"Well, team," I said to caucus this morning, "Merry Christmas!"
There were a few mumbled replies.
"It's been quite a year for the party," I continued. "It's had its ups and downs, that's for sure."
Someone called out, "About those ups. What were they?"
I laughed, and said, "That's a good one! I enjoy a joke, you know. We all do, and that's why I've brought some wacky things to caucus today. Here! Pass them around."
I put on my paper hat, and blew on a party horn.
"Come on, team," I said.
Paula Bennett put on her party hat, and blew on her party horn.
"Do it, everyone," she yelled.
Caucus sat around wearing paper hats and rather dolefully parping on party horns.
When the noise died down, Maggie Barry stood up, and said, "I'd just like to take this opportunity to thank caucus for their support. The accusations of bullying are baseless, as you all know. But I'm touched by your support and want you to know how very grateful I am that you are standing with me."
There was complete silence.
I didn't know what to say so I picked up my party horn, and blew on it very, very loudly.
"Stop that," Paula yelled.
I met with Paula in the basement carpark at midnight.
"How will I find you?" she'd said. "It's very dark in there."
"I'll make a noise when I see you," I said.
I saw her enter and got her attention. She found me, and I whispered, "Who the hell was texting what went on with Maggie in caucus yesterday to the media?"
I whispered it a bit louder.
"You'll have to speak up," she said.
I asked her in a normal voice, and before she had a chance to answer, I heard a maniacal laugh in the darkness.
"Jami!" I called out. "Is that you?"
I heard footsteps running away. I took chase, blowing my party horn, and yelling, "Stop! Stop!"
I was thrown out of the House during question time. Gerry Brownlee, too. And then in a wonderful display of unity, quite a lot of National's MPs staged a walk-out.
A few stayed. Most of them had questions lined up, so they couldn't leave. There might have been one or two others, three or four at most, maybe more, who stayed, but they had equally good reason to stay where they were and not budge.
I texted the MPs who did walk out to come and meet me across the road for a quiet drink.
I waited at the bar, and had a very quiet drink.
Maggie met me for a drink.
"I am not a bully," she said.
"I know you're not."
"Anyone who says I am is a nutter."
I sipped at my beer.
"Certifiable," she continued. "Mad. Crackers. A total nutter."
"Maggie," I said, "these aren't term I think we ought to use. People with mental health issues are – "
"Nutters," she interrupted. "They're nutters. Not right in the head. That's just the actual definition of people with mental health issues."
She had a good point. I sipped at my beer, and she continued talking.
I was packing to go home for the weekend, and remembered I'd left my phone charger in the caucus room. I went in and saw paper hats and party horns abandoned on the table. I put on one of the hats, and got a limousine to the airport.