Who stole all the lemons?

Lemon sucker

Lemon suckers leave a sour taste wherever they go. Fact. These lemon sucking champions can turn a positive into a negative, a joyful moment can be dampened by just an utterance of their acidic voice.


Some people look as though they spent the last hour sucking on a lemon.

Photo-The Spinoff

I did nearly nine years of Question Time in parliament and it gave me the blues. It felt like I was watching precious moments of my life run through my fingers as I endured the petty and adversarial routines while trying not to become an angry heckler or nasty interjector. It can be argued that parliament is ritualised ideological warfare and the personal attacks are part of the strategic battle, but I remain interested in a better way to operate. Hence my show Question Time Blues which has just completed two sold out seasons at BATS theatre in Wellington and opens tonight as part of the Auckland Fringe.

I am glad she has found a career that makes her happy and that she can be successful at.

Question Time Blues was born out of the poetry I started writing at odd moments on planes and in the House, to try and crystalise my personal and political response to the ridiculous and sometimes awful experiences in parliament. It is my detox from the institution rather than a personal attack on any particular party or MP but is clearly influenced by the ugliness of the Key era. If we do not laugh we might well cry.

It sounds like being an activist in a party with no political power is a soul-destroying existence if you were actually hoping to achieve something.

I am also always keen to laugh with people and celebrate the great moments and opportunities which MPs experience, despite the toxic institutional culture and the effects of unquestioned privilege in the parliament.

Ahh, all that white male privilege sucking up all the oxygen and all those male created traditions that shaped the political culture. You were no longer in Kansas Dorothy.

Experiences such as supporting the Marriage Equality Bill, and opportunities to champion unpopular causes such as West Papua and children with high support needs, made me grateful to be an insider. My trip to Gloriavale and other bizarre incidents inspired reflection, and my incompetent and hostile relationship with social media also gets an airing. I have often imagined the parliament as a Survivor celebrity show, our semi naked ambition and short term competition is a form of entertainment if there no other game shows to watch.

At a deeper level Question Time Blues was inspired by a revulsion against the machine and the sexism and racism that permeates the Westminster system.

And yet as a woman, she was able to be selected for a party with a female co-leader who was Tangata Whenua.

For me performing the show has been a chance to question many aspects of the parliament as an insider. […] hence such titles as “Double the Quota of White Men”, “I am not a Racist”, “Haters and Wreckers” and “The Lying, the Bitch and the Wardrobe”.

I think that Catherine Delahunty is like Martyn Bradbury and doesn’t own a mirror. Someone needs to take her aside and point out to her that she is white!

As a workplace parliament can expose you to a great deal of stress, ridicule and sabotage as a human being. I have experienced personal comments from men that are far worse than any jokes I heard in ten years of working in a shearing gang. I have listened to pathetic jokes, time wasting and power grabs.

Politics is not for the faint-hearted.

Question Time Blues has also been a chance to share some of the traumatic moments of the last few years, from the walkout of parliament by sexual abuse survivors to the final days of Metiria Turei’s evisceration as a former beneficiary who told her own story and paid the price. Loneliness and a creeping disillusionment towards my own party’s trajectory kept me awake in soulless hotel rooms reeking of privilege and chemical cleaning sprays.[…]

She really is more suited to a life as a writer or a performer on stage rather than life as a politician. The hotel was soulless and reeking of privilege she says yet she didn’t save the taxpayer money by booking herself into budget priced motels now did she? Nope, she instead enjoyed the fresh fruit basket, drank and ate all the goodies in the well stocked mini fridge and put up her feet on the comfy designer sofa in front of the big screen T.V all the while sighing at all the money wasted on her plush surroundings by ‘neoliberal capitalism.’

-The Spinoff


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If you agree with me that’s nice, but what I really want to achieve is to make you question the status quo, look between the lines and do your own research. Do not be a passive observer in this game we call life.

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To read my previous articles click on my name in blue.