Election years bring out the worst in politicians, of any hue, so one's thoughts naturally turn to the finer qualities of military juntas. Except without the military because they're an erratic bunch when off the leash.
No, an efficient and benevolent civilian dictatorship has a lot going for it. Surprisingly easy to achieve too.
I happened to click on the Cool Auctions section of Trade Me this week, and lo, you can equip a small army from the offerings. One submarine and two battle tanks, for instance.
The two-man sub has a start price of $95,000. Built in Sweden, it chugs along at a sedate 2 knots, dives to 200m and can potter around there for eight hours.
In an emergency, you have enough oxygen for three days stuck on the seabed. Once you've completed the first draft of a claustrophobic movie script, release the drop-weight, blow the ballast tanks and pop to the surface.
The Papakura seller takes his toys seriously. This puppy runs on 28 rechargeable batteries so you can expect a blip in your power bill. Auction-watchers had some interesting queries:
Q: "Any chance this bad boy would make it from Peru back to, say, Foxton Beach? Also how many kg of luggage could I fit in and also would you accept payment after my first journey?
Q: "How much No 8 wire would it take to make this capable of firing a Trident missile? Just out of curiosity, of course.
Q: "Does it come in yellow?
Q: "Are two men supplied with the submarine, then? LOL.
Q: "As a former submariner, can I take it for a test dive please? I am not a ballast-tank kicker and am genuinely interested if Lotto comes up this weekend.
Q: "I suffer from flatulence at times. Would this pose a problem or does it have methane scrubbers?"
A Rangiora seller, meanwhile, is overstocked with tanks. The Centurion (guns disabled) is yours for $103,500 or near offer.
This 1952 beauty saw service with the Aussies in Vietnam, yet has just 1850km on the clock.
The 27-litre, V12 Rolls Royce engine is a tad thirsty, and a top speed of 35kmh will test the patience of fellow commuters on Rocks Rd - though I'm guessing none will complain.
For the megalomaniac on a budget, the same seller has a cheaper Skoda T-55 tank. This three-door, 42-tonne behemoth can be in your garage for $92,000. Both tanks are classified as firearms, and the buyer must have the appropriate licence.
Damn. I'm a danger at the dinner table with a knife and fork, so that licence could be problematic. World domination shelved for a while.
Cool Auctions has no shortage of weird and wonderful stuff for sale. Petrolheads rushed in recently to buy two coffee tables made from old car engines. A 15-year-old Lower Hutt schoolgirl had put them together as her NCEA economics assignment. The Mazda rotary model, with clear glass top, went for $395.
Seems this is a cult. Similar engine furniture has cropped up before on Trade Me, most recently in 2011. All failed to sell, despite one coffee table being on heavy-duty castors and "easily moved around".
Despair not, Westie readers. "We all want a coffee table made from an engine block, but most of us don't know how to do it," says thesmokingtire.com website, which will guide you through your own project.
At the other end of the transport spectrum, a bunch of old bus tickets from Auckland carriers, plus a historic parking voucher, did not find a buyer despite the reasonable start price of $4.50. The auction has been relisted and finishes on Monday. Until then, it might pay to hang on to those old Nelson City parking slips.
A life-sized statue of Elvis (and guitar), made from 3200 wine corks on a plastered mannequin, also did not sell, at $5000. It's relisted for $3500.
"The statue can't stand by itself, and requires a wall or a stand to lean against."
I'd need a wall to lean against too if I'd quaffed through 3200 bottles of wine. At $10 each, say, that's an investment of $32,000, plus labour, so the seller is hardly coining it. If you have a spare wall in your Elvisarium, make a bid.
Speaking of plonk, a tour of Sam Neill's vineyard in Clyde, with the famous actor as your guide, is taking bids until tomorrow. You and three companions will share a tasting glass with Sam afterwards in this innovative fundraiser from Beat Bowel Cancer Aotearoa.
The auction carries a disclaimer that if Sam is overseas filming, a senior manager may lead the tour, but I'm picking that the genial actor will make huge efforts to front up.
(We pride ourselves on our feet-on-the-ground psyche. Kiwi celebrities who get too ‘up themselves' find their nationality reclassified as ‘Australian'.)
The bowel cancer charity takes first prize for gall with Up 2 Ways - an auction for a colonoscopy and helicopter flight over Auckland.
Colonoscopist and pilot John Dunn will check you out for dangerous polyps, "then check you in for the best view of our stunning city". (Not on the same day, and "sedation provided for both".)
Glad to hear it, and best of luck to them. Bidders are advised that airfares to the stunning city are not included.
- The Nelson Mail