HBTV’s Simon Nixon (left) interviews Brown Girls author John Wesley Ireland during the taping of an episode of Chatroom. (Photo: Warren Buckland/Napier Courier)

The last time I wore makeup was when two small children decided to dress me up as a woman. I only held still because I was trying to impress their mother. Considering their mother and I have now been together for 20 years, it would appear enduring the assault on my manliness worked a charm.

My most recent brush with cosmetics came when the lovely Vania applied powder to my face in an effort to make it appear less full-moonish. Needless to say, the procedure used up an alarmingly large amount of her supply.

The reason Vania was doing her utmost to make me look presentable was my first TV appearance since I hosted a news magazine programme for Cook Islands TV. This time, however, I would be answering questions instead of asking them.

The occasion was the taping of an episode of Chatroom for Television Hawke’s Bay. Going into the studio, I still wasn’t sure why anyone would be remotely interested in anything I had to say. But, apparently, station director Judith Sawyer is a fan of this column and thought her viewing audience might be entertained by a veteran journalist with a novel to promote.

While I awaited my turn on the brown couch, I watched host Simon Nixon on the monitor as he interviewed a lady about her anti-fracking stance. She was well-spoken, well-informed and well-dressed. That’s when the nerves kicked in and, for a brief, terrifying moment, I was positive I’d start sweating through my makeup to the point where it would look as if my face was melting.

“Please buy my book before my forehead sloughs into my lap” is probably not the ideal marketing campaign.

As it turned out, I needn’t have worried. Simon and I hit it off right away and were soon nattering away like two old friends meeting in a cafe. If cafes came equipped with really bright lights and three large cameras and a microphone cord shoved down your shirt.

I told him about my journalism career and how I came to write my novel, Brown Girls, and why I’ve decided to market and sell it as an ebook through my own website.

The interview was divided into three segments, each consisting of eight minutes (commercials will fill out the rest of the 30-minute time slot), and my original fear of not being able to fill even one segment was quickly replaced by a fear of not having time to say everything I wanted to.

In the end, we never did talk about the Cook Islands photography book I hope to publish in an effort to raise money for the Red Cross.

Neither did I have the opportunity to mention the “A-ha!” moment.

This, of course, is not to be confused with the “Eureka!” moment or the “Woo-hoo!” moment. “A-ha!” is the noise I make when, while reading about a wildly-successful person, I come across the exact moment when they caught their big break. The hungry fashion photographer who drops into a fast-food outlet, only to stumble across the beautiful girl working behind the counter. Chris Klein charging around a corner in his high school and bowling over a talent scout looking to fill out the cast of American Pie.

We’ve all experienced such moments, the times where, for no good reason we can explain, we turned left when we had every intention of going right, and so met a future partner or the person who hired us for our dream job or somehow changed our lives.

Serendipity? Dumb luck? Good timing? Karma gods smiling? Best not to attempt to label it. Best to just sit back, hold on tight and enjoy the rocket ride to fame/success/riches/wild women.

I didn’t get to talk to Simon Nixon about “A-ha!” moments. Maybe because I’m meant to talk to him about that during our next interview. The one where, after this column is published, Brown Girls goes on to sell a million copies.

Someone should warn Vania she’s going to need a fresh supply of powder.

* The Chatroom interview featuring John Ireland will air Friday, May 11, 7.30pm on TVHB, UHF 51, and be re-broadcast the next day at 7.30am and 12.30pm. It will also be available for viewing at http://www.tvhb.co.nz

* For more information on Brown Girls, visit http://www.johnireland.co.nz


It was perfect timing, really.

Call it serendipity, the work of  a benevolent universe, or just plain dumb luck, but one day after I wrote about my TV addiction (blamed, like all good children, on my parents), proof that TV viewing can be immensely beneficial arrived in my e-mail.

I subscribe to several feeds but, unlike, say, dictionary.com and its pesky Word of the Day, the Survivor Fan Wiki actually cares for my well-being. And by well-being, I mean my sex life. And by sex life, I mean don’t tell my wife or she’ll want one too.

It’s all worked out rather nicely, actually. I signed up to the wiki to share the views of fellow Survivor fans. Now, it appears, I’m about to share their hidden immunity idols. This is the kind of Reward Challenge that really is worth playing for.

By now, you’ve probably guessed the good news. Yes, that’s right — yet another letter from a fellow Jeff Probst fan who saw my Profile (it must be a zinger, although I’ve long since forgotten what I actually wrote there) and who now wants to light my torch.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present *drum roll* Christiana!

nice to meet you.

My name is christiana, i just went through your profile when i was searching
for love, I have no options than letting you Know that I am infected
and affected by your profile on a dating site.survivorwiki.wetpaint.com
that is why i wish to have a relationship with you, I will also like
to Know you more,i will be very greatful to have you as my loved one.
so you can reply back to me through this address and i will also send
you my pictures. I believe we can move from here. But bear in
mind that Love has no colors barrier, no educational back ground barrier, no
socio-economic Barrier, religious, language, nationality or distance barrier,
the only important Thing there is love. I am waiting for your mail at
Thanks for your cooperation.

This, I’m assuming, is why God invented the Internet. So the inhabitants of Planet Man — unshaven, undressed, slurping coffee while their morning breath steams up their monitors — can be infected by the virus of love. Because, as my dearest, darling Christiana so eloquently points out, love is the “only important Thing.” (Note the use of upper case — that’s so damn cute!)

Far more important, I’m assuming, than such trivial details as a green card or my bank account information or my credit card numbers.

I fall to my knees every day and thank http://www.godsoftheuniverse.com for the likes of Christiana. She is obviously someone who can peer beyond the rough edges to the true soul that lies within each of us. I know, because she fell in love with me based on little more than my profile. How can you doubt someone with that kind of insight?

Just as my professional life has grown a bit stagnant, this divine creature comes into my life to awaken my senses. I can see us together now: Christiana lovingly touching all my barriers and me, lingering over her letters to other lonely Survivor fans, red pen in hand, gently editing her words, kneading her sentences, massaging her paragraphs, running my fingers across her wetpaint.com.

Oh, yes, I see this relationship having a long and deep and meaningful future. That’s how infected I’ve become.

I can feel my blood pounding harder just thinking about her. I’m pumped. I’m engorged with excitement. I’m finally going to take my future in my own hands and squeeze it for all its worth.

Just as soon as her pictures arrive, of course.

Last night, with my ass having set down roots in the seat cushion of my ’70s-era brown velour rocker, I watched the pilot episode of some American sitcom called Two and a Half Men. It was actually quite funny in places and, with luck, I predict a bright future for the show.

I know, I know, that was little more than some programmer’s eeeny-meeny-miney-moe solution to filling a 30-minute gap on a slow summer evening, but it’s a perfect example of how far behind the rest of the civilized world New Zealand is drifting.

Kiwis may not give a rat’s patooie that their TV schedule lags so woefully in arrears of North America’s, but I’m originally from Canada where, if the US networks fart, we check our pants.

It’s summer here of course, a fallow time in any culture when it comes to TV scheduling. The idea being we’re supposed to turn off the plasma, step outside and somehow revel in the glorious weather and long hours of daylight.

But there are only so many food groups I can cremate on the barbecue and green things in the garden I can yank out before I succumb to the urge to jam the cable from the satellite dish directly into my brain and assume my rightful place of worship on the couch.

Our 2009 season is starting soon but I already know some of the shows being trumpeted have since been cancelled by the likes of NBC or ABC, which isn’t exactly encouraging. And I have yet to read anywhere about when the next installment of The Amazing Race (the one that’s been over for months) might air here, despite the fact its host, Phil Keoghan, is a Kiwi, and the contestants actually visit NZ for one of their pit stops.

But it’s not all doom and gloom in my living room (as opposed to, say, the bedroom). Rather than be tempted to mould Australian (Kath & Kim) or English (Life on Mars) hits in our own image, we get to see the originals in all their glory. I’m hearing whispers that the Yankified version of Mars is decent, but I doubt it will touch the brilliance of its English inspiration, or its equally wonderful sequel, Ashes to Ashes.

I know what you’re thinking: “John, put down the remote, return that oh-so-yummy New Zealand ice cream to the freezer and go for a walk, you pale-skinned, chubby loser.”

To which I reply, around a mouthful of hokey-pokey: “It’s not my fault.” And,  “I blame my parents.”

It’s true. My mother will watch anything whose title ends in “Idol” or begins “Dancing With  . . .” If there was a show called “Dancing With American Idols on Figure Skates” — well, that would pretty much describe heaven, now wouldn’t it?

You want to call my mother? Better check the TV listings first. You want to drop in for a visit? Where’s the TV Guide?

I have a brother who takes great glee in showing up while Mother is engrossed in one of her favorites. And you thought Simon Cowell could be cranky  . . .

Our lack of quality TV may be one reason why my parents won’t be visiting Napier any time soon. Well, that and a 14-hour flight and some $4,000 worth of airfare.

Too bad because, strangely enough, the new season of American Idol started its run in New Zealand mere days after premiering in North America. Yes, it is a sure sign of the Apocalypse, but somehow it also reminds me of home and family.

Because I just know my parents are  watching Two and Half Men as well. Sure hope it gets renewed for a second season . . .