New Zealand in 2017: At last someone unafraid to speak the truth

As 2017 draws to a close, we ask eminent guest columnist Ernest Penman to reflect on the year that was. 

When I cast my mind across the year 2017 I am transported immediately to that moment, L’éphanie. Allow me to explain. I gently adjusted my fedora as I mounted the undulating Kmart snake, lining up to buy my yearly packet of underpants. “Nobody can tell me not to wear this cool hat inside,” I thought to myself. The last person who told me what I could and could not wear was my mother. I was six years old. I am no longer a child.

Despite the stylish brim obscuring much of my immediate surroundings from view, I realised something chilling as I gazed upon my fellow shoppers: the mists lifted, leaving the inescapable vision of the shadow that is poisoning Middle-earth. Clutching my reasonably priced five-pair packet of underpants to my chest, I gasped at the plethora of ethnicities. Indian, Pakistani, Sri Lankan, Syrian and many others. I could have been anywhere in South East Asia.

Not only were there frightening immigrants, but there were women embedded within the mighty serpent, and they were making obscene noises with their mouths. My ears were being assailed – quite literally – by the loudest, high-decibel women’s laughter, the likes of which I have not heard even once anywhere in Europe, where I travelled to pick up my latest batch of artisanal indoor headwear.

Maybe their banshee-like behaviour could be attributed to their periods, I mused. Only a very brave man or a fool would dare give women advice on how to manage their menstrual cycle, but luckily that very brave man is yours truly, moi. Needless to say, the snowflakes and virtue signallers will call me a mansplainer, but I embrace the term. Menstruation turns women from playful kittens into dangerous tigresses, and frankly they have no place in the checkout queue at the bargain-filled mecca of Kmart.

I thought to myself: what kind of country do we want to be in 20 years? I thought of the 78-year-old Samoan cleaner in my friend’s apartment building, who is here this Saturday morning as I write this. He is more typical Samoan and with it, one of us. Why? Because he’s modest and humble and is probably helping support family, as well being useful in his older years. He’s got a work ethic. No ego.

Why do I bring him up at all? Nobody can be sure. I’m not sure, but rest assured I would tell you if I was even a little bit sure.

Anyway, the snake was curling and my fedora was tightening around my skull and the menstrual women rang in my ears.

The laughter subsided all-too briefly, and I heard something even more galling. I ripped open the five-pack of underpants and ploughed the polycotton bulwarks into my ears. But still, it wormed its way through like a shadow, like a snake. It wasn’t English, but some sort of native tongue unlike anything I had ever heard, even in Europe. It sounded like the same language that has recently hijacked the NZBC. There were just a few words to begin with. Then longer sentences which have kept on growing, comme un serpent.

I dropped the pack of tampons I had just picked up to give to the shrieking harridan in front of me. I had chosen to go in public – therefore encounter another living soul apart from my prize fish – during Māori language week. I prefer to call it a seven-day fiesta of cringing servility that, were Billy T James still with us, would have provided him with material forever. But that’s just me.

The tampons returned to my clammy palms, I balked at the memory of wholly unfeminine women demanding that such accoutrements be available free of charge. The suggestion, that we should all share the burden, discomfort and, most importantly, the cost of the female menstrual cycle, will no doubt lead to arguments for those brave, or foolish, enough to express an opinion. Ladies, please. We already do share all those things and have done for a very long time.

The ladies’ shrieks persisted. Were they shrieking about my hat? Is that it? The caterwauling social justice warriors cast a poisonous and serpentine and menstrual and unintelligible shadow engulfing my fedora and my discounted underpants. Political correctness gone mad. So much for free speech and civilised values. These were my thoughts as I slid feet first towards the automated checkout from a puddle of my own perspiration.

As any intelligent reader will see, the point I am making here as we reflect upon the year now plunged into its crepuscular cycle, is that the way we’re going at the moment, the ultimate woman’s figure will soon resemble a duck. We’ll have huge beak-like lips, a small chest with fake nipples, and we’ll be waddling around with a great big booty out the back. That duck will be speaking te reo fluently.

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