Southerly by David Haywood

53

A Trip to Canberra with Alan Bollard

So anyway, me and Bollard are flying to Canberra for the International Monetary Policy Conference. We're sitting in business class -- which, in my opinion, is basically like being in heaven -- and we're getting well-and-truly plastered.

We start feeling a bit musical somewhere above the Tasman Sea, and when the pilot announces that we're about to land in Canberra, Bollard launches into a tune of his own composition entitled: 'Still Time for Another Vodka.'

I'm providing musical accompaniment by dinging the call-button beside my seat; but when the stewardess finally arrives, she gives us a filthy look, and goes: "I think you two have had enough to drink."

Of course, this totally gets on Bollard's tits, and he's like: "Listen up: I'm the governor of the Reserve Bank. You don't tell me what to do; I tell you what to do." But the stewardess is already walking down the aisle, and Bollard's left talking into empty air like a dick.

So then Bollard's all "Fuck this"; and he's out of his seat and into the kitchenette where they keep the drinks trolley. Thirty seconds later he's nabbed a couple of bottles of Smirnoff, and tosses one of them to me.

A litre of vodka is a lot to put away before we land -- maybe even too much. Next thing I know I wake up on a luggage trolley, and Bollard's pushing me through Canberra airport.

So now I'm asking Bollard what happened, and he's giving me the most incoherent explanation I've ever heard. Telling me how everyone at Air New Zealand is against him, and plotting to get him fired from the Reserve Bank. And then he's like: "You don't remember the fight on the plane? You don't remember when I punched the pilot?"

I never get to the bottom of it -- because as soon as we get outside into the fresh air, about a million flies attack me, and I lose my train of thought. Bollard's getting the same treatment, and we're flapping our arms around like a couple of spastics before Bollard manages to wheel the luggage trolley to a taxi.

Of course, Bollard's all "Fucking Australia -- full of fucking flies." And the taxi driver's like: "Are you disrespecting my country?" And Bollard goes: "What are you gonna do about it, you fucking sheep-shagger?" By this time we've reached the motorway, and Bollard's like: "And why are you driving like such a pussy?" And he grabs the steering wheel, and suddenly the taxi's slewing and skidding all over the road.

Next thing we've been kicked out of the taxi, and we're standing beside the motorway with flies crawling all over us. I just have time to go: "All we need now is for the cops to arrive," and right on cue a police car appears. But then Bollard shows the cop his diplomatic papers, and the cop starts calling him "sir" and everything. And it all turns out fine -- because we ride the rest of the way in the police car for free.

So now we're driving through Canberra, and frankly the whole place looks really lame and embarrassing. It seems like the council's bought a bunch of those big Nazi-type statues from a movie set or somewhere, and bunged them up all over. I'm trying to think of something clever to say, like maybe: "It looks as if Albert Speer had been commissioned to redecorate Ashburton on the cheap" -- but then Bollard hits the nail on the head. He just goes: "Fuck me, it's worse than Palmerston North."

We pull up outside Parliament House, and right on the front lawn is a dead kangaroo with another smaller dead kangaroo sticking out of its bum. So Bollard's like: "What the fuck is that -- some sort of sculpture?" And the cop goes: "Nah, what happens is that a car hits a small kangaroo so hard that it shoots off the road and straight up a big kangaroo's arse and kills him." Of course, we all have a big laugh at this, but I'm still wondering if the cop is kidding, or if that really happens.

We go inside, and the first person we see is Genevieve the Canadian. She's a television journo for TVNZ -- and if there's one thing Bollard hates it's Canadians, and if there's another thing he hates it's television journos. Not to mention that Genevieve the Canadian has done a bunch of stories on the Reserve Bank that basically amount to 'Why is Alan Bollard such a dick?'

Bollard gives her the fingers right off, but she's looking the other way -- which annoys Bollard, but it means we avoid having another slanging match before our tripartite meeting with the Japanese and Australians.

What with being kicked out of the taxi and everything, we're running bit late, and the other two are already talking by the time we sit down. Masaaki Shirakawa from the Bank of Japan is at the head of the table, and he's going: "We have the Yakuza problem in my country. And, of course, crime detracts from the efficiency of the economy. The way I see it, when a criminal organization starts to make an impact on economic performance, it's just the same as if they called me a bitch to my face."

Now he's opening his jacket, and pulling a gun from a shoulder holster. "So that's when my friend here comes in useful. This is the Glock 21 -- weighs about three-quarters of a kilogram, and holds 13 rounds of 0.45acp hollow-points. We go to a love hotel, and wait in a room for the Yakuza and his girlfriend to turn up. When they walk in the door we fire maybe 50 or 100 rounds into them. No more problem from that Yakuza."

I find out later that the Bank of Japan often don't wait for the Yakuza to walk into the room -- they just shoot the door and whoever's behind it full of holes. And sometimes it isn't the gangsters, but a hotel maid or bus-boy. Luckily, however, such people are of no importance in a macro-economic sense, and so no-one cares.

After Shirakawa's speech, the Japanese and Australian delegates give a round of applause, and then Glenn Stevens gets up: "Masaaki's presentation gives me confidence in the approach we're taking at the Reserve Bank of Australia. We've just tooled up with the Walther PPK 7.65 mm. No disrespect to Glock fans, but the Walther PPK's the gun that James Bond uses, and so we feel that it's more of a tried-and-tested solution."

He opens his briefcase, and holds up a PPK so everyone can have a perv. "I haven't actually used this yet, but I've got it all figured out. When I get face-to-face with one of the godfathers from the Aussie Mafia, I'm going to say to him: 'Don't make me pull my PPK -- 'cause if I do, you know I'm gonna shoot you dead.' And then when he tries to pull his gun, I'm going to pull this out real quick, and shoot him first."

There's a big round of applause at this, and then Glenn Stevens looks over at us, and he goes: "So what do you guys pack in New Zealand, Alan?"

Bollard leans back in his chair, and he's like: "Let me tell you a story, Glenn. Anyone gives me any problems, I use this." He taps his forehead.

I assume Bollard means that he dishes out a head-butt (actually, I find out afterwards that this is exactly what he means), but Stevens goes: "That's a cool story, Bollard. You use your brain -- I dig that. But the way I look at it, there's a time you gotta let Mr PPK or Mr Glock do the thinking for you."

So then Bollard's like: "Let me tell you another story, Glenn. The way I look at it, guns are for pussies."

When Bollard says this I'm quite surprised, because I know for a fact that he's been badgering the prime minister for years to have a gun. And apparently Helen Clark is like: "Get fucked Bollard -- you're the last person I'd trust with a firearm." I begin to realize that international diplomacy is more complicated than I'd thought.

Of course, now Shirakawa is starting with the old "Who're you calling a pussy?" line. So I'm on my feet, and I'm like: "I'm afraid that Dr Bollard has another appointment now, so we're going to have to move along."

I get Bollard out into the corridor, and he's totally pissed off. He's like: "Everyone else has a gun, why won't they give me one?" And then he's like: "And I'm the only guy in there with a real Ph.D. -- Professor Shirakawa, my fucking arse!"

Now we're walking down the corridor -- and I'm congratulating myself on having avoided a nasty spot of aggro -- when who do we meet but Toshihiko Fukui, the former Governor of the Bank of Japan. Fukui is a nice polite white-haired old guy, who stops and introduces himself. But the next thing Bollard smacks him in the mouth and sends him flying. Then Bollard moves in and starts giving Fukui a bit of foot-leather.

So I grab Bollard and wrestle him into the lift, and then I'm like: "What did you do that for?". And Bollard's like: "He told me to get fucked in Japanese." And I'm like: "That's just his name, for fuck's sake."

We get to the hotel room, and now Bollard's holding his hand awkwardly. And then he goes: "I think I might have hurt myself." I take a look, and I see that one of his knuckle bones has burst through the skin, and is waving around getting a bit of fresh air.

So now Bollard's all: "Can you push it back in for me?" So I put my finger on the end of the bone and press really hard, and Bollard's like: "Fuck that hurts!" And he jerks his hand away -- and suddenly the knuckle bone comes right out, and pings off into the sink.

I go over and look at the bone, which is all bloody and dripping. And I'm wondering if Bollard's hand will be crippled with a missing knuckle, and whether he might have to have it amputated or something. But then I realize that it isn't a knuckle bone at all, but just one of Toshihiko Fukui's front teeth.

So we open up the mini-bar, and Bollard has a few drinks to sterilize the cut on his hand. And I have a few drinks so that Bollard isn't drinking alone. Then we mooch on down to the conference dinner.

Of course, Genevieve the Canadian is standing outside the restaurant, and she's all over Bollard with a microphone: "Can you tell me about the altercation between yourself and Toshihiko Fukui?" But Bollard just goes: "Why don't you Fukui yourself, Genevieve" -- and walks straight past her.

The conference dinner is long and dull. They're only serving Australian beer, which if you ask me tastes like normal beer, but with sugar in it. Fukui is a real downer all night: sitting at his table feeling sorry for himself with a black eye, swollen nose, no front teeth -- and everyone keeps staring at us like it's our fault. Later on, I hear Bollard explaining to Svein Gjedrem from the Bank of Norway: "Someone tells you to get fucked in Japanese, you can't just stand there and take it, can you?"

After dinner, Bollard and Gjedrem ask me along to a pub they've heard has half-price non-Australian beer after midnight. But I'm tired after a long day, and waking up on a luggage trolley and everything, and so I head back to my hotel room.

Next morning, first thing I hear is a bunch of police sirens, and naturally I'm thinking: "What's Bollard done now?" I try to get to his hotel room, but the police have blocked off the whole floor. So I head downstairs to the lobby, and to my surprise there's Bollard in the restaurant -- scoffing down bacon and eggs, and looking chipper. I give him a "hello", and sit down and order breakfast myself.

Now Bollard's telling me the events of last night. He goes: "So anyway, I'm just having a quick slash before we go to the pub, and I see Toshihiko Fukui talking to the economists from the Bank of Japan, and suddenly they're all getting out their Glocks and checking the magazines. Of course, I don't think anything about this at the time -- but when I get back, I start wondering if maybe they're waiting in my hotel room to fill me full of hollow-points like they do with the Yakuza.

"So I figure: better safe than sorry. I phone Genevieve the Canadian, and I'm like: 'Sorry I told you to get fucked earlier tonight, Genevieve . It's just that I've got cancer of the balls, and it's making me bad-tempered. Maybe you could do a story on it -- Bollard's Brush with Bollock Cancer -- that sort of thing. In fact, I think I might even cry on camera. Perhaps you should get your film crew and come up to my room?'"

Just then Bollard is interrupted by a group of cops carrying three stretchers down the stairs. Looking over, I see that the dudes on the stretchers aren't feeling too well -- they've got sheets tucked over their heads, which is generally a pretty bad sign.

Next thing a cop stumbles, and one of the corpses plops off the stretcher onto the floor -- and blow-me-down it's Genevieve the Canadian. Mind you, I can only tell from her dress because the rest of her is just strawberry jam. It makes me feel quite ill for a couple of seconds. But then breakfast arrives, and it smells so good that luckily I regain my appetite.

So now I'm turning back to Bollard, and I'm like: "Then what happened?"

At that moment, a bunch of New Zealand television journos come rushing into the lobby, and they're all fighting each other to get a good photo of Genevieve the Canadian's corpse. Then one of them sees Bollard and now they're scrambling over to our table shouting: "How do you feel, Dr Bollard?"

Well, you've gotta hand it to Bollard -- he can turn on the old gravitas. He just clears his throat, and he's all: "This morning, in deeply tragic circumstances, New Zealand television journalism lost its brightest star..."

Note:
David Haywood is a close personal friend and spiritual advisor to Alan Bollard. He is willing to sell the exclusive rights to this true story to New Idea, Investigate Magazine, or as a cover story for The New Zealand Listener.

    The above is an extract from David Haywood's very strange new book, 'The New Zealand Reserve Bank Annual 2010', due for release in November 2009.

His previous book 'My First Stabbing' is available here.

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