Haven’t been paying attention to the news over the holidays? Fret not, James Elliott has your water-cooler chat royally covered with his take on the news of the summer. 

January in New Zealand sees most of us spread out all over the country enjoying diverse summer holiday pursuits, from fishing to music festivals to doing sweet Fanny Adams. It’s a time when we pay little attention to the news, often because there is little news of substance to pay attention to. 

But this week as most of us started back at work, there was a strong surge of national unification at about 9.03am on Monday morning when we were bound together as one to ask the same critical question ‘What the hell is my login password again?’.

Having scoured our memories for the name of our first pet and/or car and/or mother’s maiden name we logged on to find out that there had in fact been quite a lot of news while we were busy not reading the books gifted to us at Christmas. Australia was suffering from cataclysmic bush fires, Donald Trump had nearly started World War III, and there was a rupture in the British Royal family.             

For those of you still logged out and waiting for the IT Helpdesk to start back next Monday here’s a quick summary of some of the summer news.   

While series 3 of ‘The Crown’ was available on Netflix, series 6 of the reality TV version was screening on just about every other media platform.  Series 6 has jazzed up the format somewhat. It’s now the ‘The Crown’ meets ‘Survivor’ meets ‘Escape to the Country’. Previously, in episode four, Prince Andrew was voted out at the Tribal Council for doing a TV interview explaining his friendship with convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein that should really have been included in an episode of ‘Chernobyl’. Interestingly Andrew didn’t play the immunity idol, keeping hold of it in case he needs it to fend off American legal proceedings.

But in the biggest pearl-clutching plot twist yet episode five lived up to its billing as ‘The Many Knives of Windsor’. Harry and Meghan announced they were stepping down as senior members of the royal family. It’s probably best to call them Harry and Meghan from now on, rather than the Duke and Dutchess of Sussex, because they might be losing their titles, tiaras and other assorted entitlements.

One of the known unknowns to be dealt with is whether the Sussexiteers will get to keep Frogmore Cottage, gifted to them by the Queen and upgraded at a cost of NZ$4.7m from the public purse. This issue will be resolved in the upcoming episode six, ‘Harry Squatter and the Goblet of Fired’.   

Naturally Harry and Meghan announced their departure on social media with an Instagram post because that’s how world events and politics are conducted now. Donald Trump governs via Twitter, Jacinda Ardern gives updates on LinkedIn and the Act party has his own Facebook page that no-one looks at.

And if somehow Harry goes on to become a painter in his royal afterlife he will be referred to as the artist formerly known as Prince Harry.     

No sooner had Harry and Meghan’s announcement been posted speculation began as to the real reason for the split. Not a single palace insider was prepared to talk openly but thankfully a stream of palace insiders were prepared to talk confidentially. It seems that Harry and Meghan felt they were being excluded from the royal inner circle with fingers being pointed in particular at official New Year portrait photos of the Queen with the three kings-in-waiting Charles, William and George.               

Not only was Harry excluded from those official photos he was even excluded from the media moniker given to the step-down saga, ‘Megxit’. As far as monikers go ‘Megxit’ does seem somewhat unimaginative. Presumably ‘The Markle Debacle’ is being kept in reserve for Meghan’s breach of privacy case where her father is expected to give evidence against her. And if somehow Harry goes on to become a painter in his royal afterlife he will be referred to as the artist formerly known as Prince Harry.     

Donald Trump offered his own brief perspective on Megxit, describing it as sad. To be fair he had other things on his mind like trying to start World War III to distract from his impeachment. The US assassination of Iranian General Soleimani had repercussions for us as one of the retaliatory rocket attacks landed near Camp Taji in Iraq where we have 45 Defence Force personnel in a non-combat training role. Despite widely-voiced concerns that the entire Middle East region could erupt it seems our personnel are staying put until June. Defence Minister Ron Mark said he was continuing to monitor the situation, adding that he was “quite calm about it” – doing so with the detached nonchalance of a World War I British general swirling a cognac some 15 miles behind the front lines at the Somme.

Notwithstanding these big stories my pick of the summer news was an article about a study that concluded that in the right circumstances your cat would probably eat your corpse. If nothing else it was good to get scientific confirmation of something we probably already knew.

Have a peaceful weekend.

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