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I can see it now | Oct 17, 2005 12:58

The first press-conference with the Rt Honorable Winston Peters in his new role as Minister of Foreign Affairs...

Mr Peters. You said you wouldn't go into coalition with Labour or National.

I never said that.

Well, you did.

Prove it.

Well I have the quote here from the newspaper.

I was misquoted. You media are all the same.

Mr Peters, I also have a video of you saying it.

That's not me.

Well it certainly looks like you.

Are you saying I don't know what I look like? That's pretty rich, coming from the media….

But aren't you in coalition now?

Well let me ask you a question - when they wanted to sell the BNZ, who kept them honest?

Um, I'm sorry, Mr Peters, what are you talking about?

Ex-actly. Very selective memory, haven't you, you media!

But you're the Minister of Foreign Affairs!

Are you sure about that?

Well. Um. Fairly sure.

Prove it.

Well, I have this letter agreeing to this interview, and it says "From the Office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs"… and at the bottom, see it says Rt Hon Winston Peters.

That's not my signature….

The question is why Labour is willing to shoot itself not only in the foot, but also in the shin, kneecaps and stomach in this manner? Are all the other cabs on the rank really that scody by comparison? Is the Maori Party a rusting Mitsubishi Galant with "East Auckland Discount Airport Taxis" handpainted on the side?

In dealing with New Zealand First, I dare say many Labour voters understand how New Zealand First voters felt in 1996 when Winston went with National. Disappointed is one word that springs to mind.

Interestingly, when I was in Wellington about six months ago, there was an interesting rumour circulating MFAT (amongst other places) that Winston's price for coalition either way was going to be the Foreign Affairs portfolio. Perhaps it was just something put about to scare MFAT employees into working harder (or voting Labour), but it seems to have some legs.

It's probably more likely Winston will end up with Associate Foreign Affairs - it's easier to be outside of cabinet then - but either way the Foreign Affairs portfolio is an obvious choice. It has a degree of respectability, there's bugger all chance he'll need to front on any tough issues (compared with say, police, health, education) and there's the opportunity for travel. Although I wouldn't be surprised if invitations weren't exactly forthcoming from Asia and the Middle East…

PS: Of course all this was written before the big announcement last night. But already I've started hearing interviews like the one above. Asked why he went back on his pre-election promise, Winston's answer is that the parties were split 57/57, with him as kingmaker.

So is he saying that in all the post-election scenarios he imagined when making his pre-election promise, none saw him holding the balance of power? It doesn't seem very likely.

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That won't be in the Herald on Sunday | Oct 13, 2005 08:40

I don't know whether it's the much-discussed cutbacks, or the "APN SUX" tattoo I short-sightedly got on my forehead last Christmas, but after a year I am now officially a former columnist for the Herald on Sunday.

Not a bad run, considering. I might be world-famous in cyber-New Zealand (joking), but I never perform particularly well in reader surveys, which seems to be how most editorial decisions are made these days. Not like that Kerre Woodham. She's so sassy.

On the positive side, it frees up one more evening each week for drinking - although I might have to switch from Asahi to something a little more modest. My poor student mate Hamish recommends Ranfurly Draught, which is apparently also the choice of sickness beneficiaries.

It will also be a weight off my mind. A weekly deadline where you can write on any topic - as long as it's kind of relevant - is difficult. Too much leeway. Any offers gratefully considered of course, but for the time being, pass me another Ranfurly.

And of course it means I can start blogging more regularly than I have. I've been a bit slack, and not that good David kind either. Sorry about that.

If the mild jet lag caused by daylight savings has taught me anything, it's that summer can't be too far away. Yes, this rainy wintery thing is what we call Spring. And so, with thoughts of long hot days frolicking on the wild West Coast (Piha, not Greymouth) I've decided to up my gym attendance. Which isn't as hard as it sounds, given that the gym and I haven't been on speaking terms for most of winter. I won't bore you with the details, but let's just say it was a little incident involving custard squares.

About nine percent of New Zealanders belong to a gym, which is not too bad by world standards, ahead of Australia and Japan on a per capita basis. We're certainly doing better than the Chinese - there might be a billion of them, but only 180,000 currently enjoy the benefits of sweating to high-energy dance music compared with about 350,000 kiwis. Les Mills must be rubbing his hands together at the prospect of a free trade agreement with the as yet untapped Chinese market.

But for how many of those 350,000 of us is the little gym tag on their key-ring more like an albatross of guilt and self-loathing? I joined (again) about 18 months ago, and it's been tough going. Or perhaps more accurately, it's been easy not going.

If the gym and I were in a relationship, it wouldn't be considered serious. It's wouldn't even be described as an open relationship, because I'm certainly not exercising anywhere else. It would be more along the lines of that ever-so modern euphemism, friends with benefits - if I ever want to get hot and sweaty, I know it's always on offer.

As it stands, on a good week I'll go twice. In 18 months I haven't lost a gram. A couple of months ago my doctor told me I was overweight. "But I go to the gym" I protested. "Perhaps it's muscle then," she muttered with a sarcastic lack of bedside manner.

On the positive side, I haven't piled on the pounds either. And given my other lifestyle choices and slowing thirty-something metabolism, that's no mean feat. Another friend swore off the gym after she joined and promptly put on five kilos. Unlike my cynical GP, she was convinced the extra weight was muscle. Sure, a special kind of wobbly muscle.

But isn't the gym one of these things that's supposed to get easier with practice? Or am I going to be going through this struggle every week for the rest of my life? Foregoing tempting offers of an after-work pint, forcing myself along so I can exercise with all the grace of a drunken daschund. Pasty, sweating and stumbling as my iPod headphones snag on every piece of machinery I pass. When do I stop with the red-face and the puffing and become a lean, mean bench-pressing machine? Summer might be just around the corner, but as the months fly by, the closest the gym has gotten me to 'sporty' thus far is a persistent case of Athlete's Foot.

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Yes Prime Minister | Oct 06, 2005 23:48

Russell's right about the awards you know.

There's nothing worse than an ungracious winner, or at least ungracious people who voted for the winner. The election campaign might get heated, with personal attacks left, right and centre-right but after that I thought we're supposed to move on. Sure, most of the people at the NZ Music Awards probably voted Labour, but unless it's the Dean Martin Celebrity Roast, it's just not manners to invite someone to a party and then slag them off in front of everyone.

I'd never heard of Outrageous Fortune actor Anthony Starr before, but his award presentation was a pretty convincing argument for the theory that actors are a bunch of wankers. I'm not sure if he was drunk, pretending to act coked-up or had just seen too many Christian Slater movies, but his ill-conceived rant about Don Brash coming second fell flatter than the Christchurch CBD. Someone in the audience heckled "you were a cock back at school too", and I can only assume they were right.

Unlike Russell, I didn't meet Ahmed Zaoui, but the Member for Auckland Central was kind enough to introduce me to her boss, which was nice. I'd just been talking to my mate's girlfriend, who is over from England for a couple of weeks, about how easy it is to talk to the Prime Minister in this country. Five minutes later we both had. I wonder how that plays back home? "Oh yeah, went to the Music Awards, had a few drinks, talked to the PM, you know, the usual..."

It's not something I imagine you could say of too many other countries in the world, and I think we're probably a better place for it. I never understood that guy who holed himself up in the Tauranga hotel, threatening to blow the place up unless he spoke with the Prime Minister. Just call her, bro.

Now if he was holed up in a hotel room demanding they stop delivering the Central Leader, that I could understand.

And so could many of you, as it turns out. The unprecedented flurry of responses proved junk mail is now up there with death and taxes as something that really pisses you off. Suggestions were many and varied - most of the sensible ones involved me putting more specific signage on my letterbox, but just as many people wrote to tell me that doesn't work either. Oliver's suggestion was far more direct…

"Just write 'Central Leader - FUCK OFF' on your letterbox. Happy to help."

…while the lovely Sara J was more concerned at the revelation that I put the unread paper in the (shock horror) wheelie bin. Well, what else am I going to use to wrap up the dolphin leftovers?

To his credit, a nice chap from Suburban Newspapers emailed and put me in touch with his circulation manager Phil, who has again taken my name and put it on a list somewhere. I'll let you know if it works, and in the meantime if anyone wants to do the same, email

Yes, I know posting email addresses tends to attract spambots, but a few hundred offers of penile enhancements sounds like poetic justice in this instance.

Looking for new and varied ways to waste time, can anyone recommend any podcasts worth listening to? There's a lot of rubbish out there, so if anyone's stumbled on to something decent, please flick me a line.

And finally, as it's a Friday, may I suggest taking up a new hobby this weekend?

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Going Postal | Oct 03, 2005 16:53

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What with petrol prices being what they are and the threat of peak oil looming, I thought it time I did the sensible thing and bought a better car.

Behold the beauty of my new (old) 1965 Holden Special:

While it's only a baby in Holden terms, with a mere 149ci (2.4l) straight six engine, it's the biggest car I've owned by a long shot. I've never had a Holden, or a Ford or a Chrysler before, so it's quite a big moment for me. It has bench seats, lap-belts in the front and none at all in the back, and a 2-stage 'powerglide' automatic transmission.

Best of all, it only runs on super expensive 98 octane fuel.

Yeah, I know it's not the smartest thing I've ever done, but surely the quicker we use up all this pesky fossil fuel, the quicker we can get onto something cleaner and greener?

Like a vegan with a leather fetish, it probably says strange things about my environmental priorities that my biggest hang-up at the moment is the unnecessary waste being visited on my letterbox.

Sick of carting all the junk mail from the letterbox straight to the wheelie bin, I decided to treat myself, and indirectly the environment, by buying a No Circulars sign.

For the first few days it worked fine. Then one evening I returned home to find the Central Leader in my mailbox. A few days later it was The Aucklander. Annoyed at having to make a special trip from the mailbox to the bin for these two unwanted items, I decided to get to the bottom of it. I called the Central Leader.

"Hi, I was wondering how not to get the Central Leader."

"I'm sorry?"

"The Central Leader. I don't want to get it. I bought a 'No Circulars' sign because I was sick of all the junk mail."

"Well you see it's not junk mail. It's a newspaper."

"Yes, but it's a newspaper I don't want, which makes it junk mail, surely?"

"Yes, but your perception doesn't change the nature of the object you're perceiving..."

At this point the Central Leader receptionist and I branched off into a fifteen minute heated discourse on the nature of knowledge i.e. epistemological philosophy. While an interesting discussion, we eventually realised we were arguing at cross purposes. She was an empiricist and I'm a rationalist, and neither of us was sufficiently convinced by Immanuel Kant's Peter Dunne-esque attempts to occupy the safe middle ground. But I digress…

"Okay, so how can I not get the paper delivered then?"

"Oh sure, I've got a list I can put you on."

"Oh great, let's do that then."

And of course it did absolutely no good at all. The second and third phone calls did nothing either, other than waste more of my time. As it turns out, the list is just a list of people who don't want to receive the Central Leader. It actually has nothing to do with the distribution of the paper whatsoever.

I know what so many of you are probably thinking. "Who cares, it's only a paper. Build a bridge and get over it. People are starving in Africa." Yeah, well if I was them I'd be blogging about that, wouldn't I…

Saturday 20 April 2005

Me so hungry. Some food'd be good.

Monday 22 April 2005

Still hungry. Sick of all these flies landing on my face and stuff.

…and so forth. Right now, I'm trying to stop getting a newspaper I don't want delivered. Changing the world one piece of junk mail at a time.

Does anyone else have this problem? I'm trying to work out what to do. Can I invoice the Central Leader a small fee for recycling their rubbish? Would they pay? Should they be providing free "No Central Leader" stickers for people? Does anyone want to join me in a class action? Anyone? If a tree falls and no-one reads the crap it was used for, did it ever exist? What Would Kant Do?

Right now I'm leaning towards shredding the fucking thing, loading it into a vacuum cleaner, putting it on reverse, and spraying a carton load around the Central Leader office. Going postal, confetti style.

Comments, theories, suggestions etc by hitting the Reply button below.

In case anyone reading this works at the Central Leader, please don't be offended. I'm sure there's some quality reading. But I barely have time to read the newspapers and magazines I choose/pay to have delivered. And given the choice between Jane Clifton's politics columns and "Local Girl Slips at Swimming Pool", I know where my priorities lie.

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