Rebranding us as city of something or other

JOSHUA DRUMMOND
Last updated 16:48 25/10/2012

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Here is my take on how I imagine it is behind the scenes at the Hamilton City Council.

DRAMATIS PERSONAE

Ms Julie Hardaker, the MAYOR

Gordon Chesterman, the DEPUTY MAYOR

Councillor Daphne Bell, a WOMAN

Councillor Peter Bos, a HUMAN MOUSTACHE

Councillor Roger Hennebry, a DUCK

Councillor Ewan Wilson, an IRRITATING LOW HUMMING SOUND

Other COUNCILLORS are present but are too unimportant to mention.

THE SCENE

The Hamilton City Councillors are sitting around a table, in the council chambers. The public gallery is full of howling cranks, which is to say, the sort of people who come to council meetings.

Ms Julie Hardaker, Mayor of Hamilton, resplendent in her office bling, raps her gavel.

"Councillors of Hamilton," proclaims the mayor, "I have convened you here this day for the purpose of, once again, rebranding the city of Hamilton."

"Ahem," says Gordon Chesterman. "Ahem. Ahem."

He dabs at the corner of his mouth with the tablecloth. "Ahem.

"Re-rebranding, you say?"

"Yes," says the mayor.

"The city's last attempt at a rebrand didn't take."

Councillor Wilson makes an irritating low humming sound.

"Quite right," agrees Councillor Bos. "We're still Hamilt-ON, aren't we?"

"Yes," avers the mayor.

"But we have to be the City of Something."

"What have we tried in the past?" asks Cr Chesterman. The councillors answer eagerly.

"The city of Fountains!"

"The city of Public Art!"

"The city of, um, Trees!"

"Quack!" says Cr Hennebry, pecking furiously at a sheath of financial documents.

"Bzz," hums Cr Wilson, irritatingly.

Several cranks in the public gallery begin to scream in unison about fluoride in the water supply.

They are taken quietly away and shot. Everyone else cheers up noticeably.

"Quite, quite," grins the mayor. "And what slogans have we had?"

"Hamilton - more than you'd expect!" says the deputy mayor.

"Hamilton - It's Moving! At least, according to that ad that shows Waingaro Hot Springs (which is over an hour's drive from Hamilton) as it was in the 1980s," says the Woman.

"Hamilton - City of Cows?" suggests Councillor Martin Gallagher, who appears abruptly, having gotten lost on his way to a knighthood. Realising his mistake, he quickly invents a new kind of electric fence and leaves.

"And Hamilt-ON," cries the mayor triumphantly.

"That's most of the slogans from the last decade, I think. So. What shall we become the city of?"

"What," queries the deputy mayor, "are some things . . . that happen?"

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The councillors bend their intellects to the task at hand.

"Art. Art happens. I think.

"Maybe," says the Woman.

"We were the city of Public Art earlier this year," says the mayor, not unkindly. "People have moved on. It's the new millennium.

"We have the internet now.

"The internet is watching us, as we speak. That's why we had these webcams installed."

The councillors look about them and, sure enough, the beady eyes of the webcams are on them all.

(At that moment, in Lithuania, a swarthy man named Desmond who is the sole viewer of the Hamilton City Council webcast throws his computer across the room.)

"Christmas is a thing that happens," says the Human Moustache, suddenly.

There is a moment of deafening silence.

Then the room erupts in cheers.

The Human Moustache hugs the Woman violently. The mayor and the deputy mayor fist-bump. Cr Wilson's hum becomes slightly less irritating. The Duck flails about wildly in a storm of inconvenient financial documents, trying to peck his name off them.

The public gallery gets into a shouting match about gay marriage.

When the pandemonium becomes less pandemonium-ish, and the furious back-slapping stops, and the bodies from the public gallery are taken out back, Mayor Hardaker makes an announcement.

"Hamilton shall, henceforth and from this moment on, in perpetuity," she says, "be known as the City of Christmas."

"Excuse me," says someone.

He alone remains in the public gallery. It is an old, bearded man, dressed unseasonably in fur trim.

He carries a sack, and has the patient, kindly face of someone who has told billions of children to piss off. "Excuse me," he says again. "Isn't calling yourself the City of Christmas a bit of a . . . reach? Certainly, you have some, ahem, cool Christmas events here.

"But why not let the events speak for themselves?

"Why rebrand, and make yourself look silly?"

The councillors look at each other. A single shot rings out.

The old man is dragged out back. His dying words are:

"Ho. Ho. Ho."

Joshua Drummond is a Hamilton freelance writer who enjoys humbugs.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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