Hard News by Russell Brown

A rum day ...

It's hard to describe gout pain, but I'll have a go. At maximum welly, it's a deep, inexorable throb, as if a paralysis in your foot (or other extremity) is spreading outwards. It's hot. There are little razor-edge high notes. And then there's the wave of pain that makes you just moan.

It arrived on Wednesday night as I was recording a comedy show, which didn't make me feel very funny, and it was in my right foot, which was unfortunate, given that I had to drive home with an automatic transmission. I called Big Gay Paul to say I wouldn't be able to toast his turning fortysomething again, stopped off to buy Voltaren and Panadeine and decked out on the couch with a 1kg bag of frozen mixed veges on my foot.

It was a rum end to a rum day, which got that way at 9.05am when I clicked over the Herald's home page to find a story and was confronted with the awful news that Michael King and his wife had been killed. I was completely undone, and got teary several more times during the day.

It took me a while to rationalise my response, and I guess this is it: if I'm any kind of nationalist, I'm a cultural nationalist. I'm not much of a one for saluting flags or singing anthems, or for walling off the national economy, and I don't spend long grieving if the All Blacks lose - but, as I have said before, a good McCahon can make me cry. One of the great things about Michael King's Penguin History of New Zealand is that it is, in part, a cultural history. King himself was part of that cultural history and I'm still finding his sudden absence from it unsettling and upsetting.

Nonetheless on Wednesday, I still had to go in and host the Wednesday Wire on 95bFM. That was rum. The CD player started making death metal noises the moment I pressed the play button for my first tune - and it wasn't actually a death metal CD. Unfortunately, the RCS system that holds all the ads, stings and playlists had just crashed, so there was no bail-out option. We had a little trouble with the phones too.

But it was okay. I just played some tunes, after the fancy CD player had restarted, and did the interviews: David Small on passports and the war on terror, David Haywood on coal and carbon, and David Madigan on the gigs going to Aussies on The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. It was kind of serious, but quite good, although I must get on someone I can have a raging argument with, some time.

The gout, ironically, came after several days of non-drinking clean living in preparation for a busy social calendar these next few days, starting with a Public Address dinner last night with our new friends at Craft (love that pork belly). The culprit may have been the anchovy content of a Trident noodle dish I made on Tuesday. I turned it into a kind of chilli beef salad for Tuesday lunch, and was well pleased with the result. Dammit. Every time I think I'll sneak a little gout-food, I pay for it …

Still, it's easing now, in the face of what I have determined to be the appropriate range of treatments (the proper medications still look a little scary to me): buckets of nettle tea, celery seed extract and Voltaren. I do not recommend Artemis Arthritis Relief Tincture, which I purchased and used for a while before realising that the salicylates it contains are contraindicated for gout - except in very high doses, they actually make it worse by blocking the excretion of uric acid from the kidneys (for the same reason, don't ever take aspirin for gout). Artemis bills the remedy as a gout treatment. I queried them on this, and they said they'd get back to me, but they didn't. Not impressed.

I might also, of course, be paying a little for a big night out Saturday, on occasion of the impending nuptials of my old friend Andy Moore. We were a bunch of thirty and fortysomethings on the town, and we were courteous and cheerful with all we met, and we were treated in kind.

Somewhat inevitably we wound up at Mermaids. I'm pretty easy with most of what consenting adults do, but I'm not a habitual visitor of strip clubs. Or ever, actually. And I know it's different now, and women come along and everything, but I was quite surprised at how agreeable I found it. I thought it might be, well, grimmer, but in fact the atmosphere was pleasant and relaxed and we stayed quite late. Mermaids, I am assured is much classier than The White House …

OtherPundit has royally missed the point in dubbing Winston Peters a "scumbag" for making claims about the Nelson Family Court case that are perpendicularly opposite to those of National MP Nick Smith:

Nor do the parents have any way to test Peters' allegations in a court of law without themselves facing contempt charges. Call me cynical, but I wonder if Winston really does want people to rush to judgement" - that is the judgement that Smith is a shill for child abusers.

Perhaps Craig believes that Peters' depiction of the case is false and Smith's is true. That the family is the victim and the caregiver (accused by Smith of "child-stealing") is the villain. But he doesn't know that. I don't know that. And you don't know that. What we do know is that there were claims and counter-claims of a nature properly left to the scrutiny of judges who have heard first-hand evidence from all parties.

The difference is that Peters has not, so far as we know, brought direct pressure to bear on one of the litigants, and he has made his claims in Parliament. But Steven Price tells me that Parliamentary privilege is a form of qualified privilege that covers defamation. The papers that carried Peters' claims might not have been as safe in doing so as you might think. Anyway, I'm not comfortable with this sort of public tit-for-tat, especially as it becomes more and more politicised.

Best new blog (of sorts) of the year, no contest, is Ghost Town, which several people have pointed me to. One Russian girl on a fast motorcycle, ventures into the Chernobyl dead zone. Awesome.

As Maori Television winds into its first week one, I get the impression that people are quite enjoying it - and specifically, its simple, relaxed, not-formatted-up-the-wazoo approach. Kai Time and Mana Tangata have been good, and I hear that Marae DIY is too. One of the flagship shows, Coast goes out live tonight at 9pm (a tip for the MTS web designers - you need to put the day and time at the bottom of each programme page, and not just in the daily schedules). It's a live-to-air music show produced by Richard Driver and it looks really promising. Mareko and Ill Semantics feature tonight.

There might yet more of an incentive to come home early from the pub on Fridays when James Griffin's Serial Killers kicks off on April 16. Shades of The Office, I hear …