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Yesterdaze: What’s in a name?

James Elliott ponders triple-barrel names, defamation and virtue signalling in his wrap of the news of the week 

PM Jacinda Ardern and partner Clarke Gayford arrived back home this week after a highly-praised European trip.  The media highlight was 'that photo' of Jacinda Ardern in a kahu huruhuru gifted to her by the Ngāti Rānana London Māori club – a photo so spectacular and widely shared that it knocked Grumpy Cat off his internet pic of the day perch for most of the weekend.      

However, no sooner had the Prime Minister and Prime TV Fisherman landed than they were brought back to Earth by 'that column' in which Deborah Hill Cone asked herself the question “Why does Clarke Gayford bug me?”. It’s a reasonable enough question to ask oneself but probably best answered as a fleeting silent thought experiment rather than as a column published in a national newspaper. 

Hill Cone acknowledged that her aversion to the “First Bloke” was mean-spirited, and made a solid case to support that self-assessment by going as far as dissing the “flourish of an 'e' in Clarke”. Clarke being the name that was given to him by his parents and in respect of which he had no say whatsoever. I don’t have a problem with the “e” flourish in Clarke, but I confess to struggling with names that flourish to the extent of adding a third to the standard two-name formulation. Given that most of us either get by perfectly well with just the two names, or perhaps even aspire to just the one, the use of three is just a little too Billy Ray Cyrus for my liking.

I don’t have a problem with the “e” flourish in Clarke, but I confess to struggling with names that flourish to the extent of adding a third to the standard two-name formulation.

Born this week with no names whatsoever but definitely with a flourish was the new royal baby. News reports from the UK advise that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are still working on a name to replace the temporary “Fourth In Line”. (And that’s three again, I know, I’m sorry.) Given the amount of time that the Duke and Duchess have on their hands to devote to working on that naming task, my expectations are reasonably high. And given that his siblings are George and Charlotte there are reasonable odds, and here’s hoping, that it will be a name ending in “e”.     

Someone else with way too much time on their hands this week was an “R Stratford” who complained to the Advertising Standards Authority that an ad showing Gemma Flynn outrunning husband Richie McCaw and featuring the words “Thrashed ya!” on a steamy mirror was “offensive and derogatory to men”. Spoiler alert, the complaint was not upheld. Offensive to grammarians, yes - offensive to men, no.

More successful was the complaint to the ASA that Eric Murray shouldn’t have been featuring in a beer ad because he’s a “hero to the young”. The Authority ruled that using such heroes to promote alcohol is in breach of advertising standards. Besides, as we all know, the proper use of sporting heroes in advertising is to encourage us to buy sheds, deodorant and underwear. 

Vector should focus on delivering electricity to its customers promptly and efficiently and leave the business of improperly revealing customers’ personal information to others to Facebook.                                                   

Also acknowledging a breach of standards of sorts this week was Matthew Hooton, who published a formal apology to Steven Joyce for what he wrote in his – and this is, according to the NBR, completely unrelated – final NBR column. Hooton apologised for suggesting that his column could have been reasonably understood to suggest that Joyce engaged in unethical, dishonest and/or corrupt behaviour during his tenure as a National minister. In New Zealand, to suggest that someone is unethical, dishonest and/or corrupt is highly defamatory, whereas in the US those are mandatory qualifications to work in the Trump administration.   

Also breaching standards this week was Vector whose outage app was reported as mistakenly revealing customer’s personal information to other users of the app. It’s a salutary lesson of sticking to your knitting. Vector should focus on delivering electricity to its customers promptly and efficiently and leave the business of improperly revealing customers’ personal information to others to Facebook.                                                   

Wednesday saw the national observance of and commemorations for Anzac Day with an emphasis on the mental health of veterans. Taking their own fresh approach to the day were some National MPs who took a break from their new strategy of attacking the Government at every opportunity for virtue signalling to take to social media for their own busy day of virtue signalling.    

One of the Government’s new initiatives that attracted opposition scrutiny this week was an announced overhaul of the welfare system. The announcement seemed well-timed coming on the same day that we learned that WINZ had stopped a woman’s benefit because she had been on two Tinder dates. Apparently letting someone else pay for your dinner and a movie creates a dependent relationship. In related news I’m no longer shouting the occasional coffee for Tim Murphy and Mark Jennings on my way into the Newsroom office.                

Have a peaceful weekend.

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