My politics

I’ve been gardening and as I pulled weeds, I’ve been thinking about my politics.

I grew up in a household of National party activists and I remember politicians sitting around our dining room table planning campaigns with my Dad and in later years, Mum. I remember going to meetings with them, being in the car when they picked up voters and delivered them to the polls, in later years scrutineering and going to election night parties.

A couple of weeks ago I was stopped by a Labour party supporter who was campaigning on our main street during the monthly Trash and Treasure market. When she learned I was a National voter she said, “why?” I replied, “why not?”

She accused me of voting the way I had learned as a child and not thinking about it. Actually the opposite is true, I think deeply about my vote and I treasure it. She said, “I can guarantee you’ve never voted for anyone other than National your whole life.” “Not true either, I voted for Act once.”

Now I know not to give my party vote to anyone other than the party I want to govern. The party with the leader I want to be Prime Minister. It’s a personal thing, politics. It’s about your philosophy, your values, the country you want to live in. But it also about personal experiences, policies that affect you and people you encounter. I have no children and that colours my views but I have had up close and personal experience of the public health system and as a cardiac patient, and the caregiver of an elderly woman, I can say it has never ever failed me. I did work in the film industry and I joined many of my colleagues and cried with happiness when The Hobbit movies were saved, some of us sent John Key a collective email to tell him how much he ‘rocked.’ I did some television work that overlapped with the Tourism department and encountered him again, his positivity was critical to our success. So many of the National party ministers really impress me and our local MP is so hard working and so dedicated to her constituents.

So I bleed BLUE, it’s in my genes, but it is also my choice.


Cyber Bullying and Depression

With the death over the weekend of well-known social media commentator, broadcaster and former model, Charlotte Dawson, in Sydney, there has been much commentary about cyber bullying and depression.

I can’t imagine what it would be like to be bullied on the internet. People say why didn’t she just stop reading her Twitter feed? Is it that easy? If people are talking about you, or to you, there is a strong compulsion to read it. I always marvel at actors or authors who say they ‘don’t read reviews.’ Really?? I love reading what people say about my writing and I learn far more from the criticism than I do from the raves. I have a special place in my heart for the reader who read 100 pages of “The Keeper of Secrets” and then threw it across the room because nothing happened. Dachau starts on page 109. But I DO agree that it is a bit slow to start and I have remedied that in the next book where there is death aplenty from early on.

Still, back to the subject. Social Media is a two-edged sword. Where else could I learn that Thomas Edison proposed to his wife using Morse code? Or read about President Obama’s favourite salted caramel chocolates? My Twitter feed is full of fascinating morsels of information that I didn’t know I needed to hear. And Facebook is a fairly innocuous place for me. People don’t react to what I write, but then it isn’t of an inflammatory nature. But I do read some pretty nasty stuff on other feeds at times. I follow John Key’s Facebook page. He is our Prime Minister and I happen to think he is a fine fellow and is, by and large, doing a very good job. But there are posters who react to everything he says with a barrage of personal insults that have nothing to do with the subject. In my humble opinion the only person who looks like ‘all those adjectives they use’ is themselves. Key is a public figure, as Dawson was, and unfortunately, if you lift your head above the parapet some uneducated idiot will take a shot at it.

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE informed, robust political debate. I am a political animal. My favourite TV programmes (by a country mile) are the American political dramas and I love election year. But for goodness sake, debate the issues, use intelligent opinion not expletives which just make you look inarticulate, and stand for something. No-one should waste a second reading the opinions of people who just knock for the sake of knocking. Tell me you have an answer to our problems and I will listen to you all day.

The other subject that Dawson’s death raises is depression. What a massive word that is. What a world of emotion and pain and despair it represents. People who have never battled it, or watched someone they love battle it, have no idea what it means. Seventeen years ago I was diagnosed with a falling oestrogen level and a hormonally induced problem. Instead of being given anti-depressants, I was prescribed Oestrogen tablets. The only thing that caused was fibroids and unbelievable pain and a period that lasted twenty-five days every month. Several months later, at the age of 40, I had a hysterectomy and my life was transformed.

However, I continued to suffer from black ‘clouds.’ They would descend, I could literally feel them coming. There was nothing I could do about them and I would cry quietly and miserably until they lifted. Several times a day I would consider how best to kill myself and yet I had no real desire nor reason to. It was out of my control. For the most part I hid it well and got on with my every day life. Then in 2009 it would stay buried no longer. The tears were almost a constant companion. I would sit and watch TV, often with Mum in the room, and the tears would run out my eyes and into my hair as I lay on the sofa. I actually wrote suicide notes although I knew I could never do that to her.

One day, in desperation, I searched for Sir John Kirwan’s website. For those who don’t know John Kirwan was an All Black. He played rugby for New Zealand. He was a national hero. He also suffered from depression and some years ago he went public and worked with the health authorities to set up a website. There’s a questionnaire and I took it. I answered ‘yes’ to every question and the site told me to go to my GP. So I did and instead of saying, “I’m upset all the time” I could tell him that I had taken the survey on John Kirwan’s depression website. He whipped out a form and made me take it again. Then he looked at me in wonder because I’d never told him this before and he’d been my GP for years. He prescribed a low dose anti-depressant that I take every day. It took a little while to work. The black ‘cloud’ has never been back. If I cry it is because I have a reason to, something has moved me or upset me. I appreciate each day and never consider harming myself. I am a completely different person.

It is not a sign of weakness to seek help, to seek an answer. It takes courage and determination and an urge to make your life better. One visit to this website changed my life. If one person reads this blog and goes to the site as a result and it helps them, then the circle of support is continuing. It’s not a weakness, it’s just an illness.


I was somewhat late to twitter. I read about it and heard others talking about it but I couldn’t see the point in 140 characters describing what I was doing. Once I signed up and read some of them I realised that it is much more than that. I follow some interesting people and some of their ruminations are extremely funny. Rebecca Cain and Joanne Harris are both hilarious and dry, which is my favourite type of humour. Stephen Fry, Jonathan Ross, Richard Madderly, Hugh Bonnaville, John Owen-Jones and Alfie Boe can also be interesting and very funny. Michael Ball is sweet and very literal, although lamenting the lack of glitter balls, slash curtains, tap routines etc. in the lead up to Sweeney Todd was funny. Lately I’ve been trying to use it to put the blog and the books in front of people, but I’m not very good at that. I got a kick out of our PM John Key following me, and Sam Neil. And Barrack Obama retweeted one of my tweets, when Bin Laden died I told him he was following in the footsteps of Truman and Eisenhower, doing something difficult, but courageous, for the good of the world. And Rebecca Cain retweeted one where I called Katherine Jenkins Warbling Barbie, oops.

Talking of John Key, I will declare a political interest, I appear to be on the relection campaign for our local politician, Louise Upston. How did that happen, must have put my hand up to leave the room…Went to a political meeting this morning about the referendum about whether to retain MMP that will be held with the general election. It was run by Deputy Speaker of the House Lindsay Tish and it was very interesting. The system I like the sound of was the one that meant the % of seats allocated off the lists reflected accurately the % of party vote gained. I think the initials were SM which also seemed extremely appropriate for politics.  There was a poll out this morning and National is way ahead. Apparently more people wanted Ritchie McCaw to be Prime Minister than Phil Goff, the leader of the Opposition. There must have been people who answered the poll by indicating they wanted Labour in power but Key as PM. Go figure!!

Ruminations on a groin strain, politics and potato

OK, so dashing Dan appears to have a groin strain…and he is an underwear model. Are we all too traumatized by the possibility that he might have to miss more than just the Canada game and the #10 cover is a little…er, suspect, to see that there is some irony here? Or perhaps it is Schadenfreude because he is too impossibly dashing to be a nice person, and yet, apparently he is. So maybe the jockey’s were too tight….we shall just have to wait and see.

Tonga beat France, wow, bet the crowd were dressed in red. That’s cool but it doesn’t change anything. England beat Scotland (as they have been doing for hundreds of years) but only in the dying moments and so we will play Argentina. I predict the semis will be NZ v South Africa and England v Ireland (my heart says Wales).  I just never dreamed I would watch so much rugby and so many sides I would never normally watch. That’s RWC2011 for you.

And tomorrow the Warriors play the Grand Final. Hard ask but they can do it, any team can beat any team on any given day, that’s why we watch sport. So, go the Warriors!

What others news have I to impart? I am selling more copies of the novel now I have a five-star review. I’ve finished Dad’s letters and now have to proof them and I am still stunned by what he got up to in the Middle East, an air war I had never heard about. All we ever heard about was 485 squadron and yet he was with 123 in the Middle East for longer and did more. But it was a ‘secret squirrel’ war so he didn’t talk about it and sadly, we never asked.

And we have had a few cases of losing things lately and then finding them, bank cards, brooches and a precious book put away so carefully it took us 3 days to find it. Mum thinks her brain is going. Going where, I wonder? 

 I went to a National party meeting this afternoon. Very impressive, well organised committee and a great sitting MP. Shall enjoy being involved in this one. The message we have to get across is to vote National for your party vote, and maybe we will be able to govern on our own and the tail won’t wag the dog for three years. Hhhmmm.

And I made colcannon about three days ago and two people can make it last a long time. Tonight it was colcannon potato cakes. Go away, cabbage and mashed potato. Please.