Time for some of our politicians to take a good dose of elixir

Even the punniness of sitting on a windswept tree stump in Blanket Bay knitting a baby blanket last weekend could not shake my autumn of discontent.

If I could just get on with enjoying autumn for what it is I would be happy. I have been trying.

I have drawn deeply on the fragrance of trees shedding their leaves, marvelled at the light when the sun has appeared, wondered when I might get a break from mowing the lawn and, in the cool evenings, basked in the glow from recently gathered pine cones.

I have relished the handful of runner beans, sneakily produced by plants I feared had forgotten their purpose in my garden, and the few fruit begrudgingly yielded by tomatoes which might have liked a more attentive gardener.

Over the last month buckets full of apples from my ridiculously fecund trees have been picked and pressed upon anyone who has caught my eye.

I have risked life and limb foraging for walnuts and crab apples on banks beside country roads. I have made jars of pickled crab apples. I am not sure why. Because I have an innate ability never to follow a recipe properly, I have jars of gloopy leftover liquor from this venture. It is bright ruby, vinegar-sharp, spicy and sugary, all at once. Elspeth's Elixir, I call it.

Its consistency, a cross between a syrup and a jelly, makes me wonder what it would be like should anyone get an uncontrollable urge to throw it at someone. I imagine it would slither gently down someone's lapel while aggressively forcing its smell to the back of the nearest throat.

The health authorities will be concerned if I make outrageous claims about this product not backed by rigorous clinical trials, but my hypothesis is that it could have head-clearing properties similar (but classier) to those offered by a good sniff of an ammonia bottle. And during this autumn of the current Government, much head-clearing is required.

What a pity Justice and ACC Minister Judith Collins hasn't been foregoing milk to sprinkle this stuff on her cornflakes. The resulting catch in her throat might make her sound more reasonable when she tells us nothing much about high dining in China. It might also have rendered her speechless long enough to reflect on the merits of blaming Labour for that dreadful ACC form, when reports suggest problems with it had been drawn to her attention two years ago.

Another MP who could have done with a dollop or two of Elspeth's Elixir on the back of his tongue recently is Labour leader David Cunliffe. His gaffe-o-meter readings might have been temporarily lowered had he been stopped from shouting about things that don't matter, such as political exposure on royal tours. He could have spent time instead telling his immigration spokesman Rajen Prasad to shut up about the impending visit of domestic goddess Nigella Lawson next month to do a chocolate ad.

Then there is the new Act New Zealand leader, Jamie Whyte, who has unveiled the party's three strikes policy which would see burglars serve three years' jail on their third burglary conviction. This policy would even apply to people who already have burglary convictions, according to the party's questions and answers on this.

Is that fair? Why not round up all burglars who have already been punished for three burglaries and whack them into jail too? I'd prescribe nuts liberally coated in EE for Jamie and friends, but they probably wouldn't get the symbolism.

For United Future's Peter Dunne, the treatment for his ridiculous political posturing over his U-turn on legal highs, would involve freeze-drying the EE and getting him to snort it. To hell with safety.

Does anyone on the current political scene stop for a moment to consider what would possibly be attractive to a non-voter about any of their most publicised recent goings-on? If they would like an all-time low voter turnout on September 20, they are marching relentlessly in that direction. Unless they can convince habitual non-voters or voting virgins they have any relevance to their lives, why would any of those people set foot in a draughty hall to fill in a form encouraging any of them? So depressing.

I toyed with the idea of slopping some EE down my own lapels as a colourful protest against the futility of it all, but realised the sight of it nestling beside the other detritus on my front would hardly raise an eyebrow.

To preserve any slim shred of dignity, and prevent me hurling my elixir at any passing politician, I will lock the jars away for three years in Act-approved style. If it's turned into something dangerous by then, it won't be my fault.

- Elspeth McLean is a Dunedin writer.

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