Late last year I came to the conclusion that I may be the odd one out. Again. It seems I am not 'lovely'.
Well at least, I think I am not lovely, because whenever I talk to someone in the street or I meet at a social occasion I am invariably asked “Who was that?” and I invariably answer “That was Hillary” or whatever his or her name is and of course always add the tag line, she - or he - is 'lovely’.
So does everyone else add this tag line which means everyone in our Village is lovely. All our friends are lovely. All our relations are lovely, the shops are lovely. All the dogs are lovely. Everything in our world is lovely except for me. I know I am not lovely because I asked my closest confidantes, my windows on the world, my friends and relations and care-givers if anyone who did not know me too well, asked them "Who's that?" would they reply "That's Brian Viner, he's lovely". Would they say that, I asked again? Hopefully, plaintively, please!
They said “No” and walked out of the room.
Actually - well, obviously - to find redemption I am going to have to make some resolutions. There's only one way out of this. I simply must redeem myself. It’s going to be difficult to change my whole way of life and be nice to people, impossible maybe, but I feel I must at least try. So here we go -this is the new loveable me.
I always took some pride in being the only columnist in our local paper who has never written a paragraph for this paper that included the word paradise and Russell together. And I have just done it. So there. That's a good start.
Our Lovely shops? Our bookshop is lovely and it sells newspapers and cats and Christmas cakes and eggs and the best selection of new novels this side of the black stump which is in Australia and I don't know what the bookshops are like on the other side of the black stump, but a big bonus here is often you can pick up a piece of free chocolate birthday cake together with your Herald. And sometimes stuck together. They have lots of birthdays in the bookshop and you have to get your paper early or you just get the crumbs. I also used to get an elephant stamp on the back of my hand but I don't get that anymore. Perhaps I will when they read this.
Its the right time of the year for New Year resolutions so this my new beginning, my Born Again.
· First one is, I will watch Netball and look interested.
· I will read ‘Guest Editorials’ from start to finish. Not just the first line and then give up.
· I am not going to stick up for Australia or Australians any more and say they are nice, I shall say 'Bloody Ozzies' behind their backs and we will all laugh together and I will be one of the crowd.
· I will tell everyone I meet in the street how well they look even if they are a bit spotty and look a bit 'Op Shoppy'.
· I will say our Mayor is horrible even though I voted for him and he was elected probably by voters who would not do as they were told and went and voted for the wrong person.
· I won't make jokes about Dave Dobbyn looking like Susan Boyle.
· I will always say ‘We dined at so and so’ even if it was only a take-away hamburger - mind you from the 'Summer menu’ no less.
· Will always say I would hate to live anywhere else - everyone says that including those who have their house on the market.
· I will promote our local beach and never say there is only one seat to sit down on and one tree to sit under.
· I will say all Aucklanders are 'Dorklanders' even though they are nice.
I think this should get me well on the way and home and hosed, as us Kiwis say. Nevertheless I thought the new me is sure to be lovely, after all, I will have the same attitudes as everyone else in Russell and everyone else is lovely so I can't miss can I ?
Can I? Gulp! I asked my support network to read this, and to be honest they did read it and got up muttering "He'll never change" and "old dogs" and things like that and went to leave the room. I said “No, wait - come back here! I'll even give money to charities and I have never done that before”. That sort of slowed them down, so I quickly went on “And there are hundreds of them, charities - new one every week. Societies for blind sandflies, homeless snails, beached worms - I'll do anything, wear a red nose, grow a moustache, wear a Hawaiian shirt, wear jandals on Jandals Only day, get a tattoo, sing the national anthem in Maori, all at once” if you want like anything to be loved and lovely like the rest of Russell.
I think that will do it. But a word to the innocent among us. Not everyone in Russell is lovely like us – note, I am including myself. There is a certain table outside a certain Cafe usually occupied by the recently impoverished British. They may ask you to sit down and buy them cakes. They may also ask you if you have any 'spare change'. Whatever you do, do not exchange our lovely New Zealand dollars for any paper money they may offer you and if they do start singing 'God save the Queen' quietly get up and leave.