Hands up for a handout

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John Lapsley
Dear Uncle Norm,

I’ve been made Public Relations Officer for our bikie gang. Unfortunately, the colonist racists won’t accept gangs make young lives meaningful - our boys can aspire to Harleys, decent armaments, cheap KFC, and 2km funeral processions.

We make $2 million a month selling meth, which is high-pressure work. My bosses agree we’d get better media treatment if we launched rehab programs for a handful of our meth customers.

These will show 100% cures - the patients will be in deep poo if they don’t.

But management will spend only 1% of turnover, when we need 1.5% if the clinics are to make a media splash. Any thoughts?

PR Honcho, South Chapter.

Contact the Beehive for a $1 for $1 subsidy. Run the bad colonist guilt line, but remember, you MUST offer photo opportunities, and accept koha. (It would, of course, be disrespectful not to pocket such koha yourself).

P.S. Do try not to giggle.

Dear Uncle Norm,
Our Government was absolutely correct from the start of Covid. The repeated outbreaks in the UK and Australia governed by idiots show the lasting wisdom of NZ’s isolation policy.

It’s important the big money interests pushing to weaken border controls are kept in check. The accumulating success of 2020’s wisdom must not be frittered away in 2021.

Daphne Bird, Peel Forest.

Your lasting wisdom mantra is smug and wrong. As John Maynard Keynes lectured one closed thinker: When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do?

There hasn’t been a peacetime crisis where the important facts have changed so much and so often.

The virus changes. So do the pros and cons of various vaccines. Contact tracing evolves. Countries experiment differently. Economic knock-ons proliferate. Immigration issues bite. Quarantines mutate.

Amidst all this, last month’s wisdom can very quickly become next month’s folly. Unfortunately, flexibility doesn’t come easily to the instruments of government.

Dear Uncle Norm,

I am a medico of renown. I have been twice nominated for the Nobels, I headed a Scottish School of Medicine, and was personally responsible for ending the scourge of mumps in the Congo.

I am presently marooned in your fair country and would like to help. Am I qualified to deliver Covid jabs to New Zealanders?

Sir Mackenzie McFie, KBE (ret).

Of course you aren’t. Our rules sensibly dictate vaccinators do the correct training programmes. Do you know the safest procedure for asking a senior to roll up her sleeve? (I bet not!) Are you trained to spot a freckle; to pick the right bottle from the box; to gently murmur ‘‘Think of Wellington’’, as the needle enters?

Go back to retirement. Don’t bother busy Kiwi bosses.

Hi Uncle Norm,

You are overdue for a snarl at Spark, your favourite corporate enemy. What’s wrong? Have you gone soft?

A.E. Speckle, Karori.

What’s wrong is they keep on inflicting defeats.

This month they say I phoned a business around midnight when its staff was home and (like myself) sound asleep. Spark claims I chatted as we snored, for 11 hours 49 minutes and 8seconds. This closed business sat about 600 metres sleepwalk from my cellphone. Spark’s billing for the call is$582.

My call log shows I wouldn’t have pocket-called. I’ve spent hours with their call centre, driven to their local office as directed, been promised a response and, (oh the surprise!), had none. This crowd defeats us by turning customer service into a dispiriting customer labyrinth. We can more easily return an iffy refrigerator than question a dodgy Spark call charge.

It’s difficult to angrily dump your telecoms supplier because of the raft of related technologies we don’t dare disrupt. Phones, Wi-Fi, alarm, computers, TV, sound systems. Spark’s inertia to individual customer issues is not just Uncle Norm’s problem, it belongs to millions of us. (Their market share is 40%).

Dear Uncle Norm,

My husband J has an odd ambition. He is a cricket book nut whose consuming madness is completing his collection of the Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack , published annually since 1864.

There are 156 Wisdens, and he has well past 130. When I recently checked his mobile, I saw he’d begun bidding on the rare 1875, which is expected to reach about $35,000.

I don’t think I can bear this lunacy any longer. Should I leave him before we’re both completely broke?

Wisden Widow, Cashmere.

I believe I know your collecting spouse. (Marvellous chap!) Your fears are foolish. I have checked the auction catalogue, and while the 1875 does detail the defeat of MCC Gentlemen by a team of American baseballers (truly), the edition is marred by several foxed pages.

There is no chance J will cough up more than $26,000. Get a grip on yourself!

 - John Lapsley lives in Arrowtown.

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