The secret diary of ... Winston Peters

Winston Peters
Winston Peters

Stephen Braunias turns the spotlight on Winston Peters in May Contain Facts.

I couldn't sleep. I lay in the dark with my heart ticking in my chest like a bomb about to go off. Some people call it an advanced state of paranoia, but I call it political dynamite.

I could hear whispers. Where were they coming from? Outside the window? In the bushes? Under the bed? Under the floorboards? In the outhouse? In the washhouse?

The answer was: all of the above.

I listened carefully, and was able to make out that they were Chinese whispers.

I felt deeply afraid, but I had my wits about me. They were on the floor next to my slippers.

I got out of bed, crept into the kitchen, held my breath and switched on the lights.

I saw the shadows retreat. I have spent most of my political life chasing shadows. I catch them and keep them in a sack, and tip them out at Grey Power meetings. The elderly see what I see. Little shadowy Asians.

I couldn't sleep. Acting on a hunch, I drove from Wellington to Auckland and parked the car behind a Korean restaurant in Dominion Rd.

"Pssst," hissed a voice in the darkness.

He hawked his throat and spat on the ground.

As I took a step forward, a door opened. Bright light flooded out from a kitchen. A waiter appeared, and handed me a menu. "Steamed dumplings ... Tofu hotpot ... Soy bean paste stew ... 22,000 elderly immigrants, most of them Asians, are receiving superannuation, draining the economy and mocking the New Zealand way of life."

"I'll have the dumplings," I said.

I had a feeling the waiter at the Korean restaurant was trying to tell me something, so I went back, and he said, "22,000 elderly immigrants, most of them Asians, are receiving superannuation, draining the economy and mocking the New Zealand way of life". I stepped on the gas, drove back to Wellington and tabled the menu in Parliament.

Watched that clown Key stand up in Parliament and try to pretend my figures aren't reliable. As if the public will believe his army of officials who have thoroughly researched the issue. The public can see straight through him. That's because he's made of glass. I'll shatter his dreams.

I couldn't sleep – 22,000 Chinese whispers kept me awake all night. It was a terrible noise, like wind in the trees, like a fissure opening in the earth, like the black, rising waters of the river Styx which separates the living from the dead – the sound of water soon had me out of bed. I put on my slippers, and trudged to the bathroom. At my age, I'm up and down all night.

» Stephen Braunias is an award-winning writer and author of four books.

The Southland Times