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.”
It felt like Groundhog Day. I was astounded watching a TV One news item about New Zealand Immigration refusing visas to two young Ethiopians who were to be sponsored here by a group of retired professionals. It was two years (almost to the day) that I’d written a very emotional and indignant piece about the humiliation and disappointment my family had experienced when we wanted to host relatives from Egypt for a special holiday.
In the 13th century Marco Polo reported from China that Kublai Khan of Cathay had two kivichi or Masters of the Chase, each commanding 10,000 men assisting the Khan to command a total of 5,000 dogs in tracking, hunting, and killing wildlife. Marco Polo didn’t mention how big the kennels must have been.
King Henry III of France (1575) was a devoted dog lover – perhaps a bit too devoted. He owned 2,000 dogs, so perhaps it is just as well that he had several palaces. He liked to have 100 dogs within patting distance, and he went walkabout with 20 at a time.