Jim Hopkins on current issues

Jim Hopkins is a Herald columnist

Jim Hopkins: Brownlee forgets number one rule of bullying: size

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Gerry Brownlee. Photo / Greg Bowker
Gerry Brownlee. Photo / Greg Bowker

Oh, dear, what can the matabele? No, hang about, we haven't offended them. It's the Finns who've got their Nokias in a nick - or Nikias in a nock, whichever you prefer. They're the ones who think we should go to Hellsinki. Theirs is the nation we've sullied and besmirched.

Well, no, not "we"; that's going too far. "We" are not guilty. "We" haven't done anything to ruffle Finnish feathers. "We" haven't accused them of being anti-Santa because they eat reindeer. Although they do. And they are.

But "we" haven't denounced this dietary vileness - or the Finns' "terrible homicide rate", which just happens to be higher than ours this week. "We" have made no comment on such matters. He has, him, Mr Munted, BGB, Big Gerry Brownlee. Gerry's the one who's said discourteous things. And the Finns are fuming, in cities as far apart as Uusikaupunki and Ivalo, Kokkola and Barcelona - where most Finns prefer to live.

In truth, this imbroglio (a disagreeable Finnish dish comprised almost entirely of rancid snow - one of the few things they can grow well) should come as no surprise.

BGB's been upsetting folk ever since he called Christchurch's heritage buildings "old dungers".

Perhaps it's bitterness that's driving him. There was a time, you see, when Gerry was a high flyer, the 747 of the National Party. At one point, when Don Brash was numero uno, he was the deputy leader. And they were a good team, the two of them; Dr Brash, scholarly, academic, an ex-Governor of the Reserve Bank, with a PhD, and Gerry, the former woodwork teacher. Some said it was the perfect blend of erudite and Araldite.

Then along came the Dear Leader, Kim Jon Key, and everything turned to busted. Gerry was demoted. Others overtook him. No wonder he's lashing out at the Finns, their education system, their farming and their unemployment. It's a classic case. The only surprise is that he hasn't had a crack at the Swedes and Norwegians too. Because if anyone can, Gerry can.

Not surprisingly, the Finns have retaliated in a personal fashion, making chortlesome sport of Mr B's physique and fondness for breakfasts, as you'd expect from a nation whose idea of fun is putting pickled herrings up their noses and pretending to be walruses.

There's no need for this. Play the ball, Finland, not the man. Yes, Gerry's a big chap. We know that. If he was made of Marmite, there'd be no shortage. Fine. There's no point making a meal of it or schpitting the dummi in the vituperative way that some Finnish follk have done.

They need to lighten up, these people, and not take themselves too seriously. They should learn to laugh at themselves, as we do. Heck, we're forever chortling about our national foibles and peccadilos - which as any Finnish naturalist will tell you, is an armadillo with a beak.

Alternatively, if they can't shrug off a little gentle ribbing, they should trade like for like and trait for trait. But, alas, in that regard, the reaction's been sadly predictable. All we've had are the usual japes about our fondness for sheep.

That's so Australian, Helsinki! We expected more of you.

Which raises a serious point. One that should be forcefully impressed upon our politicians. Don't mess with Finland, people! Don't! Seriously, these guys spent most of WW2 giving Stalin's forces a very bloody nose. Then had a go at Hitler! - on land and in the air.

Those with memories longer than a Bellamy's menu will recall that the Finns walloped the Luftwaffe and Soviet Air Force (not simultaneously) using a much-maligned American aeroplane, the Brewster Buffalo, which the RNZAF also flew, briefly, in Singapore.

They punched above their weight, the Finns. And they still can. 'Cos they've got something we haven't, Mr Munted - an Air Force, BGB, a real one. And they build their own military aircraft - the Vihuri, the Vinka and the Redigo. So if they get really schnotty, they could kick some serious butt, Gerry, including yours.

Best we do as David Shearer suggested. Imitate, not aggravate. Follow the Nokia example. We know the story. Once upon a time, all Nokia did was chop down trees. That was it. Chop! Chop! Hakkonen! Hakkonen! "Puu!!!" (Which is how a Finnish luummberjuuck says "timber".) Trouble was, "puu" turned out to be what Nokia got into when the bottom fell out of timber. So Nokia diversified; stopped chopping and started calling. On a phone of their own that took the world by storm - the Finnish word for a sunny day.

The rest we know. And the lesson's plain: When you're in a hole, stop chopping. And the same goes for cows. What we need is smart milk, BGB, cartons that txt, cheese with apps. What we don't need is a pointless scrap with a country that knows how to!

So if you're going to pick on people, Gerry, pick on someone our own size - like Nauru or San Marino or the Marshall Islands. But not the Finns. They might fight back!

- NZ Herald

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