Island Life by David Slack


Impeccably Groomed

Hey kids, come in here for a minute. I want to tell you something while Mum and your ‘Uncle’ Paul are watching Big Brother. I don’t want to frighten you but we need to talk about something a little bit scary.

Has anyone told you about an 'electoral predator'?

It’s a bit like stranger danger, only for grownups.

There are some very sneaky people out there who want to get something very special and private out of mum and Uncle Paul and all the grownups. Do you know what it is?

No, not exactly, Jayden, but you’re close. It’s called their ‘vote.’

When a man or a woman really likes someone, they go into a private little cubicle and they give their ‘vote’ to that person.

But sometimes they can be tricked into giving them their vote when they never would have done that if they’d known what that person was really like.

Does that sound fair to you?

So if someone tried to trick mum or Uncle Paul into giving them their vote, do you think that would be right?

Well that’s what’s happened to them quite a few times since they became grownups. There was a man called Richard who promised he would save the railway and all the jobs of the people working on the railway, and then do you know what he did when he got their votes? He took all their jobs away.

And there was a man called Jim who told all the nanas and the grandads that if they gave him their vote, he would change the rules so that they weren't made to give back some of their pension.

So they gave their votes to him and do you know what he did? He said “sorry, we don’t have enough money, you’re going have to give it back anyway.”

Well, very soon a whole lot of people just like Jim and Richard are going to be coming back from their holidays and they will be trying to do it again.

There is a lady called ‘Helen’ who says to Mum and Uncle Paul that that they should give their votes to her because she is popular and competent, and that if you were in a lifeboat with her, you would be okay. But mum and Uncle Paul are worried that it might not be safe to go to sleep in her lifeboat if there wasn’t much food left.

And there is a man called ‘John’ who says that even though he lives in a house with three plasmas even bigger than Mum and Paul’s one, he is really just like them, and he likes the footy and the Maoris and the greenies and the ladies who wear overalls.

But your Uncle Paul thinks that maybe John might be pretending, because last week when there was an argument about the war that America is fighting, John said that Helen and her flunky should have pretended that the war was going really well and that it’s a really good idea, even though it isn’t, because we want America to be our friend and let us sell them more hamburgers.

Uncle Paul thinks that ‘John’ might have got the idea from his Australian friend ‘John’ when he visited him last month. The other ‘John’ is really good at tricking people into giving him their votes, and so New Zealand ‘John’ might have got the wrong end of the stick about what people in Australia think, compared to what people in New Zealand think about wars that don’t make sense.

Anyway, your mum and ‘uncle’ are really confused, because they think that ‘Helen’ might not be who she really says she is, and they’re not sure whether ‘John’ is really who he says he is either.

And then there’s another man called ‘Rodney’ who is probably exactly who he says he is, which is really scary, and there’s also one called ‘Winston’ and nobody can really tell who he is pretending to be any more, so it makes it all very confusing for Mum and ‘Uncle’ Paul, and that’s why they drink so much rum and coke and spend so much time changing channels on the TV.

So I want you all to know that something bad might happen if any of these people get to trick Mum and Paul into giving them their vote when they shouldn’t, and I want to give you a very important job.

Do you think you could do a very special job for me?

Good. Well here it is: you need to make some rules around here.

First of all you need to make Mum and Paul agree to keep the computers and the newspapers and the TVs and the radios in the lounge, and not tucked away in their bedroom.

You need to let Mum and Paul know that if anything they hear from ‘John’ or ‘Helen’ or ‘Rodney’ or ‘Winston’ makes them feel a bit yucky, or if they’ve been asked to do something they don’t think they ought to, they can always come to you.

Now, you might feel like you’re snooping, but you’re not. This is for their own safety.

So do you think you can do that?

Good. Now: whose turn is it on the PS3?

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