same.
The Centre for the Future of Democracy at Cambridge University recently stated that: ‘Democracy is in a state of malaise.’ It’s not been like this since the 1930s. Now, Facebook refuses to police its political ads which aid and abet liars. And the world’s democracies are not seen to be doing much about it.
It was John Cleese who made the above comment famous in regard to German guests in the 1960s television show, Faulty Towers. The theme; attempting to keep silent about guests whose behaviour or history you think deplorable is universal, which is what made the show so brilliant.
Excerpts from Kiwiosities, a book by Gordon Ell on the traditions and folklore of New Zealand.
An outbreak of Spanish influenza killed some 6716 New Zealanders late in 1918. The worldwide epidemic took millions of lives elsewhere. Some believed the disease was brought into New Zealand by the passenger ship Niagara that also bore Prime Minister William Massey and Finance Minister Joseph Ward back from a First World War conference.
If they have faith in an old superstition, men who are concerned about their sexual vigour should eat a generous amount of rabbit kidneys. Rabbits are known to very procreative, by why their kidneys were regarded as the seat of their rampant passions has never been explained. (Nor is there any suggestion that another part of the male rabbit might provide a more logical encouragement.)
Outside it’s sunny, a hot, muggy Auckland day. A plump Tui swings on the untidy flax bush by the bedroom’s open window; slothful clouds drift past in a china-blue sky. But inside the bedroom it’s cold, chilly enough to raise goose-pimples. Despite the golden light outside, the room is shadowy, its corners dim and blurry.
A very long time ago when I was an NBR media commentator, a senior Treasury official asked me what I thought about the future of TVNZ. I told him that its hyper-commercialism was driving viewers away; that people were sick and tired of ads and much of the network’s ratings-driven programming.
He paused, stroked his chin and looked into the distance. “Hmm” he said. “Here, we would call that a long term strategic loss.”