Under Bee Hive
without apologies to Dylan Thomas
Satire: By Lyndon Hood
FIRST VOICE [very quiety]:
To begin at the beginning:
It is spring, moonless night in the Parliament Buildings, banner- headline black, the carpetways silent and the scowling grandstanders'- and-liars' chambers breathing night-time down into the breeze-mumbled grounds. And all the people of the lulled and dumbfound House are sleeping now.
Hush, the Ministers are sleeping, the clerks and officers, deputy- speakers and secretaries, press officers, bureaucrats, lobbyists, bartenders, scandal-mongers and janitors. Backbenchers make not a sound, even in their dreams sitting quietly with their hands tight folded. The frontbenchers, gagged at last by sleep but still spinning in their beds, are dreaming of the bloody battle for seats and the future and the country and tin soldiers and pop-guns. And the empire- builders are snoring in their blanketed strongholds, and press-men and -women snuggle in piles like slumbering packdogs, and Security Guards' legs ruffle the bedsheets as they chase terrorists down the endless corridors of sleep.
Listen. It is night moving in the offices, rifling through the in- trays, the slumbering hum of dimmed florescent lights. Night echoing down the corridors with the silence of the unringing division bells;
Time passes. Listen. Time passes.
Come closer now.
Only you can hear the offices sleeping in the corridors in the anxious sweat and silent black, unreported night. Only you can see, in the venetianed suites, the tumble of half-prepared rumours, the empty coffee machines, the scissors and stickytape ready for last- minute policy adjustments. The legislation-and-potplant shelves and the handy-hidden biographical manuscripts. Only you can hear and see, behind the eyes of the sleepers, the movements and countries and mazes and colours and dismays and rainbows and tunes and wishes and flight and fall and despairs and general election of their dreams.
From where you are, you can hear their dreams.
Very very fast asleep on the new-left side of the sheets, Helen Clark dreams of…
SECOND VOICE: Another term, and changing the world steady as she goes rescued from the terrible, National unknown and portraits on mantelpieces because we all love her so.
FIRST VOICE: Deep in his second-best bed and the only-candidate-for- deputy darkness, Gerry Brownlee dreams of…
SECOND VOICE: Every single National MP disgracing themselves and him having to go on television and the radio and the newspapers instead.
FIRST REPORTER: Mister Brownlee.
SECOND REPORTER: Mister Brownlee.
THIRD REPORTER: Mister Brownlee.
FOURTH REPORTER: Mister Brownlee.
BROWNLEE: Now that's just an attempt to distract the people from the real issue of this election which is tax cuts.
FIRST REPORTER: But the nuclear … ?
SECOND REPORTER: And did he say … ?
THIRD REPORTER: And did he know … ?
FOURTH REPORTER: And will you cut down the forests?
FIRST REPORTER: And that's not what you said before.
SECOND REPORTER: And will it really cost so little?
THIRD REPORTER: And where's the rest of the policy?
FOURTH REPORTER: And how come my bracket didn't get a tax cut?
BROWNLEE: Yes no we never did and anyway motorcade and waste everywhere billions of singalong golf wananga and we'll hold an enquiry and our position has always been what it is.
FIRST VOICE: Tucked up in bed, the burden of blankets stifling his development, John Key catches forty winks in the dollar, dreaming of…
SECOND VOICE: Watching all the sheep jump the Tasman fence to where the pasture is more green.
KEY: It's because they're being fleeced.
SECOND VOICE: But there's a man with shears on the other side, too, and the sheep keep jumping.
FIRST VOICE: Trevor Mallard, dreams, as he does every night, of…
SECOND VOICE: Back in school, trying to fit his grown-up body on a little flat-bottomed wooden chair, bare knees lifting the little wooden desk up into the air, watching out the window as ghostly National policies appear, divide and vanish, and Old Missus Patterson sees the fidgeting and turns her red eyes on him.
PATTERSON: Trevor! How do you spell NCEA?
FIRST VOICE: And, as happens every night, he does not know the answer.
FIRST VOICE: Snug in the turned-out pockets of treasury, Michael Cullen dreams of…
SECOND VOICE: The press gallery listening with rapt attention to his disection of financial policy.
CULLEN: The numbers don't add up!
CULLEN: There's no funding for the policies!
REPORTER: We shall explain this in a succinct and interesting manner to the public, who will care about it.
FIRST VOICE: And he cries gently in his sleep, because he knows it is just a dream. In the blue-rinsed blackness of the reserve night, Donald Brash dreams of…
SECOND VOICE: Safe in the cellar, hiding but locked there too after fumbling the answer to one too many new questions, nice and quiet now with just tinned food and a sink for his undies and no ladies to have to be polite to, takes his foot from his mouth and says
BRASH: They needn't've bought so many tins - I'll get fat! Waistful spending!
SECOND VOICE: And this gives him a new idea about economic incentives against being poor.
FIRST VOICE: Serving out his sensible sentence of sleep, with no possibility of early rising, Marc Alexander dreams of…
SECOND VOICE: Receiving a delegation of proven victims of crime who are also proven criminals and does not know how to treat them.
ALEXANDER: Oh you poor under-represented people who deserve no pity!
FIRST VOICE: And he turns over a new sheet into dreamlessness. As he slides gently into the deepest sleep of all and the long, dark night of freedom, Rodney Hide dreams of…
HIDE: Tax cuts.
SECOND VOICE: And pilgrims come with every affliction: scurvy and student loans, blindness and socialism, scandals, healthcare, crime, public education, taxes, parsimony, palsy and poverty.
HIDE: You shall have tax cuts.
SECOND VOICE: And they are cured.
FIRST VOICE: Tony Ryall, Jeanette Fitzsimons, David Benson-Pope and the Right Honorable Winston Peters sigh before the dawn that is about to be and dream of…
RYALL: Spiralling out of control.
FITZSIMONS: Solar hot water and bicycles.
BENSON-POPE: Not a tennis ball.
PETERS: Osamas Osamas Osamas Osamas Osamas and arbitrary undemocratic rules for supply and confidence.
FIRST VOICE: Time passes. Listen. Time passes. A seagull flies in from who knows where, making an unlikely and unstable election-day platform of the head of old bronze John Ballance.
And the dawn inches up.