I don’t know

May 5, 2008

There’s a Scottish comedian (Danny Bhoy) who was through New Zealand a couple of years ago and did a nice piece on the Kiwi way of life. My favourite bit was hearing him talk about the way Kiwis say “I don’t know.”

Not only don’t you know, he says, but you don’t know why you don’t know.

“I don’t know!”

You have to imagine it being spoken by a Scots Indian chap putting on a bad New Zild accent. (I can’t find it on YouTube so you will actually have to imagine it. Revolutionary, I know. It’ll never catch on).

There are plenty of things I didn’t know including anything at all about Colin Murdoch who died this week aged 79.

According to The Timaru Herald, Colin was one of those quiet Kiwi inventors who changed the world but didn’t tell anyone.

No, not by flying first and dying in the attempt.

From the Herald:

Colin Murdoch, 79, the creator of the disposable syringe, the tranquilliser gun, the childproof bottle cap and the silent burglar alarm died yesterday after a long battle with cancer.

Murdoch was born in Christchurch, but for more than 50 years lived in South Canterbury.

Holy Crap! The disposable syringe! Can you imagine what modern medicine would be like without that? Seriously. And the childproof bottle cap. I’m assuming it’s the press-down-to-turn type that lock so many hangover sufferers out of a bottle of aspirin. Nice one, Colin.

And what spy movie would be complete without someone getting shot with a tranquiliser dart? He invented it. Seriously.

How is it that so many good stories like this go untold in New Zealand? How can the man who invented the disposable syringe manage to not get talked about constantly on the telly and live quietly in Canterbury for half a century?

I know, the easy answer is: “The Listener thinks your science column is too pro-science” but that’s like shooting fish in a barrel really.

This place amazes me.


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