Island Life by David Slack

But No Jellybeans

Your memory can play tricks on you, so I may be mistaken in saying this: Hot Metal was an excellent comedy series. Perhaps you remember it: early 90s, I think, set in a UK newspaper vaguely resembling the Independent. It had a mild-mannered, dour editor played by Geoffrey Palmer - no not that one - and followed the paper's fortunes through a change of proprietor and staff. From memory, you had this egotistical larger-than life wealthy proprietor exerting undue influence on the organ, and sleazy hacks making up stories, interviewing their keyboard and engineering news events. Nothing like real life.

The opening episode had news of the paper's takeover making the front page on several rival broadsheets and a couple of tabloids. The paper itself (with the hapless editor out of the loop and trying to work out why his desk had been relocated to the elevator) missed the story. Or something like that.

Keen-eyed readers may have spotted a couple of parallels here. I've managed to miss my own big story. I've also had a little tabloid treatment, but you have to expect a bit of that, I guess.

The story, of course, is that my book came out last week and, I'm happy to report, it's selling well. Bullshit Backlash and Bleeding Hearts. A confused person's guide to the Great Race Row is my contribution to the post-Orewa debate. Given the most excellent media coverage, you probably already knew that.

You might also have read in the Herald that yours truly, who has been peddling $20 speeches to Americans over the internet, perhaps lacks the visionary credentials you'd expect from a person claiming to have a solution to the whole race debate and the role today of the Treaty of Waitangi.

Don't blame the reporter. He hadn't read the book when he turned up to interview me, so he was at an awful disadvantage. He did leave clutching a copy of the book, but the deadline must have come up a bit too soon for him to get to the bit on the first page where I tell readers:

Although I'm no expert, I'm familiar with, if you like, the scene of the crime. I've worked with a number of the people who have had important roles in the story. You'll hear from them - as well as a number of other authorities and important players - throughout this book. My role here really is to be your guide, and ask the questions on your behalf.

For completeness' sake, I should also warn you that you shouldn't rush out and get the book in the expectation that you'll get a solution to the whole race debate. Didn't promise it, don't offer it. So what will you get? Allow me to quote a little more from the first page:

This is really a book for my generation and my parents' generation -we're the ones who came late to this story. We're familiar with fragments of our history and we know a thing or two about the Treaty of Waitangi, but we don't often know it with great certainty. For every fact or opinion you go to offer at a dinner party, it seems there's someone ready with a contradiction. Who's right? The idea of this book is to help settle a few of those arguments by filling the gaps in the jigsaw - who did what and when, who's complaining and why, who's right, who's wrong, who's mistaken and who's just making trouble.

For the last few weeks, I've been telling radio interviewers, reporters, feature writers and photographers all about it, and having a thoroughly enjoyable time. For the most part they've been telling me how much they've enjoyed reading it, as have a few of the sources I interviewed. Plenty of Sally Field moments, then. Also very heartening to have your book endorsed on the telly.

Derek Fox interviewed me on Mana News just after I put the quiz up in February, and Russell told me I sounded surprisingly subdued. He was right - I have had this habit of parsing my words on live interviews, and so I've been remedying that. I think I've pretty much got it tidied away, and you can hear the results for yourself each Monday morning on Linda Clark's show at 11.45 am when Frances Walsh and I do the commentary slot.

Not that I have one, but very little of this is what I would have written into the year planner back in January. There's still a lot of development work I have planned for and I thought I'd be at it for much of this year. But it can wait. This is a whole lot of fun.