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Stupid old fat white men…

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Having fun in the hills!

« on: February 01, 2018, 11:29:30 am »

from The Dominion Post....

A sweltering summer for the birds … maybe not

By JOE BENNETT | 5:00AM — Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Joe Bennett: President Donald Trump, right, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the World Economic Forum in Davos — men, money and power. — Photograph: Associated Press.
Joe Bennett: President Donald Trump, right, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
at the World Economic Forum in Davos — men, money and power. — Photo: AP.

IT WILL stop being hot soon and the moment it does we'll forget how cruel the heat was and we'll start wishing it was hot again. We are such contingent creatures. For all our talk of past and future we remain the present-tense sensory beasts we always were. Which suggests, I'm afraid, we shouldn't invest too much hope in the Me Too movement. For having evolved so little over several millennia, men aren't going to change overnight, however well-meant and justified and loud the campaign. Some men will still be slaves to their urges. And they'll use power and money to indulge them.

The heat's too much for lardy-boys like me. By eight in the morning my slinky 3XL shorts are wet with sweat, and they bunch between my 3XL thighs and they chafe. By the end of a long hot day those thighs look like packs of pork mince in the supermarket chiller and I spend my evenings anointing them with a soothing balm of shiraz.

The ageing dog in his dark fur coat also struggles with the heat. It flings him down and it tweaks out his tongue. So when I take him for walks I seek shady places, where the two of us can lumber along at a pace we both find comfortable, pausing occasionally to wave at passing tortoises. And it is good to move so slowly. It wreaks less havoc on the inner thigh and it gives us time to look at what surrounds us. And we would all do well to look more at what surrounds us and less at what's on screen. For what's on screen is often fat old men.

Last week the screen was full of Davos. It called itself the World Economic Forum, but it was just men, money and power. What a joy it would have been to slip into any function there, choose a delegate at random, tap him on the shoulder and whisper, “the cops are onto you.” Two out of three would have run.

I saw film of Trump and Netanyahu there, sitting side by side, Netanyahu adoring Trump, Trump adoring being adored. Both spoke, but there was no need to listen to them. All you had to do was to look at their hair. Trump's hair is famous, a Marie Antoinette confection born of scalp reduction surgery and curled extended wisps, reassembled daily and held in place by cans of industrial fixative. Netanyahu, meanwhile, parades the classic comb-over, half a dozen strands of vestigial virility swept and creamed across the barren hump of his skull.

The effect in both cases is laughable. But the point is that they don't think so. They do their hair like that because they think it makes them look younger, and that in turn implies, and rather terrifyingly, that they must think we think so too. And these men are world leaders. They are supposed to be our best representatives. They're supposed to be exemplars. Oh lordy lordy, you can only giggle, then sigh, then shrug and take the dog out.

Which I did earlier today to a scrap of native bush where the wide leaves filter a green sun. On a branch beside the path perched a sparrow. Nothing odd about that, of course, except that the sparrow didn't fly off as we approached. And then without warning it swayed on the perch and just fell. It fell unaerodynamically, like something inanimate and it landed on its side in the leaf litter. The dog nosed it. I picked it up. The bird was dead. Killed I can only presume by the heat. Birds must die daily by the million but this was the first time I'd seen it happen, so to speak, live.

A sparrow seems the dowdiest of birds, but up close it's as miraculous as any. The black pearl eye, the weightless fluff of its under-feathers, the faultless fan of its wing, every bit of it's a beauty and a wonder.

“There is providence in the fall of a sparrow,” said Hamlet, by which he meant that God's got it all mapped out, for you and me as for tiny birds. Wrong, of course, but Hamlet was only echoing the Bible.

“Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And not one of them falls without your Father,” says St Matthew's Gospel. It goes on to make two statements that seem to be addressed directly to fat old men, like Trump, Netanyahu and me. “Even the hairs on your head are numbered. Fear ye not, therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.” The first of which statements is demonstrably true.  The second, however, I'm not so sure.


• Julian “Joe” Bennett is a writer and columnist living in Lyttelton, New Zealand. Born in England, Bennett emigrated to New Zealand when he was twenty nine.

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If you aren't living life on the edge, you're taking up too much space! 

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