Coddington on Jones

October 25th, 2009 at 10:20 am by David Farrar

An amusing profile of Bob Jones by his friend, .

As a teenager in the 80s I read all of Bob’s books and loved them. His “Letters” are a priceless read. I have only met him once – in 2007.

I was asked to come over to his office to join a discussion over the Electoral Finance Bill, and ways he could contribute to a campaign against it. I went over at 3 pm, expecting to be back at my desk by 5 pm. I staggered out of Sir Bob’s office, along with , at around 4 am. During that 13 hours we drank many bottles of superb wine, and the only food we had was potato chips. I really could barely walk.

Anyway back to the profile:

“I had two MPs in my office last night but, unusually, we didn’t drink much because they left early. So-and-so and what’s-his-name? The duck?”

“Trevor Mallard?”

“Yes, Mallard. Only one glass each.”


Certainly, there has been a vigour about his family life. Last month he told M2 Magazine: “I have vast numbers of children ranging from 4 to 40 years of age. All have been produced by diverse women without my consent, my participation having been fleeting.”

His correspondence with their various schools is one of the best parts of his Letters books.

Then there are some who painfully remember Jones’ own pugilism, including the time television reporter Rod Vaughan, determined to get an answer from Jones about the future of his New Zealand Party, flew by helicopter to Jones’ trout fishing patch at Turangi. Jones moved like lightning out of the undergrowth and punched Vaughan on the nose.

When fined $1000 in court, Jones asked the judge if he paid $2000, could he please do it again?

Never had a country been so united behind one man. I recall even the Governor-General was over-heard saying how much he approved of what Jones did. The video of the assault was wonderful theatre.

But the charmer also loves to shock. A few months ago he invited me to join him for lunch with Wellington lawyer Mai Chen. When Jones was informed by Chen that she doesn’t drink alcohol he claimed to be horrified: “You poor bastard. Tom Scott’s coming along. Deborah’s got no pants on (not true). There’ll be an orgy later (also untrue). I feel sorry for you.”


Jones also has a thing about dark glasses, especially when worn on the top of the head. As if on cue, this bete noire popped up near the end of lunch.

As we filed out of the Arbitrageur restaurant Jones spied a woman sporting a flash pair of sunnies atop her blonde mane, and started muttering about people wearing sunglasses on their heads. I recognised the wearer as Wellington blogger “Busted Blonde”, and guessed, correctly, that Jones would be repaid the next day on her Roar Prawn blogsite.

The blog post is here.

But Jones enjoys fomenting mischief and critics should ignore him. He’s been insulting me for nearly 20 years and I’m not particularly thick-skinned. When he decided I should meet Colin Carruthers, I was instructed to not “dress like a whore, none of that paint smeared on your face, just lipgloss”.

When the progressing relationship pleased him, this unlikely Dorothy Dix offered more advice: “Don’t let him take you away to an island resort. At your age, you can’t be seen prancing around in a bikini. Get him to take you skiing so your body’s well covered.”

So how, my feminist friends ask, can you remain close to someone so obviously sexist? The Listener’s Jane Clifton, who has been his good mate since she was a “baby journalist”, gets the same queries and laughs them off.

“Way back before I even knew him well, someone wrote something spiteful and gutless about me and Bob wrote me this letter which was not just of comfort but which said, ‘the problem as I see it is that **** is a conspicuously hideous beast and you are not’. It was bloody useful and restorative to be told that. Bob saw an injustice, and was extraordinarily nice about it.

I love the story of how he paid his receptionist to change her name by deed poll.

10 Responses to “Coddington on Jones”

  1. tvb (5,518 comments) says:

    Jones is damn good fun, I bet he is not nearly as sexist as he makes out. The point being Jones KNOWS when he is being sexist but he does it anyway just for fun.

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  2. MT_Tinman (4,394 comments) says:

    NZ’s best by far.

    His novels, particularly Full Circle and Ogg are worth reading not once but several times, compilations of his columns, while out of date, are always a fun read and the man himself saved NZ from the “mad bastard Muldoon”.

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  3. BlairM (2,755 comments) says:

    Oh the article’s about Bob Jones?! Silly me, I thought it was about Coddington, as nearly all of them are 😛

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  4. Viking2 (14,376 comments) says:

    More of us need to be like him. Its fun and its also serious. Always there is an independent freedom loving message PC attacking message.
    Without Jones and his message NZ would have had a Clakesque Muldoon for ever.

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  5. philu (13,026 comments) says:

    aww..!! left out the juiciest bit..

    where he says national will get the boot in 2011..

    and that key is ‘a one-term-pony’..


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  6. Johnboy (20,828 comments) says:

    I thought his best book was the one recounting the achievements of Wallace Rowling.

    Maybe Bob should write a similar one on Phil Goof.

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  7. philu (13,026 comments) says:

    “..a Clakesque Muldoon..”

    isn’t that a gum disease..?

    or a new daewoo..?


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  8. MT_Tinman (4,394 comments) says:

    Johnboy, the one detailing the accomplishments of the first year of the 1972 elected Labour Govt. is, I think, the book you refer to.

    Great book, perfect summation.

    The White Mouse did not become leader until later.

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  9. peterwn (4,289 comments) says:

    Rod Vaughan had no brains and was a prat. It does not require a high IQ to realise that when someone puts the ‘gone fishing’ sign up he or she wants to be at peace with himself or herself, to commune with nature and to meditate. I suppose nowadays Rod Vaughan would call himself a ‘victim’ and demand that TVNZ or ACC pay for counselling, etc because Bob deflated his big ego.

    Oh, no one thought to mention at the time how the expense of hiring a helicoptor could be justified. Perhaps TVNZ had their advertisers over a barrel and had money to burn.

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  10. jabba (280 comments) says:

    philu .. Sir (thank goodness Knighthoods are back eh) Bob is a smoking, piss drinking, meat eating type .. give him a ring and offer your expensive services as a Personal Trainer and Dietitian.

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