Here is a taste of Hutch’s columns. If you want more, you can always buy his books.
1. I’d Diet for my Country
2. Creativity and Open-Heart Surgery
3. Immutable Laws of Holidays
4. Futile Bureaucracy
5. P-E-T-E-R
6. From Cradle to Criminal
7. Pestilence and Doom
8. Christmas Cards

I’d Diet for my Country

A mate of mine reckons that he spends more money on food which he doesn’t eat, than on food he does.

This is due to his predilection for embarking on proprietary diet plans, failing to shrink discernibly and then signing up with yet another plan. Costing him lots of money for eating very little.

Being somewhat circumferentially challenged myself, I have a great deal of sympathy for his plight and feel that I should share a secret with you. It is a strategy for coping with a lack of success in achieving any significant girth reduction.

I am going to focus on increasing my height.

This should prove to be every bit as successful as repeated attempts at weight loss.

However, it is a strategy which will require lots of positive reinforcement from friends and acquaintances. When you meet me you’ll have to say things like “My, you look much taller!” or “Can you tell me what’s over those trees there?” I will do my bit by wearing built up shoes and stretch by spending long periods hanging upside down from various kinds of hanging-upside-down-from apparatus. I have seen such things at the gym. I have also seen some lucky people at the gym. People who, obviously, can walk past a restaurant without gaining 3 kilos by osmotic transfer. They can also walk past a restaurant without feeling the need to go in, which is probably more to the point.

My mate has a black belt in lunch and the physique to match. But during the lifetime it took to acquire his exalted status he has learned some extremely funny and interesting stories.

You don’t see your average aerobic instructor chuckling his way through an afternoon, sauvignon blanc in hand, whilst reciting poetry and solving the problems of the world. Aerobic instructors say things like “..side and side and up and push and side and side and down..”, while sweating. Is that fun? It sounds inherently dangerous to me. A number of good friends of mine have died tragically while undertaking strenuous exercise, but none that I know of has died while taking it easy.

Talking of strenuous exercise; earlier this year while watching a half-marathon in Rotorua, I noticed an extraordinary phenomenon. At least one-in-five of the runners looked like micro-biology lecturers from university who spend their summer vacations walking the Heaphy Track. They had facial hair; moustaches, beards or both.

I’m not sure of the statistical incidence of facial hair in the population at large, but I can tell you that it’s not one-in-five.

Heaphy Trackers invariably seem thin and bony, there being a strict correlation between body- mass and the ability to remain cool while running long distances. We can’t change the anatomy and physiology we are born with, but I do wish that such people weren’t the ones who constantly published papers on how the body functions - exhorting us to eat more lettuce and broccoli. It’s easy for people with legs like a weta to say, but they should try being a bon vivant for a while.

I therefore excuse myself from long distance running on the grounds that I’d get far too hot. In fact I’ve come over all flushed just thinking about it.

But I digress.

My mate’s doctor warned him that his weight and lifestyle were deleterious to his health. He was advised to give up smoking and drinking, get more sleep and eat more fresh vegetables.

“If I do, will I live longer?” Asked my mate.

“No.” replied the doctor, “But it will seem longer.”

Nevertheless he has persevered with the odium of dieting over many years and has consequently provided an important revenue stream for the entire weight-loss industry.

While we are on the subject of entire industries I would like to point out that there would be an economic crisis in the agrarian sector if I were to similarly embark on a diet rather than concentrate on growing taller.

As it is, farmers will go to sleep tonight giggling, knowing I am still alive and well. Manufacturers of tractors and combine harvesters are tingling with glee at the prospect of ploughing plains which will photosynthesize into fields of wavy wheat and corn; nutritious grains, which will in turn be harvested for the cereals and breads I love.

Shares in John Deere and Kubota will remain strong while I survive. As I drive down State Highway 1, bucolic swains doff their hats and wave. They are saluting, through me, all those who reside at the top of the food-chain. Such recognition represents a celebration of man’s endeavours to harness his environment through agricultural husbandry.

All over the country, in dairy factories and abattoirs, flour mills and packing sheds, on fishing trawlers and at salmon hatcheries, in bakeries and delicatessens, vineyards and breweries, workers hum as they toil, happy in the surety that I am in good health and will soon turn up at a supermarket or a restaurant, where the fruits of their labour will be joyously purchased or consumed.

I am a veritable cottage-industry in myself.

You may by now be able to grasp the awful economic downside of dieting and the heavy burden I have assumed on behalf of humanity in deciding to stretch rather than shrink.

After all, correct body proportion is just as desirable as ideal body weight. Instead of being small but perfectly formed I will become large but perfectly formed. My target, for an ideal height-to-weight ratio, is approximately 8’7" or 2.65 metres, at which point I will assume the appearance of a very tall Arnold Schwarzenegger with grey hair.

This will, of course, take some time to attain. In the meantime I plan to go on a ‘proximity points’ weight-loss programme. A ‘proximity points’ programme is probably the least objectionable option when it comes to losing weight. All one has to do gain points is choose one or more of the following tasks each day: They involve acknowledgment of the concept of dieting without actually engaging in it.

  1. Sit next to someone who is on a diet.
  2. Live with someone who is on a diet.
  3. Tell whopping fibs about how good they look, to someone who is on a diet.
  4. Watch a Jane Fonda Aerobics video
  5. Eat lettuce or broccoli on its own.
  6. Drive past a gym during a pump class.
  7. Think about walking the Heaphy Track.
  8. Try to befriend a thin person.
  9. Try to befriend someone with facial hair. (Women from southern Europe don’t count)
  10. Ask for two scoops of ice-cream then turn one down.

The more points you are able to achieve, the greater the chance of averting economic collapse in the world’s primary industries.

Thank you for your support

The Magazine Awards

Business Columnist of the Year 2012

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