Winston Peters ­answered the phone and put me on speaker.

"Do it now!" he said, or something similarly curt.

"Okay. Umm. Sure. Umm. ­Sorry, just let me get my tape rolling."

It was 2005. I was a student journalist working out of a poky little back office at journalism school.


I called up Winston for a ­story.

I've no idea now what it was, but Winston Peters cannot have been many months away from becoming the minister for foreign affairs.

I was a bit stoked at having tracked him down so easily and pleased he agreed to a quick interview.

Given the portfolio he was about to assume, it seems staggering now I managed to find his cellphone number somewhere fairly obvious on the internet.

That's New Zealand, I guess. Consider the United States.

The mayors of big cities travel with big security teams and in some cases are provided their own bulletproof ­vehicles.

It would be highly unusual for any major presidential candidate to travel on a commercial flight during their campaign.

And good luck to any young student journalists trying to find senators' cell numbers on the internet.


There are a few international exceptions, of course.

When he was mayor of London, I once had a chat to Boris Johnson as he rode the tube, with his bike, to work. I sat next to Elizabeth Warren on a train, and Joe Biden famously still uses public transport to get to work.

Depending on your location, you may feel more valued by your electoral MP than others do in different parts of the country.

I'd hazard a guess that in most places outside our big cities, you can still ring up the local mayor at home and let him or her know when the rubbish isn't collected.

All in all, we're lucky to share in a society where you can still knock on the door of the person in charge. And even if they do palm you off to their EA or to someone in the office, there isn't immediate cause for despair.

So often in life it's the person-behind-the-person who actually gets stuff done.

Jack Tame is on NewstalkZB Saturday, 9-noon.