I was sitting around with my head in my hands just for the fun of it when the phone rang and Mary said, "What should we have for dinner tonight?"

"I could make pizza," I said.

"Oh God."

"Hello?", I said, but the line had gone dead.


I sighed, and thought I'd better get on with the day. I looked at the whiteboard of things to do. There was a question mark next to Hit & Run.

Hager and Stephenson's book apparently claims that a botched SAS operation in Afghanistan led to the death of five or six civilians. I don't know the exact figure. As the interim Prime Minister of New Zealand, I simply don't have time to read books by Communists.

I phoned Lieutenant General Tim Keating, head of the defence force, and asked him if there was anything in it. He said there wasn't. I told him that was good enough for me, but that the public might also want someone independent to run their eye over it. He said he knew just the man. I asked him who that was, and he said, "Hang on, I'll just get him."

I waited a second, and then a voice that sounded exactly like Tim Keating said, "Hello, sir."

I said, "Are you the independent observer?"

The man said, "Yes, sir."

"Good," I said. "Do you think we ought to hold an inquiry into the claims made by Hit & Run?"

"No, sir."

"Thank you. Could you pass the phone back to Lieutenant General Tim Keating, please?"

I waited a second, and then a voice that sounded exactly like the independent observer said, "Hello, sir."

I said, "Well, your man was pretty emphatic."

"Yes, sir."

"I'm satisfied that we can lay the whole matter to rest."

"Yes, sir. Quite agree, sir. I mean just look at Hager and Stephenson, sir. One of them looks like he might be an Arab, sir. Will that be all, sir?"

"Yes. Actually - no. I'd like your advice on something else. Do you have a moment?"

"Certainly, sir."

"I was thinking of making pizza tonight for the family."


"Pizza. it's an Italian dish, quite simple once you know how; you get a can of spaghetti and a can of pineapple, and pour them onto a pizza base with some other ingredients. But there's a trick to it. Can you guess?"

"No, sir."

"You drain the liquid out of the cans first."


"So the liquid doesn't pour onto the pizza base, and drown it. Do you follow?"

"I think so, sir. Spaghetti and pineapple. On a pizza."

"That's it. But here's the thing. What do you advise I add? Any ideas? Or maybe your independent mate can suggest something?"

"I'll ask him if you like."

"Do that."

I waited a second, and then the independent observer said, "Maybe some bacon, spring onion, and cheese, sir."

"I'm writing that down. Bacon ... spring onion ... what was the other thing?"

"Cheese, sir."

"Cheese. Good. Thanks for that. Can you pass on my regards to the Lieutenant Colonel? I'd better run."



Sat around with my head in my hands.