Paul Little at large

Paul Little is a Herald on Sunday columnist

Paul Little: Still some cultural cringe in us

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Everyone talks about how awful life as a member of the royal family must be. But you'll have noticed it's not so bad that it deters those in that situation from regularly turning out new royals.

I was hoping that when it came to a present for the Cambridge baby we could all just go in on Hayley Westenra's new CD with its lullaby for the bairn.

Instead, something called Monarchy NZ has come up with a world-beating piece of kowtowing such as we have not seen for many a year.

Monuments from the Sky Tower (an easy get) to the i-Site dog at Tirau will light up to celebrate the new heir's arrival. Imagine the wee mite's delight in years to come when it learns its arrival was celebrated with some fairy lights on a corrugated iron collie.

The spirit of Telethon was evident as Monarchy NZ's Sean Palmer "hoped other landmarks would join in". Get with the programme, Ohakune giant carrot.

I am not, as many who find this move less than consistent with an image of ourselves as a grown-up independent people, going to complain about the cost.

Presumably, there is a well-resourced grovelling fund kept in reserve for occasions such as this.

But I am happy to put on record that I find this obsequious, anachronistic piece of pageantry completely mortifying.

Yesterday, my phone developed a challenging fault that meant that on any call, although I could hear the other party, they could not hear me. Hilarity did not ensue. Especially when I was at the airport calling AA in the rain at a quarter past midnight.

I rang my giant telephone company, where the helpful person in the call centre was unable to help. She sent me to the company's nearest shop. There I was told that my phone could be fixed - phew. It would cost $280 and take five working days. I would also need to back up all the data on it (I use it for everything so there's a lot of data, as the GCSB can tell you) to be reloaded on the new handset. It was the words "new handset" that gave it away.

"So you're not actually going to fix this phone - you're going to throw it away and replace it with a new one?"

"That's right."

"Leave it with me."

I then went a few blocks away to a hole-in-the-wall operation where I've taken phones before to have shattered screens and such-like fixed.

I told them the problem. Well, I got half way through telling them -

"Very common problem. $99."

"Really?"

"Sure. When you want it back?"

"You mean I can have it back today?"

"Of course."

"Five o'clock? I have to be somewhere at six."

"Okay."

And so it came to pass. For about a third of the price and in one tenth of the time my giant phone company had quoted, my phone was restored to working order. Which told me a whole bunch of things.

You should always shop around. Corporates have only themselves to blame if they are seen as being greedy and monopolistic and taking advantage of consumers' ignorance. Especially if they're contributing to landfill by discarding an item that isn't obsolete. And the spirit of the little guy having a go is alive, well and can succeed in a globalised, post-digital economy.


People I'm Glad I Wasn't this Week #1: Any National Party MP who knew the casino deal stinks and that they could end it with their one vote but put having a future in politics ahead of the future of the community.

- Herald on Sunday

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