Sunday, September 28, 2008

"Margaret Mahy tells of drink-drive shame"

A wee while ago, I posted about Margaret Mahy's arrest for drink driving.

In the following article which appeared in this weekend's Sunday News Margaret, one of New Zealand's writing greats, takes what I thought was a very cavalier attitude to the situation.

Would she be quite so flippant if she had hit a small child or a pregnant woman, not a parked car?

Let me know what you think.


Margaret Mahy tells of drink-drive shame
By JONATHAN MARSHALL - Sunday News | Sunday, 28 September 2008

National treasure and world-famous children's book author Margaret Mahy has spoken of her shame at the most embarrassing chapter in her long and successful life.

Mahy, 72, was more than twice the legal alcohol limit after she drove into a parked vehicle at Christchurch on a Sunday morning in April.

"This is something in my life I am really ashamed of," said Mahy from her Canterbury home last week.

"I have had a career with some good patches. This wasn't good, though, because someone could have been hurt."

The Christchurch District Court heard how Mahy recorded 170mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood.

The legal limit is 80mg.

Judge Raoul Neave disqualified the writer, who since the 1970s has written almost 50 books and holds the Order of New Zealand, from driving for six months and ordered her to pay a $600 fine.

A careless driving charge was withdrawn and Mahy, beloved for such classics as Lion in the Meadow and The Seven Chinese Brothers, paid reparation to the owners of the car she hit and another parked in front of it.

Speaking exclusively to Sunday News and for the first time since her court appearance, Mahy said she made no excuses for her behaviour but she now understood the reason for her predicament at 9.40am on April 20.

"Nothing was going on except I did have a drink that morning before I set off but, really, what put the level up was apparently because I had been drinking the night before," Mahy said. "I've been told the alcohol can carry through to the next day, but I didn't feel that drunk or anything.

"I was driving along Hackthorne Rd and I blacked out, simple as that."

Asked if she had a drinking problem, Mahy replied: "Well obviously when you black out and everything like that, you do have a drinking problem.

"I don't think things are really too bad, though.

"This was just one of those stupid occasions. I don't usually drink in the morning, I almost never do that. It was just that I was in a bit of a rush on my way to the airport."

Mahy said she regretted the incident and was looking forward to moving on.

"Well look, goodness gracious me. I was at fault and when you've been around a long time and are reasonably well known, that makes the news and you can't afford to be too precious."

At the time of the author's court appearance, a spokeswoman for publisher Harper Collins said the incident showed a "single, solitary lapse of judgment".

"We would ask she is judged on her life's work rather than one single incident," said publishing manager Lorain Day.

"She has our unconditional support as a wonderful author whose work continues to bring magic and wonder into the lives of millions of children."

In 2006, Mahy received the Hans Christian Andersen Award for a "lasting contribution to children's literature". Her novels have been translated into German, French, Spanish, Dutch, Norwegian, Danish, Swedish, Finnish, Italian, Japanese, Catalan, Afrikaans, Russian, Mandarin and Icelandic.


Heather said...

I like her attitude, she has shown regret and taken full responsibility but really, this wasnt just a wee touch over the limit (which I could have accepted/understood).

a cat of impossible colour said...

Why did they bother listing what languages her books have been translated into? What a bizarre end to the article.

But that's beside the point. I too thought that she had rather a cavalier attitude to her offence - my dad was killed in a car accident with a drunk driver, so I find it hard to make allowances in situations like these.