Up Front by Emma Hart


This is a Photograph of Me

In some role-playing games, there’s an advantage called Machine Empathy. It lets a character instinctively understand how to operate and repair anything mechanical or electronic. My partner and my brothers all apparently spent points on it.

I have whatever the complete opposite of Machine Empathy is. Since I was a small child, machines have intimidated and confused me. (This could be down to spending too much time out the back of butcher shops as a kid and seeing a man lose a thumb-tip to a bone-saw, but let’s not over-analyse this.)

Given this, I’ve always thought that, rather than surprise and mild derision, I should receive some kind of reward for not driving. I’m making the world a safer place, believe me.

The main inconvenience from not driving is not having any photo ID. I can’t easily prove who I am. For a brief period, I was supposed to need to produce photo ID to fly domestically – because apparently someone smuggling a concealed home-made bomb in their hand-luggage would be unable to produce a driver’s licence. Airline staff nearly always forgot this during the argument over my feet. These days the Magic Check-In Kiosk doesn’t give a rat’s arse who I am. I look forward to the day an android is telling me to put some fucking shoes on.

I did get asked for ID buying wine at the supermarket last year, but I think my incredulous laughter was convincing enough, given I'm 18+ another 18 and a little bit more.

Turns out, though, that you also need photo ID to buy a house. Our lawyer didn’t quite know what to do when I didn’t have any, but we’d go over and he’d sort something out. My partner and I joked that we should take a photo of me, with “this is Emma” written on the back.

My inherent facetiousness probably didn’t help, to be fair. Because when asked “Do you have anything with your photo on it?” the two responses that leapt to mind were, “The internet?” and “Well… not my head.”

We ended up printing out a photograph of me from the internet, and writing “this is Emma” on it. If I’d taken my glasses off, we could equally well have done this with a photo of my friend Karla. (I think, technically, this makes me the Clark Kent to her Superman. Which means I didn’t get her to carry nearly enough boxes when we moved.)

Anyway (to use a totally unconvincing segue), I’m celebrating being all settled into our new house by leaving it. I’m repacking some of my unpacking and heading to Wellington tonight. For anyone who missed the announcement on Hadyn’s blog, he and Keith and I will be at the Basin for the first day of the First Test against Australia tomorrow (Friday), and at Hooch for drinks from 5pm onwards. Come on down if you can and join the disreputable bunch of media and Public Address types lounging about in the balmy late summer weather Wellington is bound to lay on for me. Why yes, I am taking my coat.

Emma Hart is the author of the book 'Not Safe For Work'.

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