Please don't let the children see this. And don't read it aloud to them either if they're still at school and can't tell one end of a wrod from the othre.

There are some things the little ones simply shouldn't hear, like "Mummy's joined a book group for ladies who don't shave under their arms" or "Daddy's always put whiskey on his porridge" or "No, darling, Uncle John's finance company hasn't collapsed, he just wants to run a dairy in South Auckland".

And if those are matters that should only be broached discreetly in the drawing room whilst nanny is giving the Year 11 boys a bath, so too is the forgotten part of this silly debate about who should pay for what in the go-go (no-go?) world of transport.

Much has been said about that since the gummint announced it was scrapping the regional fuel tax - introduced last year, for the benefit of those who've been hibernating, to pay for infrastructure upgrades in the City of Sales.

Trouble is, what with annual increases an all, the RFT was soon going to cost so much that Aucklanders couldn't afford to buy anything.

Some estimates suggest that by 2012, a slum landlord in Ponsonby will pay more for a litre of petrol than the Housing Corporation has to relocate secret witnesses it's accidentally identified in documents given to peace-loving members of the Mongrel Mob.

Mindful of that, and taking into account vital transportational issues, including the fact there's more voters in one Auckland electorate than there are in the entire South Island, the gummint's decided it's better to take a little money out of a lot of pockets than persist with bankrupting the good folk who'll ultimately decide who wins the next election.

So everyone gets a 3c fuel tax and Aucklanders get a break.

This was not well received in the provinces, where God-fearing folk like to keep their doors open and their hearts locked. Across the land, Daily Bugle, Courier and Dargaville Advertiser journalists seized their quills and rushed on to the streets, eagerly soliciting their reader's views.

Which were entirely predictable. Imbued with a heady sense of generosity and nationhood (plus a dash of rampant parochialism) most said, "Why should we b****y pay for b****y Auckland! They've never b****y paid for b****y us!!

Reinforced with waggish headlines like Tanks Very Much, Dorkland and You Can't Fuel Us, Minister, this aggrievement quickly became the issue du jour.

And we all missed the point. What matters is not who pays for stuff but the stuff we're paying for.

Like trains, for crying out loud. Apparently, much of this new post-regional, national fuel tax will fund the electrification of Auckland's railways.

Well, electrify them, by all means - assuming we can persuade ourselves to build another dam (or let the Russians sell us a surplus nuclear sub we can moor off Waiheke) but don't pretend trains are the answer.

If they are, you're asking the wrong question.

Expecting trains to solve Auckland's transport woes makes as much sense as lassoing rogue elephants with spaghetti or telling Phil Goff he can win our hearts and minds by being himself.

Cities are created by the best available means we have to get around them. When that was feet, cities were small and compact. When it was trams and trains, they got bigger. Now it's cars they sprawl, like concrete amoebas, all over the place.

And people move randomly about them - from Howick to Devonport to Sylvia Park, something trains can't easily handle.

That's just how it is. Some cities were created BA (Before Automobiles) and trains make sense.

Others grew AA (After Automobiles) and they don't.

Build a motorway and get over it.

The crazy thing here is we're on the cusp of a transport revolution; hybrids, hydrogen engines, self-steering cars. The train of the future will have rubber wheels and travel on roads.

And we won't have a bar of it. Forget the future, we want trains! Well, let's bring back wakas too, as our preferred method of shipping exports.

We've spent so long shoving our head up the past's bum - as the whole tortured Treaty debate amply demonstrates - that we've forgotten how to be optimistic or look ahead.

But the future is coming, ready or not. And the transport revolution will be here long before the first feeble volt trickles down the rusty rail on the Grey Lynn line.

Save the money for tomorrow, Mr Joyce. Don't waste it on yesterday.

Trains are fine - in their place. We love 'em. They're quaint, like sailing ships and public floggings.

Stick a steam engine on the Trans-Scenic, bring back the pies at Otira and you've got a tourist attraction the crowned heads of Europe would happily send a poor person halfway round the world to enjoy.

They just ain't the answer in Auckland.

But promise you won't tell the kids. It'll only upset them and that could turn them into bullies and then you'll have to stagger your teatime and, before you know where you are, you won't know if you're coming or going!