Biography of my skin

October 9th, 2009 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

I went to the premier of Miranda Harcourt’s Biography of My Skin at Downstage last night. It was (largely) a one woman show about Miranda’s life, but written by her husband.

I was a bit apprehensive going into the play, as I wasn’t sure if I would like it. I tend to prefer plays with character interactions, with a plot, with surprises. I was not sure that I would find anything interesting or amusing about the life of a actress as seen by her husband, and would have to write a review about how it was boring tripe (I get free tickets for the purpose of review).

I needn’t have worried. It was superb. I loved it. Most of all I had forgotten what a wonderfully talented actress Harcourt is. There is such a difference between an actor or actress who is good, and those who are great. Harcourt’s voice and presence dominated the stage. Not everyone can do a one person show, but she definitely can.

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Miranda is not quite alone on stage. We see video interjections of various friends and families, and I also advise people to keep an eye on the suitcase. It is not just a prop!

At times the play is very poignant, as we see photos of her father dying of cancer, and spreading his ashes. Even sad moments can turn humourous though as Harcourt tells the tale of trying to get the Karori Cemetery to cremate her son’s (named Peter after he father) placenta to mix it in with his ashes. You want to both laugh and cry. And I won’t even tell you my reaction at the video of her giving birth via c-section. But it all forms part of a memorable play.

At the heart of the play is the love story between Miranda and her husband Stuart McKenzie. It is never soppy, and often hilarious. The highlight must have been her reciting of when a cop pulled Stuart over for driving without his seatbelt on. By the time the cop got to the car, the seatbelt was on, and the offence was denied. And then the cop asked Miranda if he had been wearing it, and she told the truth. She gets evicted from the car, as he tells the kids in the back seat (including the one month old) that Mummy has to walk home as she had been bad.

I hope readers forgive the spoiler, but it gives a great example of the play. We also hear about her younger days when her and a friend would rob a bar by having one of them make out with the barman, while the other helped themselves.

The play is called Biography of My Skin, and you do get to see a fair bit of Miranda’s skin, as she changes outfits on stage. I think Miranda is around 47 years old, but let me tell you her body was the envy of every woman in the audience aged over the age of 25, and the admiration of every man aged over 16! She is a stunning beauty.

A moving part of the play was by coincidence very topical. It was about the guilt when Steve Williams killed step daughter Coral Burrows in the Wairarapa in a manner not dissimiliar to a film they produced, in which he had been an extra. Williams killed her after he had been up all night smoking P.

The play runs at Downstage until the 31st of October. I found it a great night out, and from the audience reaction so did everyone else.

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Dissent on making pseudoephedrine prescription only

October 9th, 2009 at 6:24 am by David Farrar

The very sensible MacDoctor disagrees with the decision. He blogs:

Unfortunately Mr. Key is being poorly advised on this matter by his science advisor, Peter Gluckman – who has no medical qualifications, BTW

The strike through is after a commenter pointed out Sir Peter actually graduated medical school, and spent two years as a doctor before going into research. He is also a former Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at the University of Auckland.

Once again, I link to a real scientific study on phenylephrine and pseudoephedrine so the Sir Peter can actually read something useful on the subject. There are dozens of others, but this one is freely available to be read in full. All the scientific evidence (as opposed to the anecdotal ones) shows that phenylephrine is essentially useless as a nasal decongestant. If you want relief from your cold, you are going to have to use pseudoephedrine. All that making this a prescription item will do is make the treatment of a cold more expensive for people. It will also move the monitoring of drug seekers from the pharmacy to the GP, who is even less likely to spot the serial script seeker. “Shoppers” for pseudoephedrine will just move from doctor to doctor, gathering scripts.

Stuff also reports dissent:

The Pharmaceutical Society’s chief pharmacist adviser, Euan Galloway, said the proposed replacement, phenylephrine – which Mr Key said was a “safe and effective alternative” – was not as good.

“Ask any community pharmacist and they’ll tell you they may make one sale [of a phenylephrine medicine], but never again,” Mr Galloway said.

Phenylephrine had a very high “first past metabolism effect”, which meant most of the drug was metabolised or rendered inactive before it reached the parts of the body where it was needed.

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The plan against P

October 8th, 2009 at 1:08 pm by David Farrar

John Key has announced a wide range of measures, as part of a plan to reduce the supply of, demand for, and harm caused by P. The main measures are:

  • Making pseudoephedrine a Class B2 controlled drug, making it prescription-only. (I have attached the report from Sir Peter Gluckman recommending this)
  • Use proceeds of crime legislation to fund additional Police and Customs activities to fight gangs and organised crime plus an expansion of drug treatment services.
  • Investing in additional $22 million in clinical services to fund treatment for P addiction to more than 3,000 additional patients over the next three years.
  • Assigning 40 additional Customs officers to special dedicated drug-taskforce duties to help break the supply chain. Key also announced in just two weeks Customs has managed to make 26 seizures of ingredients with a street value of $13 million if they had been used to produce P.
  • A new Police Methamphetamine Control Strategy which aims to use intelligence in new ways to target gangs, investigate drug syndicates which import P precursors illegally, target P ‘cooks’ and seize funds and assets gained through P-related activity.
  • Reviewing the outdated Alcoholism and Drug Addiction Act 1966, to provide a more effective legal means to get P-addicts into compulsory assessment and treatment.
  • Making chief executives of Government agencies accountable for delivering on our plans, as measured against a range of targets that will be clearly set out in the actual Action Plan to be released next week.

The status quo has obviously failed. It is good to see that the plan does not just try to target one aspect, but is a balance of measures that aim to reduce supply, reduce the demand for P, and reduce the harm caused by those addicted to it – which is far far wider than self harm.

The Gluckman report is here – Pseudoephedrine report.

A recent story on how destructive the addiction to P is, was a great story in the HoS by Carolyne Meng-Yee on Lynne Carter:

One of Auckland’s poshest hotels has turfed out a high-profile socialite, saying her erratic behaviour has scared guests and staff and claiming she has left her $600-a-night suite uninhabitable. …

The eviction of Carter, who is facing methamphetamine and fraud charges in the Auckland District Court, is the latest twist in a sad fall from grace for the businesswoman who once boasted a $6 million waterfront mansion, a Ferrari and a booming property development business.

She was set for life.

“She smokes and we don’t allow smoking, and her dog pisses everywhere,” Bourke said. “We have chucked her out many times but she keeps coming back in the middle of the night.” …

“She was smoking all the time and the dog was in the room. It was peeing everywhere.

“She would get up in the middle of the night … She was out like till 3am, running up and down the hallways calling out ‘Louis, Louis’ and we had complaints from guests saying ‘who is the woman running up and down the hallway screaming?’

“Or we would have functions on… It was horrible, it really was.”

On another occasion, Bourke said Carter sat in the Herne Bay hotel’s library, staring vacantly at the ceiling.

And if not bad enough:

Bourke said that, in her opinion, Carter had “gone from someone who was well-dressed and well-spoken… and she has turned into a country bumpkin who walks around with no shoes and dirty hair”.

Bourke said Mollies could not hire out her suite because of the stench of dog urine and stale cigarette smoke. “We have to air it a little bit longer to get rid of the smell.”

And that is just a case of self-harm, and is nothing compared to the cases of William Bell, Antonie Dixon, and others where innocent Kiwis get butchered in P fuelled rages.

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Mike Williams’ new job

August 30th, 2009 at 5:46 am by David Farrar

The Sunday News reports:

SECRET documents suggest that former Labour Party president Mike Williams got the $100,000-plus a year job heading the anti-P Stellar Trust mainly because he is mates with Paul Holmes.

“Clearly there are some risks with the Williams appointment,” reads a confidential paper from the Trust’s board.

“There may well be other candidates in the marketplace who may be capable of doing a better job as CEO and chief fundraiser, however if we go that route we will very likely not have Holmes’ involvement,” it continues.

It is no secret that Holmes and Williams are close mates, so this is little surprise.

The document, dated August 2, adds: “Our recommendation therefore is to offer the CEO role to Mike Williams, but to give ourselves the ability to review the situation after say six months, subject to the constraints of current employment law.

“If he has not succeeded in raising significant sums in that time, there will not be enough funding for his continuing salary, so he does have an incentive to succeed.”

I am no fan of Williams, but to be fair to him he seemed to be reasonably proficient in fundraising for Labour.

But Williams’s appointment has led to high profile, anti-P crusader Mike Sabin and his group MethCon withdrawing their support for the Stellar Trust.

He sent an email to the board on August 10 which read: “It is with some regret I wish to advise that I am unable to reconcile my concerns about the appointment of Mike Williams to the position of CEO to the trust. I believe this is a high risk appointment that will be very polarising given the political overtones.”

It is understood that Sabin, a former drug squad detective, believed Labour approached the P epidemic with a polarising “harm minimisation” approach, treating it as a public health and welfare issue rather than a public order problem.

Sabin may well be right, but really I wouldn’t hld the former party president responsible for what the parliamentary wing or Ministers decided.

The Stellar Trust board’s confidential August 2 paper also revealed there was a concern about how Williams’ appointment would be accepted by the National Government.

After last year’s election, Williams left Labour’s engine-room following a series of controversial media reports, including how he flew to Australia seeking dirt on John Key.

The Trust’s reservations were passed on to Holmes, regarded as the public face of Stellar.

The broadcaster sought the Prime Minister’s views.

Key last night confirmed a call between himself and Holmes on July 26.

“I’ve moved on and I’m not a person who holds grudges.

“If Mike is prepared to spend his time trying to combat P, given the devastation that drug is causing, then I’m happy to work with him,” he told Sunday News.

Could you imagine Helen Clark saying the same thing about someone who had flown to another country in a (failed) attempt to smear her as a criminal fraudster?

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Paul Holmes ‘P’ poem

July 26th, 2009 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Paul Holmes read this poem out on NewstalkZB. Not sure if he wrote it, but it is quite moving:

Methamphetamine

I destroy homes, I tear families apart
I take your children, and that’s just a start
I’m more costly than diamonds, more precious than gold
The sorrow I bring is a sight to behold

If you need me, remember, I’m easily found
I live all around you, in schools and in town
I live with the rich, I live with the poor
I live down the street, I may be next door

I’m made in a lab, but not like you think
I can be made under the kitchen sink
In your child’s closet, and even in the woods
If this scares you to death, it certainly should

I have many names, but there’s one you know best
I’m sure you’ve heard of me, my name is Crystal Meth
My power is awesome, try me, you’ll see
But if you do, you’ll never be free

Just try me once, and I might let you go
But try me twice and I’ll own your soul
When I possess you, you’ll steal and you’ll lie
You’ll do what you have to, just to get high

The crimes you’ll commit, for my narcotic charms
Will be worth the pleasure you’ll feel in your arms
You’ll lie to your mother, you’ll steal from your dad
When you see their tears, you should feel sad

But you’ll forget your morals and how you were raised
I’ll be your conscience, I’ll teach you my ways
I take kids from parents, and parents from kids
I turn people from God and separate friends

I’ll take everything from you, your looks and your pride
I’ll be with you always, right by your side.
You’ll give up everything, your family, your home
Your friends, your money, then you’ll be alone

I’ll take and I’ll take till you have nothing more to give
When I’ve finished with you, you’ll be lucky to live
If you try me, be warned, this is no game
If given the chance, I’ll drive you insane

I’ll ravish your body, I’ll control your mind
I’ll own you completely, your soul will be mine
The nightmares I’ll give you while you’re lying in bed
The voices you’ll hear from inside your head

The sweats, the shakes, the visions you’ll see
I want you to know, these are your gifts from me
But then it’s too late, and you’ll know in your heart,
That you are mine, and we shall not part

You’ll regret that you tried me, they always do
But you came to me, not I to you
You knew this would happen, many times were you told
But you challenged my power, and I chose to be bold

You could have said no and just walked away
If you could live that day over, now what would you say?
I’ll be your master, you’ll be my slave
I’ll even go with you, when you go to your grave

Now that you’ve met me, what will you do?
Will you try me or not? It’s all up to you
I can bring you more misery, than words can tell
Come, take my hand, let me lead you to hell

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