So you’re in Fiji for a few days then.
Nice place, eh? Balmy temperatures. Shimmering blue sea. Golden sand. Gently rustling palms. Colourful shirts and gleaming smiles. Hardly a journalist in sight. A bloke could be pretty happy living in a tropical paradise like this.
Look, I’d hate you to take this the wrong way, but really … think about it.
You’ve lost Tauranga and don’t seem to stand much show of winning it back. Your most fervent supporters are – how can I put this delicately? – dying.
You’ve had a whale of a time as Minister of Foreign Affairs – heck, you spent nearly a million bucks on travel in three years, but as long as you were out of the country no one seemed to mind too much. You might call it a win-win situation, Win. (Sorry, but I will have my feeble little joke.) But face it: the chances of scoring the Foreign Affairs gig again, even in the unlikely event that you’re still in Parliament after November, don’t look too flash.
I know this has been said before, but the tide really does seem to be running out. Your scraps with the media are getting tedious. Dammit, Winston, you’ve become a caricature. Nothing you say or do surprises us any more. Some of the smarter guys in your party – there are one or two – might start wondering whether you’re more of a liability than a meal ticket.
You can see where this is heading, can’t you?
Take a look around while you’re away. Fiji’s a cruisy, laid-back sort of place. You can light up a smoke pretty much anywhere you please, the duty-free whisky’s cheap, and you don’t have to put up with hassling from pests like Audrey Young and Barry Soper. And just think how much you’d save on all those tailored pinstripe suits.
As for Frank Bainimarama … well, I know you’ve gone over there to put the hard word on him about the elections, but when you think about it, you and he have a lot in common. There’s no reason why the two of you couldn’t get along. He doesn’t like the media either, but unlike you he’s got the buggers sorted. He just gets his heavies to put them on the next plane to Australia. Boy, that Frank! Isn’t he the man?
Come on, you’ve got to admit it’s tempting. You’ve had a good innings: 26 years in Parliament, including spells as deputy prime minister, Minister of Finance and now Minister of Hobnobbing and Big-Noting. All those flights in First Class, all those leather-seated limos. You’ve been a crafty old dog, all right; but has it made you happy? Not judging by the way you keep snarling at reporters. So maybe it’s time to let go. Quit while you’re ahead. It will never be this good again.
Your parliamentary super would buy you a nice bar on the Suva waterfront. One with bamboo curtains, cane furniture and languid ceiling fans. A visit to Winnie’s Bar and Grill could be the highlight of cut-price pilgrimage tours organised by Grey Power. Your mate Tommy Gear could look after the drinks while you charmed the punters. And if anyone got too inebriated to be served, you could hold up a large white card saying “NO”. You’d be a hit.
If none of this persuades you, just think of the sullen looks on the faces of all those media vermin waiting for you at Auckland Airport when they realise they won’t have Winston Peters to goad any more. Surely that must clinch it.