Hard News by Russell Brown

I feel your pain, Parekura

I feel sorry for Parekura Horomia, whose absence from the house was so prominently noted the week. He has apparently had treatment to relieve fluid retention, dropped five stone in weeks, and suffered a consequent attack of the gout.

It's generally difficult to perceive any great emotion beyond the fluent bureaucratese that Horomia usually speaks, but he sounded bloody angry in the House yesterday. As well he might.

As an occasional sufferer, I can testify that a serious attack of gout is a shit of a thing. The last time I had a proper one - it's hereditary, honest, and I only cop it large every couple of years - I was on my own in a hotel room in Wellington, and I woke up pretty much whimpering with pain.

As it happens, the goat has come to visit me this week, and it's entirely my fault. Chad and I and one or two other people of good cheer supped on Tuesday evening with Mr Atkins of the British Council, who is as much of a gentleman as anyone I have met. He called for a bottle of the Porter's pinot noir, and then another one - they only had a magnum left -and I wound up drinking a glass and a half.

Drinking red wine is something I shouldn't do, because it fairly reliably brings on a touch of gout. Indeed, the Porter's is the reddest of red wines and would probably ensure your passage to Hell if you drank enough of it.

So I still have little gouty razor pains shooting around my feet and wrists. But it could be worse. And the wine was fabulous. Sometimes, you just have to do the hard yards, don't you?

Anyway, this private weblog from a member of staff at Canterbury University provides an interesting - and robust - alternative view to the prevailing wisdom about the case of Thomas Fudge.

And, just to finish on a happy note, if you skated in the 70s - or since - you simply must check out Skatopia '78, The Summer Years, the new website for Andrew and Phil Moore's work-in-progress documentary on the South Auckland skate park that symbolised the 70s skateboarding boom. It's a kind of homegrown Dogtown and Z-Boys, and they've already found some extraordinary and long-forgotten film from the era. You should get in touch with them if you have information, pictures or film funding.

Righto. I'm out like bell-bottom trousers …