Friday, December 28, 2018

Fourth Column


This column comes from the days of the 1995 Americas' Cup, when New Zealand, my home country, grabbed the thing off the people who'd had it for far too long. One of our local lunatics gave it a thump, but its was put back into shipshape order before the next outing.


Occasionally people ask me where I get my ideas from. There's no great secret: it's a matter of picking up opportunities, just like salesmen do when trying to sell something.

And it really isn't hard to get ideas - I sat in the car one night waiting to collect my wife from work and came up with several possibilities. The problem is to know what to do with the ideas once you've got 'em!

This is the fourth column I've started this week. With four columns sketched out you'll appreciate I haven't lacked ideas, just the right approach. Half way through saying something, I've begun to wonder: do I really know as much about this as I'd like to think I do?

I've said in the past, I'm not a journalist. And I'm not objective. Although I try to get my facts right I'd sooner manage without any facts at all.

That's where the difference comes between an opinionated person like myself and a real journalist. Real journalists have their facts right before they commit themselves to paper. I'm not always even sure which ones are my facts.

In fact I tried to be very factual this week, but my opinions kept tripping me up.

New Zealand's team celebrating their win in 1995
I started to write about the Americas' Cup - but I wasn't sure whether I had the apostrophe in the right place, or if there really was a dash in NZ-L20.

Actually I'm glad it's all over. Never in the field of human conflict was so much hype given to so many by so few. (Until I checked, I'd always thought the original quotation used the word "endeavour" instead of "conflict". Whew! Well, that will do as the fact for this week's column.)

I was going to write about riots, (or is it right about wriots?) both at home and abroad, and injustice (this has nothing to do with the America's Cup) - but such a theme required more space than I have here, (and possibly more brains).

More problems arose when I wanted to right about the Write to Silence matter. But because I was going to comment on what seemed to me to be a very contentious legal area, and one in which lawyers might well have a field day, I thought I'd better give my lawyer a call first. (And got his answerphone.)

I wanted to write about sceptics, and evolution (separately). But reducing these dinosaur issues down to homo sapiens size proved difficult. I could combine them, of course, and say I'm sceptical about evolution.

I've also had in mind to write both about banks, and bouncers. For those of you who immediately jumped to the conclusion that I was going to advise banks to employ bouncers, I wasn't, though it occurs to me that might yet be an idea to follow up.

When it comes to being as opinionated and dogmatic as I am, you see, settling down to getting the right column off the ground can be a tricky matter.

My apologies if you've felt that you've wended your way through this maze, and found no prize at the end. However, consider this column as a trailer, like they have at the movies or on tv, whetting your appetite for controversies to come.

Hmmm...I've just been checking my facts again, and find I've confused fourth column with fifth estate - or vice versa. I'll get it write somewhere along the line.  

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