Michelle said this morning, "Where are you going?"
"Out," I said. The driver took my bags.
She said, "Can you get some milk?"
"Well," I said, "I guess I can."
Arrived at Auckland airport just after midnight. John was there.
"Mate," he said, and shook my hand.
"Good to see you," I said.
"How was the flight?"
"Good," I said.
"Wait till you try Air New Zealand," he said. "I'm on the board."
"How's that going?"
"Good," he said.
"That's good to hear," I said.
He took my bags, and opened the door of the limo.
"See you at Kauri Cliffs tomorrow. Think you can beat me this time?" he asked, with his trademark smile.
"Hey," I laughed, "I hope I can."
Beautiful day at an exclusive course with John and his son Mick.
"How's your career in showbiz?" I asked him.
"I've kind of quit," Mick said.
"It's hard. You can have all the talent in the world, but you still need to promote the brand," I said.
"Yeah, I found it pretty hard to get any publicity," he said.
"There you go," I said.
John took my golfbag, and we walked along the green in the sunshine.
"So," he said, "how's life after politics treating you?"
"Pretty fair," I said. "I mean. Here we are."
"Here we are," he said. His phone rang. "Oh," he said. "It's Simon. New leader of my party. It'd mean a lot to him to have his photo taken talking on his phone to you. Would you mind having a quick word?"
"Sure," I said, "I suppose I can."
I met John this morning at another exclusive golf course. He said, "How was last night?"
"Good," I said. "I had dinner with Peter Jackson."
"Good guy," he said.
"He said you helped him out once," I said.
"It's about making things happen, isn't it?" he said.
"That's what it's all about," I said.
AdvertisementAdvertise with NZME.
Later I flew to Auckland and met Prime Minister Jasmine Ardern.
I said, "I hear you are expecting a baby."
She said, "I am in a few weeks."
I said, "That's so exciting."
Later there was dinner at an exclusive events venue. Stan Neil, the actor, asked me questions onstage. Well, a man has to sing for his supper, which was a choice of ginger-glazed salmon with turmeric and coconut broth, or slow-cooked beef short-rib with grilled broccolini and crispy shallots, cooked by renowned New Zealand chef Gordon Peters. I ordered both but couldn't eat it all. Stan took my doggybag, and had it taken to my hotel room.
Later I sat at the bar with John.
"Mate," he said. "End of the day? You were a great President. A great, great President."
"So were you," I said.
"Damn straight," he said, and walked to the bathroom.
I saw my reflection in the window. It was ghostly in the black glass. I didn't like what I saw looking back. It looked more dead than alive. I thought: How can you live with yourself?
And then John slapped me on the back and ordered one for the road.
Michelle called when I was at Auckland airport. "You home soon?" she asked.
"Pretty soon," I said.
"Good. Can you pick up some milk?"
The pilot took my bags. I felt very tired.
"You know," I said, "I don't know if I can."