Paul Holmes on New Zealand

Paul Holmes is an award-winning Herald columnist

Paul Holmes: TV diet ends ... normal service resumes

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Back to the real world after months of sport, grumps and naughty royals

It's like this. Four months ago I was stolen and taken to the moon where I was held incommunicado for two months then dropped back home and spent a couple more months confused and learning to breathe the air again. The aliens assaulted me and left me with a long mark down my chest which must surely be a branding scar they leave on their earthling prisoners.

So I have lived my life through One News at six. That has been my window on the world.

I loved the Olympic Games and their opening and closing ceremonies. The British might not have been able to afford the scale of the Chinese fireworks we saw at Beijing, but they brought intelligence to the events. We forget how much of modern popular culture emanates from the British. What other country could have had Paul McCartney wrapping up the opening ceremony with Hey Jude?

And I loved the justice London did to the Paralympics. The opening ceremony was stunning. I went to the kitchen bench to make a cup of tea. Suddenly there is the voice of David Bowie screaming out Heroes. I looked up. The song marked the entry of the British team. That was a glorious moment, the huge British team of athletes with disabilities entering that magnificent stadium to the joy of their own people. Well done, London, I thought, and again I marvelled at how far the Paralympics have come.

It's been the year of the UK. I loved all that Diamond Jubilee stuff. There was a programme I saw in which Prince Charles showed us the family's old home movies. He's a funny old duffer, Charles, but in his own way he was charming and informal. And there was wonderful footage of the royal yacht delivering the Queen and the Duke home to London after their seven-month tour of the Empire, sorry Commonwealth, after she became queen. Britannia was mighty once, no doubt about it, but the Olympics and the presence of that amazing royal family with its ability to reinvent itself showed how British might is still there. It has simply evolved. Britain is still a land of ideas.

And Valerie got cheated out of a gold medal by a woman who was clearly a man and had the appearance of an old style East European dope-taker if ever we saw one. Ostapchuk's tears at the medal presentation are incredible to see since she was exposed as a cheat. And Val got her medal. I'm glad they broadcast it live. It was nothing more than she deserved.

I'm loath to admit it but somewhere along the track recently I started to regard the expressions of dissatisfaction coming out of Christchurch as whingeing. God forbid that I did, but I did. Every night there it was, the moaning about Cera or about Brownlee.

Brownlee must have felt a similar sentiment to mind building within his ample self because he erupted, denouncing the comments of some Christchurch people who had nothing to do all day but buggerise round on Facebook.

You could understand his frustration. So much is being done, some of the decisions being made are grotesquely difficult. But it must have been a miserable winter in the city. I saw a piece one night about two solo mums living with their kids in leaking, condensation-cursed caravans in a park somewhere in the city. This was cold, wet, serious stuff.

So Brownlee let fly. Next thing we're reading of a Christchurch woman in the Red Zone, Sue Holmes (no relation), who says she hates only two men, Gerry Brownlee and her ex-husband. Gerry wisely pulled back.

But now the government has taken Christchurch on with school closures and mergers. This has provoked the inevitable teacher-led revolt and a long scroll has been produced on which the children have placed their handprints. The teachers think the scroll is a wonderful idea and the smiles on their faces were beatific. I think the scroll is nuts.

But on the whole, I see the world hasn't changed. One crappy little film about Muhammad and across the world of Islam they're shouting death to America again. This time, thank God, there are educated, rational Islamic voices denouncing the hateful violence of the mobs.

But back to the royals. Prince Harry did well during the year, then went and unwound in Las Vegas with unworthy people and too many naughty girls and his willy hanging out. And Kate, who is a super star, was photographed without a bikini top. As Joan Rivers says, there hasn't been this much fuss over a topless royal since they beheaded Anne Boleyn.

Anyway, I'm back on the Newstalk ZB this morning. Well and truly, I hope, back from the moon.

- NZ Herald

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