Random Play by Graham Reid


The Pope, the Veitch, his Spies and my Brother

Usually I’m pretty good about getting travel insurance, you never know when you might be somewhere and reflexively look right, glance left and wham . . . a local civilian obeying every rule wipes you out because you forgot about that other-side-of-the-road thing.

When I go to Australia for any duration I always pick up cheap cover which will ensure -- although this has been mercifully untested -- that in case of accident, injury or extreme hangover I can be shipped back home.

But late last week I was just going to Sydney for an overnighter -- to see Kasey Chambers and Shane Nicholson in concert at a studio room in the Opera House -- so I passed on some Insurance-R-Us deal. Not because I thought nothing would happen, but because I knew nothing would.

Sydney was where Pope Something the German was setting down with his entourage, so I figured that was a whole heap of holiness concentrated in one place. What could possibly go wrong? Surely the advanced good vibes of fresh-faced Catholics would ensure a measure of safety, security and a benign ambience.

Australia -- the Peaceable Kingdom where the lion would lie down with the lamb.

Of course tragedy struck Australia: Jana The Olympian, had to pull out of the Beijing shindig because of a toe injury and that was A Big Story everywhere. Then things got worse: Rudd looked smug and people complained that in his three months or whatever he hadn’t turned the economy around, halted petrol and food hikes, or stopped the housing slump. Clearly he was useless.

On a personal level there was worse for me: Red Eye Records right across from my fine hotel in Pitt Street was hopeless: all I got was a stupid old album by this guy (featuring the deathless The Psychiatrists Joy From Kingaroy) and I rescued the Freakpower 10” Sleazed because I liked them back in the Powerstation days and didn’t want to see them on sale for $4.98. I already had a copy but . . .

Across town was silliness: there was an offensive t-shirt parade where people wore such slogans as Pope Go Homo (this must be the sophisticated gay wit I keep hearing about) and there was Papal kitsch on sale everywhere from postcards to commemorative teaspoons (not to be used for stirring tea the packaging insisted). Shops and brothels expected to do brisk trade apparently.

God’s business is big business as my dad used to say.

Of course in letters to the editor the Pope was being blamed for the population explosion, institutionalised sodomy and pretty much everything else (except global warming, but it seemed he would be in due course).

Personally I couldn’t care less about Catholicism which has always struck me as a quaintly medieval faith -- and lapsed Catholics always want to bang on about their lot much more than those who still practice. I have always found that peculiar. This was their time in the sun again, and they seemed to be out in force too.

Anyway I survived a couple of days in this nexus of faith, commercialism and angry if artless protest -- but it also confirmed my feeling that we secular humanists have it good and guiltless, and seem to have got the right mix. “Be kind” is a pretty workable philosophy, I think.

The Veitch: This will keep burning and is being fed by columnists and talkback hosts, so my pennyworth is utterly irrelevant. But one thing does trouble me: did those Sunday gossip columnists who scribble about people like Veitch and his circle know about this accusation some time back? And if not, why not?

They seem well placed to pick up on such things (and write something in veiled sentences). But if they did know something, then did they not think that this information/gossip/story should have been passed on to their editors as something worth more serious investigation?

If they did know and didn’t do that, then what does that tell us about them? And if they did pass it on at the time . . .?

In this distasteful and abhorrent situation it was interesting to see this pursed-lipped, prissy, and puritanical column by Rosemary McLeod who seemed to lay the blame for all this on what she calls, “a peculiarly Auckland culture that baffles outsiders”.

I knew somehow "Auckland" would be to blame, and althought this rant seemed to come from the "one I prepared earlier" file it was a very funny column anyway. Unless she was serious?

My Brother: Finally to those who keep asking. No, Mike Reid who does those short album reviews in the Herald on Sunday is no relation. Not my brother (I don’t have one) and not one of my sons (all of whom are in London).

But yes, I have noticed he seems to regularly pick up on albums that have been posted at Elsewhere a week or so before. Slim pickings at the moment at Music from Elsewhere because of my absence (and then a nice weekend on Waiheke). But within a day or two Beck, the Pernice Brothers and many more will be put up, with tracks to listen to.

Hit the RSS feed to know when they are posted -- or you could wait a week or so for them to appear in the HoSunday?

Righto, mail from Popefolk, those outside Auckland, someone keen to work out how huge my carbon footprint was by going to Sydney and so on is all welcomed. Better out than in.

Or is it?

Late addition: I have just posted this interview at Something Elsewhere, about a film in the Auckland Film Festival this weekend: free jazz meets music from Java? Who'd've thunk it?

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