One man’s struggle to find a copy of Dirty Politics



I’m typing this on top of Dirty Politics.  I got the last copy yesterday morning at the local branch of a chain bookshop.  I was really in to get the paper.  I know it sold out – everyone knows – but the first thing I saw when the doors slid open was this guy – right in front of me – standing around with the unmistakable blue splattered cover in his hands.  He was reading it casually with a consumed and slightly puzzled expression. No way!  Still on sale.  Where is it!? He’s standing by a corner of the main display table, but I can’t see it.  Where are they?  If it’s here I want it.  He’s got one. Where are they – now.  I am frozen at the entrance, craning my neck around to get an angle – maybe a pile is behind him?  Worried.  Don’t tell me this guy has the last one.  God, no.  No.  Let this guy just put it back… just put it down.  Put it down! OK, he’s now enthralled, he can’t put it down – and I can’t stand in between the security sensors any longer blocking the entrance.  So I don’t want to give off a panic vibe, right – nothing that would show I’m interested.  If he’s just browsing he might put it down.  Possibly, possibly not.  Making an aggressive move would arouse suspicion. So I walk around him to make for the far counter – right past the front counter that also has the paper – scanning the table as I pass.  And then turn, casually, unpanic-like, and glance around the back of the table – nothing.  Nothing!  Has this f***ing mug faffing around just got the last f***ing one, or what?  Is he on a tease mission?  Standing there in the middle of the shop goading us with it.  Oh, f**k.  Another lurching, swaying, squinting, bobbing move and I still couldn’t see shit – he had his f***ing knee right up against the side of the table like he was leaning on it.  What a dick thing to do, standing/leaning, quasi-leaning, like that – why was he doing that?  Who does that?  Was it something to do with his bag thing he had?  Was he obscuring it?   Maybe, not really.  But I couldn’t make out that cover – I would definitely recognise that. Not on the table.  But definitely saw him with it though – I know what that book looks like.  It mesmerised me for a moment as he fondled it.  I know what I saw!  After a week of the Hager saga everyone knows what the bloody thing looks like.  I didn’t imagine that – it was too vivid.  I took a calculated risk by not putting my name down for it last week when I had first made an enquiry and found it sold out.  It was all a bit communist, a bit ration book, a bit desperate, a bit can’t be arsed.  Submitting and waiting to be called up – it’s a power game thing I’m not into.  Just no.  So I hadn’t.  And from that nonchalance last week to I needs me precious.   It’s a must have.  I have to read it.  Anyone who is anyone is on about it and has been for a solid week: 24/7.  It has intensified.  John Key was saying it was dissolving, yet all around the structure of the allegations were crystallising, solidifying.  It is difficult to maintain the presumption of having an informed opinion if you don’t have the information.  Well it never stopped me blogging about it before, of course, but – like John Key not wanting to find or know anything of the scandals with ministers or even in his own office – at some point you will be faced with having to form an opinion and having to form it based on information, not just advice and third party filtering about the information. I know I would actually be outraged if I read the thing – I’m sure – rather than dismissive and mildly amused as I have been at this monumentally poetic down-trou.  I have been absorbing the story passively as it developed with only a handful of quotes and a few email extracts to go on.  Tantalising.  Oh, God, of course it is going to be bad.  Years of hacked emails and messaging to and from the most notorious sewer blogger of all time is a bankable gold mine, lotto.  If there’s now officially such a thing as hate-watching of TV shows to get off on how bad something is – for the purposes of critique supposedly – then this is going to be hate-reading.  Not Hager’s interpretation, I mean hate-reading the vile stuff from Slater et al.  A mother of a hate-read is promised.  Think of some of the horrendous, callous shit these blogger dirt merchants spew out publicly and the sort of hidden conflicts that are outed from time to time.  So then what the f*** must this motley Tory crew have been saying privately to each other if that’s what they publish on their blogs?  I can’t wait to find out whether it is bad or worse than what I imagine it is – it isn’t going to be better, that’s not going to happen.  So, I charge down to the far counter and grab a paper.  I slow up on the return.  Hesitantly I pass the table.  He’s finally f***ed off.  No book.  Oh, FFS.  I suppose that was the last one too – that would be right.  In the cosmic game he was there to innocently gaze for a brief while as he was putting a book in his bag, and to me it was a taunt to piss me off.  Missed out.  By seconds probably.  That schmuck who missed out was going to be me.  I present the limp, thin paper at the front counter.  Is she pretending to be busy, or – no she smiles, she’ll serve me.  As a matter of course, although I knew the answer, I asked whether they have any more Dirty Politics in stock.  No-ah.  No-ah!  She stops the no and goes into an ah.  Like she hadn’t finished the no.  Like ah question mark.  No-ah?  And then she turns.  Like she’s looking around calmly, to where they should be.  And then she says, blankly, “only that one”.  What!?  And she said it like maybe it wasn’t good enough or something.  What f***ing one!?  If a dog had eaten it I’d be asking: ‘how many pages?’ not ‘never mind please put me down on your waiting list…’  F**k that shit, I’ve got some Sellotape. I follow her eyes.  Oh for f*** sake the thing is right next to the other till on the front desk.  Just sitting there.  In plain view.   On a little perspex thing.  If I can see it anyone can see it – danger.  But there’s this woman being served at it.  So my hands are in the seizing position – readied for action.  But she’s in the midst of a transaction and there’s stuff going across the desk and a bit of a chat.  If she asks for Dirty Politics I am going to f***ing tear that paper into ever decreasing pieces and I won’t forgive her, whoever she is.  Don’t ask.  Don’t look down.  Don’t look down and see what everyone has been hot on and has been leading the news for the last week.  She’s looking down.  No.  No, please be one of the legion of apolitical, unengaged, apathetic, incurious, non-voting, non-… No, she’s scooping something up with keys clattering and holding something under another arm – get your shit together lady.  I moved closer, slightly too close, just slightly in her personal space to push out potential Hager hunters who might want to seagull it from in front of me.  No way.  I’m too close now. I don’t even wait for her to finish.  I step in – lunging – mumbling ‘I’ll just grab that’ and whipped it away.  Oh, yes.  My precious.  Didn’t for a second consider what the price was either – who cares?  30 something – reasonable, I didn’t care now we haves the precious.  I read Farrar had said how he considered walking away from blogging after the book came out – said all the personal emails being exposed was ‘genuinely traumatic’ etc.  This has upset the NZ blogosphere, not only the election campaign. 

Must read the must read.


  1. I’d say enjoy it but I’m part way into dirty politics and there’s not much to enjoy I hope its the end of Despicable Key I’d enjoy that

    • Tim may have a way with imagery, but a few par marks would help.
      Stream of consciousness is one thing but this is more a river.

  2. I think Hager is fond of a paragraph every so often….

    The real question is who is behind the self-proclaimed non-partisan, altruistic ‘hacker’ who is solely releasing materiel for his own personal benefit…

  3. Hager’s book Dirty Politics has produced some of the most memorable lines from our I unbeloved PM. “It wasn’t me. I didn’t do it. My office made me do it.” The inspiration for this little blue lie had to be Bart from the Simpsons with his hand stuck firmly in the cookie jar.

    Note: if I ever get in trouble with the law, John Key is going to be my lawyer.

  4. Well for all FJK’s rhetoric that no one will be interested in reading Hager’s book, it’s doing very well. A best seller in fact.

    I managed to score myself the last copy in a major chain store just over a week ago and now that outlet along with another chain, have huge waiting lists for when the next supply arrives in store!

    Last week I wanted to buy a copy for a family member’s birthday, but was told it will be a two week wait, after the store first supplied their customer orders for the book!

    So there you go FJK. Talking out of your read end again, as usual!

  5. Hilarious. I understand that mania. I bought it online but assumed the payment hadn’t gone through so bought the ebook and just consumed it. Then the real book arrived. I feel a bit greedy.

  6. Usually I am a mindful, careful and reflective person. But this time I say, hey, the BEST BOOK WRITTEN in New Zealand for a fair few years, if not in decades!

  7. I managed to get a copy on the Friday (2 days after the release)… You will not believe how many favours I had to cash-in in order to buy a copy. Seriously, worth the effort.

  8. Kia ora, I have a copy and it sits next to the newspaper article from the Sunday news of Key was thinking of quitting just before his crappy life story came out about himself. I think nz is all screwed up because of nationals sins. I rebuke John Key in the name of the Lord. There you go I just saved us nz.

  9. that guardian article summed it up nicely, about the talkback radio hosts saying for a fourth day in a row dealing with phone calls about it that ‘no one is interested’, ha!

    • No one is interested. Because every one is interested. (Makes as much sense as “Tucker told me” meaning Tucker told the empty PM’s Office. Or the meticulous Tucker fluffing his written letter by conflating the PM’s Office with the PM hisself.)

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