Opinion: Unexpected discoveries on a trip with the PM

Barack Obama and John Key managed to chat on numerous occasions in Laos (Reuters)
Barack Obama and John Key managed to chat on numerous occasions in Laos (Reuters)

Seven almonds.

That's the snack of choice of the leader of the free world.

This window into the dietary habits of President Barack Obama was gleaned from a casual conversation I had with Prime Minister John Key on his recent whistle-stop tour of Asia and the Pacific.

"Not six, not eight, seven," Key divulged.

When you're travelling with John Key's delegation moments like this emerge amongst the otherwise gruelling schedule that mostly consists of wake up, chase the Prime Minister, find wifi, frantically file (usually sitting on the floor in the corner of a convention centre), eat, sleep for a few hours, repeat.

Opinion: Unexpected discoveries on a trip with the PM

 

Sleep-deprived journalists getting some rest between deadlines in the national convention centre, Laos. Some still clutching cans of coffee.  (Newshub.)

The lighter moments are a reprieve from the madness.

Key also seemed to quite like being able to share a nugget of personal information about the POTUS - his anecdote evolved gleefully from "seven almonds" to "seven lightly-salted almonds".

He added he admired the president's restraint, and that he'd "have seven then have 77 more".

The topic came up because a couple of us journalists had been within metres of Obama and despite our consummate professionalism were a bit overwhelmed.

He's so tall and slender, we exclaimed.

Yeah he's very finely featured, Key reflected.

He says Obama doesn't eat much. He'll have a hot dog but he'll only eat half.

And if he has a coffee his people serve it to him a special US emblazoned cup, not one grabbed from the catering table, because they're "worried about his DNA".

"I'm not kidding", Key says.

Opinion: Unexpected discoveries on a trip with the PM

Another country, another news conference (Newshub.)

Being in close quarters with the Prime Minister also heightens the care you take to not do anything silly.

Even though Key himself is totally relaxed, chatting to us about Max playing golf in Guam, taking a dip in the pool in Pohnpei - the capital of the Federated States of Micronesia. On a previous trip he wandered through the lobby of a hotel in his robe.

Opinion: Unexpected discoveries on a trip with the PM

The pool in Pohnpei where Prime Minister John Key went for a dip. Journalists were forbidden to take photos of it. (Newshub.)  

But he is the leader of the country so some decorum from the media is required.

 

That's why I was horrified when I glanced in the mirror on the plane and discovered I'd managed to rip a hole in the seat of my jumpsuit. 

It was large enough that when I moved limbs in certain directions, it exposed a glimpse of underwear.

I had no idea how long it'd been that way.

Key had been standing chatting to the reporters when I walked down the aisle and I realised there was a good chance I'd flashed him.

Oops.

Opinion: Unexpected discoveries on a trip with the PM

Isobel gets a helping hand mending her outfit (Supplied)

I asked our excellent Air Force crew if they had a safety pin. Nope.

A cameraman suggested gaffer tape. That's a good option, I agreed.

Unknown to me, the Diplomatic Protection Service had been quietly listening to my dilemma unfold.

If you're not familiar, these are the top level cops who have signed a piece of paper to say they'll take a bullet for the Prime Minister.

One of them leaned over his seat. In his hand was a mini sewing kit.

"Yeah I'm a bit of a Boy Scout," he said.

These guys are much more than a nice suit and an earpiece.

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