Opinion: Please stop sending me novelty ties

By Jim Hickey

By Jim Hickey

Hello, everyone. Taupo, how you doing? Beautiful day, today. Lovely high hovering over the country like the cream on the scones at the Wairakei Tourist Park Café. Pop in for one – and say hi to Sally for me. Lovely.

I’ve been lucky enough to be let into the nation’s homes night after night for a good couple of decades now. It’s much easier than breaking in through the window. Just kidding, Dunedin. Bit of humour there for you. I know how you scarfies like your jokes down there on Castle Street. Put an extra rug on the bed, by the way. It’ll be a cold one.

I’ve travelled the land far and wide, and everywhere I go, people ask me one thing. They ask me, “Jim,” they ask me, “what’s Simon Dallow really like?” And I tell them: slap a pair of glasses on an indoor ficus, sit an egg and chive sandwich on one of its branches, cue up a few podcasts of This American Life on a stereo, and you’ll be getting a good dose of The Full Dallow.

Of course, they also ask me what the weather will be. And I say, “it’ll be sunny, except when it’s not”. I like to think of it as poetic. I know how you like your poetry, Wellington. Watch out for that wind tomorrow. Strong enough to blow the beard off a Mumford & Son.

I understand why they ask me about the weather. I am a weather man, after all. As I say, “whatever the weather, where the weather weathers, that’s where I am”. I’m sorry, Tauranga; I couldn’t make the “weather/whether” bit last through the end of the sentence. And I know how concerned you Tauraungians are about the last bit of things. Sunset years, after all.

What I don’t understand is why everyone keeps giving me novelty ties.

Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate being given gifts. It’s a nice gesture. When I’m chatting with the gents at the Kaikoura Aerodrome, I get a bit of a thrill when one of them says “Hold on a nip there, Jim. Got something for you inside”. Going to rain there, tomorrow, Kaikoura. Make sure your crayfish has an umbrella.

It’s those moments where my heart always lifts, just a little, like the eyebrows on a Sainsbury sighting a platter of molluscs, in the hope that this time might be different.

But it’s always a novelty tie.

Cartoon characters, funny slogans, ties shaped like things that aren’t ties. Hell’s bells, I’ve got a whole drawer of musical ones. Open it too fast and it’s like H&J Smith’s at Christmas in there. You Invercargillites know what I’m talking about. Keep an eye out for the hail, Invercargill, and the mutant oyster crawling from the sea. Praise be on his shell. Cracker.

Why is it that when people hear the name “Jim Hickey”, they think “novelty tie”? I can’t help but be a wee bit offended. I studied long and hard to become a meter – a meteoro – a mete – a weather man. It wasn’t just a weekend course. We also had to go in on the Monday.

Thing is, I don’t even wear ties. It’s always suit jacket, open collar. Te Kuiti-styles. (Speaking of which, Te Kuiti: that plan we talked about? Starts tomorrow. Activate the oscillator and await my signal.) But nowadays, if you Google “Jim Hickey”, you end up with “Did you mean: ‘jim hickey novelty ties’”. No, Google. Nobody meant that. And it’s that kind of confusion that’s buried my Zazzle t-shirt store in the search results. (Flagship slogan: “You know you’ve had a good time when you’ve got a Hickey.” It’s a rib-tickler. And yours for just $36.82.)

Just once I’d like something different. Just once I’d like someone to say to themselves, “That Jim Hickey fella,” they’d say, “I like what he does with the weather. I’m going to send him a pair of knitted slippers”. I need some slippers. Slippers would be a thoughtful gift. Hell, I’d even settle for Wendy Petrie’s typical fan mail: preserving jar after preserving jar of pickled animal organs.

Novelty ties are for bad middle managers. Novelty ties are for form two teachers trying and failing to connect with their pupils. Novelty ties are for your uncle Neville. Novelty ties are not for the kind of resplendent man who predicts, with precision, what terrors the forces of nature will wreak, at least some of the time, when people tell him the correct things to say.

Still, it could be worse. All Brendan Horan got out of it was a New Zealand First membership. But that’s the kind of karma you get for stepping on Hickey’s territory. At least sending him all those bad racing tips was worth it in the end. Wooden little upstart.