Oscar Wilde was right up there with Muhammad Ali in the self-promotion department: "I have nothing to declare but my genius", he announced to American customs officers.
He also cannily observed that life imitates art. Or fairy tales, he might have added.
For the last two years we've had a Tooth Fairy PM and Peters Pan leading an oddball cast of coalition characters in a fanciful version of Last Tango in Neverland – a bit like Rodney Hide trying to trip the light fantastic without crushing the partner's toes too savagely. It's national politics imitating J M Barrie's classic childhood fantasy, but with the characters all jumbled, and a few ring-ins such as the Tooth Fairy.
• Frank Greenall: Look to past to fix future
• Frank Greenall: Try counting what matters
• Frank Greenall: Daring to do something different to solve gang problem…
• Frank Greenall: Tales of whales, trails and fails
I was always a bit conflicted about the Tooth Fairy. In the sexist days of yore, Tooth Fairy was definitely female and reputedly highly beneficent – sort of an elusive and generous Tinker Bell. But, after a restless night of seething expectation, the diminutive threepenny bit found under the pillow in the morning never seemed quite adequate compensation for the priceless piece of porcelain deposited there the previous evening. Threepence could buy quite a few aniseed balls in those days, but still, a needling suspicion took root that Tooth Fairy was actually a bit of a stingy-pants, although in fairness I seem to recall a front tooth's pay-out rising to a heady sixpence.
The last election saw Tooth Fairy and her band of elves top the poll, but only by going in cahoots with Peters Pan and Green Lantern. This resulted in a feral chemistry whereby the Tooth Fairy, aka Tinker Bell, would sprinkle all sorts of alluring fairy dust around the dominion promising this and that – and then Peters Pan would pop up and promptly pan it.
Capital gains tax, greenhouse gas emissions, industrial relations reform – all got the Peters pan. In fairness, though, the Tooth Fairy's crowd did manage to pan quite a bit themselves through natural ineptitude - namely KiwiBuild, child poverty reduction, et al.
AdvertisementAdvertise with NZME.
Meanwhile, the Lost Boys and Girls in the blue corner were steaming in their britches about no longer having the run of Neverland, as was their self-perceived God-given right. Consequently, the Lost Boys' new leader single-handedly nearly brought the planet to an early end. With colossal consumption of taxpayer-funded fossil fuels, he drove from one end of the country to the other trying to convince the electorate of its errant ways.
But much to Lost Boy's chagrin, all the electorate could hear was a ticking clock. A ticking clock which just happened to reside inside a certain lurking crocodile, whose surname rhymes with pollens. And we all know for whom the clock ticks.
As for Captain Hook, who commands the pirate ship Jolly Roger, and whose severed left hand the dastardly clock-ticking croc once snacked on, and craves more of same - well, just who is he really?
Some say Barrie created the whole Peter Pan saga as an allegory of encroaching exploitation, and accordingly rendered Captain Hook as the personification of rapacious capitalist forces. By hook or by crook, was how he saw the new dynamic, so he created a hooked crook.
Barrie's frugal Calvinist Scottish sensibilities were recoiling in horror against the greed machines and satanic mills of the Industrial Age, and the trail of human misery required to feed its insatiable maw. Barrie pondered, and in his pondering he saw future Amazons and Ubers and McDonald's, who, in my opinion, all have a proven record in giving their employees' work conditions a jolly good rogering if it means a marginally higher dividend for their shareholders.
And Capt Hook's boon bosun, Mr Smee? Gosh, he bears a startling resemblance to the Tooth Fairy's current Minister of Finance, Grant Robertson. Maybe Barrie had that correct, too. Smee now pretends to be the Tooth Fairy's off-sider, but at heart he's really a Captain Hook boy.