Cliff Richard and a dead issue
Great day to be alive. Particularly when you’ve seen your name in an obituary. Rather like Mark Twain after an 1897 newspaper report screamed: “Mark Twain is dead.”
His classic response, quoted, or misquoted in various forms, was perfectly in character: “The report of my death is greatly exaggerated.”
In my case, that piece of reporting – “Pat Booth is dead” – was partfact, part-fiction ...
I know it sounds strange, but, in a special way, I was glad. Pat Booth haunted me for years.
Ever since nominally loyal staff at the Auckland Star furtively placed certain fashion photos – I assume tenderly and certainly anonymously – on my desk.
The endless, mindless hype of fashion week reminded me of those high gloss glimpses of a sometimes blonde bimbo in the latest gear. They usually carried messages in greatly disguised handwriting, like “Darling, you’ve never looked so lovely.”
Those were the days when my British namesake was a fashion model. That was bad enough. But then she famously reinvented herself as an author of rather raunchy, big-selling chic lit. First hint of new problems came when my daughter reported having picked up what she thought was a new novel by her father. Not me, I assured her.
“I didn’t think it read like you,” she said.
And she was right about a Ms Pat Booth soft porn job that featured in chapter two the seduction of an air stewardess in an airliner’s loo by a 14-year-old school girl. True.
Annoyingly, this other Pat Booth outsold my books by hundreds to one. The proof: Whitcoulls ordered cartons of one of mine, solely on the name on the cover, then cancelled the order when the store found it was buying me, not her. Hurtful but understandable. If you doubt the comparison, look up our shared name on Google. Hectares of space on her. The odd paragraph or two on me.
Leighton Smith had some radio fun when she toured here. He ushered me into the studio after an ad break and did the obvious on-air introduction: “Pat Booth, meet Pat Booth.”
She barely flicked a long eyelash. “Oh, I heard about you in Christchurch, someone there said ‘but you’re not the real Pat Booth, are you?’”
Couldn’t have said it better. But then, in the last chapter of our novel shadowy involvement, that newspaper obituary which freed me from my nemesis made very clear just who was “the real Pat Booth”. In the mailbag: On leaky homes: “How many suicides will it take before the government takes effective action over the leaky homes debacle?
“This growing disaster was inherited from a previous government that played ‘pass the bomb’ with the innocent homeowners, architects, developers, builders and councils.
“The government renounced accountability with an insane Appeal Court ruling that found the Building Industry Authority not liable as being ‘too far removed from building sites’, when in fact their handiwork, the NZ Building Code, was the builders’ bible abided by on every building site throughout the country.
“Undoubtedly the authority was responsible for the systemic failures in the code, particularly the introduction of untreated timber which in turn exposed a raft of faulty construction practices which have since been addressed.
“It’s no wonder builders and architects flee as they are vilified for the government ‘stuff up’, but let’s not forget it was the BIA that fled first, and now we all know why. The estimated $11.5 billion repair bill could be reined in by eliminating the current unscrupulous profiteering by repairers and expensive unproductive litigation.
“The recession is an opportune time for the government to fund repairs, effectively stimulating the building industry and turning reparations into a productive result for all.” – Suzie Ann
“Dear Papakura District Council,
“Although I am not an owner or resident of a leaky home, I feel much sympathy for those unfortunately so victimised (I live on the Shore).
“In an interesting list of Auckland districts, comparing numbers of leaky homes, Auckland city heads the list; North Shore comes second at 453; Papakura at zero.
“I have suggested to the North Shore council that their building inspectors, who charge high fees and ‘clear’ defective houses, should be brought to task (no response).
“Yet, Papakura manages to apparently provide 100 percent satisfactory service. What is your formula? Perhaps Papakura should offer to show these bogus ‘professionals’ at North Shore and elsewhere how to give an honest day’s work.
“Let’s face it, we all, in this part of New Zealand , have access to the same range of climate, architects, (treated) timber supplies and builders.
“The inference is that there is a great inconsistency in skills and diligence of our building inspectors. Perhaps we need some research agency, willing to name names, through a (public) database, displaying the good versus the bad. Congratulations Papakura on your record.” – Ron Durham, Torbay On the 11 rules: “I take issue with two of the values listed under the heading everyone should have one. Firstly: ‘Life is not fair – get used to it.’
“This offers nothing in the way of useful tools to help teach children to deal with disappointment. Instead it implies they should not even bother to strive for fair outcomes, and should not bother to seek redress of grievances.
“How long before kids brought up on this message conclude that it is pointless for them to try to be fair in their own conduct? These are the words of an authority figure trying to shirk their responsibility.
“Secondly: ‘If you can read this thank a teacher. If you can read this in English, thank a soldier.’
“This is an American right wing propaganda standard, coming from the same playbook as the notion that a patriotic American must ‘support the troops’ even if opposing everything those troops are doing. The idea is to frame the debate in a way that makes it difficult for the anti-war majority to express their views straightforwardly.
“The ‘thank a soldier’ cliche resonates with the paranoid vision of a country perpetually in imminent danger of invasion and even conquest. I would like to add: ‘If you can read this with a grain of salt, thank goodness for your critical faculty’!” – Andrew Mccosh
RIP: Pat Booth.