Brian Edwards Media

I Meet the Fearsome Michele Hewitson

Michele Hewitson with Greg Dixon at the Cathy Pacific Travel Media Awards

There’s a lesson here about preconceptions. It’s easy to misjudge people whom you know only from watching them on the telly or hearing them on the radio or reading what they’ve written in the paper.

I was amazed when Herald journalist Michele Hewitson rang to ask me if she could interview me for her back page feature in the Saturday Herald. With uncharacteristic lack of caution, I immediately agreed. If Judy had been home, I’d probably have said, ‘Look, I’d like to have a think about this, can I ring you back?’ But Judy was at university and not due back for hours. So I agreed. I have a suspicion that Michele was surprised by my instantaneous agreement.

If you live outside Auckland, you may not be familiar with Michele Hewitson’s interviews or her reputation. She is both admired and feared. Admired because her Saturday interviews are a joy to read; and feared because the joy so often takes the form of Schadenfreude – pleasure in the misfortune of others. Hewitson is an acute observer of people, their foibles and frailties and the fate of many of her subjects most resembles that of the fly who accepted the spider’s invitation to come into her parlour. Michele Hewitson, many of her victims and a solid proportion of her readers would say, is a total bitch. A hugely talented, very perceptive, extraordinarily readable and amusing total bitch.

So I was pretty nervous about being interviewed by her. No one wants to appear in print looking like a total arsehole.

Let me not bore you with the details of an interview that lasted for an hour and a half, except to say that I thoroughly enjoyed it. Hewitson is acerbic, yes, but she is also extremely funny. It occurred to me that she would be great fun at a dinner party. The gossip would be delicious, the one-liners would flow with the wine. I suspect, as my mother would have said, you’d have ended up wetting your pants. ‘Oh you are awful, but I like you.’

I liked her. But my liking did not obscure my suspicion that I was being set up for one of Michele’s famous hatchet jobs.

I didn’t sleep well last night. I was worried about how I would be presented in next morning’s paper.

The Herald is delivered at our house well before six. I was down at the letter box at 5.50. No Herald. No Herald at 6.15, 6.30, 6.45, 7.00, 7.15…  I’m writing this at 8.30 and still no Herald. Of all bloody mornings…

I couldn’t take any more by 7.45 and read the interview on line. Bloody unflattering photo, but the piece was fair – and funny. I have no complaint.

And it occurred to me that the fearsome Michele Hewitson might just have been a bit afraid of me and may have gone away thinking, ‘That bastard wasn’t too bad at all.’ She might even have liked me.  

Judy arrived back just as Michele was leaving. ‘You be nice to him,’ she said in a somewhat menacing tone.

‘How did it go?”

‘OK, I thought. I quite liked her. But you never know of course.’

The doorbell rang about 20 minutes later. It was Michele. She’d been standing outside in the cold all that time, waiting for a taxi. But that wasn’t the reason she’d come back. She’d seen a small white dog almost get run over just outside our house and wondered if we knew the owners. It kept running backwards and forwards across the road and was sure to get killed. As it happens, we did know the owners, but they weren’t home, so we left them a note and took the dog in to meet Max and Felix.

“Total bitch saves life of small white dog!”

There’s a lesson here about preconceptions. It’s easy to misjudge people whom you know only from watching them on the telly or hearing them on the radio or reading what they’ve written in the paper.

Read the Hewitson/Edwards Interview

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8 Comments:

  1. Caption: “… at the Cathy Pacific Travel Media Awards.” Yeah, I always thought it was a bit of a girly arline.

  2. Know the feeling, BE. I met Michelle Boag recently – was quaking in my boots to be meeting The Legend so unfortunately did not acquit myself well. But she was very pleasant and professional. It was ME who was turned into a stumbling jellyfish by my own preconceptions!

  3. Nice cat Brian.Animals and children are always great to show the humane side of our selves,oh and a slightly left wing polical position helps also.

  4. @ PhilBeee: “was quaking in my boots to be meeting The Legend”, “stumbling jellyfish”

    Ever, wondered as to the cringing progeny of the miscegenation of a modern metrosexual NZ Male and a businesswoman-worshipper? Yep, you guessed it: he comes in the guise of our gender-discordant, PhilBee. This kid dines on vegetarian quiche and sups herbal teas, because it suits his effete palate. An intrepid — albeit traitorous — spy, this guy ain’t.

    Stay indoors when the sun’s out, kiddo; moving shadows can be unsettling to one’s fragile disposition.

  5. “‘I’m not a warm, cuddly person,’ insists Brian Edwards, as he cuddles his ‘needy’ cat.” – a carelessly written caption, because Brian is clearly not cuddling the cat.

    • “‘I’m not a warm, cuddly person,’ insists Brian Edwards, as he cuddles his ‘needy’ cat.” – a carelessly written caption, because Brian is clearly not cuddling the cat.

      The cat (Felix) is snuggling in to me, as he often does. He is also looking up at me adoringly. He is a very clever cat.

  6. Merv:
    I’ll have u know, sir, I make a damned GOOD quiche!

  7. PhilBee

    With that: you’ll be frolicking in the sun, in no time.