Morning routine

by George

As a young man, during the late sixties and early seventies, I would undertake an indispensable ritual every day of the week. I would sit on my balcony, first thing, every morning with three essential components. A strong black coffee, my packet of Rothmans and the New Zealand Herald. For the next hour I would drink at least two coffees, smoke goodness knows how many cigarettes and read the NZH from cover to cover. Merve Smith would add a little light relief in the background from the trannie. (That’s a transistor radio, not a sexual companion!) And the morning chorus of birds identified they had rituals too. The point of difference each morning was the NZH. It provided the anticipation of the yet unknown, whilst my coffee, cigarettes, Merve and the birds were in corroboration.

The radio, of course, was more immediate with the news but it was basically headlines. The NZH provided the details that were essential if one wanted to understand the issues and be informed. How times have changed. In those days I had absolute faith in the integrity of the NZH. It was a paper of dignity. If I read something I disapproved of I never felt like the NZH was trying too influence my opinion. I never felt manipulated. Was I nieve? I hope not, and even if I was, I never felt like I was being lectured to.

Fast forward to today. Little has changed regarding my ritual but so much has changed regarding the accomplices. My coffee is still black and strong, the birds continue to entertain me, Merve has been replaced by Mike, Rothmans left the planet thirty years ago and the NZH has been replaced by my tablet and Whaleoil. I’m not sure, but there are times when I long for the good old days, Rothmans and all. There was something appealing about being excluded from instant gratification. The anticipation each morning when opening the NZH was a little like Christmas. What was under the wrapper? Today, only fish and chips.


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