The secret diary of ... John Banks

STEVE BRAUNIAS
Last updated 05:00 05/05/2012

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MONDAY

Memory is hidden somewhere beyond the reach of intellect. No matter how hard we strive, our thoughts will fail to recollect the past.

But it's my belief that the past is held captive in objects – a vase, perhaps, or a plant or a foodstuff.

These things imprison our memory, but they also preserve it. They wrap it as carefully as a present.

We cannot guess what that object is. It depends on chance whether we come upon it or not before we die.

Then, and only then, will I recall the time I took a helicopter ride to the mansion of a fat German who gave me $50,000.

TUESDAY

I was cold, so I stepped into a cafe, where a waitress offered me a nice hot cup of tea.

I declined at first, and then, for no particular reason, changed my mind. She ferried it out to me in an instant, and laid a sweet beside it on the saucer.

It was one of those biscuits called a biscotti – a twice-baked, oblong-shaped almond biscuit, made dry and crunchy through cutting the loaf of dough while still hot and fresh from baking in the oven.

I raised to my lips a spoonful of the tea in which I had soaked a morsel of the biscotti.

As soon as the warm liquid, and the crumbs with it, touched my palate, a shudder ran through my whole body. It had brought back a vague memory of the time I took a helicopter ride to the mansion of a fat German who gave me $50,000.

"I don't even know your name," I remember saying to him.

"Oh," he said, "I just prefer to go through life being anonymous."

WEDNESDAY

It's strange to reflect that the memory of a fat German should be preserved in a thin biscuit.

THURSDAY

I returned to the cafe for tea and biscotti in the hope that it might bring back more than just a vague memory of the time I took a helicopter ride to the mansion of a fat German who gave me $50,000.

As soon as the warm liquid, and the crumbs with it, touched my palate, a shudder ran through my whole body.

It had brought back a vague memory of the time I shared a cup of tea in Newmarket with the prime minister in front of the entire New Zealand media.

"I don't stand for anything, I'm barking mad, and I regard power as a kind of hobby," I remember saying to him.

"That's fine," he said, "but can you keep your voice down? Someone might be listening."

FRIDAY

I returned to the cafe which serves memorable tea and biscotti, because they rang up asking me to come to discuss a problem.

"You didn't pay the bill on Tuesday or on Thursday, either," the waitress said.

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"I don't know what you're talking about," I said. "I've never been in this cafe in my life."

stephen11@xtra.co.nz

- © Fairfax NZ News

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