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

Road Rage and how to avoid it

A mate of mine reckons that going on holiday is the most domestically dangerous time of the year. He is convinced that more divorce proceedings must start during this period than at any other time.

He has identified six distinct thresholds within the holiday span which can tip a normally sane person into psychotic rage.

  • ‘Packing the Car’ or – ‘How do you fit 640 cubic metres of gear, two mountain bikes, a sea kayak, the TV set, a hair drier and remains of the Christmas cake into a Toyota Camry?’
  • ‘Departure’ or – ‘How many children do we have and have you seen the cat?’
  • ‘Return to the House’ or - ‘I-know-we’ve been-travelling-for-half-an-hour-but-I-think-I’ve-left-the-iron-on!’
  • ‘Actual Journey’ or – ‘There should be capital punishment for people who tow caravans outside the hours of 2am to 5am!’
  • ‘Holiday Destination’ or – ‘What a dump! Are you sure this is the place? It doesn’t look anything like the photographs.’
  • ‘Return Home’ or – ‘I don’t care if you have fallen in love, you are not Brooke Shields, this is not ‘Lagoon’ and you can’t stay here with that pimply youth - living on shellfish and berries, you have to go to school tomorrow.’

After comparing notes on our respective summer breaks and recognizing the tipping points he described, we established some 16 immutable ‘Laws of DomesticTravel’ that should be understood by all, to enable better enjoyment of vacations.

  1. The Law of Caravans. If you are driving on your holiday you will be held-up in a long queue of traffic by a car towing a large caravan. The car will be a Mitsubishi Lancer. The driver will be wearing a hat. The car will be travelling a fraction under the speed limit. Mitsubishi Lancer drivers have inherited this impedimentary role from Hillman Hunter drivers of a decade ago.
  2. The Law of Slow Cars. The 3 cars immediately behind the caravan, following each other so closely that there is no room to pass without overtaking the equivalent of a small military convoy, will be a Holden Barina, a Daihatsu Charade and a Suzuki Alto. At least one of these cars will carry a sticker saying ‘Pay parity for primary teachers.’
  3. The Law of Passing Lanes. When you come to a passing lane these three cars will pull out, attempting to pass the car towing the caravan, but without exceeding the speed limit. This will not be possible as ‘hat-wearer’ will also speed up.
  4. The Law of Police Injustice. After you have finally taken your life in your hands, overtaken the ‘I-know-my-rights’ convoy, when your blood-pressure is back to normal and the screaming of the passengers in your car has died down, you will be pulled over by a cop doing random warrant of fitness checks.
  5. The Law of Na nya, na na nya! The ‘I-know-my-rights’ convoy will overtake you as you wait by the roadside for the cop to do his check. They will peep their little horns and make ‘Serve-you-right-faces’ as they pass.
  6. The Law of Angry Passengers. When you have resumed your journey you will be told you that you ‘are driving furiously towards the end of your marriage’ when you refuse to stop at a roadside stall to buy strawberries. Even though you do not need or want these strawberries, it seems to satisfy a primitive female hunter/gatherer instinct to buy them in the country. You will also find they cost more than they do at the supermarket.
  7. The Law of Never Stopping. In any case, you cannot possibly stop to buy strawberries or even petrol, as you have just re-overtaken the ‘I-know-my-rights’ convoy.
  8. The Law of the Empty Fuel Tank. Immediately after you have refused to stop for petrol or strawberries and you have re-overtaken the ‘I-know-my-rights’ convoy, the petrol warning light, indicating that you have enough gas for only another 50k’s, will come on.
  9. The Law of Anxiety. The next gas station will, unfortunately, be at least 60k’s away and turning back is unthinkable. You will break into a cold, anxious sweat and slow down to conserve gas. You will then become the new convoy leader as ‘hat-wearer’ and his waddling brood catch-up to you. For the next hour you will feel their beady, ‘I told you so’, eyes boring into the back of your head. The humiliation of this will ruin the first two days of your holiday.
  10. The Law of Inclement Weather. Because you are on vacation it does not follow that the Bad-Weather Demons are too. In fact there is a very good chance that they will hold a jamboree right above where you are staying. They will hold contests during the jamboree - in two sections. Wind and rain. The wind section will have events like ‘The best tent-tearing tornado’ and ‘The longest, iciest, sou’wester.’ In the rain section will be ‘Hailstorm havoc’ and a ‘Warm, windless, drizzle that will keep holidaymakers indoors, frustrated and sweating’ contest.
  11. The Law of Pump Failure. Regardless of whether you are motoring, boating, or staying at a bach for your holiday, a water-pump of some kind will break down. New Year’s Eve is the most likely time for this to happen. Whatever, you will spend at least one evening up to your elbows, in rusty (or worse) water, trying, with your pathetically inadequate mechanical knowledge, to fix it, while everyone else is having a good time and reminding you regularly that nature is calling.
  12. The Law of Country Mechanics. If it’s your car’s water-pump that quits, you will be forced to leave the car at a country garage where a guy called Brian will ‘have a go at fixing it’. He will admit to not having worked on any car built after 1964, and will further undermine your confidence by saying, ‘These new cars with their flash computers are pretty tricky, you know’. It will take two weeks to get the parts and you will have to another journey back to ‘Deliverance country to recover the car.
  13. The Law of Soapy Cheese. You will discover that the people who used to put cheese into impenetrable plastic packets for Air New Zealand are now putting soap into impenetrable plastic packets for roadside motels. They may have recycled the Air New Zealand cheese. You will get more lather from processed cheddar than from motel soap.
  14. The Law of Orange Garnish. If you order a salad at any provincial New Zealand restaurant you will find a slice of orange remains a very popular garnish. The salad will be complimentary when you order the house specialty, Chicken-in-a-basket.
  15. The Law of Hot Cuisine. You will discover the difference between hot cuisine and haute cuisine. The difference increases exponentially with distance travelled from a major centre of population. Just settle for hot and be thankful. Do not, under any circumstances ask for a de-caffeinated, trim milk, latte.
  16. The Law of Old Tractors. You will discover where old tractors go to die. They are painted in bright colours and go to boat ramps at beaches.

We trust that through an understanding of these laws, expectations of holiday makers will become more closely aligned with the reality of travelling in the country.

Talking of expectations, someone must have known Mrs Hutcheson and I were passing through Te Araroa on the East Cape. A sign was erected there, especially for us. The sign says ‘Alcohol and cooking don’t mix. It’s fatal.’ Regular readers of this column may know that while Mrs. Hutcheson is actually a very good cook, lack of concentration and her insistence on taking part in conviviality at parties frequently undermines her commitment to managing a smokeless kitchen. I have therefore photographed Mrs. H in front of the sign. Blown-up to A3, the photo will take pride of place on the fridge door. It will be our commitment to fire-safety in the home, and a lot cheaper than an industrial exhaust fan.

The Magazine Awards

Business Columnist of the Year 2012

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