Keith Richards has spoken about whether tomorrow's Rolling Stones show might be the last in New Zealand, and of his extended exile in Remuera following brain surgery after he fell out of a tree in Fiji.
Unable to fly, the now 70-year-old Rolling Stones guitarist and family spent a month at the deluxe Cotter House after his operation at nearby Ascot Hospital by surgeon Andrew Law. He didn't mind the boredom of his convalescence, which came after the Stones' last New Zealand tour in 2006.
"Actually I found it a great break," he told the Herald from Brisbane where the band finished its Australian tour before tomorrow's show in Auckland.
"Because I couldn't do anything, couldn't go anywhere because half my head was shaved off and I wasn't about to go down to 'what wig should I wear?'
"So I spent a very nice three or four weeks with Gloria [Poupard-Walbridge, Cotter House's landlady] ... and I just learned how to relax for a bit. You don't often get that time off."
With the end of the Stones' tour in Auckland, which effectively finishes their 50th anniversary commitments, and no further Stones dates in the offing, Richards faces another hiatus. Could Auckland, in the words of the band's early song, be the last time for the veteran group?
"It's impossible to say with this band, considering how long it's been going on. Everyone seems to be 'where are we playing next' so I'm letting it roll with these boys. I'll hang in with them."
He said the band had recovered the momentum on the tour lost after it was postponed due to the death in March of frontman Mick Jagger's partner L'Wren Scott, but conceded it had been "a bit of a funny year".
Richards says the final Brisbane show was "fantastic" and promised Kiwi fans were in for a treat.
"With this band every show tends to get a little better, a little tighter. So far, par for the course. We're hoping in New Zealand we give you the topper."
Richards joked he was going to check in on whatever bits of his brain he might have left behind last time through Auckland, while paying tribute to his surgeon. "I'm going to inspect it. I'm going to have a good look at it when I get back.
"Doctor Andrew Law - he's a great guy. Anybody who can take the top of your head off in two hours and plop it back on ... you've got to say, that's what I call genius."
And no, he's not going back to sit in a palm tree in Fiji - he went there on the way to Australia. "And I took a chainsaw just in case."