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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 10, No. 13. September 24, 1947

For Highbrows Only

For Highbrows Only

They got a Lit'ry Society at the University so I goes along to a meetin' an' I 'ears some bloke talkin' about writin' in New Zealand.

'E's all gloom an' 'e says a writin' cove can't make a livin' 'ere not no 'ow, an' th', great New Zealand novel ain't been wrote yet an' th' only man 'e knows wot depends on writin' for a livin' lives with some cabbages in a pair of denims be'ind a 'edge.

An' I can't figure this out at all, at all. Then I finds 'e's talkin' about writin' for th' Intelli, intelli—Th' superior blokes wot 'ave 'ad a lot of eddykashun. "Igh brow chaps.

So I puts in me spoke an' saz yu' can make a livin' writin' in New Zealand if yu' write fer th' people an' don't worry 'bout th' 'telllgensia.

An' 'e sez but that means writin' tripe. An' I sez it's better to write tripe an' eat than write for th' clever blokes an' go 'ungry.

An" then th' lit'ry blokes get to talkin' of this an' that an' 'ow bad th' soppy stuff 1S an' I get to wonderin' if they've ever tried writin' it an' found it ain't easy 'cos I know it ain't easy seein' ag 'ow I 'ad a shot at doin' a love yarn an' I get th' boy and th" girl kissin' somethin' beaotiful at th' end jus' like yu' oughto but th' editor bloke I send it to sends it right back with a "I'm sorry but—" note.

Then th' lecturer chap said if yu' wanna make good go west, young man, go west, 'cos there's a bigger' better market in th' Old Dart an' a book won't sell more'n 2,000 if it's printed 'ere an' that ain't enough to buy cheese for a mouse trap but if it's printed on the other side it'll sell 60,000 an' that's enough for a sweet at th' Savoy.

So I sez wot yu' want is population. Get more people 'ere an' you'll sell more books.

But 'e looks self-conscious like an' sez there oughta be a Gov'ment grant to local writers an' they want to get together an' mix with other writers an' arty folk which they can't do 'ere anyway.

An' gettin' together an' havin' a few drinks gives 'em uplift an' helps 'em to do more work better. An' if yu' subsidise 'em long enough yer'll get a genius in th' end an' that'll be worth all the subsidies you've paid because if yu' 'adn't paid th' subsidies 'e'd 'ave 'ad to work 'is 40 hours same as you an' me an' so 'e wouldn't 'ave 'ad time to be a genius.

An' I don't know as 'ow I agree but I don't say nothin'. I'm thinkin' of the night I went to th' Black Cat Club, see. It's near Piccadilly this Black Cat Club an' there's a lot of writers an' artists there an' black men dancin' with white women but I don't see nobody gettin' no uplift.

An' then 'e sez someone oughto go to th' Continent an' write a book about New Zealanders eatin'. But I can't see as 'ow it's unusual to be eatin.

An' it's a poor show, th' bloke sez, that we get our kulture from Blighty an' read about nightin' gales we'll never see an' cuckoos we'll never 'ear. An' why can't we 'ave a lit'rature of our own an' be paid for it. An' once they've 'ad a story or two off of yu' editors won't take no more 'cos they're tired of seein' yer name in print. An' th' meetin's all mis'ry an' woe an' there ain't no justice an' yu' can't write in New Zealand an' you'll starve if yu' do.

An' I listens to these eddykated blokes an' I makes up me mind I ain't never goin' to write nothin'. I don't wanna live be'ind no 'edge with some cabbages in denims.