We all make mistakes, even Judith Collins

Diary of the last ten hours

7.12 am

Exciting development! The NZ Great Uncle Gerald has launched a new feature in which the headline bears only the barest resemblance to the story beneath it.

Let’s say you have a big splash of a story reporting the result of your survey showing that fully  80% of Aucklanders wanted at least the level of lockdown that was imposed on them.

Would you choose, say: 

Lockdown supported by vast majority of Aucklanders


Substantial majority of Aucklanders supported lockdown 

or would you go for:

Aucklanders divided over lockdown

I’ll have option 3 with extra clickbait, thanks very much declares Great Uncle Gerald to his overworked waitperson, and do you have any spam?

You cannot be serious exclaim large numbers of New Zealanders with a pulse and a Year 3 arithmetic education.

Fair enough, sighs great Uncle Gerald, eventually. Here you go.

Covid 19 coronavirus: Exclusive poll reveals Aucklanders' views on lockdown extension

Was this a piece of performance art in homage to the government's recent communications failure, about which this organ became so exercised?

Or perhaps it was a little mental workout bonus for readers who like the Sudoku; a wildly misleading headline and you have to guess what will actually be in the story. Unless of course the name at the top is Mike or Kate or Barry or Heather because, you know, how much of a surprise would that ever be?

Still, great concept! Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and I'm fully up for it. 

Cattle rampage uncontrolled through Matamata near Ardern hometown

Man connected to Hitler praised in speech by PM

American politician quarantining in Jet Park hotel may not have been tested

Fun eh? Once you put clicks and sensation ahead of veracity it really can be the most liberating feeling. Don’t go away! Here, I’ve got some reckons about Sweden.

7.42 am

Feeling ruminative about all the mistakes we’re making. The radio has been talking to the principal of the Green School and the 12 million that’s been carried to them in a shovel by James Shaw and oh man is he ever getting a slippering. Shaw, I mean.

But also the school has been feeling it too, and as the principal sets out what they are and, what they are not, it does sound like they might not be quite the alternative festival of kook that some of us may have been a bit ready to assume.

The recurring question has been: what was Shaw thinking and because there were so many different elements of wrongness getting their airing, it wasn’t easy to get a bead on what he actually thought made it a good idea. I’ll have a go: a building project offering many jobs that would be working to high green building standards, thereby enabling the acquiring of some new skills and enabling some new work of the sort they’ve been wanting to achieve in Taranaki as they make the just transition out of a fossil fuel economy.

Leaving the other principles aside for a moment, you can maybe see how the guy had a point.


In other news, the popup leader of the opposition says James Shaw should resign.


Feeling ruminative about the ‘mistake’ the National Party has been caught making. Take to Twitter to tell the popup leader of the opposition what I think she should do.

What’s this about? Loyal readers will recall that this time last week, the question came up about National Party campaign communications truncating the statement of the Minister of Health and affixing a full stop and, well, how did she miss that, readers? It was a huge fuss among select groups of us on Twitter, and in this newsletter.

Also, there would be a pretty solid chance it was discussed by people who are in her orbit.

But this morning Judith Collins had on her best vaudeville costume and was telling Corin she had no idea these rules were being broken, none at all, and don’t you worry, whoever was responsible would be having a very uncomfortable morning, how scary am I Corin, that scary. That’s how tough I am. Tough on campaign rule breaking, tough on the causes of campaign rule breaking.

Mistakes are what other people make. Atop her high horse the leader of the opposition is beyond reproach. She might have a blind spot, she may concede, so it’s possible some mischief might be going on. But that blind spot might not in any way be something she would ever rely on for plausible deniability. Oh dear me no.

A recurring scene in The Wire has the corner boys all scattering with their drugs when the cops pull up, then coming back out when they're gone. It feels a bit like that with these guys. They get busted for breaking the rules, there’s a fuss. Then the news cycle moves on to the next story, and the memes of non-truth are rolling again.


Feeling ruminative about the mistakes we’re all making, almost like it’s the way things are, all of us a bit prone to it at the moment.


Tallying up the typos that have gone out in this newsletter this week. Monday was a doozy. 12 of them. Sorry, readers!


Fellow Substacker David Farrier has a question.

The trick is to have a reflex phrase. Once or twice I’ve tried: well I was born in a crossfire hurricane but I'm alright now thanks, but it’s never really taken.

What I almost always say is: never better and thanks for asking, which is a bit of an embellishment of the answer I would get every afternoon from Jim when I was pouring Lion Brown at the Brunswick Arms.

Jim was a loyal member of the Watersiders union; a hard worker; solid; genial. He was large, moved with purpose, had a warm beam, would size you up with astute eyes.

He would take the same spot in the Public bar each night and you would start pouring  his 8 ounce and a square gin when you saw him hauling out of the cab, and hailing mates.

As he came through the swinging doors you'd say how are you Jim and he'd say never better, in a voice so loud the whole bar would hear and the whole bar would lift a little.

The Brunswick was a few blocks up Vivian St from Trades Hall and I don't know if he came in or if I ever poured him a beer, but it would have been a short step for Ernie Abbott.

One day some animal put a suitcase in the lobby of trades hall and Ernie Abbot the caretaker picked it up and he couldn't know that it was a terrible mistake, and the moment  for tragedy was at hand.

Darren Watson, one of our finest blues musicians and a great songwriter wants to honour his memory, wonders if some answer might one day get shaken out.

He has a new song and a video for you to see, a dirge for Ernie Abbott.

Somebody must know.