To understand why Howard is staying on,
look no further than David Williamson’s Emerald City. A
character explains that the problem with Sydney people is
that they already know the meaning of life: waterfront real estate.

Kirribilli House is certainly that. Throw
in the servants and wine cellar and the
Howard’s own pleasantly Lower North Shore Wollstonecraft home doesn’t quite rate.

There is plenty of that sentiment in
Miranda Devine’s SMH piece quoting an anonymous friend of Janette about why she’s very happy for John to
keep on keeping on. Miranda is very much the Howards’ sort of columnist, one at
ease with Janette’s sort of people, so the following rings true:

Two years ago, before the last
federal election, the Prime Minister joked on radio about his wife’s likely
reaction to having a retired husband at home: “It’d drive her mad,”
he said. “She said, ‘If you think, you know, you’re going to pester me at
home all the time, think again.”‘

Then there are the domestic perks
of living at Kirribilli House, which comes with a housekeeper, cook, gardener
and other help. “She hates cooking, she
hates housework … and the idea of doing that for herself again fills her with
horror,” the friend said.

As the story’s headline said, “Relaxed
and comfortable, and thoroughly at home in Kirribilli House”. Or as Daniel Flesch of Bellingen puts
it in a succinct letter to the editor: “Anyone imagining Hyacinth Bucket
might willingly leave Kirribilli House has clearly not been paying attention.”