Island Life by David Slack


A Pylon In My Back Yard

When I was a pre-schooler, there was a monstrous power pylon about two paddocks away from our house. I see all the lamentation in the modern media about the harm those huge electric brutes can do to a body, and I can't help wondering if its effects didn't turn me away from the path of a good, honest, toiling son of the soil.

At seven, it was clear that I was hopelessly short-sighted.

By nine I was demonstrably too un-coordinated to be of any use in the seven-a-side footy team.

I was showing strong signs of a lefty political persuasion by the fourth form and at fifteen I was listening to progressive rock.

Loyal readers will be only too well aware of my various maladies up to and including a damaged heart muscle.

I could blame my genes, I could blame my parents, I could rail at the heavy overcoat of conformity in which a small town like Feilding tries to dress you.

I could, at a pinch, even blame myself.

But I'll blame the pylons.

They're imposing and eerie to an adult's eyes, but to a child's they're just impossibly vast and other-worldly.

In 1966 I liked my Thunderbirds and my Flintstones in black and white on the ghosting afternoon TV, but the cartoon character that really impressed me was Gigantor. It can't have been much of a show, because it never resurfaced with all the others when the boomers began indulging their taste for retro TV comfort food. But that Gigantor, he was something fierce; an enormous dumb robot who looked an awful lot like the pylon outside our house, and all the other pylons that strode across the landscape, south to Bunnythorpe and north to Kimbolton and over the hills and out of sight.

Erica Lloyd is a good friend of Public Address and an old documentary of hers is now available for your viewing pleasure on YouTube

She was fascinated by the power pylons as a kid. Her doco takes the camera out to Te Atatu and looks up at the pylons, through her own eyes as a child and also through the eyes of the guy who has one in his back yard - "It made the house affordable". He has just one lament: "We've had thirteen cats and they've all run away".

An architect describes the design sense of these wonderful artefacts of Art Deco style. A health campaigner campaigns. A young man climbs the tower.

It's a twelve minute delight, and you can see it in two parts here.

Seeing I'm at it, some other video treats as well. The Onion's splendid new video service has this on the dreadful cost of immigration:

Immigration: The Human Cost

And finally, I notice that on there's a screener version of this coming Sunday's new episode of the Sopranos. That Tony - he's almost as cool and scary as Gigantor.

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