Golden rule for a columnist is: don’t respond — but some things are worth a mention.

No columnist can respond to correspondence on his written opinions or he'd never get much else done. But he can learn from some of them. And if he's a chump, he'll react. So here's to one assumption: I am not "rich" and I am not a "celebrity".

The wiser heads pointed out that last week's column was through "rose-tinted spectacles". I concur. Someone else pointed out quite horrifying stats on New Zealand's suicide rate, problems with a culture of binge drinking, etc. They are right.

But I'm not sure every column has to highlight the negative stuff. Just as it shouldn't be personal - and too many Kiwi columnists are. Alarmingly so. I don't even buy into criticising a party leader - like John Key - as if he alone is responsible for whatever. He isn't. He might be part of the problem. But the political process in a democracy is one of consensus and inclusion. And dirty fighting and scheming, of course.

There are certain public figures I'd like to have a crack at. But to what purpose? They almost always stay in their positions, never change, not until their media bosses and/or public say it's over. The replacement is never much of a change.


This column will never go near the Kardashians. Not even to throw a bit of mocking sarcasm at. I find the Oscar fuss so dull and self-interested, the gushing actors so ... see how quickly you get dragged in? No amount of ridicule will change a thing. Actors are what they are. The film industry has product to sell, perceptions to influence.

But no amount of news coverage will convince me an Oscar winner is as remotely valuable to humanity as a Nobel winner. Hollywood's laughing at me. Because they truly believe their own hype. So I'll butt out.

One person didn't like me using the word "nutter". Said it was making fun of the mentally ill. I thought "nutter" is one of those words that gets its meaning from context. A nutter detonating a suicide vest is spiritually, conceptually sick. But he/she is not mentally ill in the clinical sense. A nutter on some special diet or of a peculiar belief is more an eccentric and not for a moment mentally ill. I suppose that puts most of us in that classification.

I see and hear things said about people I know, even the odd politician, that I don't like. But one can't go rushing in to defend his every friend or it's like responding to your online comments. It is more than that: we can't live our family members' and friends' illnesses for them, nor but contribute a bit to their finances.

Each lives his/her life as they choose or as fate and circumstances and good or bad luck decide. Most of us will die alone; one moment there, the next gone. Yet we all want to say a final farewell, even make apologies, express regret, to our loved ones. The poet Gerard Manly Hopkins said: All life death does end. And each day dies with sleep.

Speaking of sleep. It is a kind of other universe which feels real even when it's bizarrely surreal. We enter nightly a realm of strangeness that hardly ever makes sense, yet at the time feels more real than our own comparably dreary lives.

I'm a bore of predictable habits and I like routine. I'd put my dreams up against anyone's. One moment flying - usually away from some dire danger - the next racing a car. Then the vehicle changes to skiing on bare feet on an endless down-slope.

We're killers and lovers. Capable of the impossible. Can't so much as lift a finger to an attacker. Can't utter a sound for help. Give Churchillian speeches to the adoring masses. Speechless when it counts.

Then we awake and face a day of milder and less dire challenge. Whatever readers might think of columnists, we are not like we seem. Nor should we be. Other than pretty bloody ordinary and not minding that a bit.