If there is one thing people appreciate in a cake stall it's choice. You have to have chocolate cake, banana cake, short cake and even some slices. You have to have these choices. It makes people feel more relaxed, more secure when they have a choice.
I know this because back in 1992 I was New Zealander of the Year and the other day at my first Labour Party Leader cake stall I also knew the buck stopped with me. So even if a cake stall was a dumb idea it was up to me to make sure the dumb idea was one with choice.
At the start I was getting a good selection but then things started to go wrong, perhaps an unfortunately timed My Kitchen Rules episode, and I started getting custard pudding cakes. Lots of them.
Now these aren't strictly cakes but they're not bad and people enjoy their sticky, jiggling sweetness. The only problem is they're prone to collapse, at any moment, which is not the sort of thing you want happening at a cake stall. When the seventh custard cake was dropped off I had to take a stand. It was Shane's mum who wore it.
"You can't leave that here Mrs Jones," I said when she popped down her banana and vanilla infused wobbly.
"Why the hell not," she said.
"Flan ban," I said.
I like Grant. I really do. Sometimes I say to him "Hey Robertson. You're a good stick" or I say "Robertson. You big homo . . . sapien". He gets it. That's what I like about him.
But lately he'd been getting a bit uppity, thinking maybe it was time for me to move over, to get the hell out of Dodge. I wasn't worried though because I had been the New Zealand Herald New Zealander of the Year and knew how to fix him. I went up to his office, knocked four times on his door and let myself in. He could tell from the look in my eyes I had a pocket full of pink kryptonite.
"But you know how much strength I get from the gently intelligent 1980s pop lyrics of Andrew Ridgeley," he said.
"And you know when a man is down nothing brings him up like his faith in George Michael," he said.
"Don't care," I said. "Wham! ban."
The next day I was out for breakfast with Anuschka. I had ordered eggs over easy, like they do in the movies. I'm that sort of guy, a people's person, the kind of bloke that gets down and dirty with the fellas. Or the ladies. Or the minorities. Even the disabled and sometimes the dead who I bring back from the dead.
It's not even for all that that they made me 1992 New Zealander of the Year, though that would have been enough.
I often think about my incredible qualities and wonder why no-one cares about the world as deeply as I do, why they don't realise I'm such a fantastic guy and the key to helping this country be great again. I'm just bursting with so much goodness I can hardly contain it and sometimes I can't.
"Get off your chair and shut up," Anuschka hissed at me through the clouds. I knew what was coming.
"Don't," I said pleading. "Not in front of the eggs."
"Too late," she said. "Grandstand ban."
Andrew was born in New Plymouth, or some other godforsaken hell hole, so I try to be nice to him, try to make him feel relevant down here in the capital.
"What's Jonathan Young's majority again," I might say.
"Where are your union buddies now," I might ask.
I thought he really appreciated I was looking out for him, but lately it'd been like he'd forgotten what an amazing guy I was, like he didn't remember I was New Zealander of the Year in 1992.
It started earlier in the week when I had given him and Cunliffe a hall pass to go to the toilet. A minute after they came back Andrea Vance emailed me with what they'd leaked.
I straight away sent a reply in the third person so it couldn't be traced to me.
"Shearer doesn't condone this coup talk," I wrote. "The Great One will not let this pass. And how about a coffee later? #notanoldfool."
The next day when Andrew put his hand up for a hall pass I was ready.
"Sorry Little. All passes cancelled," I said. "Pan ban."
Sometimes you just don't know how things are going to end. You can plot all the possibilities, map all the likelihoods and it's still no good.
"You can't win this thing the way you are going," Trotter said.
"I've already won it," I said. "Back in '92."
"The writing is on the wall," he said. "And it's not coming off."
It was true. That dunce Cunliffe had used a vivid on the whiteboard again.
"You'll have to take drastic action," Trotter said. "You'll have to do something no-one is expecting."
I looked good and hard at Trotter. I thought about Little, about Cunliffe, Robertson and, as always, Mrs Jones.
"I've got it," I said.
"No you don't," he said.
"I'm going back to what Labour knows best," I said.
I waited until he leaned in closer so I didn't have to do more than whisper.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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