Sunday Star-Times

I’m going gaga over this baby

The things you thought would last forever don’t seem quite so long lasting any more, writes David Slack.


Ispent a day staring at a Sky dish this week as I painted the roof and counted all the other Sky dishes on all the other roofs and wondered how many would be there in another 20 years.

All our TV comes up our drive in a cable and none of it from Sky. We signed up in 1991 to watch the Gulf War and Peter Arnett and sirens wailing and the eerie green light of scud missiles.

I stayed around to watch Larry King and the slow motion OJ chase and a million interviews with Kato Kaelin. But by the time 9/11 happened I was getting most of my informatio­n from the internet.

In another few years, we had no need for Sky at all because we are not a sports-mad house and the movies were stale and there was no way we were going to rot our daughter’s brain with the Disney channel.

On top of all that, the monthly subscripti­on felt like a tax to fund the profession­al All Blacks era.

Maybe they’ll hang on to the All Blacks. Maybe they’ll be a big, bold Former Miss New Zealand-turned doctor Deborah Lambie, centre, had a fashion emergency the day before yesterday’s Wellington Cup races when the hat she had planned to wear still had not arrived from overseas. Fortunatel­y, her creative friend, Ceri McVinnie came to the rescue, making her a creation in just a few hours. She went on to take out first place in the Maiden of the Carnival in the Fashion in the Field at Trentham. photograph­er Robert Kitchin snapped the happy winner. entertainm­ent business player for years to come. But it feels more to me as though Sky is in the advancing years of the product life cycle you see in neighbourh­ood shops. Thirty years ago it was High Street Waterbed World. Then videos and DVDs On High St, then Paninis on High and next High Street Bitcoin – probably.

I was also thinking as I counted all those dishes about the feeder businesses – all those guys in vans who put up all those dishes, all the businesses that supplied cabling and antennas and didn’t make them quite good enough to hold the signal in the rain – how long will those dishes stay there after people stop using them? Will there be a business opportunit­y to be the van person who climbs up on the roof and carts them all away? Will there be a business opportunit­y to fill the holes in the roof the van person left?

There is nothing new about the idea of Circle of Life, but it does feel as though permanence has become a more fluid sort of thing in our life.

Although perversely that phenomenon of our time – the popup store – seems to be something that can last quite a while. The Ponsonby pop-up bar Golden Dawn has been there for years now, and everyone is bereft that it’s finally closing. One of the DJs suggested I should spin a set there myself before they close and I think that’s exciting and my daughter is appalled. ‘‘It’s got to be something 21 year olds can dance to,’’ she said, somewhat desperatel­y.

You get old, you fade, things don’t last.

Will there be Sky dishes in 10 years? Will there be banks? Watch them shed hours and people as they turn alldigital. There is some black comfort in the notion of redundant bank managers looking for money to fund a new business and discoverin­g how frustratin­g it is to be told that they only lend on houses.

And then there are the things we want to last forever. Truth, for example. Democracy. Both seem beset.

Washington’s Freedom House describes countries such as Turkey and Hungary sliding into authoritar­ian rule, while the leader of the free world does little or nothing to defend democratic ideals. They call it a challenge to free people everywhere, and they are right.

Everything beneath our feet is sand. We have to work to keep what we have.

All of which makes the notion of a PM being pregnant all the more joyful because we are forever cheered by new life, and the idea of starting anew.

The prime minister said last year: ‘‘A child born this year may well live to see the year 2117. It’s a huge challenge to imagine how different that world might look’’.

Perhaps, aided by her own example, it will look more friendly to mixing parenthood and career. Our daughter, to whom I am again speaking, says she loves that Clarke will be the stay at home dad. She also says she’s glad for him because ‘‘I think it’ll be a lot more interestin­g than fishing.’’

Perhaps if we’d kept Sky she’d see things differentl­y.


I’m not one to go crazy over celebrity babies, or royal babies – or any babies for that matter. But I have to admit, I got a bit teary when I saw the news that the prime minister was pregnant.

Not because of the cute wee pic of the mummy, daddy and baby fishhooks (OK, that didn’t help) and not because the PM is my bestie (although, Jacinda, call me and we can fix that – I’ll form part of the village that raises this baby).

No, I had a wee moment because their news feels empowering. To women who already juggle the demands of work and motherhood, and to 30-somethings like me who are trying to forge a new career while being asked ALL THE TIME what her plans are for a family – so much so I started to wonder whether I should be future-proofing by limiting my options to jobs that were ‘‘family friendly’’.

But this feels like permission to be ambitious and still procreate.

My freshly moistened eyeballs soon rolled up into my skull, of course, as I read the reckons of people claiming that Jacinda Ardern had hoodwinked the nation.

‘‘But what about baby brain?’’ they howled, forgetting we once had a drunk prime minister call a snap election.

‘‘She should have disclosed this during coalition talks!’’ they cried, as if the promise of six weeks in charge would have put Winston off going with Labour.

Don’t forget the howls of ‘‘What about that poor baby?’’ when surely a baby that can have a parent at home full-time without casting the family into financial peril is in a lucky position, indeed.

Still, they reckoned, ‘‘She won’t be able to handle the pressure!’’, overlookin­g the fact that in 2017, in about the same time it takes to bake a baby, she went from MP, to deputy Labour leader, to Labour leader, to youngest ever female prime minister to mother-to-be. Which, ahem, means that somewhere amid all of that mayhem she found the energy to copulate. She is not to be underestim­ated.

Short of a return to the 1950s, where these societal strictures belong, or a caveat that exempts all future female prime ministers unless they are barren, post-menopausal or celibate, some people will never be satisfied.

But I am ecstatic. Sure, she’s not the first woman to multi-task, have a baby in the public eye, or have every decision as a mother picked to pieces, but what she’s doing still seems revolution­ary.

I vividly remember a family member telling teenage-me ‘‘I feel sorry for your future kids, because you’ll be such a career woman’’.

The Prime Minister has given 31-yearold me courage that pity was misplaced.

By the time her first term is up I reckon the naysayers will see their doubt in her was misplaced, too.

The monthly (Sky) subscripti­on felt like a tax to fund the profession­al All Blacks era.

I vividly remember a family member telling teenage-me "I feel sorry for your future kids, because you'll be such a career woman".

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