Monday, 26 January 2009

Without wanting to sound like a name-dropper, which I will, I had occasion yesterday to phone Keith Quinn to record a radio commercial for an iconic Southland event.

The Mighty Quinn, along with the Mad Butcher, is a celebrity guest at next weekend’s Crank Up Day at Edendale.

To cut a long story short, while we were waiting for the advertising script I had sent him to come through on his laptop, we got yarning about some of the great celebrities who have graced the event in the past. Sir Ed Hillary and (should-have-been-Sir-if-it-wasn’t-for-a-sickly-liberal-government) Colin Meads immediately came to mind. Then there’s the almost perennial appearance from Dick Tayler whose name is synonymous with one of the great days in New Zealand sport.

Sunday, incidentally, marks the 35th anniversary of Tayler setting the 1974 Commonwealth Games alight with his opening-day heroics in the 10,000 metres.

Still no sign of the script coming through, so I asked Keith whether Tayler’s Herculean effort would rate amongst the top five sporting events he has ever witnessed live. The great broadcaster paused momentarily before his encyclopedic mind burst forth with the following five:

Fifth: The 1974 Commonwealth Games in Christchurch with Tayler’s win and John Walker’s silver medal (behind Filbert Bayi in world record time) in the 1500 metres.

Fourth: Valerie Vili’s monstering of the field in the shot put at the Beijing Olympics last year.

Third: The All Blacks’ 29-9 win over France in the 1987 Rugby World Cup final at Eden Park.

Second: The third test against the Springboks at Pretoria in 1996 where the desperation 33-26 win meant John Hart’s All Blacks became the first to win a series in South Africa against the great foe after the failed attempts of 1928, 1949, 1960, 1970 and 1976.

First: Walker’s magnificent 1500 metres victory at the Montreal Olympics where Keith got to call home New Zealand’s last gold medal on the track and exclaim the immortal phrase “in the best traditions of Jack Lovelock and Peter Snell, John Walker wins gold …”

As fate would have it though, Quinn, a stickler for correctness when it comes to the Queen’s language, is best remembered for an orgasmic outburst that made no sense at all.

Remember Jonah Lomu scoring the first of his four tries against England in the 1995 World Cup semi-final when he ran straight over top of Mike Catt?

They say that moving is the third most stressful life event, behind the death of a loved one and going through a nasty divorce.

After 17 years in the same house and 15 years in the same office, I’m on the move. And while the prospect of getting out of one’s comfort zone in life is not without stress (not to mention the death and divorce threats from loved ones), the exercise of shifting premises can be very cathartic (for those of you played your rugby with a number of less than nine on your back, cathartic means therapeutic, liberating and invigorating).

You can spring clean ‘til the cows come home but only the reality-jolt of having to uproot your earthly belongings and move them some distance, can truly motivate a man to have a real cull of his possessions.

No finer example of that exists than my rather extensive sporting library. A lifetime of collecting aided by the past 15 years in radio, bludging free books, has left me rather well endowed! So much so, I’ve had to divide the collection into the three parts.

All sports books are desirable but least desirable are being donated to the annual Lions’ book sale from whence many were procured in the first place.

The next cut is staying behind in my old office for posterity. In years to come they might hold some interest but to be honest they are dominated by duplicates of classics of which I’ve kept a better copy (Colin Meads All Black by Alex Veysey) and recent biographies of the likes of Jonah Lomu, Anton Oliver, Christian Cullen, Tana Umaga, Carlos Spencer, Dan Carter, Chris Cairns, Stephen Fleming, Martin Crowe, Mark Greatbatch and David Beckham. All wonderful sportspeople in their own right but not earth-shattering reads.

I haven’t been a complete spoilsport though and have managed to leave behind some beauties by way of John McEnroe’s Serious and Lance Armstrong’s It’s Not AboutTthe Bike.

The books that have made the touring squad are all classics in my mind. There’s your usual suspect’s and must-haves in the form of Men in Black (I have one of the original 1000 leather-bound books from 1978 plus three subsequent updated hard-cover editions), the aforementioned Meads epic and Brian Turner’s excellent updated version plus a raft of rugby biographies from players who genuinely interest me (Don Clarke, ….. and of more recent times Andrew Mehrtens and Jeff Wilson)

And to prove I’m a balanced individual there’s even books on John F Kennedy, Bill Clinton, David Lange and Ed Hillary and the radio music bibles The Guinness Rockapedia and New Zealand Music Charts 1966 to 1996.

Incidentally, when my kids asked me why the book has not been updated since 1996, I replied there hasn’t been a worthy song written since 1986, so why bother. I can’t for the life of me think why they think I’m old and boring.

Perhaps they’d enjoy Jonah’s book?