Island Life by David Slack

Scrubbing Up Well

Later in this post, photos of hard-drinking press gallery journalists, but first, something from the world of light entertainment. Tonight's four remaining aspirant NZ Idols will not include Teresa, to our six-year old's disappointment. Perhaps I should show her the very nice piece of verse Ms Robyn Gallagher composed in response to my suggestion last week that she might write something to mark the imminent departure of Steve.

So. Farewell
Then Teresa
from Wellington.

You sang a few songs
on the telly
and were
quite good.

I thought Steve
would go before

But he had shiny,
pretty blonde hair;
and you,
a floppy fringe.

The farewell to Steve will have to wait, Robyn, writes, "but hopefully for not more than a week."


In other news, the Auckland Half Marathon is just four weeks away, and I find to my pleasant surprise that a hamstring injury is wearing off just as I need to be stretching out for the longer training distances.

This makes me a good bet for a little sponsorship money in aid of the Heart Foundation. As I write this, my current total of pledges is zero, so really, if you have some parking meter money taking up space in your pocket, do by all means feel welcome to click here and get the warm glow of selflessness that comes with noble acts of charitable giving.

I have absolutely no idea whether this is worth mentioning but you automatically get rigged up for this when you sign up for the marathon and, well, this is a cause I can identify with.


Now: pictures of pissed hacks.

We had old friends visiting yesterday, and we pulled out the photo albums to give the various assembled kids some examples of our lives Before Children. If you want, I can show you pictures of exotic and enchanted journeys, but let's be honest, they're not likely to be as interesting as a picture of Her Majesty's loyal press gallery journalists drinking in the line of duty, so a here's an example from the 1989 CHOGM in Malaysia.

Karren was there in her capacity as the Prime Minister's Press Secretary. You can read elsewhere about other entertaining aspects of that adventure, as documented by Joanne Black, but today's story concerns that debonaire eminence gris, and currently TVNZ's man-of-influence about the corridors of power, Richard Griffin.

You may have read a profile In the Herald by Michele Hewitson a few weeks ago in which she captured two essential facets of his character. One, he's a bugger for the bottle and the other is that he cares very much about the welfare of animals. I had no idea, and I'm glad that I never brought up any of my farming experiences when we were drinking.

But I would have been aware, had Karren related the story to me sooner about a crab that was saved from a cruel and untimely end at a hawker stall in a humid alleyway of Kuala Lumpur by Radio New Zealand's political editor. As we were looking through the photos yesterday, we came upon this.

What was it? We asked. And Karren told the story of how the gallery journalists were out for a night of drinking and eating, and someone had come towards the table bearing a selection of live crabs. The group was, of course, asked to choose the one they most fancied eating.

Dick would have none of it. He became animated, agitated even. Mollification ensued, and long story short, they ended up with a liberated crab back at their hotel, given refuge in a 5 star hotel hand basin.

Order restored, Dick went back to his drinking, and the picture captures the result nicely.

That's a youthful looking Barry "until then my lips are sealed" Soper to his right, of course. In drinking terms, they go together as naturally as Winston Peters and the Green Parrot. And sometimes you can collect the whole set.

There's just something about the picture that captures the essence of that particular meeting of the minds, and I thought it was too good not to share.

Lest you think I'm bagging him, I'm not. He's a splendid fellow to drink with. It's just that when you consider that this is the same man who was often mistaken for the Prime Minister of our nation when he accompanied Jim Bolger on overseas visits, it reminds you how very well he does scrub up in the morning.