Goodness me. New MPs have barely written their names on their new stationery and already a New Zealand First MP is making headlines for his nutty pronouncements.
Richard Prosser (rhymes with?) announced this week that the burqa should be banned, that the only people against the reintroduction of compulsory military training would be the cowards, the weaklings and the bludgers among us and has called for the arming of taxi drivers, dairy owners and most householders.
He even specified a weapon - a Walther PPK should be clipped to the sun-visor of every cab and police car, in Dick's view of the world.
He sounds like just another wannabe James Bond, who goes to bed every night in his camouflage tuxedo.
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But his comment that, as recently as 1973, banks in this country kept guns under the counter and tellers were trained in the use of firearms, made me prick up my ears. My dad was a bank manager and I didn't recall him talking about the good old days when tellers handled pistols as easily as petty cash. But the stories of my talkback callers confirmed that Prosser was correct. There were, indeed, firearms kept under the counter of your local bank and tellers were required to attend training at least once a year.
What was extraordinary was the social history uncovered during those conversations. In those pre-electronic banking days, young people would drive through the provinces or walk the streets delivering and collecting huge sums of money on a timetable as regular as clockwork. Everybody in Manawatu knew that every second Wednesday, Frank would arrive in his Mark 4 Cortina to deliver the cash wages for the workers in the dairy factory down the line. Everybody in Coromandel knew that every Friday at 10.30am to the second, Mike would leave Waihi for Whangamata in his yellow-and-black Torana to collect the money from the sub-branch, and then drive back to Waihi with thousands of dollars in the boot.
Young kids, working as runners at the races, carried thousands of pounds in canvas bank bags to the main office, pushing through crowds of punters to get there, and young accounts clerks walked Lambton Quay with a king's ransom in their black carry bags and pistols in their pockets. And not once did they think they might be attacked.
They were simpler times, all right. Where were all the entrepreneurial criminals? Surely they didn't think a callow youth with a clunky ex-army Colt was any sort of impediment to getting their hands on easy money?
It shows the mindset back in the day. I suppose full employment meant that people were simply too busy or tired to go out robbing people within a community they felt a part of.
Anyway. I owe Prosser. Without that little nugget of information inside the dross of his public pronouncements, I would never have heard so many interesting stories.