Kerre McIvor

Kerre McIvor is a Herald on Sunday columnist

Kerre Woodham: Turn blind eye to dud fad and it will die

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It won't be long before shoppers in PJs fail to catch anyone's eye. But what will the next sad trend be?
Photo / Jupiter Images
It won't be long before shoppers in PJs fail to catch anyone's eye. But what will the next sad trend be? Photo / Jupiter Images

If you're offended by the sight of women cruising supermarket aisles in their pyjamas, don't blame them for being sloppy and lacking self-respect.

Blame the fashion designers who have decreed pyjamas are the new must-have in the fashionista wardrobe. Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Calvin Klein, Stella McCartney - if you were a couture designer and you missed the pyjama trend last year, you might as well have hung up your scissors and flagellated yourself with your tape measure.

Tragic followers of fashion the world over ignored common sense, forking out up to $4000 for floral Jil Sander pyjama bottoms. That's just the bottoms. The matching top cost $4600.

Obviously, the young women of Gisborne and Porirua (and even my people in Grey Lynn) don't have that sort of money to spend on couture pyjamas, so they opt for the next best thing, pink flannelette PJs from the Ware-whare.

Although they've embraced the PJ trend, they don't seem to have got the message that high-fashion pyjamas are supposed to be worn with styled hair and impeccable makeup in case the non-cognoscenti think you're wearing, well, pyjamas.

But so long as the PJs are clean, are they any more offensive than wearing gym gear to the supermarket?

It's like the "togs, togs, undies" advertisement - who made the arbitrary boundaries for where garments are acceptable and where they are not?

Certainly, I don't think it's the place of councils to decide what people can and cannot wear. Some councillors in Gisborne decided a bylaw was needed to prohibit the wearing of pyjamas in the city centre as the PJ wearers, apparently, lowered the town's appeal. Other councillors were less prim about propriety so the bylaw won't be introduced.

If supermarkets are really offended by pyjama-wearing customers, they could do what Tescos did in Britain and ban them from their premises.

But the best thing to do probably would be to ignore the fad. Often, clothes choices are made to provoke attention. Think punk, think high-waisted, skintight flares on men, think dungarees with nothing under them. Turn a blind eye. This fashion crime too shall pass.

Too mean on urgent handouts

New Zealand First's social policy spokeswoman tried to get the taxpaying public rarked up after a list of emergency grants paid out by Work and Income was revealed this week.

Almost $33 million was paid in the first six months of this year for special needs grants - one-off payments available to struggling Kiwis.

On first glance, it seems a lot of money, but when you read what the grants were for, it's hard to argue that they shouldn't be paid out.

The largest amount was for food - $19.1 million. And though I'm sure there are bad choices made by some hard-up families, when you count up the cost of the weekly shop, you can see how some weeks families would need a top-up.

Emergency dental treatment was also a biggie - $6.3 million. Anyone who's ever had a toothache would not begrudge a fellow Kiwi the price of a dentist visit to get their fangs fixed.

One chap told me on the radio that he'd been denied an emergency grant so he pulled out the aching tooth himself. The cavity got infected and he spent two weeks in hospital. The grant would have been the cheaper option.

And who would deny some poor soul having chemo the price of a hairpiece or wig?

But the category New Zealand First really didn't like was the money paid out for 20 vasectomies. "Why should the population in New Zealand pay for something that is supposed to be a personal expense?" asked Asenati Lole-Taylor.

I'm quite happy to help fund vasectomies. If a family's doing it tough and finding it hard to look after the kids they have already, it makes perfect fiscal sense to fund a vasectomy rather than have taxpayers fund another little human from birth to adulthood.

Good on a bloke for choosing not to reproduce just because he can.

It's not like the special needs grants fund is a bottomless pit either, even though the grants don't have to be paid back. People who have received hardship assistance on three or more occasions within a year must show that they have tried to increase their income, limit their spending or improve their budgeting.

The grants aren't just for people on benefits. They're for anybody who can prove to Winz that they're struggling and they have no other way to cover a necessary expense.

Yes, times are tough and the Government's keeping a close watch on its spending, but the list of emergency special needs grants doesn't seem worthy of the sort of faux outrage Lole-Taylor was trying to generate. It's hard enough asking for help.

The guilty-but-not-my-fault excuse is wearing thin

What an interesting phrase James Parker used to excuse his sexual offending against little boys.

In court this week he pleaded guilty to 49 counts of sexual abuse but claimed he was not a monster. Rather, he said he was the "unwilling host of a most terrible disorder".

Really? On that count, can it be said alcoholics are unwilling hosts of a most terrible fondness for drink? The obese are unwilling hosts of an extra 30kg? Bigots are unwilling hosts of very small brains?

What tosh. If he were that unwilling, why not work at a retirement village rather than teach at a primary school?

He asked for help to get rid of his terrible sickness and I hope he gets it. But owning up to his own offending would be a very good start.

- Herald on Sunday

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