Older rugby fans will recall Grahame Thorne as a sparkling 1960s All Black five eight.

My best Thorny memory was after he gained the National selection for the solid Labour seat of Onehunga in 1990 and in the subsequent National landslide, caused a huge upset by winning it.

Thorny told me an amusing tale about that election campaign.

Apparently the party urged him to knock on doors; the traditional canvassing activity. He had my sympathy when he protested, arguing he’d feel a goose. I’d taken a similar view with the New Zealand party in 1984.

Under pressure he eventually relented and kicked for touch by seeking out the largest house in the most affluent part of the electorate. With party activists in the street watching he knocked on the front door. A little old lady answered and he introduced himself.

She eyed him up and down then said, “Fuck off” and slammed the door shut.

That was the end of his canvassing.

Thorny shares my amusement at newspaper heading stuff-ups and has so many he could probably publish them as an entertaining book.

Last week he sent me a swag of them from his collection. Here’s some from New Zealand and abroad.

“Homicide Victims Rarely talk to Police.”

“Miracle Cure Kills fifth patient.”

“Barbershop Singers Bring Joy to Schools for Deaf.”

“City Unsure why the Sewer Smells.”

“Starvation Can Lead to Health Hazards.”

“Man Accused of Killing Lawyer Receives a New Attorney.”

“Parents Keep Kids Home to Protest School Closure.”

“Federal Agents Raid Gun Shop, Find Weapons.”

“Total Lunar Eclipse Will be Broadcast live on Northwoods Radio.”

“Meeting on Open Meetings is Closed.”

“Statistics Show that teen pregnancy drops off significantly after age 25.”

“Study Shows Frequent Sex Enhances Pregnancy Chances.”

“Marijuana Issue Sent to a Joint Committee.”

“Worker Suffers leg pain after crane drops 800 pound ball on his head.”

“Bugs Flying Around with Wings are Flying Bugs.”

The above are all cockups by no-hoper sub-editors, a reflection of today’s survival struggle by newspapers. But in their heyday, newspapers took pride in clever caption writers.
That said my all-time favourite from the Dominion Post years ago was “Chainsaw-wielding transsexual chases Mr Whippy.”


HA! Excellent.Not all of them are stuff ups. You can be confident that a few are a bit of a giggle.
My favourite? “Alarm drama as LLama harms Farmer”.

I googled “Chainsaw-wielding transsexual chases Mr Whippy” sadly it isn’t online, sounds like an interesting read…

Do you keep the clip perhaps?

Just googled one and found a few of the clips. Very good.

Thorny indeed.
I feel better after that.

At the other end of the scale to best crafted headlines is the one from the Double Standard of the early 70s – “Rooting Pig Shot in Ngaio. PM Safe”.

My brother had a framed Truth advertising flyer (As used to sit outside the newsagents in a wire frame) which read “Nude girls made to eat cat food – Priest tells story…”
I never did see that story but always remembered the line – pure class.

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