If someone had said to me: “First week back at work in 2017 you'll share the front page with Martin Phillips from the Chills,” I would have seen it going a little differently. I indulged in some incredibly stupid, reckless behaviour in 2016, including, but not limited to: chainsawing in tiny shorts, night surfing and drunk driving ̶ by far the worst, as the others put no one but myself in danger. Why I did them doesn't matter; I am the captain of my own ship, plenty of people have stressful times and they don't get behind the wheel pissed. I did, though, in a monumentally regrettable moment of hubristic self-indulgence, the only good thing the fact that I was immediately caught, before I could crash into something, or someone. “You had to hit rock bottom,” said a friend who's been through a harrowing addiction, jail and rehab, “and if this is your bottom, you got off pretty lightly.”
Lightly might be in the eye of the beholder. I don't think anyone's felt lower than I did on Tuesday, when, after leaving court (until you've stood behind a glass barrier in the criminal element zone, I don't think you can understand the full-body mortification of a shame so total you want to hide your face like a child) having just lost my license for 7 months, I started getting texts from friends saying, “Be brave... remember today's headlines are tomorrow's fish and chip paper ...” What are they talking about? I wondered, and then Googled myself. Big mistake. Huge. As the economist, up until now maintaining a dignified silence in the face of my bonkers, put it: “in cyberspace no one can hear you scream.” I went and sat in the library amongst the Israeli tourists, using them as a wall. “Lo, lo!” (no no) they shouted at their mums via Skype. No no no alright.
I thought I could handle humilation's sting. I once comissioned a fifty foot banner across Stuart Street that spelt Roger Hall's name wrong, and I do self-depreciation for a job, given my columns are basically a documentry of fails, but this was next level. Nora Ephron might have said, “its all copy” ̶ she'd never been trolled in comments section of the Stuff website. It felt like everyone in the world was mad at me; pillored publically (its always nice to watch a train wreck if you're not on the train, and I've done it myself: 'serves her right' ̶ now it was my turn), as someone who voices their opinion loudly and smart-arsedly, the opinion of others came down on me like an anvil. It will be hard to win back the good faith and love I've enjoyed, a long time before the embarrassment fades, and in some ways I'm glad to be stranded at Purakanui. The shags and sea lions are remarkably non-judgemental. The paddle crabs just want to nip my feet.
My one abiding memory of that night in November was how lovely the police were. How polite, how calm in the face of the mental landslide as slowly dawns on you just how astonishingly you've FUBAR'd, the murder done to your career. “Don't get ahead of yourself” said Constable Ben, “it might not be as bad as you think,” but it was. Watching the sober (ing up) realisation of the fallout from your own actions, the lightbulb go on above your head (Oh God oh God oh God what have I done!?) they don't need to be so patient and kind. People who drive drunk are nauesously tiring in their predictable stupidity and the similarity of their excuses, and the cops have to put up with their bad decision making every night of the bloody week and clean up the aftermath when it doesn't end with a silly selfish blonde woman weeping with regret on the breathalising bench, but a funeral and the tears of the family of the innocent person she's killed.
Despite the interventions of my friends, despite TGB hiding my keys, fortifying me with a vat of coffee, delaying me, feeding me; despite the Tamster's entreaties not to drive, 'Scooter, just stay here', I did all the dumb things. A sound social shaming, a period clapped in the stocks being metaphorically booted up the backside seems a pretty fair price to pay, and its nothing to the kicking I'm giving myself.