Island Life by David Slack


Twenty for Scarlett

I have already filled my weekly quota for discouraging revelations with that shabby marathon result, so there will not be a Friday one.

Besides, how could you top the artist’s impression on the front page
of this morning’s Herald? Wellington gets an intelligently-designed Cake Tin, Auckland gets a hastily-devised and monumentally ill-conceived Haemorrhoid Cushion dumped on our harbour front by a fanatical Rugby-head minister, aided and abetted by his boss. I am thus in the mood to devote a few moments to railing at the Prime Minister.

Her incapacity to see things from someone else's point of view is her great liability, I submit, and although the stadium would be another such instance, I refer in fact to this business of the Food Miles.

It's all very well for her to cite actual data, hard statistics and compelling logic, but really, Prime Minister, don't try to kid a kidder.

The Earth-in-crisis debate has reached its present position not only because thoughtful analysis, earnest debate - and, of course, Al Gore and his PowerPoint slides - have moved concerned citizens. The debate has also reached this political tipping point because canny operators like Greenpeace didn’t come down in the last acid rain shower. They have long apprehended that certain hearts and minds can only be won with cute devices, artful spin and cunning games with the ever-fickle human emotions.

Buy this magazine or the dog gets it is one of the oldest propaganda tricks in the book. Take the Halloween racket. I was limbering up this week to have another curmudgeonly shot at it when New Zealand's warmest-hearted mother unleashed a preposterous piece of heart-melting extortion upon the nation’s blog readers. There is no way on God’s earth you can hope to rebut a photo of loveable costumed preschoolers, honest innocent faces gazing up in expectation at a knocked door. Cute and cuddly will trump you every time.

Food Miles are not cuddly, to be sure, but as a concept they are most emphatically clever, and in their own slightly desiccated way, cute. The concept that underpins them is snappy, it's readily grasped, and it has the air of the irrefutable about it.

Challenge me, it sneers, I just dare you. Come on, pussy, whatcha got?

I say do not be cowed by these Eurocrats with their Food Miles, Prime Minister! Outflank them. Don't try to convince them that they're wrong; they're not listening. Your only realistic option is to scare them out of taking their Food Miles seriously.

How? By proposing that we apply their cute little concept to every damn consumable thing on the planet: Music Miles, Fashion Miles, TV Miles. If it comes from more than a few miles away, count the cost and ban it! Our children and their children and their children's children will thank us etc.

Most crucially of all, I suggest we embrace a regime of Sex Miles. Set up some stiff - and I use the word advisedly – environmentally-friendly rules about getting your end away.

If the object of your lurid desires is fully hot, you will be entitled to travel as far as three miles to get busy with them. If it's a friends-with-benefits hook-up, you can go two. Skanky ho, deadbeat or loser: end of the street.

Who can deny the logic? You might be burning all your own energy when you get there; but you’ll be using up the planet's resources to get yourself from your door to theirs.

Three miles seems more than far enough for any responsible citizen. We must remember, after all: we didn't inherit the bedroom - or shower, or sofa, or backseat of the Toyota - from our parents, we borrowed it from our great-grandchildren.

We owe it to them to do the right thing, and put the cushions back afterwards.


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