I confess to fascination with wetness, an appetite quenched every time I open my newspaper.

Wetness is absolutely a male thing, well evidenced recently, when Wellington's newspaper carried a photo of an arms folded, grim-faced, middle aged wet. He was complaining because Lower Hutt's Council Art Gallery, the Dowse (named to commemorate the world's worst ever driver, he also being a former mayor) was showing a nonsense film exhibition which included a three-minute item by a Qatari film-maker of unveiled Muslim women preparing for a wedding. Available only to women viewers although why any would want to watch is a mystery, our saturated complainant was protesting at his prohibition. That's a fairly serious level of dampness, admittedly not of Tsunami proportions but certainly the Tongariro River in flood. Amazingly he wasn't bearded which is characteristic of most wets. But could you possibly imagine any woman in history giving a damn if they were prohibited from a three-minute film of say Muslim men praying or whatever?

When the Social Credit Party reached its zenith in the early 1980s it became a magnet for the nation's wets. They were a cartoonist's delight with their beards, toupees, safari suits, walk-shorts and Skoda cars. I miss them immensely even though I played a mickey-taking role in their demise. The advent of line dancing filled the gap in providing them with a new outlet.

On that note readers may recall the Education Department's television advertisement a few years ago. It began with shots of line dancers followed by a short message to kids that this could be their fate if they don't study hard at school. The department pulled the advert when line dancers protested, a great shame as it got the message across perfectly.


When Murray Chandler returned from chess success in Europe in the late 1970s I was one of 20 invited challengers one Saturday morning in the Wellington Town Hall. We were seated at a long table before chess boards while Murray raced up and down the other side making snap moves, all before an audience of several hundred spectators. Murray quickly disposed of most of the players and it got down to four of us hanging on in, when my attention was drawn by spectators to my girlfriend beckoning frantically over people's heads to me to leave the table.

Assuming a family tragedy, I apologised and made my way to her but she raced off, out up the sweeping stairway to the first floor concert chamber. "Quick, quick," she kept shouting and so I followed, there to see a wondrous spectacle. For inside the national country dancing championships were taking place. Large dough-faced women in voluminous skirts swirled around and around with their string tied, goateed and chinless partners to the monotone chanting of an emcee, while sitting in abject misery on benches along the wall were their deeply embarrassed off-spring. That was serious wetness of Amazonian flood standard. Still the delay earned me a draw with Chandler.

Male wetness has always been a popular theme for television series. In America, it was the stereotyped short policeman trying to act tough, first with the 1960s Andy Griffith Show and subsequently in the 1990s, in Hill Street Blues, both wets bringing great delight to viewers. England's Richard Briers specialised in such roles, initially with The Good Life series and subsequently and brilliantly with Ever Decreasing Circles. More recently Ricky Gervais made his name playing a wet branch manager in The Office.

The characteristics of male wetness are self-centredness, an obsession with trivialities and a desire for undeserved attention. The persistent letters-to-the-editor writer classically epitomises this, Wellington's best known incessant letter-writing wet of Oceanic proportions, pretentiously signing himself M. Lawrence Withy. Needless to say he's bearded, short and almost certainly a line-dancer.

Wellington's Dominion newspaper always published names of letter rejectees under the heading, "Points Noted". When I observed in a magazine article that Withy had astonishingly managed 24 rejections in about two months, he complained to the paper which weakly then stopped publishing their rejection list.

Withy's rejection rate is phenomenal but I've observed his current cunning ploy to achieve his name in print, namely to write praising the publication for one of its articles. They fall for it every time, particularly but unsurprisingly, the Sunday Star-Times.

A few years ago a massive wetness convention was staged in Lower Hutt which by chance I observed. This was a gathering of New Zealand Volkswagen owners. I'm not making this up.

There was a grand parade of about 100 Volkswagens and needless to say, most of the drivers were bearded. About a third had sad looking wives in the passenger seats, the rest having presumably lost theirs, almost certainly and absolutely understandably, to despairingly flee to lesbianism. Who could possibly blame them?