A view from the barber’s chair…

There’s not much to look at from a barber’s chair. On my last visit a notice at the bottom of the mirror caught my attention: “Like us on Facebook and follow your barber on Instagram.” since the barber was standing behind me with shears in his hand I was afraid to ask if it was a joke.   Perhaps it’s just in Wanaka where this kind of strange behaviour can be found? Not that I’m paranoid, but I’ve noticed that most of the books in Wanaka library are written by women – well, maybe I am paranoid, but I can read. So why is every book a world-wide best seller?

I need to travel more, but there’s always the telly. I was watching the news about the struggles of kiwi-fruit growers. They can’t get enough staff to harvest the fruit, a perennial problem apparently. They have a number of options, including growing only the number of plants that make for  sustainable harvest. But they have instead come up with a more original two-pronged solution:

Part one; blame the government for not letting enough off-shore labour enter the country – not really all that original, but part two; plant yet more acres in kiwi fruit vines. Certainly makes you think.

Yes, I do watch television, the news anyway, for the pictures, and the sport, because I’m a sports tragic. Naturally, I’m biased. I like athletics, boxing, football, hockey, rowing and rugby. I’m also prejudiced. Can’t stand basketball; too many goals and you have to be a giant. Netball ditto. After watching the now obligatory nightly time news slot devoted to an American basketball league, of no significance here apart from the fact that a New Zealander plays for one of the teams. Let’s  hope we haven’t got anyone in France playing petanque.

Reader beware: This one may not be true, because I only heard part of an interview featuring the head of television, who spoke proudly of TV One’s quality. When asked to justify his salary –  more than what the head of BBC gets! Can this be true? He justified it by stating that our state television broadcaster was part private and therefore more complicated. Of course I could have been hearing things, but if not, it was a good answer, comforting in fact. Because it was convincing evidence that what most of us have hardly dared believe for years is true: This  ‘complicated’  system is   really quite simple. It’s a  30-year-old, philosophically bereft chase for ratings and revenue.  Within this  operation the Government takes  its  substantial  dividends and management can justify  its often  excessive salary entitlements.

Mind you, it has to be said that TV news is very inclusive, catering to a wide intellectual  range. It tells us what it is  going to show us before they show us; it shows us again in case, in a dazed state, we missed it the first time. But by this time it can’t resist having a bit of fun by flitting dizzyingly from the wretched state of starving children in Yemen to the latest eating fad in America. And before you can adjust your brain to what you think your eyes are seeing, it flits again to jolly japes between a huddle of news presenters. It could be worse I suppose.

It’s a world which  whizzes past us both on screen and on the streets where electric scooters have  become a  real  potential hazard for mere pedestrians. Whoever thought it a good idea to let motorised scooters zip around on footpaths, clipping the heels of half-blind people and slow pensioners must have a black sense of humour.

We had the same attitude when we let Rottweilers into the country. Vaping is another issue; there are people (though I doubt you’ll find them in the nicotine industry) who think taking a cylinder out of your pocket, sucking on it and blowing out a smoke-like substance will lower nicotine addiction levels.

That kind of thinking is about as rigorous as the Crusader’s management think-tank. They, New Zealand’s most successful regional rugby business, had to engage a media company to tell them they just needed to dump the sword-swinging Knights on horses to keep the punters happy.

And what about those  who  use the words ‘nanny state’ as  pejoratives, forgetting that nanny once gave them free health and education services. For the record, nanny state is a label for anything that gets in the way of profit. Hate speech, that’s what it is….  The country’s going to the dogs!

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Chris Horan

Chris is a former social worker, probation officer and Family Court counsellor, living in Hawea in the South Island.