Of leaks, gutters and politics
OPINION: There's a leak in the gutter and the neighbours think I'm mad. Over in France, they've just elected a new President.
Twice a day for much of the past fortnight, I've climbed a ladder to be a fiddler on my roof.
I've cleaned the swampy gutter. I've sponged the watery gutter. I've wire brushed the rusty gutter. I've vacuum cleaned the flaky gutter. I've spay canned the razor-sharp edged gutter. I've sandpapered the lumpy gutter. I've painted the gutter with miracle products. Two miracle products in fact. I've heat gunned the damn gutter. Repeatedly.
I mean, who climbs a ladder with a vacuum cleaner and vacuums their gutters? Like I said, the neighbours think I'm mad.
"He's up that ladder with his vacuum cleaner again," I hear them whisper to each other behind twitching curtains. In my head at least.
Macron beat Le Pen in a landslide victory they say. Twenty million votes to Le Pens 10 million. At 39, Macron is the youngest French President ever. He's younger even than Napoleon Bonaparte was (40).
There's been a leak in a small section of internal guttering for a couple of years now. I've known this by the occasional drip. Mostly in the morning after an icy winters night. Drip, drip, drip on the wooden dining room floor. I thought if I ignored it hard enough it would go away.
Le Pen said the French now know who the patriots are and who the globalists are. Macron said he had heard "the rage, anxiety and doubt that a lot of you have expressed." Macron describes himself as "neither of the right nor the left."
Just rip the leaky gutter up and put in a new one I hear you say. Impossible. It's only a small section of internal guttering but it's enough to be a large headache.
The only way to truly get at it is to lift half the roof off. Who's got the time or the energy or the money to do that? At this stage I'm going with fixing up what we've got. It's been a guttering evolution versus a guttering revolution round my place.
Voter turnout in France is quite high when compared to countries like America. Still this election, an election that drew international attention because of Trump and Brexit, one that was considered vital in stopping a march of right-wing nationalism, marked a significant drop in voter turnout.
The drip in the gutter didn't go away. I went up there with a bit of silicon and smeared it on the spot I thought was leaking a year or so back. The obvious dripping stopped. For a while I falsely patted myself on the back. In truth, all I did was push the water elsewhere.
As recently as 2007 voter turnout in French presidential elections was a little over 80 per cent compared with this months 67 per cent – a figure you get once blank/spoiled ballots are added to vote abstentions. Over 4 million French voted with a blank ballot. "None of the above" was what they were saying.
When the first miracle product washed off not once, but a second time, oh how I did howl at the heavens. By the time the second miracle product did stick to the gutter, I'd calmed down long enough to conclude perhaps I shouldn't have ignored the problem so long.
Both Le Pen and Macron liked to portray themselves as anti-establishment figures. As non-politician politicians. Just like Trump. Just like Boris Johnson. Just like John Key. Just like Winston Peters.
No one is part of the establishment these days. No one is responsible for current realities. It's all fake anyways, we are told.
Of course while I was up on the roof I found other problems to deal with. I thought about ignoring another section of rusty guttering too. But what the heck, I already had the wire brush and the rust killer and the miracle rubber product at hand. Not to mention a vacuum cleaner up on the roof.
At 72 years of age Winston Peters has been a MP since 1978. Apart from a couple of unsuccessful campaigns, he has been a constant presence at parliament for 40 years. If he isn't part of the "establishment", who is?
The problem with the gutter is that it has been holding water. There hasn't been enough fall to turn it over. So we've added an extra downpipe.
The wet spot left me with a rusty patch. I've drained the swamp and locked up the rust. With a little love and attention it'll be fine. Fingers crossed.