At home in Wellington, my mornings have a nice ritual about them.
About 7.15, proving there's still some justice, the newspaper is brought to me in bed. First comes a quick scan of the front page reporting the latest madness, then to the back to check the obituaries and marvel that I'm not there (I say that sincerely - over the last year or so dying has become incredibly fashionable with people I know), then the three crosswords and the word game, and finally, with bated breath, I start on the newspaper.
For nigh on 65 years I've been a newspaper fanatic. As a child I fought with my older sister over first access. It's too late to inquire why (again, everyone who could answer is now dead) but in blue-collar, state-house Lower Hutt where I grew up, only the afternoon newspaper was subscribed for.
But before my sister or I got a chance, our mother, wearing her censor hat, always read the paper first. So when it became our turn, periodically we would find a section cut out. These deletions we learned years later were reports of a murder.
Imagine that today. The newspaper would be confetti by the time we received it. That said, for unknown reasons New Zealand's murder rate has dropped sharply. I pondered this while watching the All Whites fluke a win against Honduras a couple of weeks back. Honduras has less than twice our population and incredibly its weekly murder rate exceeds our annual figure.
With the droll Auckland lawyer and Latin America aficionado Geoff Cone, I once spent two amusing weeks in Honduras. On entering a restaurant inside the door would be a table on which protocol required one's guns be placed. Our unarmed perversity was greeted with puzzlement and we were viewed as curiosities, attracting constant furtive glances from other diners.
I imagine this is how obvious homosexual couples must feel in similar public dining circumstances. They're in the news again with their weird clamour to marry one another, this a source of enormous bewilderment to older heterosexual men who have been round the block a few times and, with the benefit of experience, consider legally not being allowed to marry a huge advantage.
Then again, given that in a strictly literal sense, homosexuals not being the norm are therefore perverse, this sudden craving is at least consistent, more so given that formal marriage is increasingly unfashionable in the West.
As a libertarian I don't care if they want to marry their budgies. On reflection, this would certainly make for an easier life than wedding a human being of any gender, excepting of course for anyone fortunate enough to find a deaf and dumb spouse. Sadly, demand for such partners exceeds supply and they're quickly snapped up when coming available. Nevertheless I do enjoy the furore this same-sex marriage nonsense has created. Allegedly to create an election distraction issue from the economy, President Barack Obama suddenly announced he now favours same-sex marriage, this contrary to his previously expressed opposition.
Predictably the Parliamentary Press Gallery then descended on our Prime Minister, demanding that he too state his position. No wonder he's showing signs of wearying of politics, trying to run the country and copping this sort of tiresome rubbish.
Still, when one recalls his mincing catwalk performance a year back and given his hedging response to the homosexual marriage proposition, well who knows? Might we yet see an out-of-the-closet Prime Ministerial announcement, with a tearful Bronagh in the background?
But pertinent to my point, would we be particularly surprised? In a world that in recent years has been gripped by craziness it's almost impossible for anything to surprise anymore.
Imagine three years back being told that in the near future, not one but two former New Zealand justice ministers would be found guilty of fraud, that the world's highest public office-holder, the IMF head, Dominique Sleaze-Kahn, would be facing two criminal investigations in France for organising illicit orgies and participating in gang rape, and in America a civil claim for rape. Also that a former US presidential candidate, the smarmy John Edwards, would be tried for corruption, that the euro would begin to implode, that a peasants revolt would roll Egyptian, Tunisian, Libyan and Yemen tyrannies, that our second largest city's centre would be destroyed - I could go on and on.
So given this daily diet of hitherto unthinkable occurrences, we are now inured to shocks and thus, should the Prime Minister come out, at best it would be a one-day wonder. Only were he to introduce Colin Meads as his new partner instead of the usual Damien might we be a smidgen startled, after all Colin is approaching 80.