NZ Book month -05 and 06: Fred Dagg and Tom Scott



There is no way I’m going to meet this challenge Ele has set unless I cut a few corners. Been out of town the last couple of days and going to be out of town for a week from next Thursday.


So… I’m going to do two books a day for the next few days.

Kicking off with a couple of humorous tomes.

First up: Tom Scott’s ‘Ten Years’ Inside’, a collection he put out in 1984 after 10 years cartooning and writing in the Press Gallery for the Listener. The cartoon I’ve attached is from that collection – and it is a useful reminder, to those who have rather canonised David Lange since that time, that Lange was very equivocal about Labour’s anti-nuclear stance until he realised how popular it made him.

John Clarke’s collection ‘A Dagg at My Table’ is my number six entry for NZ Book month. Its a collection of his work, some of which is from after he hopped across the ditch to Australia.

Two examples will more than suffice, I feel.

Firstly, here he is on duck shooting:

You hide yourself away in a herbaceous border somewhere so you can’t be seen by anyone at all under any circumstances except from the air, by something like, say, for argument’s sake, a duck…

The important thing at about this state is the decoy. You have to give the duck the impression that you are actually yourself, personally, another duck.

There are two main methods of achieving duckhood. The first method is to fire the shotgun. This will break your shoulder off and bold both your arms neatly around your back in the manner made famous by wings. You fall backwards into the water and you will look and feel distinctly duck-escent.

The other thing to do, of course, is to sound like a duck, and for this there is a time-honoured device. You take a large bottle of whisky, remove the cap and suck on it very hard, drawing the liquid up into the body and making exactly the same noise ducks make when they’re having a few.

Of course in a twinkling of the first person you’ll see ducks swooping about all over the place. And snakes. And, in the fullness of time, elephants on bicycles.


And his analysis of real estate advertising is a classic:

‘Owner transferred reluctantly instructs us to sell’ means the house is for sale.

‘Genuine reason for selling’ means the house is for sale.

‘Rarely can we offer’ means the house is for sale.

‘Superbly presented delightful charmer’ doesn’t mean anything really, but it’s probably still for sale.

‘Most attractive immaculate home of character in prime dress-circle position’ means that the thing that’s for sale is a house.

‘Unusual design with interesting and solidly built stairs’ means that the stairs are in the wrong place.

‘Huge spacious generous lounge commands this well serviced executive residence’ means the rest of the house is a rabbit-warren with rooms like cupboards.

‘Magnificent well-proportioned large convenient block with exquisite garden’ means there’s no view, but one of the trees had a flower on it the day we were up there.

‘Privacy, taste, charm, space, freedom, quiet, away from it all location in much sought-after cul-de-sac situation’ means that it’s not only built down a hole, it’s built at the very far end of the hole.

‘A must for all you artists, sculptors and potters’ means that only a lunatic would consider living in it.

‘2/3 bedrooms with possible in-law accommodation’ means it’s got two bedrooms and a tool shed.

‘Great buy, ring early for this one, inspection a must, priced to sell, new listing, see this one now, all offers considered, good value, be quick, inspection by appointment, view today, this one can’t last, sole agents, today’s best buy’ means the house is for sale.

And if ever you see ‘investment opportunity’ turn away very quickly and have a go at the crossword.

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