Amid earthquakes and tsunamis hope and happiness shine through

Good Morning. This is my last outing for the year in this fine newspaper. It seems to have been a very fast year, though of course it was no faster than any other years and the impression of time passing increasingly rapidly is merely to do with age. You do start to wonder how many more summers you have left. But that's morbid.

Well, it doesn't have to be. Look at Natalie Murphy the young mum, 35 years old, whose breast cancer has gone into her liver and her spine. She is making the most of her few months remaining. She told me on the radio last weekend that she decided to cease being angry about her lot. Instead, she has accepted it, come to terms with it. There is a genuine glow in her voice. She's making sure there is plenty of evidence of her when she leaves her husband and two and a half year old behind. She was so positive. It was one of the most pleasurable interviews I've ever done.

Natalie teaches us that we don't have to be frightened of death. There's no point. It is, after all, a compulsory part of living.


But what a year. There have been some genuinely shocking events. Christchurch on February 22 was shocking. We were transfixed by the images of horror and destruction on the television as TV3's Hamish Clark kept his nerve and made his way with a camera through the central city. Hamish was in the Square when the cathedral came down. You knew there was fire and major building collapses with people trapped inside.

Then a month later, on a Friday night, we watched the international channels in awe as the tsunami from what they now call the Great East Japan Earthquake swept away the way of life of tens of thousands with awesome, unobstructed power. When it stopped there was nothing but silence. In the weeks that followed you wondered how they would ever clean the mess up. And for a while we seemed to teeter on another Chernobyl.

Then a month later there was one of those special once-in-a-lifetime pageants, a British royal wedding. As Kate and Wills drove up the Mall in Dad's Aston Martin a lip reader was able to observe Kate saying, "Are you happy, Babe?" It was an affair so beautifully old and so refreshingly modern.

In a brilliantly executed action the Americans swooped on Osama bin Laden in a house in Pakistan and next thing he was dead. They took his body straight out to sea and dumped it. End of that story.

There was the flourish of the Arab Spring blossoming first in Tunisia before sweeping across to that heaving, impatient uprising in Cairo and the ousting of Mubarak. Thousands are being shot in Syria as they demand democracy. And the crowds this time are denouncing their own leaders not shouting "Death to America!" And Libya and the mad Gaddafi. Gaddafi was caught in a sewer and shot on a truck and was also suddenly very dead.

Norway had a spine-chilling maniac with a burning-eyed stare cut a swathe of death through a youth camp on a pretty summer island. Over 70 people died. He even had a car bomb explode in Oslo as a feint.

Back home the Rena went aground and no one knows yet how that could have happened. Or for that matter, how those containers stayed on that ship at that impossible angle.

Then Conrad Murray, Michael Jackson's doctor went down for manslaughter. Murray was a strange customer. Multi children from multi women, for which we can read "needed the dough".


Mind you Murray's client was himself even more bizarre than most of us understood, so it emerged at the trial. Jackson had a jug of urine by his bed. He was skin and bone and had puncture marks all over his arms and legs. Was there no one to say stop! So much for the Jackson family, if you ask me.

Somewhere in the dizzying middle of it all, we won a Rugby World Cup. Then we had an election and John Key bounced back with a gleeful face while Labour went away to agonise. But the Cup Final score of 8-7 has already become a metaphor for a thin margin. Nikki Kaye tells me her Auckland Central win was "an 8-7."

Anyway, David Shearer got the job David Cunliffe wanted so terribly. Isn't that often the way? You think the stars are aligning for your advancement and along comes a newbie who rips the prize out from under you. I think Cunliffe feels like he's been through the ringer. He says he'll have to go away and work out which way is up.

Then you could have knocked us all down with a feather this week. TVNZ's political editor Guyon Espiner upped and went to TV3. His departure is a hell of a loss to TVNZ and should not have happened. But the fact is he feels he's led the TVNZ political team for long enough and he wanted to move on.

I shall miss him. I've enjoyed getting to know him in the several years we've been doing Q&A. He's fun. He's a serious man with a great sense of humour. He has well tuned antennae for the absurd. He does a fine interview. Guyon is a great score for TV3. Bugger.

Have a happy Christmas and a great summer. Thank you for reading the column. See you back here in the New Year.