In what can only be considered the perfect example of a double standard, women are practically wetting themselves at the sight of Channing Tatum and his spunky co-stars dropping trou in the movie Magic Mike. And yet, should a man cock an appreciative eyebrow at a comely lass, he is instantly labelled a boorish pervert.

When I confronted my female Facebook friends about their disgusting behaviour, the answers ran along the lines of “It’s our turn to leer.”

That’s all fine and dandy, but if women are suddenly so desperate to treat men as little more than meat puppets, so eager to demean us for the sake of their depraved fantasies, then the least I can do is give them something to stare at. Which is why I’ve decided to become a male stripper, um, exotic dancer.

I mean, seriously, how hard can it be? I’ve done my research — and by research I mean I’ve watched the trailer for Magic Mike — and have narrowed down the attributes a successful exotic dancer needs to a mere three.

One: The ability to dance. No problem: I’ve been wriggling my booty ever since the Frug was invented. Why, just the other day I was gyrating around the bedroom with a look of pure intensity on my face. The routine featured me hopping on one leg while clutching my other foot with both hands. That particular shimmy may have been the result of a close encounter between a baby toe and a bed post but picture that performed in a thong and suddenly it takes on a whole new context.

Two: Muscular build. According to Gray’s Anatomy (the medical research text, not the TV series), all men possess the same muscles. Some of us just prefer to keep our six-packs wrapped in several layers of protective insulation.

Three: Hairless body. OK, this one could be a bit trickier, especially for those whose body hair most closely resembles a pelt. Once considered a desirable indication of virility, back hair is now somehow considered, well, gross. Apparently 21st century women prefer their men as sleek as an otter. Or as a 10-year-old boy.

But how does one achieve a fur-less body? Lawnmower? Line trimmer? Secateurs? A female acquaintance recommended laser hair removal. A full-body Brazilian, as it were. Maybe I’ve seen Goldfinger one too many times, but just the mental image of a red-hot laser scorching one’s nether lands is enough to cause me to shrink in fear. However, if that’s what it takes to make women salivate, then let the zap-zap-zapping begin.

So there you have it: I’m turning in my journalist’s notebook for a spangled g-string and taking to the stage. Prepare to be astounded.

There is only one small detail I have yet to work out. Magic Mike is set in America, a country which still uses $1 bills, perfect for stuffing into skimpy outfits. But no matter how skilled I am as a dancer, I still may find it tricky to shake my money maker with my stubbies full of gold coins. And then there’s that whole chafing thing to consider.

It will all be worth it, of course, when the women start screaming. Too bad the music will be so loud I won’t be able to hear what they’re yelling.

This column originally appeared in the August 8 edition of the Napier (NZ) Courier.


Like all couples, Viking Woman and I have our differences.

For instance, she’s an outdoor person and I prefer to be inside. Where it’s warm and dry. And there aren’t any weeds.

She’s a dog person. I’m a too-lazy-to-walk-the-dog person.

She loves children. I like children. When they belong to someone else. And live far away. Preferably in another country.

She likes rom-coms. I’d rather poke a sharp stick in my eye.

She likes country music. I’d rather poke a sharp stick in my ear.

She likes people. I prefer to be alone. In a lighthouse. Built in a cave.

I like sex. She likes to sleep.

You get the picture.

We also tend to perch on opposite sides of the fence when it comes to sports. And by sports I mean hockey, as opposed to those other sweaty activities involving people who can’t skate.

I love watching hockey. Viking Woman would rather conduct a root canal on herself. With a chainsaw.

Although, having said that, she did once prove her love to me when we were still dating by memorizing the names of all the NHL teams. I was suitably impressed, even if there were only 21 teams at the time.

Of course, like all romantic gestures, this one did not survive the wedding vows.

Day of wedding:

Me: Prove your love by naming all the teams.

VW: (proceeds to do so)

Day after wedding:

Me: Prove your love by naming all the teams.

VW: Puck off!

Despite all these disagreements, we have managed to stay together for nearly two decades.

Until now, that is.

It’s with a heavy heart that I must report Viking Woman has taken up with another man. Fifteen other men, to be exact.

Because that’s the number of players each team is allowed on the field at any one time during the Rugby World Cup tournament.

That’s right – the woman who would rather bathe in battery acid than share the same room with a copy of The Hockey News, now sits in the lounge, eyes fixated on the TV, yelling encouragement at the All Blacks, New Zealand’s national team.

Rugby is a relatively new sport to both of us and so we’re not quite sure of all the rules. Which might explain why I’m shouting, “Hey, ref! Get a real job!” while Viking Woman is shouting, “Hey, ref! Get out of the way! You’re blocking my view of Daniel Carter’s bum!”

Like I said, as far as I’m concerned, there is hockey and then there are silly games played by people who can’t afford to buy pads. Rugby is one of those silly games: Large hunks of meat crashing into each other, wearing little more than a tight jersey and short shorts.

Nope, can’t see the attraction.

The winner of the Rugby World Cup won’t be crowned until Oct. 23. I expect this marriage to be well and truly over by then.

Unless, of course, Viking Woman can recite the 30 teams currently playing in the NHL. Let’s start with Anaheim . . .

There are three words you don’t want to hear while en route to a rugby match: “Is that rain?”

Uh, yes, in fact it was. Within minutes of leaving our house – and our raincoats – to head to Napier’s McLean’s Park for a Rugby World Cup clash between Canada and France, the heavens opened, meaning Viking Woman and I were pretty much soaked before we’d even entered the grounds. This despite the fact we were wearing our official Vancouver 2010 Winter Games hoodies.

That’s OK, we thought, because at least we have seats in the grandstand, as opposed to General Admission tickets where you stand out in the open at one end of the field. At least we’ll be able to watch the game from a dry vantage point.

I don’t know which is more disturbing: being told our seats were, in reality, on the “drip line” (read: the topmost row NOT sheltered by the grandstand’s roof); observing French rugby fans wearing chickens on their heads; or glancing up from the urinal to see a man being zipped into a white body suit.

I’m going to go for c), because no man should ever wear something that tight.

As for the headgear, it turns out the rooster is France’s national symbol. Maybe it’ s just the way my brain works, but I’m thinking how easy it is to connect the dots between rooster hat, cock head and dickhead. OK, that might have just been my personal bias against French, seeing how it was the only subject I failed in high school. And, yes, I am still bitter.

(It was reported later than one French fanatic was escorted from the park after the local gendarmes caught him, red-handed, relieving himself in public. Which begs the question, is that a cockerel in your pants or are you just glad to see me?)

Along with rooster heads, there were plenty of berets in the crowd, along with tri-coloured fright wigs. Not to be outdone, the Canadians sported cowboy hats, RCMP Stetsons and plastic goalie masks. There might have been a moosehead or two but, alas, not a single beaver.

One enterprising young man donned a complete set of hockey gear, minus the skates. His costume included helmet, a Team Canada jersey, shoulder pads, pants and shin guards. Considering that his luggage allowance would have been limited to one suitcase weighing no more than 23 kgs (50 pounds), he must have sacrificed a lot of clean underwear to show rugby-mad Kiwis what a real sport looks like.

Due to the unexpected deluge, a lot of creative costumes were hidden by garbage bags and plastic ponchos (the sales of which, at $5 a pop, probably outstripped that of beer).

Painted faces soon resembled The Joker more than flags. One supporter sported a sign saying “I (heart) Canada” only to have the illustration very quickly became a bleeding heart.

As for the game itself, let’s just say France was ranked fifth of the 20 participating teams and Canada 15th. The boys in red put up a decent struggle but, as many of Canada’s hockey teams have learned the hard way when playing on an international stage, penalties will kill you.

The final score : France 46 Canada 19.

As for the rain, it stopped sometime during the second half. Soaked and freezing, we hardly noticed.

Imagine, if you will, combining the excitement of the Olympic Games with the Super Bowl, the seventh game of the World Series and the seventh game of the Stanley Cup final. And then multiply it by a million.

Welcome to the Rugby World Cup.

And welcome to New Zealand, which is hosting this wondrous event from Sept. 9 to Oct. 23.

A tree cosie shows its true colours on Dalton Street in Napier, New Zealand.

I had to make several adjustments when Viking Woman and I moved from Canada to New Zealand. Among those was learning to ignore the sports news.

Where, at home, I’d devour every story and game summary and relish every highlight of every game in the National Hockey League, I quickly discovered Kiwis don’t give a rat’s bum about my favourite sport.

“Too violent,” they sniff. “Too many pads.”

In fact, mention “hockey” in New Zealand and everyone assumes you’re talking “field hockey.” “Ice hockey” is the rather ignominious term Kiwis use on the rare occasion they bother referring to the fastest team sport in the world.

English sports reign here. That means the likes of cricket and polo and lawn bowling and rowing. All of which bow down to King Rugby.

“Husky men in tight jerseys and short shorts,” I sniff. “The very definition of macho, I’m sure.”

I don’t understand the game – if there is a difference between Rugby and Rugby League I’ve yet to discern it – and I don’t really care. But these days it’s all Rugby World Cup all the time.

Napier is, in fact, hosting two of the games, as  some of the lesser matches (read: any game that doesn’t feature the All Blacks) are being spread around the provinces so even small-town hicks like us can be fleeced by high ticket prices.

As it happens, both games in Napier feature Canada. I may not have any love for rugby, but I still have a maple leaf tattooed on my heart, metaphorically speaking, of course. So Viking Woman and I will attend one of those games – probably vs France on Sept. 18 – during which we will dust off our Vancouver Summer Games apparel, including the red mitts, the idea being to eliminate any doubt as to which country we are supporting.

The interesting part about Canada taking part in this tournament – apart from the fact there are actually enough players of this calibre in the country to make up a team – is the world’s perception of my motherland. And by world I mean those people who put together the program information packages about each of the 20 participating countries.

I particularly enjoyed reading the cuisine entries in each country’s fact box. Apparently, we Canucks tend to fill our faces with poutine, butter tarts and maple syrup. Say what? No pancakes? No Tim Horton’s doughnuts? No chocolate-covered jujubes?

Aside from poutine – does anybody outside of Quebec actually consume that crap? – our food loves are at least palatable. As opposed to, say, Scotland (haggis, oats, potatoes), Namibia (bush stew) or Wales (what the hell are cawl and laverbread?).

As for our American cousins, there isn’t a single slice of apple pie or a ballpark dog on their list. Instead, we are told Yankee Doodle dandies chow down on crab cakes and potato chips. Oh. Really.

So, yeah, the Rugby World Cup is already proving interesting even before the first ball is, well, whatever it is they do with their balls down here.

You know you’re having a bad day when elderly women complain about your balls being too small.

I’ve been working weekends in the kitchen at a seniors’ residence and, of all the things that can go wrong, you’d think serving up balls of ice cream on jelly would be the least of my problems. Apparently not.

Working in a professional kitchen, preparing two meals a day for more than 50 people, is a significant achievement for me, considering there was a time in my life when, if I couldn’t toast or microwave something, I ate it raw.

My move up the food chain started in 2002 when, in a moment of pure madness, I put my hand up when friends were looking for someone to manage their B&B. Suddenly, I was cooking something called Smoked Salmon Scramble. I was making my own muesli and omelettes.

Soon after, I started preparing our personal meals as well. With Viking Woman working at a real job all day, it seemed only fair that I take over the kitchen duties. I actually enjoyed the idea of creating something yummy – although the time I substituted bran flakes for corn flakes on the Crispy Chicken was a bit of a misfire. Lesson learned: not all flakes are created equal.

But none of my previous experience prepared me for the kitchen I’m in now. For starters, I was used to feeding no more than six people at any one time at the B&B, and that, by definition, was only breakfast. On the domestic front, I was cooking for two.

Now, as I mentioned, I have 50-plus mouths to feed. My first lesson: don’t keep seniors waiting for a meal. Gathering in the dining room three times a day is a major social event. You do not want to bugger that up.

I’m suddenly roasting meat, something I’ve never done in my life. I’m making mashed potatoes and Quiche Lorraine and all sorts of dishes that Viking Woman and I have never bothered with in our make-it-cheap/make-it-fast approach to meals.

Sure, there are recipes and directions, and I’ve picked the brain of the kitchen manager, madly scribbling notes while she demonstrated the size of a smidgeon or the volume of a pinch. And then my jelly doesn’t set, even though I followed the instructions to the letter. Anything remotely liquid tends to splash everywhere, so I’m constantly cleaning up messes. And the soup that does nothing while I stand over it somehow manages to boil over the very instant I turn my back.

Hell’s kitchen? Welcome to my world.

There is, however, one bright spot in all this culinary chaos. As maddening as being the weekend cook has been at times, it is a step up from when I worked in the facility’s laundry.

Now, at least, I’m dealing with food as it goes in as opposed to when it comes out.

I’m going to hang onto that positive thought the next time I’m scrubbing egg yolks off the walls.

So the Botox Mom was a hoax. Oh. Really.

You may recall how the entire world was outraged when news broke of a mother injecting her eight-year-old daughter with Botox to better the kid’s chances of winning beauty pageants. Child services, egged on by the public howling, stepped in to liberate the youngster from her overzealous parent.

The story made it all the way down here to New Zealand where Viking Woman, who knows about such things, became instantly suspicious.

“How does a private person get their hands on Botox when it can only be administered by a doctor?” was her first comment. Followed by, “She’s putting the injections in all the wrong places.”

I’m not a medical professional, but I added my own two cents’ worth with this astute observation: “That kid’s way too chubby to be a beauty queen.”

And now the TMZ website has revealed the woman was hired by an English tabloid to play the part of a needle-waving nutjob because, with both Elvis and Jesus having the week off, the paper needed something – anything! – on the cover to boost sales.

The American press – including those serious news outlets who should have known better (it’s a British tabloid, people!) – picked up on the story and soon thereafter, as mentioned above, even those of us in the backwaters of the South Pacific were left shaking our respective heads at this mommy madness.

Despite the blatant red flags, there was one factor that added a smidgeon of truth to this story: it happened in America.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not a Yank basher. My favourite hockey team is in the States. Las Vegas is like a second home to me. I practically have a Starbucks tattoo on my arse. I’m a big Bruce Springsteen fan. Apple pie and hotdogs? Bring ’em on! Although maybe not at the same time.

But, face it, if something crazy or silly or over the top – like, oh, say, setting the Koran on fire – happens, the odds are good the event will have happened in the good ol’ US of A.

Viking Woman and I lived in the States for the better part of two years. We quickly found that being a resident is very different from being a visitor. As Canadians, we’d always assumed there wasn’t a whole lot of difference between Canucks and our American cousins. If we were all dogs, say, Canucks would be the trusty Labrador while Americans would be pit bulls. With guns. But still the same species, right?

Uh, no.

All those OTT characters you see on TV and in the movies? They’re not fiction, people. They really exist.

If we walked into a government office and the woman on the other side of the counter was a plus size and sporting four-inch fake fingernails, we knew we could expect two things: a big dose of attitude and a long wait.

Which is why our first reaction after the Botox Mom story aired on the evening news was this: “Only in America.”

Were we sucked in by the story? Yes, to a degree. Are we surprised that it has now been revealed to be false? Not really.

Then again, I did read the follow-up story on the Internet, not the most reliable of information sources. And TMZ is an American website. Which leads me to conclude that this may not be over yet.

Won’t get fooled again? Yeah, right.

I need to buy a raincoat.

That thought was prompted not so much by the fact winter is now stalking Napier but, rather, by the news that porn films are about to be released in 3D.

Most people, at least publicly, denounce porn (aka “adult entertainment”) as the devil’s cinema, despite the fact that, from what I can see, there is very little evidence of idle hands. Most hands – and other assorted appendages – always appear to be quite busy, in fact.

I know, I know: Porn is disgusting and perverted and just plain dirty. Porn – like Barbie dolls – makes us feel inadequate about our own bodies.

OK, that last part I do agree with. I can imagine some poor bastard staring at the screen of his laptop then looking down into his own lap and doing a lot of heavy sighing and shaking of his head.

In reality, porn has been a friend to technology. A friend with benefits, mind you, but a friend nonetheless.

In the early days of home video machines, there were millions of naysayers who could not see the sense in buying an expensive VHS player and all those bulky tapes when you could simply trot off to your neighbourhood cinema if you wanted to watch a film. A movie collection? Why bother when they’re all on TV.

And then porn was released on video and suddenly home entertainment took on a whole new meaning.

The same with the Internet.

“You want information, sonny? Buy a newspaper or go to the library. You wanna talk to your friends? That’s why they invented the telephone, fer cryin’ out loud. What’s that you say? You can watch nekkid people doing what? You’d better show me this filth you’ve been looking at. And don’t tell your mother.”

And now, because the adult film industry has never been known to just lie there and let others take advantage of it, the decision to flog its wares in 3D was only natural.

In a time when nearly every movie being screened at a theatre near you is in 3D, I have to admit to not having a lot of experience with the format. I tend to watch most of my movies these days via DVD and, until they perfect 3D TV (and make them a whole lot cheaper), I will remain firmly rooted in the old-school world of two dimensions.

Years ago, however, I did view one of the Friday the 13th movies (I’m going to take a wild stab and say it was Part 3) while wearing those silly cardboard glasses. And I’ve sat through a couple of Imax films where I was amazed to find myself RIGHT THERE.

Some of those movies have gone beyond the visual and actually added the physical aspect to the experience. If a villain shoved a gun in the hero’s back, something in my seat jabbed me at the same time. If the cameras took me down a river on a rubber raft, I too was sprayed with water so I felt I was right there running those same rapids.

Some object or another was always poking straight out of the screen and threatening to impale me.

Which brings me back to 3D porn. You see where I’m going with this, right? Because I’m thinking the term “coming attraction” is about to take on a whole new meaning.

That’s why I’m signing off now and heading to The Warehouse. I hear there’s a sale on raincoats. I may just buy two.

As much as I hate to keep harping on about the year I just spent in the Cook Islands – “Yes, John, you are a lucky dog. And, yes, we are all soooo envious.” – the time Viking Woman and I spent apart did open my eyes to one very crucial aspect of our married life. After nearly 18 years together, we are – in small bursts, at least – actually quite incompatible.

As you can well imagine, it is rather a shock to the system to discover that we are not, after all these years, a perfect match. In fact, we disagree on several things. And by things I mean the TV shows we prefer to watch. For instance, I enjoy reality shows. Viking Woman, on the other hand, would rather stare into the sun than tally the votes.

See what I mean? Totally not made for each other.

I could have saved myself 18 Christmas presents and thousands of faked hugs if I’d only known this from the very beginning.

In the event I ever find myself single again – which might be sooner than later at this rate – and so as to avoid enduring another bout of abject heartbreak, I’ve put together a short list of questions to pose to prospective dates.

The idea is cut to the chase, to verify immediately whether I’d be wasting our time and my money trying to impress someone I will later want to convince to sail on an oil tanker off the coast of Somalia.

Men, feel free to adapt this quiz to your own studly personalities and cute little quirks.

1. Name all 30 NHL teams. (Hint: The response of “What’s an NHL?” will be judged an automatic fail. We are done here. Bye-bye.)

2. Which of the following NHL teams’ logos would look best tattooed on your lower back?

a) Detroit Red Wings; b) Detroit Red Wings; c) Detroit Red Wings.

3. If I’m trying to pull your sweater over your head, what am I doing? (Hint: “Initiating foreplay,” is not the answer. Sorry. The door is that way; you can let yourself out.)

4. List the following reality shows in order of preference:

a) Survivor; b) Survivor; c) Survivor.

5. What do you see when you look at a back yard?

a) lawns and flowerbeds; b) asphalt and ball hockey; c) a Jacuzzi and all your hot girlfriends indulging in European-style tanning.

6. If a man fall asleep after sex, do you think:

a) I wore him out because I’m pretty much an insatiable mink; b) he’s just recharging his batteries for our next bout of lovemaking; c) he’s bored, I should go, and, uh, how do I get my knickers off his head without waking him?

7. Which of the following would you print on your T-shirt?

a) “Disco sucks!”; b) “Rap sucks!”; c) “Country music sucks!”; d) “Rock’n’roll rules! (Hint: This might be a trick question. I said might.)

8. If a man’s snoring disturbs your sleep, do you:

a) smile in the knowledge he is instinctively reverting to the caveman’s sure-fire method for defending his family; b) shove your icy feet against the small of his back and hiss into his ear, “Wake up, dildo breath. Sabretooth tigers have been extinct for a million years.”

9. Is Meat Loaf:

a) the greatest rock opera singer in the history of the universe; b) a sneaky and devious method for disposing of leftovers.

10. Which Bruce Springsteen song is your all-time favourite?

a) all of them, in which case I am going to marry you right now, this very instant; b) none of them, in which case I’m going to need you to hand over your share of the cab fare right now, this very instant.

 And there you have it. Ten simple questions. Ten simple answers. Pure genius, right? Because we all know, when it comes to men, it’s all about being simple.

One of our neighbours likes to kick a soccer ball around the street while topless.

Under normal circumstances I might be too busy gawking to blog about this event except for the fact said neighbour is, as it turns out, male.

His name is Daniel and, if I tend to roll my eyes in disgust at his near-nude gambolling, Viking Woman and her fellow members of the Main Street chapter of the Women Who Wine Society have been known to become instantly transfixed by this fellow’s lewd antics.

Their knees grow weak, their eyes swell to saucer-like proportions, their verbal skills are reduced to little more than long sighs, and, for some strange reason, their breathing resembles gasping.

Frankly, I don’t see the attraction. Oh, I suppose, in the right light and on a good day, Daniel might be considered somewhat attractive. If, you know, one appreciates men who are darkly exotic in that fandango-inducing way South American men – in this case, Chilean – tend to be.

Fortunately, Daniel is also a nice fellow, a good neighbour and a loving husband and father. Otherwise, I’d have to dismember him and bury the assorted parts under the nikau palm in our back garden.

I’m pretty sure Viking Woman is winding me up when she goes all Lady Ga-Ga extolling the virtues of Daniel’s hairless, chiselled torso. After all, it’s not like I haven’t admired the occasional female form in my time. Of course, being a man, I’m not as choosy as Viking Woman and her cohorts, who seem to require a certain degree of perfection before their blood begins to bubble.

I’m more old-school in terms of what attracts me: Does she have a pulse? Yes? Then she’ll do.

Yes, I’m almost positive this is all good-natured ribbing, designed to keep us veterans of the marriage wars on our toes. After all, when it comes right down to it, the essential difference between Daniel and myself is that he has a job. Put a paycheque in my hand and we’d pretty much be twins.

That was my thought process until yesterday, when Viking Woman returned from a quick visit next door. I knew something was up because her cheeks were flushed a slight crimson and she was having a very hard time concealing a very large grin.

“What’s up with you?” I asked, in that annoyed-but-concerned tone husbands employ.

“Daniel just told me I’m looking good these days,” she replied.



Whenever Viking Woman tells me I’m a truly talented writer, I shrug off the compliment and inform her wives and mothers are supposed to say things like that, which is why I tend not to put much weight in her opinion. Needless to say, she is never happy to be the object of my shrugs.

Apparently that rule of thumb does not work both ways, however. For example, I have informed my wife on several occasions that she is a beautiful specimen of all that is female. Most of the time she simply points to her ear and then carries on mowing the lawn.

But now Daniel – he of the sculpted abs and dusky charm and perfect smile – says the very same thing and suddenly she is struck giddy? Like his opinion is more important than mine?

Well, well: isn’t that interesting.

The very next time some sweet young thing informs me how much she enjoys my skills as an alchemist – how I transform words into emotions – I’m going to turn to Viking Woman and flash her one of those ‘it-works-both-ways-baby’ looks.

I’m sure she’ll understand. But I’m going to duck and cover anyway, just in case something is lost in translation.

This may be difficult for you to comprehend, but journalism is so much more than free lunches and signing autographs for adoring font bunnies.

We journalists don’t like to make a big deal out of it, but the truth is that hours of research go into every story. Or sometimes just minutes, depending on the speed of your Internet connection.

My own research has seen me spend an entire weekend stuffed into a car with cheerleaders. OK, I was driving them to a tournament, but the car was full. And they were cheerleaders. And I did write about them. And then had to go through the entire process again the next season when a whole new crop joined the squad. We’re talking long hours of intense scrutiny here, folks.

Then there was the time I spent 14 hours at the side of a hotdog vendor outside a supermarket. So I could write a story about the day in the life of a, well, hotdog vendor. This is what I learned: Yes, you can eat too many hotdogs. And, no, you do not want to know what goes into them.

It was this dedication to ferreting out the facts — and the obvious success of my Daily Photo Project — that had me contemplating doing a Daily New Zealand Ice Cream Taste Test. This would see me personally sample every flavour of ice cream produced in this nifty little country, and report back on their degree of yumminess.

Unfortunately — or fortunately, depending whether or not you are the part of my body in charge of producing insulin — a job offer to return to the Cook Islands meant this projet melted into a puddle of not-gonna-happen before I could even make a decent start. As it turned out, all I managed to sample are the flavours pictured on this page. They are a mere flick of the tongue compared to the mouthful of Scrumptious Delight I had planned to serve up each day.

I like ice cream. Unfortunately, like its sister — the dark, sultry siren known as Chocolate — ice cream makes my clothes shrink. But that is the price a true journalist like myself is willing to pay.

I also like things in my ice cream. Which is why Fudge Chunks and Chips is my first choice at Baskin Robbins. Which is why Cookies’n’Cream and Goody Goody Gumdrops send shivers down my back even as they freeze my brain.

Now this project will have to wait until I return from Rarotonga. Actually, it was while living in Raro that Viking Woman and I had our first taste of New Zealand ice cream. The little shop next to our house stocked Magnum bars and they quickly grew adept at whispering our names every time we passed the freezer.

We became hooked; we needed a daily fix. You know that scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark, the one where Indiana Jones reaches back for his fedora just as the stone wall is about to drop into place? That was us one night, pretty much sliding in under the roller door on our bellies as the shopgirl was trying to close the place. Junkies do those sorts of things . . . and then later refer to it as research.

What makes New Zealand ice cream so much better than anything else in the world? I don’t really know. Maybe there’s less pollution here. Maybe it’s the whole GE-free attitude. Maybe there is such a thing as a contented cow.

All I know is that I’m grateful for the texture and the taste and the extra layer of fat that will keep me warm come winter. In fact, since I’m pretty much finished packing, I’m going to head to the nearest paddock and bestow a great big thank-you hug on a cow. I’m going to choose a chunky one.