Coffee solace for indignity

STEVE BRAUNIAS
Last updated 13:26 23/03/2014
coffee
MONDAY: A visit from the police over an incident in a mall starts the week badly.

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Steve Braunias

Boiling and steaming on a holiday break A Fairlie relaxing getaway The good, the bad, the downright scary Getting by however you can Cunriffe's Chinese whispers Tough day? Have a sandwich, say cheese Power plays keep everyone guessing Jolly bad show wherever you go Relief in last few packs of Choco I know how Lorde feels

OPINION: The story so far: ACT party donor and Auckland mother of two Danyel Southwark smacks her daughter at a mall - and is visited at her luxurious home by police ...

Monday

I said, "Can you imagine how it felt when two young police officers - one of them a Samoan! An actual Samoan in Parnell! - showed up on my doorstep and told me they're investigating a complaint that I've assaulted a child?"

ACT leader Jamie Whyte winced. I was talking too loudly. He sipped his flat white, and said in a soft voice, "How awful."

I said, "It was a nightmare. They took Olive aside and asked her questions and checked for injuries and God knows what else."

Jamie said, "What else?"

I said, "I don't know! I wasn't in the room! Aren't you listening?"

He said, "Please don't get angry. People are staring."

I said, "Let them stare. Let them look at the monster."

A woman sitting at a table by the window looked at me. I think it was Trelise Cooper.

Jamie said, "You're not a monster. I really appreciate the donations you and your husband have given to ACT."

I said to him, still glaring at Cooper, "Well, what are you going to do about it?"

He said, "I oppose anti-smacking legislation. It's a stupid law."

I said, "Of course it's a stupid law. Why shouldn't parents be allowed to beat their children? It's political correctness gone mad."

He said, "When you say 'beat', how hard did you ... you know, beat her?"

I looked down at the table, and stirred my coffee. I wanted to take the spoon and thrust it in his fat bald head. I think he read my mind. He said he had to rush for another appointment. I looked over at Cooper. The table was empty.

Tuesday

I was downtown this afternoon, walking along and thinking sadly about the missing Malaysian Airlines jet, when I saw an old friend from the Maxim Institute come out of St Patrick's Cathedral.

My husband Guy and I have known him for years, and come across him many times at conversation evenings held at the institute, which is unfairly described in liberal media as a conservative Right-wing think-tank. It's not a tank in the slightest.

"I didn't know you were ... you know," I said, nodding at the cathedral.

He said, "Are you?"

I said, "Was." I thought of the little white church with the blue roof in my home town Fairlie.

We chatted for a few minutes. When he left, I wondered whether I should go into the cathedral and pray for the passengers on flight MH370.

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Wednesday

Some good news at last. Labour is down in the polls.

New Zealanders haven't forgotten the damage caused by those vandals. It's because of Clark that I had the police knock on the door last Friday.

They said they'd interviewed a witness and observed CCTV footage of what they called "the incident".

One of them looked hard at a pair of jandals on the floor in the hallway, and scribbled in his notebook. Did he think they were weapons? He asked if I needed support. He mentioned an anger management group.

He said he was going to put through a family violence report, and that he might recommend a follow-up visit, or refer it to Cyf. "Cyf," I repeated. "Cyf in my house. My home. Cyf." The word tasted bitter on my tongue.

Thursday

Week nine of reading Eleanor Catton's novel The Luminaries. Last week, page 110; this week, page 112. Will it ever end?

Friday

I said, "Would you like a pastry? Cake?" Conservative Party leader Colin Craig said, "No, thanks. I'm on a diet."

He looked very gaunt. But it was exciting sitting with him at the cafe. It was like I was cheating on Whyte, like I was seeing another man.

I told him about the police. He was really outraged. He said, "You're a good parent, and it's a bad law. I want to get rid of it."

He lay his long hands on the table. I thought about touching them. I said, "I prayed this week."

He said, "We're not a Christian party. But that's good." I looked into his pretty green eyes.

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. stephen11@xtra.co.nz; Twitter @SteveBraunias.

- The Timaru Herald

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