Island Life by David Slack

Another Man's Poisson

We were talking, my wife and I, over lunch yesterday about the words Helen Clark had chosen to convey her distaste for the Auditor General's recent forthrightness. We agreed that even a phrase as innocuous as "I was rather surprised by that", could be a bit of a scrotum-shrinker when issued by this particular Prime Minister. If she's not mightily pissed off, I'd be very surprised. However I'd also be surprised if this Auditor General felt particularly cowed.

Cojones. When we need a word to describe boldness in business we have France's entrepreneur. But when we want to speak of someone with courage in the face of imminent and palpable risk, we turn to the nation of bullfighters.

This morning, here at the world headquarters of speechesdotcom, I opened my email to a dispiriting message.


Your server has failed the RAID container, we are working to bring it back
now. I'll contact you as soon as I have more information.



Regular readers will grasp how perturbing this news was to me.

Mercifully, this time, the disruption was kept to a minimum, and as I write the site is humming along as it ought. But once more, the entrepreneur was reminded of the need for sturdy cojones. No matter how hard you try to eliminate the risks, you will still be in for some difficult moments.

People who have made a big fat success of their business can be quite forthcoming about hurdles they have overcome. I know of one person who has a worldwide recruitment business who likes to recall the lonely day he sat alone in his empty office contemplating the ledger of outgoings (substantial) and income (nil). The phone rang. So despondent was he that he resolved that it would be the last one; he'd shut up shop. The caller was some colossal organisation with a brief for dozens of placements. He was in business.

I also knew a woman with a flourishing PR practice. She told stories of the first fruitless pitches to clients. After one especially promising one, the polite demurral was too much for her. She walked out of the office, into the stairwell, slumped onto a step, dropped the glossy folders, buried her head in her hands and sobbed. But in the best tradition of inspirational tales, she pressed on. She dried her tears, dusted herself off and went back to her office. She kept working the phones and making the pitches and slowly but surely began to pick up the contracts. Plenty would happily settle for a small share of the money she's made since then.

The purpose of these little Of-Course-You-Can-Do-It reminiscences is to preface a little bit of a plug. Wellingtonista readers will be familiar with Martha, and her brand new contribution to the world of online commerce, Perfect for the little kids in your life. Sick of the same old Pumpkin Patch stuff? Want a cute designer T-shirt for your kids at a very affordable price? These garments should be in your child's wardrobe.

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Do by all means click on over to Babylicious and support local enterprise. And thanks for the T-Shirt, Martha. Back-scratching makes the blogosphere go around. Awakino's Lineman for the County was on the wire just hours after I'd posted my little paean to the well maintained roads of Taranaki - and, of course, the noble whitebait - offering me a pound of Mokau's finest. A pound! She said Ernie I'll be 'appy if it comes up to me chest.

Read that and weep, Long-Suffering Ratepayer of Sandringham. I accept there may be some who tremble at the sight of a tiny whitebait eyeball, but around here where the cojones are abundant, we stare right back as we scoff them.

And I am not alone.

Su Askwith:

Growing up in New Plymouth they have always been part of my life and each new season eagerly awaited. Whilst I too cannot go past a fritter in Mokau, I really did think I was in heaven a few years ago when I went to a meeting in Greymouth and on arrival there was a barbeque. There were buckets of whitebait being made into fritters and cooked straight away.I barely moved from the bbq spot until all were eaten!

Roy Billing reported saliva "all over" his keyboard.

The All Blacks are still winning...and the whitebait are still running. Time to come home methinks.
I picture a Saturday night in Godzone in front of the tv watching the All Blacks win yet another Bledisloe Cup, with no Wallaby supporters in hearing distance, a bottle of Marlborough Sauvugnon Blanc opened, alongside a plate of fresh, New Zealand whitebait fritters... The saliva is drooling again! Why the hell am I living in Australia???!!!

Ian Orchard:

Perhaps Graham Reid was cursed with only ever having tasted frozen whitebait, a pale imitation of the fresh delights. Sadly, it's all we Kiwis can hope for these days.
Oh for the days when my Dad would return from The Coast bearing a quart preserving jar of fresh 'bait. Sold for around 2 bob a container.

David Haywood enthused too, but that was more to do with the allure of librarians.

Everyone has their own fantasy, and I can appreciate that lying under canvas with a sultry librarian, feeding one another whitebait fritters and listening to Peaceful Easy Feeling on the Classic Hits station would not be Graham's idea of A Good Time.

Aspects of that tableau don't really work for me either, but it remains vastly preferable to waking up to an email that shrinks the cojones.