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Leavin' on a jet plane | Sep 09, 2005 09:44

Well, Europe beckons and after the weekend we leave for two months traipsing around France and Italy. And it can't come soon enough. If I hear Winston Peters tell me one more time just what bad shape this country is in I'll go spare.

He used the word "tragedy" about a dozen times with Linda Clark yesterday. It sounded like a Shakespeare lecture.

There is nothing like a bit of distance to put this country in perspective: by being overseas from time to time I have missed major shifts in public opinion and illuminating political events such as Dover Samuels pissing in a hotel hallway.

And when I come back things seem pretty much the same: every woman on Queen St is wearing black, Dave Dobbyn is winning awards and some opposition politician is telling me how shitty things are.

Well, maybe.

Things here are difficult for thousands of people, but frankly I wouldn't trust the Nats and whoever wants to get into bed with them (with the inevitable consequences) of being the ones to put things to right.

So we will vote before we go, but I'm glad we held off long enough to hear Winston's post-election position. I really, really wanted to know that one . . . before I laughed aloud.

That Peter Dunne seems like a nice chap though, doesn't he? Like a cat, he's loyal to whomever feeds him. Or offers him a cup of tea before 270 journalists and photographers.

Dr Brash's inability to articulate his own policies -- or even know what they are -- would seem to be a liability (if he was medical doctor would you trust the prescriptions he wrote?) but apparently not for a significant number of people.

And now we have the mysterious Stepford Seven!

Bah, humbug -- and bullshit most of it.

Maybe when we are in London we'll see a report about the result but I won't be looking for it. I figure I'll know soon enough, and maybe by the time we get home in November the jostling for position will be done. And we won't have had to know anything about the cat fighting.

You can go off people, and I've gone off pretty much the whole lot of them. The lolly scramble and profligacy with promises from Labour made me depressed. I need to escape to Bordeaux and beyond.

So this might be the last blog for a while, although if I am caught in a bombing in London, an apartment fire in Paris or an election riot in Berlin I'll be sure to find an internet café and report on the doings.

So in signing off I'd just like to reply to some of the comments re. the Alternative Nation series of satires. First, for satire to work I think it needs to be grounded in some recognisable reality -- and then that reality to be stretched.

I seem to have been too good at the reality part: many people wrote in utter disbelief that Helen Clark would say that lying to Parliament was a minor matter, and that Don Brash would publish the names of bureaucrats whose jobs he was going to axe in order to cut public expenditure.

Some people believed there was a Grievance Industry Council and that Linda "I mean" Clark had actually interviewed its head (AltNation5)

I was told off after AltNation7 -- the parody of Joanne Black's Listener column. Someone said that just because I had obtained an early copy of it was no reason to run such shit. Others from within that very magazine said it was better than the one they were running that week.

Oh, and there is no separatist party (AltNation8) pushing for Auckland to secede from the rest of the country. The Auckland Region Separate Economic Zone? Think about it.

Some things seem to have hit the mark.

On a Monday I posted AltNation4 about Gerry Brownlee being missing in action -- and the following Saturday Michelle Hewitson's interview with him appeared following up that very point.

And the day after Altnation10 in which I had Winston Peters railing against the wilful misrepresentation of his position by the media the man did that very rant. But better.

In that one I also linked the braying of the studio audience for the leaders' "debate" (the disgrace with Mark Sainsbury as circus master) with New Zealand Idol. I was pleased to hear one of National Radio's "resident wits" making the same analogy. Small minds think alike.

What genuinely worried me was how many people believed the outrageous, racist, and downright stupid statement I put into politicians mouths. Isn't that just a little scary? That so many people thought they were plausible?

There is no virtue in being first sometimes: I wrote a satirical piece for the Herald which ran with the headline "Leaders debate a revealing train wreck of a discussion". That was in July 2002.

After the one about God (AltNation11) someone wrote and asked, "Is this shit meant to be funny?"

I replied, "others have found it so" and left it at that.

Many of you did so I thank you sincerely for taking the time to write (I have tried to reply to you all), and also those who appreciated the last post about New Orleans, a tragedy of such immensity I think we still don't get it.

So that's me for a bit. I'm off to pick up travel stories as and where I can, maybe for a follow-up to my modestly priced, highly readable collection Postcards From Elsewhere which has had some very generous reviews -- and is available through (watch the ad top right of the homepage) along with the Great New Zealand Argument and fellow blogger David Slack's excellent book Civil War and Other Optimistic Predictions.

I was going to do a satirical piece about polls, but I can't be arsed. The papers are doing a fine job of reporting that nonsense anyway. And I did like what Peter Dunne (I think it was him, some minor leader anyway) said about their poor showing the other day: "That doesn't tally with our polling."

That figures.

And what's up with sports broadcaster Tony Veitch? Hasn't that yappy boy got a problem, and is no one prepared to say what it is? And Martin Devlin on the survivors in New Orleans saying "send them to Iraq"?

It's enough to make you run screaming to an airport.

Righto, outta here. It's a long way to London. I hope they don't show any movies with that god awful Goldie Hawn.

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