Off with the PM and his wife on the weekend for another bout of electioneering and photo-ops. This time, Afghanistan. And why not? Shopping centre excursions and shaking hands with the locals are out this trip, Kevvie advises Therese, who doesn’t need much convincing. Yes, he says, visiting our “amazing soldiers,” having lunch with them and taking lots of photos are all part of the war against the greatest evil of our time, by which of course he means Tony Abbott, and not the Taliban.
On the ground at Kabul airport, we don our flak-jackets and head off towards the Tarin Kowt base. Not long into the journey, Rudd starts to notice – amongst the heavily accented English used by the Afghan security personnel around him – the occasional use of what sounds like the phrase ‘Tweedledum and Tweedledee.’ It then suddenly hits him that these are the secret military code names assigned to the Rudds by the Afghans for the entirety of their visit. Face turning bright pink and seemingly on the verge of another apocalyptic fit, I offer a hasty explanation. Citing my fluency in Pashto, I explain that it is merely the spell used by the local Pashtuns to ward off the evil jinns that are drawn by the presence of infidels in their vicinity. Tweedledum and Tweedledee – very similarly sounding words, I assure him, nothing more than that. Maintaining good relations with the Afghans and the success of the visit being paramount, Kevvie calms down and appears persuaded. A coincidence, and nothing more.
Of course, an alternative possibility was that it was I who decided on the code names after spotting the pair of them in their flak-jackets on the tarmac in Kabul – and immediately instructed the security commander accordingly. And that the barely-concealed smirks on the soldiers’ faces as he happily poses with them for the media are completely unrelated.