Cracker by Damian Christie

Show 'n' Tell

“Hello welcome to ASB Bank, Amy speaking.”

“Yeah, hi. I, um... lost my cashflow card. I’d like to stop it please.”

“Certainly Mr Christie. I’ll just check there haven’t been any unauthorised transactions...”

“I’m sure that won’t be necessary.”

“It won’t take a minute. Now, the last transaction I have here was... one o’clock this morning... it was an EFTPOS withdrawal... at, er... Showgirls?”

Such an ignominious end to what had begun only a few hours beforehand at the Listener’s 65th Birthday and launch of the new anthology of Jane Ussher portraits called Jane Ussher: Portraits.

It was a cold and rainy evening as I drove through the Domain. I parked a mere hop, skip and a sludge across the grass from the Museum proper. I was rifling under the backseat among the cigarette packets and pie wrappers, trying to find the invitation I’d safely filed there some days prior, when I heard a noise behind me.

“Did you want to share my umbrella?” asked a well-turned out man. The rain being what it was, it seemed like a damned fine idea. As we tentatively traipsed across the grass, I introduced myself.

“Gavin Ellis,” he responded.

I quickly tried to remember whether I’d written anything bad about The Herald or its Editor-in-Chief he might have read (I’ve checked – I haven’t).

I had reason to be wary – it was only earlier that day I was introduced to a certain TV personality. Over the years I’d made a couple of fairly asinine blog references in his direction, and I wondered whether he’d read them. A couple of seconds into our meeting, I wondered no longer. Still, bloody decent chap.

It's always nice to meet someone you've feel like you've known for a while, even more so when it's a positive experience. The Listener gig was full of those experiences, from the Editor's escort through the rain, to cadging cigarettes outside off one of the staff writers.

It was great putting faces to some of the by-lines I’ve read each week, as well as the other media present. I tell you what, that Carol Hirschfeld, not only is she a damn handsome woman, she’s every bit as lovely as you’d hope.

So it was a spirit of camaraderie that saw us gathering to celebrate a magazine with a whole heap of history. For me, it goes as far back as my parents' references to “Piggy” Muldoon, a seven year old's admiration of this huge magazine that came into my home each week and a vague comprehension of the cannabis references in Bogor.

65 is a pretty odd anniversary to celebrate – the only thing it signifies for most people is retirement – but marketing vehicle or otherwise, it was a fine excuse for a knees up.

The speeches were good too, although anyone who can drop the line “I’m reminded of Wordsworth, when he said...” and expect to be taken seriously – “I’m reminded of the Oxford Book of Quotations” perhaps.

The odd thing about the heavily reverberating acoustics of the Museum foyer though, the speeches sounded like an internal monologue from a movie:

“Shit, I’m standing in front of all these people. And I’m not wearing any clothes. I’m reminded of Wordsworth...”

But anyhoo – Congratulations to The Listener, and all who sail in her. Well done to Jane Ussher, the book looks great and to my mind is simultaneously one of the most accessible and most touching New Zealand history collections I’ve seen.

For a bit of Friday light reading, try some of these quotes by American comic Mitch Hedberg. He's pretty damn funny as far as stoner Californians go. Sample: "I got an ant farm. Them fellas didn't grow shit."

Also, if anyone can explain why my last post received a record number of hits (over 9000!), mostly linking from a yahoo mailgroup, please do. Given that my writing just isn't that good, I'm assuming it has something to do with the diving pics. Tell me, and I'll post more...