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Largeman’s Run

August 9th, 2011 by admin

If a broken-in cricket glove could speak, it would sound like Largeman, Winona’s old-school-Kiwi uber-boss at the Department of Stodge. He has a baritone that evokes the plummy newsreel voiceovers of yore, slightly muffled, rumbling with deep, slightly indistinct amusement.

He understands why she’s moving on. She’ll do grandly in Marianne Swatch’s department. You go where you can get something done, in government.  And he should know. He’s going to retire in November, when they merge the Department of Stodge with MAF at long last, and he’s had a good run. Been in government since 1969 – rugby mate of his had said, come along, mate, desk in his office.

Winona nearly falls off her chair when Largeman shares a photo of himself from 1969, golden hair down to his collar, matching sideburns, jutting jaw and cheekbones balancing his jutting lapels. No wonder he’d left the vast sheep station where he’d been brought up – though, from the way he talked throughout his career, you’d think he lived there part-time.

His reminiscence rolls on. Even though he’d always been a Labour man, it had been cushy until Britain joined the EEU in 1973. And then there were the Muldoon years, the loss of the farm subsidies. He’d enjoyed the struggles, though. The Labour years had really been his apotheosis – Helen Clark, now there was a woman. It’s all been about getting money for the farmers, at the end of the day. Bringing it back to good old En Zed.

Listening to him, Winona is wistful. “You should write your memoirs.” He swells up with pleasure even as he discounts her as a flatterer. But she is thinking of the difference between the jowly, mottled man before her and the stunner in the photo, and that something vital will go when the Largeman newsreel flaps to an end.

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