OPINION: MINE is a thankless trade. Surely all writing is. You beaver away with scarcely a word of encouragement - and then screens take the place of paper, and you become endangered as well as thankless.
You don't anticipate this. You couldn't have imagined a time when yesterday's work wouldn't be wrapping tomorrow's takeaways. But that day is fast upon you, and it's time to get a grip. What would Labour MP Charles Chauvel do in a situation like ours? That's the question.
There are similarities. He gets paid a lot more, of course; he gets perks we can only dream of, of course; and his tenure is more secure, of course, because he's high up on his party's list. Yet even a politician in that happy position can feel unappreciated and long - wistfully - for praise that can be maddeningly elusive.
Chauvel leads an exciting political life of cut and thrust. He has been parrying shadowy National figures who he believes hacked into his emails and tried to paint him as a gay "rich prick" after a Right-wing blogger accused him of subterfuge.
The blogger published a copy of an email allegedly written and sent by Mr Chauvel as a possible draft letter to this newspaper. It is framed as if it comes from a firm of Auckland lawyers, attacking an article that supported the Criminal Procedure (Reform and Modernisation Bill) - the brainchild of National's Justice Minister, Simon Power. He gets more praise than Mr Chauvel, and to add insult to injury, has landed a lucrative job in Westpac.
This was the sort of letter we'd all write in praise of ourselves if we could get away with it. True, it fell short of praising Mr Chauvel's youth and beauty, but less is always more. It praises his efforts in opposing the bill, and gives a pat on the back, too, to ACT MPs Rodney Hide and John Boscawen for negotiating changes to it. The inference is that Mr Chauvel penned the letter in praise of himself, and asked others to sign it. And say what you like, that's smart thinking.
A version of it happens with book reviews, when authors organise their friends to write in praise of them. I suspect they are often supplied with not only the free book, but a list of rarely used words to baffle the general reader with as well. A spot of Greek is especially useful; one needn't pause to consider whether other people understand the lingo.
If the inference is accurate, the draft letter is a bit like that. Mr Chauvel didn't choose members of the proletariat to sign it, after all, but possible chums in the legal world.
"This is what they have to resort to, try to paint me as a rich prick, or gay, or somehow devious, or all three and try to blacken my character and make me less attractive for election," Mr Chauvel complained, as if the very words "rich", "prick", and "devious" did not amount to a description of the very people who quite naturally run the world, and strive manfully to earn these coveted descriptions.
As to whether Mr Chauvel is attractive, that's for others to decide. He was not exactly tasty when he said he wished that a crying young child on a plane would shut up last year, and he leans toward the podge, but that never stopped anyone having an active romantic life. As for being described as "gay", Mr Chauvel is happily out, and among Labour supporters that's bound to be more in his favour than otherwise.
What really is unattractive is complaining when you've been caught out at a particularly crafty piece of footwork. That's the time to crow, surely, knowing that everyone else, whatever they may insist to the contrary, is only jealous that they didn't do it first.
- The Dominion Post