This evening I watched a local TV station showing a program called “The Beat goes on”. The special guest was New Zealand personality, politician, entrepreneur, and expert on all matters serious and trivial - Bob Jones.
Bob has become frail. At one point during the interview and in the midst of an eloquent flow, he was struggling to find a word and sought help from the show’s host. Bob Jones asking for help – unthinkable.
In newsrooms around the country they will have prepared obituaries for Bob. When that moment comes they will dutifully open the box and produce the dry typed lines that were rehearsed months, if not years earlier.
Bob is your archetypical self made man, a multimillionaire many times over, successful in business, but less so in personal relationships; a characteristic not unique to Bob or those like him. Intelligent, irreverent, humorous with a deep sense of the ironic and the absurd, a likable rogue.
Despite the fact he has no time for the transcendent, the Christian faith or any faith I like Bob. Like all of us, he is a deeply flawed human being, but with a gift. He has the ability to recognise the over regulated absurdity of the socialist state in which we all now live, and make fun of it at every turn. He was recently thrown off an Air New Zealand flight for not paying sufficient attention to the safety instructions that precede every take off, despite the fact he has probably flown more air miles than some of Air New Zealand’s most experienced pilots and cabin crew. They had to make an example of him, because if they didn’t the rebellion might spread, and before you know it, unaccompanied children would be ignoring the cabin crew and demanding the end of flight sweets early.
This evening, he exacted a good deal of revenge on Air New Zealand, not the least by displaying his own private jet and his joy at bypassing their State sponsored bureaucracy.
One of my most enjoyable times listening to Bob came as we were driving back to Christchurch from Golden bay one Sunday morning. We were about to climb the Takaka hill (mountain to those of you who life outside of New Zealand) and tuned into the National Program. It was being hosted by Chris Laidlaw, former Rhodes Scholar, All Black halfback, Ambassador and MP. Chris, with his impeccable credentials, is someone who had played the game by the rules to the letter, and ended up as an Interviewer on National Radio as his reward.
He was never going to be any match for Bob Jones whom he then proceeded to interview over the next hour. The program that followed was an absolute gem, vintage Bob Jones, irascible, erudite, irreverent and just plain good fun. You can listen to it at the link below. I encourage you to grab a coffee and enjoy the occasion.
Bob got stuck into Chris from his opening introduction, and went on to entertain us for the best part of the following hour. Enough time to have us laughing and enjoying the first stage of a long drive home.
Bob, go well - you will be missed.