We of the journalistic persuasion are not immune to the odd argument.

Naturally, when one writes something for wholesale public consumption one has to be prepared to defend the words published.

More often than not people will just disagree and you can have a good old debate over the issues again. And again, more often than not, you can part on reasonable terms just agreeing to disagree.

But occasionally somebody wants blood. They are the vein-pumping-in-the-forehead types who are just up for the stoush.


Luckily, having been a member of the Royal and Ancient Society of Journalists, for the better part of 40 years I have been called upon to defend my words against such individuals probably only half a dozen times.

As of last Wednesday you can make that seven.

Mrs P and I were walking in town when a guy who had been sitting in his car got out and walked down the footpath after me.

"Kevin Page?" he demanded, and, as I turned around, "You wrote that thing about X."

I should point out here that "X" is not actually what he said. "X" is actually irrelevant.

While I struggled to recall "X" (my full-time reporting and writing days were before I had a hole in my haircut), he let go with both barrels.

If we'd been on telly there would have been a lot of beeping. I may have also had to show him my birth certificate just to show I had parents, if you know what I mean.

Sensing this could be a somewhat distasteful encounter, I reluctantly suggested Mrs P walk on (I say reluctantly because I knew she would be alone with the credit card) while I conversed with the "gentleman". OK, I might have whispered "dickhead" to my beloved as I gently ushered her away.


So, this guy is into me about something I've written. Unfortunately I can't immediately remember what but as he continues I pick up on some details. Then I've got it.

"Mate, that was 18 years ago," I said incredulously.

If I'm honest, part of me wanted to give him a hug. I mean, I'm not Shakespeare so 18 years is a long time to be stewing over words I've written. In fact 18 minutes is probably too long. And in case you are wondering, it wasn't actually anything terrible. More my coverage of a political report, the findings of which he disagreed with. And still did obviously.

For a moment I wondered if he'd spent the past 18 years sitting in his car waiting for me. Just itching to have a go.

So now I had two choices. Smile and say, as you do, "well we'll just have to agree to disagree", or give as good as I was getting.

I am lucky (depending on your viewpoint) to have worked with some great exponents when it comes to arguments. I've seen some combatants reduced to tears of frustration by others who have argued forcefully for hours that black is white or vice versa.

I've also seen a guy rip a phone out of the wall after one argument and hurl it through the window of the office. It was bad enough that it shattered the glass but that we were three stories up above a busy city pavement didn't help.


I decided I'd push back a little. Bugger it. Why not? I was just out minding my business and this guy was spoiling my day.

It wasn't a screaming match, more a firm exchange of views, especially when he calmed down a bit.

Eventually Mrs P returned from testing our credit rating and I was able to call a halt to the proceedings and he headed back to his car and we to ours.

"He was pretty angry, wasn't he?" said Mrs P as we got in our car.

I agreed he was.

He would likely be angrier when he got back to his car. While he was arguing face to face with me I'd seen a parking warden putting a ticket on his windscreen behind him.

■ Kevin Page is a teller of tall tales with a firm belief too much serious news gives you frown lines. Feel free to share stories to kevin.page@nzme.co.nz .