Planking Equation: Plonkers+Wankers=?


plank–noun  1. a long, flat piece of timber, thicker than a board…From Old Norman French planke,  from Late Latin planca  board, from plancus  flat-footed; probably related to Greek plax  flat surface.”

In days of yore and naval gore an active aquatic pastime involving planks was walking one, usually with the encouragement of ill-dressed, one-eyed pirates with dodgy parrots, before taking a terminal plunge. There were few encores.

In recent times this jolly  tradition was almost revived by Don Brash, with the encouragement of the paparazzi, when he was National Party leader tasked with reviving the Party after the efforts of the patient English.

Whether or not the Don paid his sub before he became leader of that party he almost needed a sub to rescue him when he came close to plunging into the Wellington briny while alighting from a small craft in a publicity shoot. His lack of PR prowess on the prow (and stern demeanour) were only surpassed by his failure to get his leg over a stock car on another public publicity occasion. 

Some say he should have stuck to the sharemarket or worked through a stock broker, but that is just speculation. 

The new more passive pastime is planking-which involves somebody lying flat on their stomach in unusual or different environments. The interior of collapsed rugby scrums doesn’t count.

Some natural born planking afficionados are as thick as two planks to start with, as their Plunket nurses no doubt discerned at the start of their planking careers. Others with late onset inert horizontal aspirations only turn into plankers after too much plonk. 

Australian Idle
“I stepped from Plank to Plank  A slow and cautious way”… Emily Dickinson.

Planking is a burgeoning internet craze that has attracted thousands of fans right across Australia, though one of Emily’s compatriots, Snoopy*,  may have started the whole business. Yes, a doggone dog!

A kind of Australian Idle, the non-activity is definitely non-Dickinsonian non-cautious and non-vertical. It can also be lethal. Recently a young man plunged to his death after planking on a seventh-storey balcony in Brisbane. He was trying to lie face down on the balcony railing of his apartment when he suddenly and sadly fell.

Photographs of planking exploits are usually shared through social media sites such as Facebook and Off-Your-Facebook.

There should be a Special Darwin Award for Aussie plankers. As you know, in the spirit of Charles Darwin, the Darwin Awards commemorate individuals who protect the human gene pool by making the ultimate sacrifice of their own lives.*

Darwin Award winners don’t need unreality judges to give them their final marching orders; they eliminate themselves in a variety of extraordinarily idiotic ways, thereby improving the chances of the long-term survival of our species, the overall prospects of which have improved a bit after the scheduled Camping holiday on 21 May failed to get off the ground.*

Kiwis are now closing the planking gap with Australia. It will need quite a few decent sized planks, end to end, to span the Tasman but it will be a more popular walkway and cycleway than some others that have been mooted in high places. It will also bring down the cost of emigration.

Despite earlier assertions to the contrary (what was that ghostly chuckle?) there is no evidence, at least on this side of the Tasman,  of any positive effects on the respective collective IQ in both countries. As all  Kiwi educators except James Flynn will attest, there is no such thing as IQ and anyway, if there were, there aren’t any national standards to measure it, or of there are, we’re not going to use them.  Unless we have to.

Pranks not Planks
“In true education, anything that comes to our hand is as good as a book: the prank of a page- boy, the blunder of a servant, a bit of table talk – they are all part of the curriculum.”  Michel de Montaigne  

My student generation eschewed planks in favour of pranks. A legendary Capping Week stunt at Canterbury College in the late 1950s, just before my time,  involved a  team of innocent workmen digging up Victoria Street in order to lay some new infrastructure.

A student made two phone calls, the first to the police to say that a gang of students was digging up the road as a Capping stunt; the second to the employers of the workmen, to say that a bunch of students dressed as police were about to descend on the unsuspecting labourers. When the real gendarmes confronted the real navvies the result was class warfare, approaching trench warfare, on a ferocity scale unprecedented since the Great War 40 years earlier.

Cap that! It’s just a shame that YouTube wasn’t around to capture the stoush for posterity.

*Blinks!/TheOriginalSnoopyPlankingPage   Planking clothing-doubles as funeral attire

#Lyall Lukey 24 May 2011 My other (bit more serious) blog 



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