It was good of John to lend me his Maui holiday home this week as I go in to bat for New Zealand in the TPP deal. I found the address but couldn't find the key anywhere. I looked under the front doormat. Not there. I looked under the pot plants. Not there.
I called him at home, and said, "Where's the key?"
"The Key is here, The Key is ev'ry-where. He be The Man on Instagram, he be The Dude on YouTube. The Key ain't got amnesia, The Key got Amelia."
I said, "Max, is your dad there?"
John came on the line. "The key's under the front doormat," he said. "Now listen. These trade talks. Play hardball on dairy. Bottom line, we don't sign unless we get major concessions on dairy. No dairy, no deal. Got that?"
The line went dead.
It wasn't too bad sleeping in the pool house. I always travel with a tin of Wattie's and a can opener - you never know when you'll need them when you're New Zealand's trade minister - and spooned down the hearty cold meal as I shone my phone light on papers, and read up on delegates from Mexico, Peru, Chile, and Singapore.
The battery went dead before I got to information about delegates from Japan, Canada, and the US. Never mind. I stretched out on the concrete floor and got 40 winks, or close to it.
The guy from Federated Farmers said, "You don't look like you slept a wink, and the stains on your tie match the colour of baked beans."
We met in a room at Westin Resort and Spa, where the TPP talks are due to begin tomorrow. I said, "Don't worry about me. Listen, what do you know about the delegates from Japan, Canada, and the US?"
He said, "I know that if those bastards don't give our dairy products commercially meaningful access, then forget it, deal's off. Right?"
I got my phone charged in the room. Just then it rang, and John's number came up. We had a brief conversation.
After it finished, I said to the Federated Farmers guy, "Let's redefine 'commercially meaningful access'. We shouldn't be too dogmatic about these things."
He said, "What are you suggesting?"
I said, "Well, it's not the end of the world if we settle for commercially meaningless access."
I woke up in the pool house with a splitting headache. The smell of all that chlorine is quite overpowering. I bought a small packet of Aspirin at the lobby of the Westin resort, and sat down for talks.
It was hard to follow what everyone was saying. They had seats at the table and I was placed beneath the table with a begging bowl.
I couldn't get rid of my headache, and had to buy another packet of Aspirin in the afternoon. The girl behind the counter said that would be $50.
I said, "But it was $10 this morning."
She said, "Are you going to buy it or not?"
I called John. He said, "Just buy it. At the end of the day increases in medical prescriptions will be offset by gains in other areas."
I said, "What other areas?"
He said, "Gotta go. Oh and hey the key's under a pot plant."
The line went dead.
I held up the begging bowl to a delegate from the US. He said, "I'd like to help you out. Let's go some place and talk. Is your place far?"
When we got there, he said, "Wow. Nice pool. Hey, d'you have anything to eat?"
He didn't stay long.
Final day of the talks. Things weren't looking too good. I phoned John, and Max said, "Bro, can you clean the pool? I feel like heading back to the crib to chill, yo."
I said, "Is your dad there?"
I put the phone on speaker, and got out the pool vac.