The Five Eyes spy conference is taking place in Arrowtown and everyone knows about it.
Just goes to show: it doesn't matter what the industry is, the conference game is all about making a holiday in a sexy destination look like a work expense.

Fair enough: every Bond movie is about exotic locations, so you can understand real spies wanting to live out the fantasy, at least once a year, on the company credit card. Even someone from MI6 has to fill out an IR5.

What's the bet they chose Arrowtown because it sounds like a macho code name?
I'm no expert on espionage but - shouldn't spies be meeting in an underground bunker? Preferably wallpapered in tinfoil? And perhaps, in secret?

Wouldn't they at least name the conference something else? Instead of landing in plain-packaged aircraft - the most conspicuous aircraft of all - in a country where shoplifted cheese makes the front page - couldn't they invent a convention of, say, stamp-collectors, or grape-peelers, or magician's assistants, and supply everyone with fake glasses, new fingerprints, fake lanyards, and do the whole thing incognito?


Full disclosure: when I first heard Five Eyes, I misheard it: as FlyBuys. So, couldn't they have called it a FlyBuys (wink, wink) conference? Five Eyes is definitely a loyalty programme; and the goal is to score points.

I imagine attendees span the spectrum, from the John Le Carré shade of grey, to the volatile Jason Bourne type: during a dry PowerPoint, ("Flip for Profit: How To Turn Double Agents into Triple Agents",) his suppressed memories suddenly erupt, and he attacks people either side of him with the complementary Biro.

At the dinner, they give out awards like Spy of the Year, for accomplishments nobody is allowed to detail. The winner is required to swallow the trophy - a handy capsule-sized trophy - before the night is done.

During the meal, jokes about ISIS, North Korea and Turkey. The humblebrags mount up: "Oh we never had food like this in Chechnya. Not that I was ever there."

And over dessert, a humorous screening of Donald's video from the Russian hotel.
The truth is, for all we know, this is the decoy conference, and the real conference is happening somewhere else.

Come to think of it, who's to say the Comedy Festival, which kicks off today, isn't the real Five Eyes conference? It'd be the perfect cover.

People turning up from various English speaking countries, in and out, lots of stamps in their passport, and nobody would suspect these comedy routines are in fact, encrypted lectures on best practice spycraft.

Fuller disclosure: I'm doing a show in the Comedy Festival - this weekend, as it happens - so as far as I know, it's a genuine comedy festival, and not just an elaborate, Illuminati-funded get-together for spies hiding in plain sight. (But then again, if I were a spy, I would say that, wouldn't I?)


In other international intrigue, two young German backpackers were caught shoplifting from Pak'nSave.

They've been punished, but the real punishment has gone to Pak'nSave, in the media, for returning the retrieved items, including meat and cheese, to the shelves.

What experiences did this meat and cheese go through, once kidnapped, which the eventual buyers would have wanted to know about? What memories are these vacuum-packs of meat and cheese holding in?

The mind boggles.

Quite frankly, the mind boggles how you manage to leave Pak'nSave with meat and beer worth $84.65, on your person.

What did they do, consume it in the aisle?

Did they wrap the meat around their biceps, and at the checkout, try to look like bodybuilders?

This is one of those cases where it's best not to know.

But honestly, what crime did these backpackers commit?

This place is called Pak'nSave. And that's exactly what these two backpackers did. We're not sure exactly how they packed, but they definitely saved. Until they were caught.

Besides, I'd say the journey of meat and cheese, from the paddock, to the shelf, is something none of us wants to think too much about.

A lot of it would be unappetising, if not downright traumatic, to contemplate. Abattoir video, anyone? Is a quick joy-ride with some shoplifters, once wrapped in plastic, the worst thing this meat and cheese has been through?

I guess this experience will teach Pak'nSave for not providing bags. Say what you like about hiding things - however these guys hid it - at least the human long intestine is biodegradable.

Raybon Kan's show 'Positive Pessimist' is at Q Theatre on April 28-29, part of the NZ International Comedy Festival. But he would say that.