In support of Mick, David

Please take a moment to write to your MP if you too are upset about the underlying causes leading to David Jerrold Theobold’s actions, ie

  • Allegations of managerial incompetence in Inland Revenue / State Services
  • Allegations of a culture of bullying in State Services, inhibiting the discussion, submission and implementation of any positive changes
  • Inadequate dispute resolution outcomes where issues are raised leading to an unsatisfactory work environment
  • Allegations of preferential treatment being given to the top echelons of taxpayers – old boys network
  • Allegations of slanting of news stories on the state-owned television network to minimise damage to government infrastructure and make DJT look like a fruitcake by editing interview footage and moving the focus onto the damage to the building, and DJTs mental health rather than focusing on his reasoning for feeling that after 3 years of unresolved disputes he had exhausted all other avenues and had no choice but to take drastic action
  • Allegations of a culture of wastefulness and excess in management at IRD
  • Lack of accountability and public scrutiny of affairs in Inland Revenue

etc. etc.

Whether or not you are familiar with any or all of these issues you can still help by writing to your MPs saying that for a longterm (20 year) employee to take such drastic actions and feel that he had exhausted all other channels to try and resolve his dispute, there should be an independant enquiry into the management culture within State Services at the very least.

Some of the relevant Ministers are listed below, plus a link to a full list of MPs

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TVNZ Complaints Form

Hon Tony Ryall
Ministerial Portfolios

  • Minister of Health
  • Minister of State Services

Contact Details
Email: tony.ryall@national.org.nz
Phone: (04)817 6804 (Parliament)
Phone: (07)5780175 (Electorate)

*******************************************

Hon Dr Jonathan Coleman

Ministerial Portfolios

  • Minister of Immigration
  • Minister of Broadcasting
  • Associate Minister of Tourism
  • Associate Minister of Health

Contact Details

Email: jonathan.coleman@national.org.nz
Website: www.jonathancoleman.co.nz
Phone: (04)817 6818 (Parliament)
Phone: (09)4198021 (Electorate)

*******************************************

Hon Simon Power

Ministerial Portfolios

  • Minister for Justice
  • Minister for State Owned Enterprises
  • Minister of Commerce
  • Minister Responsible for the Law Commission
  • Associate Minister of Finance
  • Deputy Leader of the House

Contact Details

Email: simon.power@national.org.nz
Website: www.simonpower.co.nz
Phone: (04)817 6803 (Parliament)
Phone: (06)3237253 (Electorate)

*******************************************

Hon Judith Collins
Ministerial Portfolios

  • Minister of Police
  • Minister of Corrections
  • Minster of Veterans’ Affairs

Contact Details
Email: office@judithcollins.co.nz
Website: www.judithcollins.co.nz
Phone: (04)817 6806 (Parliament)
Phone: (09)2997426 (Electorate)

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List of members of parliament and contact details as at 24 July 2009 [PDF 275k]

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From Mick: “I’d like to add a comment at the top of Alastair’s letter that if every anyone’s begging, pleading, cajoling, screaming, crying for friends to help a simple testimonial or 1,000 of them would have done — Alastair also did what any moron would have done — complained to the broadcasting standards association — hands up who else thought of using the correct process first — I did for three years and that’s why I’m onmn bail and needing hospitalisation right now.”

By Alistair Galbraith

I’m sorry to bug you when you’re out of the country BUT
a very dear friend of mine has done something pretty newsworthy

David Theobald drove his car through 3 sets of plate-glass doors in to the IRD building in CHCH  on Saturday morning at 6.30 am (having checked with staff and cleaners to make sure no-one would be inside)
He did this to draw attention to a culture of waste,bullying, and “favours for the rich” within IRD
he has worked there for 20 years and had a 100% rating!
he has never been before the courts before and is 47 years old
He is highly intelligent and articulate yet the only news coverage was total crap on tv1 which described him as “a paranoid and depressive” and allowed him NOT ONE FULL SENTENCE.
His concerns, what his protest was about , were completely ignored!

One of the major issues he’d like to draw attention to
is the amount of time allocated for reviewing Refunds for more than $100,000. to trusts and business (9 per hour)
compared to the excessive attention paid to Refunds for low income brackets.

the lack of “public scrutiny” to which IRD are subject, despite it being a part of their charter that their work be carried out so as to be acceptable to the highest public scrutiny!
the culture of bullying within the department which prevents positive change.

the unfairness of fairly recent changes to the tax system.

IS THERE ANYONE STILL IN THE COUNTRY WHO IS NOT AFRAID TO LET THIS MAN TALK TO NEW ZEALAND ABOUT WHAT IS GOING ON, WITHOUT CUTTING HIS WORDS TO MAKE HIM APPEAR MENTALLY ILL?

i WISH YOU WERE HERE, COS i’D TRUST YOU MORE THAN ANYONE TO INTERVIEW HIM

let me know if you can help, or anyone you know would pick up the story from its real angle – IRD failures – not “disgruntled employee”

My blood’s boiling, seen a lot of good people go down for silly things
but this is different – otherwise I really wouldn’t bug you

Elborado Showdown – The Shit Hits The Fan pt 2

New Zealand Employment Law is defective

19 August 2009
I’ve seen lots of anecdotal evidence that it’s difficult for firms to fire problem employees under the Kiwi Employment Relations Act. The procedures are often described as onerous.

Here’s a great one. Disgruntled employee of Inland Revenue (the Kiwi IRS) drives his car through the plate glass first floor windows of the IRD’s Christchurch Office, then tells the attending police officers that he had every intention of doing it.

IRD’s notification letter to David Theobald, the driver, is hilarious and depressing. The whole thing is documented here, including photos of the crash scene, the police report, and the letters from IRD to Theobald subsequent to the crash. Relevant excerpts:

From the police report:

The defendant admitted the facts as outlined and explained his actions stating ‘I had every intention to do that. I’ve thought about it and knew exactly what I was doing. I had warned them that someone could drive through there with a bomb in the car and create another 9-11, as they had no security measures.’

Seems pretty clear-cut. IRD’s response:

Commencement of an Employment Investigation

1. Information has come to my attention which indicates that you may have intentionally driven a vehicle through Inland Revenue’s Christchurch building on Saturday 15 August 2009. I am commencing an employment investigation in to this matter.

2. I am concerned that your conduct may be inconsistent with the Code of Conduct (contributing to a safe workplace and ensuring personal activities do not discredit Inland Revenue) and/or, the Standards of Integrity and Conduct, and/or your obligations to Inland Revenue, and that if substantiated, this conduct may amount to serious misconduct.

Suspension

3. Given the nature of the allegations I am considering whether, or not, suspension is appropriate. Your employment agreement provides for this to be on pay.

Wow.

bk drinkwater said…
Your headline is a noble attempt at understatement greater than part (2) of the IRD letter.

Philip said…
I don’t have much of a problem with the IRD letters. They will just be form letters. I mean it’s pretty obvious in this case, but there would be cases where employees were accused of crimes/misconduct where it would be a lot murkier. It’s probably a lot safer/cheaper/easier for everyone involved if the IRD just sends out the same letter to everyone that they are investigating rather than starting to tailor the letter to specific cases..

ONE News – The vehicle of David Jerrold Theobold

Reprinted from:
http://tvnz.co.nz/national-news/disgruntled-employee-crashes-into-ird-building-2926890
19 August 2009

th_Tv
ONE News – The Vehicle of David Jerrold Theobold
ONE News - The vehicle of David Jerrold Theobald
ONE News - The vehicle of David Jerrold Theobald

A disgruntled tax worker has left the Inland Revenue in no doubt about his feelings towards them after driving his car through the front door of their Christchurch building.

David Jerrold Theobald, 47, appeared in Christchurch District Court on Tuesday charged with intentional damage and reckless driving, after driving into the building at 6.30am on Saturday.

The pictures posted on his blog show a portrait of a man making a stand just moments after he ploughed through three plate glass doors parking his car in the Christchurch Inland Revenue reception.

“At the end of my tether going for one last kamikaze move – this was a very carefully calculated protest,” says Theobald.

It was so carefully calculated he says, he checked there would be nobody in the building at the time.

“It’s cathartic, I actually feel a great release now,” he says.

Theobald describes himself as paranoid, and a depressive. Having worked for the IRD for 25 years, he says he was driven to the protest after a three year employment dispute.

He said he was fed up with what he saw as concealment of workplace bullying and incompetent management at Inland Revenue.

“This has been going on for three years, and now I’ve got four official information requests in with them and they’re making that as onerous as possible … this was just a way to make a gesture.”

Theobald’s friend Ross Dixion says he has been under constant pressure.

“He has just been under repeated constant pressure where he felt like he was getting nowhere,” she says.

The IRD has no comment about the damage or the employment matters, but the owner of the now battle-scarred building has much to say.

“Beating up on the IRD’s a national sport. Most people see he act as something he has managed to carry out against the IRD but it’s actually against someone’s private property,” says building owner Simon Henry.

Theobald has documented the incident all online and says he would not do it again – unless pushed.

“I wouldn’t do it again, unless I went through three years of harassment the way I have with the IRD,” he says.

Theobald has been remanded on bail to reappear on August 31.

Interesting comments on elborado story from Fishing.net.nz… as usual

Reprinted from:
http://www.fishing.net.nz/asp_forums/forum_posts.asp?TID=44184&PN=1&title=david-theobald-crashes-ird

My alter ego’s actions seem entirely reasonable if has to deal with people who speak like this on a daily basis: 
“Information has come to my attention which indicates that you may have intentionally driven a car through Inland Revenue’s Christchurch building … I am concerned that your conduct may be inconsistent with the Code of Conduct.”
Not sure about the Mick Eldorado bit though 

The beard was a clever disquise though Obie
 
Hummm was there a Mazda in that car line up of yours??? 
Now if they had said your band was the Marlin Axeman ha!LOL 
Obie and the Marlin Axeman… got a ring to it, Boulder playing 2nd fiddle???
 well done that man.
 
 Wouldn’t surprise me if the careful manner in which he did the deed and the way he ensured no others were likely to be injured during his gesture are actually found to be covered in the code of conduct.
 
What a crock, the man should get hung, drawn and quartered. 
Drawn by the finest artists, hung in the best galleries and quartered in the top hotels!
One day the boffins at IRD might actually realise how stressful their PC-ness is to us mortals.  Then again maybe not…

Will the real slim shady please stand up 
Yeah and doesn’t the statement by Mr Crawford epitomize the utter b.s. world he must live in.
Reckon David Theobald should now sue IRD, claim ACC, get over $1000 per week on benefits..

Elborado Showdown – The Shit Hits The Fan pt 2

Show Your Support… join MICK ELBORADO IS INNOCENT now!

Reprinted From:
http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/news/2764914/IRD-drove-me-to-this

IRD drove me to this

By STACEY WOOD – The Dominion Post
19 August 2009

TAXBREAK: David Theobald said he was prepared to accept the consequences after driving his car into an IRD building.
TAXBREAK: David Theobald said he was prepared to accept the consequences after driving his car into an IRD building.

A taxman driven around the bend by continuing work woes drove his car through the building where he had worked for 25 years.

David Jerrold Theobald, 47, drove his Mazda 626 through the foyer of the Christchurch Inland Revenue building on Cashel St at 6.30am on Saturday after a three-year employment dispute.

He crashed through two sets of glass doors and smashed a third on the other side of the foyer before coming to a stop.

Mr Theobald said he had gone to great lengths to avoid risk to any staff.

“I checked with the cleaners the night before to make sure no-one would be in the building. I drove right up to the doors, looked both ways, then slowly pushed forward till the doors broke.”

Mr Theobald said he was fed up with what he saw as concealment of workplace bullying and incompetent management at Inland Revenue.

“This has been going on for three years, and now I’ve got four official information requests in with them and they’re making that as onerous as possible … This was just a way to make a gesture.”

He also wanted to highlight how easy it would be for someone with terrorist intentions to ramraid the building with a truck full of explosives. “It’s just another 9/11 waiting to happen.”

Mr Theobald is a fixture of the Christchurch music scene. He is known as Mick Elborado when he plays with his band The Axemen and in other groups.

He appeared in Christchurch District Court yesterday charged with intentional damage and reckless driving and was remanded on bail till August 31.

He told The Dominion Post he had not decided how he would plead, but was prepared to accept the consequences of his actions.

Inland Revenue would not comment on the incident as it was before the court, but Mr Theobald has received a letter from human resources head Patrick Crawford.

In it, Mr Crawford said: “Information has come to my attention which indicates that you may have intentionally driven a car through Inland Revenue’s Christchurch building … I am concerned that your conduct may be inconsistent with the Code of Conduct.”

Mr Theobald could face up to seven years in prison if found guilty of criminal damage.
Reprinted from:
http://news.msn.co.nz/article.aspx?id=851637

‘Bullied’ taxman drives car through workplace

By MSN NZ staff
Wednesday, August 19, 2009

daveA Christchurch tax worker smashed his car through his own Inland Revenue office because he was fed up with “incompetent management and workplace bullying”.

David Jerrold Theobald, 47, drove through two sets of glass doors and smashed a third at the Christchurch Inland Revenue building before coming to a stop.

Mr Theobald, a well-known musician in Christchurch who has worked for the IRD for 25 years, said he had been careful not to put lives in danger.

“I checked with the cleaners the night before to make sure no-one would be in the building,” he told The Dominion Post.

“I drove right up to the doors, looked both ways, then slowly pushed forward till the doors broke.”

Mr Theobald posted pictures of the damage on his blog , along with copies of legal documents he received from police and his employer following the incident.

One of the documents was a letter from Inland Revenue human resources head Patrick Crawford.

“Information has come to my attention which indicates that you may have intentionally driven a car through Inland Revenue’s Christchurch building,” Mr Crawford wrote.

“I am concerned that your conduct may be inconsistent with the Code of Conduct.”

Mr Theobald said he was upset with what he saw as workplace bullying and incompetent management at Inland Revenue.

“This has been going on for three years and now I’ve got four official information requests in with them and they’re making that as onerous as possible,” he said.

“This was just a way to make a gesture.”

He also said he wanted to highlight the potential for a terrorist attack if someone were to drive a car full of explosives into the building.

“It’s just another 9/11 waiting to happen,” he said.

Mr Theobald appeared in court yesterday. He has been charged with intentional damage and reckless driving and could face up to seven years in prison if found guilty of criminal damage.

 

Reprinted from:
http://keepingstock.blogspot.com/2009/08/taxman-cometh.html

The Taxman Cometh…

We had a bit of a chuckle when we read this story on Stuff this morning: 

A taxman driven around the bend by continuing work woes drove his car through the building where he had worked for 25 years.

David Jerrold Theobald, 47, drove his Mazda 626 through the foyer of the Christchurch Inland Revenue building on Cashel St at 6.30am on Saturday after a three-year employment dispute.

He crashed through two sets of glass doors and smashed a third on the other side of the foyer before coming to a stop.

Mr Theobald said he had gone to great lengths to avoid risk to any staff.

“I checked with the cleaners the night before to make sure no-one would be in the building. I drove right up to the doors, looked both ways, then slowly pushed forward till the doors broke.”

Mr Theobald said he was fed up with what he saw as concealment of workplace bullying and incompetent management at Inland Revenue.

“This has been going on for three years, and now I’ve got four official information requests in with them and they’re making that as onerous as possible … This was just a way to make a gesture.”

He also wanted to highlight how easy it would be for someone with terrorist intentions to ramraid the building with a truck full of explosives. “It’s just another 9/11 waiting to happen.”

Doubtless there will be many of us who will at some point in our lives have been tempted, sorely tempted to lash out at the IRD. But the overwhelming majority manage to resist said temptation. And there’s a certain delicious irony in an employee of the IRD accusing the department of workplace bullying when we taxpayers regularly feel bullied by the likes of Mr Theobald and his colleagues!

And mindful of Mr Theobald apparently being a serial litigant, we also chuckled when we read this: 

Inland Revenue would not comment on the incident as it was before the court, but Mr Theobald has received a letter from human resources head Patrick Crawford.

In it, Mr Crawford said: “Information has come to my attention which indicates that you may have intentionally driven a car through Inland Revenue’s Christchurch building … I am concerned that your conduct may be inconsistent with the Code of Conduct.” 


The letter is extremely careful in its wording is it not? We would have thought that this was a pretty clear case of serious misconduct by way of the wilful destruction of departmental property; something that would normally warrant summary dismissal. Mr Theobald’s concerns about workplace bullying could very soon be addressed – but not in the way he may have expected!!

Elborado Showdown – The Shit Hits The Fan pt 1

Show Your Support… join MICK ELBORADO IS INNOCENT now!

Reprinted From The Christchurch Press, 19 August 2009
http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/christchurch/2764971/Its-OK-officer-I-work-here/

“It’s OK Officer, I work here”

By IAN STEWARD – The Christchurch Press

DRIVE-IN: David Theobald poses for a self-portrait of himself with his car "parked'' inside IRD's Christchurch office.
DRIVE-IN: David Theobald poses for a self-portrait of himself with his car "parked'' inside IRD's Christchurch office.

A Christchurch tax worker fed up with his bosses has made a spectacular protest by driving his car through three plate-glass windows in the Inland Revenue building.

David Theobald, 47, a musician and 25-year Inland Revenue employee, posted photographs on the internet of his protest, which he made at 6.30am on Saturday. The pictures showed his car “parked” in the Cashel St building.

A blog accompanying the photos said Theobald, a long-time member of rock and punk band The Axemen, “decided he had had enough and wasn’t going to take it any more after years of abuse” from Inland Revenue.

“Driving into the place that had been his nemesis for the past 25 years, he felt an eerie calm as he took the final turnoff, revved the vehicle and drove through three plate-glass windows and into the reception area,” it said.

Theobald said he was careful not to trample broken glass into the department’s new carpet because “I didn’t want to get in trouble”.

He waited “calmly” for police and quipped when they arrived: “It’s OK officer, I work here.”

Theobald appeared in the Christchurch District Court yesterday charged with intentional damage and reckless driving.

He was re-arrested and his bail conditions were altered, ordering him to stay away from the Inland Revenue building, after he stood outside and sent text messages to his workmates “to show them I’m not in the loony bin”.

Theobald is known in music circles as Mick Elborado. He has played in several bands since the early 1980s.

A picture on the blogsite of Theobald and his Mazda 626 was captioned: “Mick at grand opening of Inland Revenue’s new 24hr drive-thru in Chch.”

An Inland Revenue spokeswoman yesterday confirmed the incident and said no-one had been hurt. The damage “did not compromise activities”, she said.

She declined to comment further.

Theobald posted the letter suspending him from work, written by a human resources manager, on the internet.

“Information has come to my attention which indicates that you may have intentionally driven a vehicle through Inland Revenue’s Christchurch building,” the manager wrote.

“I am concerned that your conduct may be inconsistent with the code of conduct.”

Theobald said his actions were the culmination of a three-year employment dispute centred on “workplace bullying”.

Theobald said he believed destruction of property was a last resort after all other checks and balances had failed. “I take all responsibility for these actions. You’ve got an evangelist on your hands here,” he said.

A founding member of The Axemen, Steve McCabe, began a Facebook support group for Theobald titled “Mick Elborado is innocent”. McCabe said Theobald was innocent because he had been provoked into the act by years of bureaucratic and institutional bullying.

Reprinted from NZPA, 19 August 2009
http://nz.news.yahoo.com/a/-/mp/5836958/man-in-court-after-driving-into-ird-building/

Man in court after driving into IRD building 

NZPA, NZPA August 19, 2009, 7:26 am

A disgruntled Inland Revenue employee who intentionally drove through the organisation’s Christchurch building has appeared in court.

David Jerrold Theobald, 47, appeared in Christchurch District Court yesterday charged with intentional damage and reckless driving, after driving into the building at 6.30am on Saturday.

The car crashed through two sets of glass doors and smashed a third on the other side of the foyer before coming to a stop.

He was remanded on bail to reappear on August 31.

Theobald, who had worked at IRD for 25 years, told the Dominion Post the incident followed a three-year employment dispute.

He said he was fed up with what he saw as concealment of workplace bullying and incompetent management at Inland Revenue.

“This has been going on for three years, and now I’ve got four official information requests in with them and they’re making that as onerous as possible … This was just a way to make a gesture.”

Inland Revenue would not comment on the incident, but Theobald said he had received a letter from IRD’s human resources saying: “Information has come to my attention which indicates that you may have intentionally driven a car through Inland Revenue’s Christchurch building … I am concerned that your conduct may be inconsistent with the Code of Conduct.”

Mick Agro (slight return)

The (definitive article) Axemen (an mnemoir), or the slight return of M S Agro.

Another otter down
'Otters have died'

I remember the Axemen, the Axemen, the name (anag) passed over in the monumental and indefinitive Shute tome apart from a hemi-semi-demi-paragraph on page 340
noting in part that they were a notorious 90’s group, as well as that Bob was a leaden songwriter, and omitting the hard-won honorific ‘Little’ from McCabe’s name.

Like Calling Sir Cumference, Cumference [that would be an editorial cumference call – ed] but that’s the trouble with harry) — as the title of the book is (if the spine is to be trusted) ‘NZ Rock 1987-2007’ a group supposedly from the 90’s (I’ve added an apostrophe to allow fair use of Shute quotes) would seem to fall into the slightly left of middle of that bi-decade, and as the Axemen were both the beginning and the NZ, the
hardplace and the rock, the a-fore 1987 and the a-hind 2007, we need to examine all that’s left to find out if he’s right in leaving them somewhere out. There.

The Psychotic; Reactions; Hand-carburettors; Dung: The psychotic is almost certainly the, equal parts psychic dance-‘all, Stu, my first meeting with him when I was being psychically screened for what was euphemistically termed ‘session-work’ was one of the most terrifying experiences I’ve yet, or in the
future, had.

Stu screamed at me, blue neck veins standing out like drumsticks in Gracelands, ‘Just play the fucking E, string, nothing else, don’t fucking watch the others, if you do you’re dead. Otters have died’ As I was
auditioning for drums the instructions were difficult to follow. He threw me off the kit, and started drumming ‘in constipated fashion’ to show me what he envisag’d that the otters would want.

A fuzztoned whale
A fuzztoned whale

‘Hey!’ said one voice, that I would later find out was Bob, ‘that’s it, the missing link’. I thought he was referring to my admittedly simian visage, but looking up I percieved that he was looking up and looking up also, the quiet one, McCabe.

They stopped playing their guitars, but the noise from the amplifiers sounded exactly the same. Like fuzztoned whales. Being chased by Japanese scientists for their own good. Through a wah-wah.

Can you play bass. can. you. Play. bass? McCabe asked Bob. Brannigan said to Steve ‘Stuart can’ McCabe walked over to Page who hinted to Cardy that Kowawski was unable toplay.

How many of them were there. I pulled out my fingers and counted.
Still three, but the fastest moving three that I ever saw. A pre-blur blur.

Micks fingers - part of the reason he is such a legendary bass player
Micks fingers - part of the reason he is such a legendary bass player and cant count like others

‘We need an unthinking person to play ploddy lines and not ask questions about structural niceties’ McCabe mused. I put up my hand, actually for persimmon to leave the room, but they garbed the wrong end of the schtick. ‘You’ll do’ said
the psychotic, psychotically. ‘I will?’ said I. ‘It’s I do. Do it’ said Bob and thus I was initiated. The last two words being the mot secret tattooed on me. A fact later regretted when I served time. It could have been worse, I
might have been trying to join the scouts, or the salvation army.

Reactions: I was never a catalyst, accelerant, oxidiser, or agent of reduction, purely the litmus paper that turned bluish if there was enough bass. The notes
didn’t come easily. ‘0 – 0 – 5 – 7 – 0 – 3’ yelled McCabe over Brannigan’s bagpipes. I played ‘0 – 0 0 – 0 – 0 – 0’. ‘Stay away from the A string, it’s dangerous, McCabe mentored. ‘And D and whatever the little one is’ Bob added.
I was gradually twomentored into submission. Rather than learn to avoid strings I sellotaped everything but the big one to the neck of my double-bass. Then I found it was easier just to ‘break’ them before, or immediately during, playing. Soon I was ‘0 – 12 – 0 – 12 – 23 – 2 – 5”ing with the others. But far less erotically, far more eratically.

We played, people left, we stopped, they came back, we played the second set, they left again but when we stopped they didn’t come back. Bob started incorporating sudden stops into songs, hoping that if there was a pause the not-quite-audience would get whether they were coming or going confused and

head the wrong way and hear us when they were trying not to. This became a nightmare. ‘You’re quite a good reggae bass player’ Roger Sheppard said once. ‘I like the way that you never actually play with the drums or guitars but are always a step ahead of, or behind them, and the way the bass carries on when all else is silent’ I hung my head, a good luck charm given to me by McCabe.

 If the head is swingin don't bother ringin
If the head is swingin dont bother ringin

‘Watch the head, if it’s swinging we’re playing’ he wrote down for me. He was right. not Al Right, but the advice helped. Some. But not me.

We played on a balcony at a party at someone’s parent’s house with Scab Union in the middle of the afternoon, a small suburb within a suburb. One of the people listening offered me a cup of warm lemon juice. Success at last. In earlier days there’d have been a quick shout of Gardy-Loo, rather than this kind of
shout. I felt we were progressing. ‘We’re not progressive’ Stu muttered [to be fair, he’d spent the morning listening to Emerson, Lake and Palmer and was in a particularly bad mood – ed].

telepathy
* Stu does it telepathically* - bumper sticker, 1987

I’d forgotten International Stu’s telepathic powers and the fact that his deafness carried over to them. ‘You’re thinking you’ve forgotten my telepathic towels’ he taunted. There was no escape. The neighbouring residents, still anonymous, but probably influenced by the sonic vibes reverberating their unknown bones,
agreed.

When I was plunking the E I thought back to my first encounter with McCabe, sneaking into EMI on Colombo Street, to put his cassettes into the album bins.
“You’ll really like the Gorillas’ Robyn assured me, as McCabe sneakily sneaked around in his sneakers, squeakily shreiking, and sheepishly bleating.
‘Grillers?’ I asked. Robyne pulled the recording tape out of the album racks, Little Stevie had finally worked it out, put the tapes in covers too big for anything but the record bins, and because the integrity of the other records required they be kept flat the tape had to be at the front. ‘Boy eats girl’ I read. There was a beautifully and simply draw diagram of a boy and girl together, the girl however had been covered in dotted lines of the type used in cookbooks to indicate cuts of meat. ‘The music’s a bit like that’ Robyne said.
I looked dubiously at the cover and the other Gorilla releases in the shop, a rare Pete and the Pigeons tape nestled up to SPC Eh?, and I guess in Dunedin similar scenes were taking place with regard to Glyph Richard. Where similar beauteous shop assistants assisted prospective record purchasers.

Bertie Germ, Dick Weir on 3ZB
Bertie Germ, Dick Weir on 3ZB

‘Can I hear a bit of this here Gorilla band’ I asked. McCabe, still in sneakers, winced, many a sale had been lost at this point. ” ‘Bertie Germ can’t die’ is probably the best introduction” said McCabe’s confederate and so I heard McCabe for the first time.

‘It’s not much like the Stranglers’ I commented. ‘Sssshhhh!’ they both said. I haven’t spoken since. I left penniless, but Penny never really liked me anyway. I ws clutching a limited release extra cassette by Salli Rog and the Tokin’Blacks. Shrubbery Dub. This as well as anything Robyne had been passed by Steve in the last month. McCabe  left rubbing his hands, off to buy coffee beans, and climb the winestalk.

In the same omniverse…

A flock of seagulls
A flock of seagulls

Brannigan, now there’s a name to conjure with, half braggart, half harridan, half Finnegan, but always awake. An astronomer to the stars by trade. As most do I first encountered him playing guitar. ‘Can you nae put a small token of your appreciation into my well worn hat?’ he asked as he played everything Van Morrison had written to that date in a rapid unmuddled medley.

I nodded dumbly and dropped a duplicate copy of Shrubbery dub into his hat. ‘Money, none of that damned plastic, and I don’t take EFTPos or play chess’ he said sternly. I ran, as a flock of seagulls descended on the white haired fellow in the square. He ran after me, breaking windows as he struggled to catch up. There was to be no gain without breaking panes. Suddenly The Police rescued me. It was a Sting operation. I never saw Brannigan after that until the initiation. He was led off in cuffs, a collar, and the top hat. Otherwise naked, but stylish.

All this time Kowawski was in his own underground band, Above-Ground, determinedly subteranean in their refusal to sink to the level of most other bands in Christchurch. (notabene: A quick glance at Youtube will show you that the other important bands in this period in Christchurch were Maiden China and the White Boys, both of whom went on to be household names). The Above-Ground story and the’Gone Aiwa’ cassette are freely available on ebay, although freely in this case means you’ll be parting with $100 or so. That’s enough to get you into 20 Axemin gigs at 1980 prices. And at 2008 prices.

Then there was the second gig, but that’s another story, as was my sudden expulsion from the band because I had no sense of humour and started playing the A string rather than the ever increasing 24’s, the subsequent formations, the inclusion of women in the front line, the Peace Aotearoa gig which resulted
in riots and war, but always the same number of people in the audience, the faces constantly changing, although those of us who returned again and again to watch swore we could never let anything like this happen again.

Damn, no matter what I took I could nae work hand-carburettors or dung into this, although both feature prominently in other Axemen History which never repeats, only ripples. That must be the required 250 words, which are worth at least a quart or a pitcher. Can I stop now? Is anyone there? Is this the
real life or just fantasy? I can’t go on, I’ll go on Ill, The Horror, The Horror. Ice cream in cones across this guy. A way a lone a last a love a long A xemin.

M. S. ‘Mick’ Aggro