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"What are you talking about, Clarke?"
"Toast, of course. Surely you know that being ‘toast’ is slang for ‘doomed’ or ‘ruined’?"
"How awful of you and quite uncalled for. We must love everyone, Clarke, even poor old Judith. Imagine having to take a fractious National Party into an election. It would be enough to ruin anyone. I won’t be surprised if she resigns and starts up a car wrecking yard. She would do very well running a business like that. We must be kind to her. Anyway, your toast. Brown? Not burnt white bread, but real brown, if you know what I mean?"
"Of course. ‘Whakanui’, isn’t it?"
"Of course not. ‘Whakanui’ means to honour or commemorate. I think ‘te pararoa’ is Maori for toasted bread. We really will have to brush up our te reo if we’re to get ‘Aotearoa’ as the country’s preferred name before the next election. Oh dear! So much to do, so little time."
"Well, you could get a four-year term jacked up easily enough. The voters would be quite happy not to have go through all this election rubbish quite so often."
"Oh, Clarke, you are such a help. These suggestions over the breakfast table are all that keeps me on track sometimes. But don’t tell anyone I said that, will you? The idea that a house husband who was a disc jockey is actually running the country wouldn’t do my image any good at all. There’s quite a brain behind the shambolic amiability of yours, isn’t there. I think you probably could have finished that BA you started at Otago if you’d put your mind to it. You really help to preserve the caring persona for me that’s worked so well so far. I must say, that was a brilliant move of yours to take the scraps out to the journalists on Saturday night."
"Well, it seemed the right thing to do. Journalists are like pets, really. Show them a bit of attention and feed them tit bits and they’ll be devoted to you for life. Talking of tit bits, have you seen that photo of Sanna Marin?"
"Oh, Sanna? She’s the prime minister of Finland, isn’t she? What’s she done now?"
"Well, she’s getting a roasting for doing a photo shoot wearing a blazer with a plunging neckline and no top underneath. Leaves nothing to the imagination. I’ve got a blow-up on the smartphone. Glad you’ve never stooped that low."
"Well, so am I, but in politics you have to do what you have to do. How low cut was neckline? I may have to explore that kind of thing next election. Or maybe just become a nursing mother again. Always votes in that and no quibbles about necklines."
"Let’s not go down that track, Cindy. A prime minister as a porn star is not what we need in this country. Very broad-minded, the Finns. Right, that’s the end of the toast and muesli. Off to the office for you. You’ll be glad not to have Winston hovering around."
"Now, Clarke, I won’t have a bad word said about Winston. He was great help when we needed him, but you’re right, he was wearing a bit thin lately. It’s his age, of course. 75. About the same age as Trump and that awful chap who does a column in the ODT and is always pestering me with advice. Positively senile."
"How right you are. Blokes of that age should all be put into a home of some sort. I hear Winston plans to hunker down in some place in Northland and go fishing. It’s that sort of thing which gives fishing a bad name. And I should know. Right. It’s time I took Neve off to her karate class. Here’s my list of preferred cabinet ministers.
"I’ll leave you to make the actual appointments. I’ve decided not to reinstate David Clark at Health. Just in case we have to go Level 3 again and I’ve not bothered about a Minister of Horse Racing this time. but I’d like Andrew Little to get Minister of Beard Growing. He is trying so hard, isn’t he?"
"Indeed. Thanks, Clarke. It’s true what they say. Behind every great woman, there’s a man at home. I just don’t know what I’d do without you."
"Probably be stuck at home child-minding. But you’re much more useful saving the planet, Cindy, so keep it up. Spread love and aroha whenever you can. Within limits, of course. Don’t want any of those ‘House a Hotbed of Amorous Liaisons’ headlines, do we?"
"How right you are, given the blokes and women who infest the place. See you on Friday. Fish and chips for dinner? I’ll pick them up on the way from the airport."
- Jim Sullivan is a Patearoa writer.