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October 1, 2012 | by  | in Opinion |
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Mulled Whine With H.G. Beattie

An open letter to steven joyce

It is a truth universally swept under the rug that a single man in possession of a large fortune need not be pestered
by a wife, because he has his sights set on the acquisition of power and—quite understandably—wants to spend his days aiming to once, just once, have a Harvey Specter moment in public.

Quivering on the cusp of double digits, I read the first Harry Potter book. Voldemort was all “there is no good or evil, there is only power, and those too weak to seek it”. I remember repeating this line to the family. My mother’s God-fearing eldest sister, who was staying with us at the time, sent me out of the room, presumably for blasphemy. Way to cast a blanket over discussion. This same aunt later cornered me in the bathroom and told me that the reason I am anxious by nature is because my mother neglected me after my younger brother was born.* “He cried a lot, you see.” Imagine that. The point is, power is a divisive issue.

‘Getting what one wants does not always require that one be in power. (Cynicism is an ugly filter, mes chers.) Think of it as power conferred upon the powerful to give you what you want. This might occasion as a result of heavily expended time and effort.

Could just be a stroke of luck. Most likely, though, it will have been a well-drafted letter to an elected representative that did it. By way of logical corollary, getting what you want AND what you didn’t even know you wanted requires a letter to Joyce. (Joyce as puppet master. Groundbreaking. I think on some level I’ve always been more jam roll than honour roll.) It took a lot of restraint to deny my creative side the indulgence of a lyrical reworking of the Taylor Swift song ‘Hey Stephen’, but I suppose the reference is in there now regardless.

Steven, the nub and the gist of it is, I’m starting to think that no one will ever ‘get’ me. I no longer even have the cloak of teenage irrelevance in which to shroud myself. Steven, why do I always have dark circles under my eyes regardless of how much sleep I get? Steven, why did someone look at me strangely after they said that my degree was ‘classic civil servant stuff’ and I rejoined with ‘ah, well, you see, I hope to one day end up in the bowels of a government department, shunted sideways into some kind of not-quite-middle- management tax-related capacity?’ Steven, don’t you think that October is a tenuous month for people to be wearing denim cutoffs? Steven, I’m increasingly concerned that there’s no New Zealand equivalent of Malcolm Tucker. Care to confirm or deny?

Steven, is it dysfunctional to conceptualise my life as some kind of balancing act that looks like a baby’s mobile, made up of a series of zero-sum interests, the improvement of one of which means the inevitable compromise of another? Steven, while it’s surely indicative of your ability that you’re given all the sexy portfolios, don’t you sometimes lie awake at night thinking you could make a decent crack at Tourism? Steven, can you put in a good word for the subsidization of Nurofen Period Pain? Steven, my family’s dog is called Gemma too, don’t you have a hunch that it’s kind of a person’s name? Steven, why do people insist on asking me what I’m doing for News Year’s Eve? Steven, can you get your PA’s PA’s PA to courier me a hug?

* Let me reiterate: there was no neglect. Nigel Latta reckons it’s quite common to spend less time with your first child once you have a second. And God knows, he knows. 

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