Monday, June 25, 2007
I have a couple of thoughts that were catapulted back into relevance by the latter. Hopefully they're not stale again, because that would suck for you.
Firstly, the oft-repeat truism that those who do not learn the lessons of history will grow up to be Brian Tamaki.
Watching his most recent performance one though among many was that, surely we sorted this business out already.
As it happens, we did. About 200 years ago. And again perhaps 100 years ago. No doubt plenty of times in between. I won't dwell on the details about who won when and who would have been burned at the stake almost every time, or point out there has never been a "Church of New Zealand", though I see that part of HRH Lizzie's title respect to New Zealand is "Defender of the Faith". No sir, I won't do that.
I will point out that some people have missed perhaps the best opportunity of the generation to use the word 'antidisestablishmentarianism' in context.
Actually, that's not the lesson of history that I wish to offer the Bish. During – I assume – one of those periods of religious sensitivity one Jonathan Swift produced a work called, and I present its full title:
An Argument To Prove That the Abolishing of Christianity in England May, as Things now Stand, be attended with some Inconveniences, and perhaps, not produce those many good Effect proposed therebyHopefully you get the jist.
While humbly begging to differ with an exaggerated version of whatever the threat to the established religion of the day was in 1708, he save some of his best hits for the average piousness of the population . It is rather hilarious and awfully pointed and makes an interesting counterpoint in methodology to the baby-eating thing.
And you have no idea how much better disposed I would feel towards Brain Tamaki if he had cited it for support.
The other story relates to Ian Wishart's polemic Eve's Bite. I often pass a bookstore on my way to lunch which had it on prominent display for some time. And, perhaps partly because of the odd combination of words in the title, I thought the same thing every time I saw it.
Someone in the French Department at Otago once told me a story. There used to be an eatery handy for campus called Mega Bite. They would always take visiting french people to eat there. Because 'bite' is apparently a French slang term for penis.
Tee hee he.
Come to think of it, the visiting lecturer at the time was called Yves. Basically pronounced 'Eve' - he quickly got sick of having to explain and took to using names like 'Steve' when ordering taxis.
Whether all this encourages you or puts you off from buying Mr Wishart's book I shan't speculate, but it always amused me.
New Hood: What Has David Bain Done to Anger Helen Clark?
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
The Tragic Story Of Commodore Frank,
Who Set Out To Save His Government
But Finished By Breaking His Country
Working on that I had a hazy memory of some guy's book of somewhat parodic cautionary verses. It turns out I was thinking of Hilaire Belloc's Cautionary Tales for Children, a book which I clearly know, judging by the kind of picture I forced myself to make for it, with the original Basil Blackwood illustrations.
Combined with other evidence this week's effort suggest I favour the dactyl and the anapest over the iamb (despite the way I had to look up what dactyls and anapests are called). I think Hairy Maclary has something to answer for.
Mind you, I still expect to one day write a column in free verse, sans capitals, and attribute it to a huge determined bug on my keyboard. Come to think of it, I would likely not have come up with the 'sins of Commissioner' line in my latest effort if it weren't for Archy, vers libre poet reincarnated, for sins of omission and commission, into the body of a cockroach.
But as it happens I think the impulse to make this one a poem at all came from another book entirely.
There's an antiques place down a side alley in Masterton where, at the long weekend, I picked up (as well as an orginal black-and-red Chinese propoganda poster) a copy of Bad King Wenceslas, a small selection of newspaper light verse by Tremayne M Curnow from about 1920–45. I got to reading it at the weekend.
Careful readers will wonder if X.Y. (Tremayne) is any relation to Whim Wham (Allen), and rightly, the former being father to the latter. While Tremayne's work doesn't seem so satirical or so poetically inspired there are a number of elements they share – a occasional curmdgeonly streak, for instance, and the Tendency to capitalise any Noun that comes to Hand.
There is a certain fun to writing light verse, not least beacause rather than agonising about fitting fine phrases into the rhytmn you can just use words like 'corruptishness' to fill out the line. Or write 'Aust, NZ and EU' to read 'Ost, Enz and Ooo' - a trick I think I picked up from Tremayne. And in this case having twelve syllables in a line does give you a lot of maneuvering room.
All in all it's clear that if I meet any of my influences I should by them a drink.