Rosemary McLeod: Even walk to dairy is dangerous

By Rosemary McLeod

Connor Morris died in an all-out suburban brawl about nothing in West Auckland. Photo . File
Connor Morris died in an all-out suburban brawl about nothing in West Auckland. Photo . File

A skien of violence runs through this country like a madwoman's ball of wool. Well, what else would you do with your time?

I could say it's a man thing, all about testosterone, but women continue to rise to the challenge I'm not especially proud to say.

The other night a heavily pregnant woman flung a long knife at her boyfriend that lodged in his forehead, where it stayed as he was taken to hospital.

Police said the 20-year-old man was "lucky" she hadn't thrown it harder, in which case it would have penetrated his brain. As the boyfriend said himself, with a touch of seeming pride, it had been, after all, "a good throw."

Kiwi battlefields are many, most of them local. It's worth remembering that as we celebrate/observe/lament, I'm never sure which, the start of World War I, during which so many New Zealand men died for reasons that now seem pretty hazy, thousands of miles away.

The knife attack was in New Brighton, in somebody's home, typically a favoured battleground where, as my dear old mother was wont to shout, "you need a damn good hiding". We mustn't smack children now, it's illegal, but nobody said anything about hidings.

I expect they continue unabated, families being what they are, assemblages of genetically linked individuals who often can't stand each other.

Heavy artillery is routinely rolled out at funerals, where somebody was always promised Nanna's pink porcelain pig, and so was someone else, and now The Eldest Grandchild (there is always one of these, with a great sense of entitlement) wants it too. People die for less.

At Christmas, in-laws are bound to dislike each other more than usual, having exchanged insulting gifts, and weddings are special, with even more family around than usual and free booze.

Kinfolk start rearranging each other's faces and pulling hair after a few dozen beers: old grudges are remembered and new ones created, while children watch and learn the rituals of kinship. The girls scream - whether in terror or delight is debatable.

Hamilton had a busy time of it last weekend, with 25 domestic violence callouts on Saturday night alone.

There were 95 callouts in one week this year. Dad attacks mum, mum attacks dad, nobody gets a medal. That's the parenthood battleground, where dad usually prevails because he's bigger and stronger, but his victories can't be taken for granted, see above.

While the Hamilton battles unfolded, a man standing by the public loos in Havelock North, by the clock tower, reported being attacked by two men who swiftly disappeared.

There have been arrests following the incident, which allegedly followed a familiar pattern for such events.

Our battlegrounds come in random forms, as in you can be left for dead for wearing the wrong-coloured jumper in some places, just for being a stranger, or for being a tourist. Bus shelters, train stations, outside fish and chip shops late at night, the early hours of Sunday morning around those sophisticated strip clubs and late-closing bars, petrol stations and liquor stores, they're all time-honoured fields of combat, especially when it's one man versus more than one; or, as happened in West Auckland that same night, an all-out suburban brawl about nothing.

We know more about this because the young man killed was the partner of a woman whose father used to be on the telly weeknights, reporting on just such events. Paul Holmes is no longer with us, so the man's funeral won't be broadcast live - as far as I know at this point.

Connor Morris's death was sad and unnecessary, as are all the similar incidents all over the country, seven days a week, year-round.

Add to that our suicidal, stoned and drunk drivers and it's a miracle you survive a walk to the dairy.

A fogey platitude about the national pastime is traditionally: "They need a good war to sort them out." What a droll idea when you think about it.

Rosemary McLeod is a journalist and author

- Northern Advocate

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