Do you watch much television, I was asked the other day and replied that a morning and evening trot through Sky, CNN, Fox, the BBC, Al Jazeera and Russian TV, plus the occasional sporting event  excepted, television is not big on my agenda.

If that list of news channels sounds a lot, then not so. Tune in on the hour and they all begin with their so-called news headings which in at least 60% of the cases, are beat-ups of non-events. Just as with our newspapers, unless of major dimension, Al Jazeera excepted, they all ignore foreign news. Why? Because their surveys show the public aren’t interested. Only Al Jazeera gives a world-wide coverage, admittedly in the moving strip at the screen bottom. They alone will report on say a Nicaraguan election result.

As said, all of this is true of our newspapers, only more so. I’d venture 80% of our newspapers’ front pages and subsequent 6 pages are basically fabrications, blowing up a trivial item as a scandal then soliciting diverse opinions. The Dom’ a couple of weeks back, led with a “story” about pot-holes in a Porirua street. That said, I have some sympathy as New Zealand is such an innocuous isolated country, nothing much out of the ordinary ever happens. Try and imagine having to create a front page New Zealand story while you’re reading this. Apart from the Christchurch mosque atrocity, some bad weather and… well nothing actually, nothing has happened all year so one can understand the necessity to beat up non-events.

For example, this week the Dom’ accorded a sizeable space to tell us that the parents of a murder victim, which event occurred a dozen years ago, are still hoping the culprit will be found. THAT’S NOT NEWS.

To the huge surprise of my questioner I added that I sometimes check in on television evangelist Jimmy Swaggart. It’s truly wonderful entertainment which is not something that can be said of his dozens of rivals, all crashing bores with their non-stop preaching, sliminess and money-seeking.

Money-seeking excepted, none of that nonsense from Jimmy though, whose huge flock need no convincing. Instead it’s almost non-stop singing from his 100 strong chorus, all of whom appear to be seriously retarded, plus his sizeable back-up team of musicians and his 6 strong female bevy of competent female singers standing in front of the choir.

The trick in watching Swaggart for maximum amusement is to turn the sound off completely. His “music” consist entirely of dirgy repetitious banal chanting which go on for 20 minutes at a time. It’s the fervour and passion of his massed singers and also that of his large congregation which is a wonderful visual entertainment.

There are only two exceptions when one absolutely must have the sound on.

First when one of his three pianists, Brian Haney, a totally bald and rather likeable chap I’d guess in his late 30s, does a solo. Brian’s feverish frantic piano-playing and singing fervour is a splendid sight to behold.

The other exception is the beautiful black woman Tara Montpetit. She looks about 23 but in fact is 38 and a mother of four. My, can she sing and the passion she exhibits is indeed a glorious spectical. But what an appalling waste! She could have been a famous pop singer instead of this Godding rubbish, indeed she has an established sizable internet audience. No surprise there. I qualify my comments on her beauty when, like most women she does something to transfer herself to crone status. In her case it’s pulling her long hair back off her face.

Here’s the interesting thing about Tara. She’s one of Swaggart’s six crack singers standing in a row before the large choir. The others, with one marginal exception, are not exactly beauty Queens, thus inviting the obvious question why isn’t Tara front centre? Instead she stands on the far end of the six in virtual darkness. I’ve worked out the answer.

Except for the few occasions when Swaggart is centre-stage, he retreats to that same dark patch but, sitting just a metre away from Tara, slightly back. Should anyone be able to spot him he can pretend to be looking at whatever nonsense is going on centre-stage but in fact the old bugger is clearly gazing non-stop lustingly at the always highly animated, swaying, singing and arm-waving erotic Tara. Who can possibly blame him?

This is the deep south – Trump country of blind faith and certainties.

Three years ago Paul Theroux’s book “The South” came out. Theroux filtrated deep into the communities of these dirt poor southern states and painted a grim picture. He concluded that in every sense, their citizens, simple souls all, have lives so materially bleak that religion being all they have, thus becomes their whole life. Take the church away and they have nothing. Watching Swaggart’s huge choir of simpletons and his equally dozy congregation, arms extended skywards, singing their hearts out day after day, certainly confirms that. Sermonising is unnecessary as they’ve all been sold and don’t need further convincing, thus this relentless musical skybaying and its promise of a better life in the next world.

It must be truly terrible being God copping all of this, unless of course like me he can turn the sound off and say concentrate on lusting after Tara. But surely that would be both irresponsible and ungrateful on his part given all this passionate effort and endless assurances of his wonderfulness, even if motivated by self-interest, namely scoring points for the next world. Fair enough too, after all Swaggart, now 85, has invested his whole life telling God how bloody marvellous he is and is surely entitled to a dividend. Still, there has to be a limit to a bloke’s tolerance even if one is God and this relentless racket directed his way doubtless explains his periodic bursts of anger, lashing out with floods, earthquakes, forest fires and diverse disasters. Explicable of course for as Swaggart believes, God’s a vengeful bugger and thus can hardly be blamed for such wrathful outbursts given the shocking relentless praying racket he has to endure. It also explains why I’ve had a good trot for 8 decades as unlike skybayers I don’t bother him with this abominable carry-on.



The channels I mainly watch are Euronews and France24 (English). Excellent European and other foreign news.

You may or may not know, but pianist Mickey Gilley, Jimmy Lee Swaggart and Jerry Lee Lewis are all cousins. Something in the blood?

Now Bob, I still remember your own wrathful outburst on a Wellington radio show, about 1973 I think, when you used to alternate with Mike Moore. One evening when driving to the station for your show you were stopped by a traffic cop for speeding and when you told him that you were late he gave you a 10 minute lecture on speeding to ensure that you were indeed late. On the radio that night you were indeed a vengeful bugger, and listening was wonderful.

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