To Auckland yesterday for the launch of John Daniell’s novel The Fixer. Craig Sisterson previewed it here; Jennifer Curtin reviewed it positively in the Listener here. Quote unquote:
As a former professional player in French clubs for 10 years and author of a couple of autobiographical-style books, Daniell is well qualified to reflect on the mercenary-like nature of the modern player and the potential for corruption that we tend to associate more with cricket. Being Rugby World Cup year, it’s likely we’ll be inundated with non-fiction books dedicated to All Blacks history or reflections on rugby by players past. Daniell’s novel makes a refreshing change and contains no boosterism. Rather, the story is a sobering reminder that all is not perfect in the world of union, and that the men and women who play the game are entirely human.
The launch was great. John gave the best author’s speech I have ever heard at a book launch, because it was the shortest I have ever heard. He thanked his agent, the late Michael Gifkins, for making the book happen, and that was it. Excellent.
John Daniell is huge. Possibly contains multitudes. He must be 6ft 6in and has shoulders as wide as the Waikato river. He is a very nice man but is, frankly, a hulk. I have met a few All Blacks in my time – fun fact: I used to work with Graham Mourie and Stu Wilson – but John would tower over them. I was talking with him, Craig Sisterson (at least six feet and solid with it) and Greg McGee who – well, I have no idea how tall Greg is but he was up there in the gods with John. I was so glad no one was taking photos – I must have looked like Peter Dinklage beside them.
I made my excuses and sidled off to talk with Bill Ralston and Janet Wilson who confirmed some spectacularly good media gossip I’d had from our mutual friend Cathy Odgers, the best media gossip I have ever heard and I have heard a bit in my time. Michael Gifkins’s widow Anne. Greg’s wife Mary, whom I hadn’t seen for maybe 25 years. Our gracious hostess Sally, who in a former life was a brilliant PR operative at Penguin. A bunch of others. All people I like a lot. And all of them said, at some point, “What are you doing here?”
I said, “I edited it.”
Next morning I had coffee with my friend James Macky, the artist formerly known as James Allan, I told him the gossip story which, as a married gay man (as in, married to another gay man), he loved. As I was leaving, my former stepson, who was at same cafe with his partner, grabbed me. He – people overseas never believe this New Zealand zero degrees of separation stuff – was best friends at school with John Daniell.