Lyndon Hood: 'The Member of Tamaki Makaurau'
'The Member of Tamaki Makaurau'
By Lyndon Hood
Some time ago, on the discount table at Cash Converters, I came across a handwritten manuscript of great age (unfortunately I've lost the receipt). Looking over what was still legible - the paper has unfortunately been chewed over continuously by a variety of creatures - it became obvious that I was looking at one of the lost plays of William Shakespeare, titled 'The Member of Tamaki Makaurau'.
While the text is fragmentary, careful reading has allowed me to extrapolate much of the plot, although I remain unsure in what era, or what place, the action is set. The work deals with the timeless theme of Redemption, and I can say without fear of contradiction that it is as relevant today as when it was first written.
Note that, while Elizabethan drama is traditionally presented in a five-act structure, I do not follow that format here. Given the state of things, I cannot tell if any internal divisions I perceive are real, or simply a product of the mess things are in.
It is clear that at the beginning of the piece the protagonist (I hesitate to say 'hero' with so little evidence) has, through some utterance prompted by a combination of circumstance and his harmatia (character flaw), offended the powers that be. This might be compared to the position of Cordelia in the first act of 'King Lear'.
Much of this guesswork, as the front pages are however in terrible condition. One thing I can say is that variations on the word "handshake" appear with surprising regularity.
The first fragment of any length is from a later scene, set on a "long road". The exiled protagonist rails against his treatment while his faithful companion, D'Over, encourages him back towards a return to the fold with a number of remarks that are frankly cryptic:
Tami. What must I do? They're yet unsatisfied. Sick I am, of this culture of victimhood 'Boo hoo, my parents died in the gas chambers' Enough's enough, get over it already!
D'Over Faith, come in from the cold, nuncle, lest thy red blood turn blue; wouldst thou be taken for a kind of queen? Marry not thy son to a horse: be friendful.
Tami. What's said is said, and cannot be unsaid.
Through various adventures, however, he learns humility and self-control. In one case, when he calls a pack of wild dogs “utterly and totally useless. And sychophantic” they immediately begin to harry and bite him, barking loudly all the while so that all the people are made aware of his plight. These people then wittily mock him.
By the time the dogs have driven him back to where he began he has seen the error in all his opinions and is ready to sincerely repent.
Through some kind of arcane trick, the leader calls the dogs off "Tami" and instead several attack "Wishart" (who appears to be some kind of comic villian). She then sets the stage for his forgiveness, controlling the action with the help of a magical servant who, though clever, is without physical substance. Parts of the text suggest that this servant is in the form of a duck.
Incidentally, the leader's name, "Helen", is my best clue as to the setting of the play: I'm tentatively putting it in the Greek mythic period, around the fall of Troy.
Helen Carter, come forth. Have you wronged this man?
Tami. I have, my Lady.
Helen Then to restore his honour, When we've done, take him hence and marry him. Heather, look you see that it be done.
Tami. I'll freely do your will; and with good grace.
Helen And of these others you have so maligned, Who thought themselves compatriot of you, What say you now to them?
Tami. I truly say, That I repent me now for what I said.
Helen And are you sorry but that you were caught?
Tami. No, more.
Helen That you spoke thus?
Tami. That, and still more. I repent of what I said for it was wrong, And bad of me to think so too. With all my life, I seek to serve your party, and will die A member of it too.
Mall. Shall we test This offer, Lady? May I kill him?
In the end, a redeemed "Tami" is allowed to live and, perhaps as a symbol of that he is accepted again, Helen's deputy ceremonially presents him with a toothbrush. All go off in general rejoicing to celebrate the wedding.
Helen then speaks an epilogue to the effect that since she has done so well, she will carry on running things until she is forced to stop. At that point the audience is expected to clap loudly.
I have had great trouble getting this manuscript authenticated. The last academic I presented it to insisted that the bit with the total, abject apology and resilement just wasn't 'credible'. I mean really - it's Shakespeare. It isn't supposed to be credible. It's not like it's real life.
MEANWHILE, AT THE LABOUR CAUCUS MEETING TODAY...
John Tamihere: I'm really, really sorry.
Chris Carter: John, you've been going around abusing your workmates.
J.T.: I thought it was off the record. I'm sorry.
C.C.: Are you sorry because of what you did or sorry because you got in trouble?
J.T.: I'm sorry because of what I said.
C.C.: Did you mean it?
J.T.: I said it.
C.C.: Aaand ... ?
J.T.: I'm sorry I think you're a tosser.
Steve Maharey: And what about me?
J.T.: I'm sorry you're smarmy.
S.M.: I don't really think that's going to be enough to win back the support of your colleagues. After all, your behaviour...
J.T.: What's that? Is someone talking?
Michael Cullen: Now, look...
J.T.: Oh, not you too. I actually did take that one back. I meant it too. Seriously. Look, I brought my toothbrush and everything.
M.C.: Let's look at some of this in context. For example, when you said you could sleep comfortably with Don Brash in charge, I expect you meant that in the same way that it's easy to fall asleep when he's making a speech. Isn't that right?
J.T.: Yeah. Isn't that right, David?
Helen Clark: Look, we're going to censure you.
J.T.: Aww, jeez! I said I was sorry. What do I have to do, beat myself? Would you like to see that, Chris? Why can't you just move on? I'm sick and tired of this culture of victimhood! Boo hoo hoo, my parents died in the gas chambers. Enough already! Look, bottom line is, I'll die a member of the Labour Party...
S.M.: Don't tempt me.
J.T.: ...and I promise it won't get blow up out of all proportion next time I slag off fellow party members.
H.C.: Stop crying, we're still going to censure you.
J.T.: You can't censure me! My supporters will rise up and prevent this injustice! Won't we lads!
So what's this censure thing, then?
H.C.: Come here. Closer. BAD boy. DON'T do it AGAIN.
H.C.: Let that be a lesson to you. Now go back to your holiday.