Sinners feeling hard done by should hone their excuses

Dear Uncle Norm,

Because I hold high office, I am judged harshly for sending artistic pictures to teenage girls. (In my work precinct it has, regrettably, been a month of harsh judging).

My treatment is extremely unfair. I curate my snaps carefully, and after dispatching them, take insurance against the odd pic being unwelcome by following up with a rote apology plus reasons why it’s all been just a misunderstanding. For example — a deviant stole my phone at a cocktail party, Chinese spies set me up, and (if things get really sticky): "None of this is my fault because I suffer from mental health issues."

Unfortunately, nobody seems sorry for me. How can this wrong be righted? (I talked to my Aunt Judith, but she was particularly unkind).

Wronged Inhabitant,

The Beehive.

And your dog ate your homework? I have consulted senior shrinks who state the correct method for diagnosing you is a procedure called "The Pub Test".

The team conducting this test has sent me its conclusions. You will be relieved to hear that your mental health is sufficient for you to become a member of Parliament.

However, there is an issue with perversion.

I am researching whether this may entitle you to a pension.

Dear Uncle Norm,

This year I defrauded my nanna of her life savings, stole a Salvos poor-box, and used a baseball bat to hold up three family-run corner stores. Unfortunately, whilst bashing a busker last Thursday, I was nicked by the cops.

I’m afraid the filth now have me "bang to rights" on all charges.

I’ll plead guilty.

But can you suggest some heart-rending mitigation plea? I’d like a decent chunk knocked off my sentence.

Norbert Nash,

Milton Corrections Facility.

I recommend you, too, play the mental health card. It is the "poor suffering me" excuse of the moment, and people have problems calling you out on it. Perhaps point out the cruelty of your parents naming you "Norbert?" Overcoming Norbert must have been trying for a young, impressionable bully.

Fortunately, you are named after a fine saint. St Norbert is an ideal chap to inspire those who should take their personal improvement more seriously.

Norbert, too, was a bit dodgy. In 1115, Norbert tumbled from his horse, stunned by a lightning strike.

Seeing the light, he set up (as one would) the Premonstratensian Order of Canons. His rules for this enlightened holy order were strictish — Norbert’s first three disciples died complying with them. But your parents will have told you all this.

(This column educates: Premonsetcetera is somewhat like fortune telling. Now, where were we?)

Dear Uncle Norm,

I am bewildered. The scrummage rules of rugby are hard enough. But I have just tried reading the 38-page World Rugby report on whether transgender women can play for women’s teams — and its language beats me.

Try this: The researchers say they have modelled kinetic and kinematic forces (?) to explore risk factors.

They then state: "Ciswomen players (who do not undergo androgenisation during development) who are participating with and against transwomen (who do undergo androgenisation during development) are at a significantly increased risk of injury."

Do you know what all this means? I’m married with two children, but can I still play halfback?

Suze Smith,

(Stewart Island Old Girls).

The report tries to present its research without offending offence takers. Its takeaway is that when a female player is tackled by a transgender woman player, her chances of being injured are 25%-30% higher because she (the tackled) did not start her growing up with male characteristics. Further scrummaging may follow.

Dear Uncle Norm,

I telephoned the students next door telling them to turn down their damn thunka-thunka music. Soon after, a smartypants girl phoned back and said her call was "reaching out" to ask whether in return my wife might desist from saxophone practice.

In modern speak, phoning anyone on the blower has become "reaching out". I don’t "reach out" to Air New Zealand when I call them (again) about my flight refund. I ruddy phone them up and give them an earful. I phone the bank. I phone the council.

With friends, however, the correct phrase may be: "I give them a buzz."

A charity that phoned me for money said it was "reaching out".

The term implies a concern that isn’t intended. I suspect this smarmy phrase has been invented by our new Ministry for Kindness. It is one more Orwellian bastardisation of the English language.

Irate, Opoho.

A fair point. Today’s column has a letter from Mr Norbert Nash, penned from the Milton Corrections Facility. This "Corrections Facility" is presumably a University of Otago department to which Mr Nash has been dispatched to improve his spelling.

I gather they also do sentences.

 - John Lapsley is an Arrowtown writer.



When someone answers the phone, the caller has 'reached' them. Quelle surprise when it's a wrong number. There's an aggrieved 'who's this?' from a disaffected young male, as if you have no right to be in your own home and Ms Fox should answer the call.


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