Most things get better through change and technology, but not all. For example, the introduction of third umpires has hugely enhanced cricket while the inclusion of competitive meditation, rugby sevens and anything else the IOC can dream up has massively devalued the Olympics.
Talking of the rugby sevens, an extraordinary thing occurred in Wellington late last year. The Dominion Post ran a photo which on face-value, showed a sane-looking middle-aged local they'd unearthed, which in the light of the accompanying article shows just how deceiving looks can be. It transpired this bloke was complaining at the ticket price for attending this year's Wellington rugby sevens in the specially secured tiny section set aside for - wait for it - people who take the sevens seriously. I'm not making this up. That morning I fielded numerous calls asking had I seen the story about someone taking the sevens seriously.
Considering that the sevens make league look intellectual, I imagine the security fence is to protect everyone else attending from these nutters; that is the hordes of panelbeaters in tutus, the ubiquitous flocks of drunken nuns and such-like who inundate the capital for this event. These burly ballerinas and naughty nuns would certainly think twice about attending if they knew there were caged, potentially dangerous madmen in the stadium, no matter how well secured.
Mind you, increasingly the ballerinas and nuns et al don't turn up, instead being content to roam the city's bars shouting at one another. And when on the last afternoon they finally enter the stadium, they understandably stand with their backs to the ground, gazing at one another, which is certainly better than watching the brain-dead sevens. Emulating that nonsense, there's to be a rugby league nines staged in Auckland. We would breach our international obligations if we made prison inmates attend that as beyond doubt it would constitute a cruel and unusual punishment.
But back to deceptive appearances. In the 1980s, I learned never to judge a book by its cover when it comes to people. My company's head office spread over three office floors, one housing an accountant and a number of young women doing God knows what, plus a middle-aged mousy spinster who handled invoices. One day word reached us that the handyman we employed was now dating the spinster. On the rare occasions I visited that floor, the change to the accounts lady was amazing. She was now blooming, chatty and constantly laughing.
One day when there, a chap came in who was pointed out to me as the handyman beau. "Looks like a child molester," I jokingly remarked. This observation I later learned was conveyed to the girls on the floor whereupon like reef fish, as is their wont, they immediately treated him as one. Months later I heard things had become so difficult over this chap's occasional innocuous presence, the accountant sacked him.
His replacement was a charming fellow in his 40s. One of our executives then received a call from a detective friend informing him that this new bloke was fresh out of prison for - you guessed it - child molestation.
But pointing out never to judge someone by their appearance is a total waste of time for we always have and always will. Studies show that regular-featured tall men and beautiful women enjoy a head start in life. What's interesting is how many waste it. Perhaps because life is such a breeze, they foolishly think this will always be so and don't exert themselves. On the other hand short men and plain girls have to try harder and usually succeed for that reason. We're all familiar with how many ratbag dictators have been or are short men, this known as short man's syndrome. The list is lengthy, from Attila the Hun, Napoleon, Hitler, Franco, Mao, Stalin, the North Korean puff-ball and so on. As said, they simply try harder.
But when it comes to wasted beauty, who really baffles me is Christine Keeler. Helen of Troy's face may have launched a thousand ships but Christine Keeler could boast better than that. Her face destroyed a government. Every man in high places she met seemingly threw themselves on her sacrificial altar. Andrew Lloyd Webber's new musical on Christine's inadvertent victim, Stephen Ward, and her devastating effect on everyone else, is about to open in London. But Google Christine Keeler and have a look at her now with the frightening Daily Mail photo taken six months ago. It should be compulsory viewing for every young beauty, illustrating the need to make hay while the sun is shining.
In the meantime, stay away from the Wellington sevens if you value your safety. Being in the presence of caged madmen who take it seriously is a risk not worth taking - after all, they could break free.