New Zealand switches to Winnie Time
The good news is that daylight savings has kicked off. The bad news is that you lost an hour of sleep you would have needed to recover from a rollercoaster ride of an election, and to prepare for whatever comes next.
Because as one Winston once pointed out, this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.
National might have emerged the main party on the night but we’re now observing the political equivalent to a unit of time made famous by modern football’s most successful manager, Sir Alex Ferguson.
For this particularly canny Scot, the 90 minutes of a match were just the appetiser to the main event.
His Manchester United sides became so adept at winning late that any added minutes in a match became known as Fergie Time.
He may have recently retired but the mantle of master strategist and time bender has passed to another septuagenarian, his political brother from another mother, Winston Peters.
So here we found ourselves, living in Winnie Time; an amorphous measure that could last days but will no doubt feel like weeks.
This bending of time, this playing with physics, is set to upset many things.
If you slept well on Saturday night, spare a thought for political deputies Kelvin Davis and Paula Bennett.
They may have enjoyed the odd glass of bubbly in celebration but that will be sitting uncomfortably in their stomachs this morning as the negotiations begin and Peters bends not only time but political will to negotiate the best possible outcome for the ambitions of not only his party but himself.
What price might Bill English and Jacinda Ardern be prepared to pay to secure their own slice of history; the former laid much of his integrity on the altar of ambition during this campaign while the latter surely ate into her stocks of ‘‘relentless positivity’’. It was truly an odd election. The campaign was ignited by the arrival of Ardern.
Like a black hole that sucks the light, life and even time from other bodies near by, Labour appeared to be an unstoppable force.
But it was on pretty much everyone else that the stardust settled on Saturday.
Bill’s less than plain English about fiscal black holes and taxes appeared to work, leaving him at the centre of the political universe; the Greens were simply happy to be still verdant and part of the ecosystem; and NZ First was overjoyed to be, well, third.
Which leaves the party and Peters, yet again, first in line. And the rest of us trapped in Winnie Time.
On Saturday the NZ First leader sought some respect, both for the party’s result and the process to follow.
With good reason, too, because the decision is not straightforward: does he gravitate towards a tidier two-party coalition with the larger body supported by the force of popular opinion, or should he enter a potentially unstable threeparty bloc that represents its own force for change.
Whatever the outcome, we hope that this is resolved long before the clocks move again, backward. And we hope that, as Ferguson invariably did, the country emerges from extra time as a winner.
A scene that’s likely to be replayed often in the next week or so.