Friday, March 10, 2006

Jim Hopkins: Coming to their senses about growing and knowing

So there we were on Tuesday night, the whole family gathered round the long, scrubbed-pine kitchen table, warmed by the flickering glow of the big whale-tallow candle, Mum in her gingham pinny, Dad in his dungarees and us 10 kids all in our very best hand-me-downs - except for Epiphany, the eldest, who always makes her own clothes out of binder twine and old Marina reports - everyone waiting for Dad to say in his gruff, affectionate way: "Right, you miserable bunch of feeble-minded little weasels, grab your pencils, it's time to get started. And don't make any mistakes or I'll set the dogs on ya."

Yes, like countless others throughout Outer Roa, we had come to our Census. And our Census had come to us. Gosh, it was fun answering all the questions, even if the young ones did get a bit confused at times.

"Muuuuuum, is Gondwana my, umm, same-sex civil union partner or my de factory boyfriend?"

"No, darling, I think he's your older Other."

"Muuuuuum, which effnic group can I join?"

"Put down the one that gets most Benefits." (That was Dad)

"Muuuuuuum, are we Christiums? 'Cos Dad says 'Jesus Christ' a lot"

"Just mark them all, dear, or they might cancel my Christmas Club."

"Daaaaaaad, have I got any health problem or condition that stops me doing everyday activities that people of my age can usually do?"

"You will have if you don't finish that b@#$%y thing before Coronation Street starts."

Fortunately, the whole buerocrylic interrogation was done and dusted long before the sacred hour commenced, much to the chagrin of those in the whanau who can't wait to see the entire cast come down with Mad Cow Disease and The Street turned into an adventure playground for Keith Locke.

But, anyway, at least our diligence will make that nice girl pleased with us. You know, the one who's been on telly for weeks now telling us, in her best kindy teacher voice, that "We're going to grow so we need to know."

Not that she's telling the truth, of course, but she does work for the gummint, so that's all right.

In fact, we're not going to grow. Well, not much, anyway. All those people who keep saying, "New Zillun's got a aging popperlation," are actually saying, "We're not breeding enough." If we were, then it stands to flamin' reason (as Dad would say) that the flamin' popperlation wouldn't be ageing, would it?

Thus, if those in orfority had demanded honesty in advertising, the Census slogan would have been, "We're not going to grow much so we don't need to know much" or, eternatively, "We're only going to grow a bit so we only need to know a bit."

The problem is that both of these examples are rather dull and prozac, unlike the chosen option which was so snappy, catchy and poetic that it is bound to encourage inflammation, for example: We're going to loose so we're called The Blues. Or We've got a Plan which a Minister will ban. Or one for Doctor Bollard: We've hit the wall so there's no change at all. Or perhaps even: We're going to stop putting people in jail because it isn't nice. (Sorry about that, but little Aroha insisted it went in and Mum says we've had enough tantrums already.)

Finally, in confusion, at the end of my essay How The Census United My Iwi it is time to examine the questions themselves. To be prefectly frank, us kids were disappointed that they were the same boring ones we had four years ago. The Census should've had some new questions like:

How soon do you want your parents to get Broadband, even if Theresa Gattung does earn too much (which Dad says she does)?

Alternatively, if the statusticians wanted to find out how switched on we is, they should have asked:

How amused are you to discover that Mr Winston Peters has just signed a $500,000 cheque for the Hamas-dominated Palestinian Government?

A: Very amused
B: Rolling in the aisle
C: Even suggesting it's funny is a treasonous act.

Epiphany also thinks there should have been more art questions. She says people should've been asked their opinions about the extinguished poet laureate, Mr Jam Hipkins' new pome:

After ten flaming years
Of hearings and such
And Planning Reports
full of Weird double Dutch
When the Court finally grants
A Consent you can clutch
But Master Chris Carter
Says it's not a starter
And kicks your marina
To touch
At that point you say
In a fraught kind of way
"Well, Whangamataverymuch!"

Is the extinguished laureate

A: Happy
B: Unhappy
C: Thinking of moving to somewhere that isn't Tasmania on steroids

In samuri, while the Census could have been better (Dad reckons that since they can fine you for not doing it they should b@#$%y well pay if you do it was a very stimulating and rewarding experience overalls and one that my family will long remember for a little while anyway.

David Mention-Soap
Room 8,
Year 13 (whatever that means)

PS: Please excuse the smudges.

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