When I grow up I'm going to be a Businessman because I've thought of a dead easy way to make money. When computers were made out of lots of tape recorders gathered together in a big room there was this innovation called the Space Invaders machine, a toughened box like all others in the Students' Union fitted with a slot for 10p coins and two electric buttons that you punched wildly until you got exterminated whereupon you abandoned the electric buttons and kicked the shit out of it. All the machines in the Students' Union were toughened. All of them had scuff-marks from frenzied kickings. And the kicking was the important bit. When broken people would still feed them coins, and then the kicking would commence with added vigour and deliver greater satisfaction.
At 20 to 7 each morning RadioNZ broadcasts a brief report entitled Business and the other morning I learnt that 42below, an Auckland company manufacturing vodka, is about to enhance its market share of fragrances and body butter. Fragrances! Body butter! I'm not sure I care to know what one does with body butter, but if people pay for the stuff, making money's going to be a doddle.
TOAD Hall (it stands for The Old Anglican Diocese Hall, sold off by the church due to lack of patronage) doesn't do body butter but they do a wicked line in ice creams. Actually it's the shop where we buy our vegetables. The owner used to be a North Island farmer, but:
'One day we saw our neighbour emptying a drum of old pesticide into the river. "Out of sight, out of mind" he said cheerfully. I asked him if his grandchildren didn't swim at the beach at the river-mouth. "That's their problem" he said, and that's when we decided to move.'
Toad stands at the outskirts of Motueka and draws tourists in but since tourists don't buy carrots and broccoli, Toad sells tourist-grade ice creams of such magnificence that they feature in American gourmets' travel blogs
(Do people really feel the Internet needs such reflections as
Wow! Lamb chops and venison sausages in several flavors, Thai rice mixes, flavored tuna (we get Thai chili and smoked) in the can, and interesting chip flavors (prosciutto and brie, chorizo and tomato
).? Well yes they do as a matter of fact.)
Yesterday outside Toad I had my recumbent discussed at me by one of these ice cream tourists. Slurping cheerfully at a luminous pink confection with his great big flapping tongue he had watched me ride in, park the bike and go off to buy bananas, and on my return he graced me with a short but instructive talk on why he would not ride such a machine - too low, too uncomfortable, too inefficient and the triangle of forces would prevent my being able to balance properly. At the conclusion of his lecture (slurp, slurp) he asked me if recumbents are commercially available and what one would cost. I told him. He was horrified.
'But that's six times as much as my mountain bike cost!' (slurp).
So when I become a Businessman I won't sell useful things like bicycles or broccoli. No; I'm going for body butter and excess tourist nutriment. Except that to save paying wholesale for body butter - or at least finding out what it is - I'm reverting to student days for an even better idea.
I'm going to make a stout box with a slot in it and a sign that says 'Please give me your advice on something you've never seen before and don't know anything about.'
Tourists are so gloriously stupid that they'll immediately put money in the slot. There'll be a button to press but it will have no effect at all. After pressing the button a few times and finding that the box isn't receptive to advice, they'll kick the shit out of it. Honour will have been satisfied and a useful contribution will have been made to New Zealand's GDP. And once a year I'll don a dark suit and tie and report my profits on the RadioNZ Business programme.