Cracker by Damian Christie

You know... for kids

I thought this Olympics had been relatively free from stupid comment. Usually, especially as the Games enter their last few days, the commentators get caught up in the spectacle of it all, and spout forth enough lyrical wax to clean all of Mr Myagi’s cars…

“And they’re diving off the platform of all who have gone before, and into history.”

“Actually Keith, that’s just water.”

“Right you are. Water of History.”

I hadn’t heard any silliness of this magnitude, at least not until I turned on the radio this morning. National Radio at that. The headline, the very first thing leading the 9am bulletin:

“The wife of gold medal winning triathlete Hamish Carter says she couldn't eat for the entire day before the Olympic race”

To quote the great Charles M Shulz, “Good grief”. I mean, really. That Hamish Carter was a bit nervous after his false start four years ago, interesting to a degree. But does anyone other than Mavis Carter herself – or whatever her name is – and perhaps her nutritionist, care whether she was able to eat?

On that note, I’ve been trying to work out why some Olympians (notably the swimmers) look really healthy and really fit, while others (notably the track ‘n’ field athletes) look like Crack Addicts. The only answer I’ve come up with so far is this: They’re on drugs.

I had the pleasure of meeting John Walker the other day. Actually, I’ve met him before, I’m pretty sure he popped in to my grandparent’s place in Manurewa one Christmas about 25 years ago. He didn’t seem to recall, but when you’re five and a national hero pops by on Christmas Day, you remember. Mind you, I also remember a tree ate my kite around the same time, so perhaps a five year old isn’t the most reliable witness.

We were interviewing John about the new lenticular stamps showing famous New Zealand Olympic moments. During the discussions, off-air, he said he believed a great number of athletes these days use performance-enhancing drugs. Rather than “if”, it was instead just a question of who had the best and the newest masking agents, and who stopped taking them early enough to avoid detection.

If that’s the case, and looking at some of the sunken-eyed, gaunt, sick-looking people who are supposed to be elite athletes, why don’t we just take the Olympics to their illogical extreme. Why not have the Hyper-Olympics, where everyone gets as juiced up as possible? You want to see the human body really pushed to its limits, wait til ya gedda load of these guys. If it’s possible to do the 100m in less than 7 seconds then I want to see it, goddamnit. That’s perverse, you say? No more perverse than The Swan, say I, and that’s apparently fit for human consumption.

I went to a whisky tasting last night. I’d expected it to taste a lot like chicken, but no.

Sitting down with a bunch of nice albeit fairly straight-laced individuals, we were issued with a sheaf of explanatory notes and tasting guides. Of course once the scotch started flowing, that’s when the real fun began.

I’m a bit of a fan of the ol’ single malt, but I think my nose needs a little work.

"Sniff it", they say. "What does it smell like?"

"Um, Whisky?"

"Mmm…yyyyes. Okay, now taste it. What does it taste like?"

"Good whisky?"

"You’re not really getting this, are you?"

"Not really. May I have some more please?"

However once I’d found the tasting wheel among my notes, it all made sense. It provided all manner of options, from the familiar (butterscotch, peaty, caramel, flowery) to the less so...I mean how does anyone actually know what “Dirty Shotgun Barrel” or “Wet Retriever” tastes like? Bakelite anyone?

As the scotch flowed, my already rudimentary judging system deteriorated into a flamboyantly-executed (intoxicated) tick or cross – occasionally both. I narrowed it down to two favourites, and spent a lot of time reconfirming my earlier suspicions. Yes indeedy, I concluded, they’re definitely both whisky.

By the end of the night I was slumped in a corner clutching my sides, nose like a reindeer, giggling hysterically... “heeheeheehee…dirty shotgun barrel… how do they KNOW!”