September 23, 2004

Make the Fag Write About Interior Decorating

David W Young writes...

There are two rooms in the Beehive that I doubt will ever be renovated. Both are decorated in early 1970s shades of newborn-calf-shit brown and are sorely in need of a decorator. Even that enthusiastic chap accidentally employed as a decorator for The Fence could do wonders here. (Incidentally: can somebody in Auckland please politely encourage the lad to wear shoe lifts? Watching the top of his head bob around a bedroom feels distasteful).

Back to parliament... The first Beehive room that will never see a builder's crack is the Beehive Theatrette - the lecture room where the prime minister delivers her weekly press conference with the New Zild flag drooping behind her. (Scoop has images of the Beehive Theatrette here and here). The second is the main pub known affectionately by its room number: Three Point Two.

These rooms won't be renovated because no government wants to be seen to be extravagant. It's not very complicated: every other area of the Beehive can be refurbished, but not the portion that you and I see on television every Monday night, or the watering hole.

For some reason, these two rooms are my favourite areas in all of parliament.

I haven’t worked for a government so I haven’t spent much time in the Beehive Theatrette. I would have spent five minutes longer there if Labour press secretary Jocelyn Prasad hadn’t spotted me loitering at the back of a ministerial announcement and spanked me until I left. (I was a press secretary, too - but for an opposition party. For some announcements I would sneak into opponent’s briefings and pay attention at the end when journalists asked questions. I’d take note of who asked the sceptical questions and what criticism they were implicitly making. My employer would then be first off the mark with a response, because we wouldn’t have to wait for the media release to arrive electronically. More importantly, our media release – on a good day – would echo the areas journalists were most cynical about. We would follow up the release in person with the media who seemed least convinced at the announcement).

I have slightly more experience pestering people at Three Point Two.

My very first time there was heart warming. I was introduced to a former prime minister’s harried press secretary. The poor man wanted to drink, not get introduced to an upstart like me. But he also seemed to feel he had an obligation to pass his wisdom to the next generation. So he fixed me with tight little eyes and jabbed his handle of beer at me for effect.

“If you want to know how to get on around here, mate..."

He paused to heighten the dramatic effect and leaned forward.

“’ve got to learn how to drink properly.”

He glared at me to show he was serious, and returned to drinking.

That was when I realised that I was going to enjoy working in this special, special place.

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