A Little Bit of Me

Jottings and Writing, miscellanous misgivings

The Rise and Rise of Amanda Patterson

The rise and rise of Amanda Patterson

They are all looking at me. As if there is a huge sign on my forehead. Amanda Patterson -failed politician. In all likelihood I am destined for the political scrap heap. Amanda P, who had risen from lowly beginnings in rural Southland. Amanda Patterson-Forbes who led farming women on a march to Parliament protesting over rural health services. Amanda Patterson, who after a messy but ultimately profitable divorce, assailed the stoney heights of central Government and forged a successful career in first Tourism, then Women’s Health. Amanda Patterson whose father said would never amount to anything; would marry a local and be buried in sheep shit and pavolova’s for eternity. Hallucigenically, I have a picture of him towering over me, black clouds racing across the paddocks behind his wind blown hair, spittle showering my tender young skin; screaming at me because I hadn’t closed the gate and the sheep had gone into the wrong paddock. But, I rose above his direst predictions to become one of the power players in the Beehive. Now they just stare at me like I am a pariah.  I knew I should have stayed in the Golden Wing lounge that extra minute. Then, I could have just bounded down the ramp and taken my seat in First Class while they were all listening to the trolley-dolly, giving her instructions on how to survive a rapid descent into a freezing ocean with a yellow face mask and a flotation cushion.

They probably heard all about it on Morning Report. Shaun and Eva blathered on about the Prime Minister and then that ghastly Maori woman and her sermonizing about local body politics. God! They can sniff a corpse from a mile off. Shit, I’m sitting next to the jerk local politician – Duane Hope or Duane the Dope as we call him. His biggest claim to fame before winning the safe Labour seat was cutting ribbons at school fairs and being a big know-it-all about forestry. Wasn’t he a primary school teacher or something? Probably organised an Arbor Day or something. I should ask him about child abuse. That should divert him for the hour-long flight. Opps! He recognizes me. I can tell by the grin.

I will look out the window. It never fails to fascinate me that you can ascend through the clouds and suddenly the grey, solemn day is ablaze with sunlight up beyond the rain-drenched clouds. I remember on one of many overseas junkets, essential to my position, awaking at 2.00am and gently sliding the plastic blind back on my window, despite the orders from the onboard staff. One moment there was total blackness and then there was light. A crazy mix of oranges, bronzes and blues over the plane’s wing as we raced eastward. I remembered that I tried to rouse my then lover from his slumbers, but he groaned loudly and urged me to close the blind and get the damn light out of his face.

“Do you require breakfast this morning” the trolley-dolly says, jerking me from my memories, and I can see the matching grin of Duane Hope on her face. The inner message is ‘your days of me bowing and scraping to you in First Class end next week when they kick your sorry butt out of national politics. No more freeloading on the taxpayer for you my love. I have seen it all in my ten years. They strut up to us and look down their noses, demand this and that, –expect to be treated like royalty.’

I will bury my head in the paper. Oh God! A half page photo of me. And in that ridiculous hat. And it’s my bad side. What are they saying? Well that’s not right for a start. And I was cleared of that. And that. Mmm! Where did they dredge that up from? I wonder if that is libelous? Linked to whom? Hell! That reporter is damn good. When I bounce back on my feet again – and I most definitely will – I might give her a bell. Press secretary material. Or public relations consultant.

Yes we all bounce back darling. Even those of us who end up in prison. Look at that Corporation Manager who embezzled three million over four years. He was in one of the top jobs in the country. He served a third of his time in a soft prison with conjugal rights, plus access to all the paraphernalia to get him back on his feet again. All in the guise of rehabilitation. Then he is released and he ends up with a three-page spread in the Sunday’s, a feature article in Metro, followed by North and South. Then his new partner and him have their moment of glory in the Womens mags while the old, discarded wife has her brief moment of tears on television. Within a year, he is offered a cushy job and he is back making hay as if the whole thing never happened. Court news reads, ‘discharged bankrupt, convicted fraudster, disgraced businessman.’ The public has a very short memory. Thank God.

And what did I do? I made the tragic mistake of paying my supposed good friend Carol a $200,000 golden handshake. Then she, God bless her vicious little soul, went public. And I made the fatal mistake (and I will admit that I goofed here) when I rang a senior politician to tell them they were speaking at a meeting without checking with them first. They then flexed their considerable muscle and called for my head over past incidents that have always been unresolved, as they are in any politician’s life. Well pardon me.

GAZING AT THE SOAPBOX-political comment. The Suburban Eye Another torrid week in the Capital, darlings, and your intrepid reporter was there to see it all. Many of the local papers have criticized local body executive Amanda Patterson’s heartlessness. They say she has been unmoved by the plight of the people she represents. They conclude that the answer to this is simple: she is indifferent, she genuinely doesn’t care. She is a product of a political and social system that places no value on social justice. She believes that she has some preordained right to hold power over thousands and not be accountable. During the last decade, politicians, at the national and local level, have placed a low value on the lives of ordinary people. They have consistently plundered the public purse for their personal and friends private good. They have no conscience. They lead sterile personal lives. They have no real friends. Relationships are expediencies. This breed of person (and we genuinely believe that they are a race apart) has to go. There is no place for them in a country that is gradually wakening up to the injustices reaped on a large proportion of its citizenry. We hope Patterson reaps the rewards for her reign of indifference. Let her experience what it is like to wake up in the morning to the prospect of no work. Let her reach midday with a hunger in her gut. Let her fill the endless afternoons and evenings with emptiness. Amanda Patterson must go.

Damn. She is good. I can feel the back of my neck getting redder and redder. But sweetie! Dream on. It just never happens this way. You know as well as I do that come my next reincarnation you will be crawling to my door for that sweet little press release. If you don’t play that game you won’t have The Suburban Eye after your name. You will be writing for the Matuara Tablet as a hack. Oh good. Plane landing. Isn’t that Geoffrey? I thought he was still hiding out in Switzerland until that tax thing blew over.

Ah! The office, my haven. At least they are not talking behind my back. There’s a list of people to call. That awful Martin man from the radio. And a string of calls from the evening TV news and current affairs people. They must be joking. Commit public suicide and appear on that show. I’d rather be drawn and quartered by the media talking to themselves. Hello, this one looks official. On no!  A call to have a stress evaluation. The first step on that long downward path.

The street is long and wet and glistens in the late afternoon. Cars appear to ignore the laws of commonsense and physics and take no note of the treacherous conditions. A Posthaste courier van slides sideways as it enters the street. The driver hastily overcorrects and it hits the guttering and bounces down the road. The high-pitched scream of a BMW breaking loose the rear wheels in the slippery conditions enters my consciousness. Beside me, a bag lady of the streets totters off the pavement and pulls her shopping trolley, laden with her life possessions. It sticks in the deep guttering and she maneuvers herself onto the road to get a better purchase on it. My eyes are fixated on her and my brain registers something like a premonition but then I glance up and see the BM fishtailing as the driver struggles to get control. He accelerates, mistakenly thinking that this action will correct the mess he has got himself into. The bag lady tugs. The cart comes free and she totters backward into the path of the run-a-way BM. My eyes track from the cart, to the tottering lady, to the ubiquitous grille of the car. There is a sickening crunch as unyielding metal meets vulnerable flesh. Curiously I am detached from the carnage that results. My mind is thinking ahead to my next appointment. The shopping cart lies on its side, the wheel spinning in an anti-clockwise direction, contents now finally exposed to the world. What do these people collect this rubbish for? In the distance I hear the sound of a siren.

The psychiatrist’s office. I have to put up with this. I suppose he will tell me that I have to find my inner self or that all my thoughts were ingrained forty-three years ago by those two whining old farts who bought me into this world. I can’t stand the psychobabble that surrounds these people. Oh! God! It’s a woman. And I recognise her. She was sitting behind me on the plane when we flew down. Didn’t she do Darren when he had that falling out with the party over the homosexual thing? No! That was Bernard. She was the woman who was accredited with saving the pedophile thingy with the Minister of Social Policy. This will be interesting.

So I am fixated on my diminished sense of self. It sounded good when she explained it in the confines of that little room, with only her and me. With me crying like a pathetic wounded whale. I genuinely felt pain in that room, but out here is the real world and if I bought into that crap I would be offal in a nanosecond.  I am either committed to six sessions with her and the possibility of more eyewash, or I tough it out in the employment court and go for unjustified dismissal. What a choice. Personal tit bearing either way but at least the trick cyclist is in private. But more humiliating in the long run.

They are calling for witnesses to the running down of a bag lady on an inner city street at approximately 4.45 on Monday the fourteenth. That must be the one with the BM. Does my social conscience extend that far? Hell, this could be a brilliant move. I could leak it out that I am very distressed but my own personal strife has to be put aside for the welfare of a citizen of our country. I could even use that wonderful reporter.

So it turns out that the driver of our slippery-as-a-snake black BMW, license plate IAMTHLRD, is none other than Dr Barrett Martin-Martin, Undersecretary for the Department of Internal Affairs. Those protectors of local body politics.

“Ms Patterson. Nice to make your acquaintance. I have always been an admirer. It seems we are parties to an unfortunate incident that could turn very messy. The pedestrian is thought to be dying and a courier driver is claiming my car passed his van at an excessive speed, and, out of control. I throw myself at your mercy as it appears as you are the only other witness to this ghastly affair, who has come forward.”

I was once a child. Some would claim that I was made as an adult but that’s another story. I was standing alone in a paddock out the back of my father’s farm. It was a beautiful summer’s day when suddenly a dark shape passed over the sun, completely blocking all light. I was terrified, and I remember the warm trickle of urine down my leg as if it were now. Then, after what seemed an eternity, the sun appeared again. I experienced such joy, I raised my hands to the heavens and I cried. I haven’t cried like that until the psychiatrist’s office today. And now again I can feel tears.

“Of course you were in control Barrett. I saw that courier. He was miles away. That lady fell into your path. She had no right to be out on that street. She seemed to be affected by alcohol or drugs or something. I’ll make a statement to that effect. You are completely freed of any guilt. I hope you understand that.”14CgANXUQlgqy9wrP2Rtq9Gto1_500


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