Sharks, cakes and roundabouts

By: Roger Rabbits brian@thesun.co.nz

A week into the New Year and some of you are still struggling to come to terms with that fact it’s Twenty Eighteen and no longer Twenty Seventeen.

Really, people, you’ve had all year to get ready for this. It’s lucky that hardly anyone writes cheques these days, because half of you would still be putting the old year in the date.

You also have to be warned: There’s fewer than 358 days till Christmas, so you’d better start getting organised now.

The next 11.85 months will go so fast. Don’t be caught out again.

The year has started with some startling news, the most eyebrow-raising headlines coming from our mates over the Tasman. Australia, leading the way in PC nonsense, has declared birthday cakes a health hazard because the birthday person blows on them to snuff out the candles.

Now the PC Brigade have declared the only safe way to have a birthday blow-out is for the Birthday Person to have their own separate cake on which to blow. The guests get to have a slice of the large cake, which has not been blown on, and therefore safe from harmful germs.

Never mind that the little tykes will have been sneezing, coughing, grabbing, groping, putting their grubby little mitts into the same chip bowls, and generally germ-sharing at every conceivable moment. This is yet another nail in the coffin of common-sense and PC gone mental. Where will it end? Actually, don’t answer that. I don’t want to know.

Shark nonsense again

Speaking of nonsense, we read again that the Shark Mongers are at it again.

Every year the Media Shark Feeding Frenzy breaks out in the mainstream media. It is very fashionable, it seems, to be scared witless of sharks for a couple of weeks of the year.

The rest of the year, the sharks apparently just go away somewhere else. But according to mainstream media, they are out to get us.

Every year we see it, shock-horror shark sighting headlines. Propaganda that works up the angst of beachgoers and anxious mums everywhere; pulling little Jane from the water and hauling little Johnnie off his boogie board.

In reality the sharks are always there.

The real news would be if NO sharks were in the ocean. We’ll bring you that headline if it happens. It’s completely normal for sharks to be in the waters off the Bay; in fact, most of the NZ coastline. Just because there are a heap of excitable visitors around, with phone cameras poised, and nothing to do all day than lie on the beach and gaze out to sea, it doesn’t mean there’s more sharks. Just more people noticing them.

As we’ve said before, here at the Sun we refuse to be swept along in the riptide of panic merchandising. This is not Amity Island. Or Perth. They had a spate of seven deaths in a few years, and that would be something for the media to get their teeth into. I’ve lived on this coast all of my life and have seen plenty of sharks, but can’t recall a fatality or even a significant attack. Neither can any of my boating/surfing/diving/coastguard crewmates. Not to say that it won’t happen, but the chances are much greater of being killed on State Highway 2 on the way to the beach, or expiring in the traffic queues; or kicked to death by a donkey. Or nailed by a stingray in the murky shallows up the harbour. Or getting too much sun and suffering heat stroke, or melanoma. So people, get this shark business into perspective. There’s no point in trying to whip folk into a frightened frenzy, because most of us have been around too long to fall for it.

Roundabout etiquette

Also at this time of year, it is traditional for RR to remind you of Roundabout Etiquette.

The first rule of going through roundabouts is: Just get on with it.

You don’t need to wait for a fancy invitation. If you see a gap, take it. That’s why most of you have grunty modern cars with automatic transmission. Hit the gas pedal and get going. Drive like there’s a shark coming up behind you. You only need a smidgeon more than a car length, not a long weekend. So many of the city intersections would flow so much better if the people at the front of the queue weren’t paralysed from the eyebrows down.

Rule Two: Learn to indicate properly. This is not rocket surgery. It is very simple, even for those whose only functioning body parts are their eyebrows.

Here’s the official line…Rules for indicating on a roundabout from the New Zealand Transport Agency: "If you are turning left at the first exit, signal left as you come up to the roundabout. If you are going ‘straight’ through, don’t signal as you come up to the roundabout. Signal left as you pass the exit before the one you wish to take. If you are travelling more than halfway around a roundabout, signal right as you come up to the roundabout, then signal left as you pass the exit before the one you wish to take". Can’t be all that difficult, can it?

Good luck, and be careful out there. Wiggle an eyebrow if you have understood this.

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