In praise of The Southland Times

Last updated 05:00 09/02/2013

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OPINION: Well, one good thing to come out of the Richard King affair is that no-one on this earth can possibly accuse the Invercargill City Council of lacking transparency, writes Tim Shadbolt in Southern Focus.

Every nasal hair, every unsqueezed pimple, every wart and every butt crack is exposed and paraded before a crowd of 50,000 residents for dissection, microscopic examination and detailed analysis.

In fact, I found out more about the selection of our chief executive by reading The Southland Times than I did from attending the meeting. Now there's a nasty rumour circulating that "Councillor Deep Throat" and "Councillor Whistleblower" were seen brawling in Esk St over who could get to the reporters first and thus ingratiate themselves for the forthcoming elections.

But wait! There's more!

Once the litigation and legal writs are settled, I'll be telling my side of the story.

In the meantime, I hope everyone involved will settle down before poor old Paddy Lewis collapses with exhaustion.

His blog site is running on overdrive. When I tried to buy half a dozen copies of February 1's Southland Times for my files, I found the late-night garages had all sold out of that edition.

Surprisingly, the entire saga never received much national coverage. For once we had our own local domestic implosion. While the rest of the country mourned the loss of Paul Holmes or debated the meaning of Waitangi Day, we were much more involved in our own private debate.

The Ali Timms/Ruby impersonation affair was another issue that generated huge interest locally, but had virtually no impact at a national level.

I believe it is a sign of our maturity and independence that we don't need to get emotionally involved in South Auckland's endless shock/horror crime scenes or Gareth Morgan's attempts to kill our cats. We have our own, homegrown dramas, passions, power struggles, scandals, desires, ambitions and jealousies to contend with and they seem much more salacious and absorbing than events that feel like they're happening a million miles away.

Anyway, I decided that I would spend Waitangi Day totally relaxed. I felt that I'd already contributed to the spirit of Waitangi by taking part in the filming of a haka in Queens Park for the Polyfest Trustpower Awards.

After a stressful week in the political arena, I decided, like 90 per cent of New Zealanders, to simply relax and enjoy a midweek public holiday.

So, it was off to the beach, then dinner at the Cabbage Tree and then back home to watch a movie about the 60s revolution.

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It was called We'll Take Manhattan and the unlikely battleground for this conflict was Vogue magazine. The matriarchal fashion establishment was at war with a dashing young photographer, David Bailey, and his girlfriend/model Jean Shrimpton. The backdrop was New York and the Vogue establishment wanted the traditional iconic backdrops of Madison Ave and the United Nations HQ, whereas the young rebels wanted a background of graffiti and sleaze.

Even worse, Jean Shrimpton replaced her handbag and gloves with an old teddy bear.

As the conflict between generations and culture reached its climax, on screen came the fatal words "End of Recorded Programme"!

It seems MySky and TV1 movies don't quite mesh. Now I'll never know who won the battle of Vogue magazine. Did the old dragons, with their precious designer labels, outmanoeuvre the young rebels? Did they reach a compromise, or did the young rebels become the establishment? I'll never know who won the battle of Manhattan.

There are about as many possibilities as there are interpretations of the Treaty. It must sound a little petty when our entire history and future as a nation is being debated, but imagine how frustrated our Veteran Car Club, or Darts Club would have felt if instead of giving a speech of welcome, I'd stood up and said "Sorry - it's the end of the recorded programme".

» Tim Shadbolt is the mayor of Invercargill.

- The Southland Times

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