Island Life by David Slack

Send A Gorilla

Elsewhere in the western world, the Marlboro Man has lately been getting his back broken. But not here.

Here, testosterone is back. You can just feel it in the air.

We take our lead from our leaders, and for the longest time, the word has been: emasculation.

Call it the sisterhood. Call it the PC brigade. Call it dykescorp - and haven't a lot of men quietly muttered that in the barbecue huddle?

Whatever you've called it, and however darkly you've fumed about it, there's been sweet fuckall you could do about it. You could cast your vote, you could ring up Leighton, you could invent yourself a name so you could write something vaguely defamatory on your blog without anyone at church finding out, but you couldn't stop feeling oppressed.

But there's a light! And not just over at the Frankenstein place.

We will probably always be counter-cyclical here in New Zealand. The rest of the world has a boom, we have a bust. They have a slump, we have lift-off. They vote for Bush and Howard, we vote for socialistic moral relativists.

Once more the wheel turns. Once more the water gurgles down the hole in the contrary direction.

That great big hairy brute of an alpha male, Donald T Brash has found his chest. It would be premature to say that it's getting a Kong-like pounding, but there has clearly been some kind of transformation.

The signs are there if you know where to look.

Let's open the Herald. It's not a promising start. The headline reads: Brash takes blame for leadership speculation.

But look! Right there at the end!

I had swallowed the Government line that we had been doing relatively well relative to Australia, but that of course is crap.

This is what the Rt Hon Paul Keating or if you prefer, Mark Latham, would tell you is showing the voter a bidda mongrel.

Little acorns, mighty oaks, etc etc. This time last year, the strongest word he could bring himself to use in front of an audience was "baloney."

Now, just one week later, he sails into the house and all but rips the Labour Party a new ringpiece. "Pay the money back," he declares.

Dr Brash's speech was barely audible in the chamber, the Herald tells us, because of the din of Government members, but he adopted a crash-through style.

But in this context, the more noise they make, the more you know you're landing the blows. Don, you could be a contendah!

Do the right thing by the people of this country: pay the money back and apologise.

This is rhetoric that has what the advertising people like to call cut-through. "Pay the money back" can fit on a bill board, or a T-Shirt. You can bet that someone like that Bhatnagaar character is making a Flash animation of the thing right now.

It seems obvious really. What's Dr Brash got to lose? He might as well let rip.

Just consider how much further he may go if he can make himself comfortable with the politics of vituperation and the high art of hamming it up for the crowd.

Maybe there's a script.

Stage One: Roughen up the language.

Stage Two: Hand the government a regular and sustained thrashing. Abuse, them, goad them, torment them.

Stage Three: Put the heel on the throat. Belittle them, mock them. Turn it into high vaudeville.

Manage all this, and he'll be able to go on setting the agenda. He's managed to do it almost effortlessly (some might say unwittingly), all the way from Orewa to the billboards. What's been missing is the capacity to ram that advantage home.

Alpha males don't let that kind of chance go by. They compound it with all kinds of dominant testosterone-fuelled politics. Taunting and goading! Worked for Muldoon, worked for Lange.

Go on, Don, get in touch with your inner man. Go for broke. The beauty of this is that all the associated problems will probably fade away as well. Take your pretender, Mr Key.

It's been quite a media week or two for him. I'm sure you've seen him on the cover of North and South. Odd picture that. The facial musculature puts you in mind of Il Duce, but maybe that's just the light in the supermarket. And then there was the ever-reliable Frank O'Sullivan pitching in with that Liar's Poker lionisation of him as a big swinging dick.

It's always intrigued me how sexualised the money market sounds to be. I once had occasion to be in a meeting with David Richwhite, along with one of Auckland's more heavy-hitting PR women. I forget exactly what the purpose was, but it had broadly to do with the media strategy for some stoush his outfit was involved in. The meeting room was an internal one with no windows, soft low lighting, designer furniture, and a table of Viking dimensions. He came striding through the door and made some declaration about the smell of sex in the air. It was a kind of napalm-in-the-morning allusion, but for the life of me, I couldn't catch his point.

Anyway, Don: Reserve Bank, World Bank, you can swat this pretender away with an inordinately greater factor of bigness and swinging capability.

Maybe you buy that stuff about his Navman not working, but seriously, who ever got lost in Orewa?

Frankly, the rapidity with which you have found your feet and chest is an inspiration. A few more months of this Alpha Male assertiveness, and you'll be positively dangerous. I fully expect to see you holding 5000-strong rallies in Wiri wool stores by next summer. You should definitely bring those charts. That has all kinds of retro cred.

I'll come to the meetings, because I fully expect them to be the best show in town. But I think I'll keep out of your way when duck shooting season starts.