Key Points:

Peter Davis walks briskly, dodging cars, grumbling about red-light runners.

On our 40-minute walk from his Mt Eden villa to the University of Auckland I am almost run over three times, as the First Husband - a term he dislikes intensely - leaves me for dust.

Later that day, on the bus home, he relaxes among students and other workers who are oblivious to who they're sitting alongside.

Davis loves his daily commute. He leaves at 5.30am most days (a little later, if Clark's at home). "People hardly recognise me most of the time ... and it's good for the environment. I also think it's funny that the husband of the Prime Minister can get on a bus without being stared at, and without security issues."

It's also not a bad move in these straitened economic times but, as Davis tells me, the financial crisis "hasn't hit people" yet, let alone a frugal couple like the Davis/Clarks, who are mortgage-free in a home they bought 30 years ago for $40,000.

"I think there is a big problem out there but it hasn't hit people in their pockets.

"There were increases in prices and, of course, it hits people on low incomes but, if you look at it, the average inflation of 5 per cent is not exactly a crisis. It's just up and down on the sharemarket."

He concedes the Davis/Clark finances are not stretched. Clark is away most of the time and Davis reckons his weekly household spend is about $100. He pays all the bills and hasn't noticed much of an increase. "I remember times when inflation leapt double figures so 5 per cent is not that bad."

He reveals the couple is with Contact for gas, and he doesn't see a need to change, despite the controversy surrounding the directors' fees.

"I think if it's a commercial company, you can't expect them to follow anything other than commercial practices but I think it's important for there to be some framework."

Auckland City's new property valuations have just been delivered but Davis says he hasn't seen his - official records show it's $740,000. "Someone sold their house for just under a million so I think that's pretty average for around here."

We pass some graffiti. He calls it "urban art. It's not a problem to me if it's properly managed," he says.

He is alarmed at what I'm wearing - a Kate Sylvester black dress and Chloe flats. He is dressed to conquer mountains - a hiking jacket, air tech shirt and trainers.

We discuss his marriage. He says he is sentimental, rather than romantic. He loves his wife. "The best thing I can do is make Helen a pot of tea in bed," he laughs. "Mind you, I enjoy a pot of tea myself."

However, the PM is a romantic. "But she has to switch off from work and it's a hard thing to do. Frankly, we have our special time together when we go on holiday. I mean, week by week, there is always something coming up."

I ask if they shower together, to conserve water. "No! No, no - we don't use much water at all."

Davis likes to keep away from the limelight. He attends some functions but he doesn't see Clark for most of the week. It is a lifestyle they have grown used to for the past 25 years. Luxury is not something he is accustomed to, unless you count those regular holidays - which Clark pays for.

He and Clark rarely discuss politics. "The last thing she wants is her husband banging on about pet projects. I try to separate it out. I mean, it can overwhelm your life if you don't."

He does, however, describe his wife's rival, John Key, as "plausible" and he hopes that Barack Obama is elected president of the United States.

Should Bronagh Key become "First Lady", Davis urges her to keep her private life private. "You have to be yourself ... and also I have skipped some opportunities that I could have enjoyed because I have been very devoted to work and didn't want to upset my employer."

But he's still feeling confident for his wife. He says he takes Clark's word that the "feeling on the ground is very good". He doesn't find elections nerve-racking any more.

We wander past a billboard for breast cancer, an image of two poached eggs with pink bits where the yolk should be.

I ask him if he likes the billboard. "The boundaries people push are remarkable. That's meant to be a serious ad for breast cancer but it could be a little bit out of taste -and yet, somehow, you feel it's okay.

"I think a lot of ads are so sexualised now and completely over the top - not that I am a prude or anything."

This leads to an inevitable question - does he like sex?

"Arr ... err ... hello, that guy took interest in what you just said," says Davis, referring to another pedestrian.

Well, do you like sex? He mumbles for a moment. "Well that is a personal part of my life ... and I don't want to talk about that."

Later, Davis emails me, apologising for almost killing me.

"I was not much delayed, surprisingly. And apologies for that near-mishap early on.

Bad call!"