Power plays keep everyone guessing
OPINION: Everyday Housewife Harriet Wakefield shares her thoughts on the week past, as relayed by satirist Steve Braunias.
The story so far: Wellington housewife and Labour Party activist Harriet Wakefield leaves her Chinese husband for an old flame - a woman, who is the birth mother of Harriet's daughter ...
Last Tuesday I was sitting at my desk in the upstairs study with my head in my hands, stoned on contraband packets of synthetic cannabis called Choco, and I wanted to get some fresh air and exercise, but it was raining and very, very cold.
Wellington harbour looked as set as concrete and gusts of high wind made the house creak like a ship.
Work on my book - a biography of an ancestor and early settler who lived with Maori in strange circumstances in the Waikato, Taranaki and Marlborough - had come to a halt since everything that's happened at home.
But then I got a phone call from a friend at Creative New Zealand.
"Harriet," she said, "you're needed in London."
She was offering to pay my airfare to take part as a guest speaker at the Australia-New Zealand Literary Festival in London, alongside many interesting writers.
I said, "When is it?"
She said, "In the weekend. You best pack."
And here I am, in London, where it's rained every day since I arrived, and is very, very cold. You can't beat an English summer.
The festival went very well. I spoke on a panel with two very interesting Australian writers. One talked for almost the entire hour, and the other one said they didn't like England much. There was an audience of seven - more than doubling the audience at a poetry reading of many interesting New Zealand poets.
There was a good range of free sandwiches in the green room. I like egg sandwiches as much as I like cheese sandwiches, so I ate the full range.
The journalist Steve Braunias was at the festival. I was told he made people laugh at his events. Pathetic. Why invite people like that?
I said, "I suppose if you were back in New Zealand, you'd be writing this week's secret diary about Laila Harre."
He said, "Harre Krishna, the left's pious conscience. Not a lot of fun to be had writing about her."
I said, "Does everything have to be funny? The Labour Party takes politics seriously."
He said he had to meet some friends for a drink at a private club in Portobello Rd. Pathetic.
Still, I've loved being at the festival, and regard it as taxpayers' money very well spent.
I spent most of today shopping.
I phoned Christine, and said, "How's Hinemoa?"
She said, "Who?"
I said, "Seven-year-old. Long hair. Adorable. You gave birth to her."
She said, "You're her mother."
I said, "I was thinking the two of you could bond while I was gone. Connect."
She said, "Your mother's looking after her. I had to go back to Mapua."
I said, "You want us to get married but you're too busy to get to know Hinemoa?"
She said, "What's the rush? We've got the rest of our lives together. When are you coming home?"
I said, "Tomorrow."
She said, "About time."
I packed and sat in the bar of my hotel, the Imperial, in Bloomsbury. A man and a woman sat at another table. He was probably her father; she was thin, with sad eyes, and held two carnations. Their laughter had an accent: they were two New Zealanders.
I wondered if they were passing through, or lived there. I wondered what kind of mess I was going back to - personally, and politically.
As new leader of the Internet Party, would Laila split the Left's vote, and help Key and his zombies return to power?
And who held the power in my life: Christine, or me? Who wore the pants? Or, like an MMP arrangement, could we share the pants?
I turned on my phone after getting through immigration. There was a text from Christine. It was full of smiley-face emoticons. There were even a few words. She wrote, "Let's all live in Mapua. Leave Wellington. Move on."
Laila Harre was at the airport. I studied her face. She looked pious, humourless, reckless.
Diary of a Housewife, the creation of Steve Braunias, features the satirical musings of two contrasting Kiwi women, Aucklander Danyel Southwark and Wellingtonian Harriet Wakefield. firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter @SteveBraunias.
- The Timaru Herald