Eva Bradley: Life in fast lane overtakes us all

By Eva Bradley


We've all been given the same advice at some point or another during moments when we are worked up, overthinking a matter or complicating things more than we need to: keep it simple, stupid.

It might seem like a bit of an insult but lately it seems the smartest people are doing exactly that.

While the verdict in the Scott Guy murder trial was perhaps a predictable one to those who closely followed it, in an age when it seems there is the science to solve even the most complicated crime, it does seem a little bewildering that one so inherently straightforward looks set to forever remain a mystery.

But perhaps therein lies the perfect crime ... and, indeed, a lesson to instruct us in all aspects of our lives. Often it is the simple and expected process that takes us over the line first - not so much a tortoise and hare scenario, but a Homer Simpson and Stephen Hawking one.

If you were asked to plot the perfect crime - a murder that would be untraceable and, quite simply, unsolvable, would you ever in a million years suggest grabbing a gun, walking up to the home of the victim and shooting him at close range beside a public road and within easy earshot of his family?

You don't need to be a well-fed criminal lawyer to conclude that this is about as simple and as stupid as simple and stupid gets.

And yet in New Zealand, two of the most high-profile unsolved murder cases in recent years employ that exact methodology. First, the killing of Hawke's Bay farmer Jack Nicholas in 2004 and then Scott Guy six years later in a chillingly familiar fashion.

Both crimes saw men put on the stand and then walk away from it not guilty.

Perhaps it is I that is the guilty one - guilty of watching too many re-runs of CSI and being numbed into believing that, despite sometimes mind-bending complexity, every case has its watertight, one-hour solution.

The reality that police prosecutors face is, unfortunately, not so neat and tidy.

However, this week's verdict does teach us all something about the value in keeping things simple ... and not just when we have criminal intent.

Jamie Oliver does it in the kitchen, Steve Jobs did it with the iPhone, Coco Chanel with her little black dress and Alexander Fleming by leaving the petrie dish on the bench while he went on holiday.

Either by accident or design, the best things in life are often the ones all of us could have thought of, except we didn't. Dammit.

When it comes to telling white lies, I have always held with the theory that the more detailed the deception, the more I would convince the inquisition of my innocence.

It never occurred to me that if I simply said, "I didn't do it" often enough, then eventually people might believe me.

I am not alone in thinking that in recent years, life has simply become too complicated. We are moving too fast, expecting too much and thinking too often about too many things.

Life in the fast lane might come with all the trappings of the modern world but are we any happier than our grandparents were when they lived their simple lives?

What would happen if we turned up at work in the cold light of dawn, did the bare minimum of what was expected of us and not one tiny bit more and then left again, with the gun still smoking?

Would it be a crime in the eyes of those around us? Or would we, too, be found not guilty?

Eva Bradley is an award-winning columnist.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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