Cracker by Damian Christie


Is there a Sub in the City?

Make no mistake, Sex and the City is the most significant television series of the past decade.

By significant, I mean it changed people’s behaviour. Many, many women started drinking cosmopolitans – I know this for a fact, as I was managing a bar at the time. It became completely acceptable for women not only to purchase, but to openly discuss the purchase of, a vibrator. Women would gather to watch episodes of the show, emulating the four actresses own such gatherings.

It began the era of the Carrie-wannabes.

I mean, I love The Sopranos, but I didn’t start holding court in the local Italian restaurant, orchestrating espresso-fuelled sit-downs between rival factions or spending my spare time in seedy strip clubs.

When Sex and the City was first screened, a friend of mine was commissioned to write a weekly column in one of the weekend papers. “Make it like Sex and the City, but set in Auckland rather than Manhattan” the editor requested, oblivious to exactly how ridiculous that statement sounds to anyone who’s been out in Auckland. Each week she wrote good copy, each week the editor would add in – not just edit slightly, but add – lines about her concern she was getting fat and how she must cut down on the pasta. Damn the fact my friend has no such body issues and had her name and photo associated with the column – if she’s not fretting about weight, she’s not a modern female columnist.

The point is, it’s a hard ask, each week coming up with something original, witty and poignant on the topic of being Single in the City. If you actually listen to what Carrie is writing as she sits at her laptop at the start of each episode of SATC, you soon realise it's complete drivel that no-one would find interesting. It’s just a device to get into the story. My extraordinarily talented friend only just scraped by with her one column each week.

So what the hell does the Herald think its doing asking junior reporter Joanna Hunkin to produce a daily blog on this topic?

If a young woman wants to enter the blogging world, fine. If she wants to fill pages with inane observations of the “sometimes men in bars are sleazy” or "vodka is the drink of choice for people who are 'Indecisive, unimaginative and boring'" variety, then all credit to her. But it’s not just some random wannabe from the central suburbs. It’s the latest venture from the Qantas-winning “Best News Site”.

A phone call to Miss Hunkin confirmed this – it was the Herald’s idea, not hers. She is required to write a new entry every day for the first couple of weeks, then things can ease off a little. I dare say Joanna will be looking forward to being able to collect her thoughts, after exhausting all her a-material with her debut story of seeing man throw up in a crowded bar.

Word has it that the subs at the Herald are less than impressed by this latest move – a perceived expansion at the time their own positions are in jeopardy. It would also appear that they are voicing their disquiet by failing to correct basic typos in ‘Blonde at the Bar’ copy.

I don’t want to be unduly harsh on the writer here. We all make typos, and some of us are lucky enough to have subs correct them (I have no subs, typos may abound in this very copy). As a young woman struggling to get noticed in a competitive industry, the opportunity to have your social life (real or imagined) smeared across the internet via a powerful vehicle such as the Herald must be awfully tempting. But what excuse does the Herald have for commissioning, publishing and promoting such copy?

At present, Joanna says reactions have been 'mixed'. She seemed excitedly surprised when she told me someone had actually asked her out via her blog. Wow, let me get this straight, a young attractive blonde was hit on by a man from the internet? Even after she mentioned half a dozen times that she was single? Even after she included the line:

Walking to work the other day a truckie drove past, blasting his horn at me before yelling: "Nice rack, sweetheart."

A truckie blew his horn? Did this actually happen, or was this instead lifted from My First Book of Cliches to point out to the reader that Miss Hunkin does in fact have, a nice rack? Will subsequent posts proceed to list the writer's other merits through similarly cliched devices? Will a Humphrey Bogart character appear in week two and ask if her father's a thief, because he stole the stars and put them in her eyes?

I fear that Blonde at the Bar may learn her lesson the hard way – and based on her daily efforts so far, it’s the same way she’s learning many of life’s lessons, being thrown up on, hit on by sleazy men, squashed in crowded bars and generally bemoaning her single girl (with a great rack) existence. Perhaps she could ask her colleague across at the Herald on Sunday, a Mr Jonathan Marshall, whether he regrets the ‘fame at all cost’ approach he took early in his career. At least Marshall seems to have a thick skin. If this quote from Joanna is even half accurate, she’s in the wrong game:

Nothing annoys me more than dickheads who feel it is their right to publicly pass judgement on me.

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