OPINION: Eight in the morning and I'm skewered to the sofa by the America's Cup. Skewered with patriotism, writes Joe Bennett.
Skewered with excitement.
Skewered with love for a boat on legs called Aotearoa, and a team called, somewhat puzzlingly, Emirates.
Come on Deano, I pray, come on Granto, come on everybodo, grind, tack and gybe as you have never ground, tacked or gybed before. Grind like millstones, tack like seamstresses, gybe like, I don't know, maybe giblets.
As the boats near the electronically-generated finish line I hold my breath, every muscle in my body tensing, only to sag in post-orgasmic gloom as the Americans sneak home by just over a kilometre.
Exhaling a sigh that shakes the curtains and wakes the dog, I glimpse a blob of colour on the San Franciscan foreshore.
Unskewering myself I draw closer to the screen.
Thanks to the billion pixels of my 102-inch Hi Definition (and hi to you, too) Sony Megatron surround-sound Bluetooth-enabled graphite-core home entertainment system I am able to make out not only an outrageous floral frock but also a pair of shins like possum pelts.
I reach for my cellphone and dial a familiar number. On the far side of the Pacific I see a hand hitch up a floral hem and reach into a pair of snowy panties.
"Boss," exclaims Angela, the erstwhile Vatican hit man. "How lovely to feel your ringtone. Did you watch the race? Just listen to the happy Yanks."
Angela holds the phone above his head and I hear the crowd. "SCB," they chant, stamping out the rhythm. "SCB, SCB."
"What this SCB?"
"Software Company Billionaire," says Angela.
"The guy who put up the bucks for Team USA. Not, of course, that Team USA is a team from the USA.
"The skipper's an Aussie, the navigator a Pom, the boss a Kiwi traitor and the rest are just a bunch of lovely hunks in wetsuits from wherever the US dollar can be enticingly dangled, which is just about anywhere, for the moment at least."
"And that, Angela," I say, "is precisely why we're going to beat them.
"Our boys all learned to sail as toddlers on a Takapuna pond in boats their dads made out of a wheelbarrow and a bed sheet. In consequence, we're a bunch of 100 per cent pure Kiwis forming a team so tightly knit you could sell it in menswear."
"We!" says Angela. "We?"
"They and I inhabit the same islands," I say.
"So does the Mongrel Mob. Do you identify with them?"
"But Angela," I say quickly, "how come you're in San Fran? Last seen you were wine-waiting for the National Party in Hanmer Springs."
"Oh, those National Party boys," says Angela. "They're just too naughty. It seems to go with conservative politics. One of them was so besotted he simply couldn't bear to say goodbye, so next thing I know I'm up in Wellington with the Ministry of Information Technology."
"What do you know about IT?"
"Nothing at all, sweetie, though I just love the way this phone vibrates. I'm the ministry's gender diversity ambassador. And since for obvious reasons the IT minister just had to attend the America's Cup, and since a minister simply cannot travel without an ambassador or two, not to mention a gaggle of consultants, advisers and other dubious life-forms, here I am."
"But how can they justify the expense?"
"Darling, they've already stumped up 36 million buckeroonies, or rather you and your fellow taxpayers have, so what's a few hundred thousand more?
"And besides, it's the oldest political game in town. It's E for entertainment, the second half of the bread and circuses routine.
"Keep the proletariat amused, keep it skewered day and night in front of its 102-inch home theatre, make it feel good about itself by proxy and all manner of things shall be well, including, with any luck, the next election. The mob doesn't want to think. It wants to feel. It wants to be entertained. So entertain it."
"But," I begin.
"But nothing," says Angela.
"It works. Look at yourself. You've been sucked in like dust up a Dyson. And the whole world's the same.
"It'll do wonders for our balance of payments. Yachties from Austria to Zambia will be saying, 'Gee willikers, those Kiwis can sail a boat. I think I'll buy another container of milk powder'."
"But that makes no sense," I say.
"When will you learn, Boss? Nothing makes any sense. Just relax and enjoy the ride. And now I'm off downtown for an evening of diversity ambassadoring. They like a bit of that round here."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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