Wash your mouth out, Barry Corbett

18:48, Dec 16 2012


I yelled it, loud as you like, to the reporter. She'd asked what I thought of fellow city councillor Glenn Livingstone's views on fiscal responsibility. I knew yelling the word "Christchurch" didn't make sense in the context of the question but it's as close as I usually come to swearing.


It's been a jolly rough week. I regurgitated something I picked up in the gutter - not an old souvlaki - just a piece of language but it keeps repeating on me like an old souvlaki. I can't even remember calling fellow councillor Glenn Livingstone an effing A-hole but he said I did and he doesn't lie. Our motto at the council is Nihil Utile Quod Non Honestum (Nothing is useful that is not honest). Well, that's someone's motto and if it's not ours it should be.


I, councillor Barry Corbett, used an F-word and an A-word. My word. The minute I said it, I knew something was wrong. I felt dirty, filthy. I had a bath. Don't really like soap for some reason. I use Knight's Castile, it's gentle and mild just like me but when I'm washing my body I swear (jokes! I do not swear) that I can taste it. Flashbacks. Awful flashbacks. The principal's office, a bar of soap, Mum, my mouth. Don't think about it Baz. Be strong.



Jeepers. The media got hold of that story fast. For goodness sake, we were in the council basement car park. Everything that happens in there is privileged. It's a strange place that car park. Dark and atmospheric. In the good old days we'd breakdance to settle issues. The councillor who did the most headspins won and no-one would leak a blasted word of it. Most of us got too old to headspin so we settled a competition to see who could read the city plan for the longest without drawing breath. The last one to faint won.


By gum. Politics is a strange game. We used to vote the way we said we would about things we don't talk about. Now these young whippersnappers come in and upset the apple cart.


Councillors are stuck with standing by what they say. It's a peril of the job. If I'm lucky this swearing thing could work in my favour. It shows I'm down with the kids and it got me in the headlines. I've got plenty to say about infrastructure but no-one wants to hear about it. If they called it effing infrastructure people would stand up and take notice. Maybe it'll be my gateway to central government. John Key would love it. I can see the billboard now. "Vote Barry. He even turns the air blue."


Ugh. The alarm went off this morning. Bleep, bleep, bleep. That infernal bleeping. I got up and walked into the kitchen half- asleep, rubbing my eyes, bleep, bleep, bleep still echoing in my ears.

"What are you doing, Barry?"

It was a woman's voice. Cripes. I really have to pull myself together. It wasn't the alarm. Sue Wells had popped over. We were supposed to be planning next year's election campaign but she was replaying CCTV from the basement car park. My goodness, I do swear a lot in there . . .


I told Sue to leave. I didn't feel like watching reruns of basement altercations. I wanted to watch a movie. I like Twelve Angry Men but the clean 1957 version of course. The modern version makes me taste soap. Anyway, I've got at least another year with Livingstone at the table. I guess we better make up.



That's what I told him.

We made amends. Shook hands and all that. He asked if I wanted to chat over a cup of tea and a biscuit. I told him "fudgecake" and he went to find me some.

I was swearing again of course. Fudgecake is Corbett Code.

Soap. I need a mint.

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