David Farrier’s case of mistaken identity

  • Breaking
  • 21/09/2014

I knew it would happen. The txts. The tweets. The confused Facebook messages: “Wait - why did John Key just thank you?”

Whenever there’s an election, or simply if John Key or National hit the headlines, confusion reigns in my world. This year it escalated when Dirty Politics was released. It crescendoed during John Key’s victory speech on Saturday night. It peaked for the same reason it always does: bloody David Farrar.

Farrar is a right-wing blogger and National pollster. His market research company is called Curia and employs over 100 people. And whenever his name is mentioned in the media, somebody inevitably thinks he’s me.

I began to notice it about seven years ago, a few years into my job as quirky reporter guy on Nightline. I would bump into people on the street who would sometimes say the mysterious phrase, “I love your blog”.

It was mysterious because while it was true I blogged, it wasn’t widely read. And the sorts of people congratulating me on my blog certainly weren’t the sort of humans I expected to be reading it.

It wasn’t long until it dawned on me that they thought I was the short, balding, bespectacled David Farrar of kiwiblog.co.nz. While we look and act in very different ways, our similar surname (and the fact we both live in New Zealand - tennis player David Ferrer is never an issue) seemed to have people stumped.

Eventually, thanks to social media, we got in touch. Turned out it he was encountering the same problems. Years ago a number of his friends began congratulating him on coming out of the closet. He was puzzled.

We addressed the issue years ago, by doing a dual interview with another set of twins, The Veronicas.

I thought that would clear things up, but it didn’t. This weekend the confusion reached feverish levels. This is an example of a typical message sent my way:

“Hi bro. Yesterday, the PM mentioned your name - that he was calling you almost every night re: election campaigning. Was that really you? Thought to ask because I recognised the name.”

On Twitter, things were more violent. Left-leaning members of society were less puzzled and more angry:

“Are you happy now you National twat”, and “F**k you and Whaleoil”.

I tweeted the experience, trying to keep it as simple and direct as possible:

On Sunday morning, no doubt after a rousing night out on the town, I got a message from Farrar:

“So sorry for all the abuse you got, meant for me. If you're around this pm, I'll shout you a drink.”

It seemed like a good idea, if only for the chance to figure out a way to spread the message that we are two very different people. The evening rolled around and I was given the address of the private residence where he was staying.

Now, this was all a sort of off-the-record affair, but what I will say is that I walked in to a beaming array of National Party faces: all radiant, all excited, and all victorious.

They were well-groomed and smelt delicious. I was an unkempt mess, dressed in jeans and a hoodie. I felt like I had taken a wrong turn somewhere. I believe I got a small pang of what Goldilocks perhaps felt as she walked over the threshold.

I was welcome with open arms. I wine was put in my hand and a wonderful spread awaited me at the table. It looked like a feast fit for a king. I was later informed it was leftovers.

For me - not particularly well-versed in the intricacies of politics - it was a fascinating insight.

We talked bloggers, TV coverage, left, right, Dotcom, Colin Craig. We all seemed to be having fun. I felt like I had teleported into someone else’s body, sitting at that table. I imagine that to them, I was like an amusing jester who’d arrived for some light relief.

Towards the end of our evening, I got out some post-it notes and a vivid, and then we took a photo in the kitchen.

As you can tell, we are definitely different people. But like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito in Twins, we had a nice time together. Our movie probably wouldn't do as well at the box office though.

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