I had that Taylor Swift in the back of my Uber the other day. Lovely young lady. I could tell immediately it was her: that timeless elegance, the superstar glow, the blood dripping off her chin from feeding all day on endangered native birds.

"Morning," I said, all nonchalantly, for it was the morning, and I didn't want Taylor Swift to feel uncomfortable by staring at her or reciting the lyrics to the under-rated 2010 tune Enchanted.

"Airport, please," she said, mellifluously. It was not so much a request, nor a direction, more an incantation, rippling through the isthmus like blossom on the breeze.

"Certainly, madam," said I, counting my blessings that the Corolla had recently been serviced. The stresses involved in transporting an international megastar from one place to another are enough already without the added worry of potential mechanical failure, let me assure you of that.


"How are you finding New Zealand so far?" I asked, but she was lost in her work, tapping away at the smartphone. What a life! Such is this pop aristocrat's schedule, it came as little surprise that she politely declined the offer to divert briefly to tourism favourites including the Creepy Santa, Hobbiton or Sonny Bill Williams.

"You're in luck all the same," I chirruped as we skirted around Eden Park. "We are currently travelling through a Queensland Fruit Fly Controlled Area Zone. Very popular among visitors." Taylor Swift eagerly raised her eyebrows, wound up her window, and bit into another baby dotterel.

The Prime Minister was on the radio. Something about rapists and murderers. "This time he's gone too far," I said, craning my neck pointedly towards the back seat. "What with that and the faltering flag legacy project, it's clear the honeymoon is over!"

Taylor Swift replied with a friendly but derisive grunt. I knew what she meant. Wise beyond her years, Taylor Swift seemed to be saying: "Listen, pundits say Key's honeymoon is over all the time. People throw rocks at things that shine." Was Tay Tay Team Key? She wouldn't say, but there was little doubt that, much like fellow celebrity Barack Obama and whoever is currently the Australian prime minister, she admires the man's political nous.

As we turned on to Dominion Rd, Taylor Swift observed that the tarmac was shining like a strip cut from a sheet metal plate.

That, I explained, was because it had just been raining. "Speaking of recently, I had that Colin Craig in the back of the Uber the other day," I told Taylor Swift, and her cheekbones trembled with excitement.

For legal reasons I am unable to tell you what Mr Colin said and did on that ride but suffice to say it would blow your mind. Taylor Swift and I discussed at length the cadences of Mr Colin's poetry, though I was quick to warn that she should seek written approval before releasing that banging dancefloor hit 1ofMe4U. I also asked her, "How are you finding New Zealand so far?" Given her enthusiasm for local current affairs, I chucked Taylor Swift a copy of the Herald.

She paused at the Rants & Raves column, a well-known reservoir of source material for lyric writers the world over, before turning to the column by academic and author Jarrod Gilbert, who revealed that he had been blocked by the police from receiving official information because he had met with gangs, which he'd done because he wrote a book about gangs.


Taylor Swift's eyes lit up with fury. I needed but to glance in the rear-view mirror to see what she was thinking: bloody outrage, abuse of power, public-relations-culture mission creep. What kind of a sinister weirdo outfit threatens "blacklisting" in a research contract if the results don't suit them, said Taylor Swift, more or less. And as for the police minister claiming "operational matter", well, Taylor Swift was gobsmacked, I can tell you that much.

I had that Jarrod Gilbert in the back of the Uber the other day, too.

Writer Jarrod Gilbert.
Writer Jarrod Gilbert.

Inevitably, talk got around to the flag. I explained the various options, the Weet-Bix ones, the triangles, the trade logo and the possum tail. "Which would you go for, Taylor Swift?" I asked.

There was a long, almost unbearable pause. I swear I could hear the cogs in that brilliant mind whirring about, but it might have been the air conditioning. After an age: "Probably quicker to jump on the motorway, mate," she said, mellifluously. Such poise, such class, such tact. No amateur-hour Justin Bieber is she " not for her wading headlong into hot-button domestic flag-based issues.

"What a diplomat!" I said. "We should get you negotiating that climate deal in Paris!" We laughed about that for several blocks.

I merged with traffic on the southwestern, taking care not to hit the brakes too soon. Tailgaters, after all, gonna tailgate. Taylor Swift and I kept on shooting the breeze like old friends. Donald Trump, making New Zealand a state of Australia, Richard Dawkins, the erosion of democracy in Canterbury, the Gangnam Style craze, panda diplomacy " don't get Taylor Swift started on panda diplomacy! " the cultural sensitivities around the word Christmas, Katy bloody Perry ... you name it, we talked it out.

But before I could complete my reflections on Russia-Nato relations we had arrived at domestic drop-off. I leapt out and grabbed Taylor Swift a trolley, wishing her a jolly time in Queenstown, where she was to film a gritty kitchen-sink series about online comments.

"Cheers mate, take it easy, eh?" said Taylor Swift, mellifluously, as she wheeled her luggage across the road to the terminal. I looked back into the Corolla. She had punched a hole in the roof. There was bird blood everywhere. "Take a look what you've done!" I wailed, but she was gone. In any case, I had to dash. Adele was waiting at international pick-up.