Fran O'Sullivan on business

Business analysis and comment from Herald columnist Fran O'Sullivan

Fran O'Sullivan: Times are tough, just enjoy it

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Mike Tindall's night of drinks, dwarfs, and a drop-dead gorgeous blonde was made for the British tabloids and provided a welcome break from the Auckland fan zone debacle.

Thank you, Mike.

After days of relentless finger-pointing (Was it John or Len to blame for the irrational exuberance that enticed too many of us into town - and do we still care?), it was hilarious to read that Tindall got a little fresh at a "Mad Midget Weekender" in Queenstown.

To be precise, he came perilously close to her cleavage.

That Tindall has just married the Queen's granddaughter added a certain extra to this story. But the response of the English team's management to their captain's excesses was also instructive.

"Mike and several of the players were enjoying an evening out after he had led the team to a hard-earned victory over Argentina. Like all the lads he plays for England with a massive amount of passion and he was relaxing after a tough match," was the official spokesman's line.

For once there was none of that sanctimonious grandstanding that happens here whenever an All Black is filmed worse for wear (Remember Tana Umaga's "silly walk" after that Christchurch game?) or a Top Model contestant is sprung as having drug-user friends through photographs on her Facebook page.

Sure the odd rugby commentator or three (particularly the Brits) were quick to reprise the high-profile sex scandal that the team was embroiled in last time they trotted out to our little colony in 2008.

Others thought a night on the tiles accompanied by the dwarfs might just free them up sufficiently to play as hard on the field as they do off it.

It's hard to imagine Graham Henry being sanguine in such circumstances.

If the All Blacks coach is anything like the persona that pops up on Air New Zealand's safety videos, you could expect him to swiftly make good on his promise that any rule-flouting player will be dropped because we can't "have that sort of disruption in the team".

The real point is that surely we can now put all the fan zone drama behind us and get back to enjoying the Rugby World Cup. There's been plenty of drama already. Watching the former Cold War warriors toughing it out in New Plymouth the other night was great sport on several levels.

Particularly, the arrival of Miss Russia, Natalia Gantimurova, on a private turboprop with billionaire Russian Standard Vodka founder Roustam Tariko.

Good also to see our Prime Minister cosying up to Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Zhukov, making one of those special connections that will assist New Zealand as we move to cement a trade agreement with that country.

There will be many more VIPs coming our way in the coming weeks to cheer on their nation's teams.

And frankly, we should all make the most of it because the Age of Austerity is not over yet.

Christine Lagarde - who stepped in as managing director of the International Monetary Fund after Dominique Strauss-Kahn was brought down by scandal - warns the global economy is facing a crisis of confidence.

Lagarde cites "policy indecision" and "political dysfunction" as the root cause and emphasised that short-term pressures on the balance sheets of European banks and US households risked the creation of a vicious circle.

Neither the European Governments nor the US had done nearly enough to consolidate their long-term fiscal positions.

And so it goes on.

Obviously, New Zealand is not immune.

Bill English is now saying our Government might face difficulties keeping to its own timetable to get its Budget back into the black.

The Reserve Bank Governor warns banks might have to pay more for international credit. The dollar is still high. And Christchurch hasn't stopped shaking.

This will inevitably mean more belt-tightening by the Government, companies and householders.

So, while I don't think Gordon Gekko will be rearing his head again as fast as our PM rather optimistically predicted in early 2009, we should enjoy a burst of irrational exuberance in these coming weeks irrespective of who wins the Rugby World Cup.

As for Mike Tindall, I really can't see him emulating the wonderful British actor, the late Sir John Gielgud.

Asked if he had any regrets at the end of a long and illustrious career, Gielgud replied, "Yes dear boy, that I didn't get laid more."

This is rugby after all.

- NZ Herald

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