What a talent Steve Braunias is – suffering from a heavy cold, he trooped through this session and delivered the goods to a very receptive audience. Extra seating was needed in the conference room, such was the interest in his keen wit.
He spent considerable time explaining the intense process of interviewing people for his book. Meeting people for two or three hours and then writing about it.
Strange encounters with Ross Meurant, who he described as “one of the most loathsome” figures in NZ history in the 80s, for instance. From meeting in a dark corner of a Remuera garden shop, talking through the plants. Chasing Meurant through Auckland to try to get of a photograph of Meurant’s young Russian partner. When the article was published Meurant called incessantly. Braunias ignored the phone as long as he could – eventually, about twelve hours later, they talked. Meurant said: “It could have been worse. Cheers!”.
Braunias also mentioned some intriguing correspondence from Bob Parker, which he described as ‘fulsome’. I was left wanting a little more of this, but the audience was swept along by hilarious retellings of people who fell for the made-up characters in his columns – and a fair number of Christchurch people were among them, appearing in court, been had up for slander and the inside word of where he got the names for some of his characters – a cartoon soccer team, George Best’s girlfriend in 1974, that kind of thing.
I also enjoyed the insights into Braunias’s life – watching Parliament TV with his daughter, whose favourite word is ‘Order!’ and how he has had enough of interviewing for the time being – he wants to leave people alone for a bit.
It was a great session and fantastic to see a full house. Intense fun, thanks Steve.