Someone wrote in the other day querying if this column was written by myself or by ghost writers.

Surely if I was a figment of others’ imaginations then I would know.

It would be completely hypocritical to simply dismiss this theory. There is a professional duty to at least ponder this assertion.

So that’s how it started – like all good conspiracy theories I got thinking. Or at the very least, other people started thinking and then used 5G mobile technology to transmit those thoughts directly into my imaginary brain.

It is 5am and the coffee hasn’t kicked in yet, so that seems quite plausible.


The devil in the detail

So how do I know if there is any substance to this theory?

I’ve received quite a few emails in the last couple of years from those with theories outside the mainstream. At least I think I have.

The main thing I have learned from these is that the grammatical errors increase in proportion to the size of the theory.

Here is one from this week from one of those joint emails that some couples use – completely unedited.

“It is all I can do to stop laughing at the latest news phoned to me this morning – “The virus” is in waste water!!!!! Really – fancy that being able to be detected In thousands of litres of water, absolute rubbish. According to what I read viruses “die off rapidly in waster water”. Just another TOOL to get the braindead to stick their arms out for poison that they don’t even know what is in it.”

I don’t know what “waster water” is, but I do know they test sewage to check the extent of drug use in various communities. Maybe that’s it.

Chillingly, the person who sparked my existential crisis – Peter – has very good grammar and solid reasoning.

The thing is I simply don’t remember dying and becoming a ghost writer, although come to think of it I have come close a few times.


It’s all downhill

The first near death experience happened on the way down the Mount Hutt Ski Area access road about 25 years ago.

There were 28 of us on board this old Bedford bus, mostly from the social club at the Christchurch flour mill that my friend worked at.

Not long into our journey down the mountain, and in a matter-of-fact way, the driver says: “We’ve lost the brakes.” Confirmation of that outrageous statement came immediately as we picked up speed down the mountain, gears grinding and protesting to no effect.

We were up high when we rounded a corner and stared down the road, along a ridge flanked by nothing but sky. There was 200 metres of that before the road disappeared over a 500-metre drop.

Seeing this, the driver simply swerved the bus into the last available bank, tipping it on its side and saving everyone on board. There were bumps and bruises and broken teeth, but no serious injuries.

My glasses were bent, my nose was cut from hitting the seat in front and there was a bruise on my head from falling the width of the bus, but I didn’t die. I’m pretty sure of it.


Breath of fresh air

The second near-death experience was entirely my own fault and gave me a good insight into the health resources that are required for a seriously ill Covid-19 patient.

This was 10 years ago, and I suffered from the twin problems of being addicted to cigarettes while also being an asthmatic. Not a great combination, especially when you add in a nasty chest cold.

After a few days of limited breathing, and as the cool Dunedin evening set in, it suddenly got very real. Oxygen deprivation is sneaky like that.

The ambulance arrived and as I was wheeled outside into the cool, everything went black. I woke up two days later.

And that’s what being on a respirator in an ICU is like. You are not aware of all the fuss. It’s just blackness – lost time. You either wake up or you don’t. It’s not until you start waking up that you start to dream again.

The resources that go into keeping one person alive in a state like that is quite humbling.

I know I’m not a ghost because a ghost wouldn’t have been addicted to nicotine patches for six months.

I’d also never pin my hopes on a conspiracy theory when it comes to matters of life and death.

Check your spelling.

Daniel Hutchinson
From The Hutch