Blessed be an election year, for it's ever so kind and generous to the satirist. I had a spring in my step all throughout 2014 as the writer of these so-called secret diaries, with their made-up chronicles of the most wretched newsmaker of the week. I was spoiled for choice. I couldn't actually keep up. The wretches were everywhere, steady as rain, thick on the ground, thick as planks with their blunders and their excuses. Thanks, and season's greetings, Judith Collins!
Collins was so busy making a goose of herself in 2014 that I could have written about Our Lady of Oravida week in, week out. Oh but hang on, that's what they do on Twitter, except it's every minute of the day. She's not that interesting and any preoccupation with the loathsome backbencher would have been at the expense of satirising so many other worthy candidates for the diary.
Politicians from every side queued for a gentle or savage mock. Dear old Colin Craig, with his gobbledygook and his wild eyes! Gentle, likeable Jamie Whyte, the dumbest smart guy in any room, who launched a philosophical defence of incest as a libertarian principle! And the ghastly Banks, the doomed and deluded Cunliffe, and New Zealand's loneliest man, Kim Dotcom, rattling around all by himself in that awful mansion with a head full of ideas driving himself possibly insane.
And, of course, New Zealand's most supercilious man, good for nothing except a kicking now and then, the walker of a crooked path, our Nixon - there was a moment in 2014 when I thought how much I'd miss John Key if he lost the election. Things just wouldn't be the same. They'd be better. Anyway, the moment passed, and I'm glad he's still available for service in the diary. Readers seem to agree. A recent diary about the PM attracted 2500 likes on Facebook.
Not that I go around checking the stats. It's always more revealing to hear first-hand from readers, and hear what they really think. Jill emailed to announce, "I hate your fantasy of rubbish."
Claire expressed much the same sentiment, but she was hard to take seriously. She's a homeopath. She objected to a diary which lampooned Green MP Steffan Browning, who had signed a petition advocating homeopathy as a possible cure for the Ebola virus. Claire signed it, too, and added she had "offered to go and help in the affected countries". Good idea! Want a hand with packing?
New Zealand is a sensible, decent place. Outside of politics, wretches in public life are thin on the ground. Fortunately, we welcome them into the country, and I have someone to write about. Exhibit A: Donghua Liu, National's donor. Exhibit B: Jesse Colombo, a blathering American who goes around forecasting where economic bubbles are about to burst, and was given maximum publicity when he selected New Zealand. Headline news! Front page! When I gave a speech in London this year about New Zealand's continuing cultural cringe, I held up Colombo, "the bubble rider", as prima facie evidence. PS the bubble still hasn't burst.
I attended the trial of Rolf Harris while I was in London. There wasn't anything remotely funny about that and I shouldn't have chosen Harris as a subject for the diary. Even satire has to exercise good taste. At least I resisted the urge to write about another convict: Philip John Smith. His wig was pretty funny, but still. Ugh.
For rather different reasons, I chose not to select Nicky Hager for my fantasy of rubbish. I liked his book. I'm a fan. I also admire Hager's friend, Julian Assange, and made the mistake of giving him the diary treatment. The response was immediate. "Today's idiotic op-ed trend: fake journal entries from Julian." It came from the Twitter account of Wikipedia. Julian! Me sorry! I'm a fan!
Oh well. Better to satirise those whom you genuinely think of as ridiculous. Merry Xmas, Judith Collins! See you next year on this page.