HUMOUR - By GRAHAM REID
Those who have followed our saga of 14-year-old Amber Riley-Thompson and her family will be pleased to learn they have arrived safely back in Howick after their holiday at Kakamoana Caravan Park in the Far North. Actually they never left Howick, that bit was made up. In fact the whole thing was made up. Check your telephone directory and atlas: neither the Riley-Thompsons nor Kakamoana Beach exist. (Howick does, but that's another story). We just thought you might be amused by ordinary life during this season when "real news" (about politicians, that Charlene Dawson person off the telly, the former rugby league player and his woman) is in short supply.
Some people got the joke - okay, nothing much happens at this time of year, but we surely aren't reduced to publishing that much of nothing? - but others took it very seriously. A reader in Paris (as in France) was disappointed we'd publish a story about "a little [expletive] of a child with no appreciation of the fact that she is able even to go on a family holiday. I certainly hope this is not the average New Zealand family today as I know it wasn't when I lived there, only a matter of a couple of years ago. At the risk of sounding old school, I think children like that are ignorant and sheltered of the world around them and will eventually grow up to be [another expletive]." True. And they'll probably also be potty-mouthed and have their humour gland removed too.
Amber's story has been the subject of talkback discussion, and the Herald has received a number of letters berating the girl for her ingratitude. No one mentioned her dad needed to control his filthy temper. But teenagers are always an easier target, huh?
Other readers fortunately saw the ironic aspect and episodes now appear on touringandtenting.com, a British-based discussion forum for those of the outdoor persuasion. (Let's hope our Prime Minister doesn't think we are damaging the nation's reputation internationally and give us a ticking off.)
Anyway the Riley-Thompsons are home so there's really nothing more to tell. Amber has been grounded for being rude to her grandma, her brother Jarred broke his wrist yesterday when he fell off his new skateboard, and father Bruce is spending the weekend mowing lawns and cleaning the car before he heads back to work on Monday. Mum Raylene, a long-suffering woman, told the Herald late last night: "I'll be bloody glad when the holidays are over and I can send the kids back to school".
Amber's teachers were unavailable for comment.