The Diary: Red-sock fever raises temperature and spirits

National MPs Gerry Brownlee and Alfred Ngaro show some ankle-length sartorial support for Emirates Team New Zealand at Parliament.
National MPs Gerry Brownlee and Alfred Ngaro show some ankle-length sartorial support for Emirates Team New Zealand at Parliament.

Gerry Brownlee and Alfred Ngaro have shown that even politicians can demonstrate flair when the pride of the nation is at stake.

The two Tory MPs have been wearing red socks around Parliament to show their support for Emirates Team NZ. And they haven't even gagged knowing that's the colour of their rivals the Labour Party.

Talking of gagging, TVNZ's Martin Tasker has been gagged at work - by his voice. The overworked yachting reporter, who's been in San Fran since July, complained of laryngitis. Some viewers questioned yesterday whether he was hungover, his voice was so husky. He wasn't. "Having him do live-crosses at midnight for the 6 o'clock news is ridiculous," said a network pal on the ground there.

Also there, somewhere, is Trevor Mallard. We know he's in San Fran because he booked an open ticket. The taxpayer-funded spectator told Breakfast this week, "I'd like to see the Cup concluded before I come home." Who wouldn't? Seems he's keen to play the postponement card. Coming home is not enticing, with arch-nemesis David Cunliffe in power wielding a demotion wand.

Mallard, who lost his role as shadow leader of the House, was spotted out on the Team NZ chase boat this week in his Lycra cycling gear, but back here, political hacks say he's screening calls and won't return messages. "To paraphrase Otis, he's sittin' on the dock of the bay wastin' time," one chortled.

So inconspicuous has he been that parliamentarians took to Twitter on Wednesday to play Where's Trev?

Peter Dunne and Judith Collins joked he could be hiding out at Alcatraz. "Mallard, the Birdman of Alcatraz. Geddit?" guffawed political blogger/TV producer Tim Watkin.

Steven Joyce offered his search and rescue skills when he was out on a chase boat yesterday. "Saw Trevor Mallard. Passed on message to phone home," he tweeted.

"But it's so much nicer in the House not having to put up with that twerp," Paula Bennett jeered.

Mallard will have to deal with more than relegation when he returns. The foes of the captain of the ABC (Anyone But Cunliffe) Club are circling. They want to see Mallard's bills from his junket. "Any chance Parliamentary Service might ask for its money back?" asked Collins.

Move over Dick Cheney

Epsom-based National MP Paul Goldsmith is sporting sticking plaster between his eyebrows. He was in Wairarapa deer-shooting for the first time. He held the rifle up to his eye to line up the shot but wasn't holding it properly. The rifle recoiled and struck him in the head. It wasn't entirely in vain. He got his mark.

Not-so-thin red line

Auckland Council's counsel, Wendy Brandon, is now (officially) a spin doctor for the Labour Party, taking up the post of David Cunliffe's chief of staff on October 1.

She worked in his office on secondment when he was Minister of Health in the last Labour Government. She was spotted on television cheering at Cunliffe's victory party on Sunday night, which I'm told, raised some eyebrows.

Brandon is on the council's executive leadership team that is responsible for giving elected representatives apolitical advice and keeping above partisan politics.

Mr Nice Guy goes Angry

Corin Dann's Twitter account exploded on Wednesday. Followers momentarily thought TVNZ's political editor was an Angry Birds fan, and they liked it. But Dann said his phone was hijacked by his "enterprising 4-year-old". Evidently a dexterous infant who, as many cynically pointed out, used correct grammar and punctuation. Simon Bradwell came to his colleague's defence: "Hey, if John McCain can play poker in a Senate hearing. Corin Dann can play Angry Birds".

Fleur's LA confidential

Bikinis are de rigueur for actress and filmmaker Fleur Saville, who's living in LA. The former Shorty St star was snapped in the pool recording her podcast series, Giraffe Park, sponsored by Apogee. She has also co-produced and starred in Blood Punch, a film shot in the States with an entirely Kiwi cast. It's just been selected for the prestigious Austin Film Festival and will be released online soon. Saville, the voice artist, is working too on a major video game to be released next year. Plus, there's the LA high life, hanging out with Jacqui Hunter (Rach's sis) on Mulholland Drive and watching Julie Andrews at the Hollywood Bowl. Busy times.

Fleur Saville (left) chills out in LA with Aussie comedian Greta Lee Jackson.
Fleur Saville (left) chills out in LA with Aussie comedian Greta Lee Jackson.

Ridges tackle journo

A Fairfax reporter at the Sally Ridge/ Adam Parore case this week was reprimanded for writing sardonic tweets on his personal Twitter account. He'd been delivering acerbic bons mots during the breaks to his Twitter followers, saying, among other things, that Sally had asked for an adjournment so she could go to SPQR restaurant, and that Jaime looked tanned, and bored.

He hadn't, however, anticipated that the Ridge ladies would read his droll anecdotes from the public gallery.

They complained to counsel.

After a mid-afternoon break on Wednesday, the lawyers launched into the journalist, whereupon he sheepishly volunteered to delete all the tweets to avoid being reported to the judge.

"They blew up at me in court," Rob Kidd told The Diary. "I said, 'Why don't we all calm down and I'll delete them.' Writing those tweets was just something to entertain myself. It's very boring there.

"But Sally and Jaime were outraged. They take themselves very seriously."

- NZ Herald

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