This is my last column for TimeOut and I'm a little bit sad about it. However, after nine years of doing this entertainment gig, it's time for a change. But, before I go, here are 10 reasons why I've loved this job.
Interviewing Gaga. She was yet to become super-duper famous, but talking to her in Los Angeles in 2008, the month her debut album The Fame came out, left me with no doubt that she would be the biggest thing since Madonna. She had it all. A staunch character, a plan for world domination and the look - which, that day, included a crystal-encrusted bustier and six-inch skyscraper heels.
Heavy metal. Writing a regular metal column - as in heavy metal - in TimeOut is one of my proudest achievements because (and excuse me for getting on my soapbox) the mighty metal genre is under-appreciated by society in general and this was my chance to serve up bands like Isis, Meshuggah, and Polish death metallers Decapitated to the masses.
A world concert tour. They don't do junkets like this any more. The three-week jaunt in mid-2007 started at Coachella in the Californian desert, then it was off to Atlanta for Christina Aguilera, and in New York I was meant to see the Killers but they cancelled, so I had two days' leisure time in the Big Apple. Yee-ha. Over to Britain and first stop Birmingham, the home of Black Sabbath and Napalm Death, for, um, Justin Timberlake, then on to Glasgow for Bryan "Summer of 69" Adams, back down to Manchester for Lionel "Oh what a feelin"' Richie and to London for an interview with Brian May and Queen musical We Will Rock You.
An audience with Amy Winehouse. It was quite sad actually. She was a wreck: very skinny, with glassy eyes. Along with five other journalists, I crammed into the late star's trailer at Coachella for an interview, during which she refused to answer questions, slugged vodka shots, and, rather oddly, put her hands down her pants.
Interviewing Dave Grohl. I'd always wanted to talk to him and when Foo Fighters came here to play the benefit show for Christchurch in March 2011, I got the chance. We talked about Nirvana, Husker Du, and being a dad. That's rock 'n' roll.
Gliding with Richie McCaw. I thought if I was ever going to conquer my fear of heights, then I may as well do it under the steady hand of the All Black captain. The interview and glider flight was for a story about a Discovery Channel show McCaw appeared in. He took me up in his trusty flying machine over the plains and hills of Omarama and we didn't talk about rugby once. He really is a very nice chap.
The Cure, live. They were the first band I ever really loved and I'd seen them before, but the British band's three-hour show at Vector Arena in 2007 was a treat even though I spent the majority of it squelching around on someone's discarded hamburger and chips. But better still, in June 2011 at the Sydney Opera House, the Cure played their first three albums in their entirety and then a greatest hits and obscurities set. Just like heaven, I tell ya.
The two Justins. Bieber and Timberlake. Yes, they are enormously talented and very rich, but, when you get down to it, they are just like you and me. Not that they think that. They think they're pretty special actually. Timberlake insisted on specific lines of questioning and me signing a contract to ensure it, while Bieber kept me waiting for almost two hours at midnight on a Saturday. Rude little boy.
I wish ... I'd had the opportunity to interview Stevie Wonder, Robert Smith (of the Cure), and Beyonce, because Bootylicious remains one of my favourite pop songs.
Writing. That's what I do, or at least did, and I loved it. For me, entertainment and music writing is about telling a good yarn, informing people and entertaining them - and I hope that's what I've done over the years. Thanks for reading. I'm outta here.