Hard News by Russell Brown

The Big House

After yesterday's revelations, I feel the time has come for me to reveal my own past. Yes, people, 23 years ago, I lived in a house that harboured socialists, anarchists, feminists, lesbians, hippies, greenies, punks, junkies, prostitutes, musicians, poets, artists, lunatics, doctors and law students (although not necessarily all at the same time). A building whose floors have been walked by Jean Batten, Bruno Lawrence, Kerry Fox and Nandor Tanczos. The place that the New Zealand police long baton was first drawn in anger.

It was The Big House, 42 St George's Bay Road, Parnell, whose story I have told in the new issue of Metro magazine. The feature was a rewarding piece of work, and I'm quite pleased with it. I'm not sure whether to be delighted or disappointed that the editors chose not to use period photographs: the young folk definitely dress better these days.

This is really all by way of introduction to the fact that the current residents have made a Big House website, which will be the hub for a reunion at some point - probably next year, when the renovations are finished. In the meantime, former residents - and there will be many former residents of a house with 21 bedrooms - should check in. I'd also be delighted if you were to send me your own stories of living and partying at the Big House.

Lest it be thought that I am in any way trying to destroy the Act Party, I humbly submit that this is a political party eminently capable of tearing itself apart, without any help. Former party member Robin Booth, guesting on The Whig blog, sounds off about the party's new president in a post headed Is Act A Goer or a Goner? :

Upon refusing to resign as an elected ACT Board Member and thus facing expulsion from the Party (all thanks to Gary Mallet) I approached various ACT MP’s asking for their help to resolve this situation. Sadly the only MP who wanted to make the effort to even listen to my case was Rodney Hide. While talking to Rodney about this matter, his office manager Chris Diack asked who on ACT’s Board had passed this crazy motion. When I said it was Gary Mallet, Chris snickered and said they'd concluded a long time ago that Gary Mallet was mad, barking mad.

“What mad as in being a little hot under the collar or psychologically mad?” I asked.

“Psychologically mad.“ came the reply.

“Yeah our nick name for Garry Mallet around here is “Mad Mallet,” added Rodney Hide completely supportive of Chris Diack’s assessment of the guy.

So if Rodney Hide really thinks his new Party President is a sandwich short of a picnic, and mad Gary Mallet is now in charge of running (or ruining) Rodney Hides political life, this could prove to be a very horrible relationship indeed. Almost as bad as having President Catherine Judd emotionally tell the ACT Board at its 2002 List Selection meeting that she thought Rodney Hide was a detestable man and that she would rather resign from the Party than see him become it’s leader.

It should be noted that in a reply, Diack strongly denies saying or doing anything of the kind. In an earlier thread there's much wailing, gnashing, kicking, biting and scratching amongst the commenters.

Although it might not seem that way, I'm actually not trying to gloat here. But Act has had identity problems since its founding conference; in part because it attracts certain people who have nothing in common but their zealotry: conservatives, conspiracists and just plain angry people. I'm wondering - again - if it's time to pack up and start again, with a real economic and social liberal party. I'd keep Rodney Hide - and he'd certainly want to keep Epsom. But perhaps he wants to think about exactly what he's doing on Dancing With the Stars ...

Meanwhile, Trevor Loudon has a boy's own adventure with the communist enemy.

And reader Jonathan Maze has ZAP memories:

Interesting to hear about ZAP again. I'm from Christchurch originally also and remember the profile they had locally. I used to work at the Arts Centre where one of the weekend stall holders was a devotee, he was an unfriendly intense beady eyed fellow who ran a fast food stall (no hippy/ethnic food for him). One day I peered into his car and saw the handwritten note to himself that he had sellotaped in the centre of his steering wheel: "THINK DON'T FEEL!"

David McLoughlin noted that he was in fact the author of the un-bylined 1983 Herald story about the ZAPpers being chucked out of the fascist New Force party.

Mirage Media catches NewstalkZB slipping the sponsor's name into news bulletins.

No Right Turn posts from the climate change conference.

RobO opines on the surprising productivity statistics - and reads the label on Chinese toothpaste. Eyewinker!

Interesting post about the "good news from Iraq" meme, with quotes from an actual serving infantryman and some good links - especially the Olberman video.

Bush allegedly tells the Iraqi Prime Minister he's surplus to requirements.

Speaking of Iraq, congratulations to Riverbend.

On the Public Address Virtual Super 14 leader board, the amazing Nic Jones clears out with a 45-point score. I'm hanging on just above the cut …