Is this how normal people feel? With my columns done and The Bolt Report finished for the year, I have my first day off since April. Well, it’s free if you don’t include the spot on radio this morning and a bit of blogging. Which means I can finally sit down and… write this. Still, for one aimless moment I’ve been reminded that idleness is over-rated. Or that hard work in my case is just furious procrastination to avoid having to find something more meaningful.

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I slipped off to church this morning to hear my 13-year-old read a particularly improving passage of scripture at her school’s carol service. I’m glad she’s getting the stuff from somewhere. As I listen, more proud than Christ would have felt seemly, I wonder how fair the Gospel writers were to frame Herod the Great for baby-killing. It’s not that they didn’t have enough real sins to heap on this wife-killer and filicide, or enough reason to cut him some slack in his miserable last days, his body stinking with rot and his scrotum burst open with gangrene and worms. I’m suffering mortification myself, since I’ve rushed to the church still overheated from my tennis. Patches of sweat are showing on my shirt. There I go again — procrastinating when I should be contemplating higher things.

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The readings give a bit of geography of Israel. I didn’t realise Bethlehem, King David’s birthplace and thus by Christian necessity also that of Jesus of Nazareth, was quite that close to Jerusalem. I’ll be able to check that out on Christmas Day, when I take my family to watch the pilgrims there. It’s in what is now Palestinian territory, behind a checkpoint, which will make it seem much further from Jerusalem that it was even for a shepherd boy 3,000 years ago, walking the rocky distance in sandals.

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See how I hinted that although I’ll be in Bethlehem on Christmas, I’m not really a Christian? I’ve done it a bit when outlining our holiday plans to friends. I’m not much fussed to be mistaken for the usual Australian kind of Christian, but Israel seems to reduce faiths to elementals, I’ve noticed on past visits. The Jews are more Jewish, the visiting Christians more Christian and the Muslims more… well, let’s leave it there. And I certainly don’t want to seem more Boltish. But when I deny, I hear each time as if it were yesterday Cardinal George Pell growl I’m ‘living off the fat’ of Christianity. I’m afraid he’s right. But I shall at least be showing my three children the pantry.

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Another school speech night, and this time we are told to be true to who we are. This is like the advice given to me when I started in television. ‘Just be yourself,’ said a kind ABC staffer. Completely useless, of course. Which of our many selves should we be? Wasn’t Herod being true to himself? Wasn’t Kyle Sandilands? I resolved then to be the cool and courteous me, rationed to only the most occasional flashes of righteous anger. On The Bolt Report, I’ve dropped even that. Can’t afford to confirm prejudices. Besides, I find it hard to be angry with politicians once I get face-to-face with them, although I make an exception for Deputy Greens Leader Christine Milne. She has the eyes of a woman who has indeed found something Meaningful, and is determined to ram it down our throats.

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To Sydney to talk about television commitments. For once I’ve left myself some time in case things go wrong. Which they do. The plane from Melbourne is nearly an hour late, and in Sydney the road to the city is a car park. I remember how Bangkok, in the years before I lived there, was considered the ultimate traffic hell, just as Sweden was the socialist nirvana. Now Bangkok’s traffic moves and Sydney’s doesn’t. And who today even mentions Sweden, now that the porn industry is global?

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I read in one of the less vitriolic profiles of me written this year that Opposition Leader Tony Abbott came to dinner at my house in ‘an impromptu visit’ to urge me not to drop The Bolt Report next year. It’s odd how truth is often less meaningful and more human than media analysis makes out it to be. I never comment on who comes to my house and what they say, which is why I conceived such a contempt for Stephen Mayne of Crikey. Invited to my 40th birthday party as a friend, he nevertheless wrote about the guests he found there, apparently revelling in the embarrassment he’d cause a few senior Labor figures. Contemptible.

So I will not say who it was who came to my house, but I will say that a man who changes his dinner plans on receiving a call from my daughter to let her cook for him, rather than have Dad sitting in some restaurant, is a man whose heart is good. Oh, and to be fair to all, 11-year-old Dominic baked a lovely pavlova, his first.

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I am impressed by people who create a completely new career late(r) in life. I like that defiant assertion of freedom and will. Take John Pasquarelli, who after crashing through life as a crocodile hunter, member of the Papua New Guinea Parliament and One Nation Svengali, became an artist in his late sixties. The Spectator Australia has aided two other excellent metamorphoses. Mark Latham, disastrously ill-cast as an Opposition Leader, is now one of the nation’s finest columnists, and Neil Brown, the former Deputy Liberal leader and QC, reveals himself after all these years as a marvellous and playful diarist. You’re not finished until you’re dead. And perhaps not even then, as I’ll be reminded in Jerusalem at Christmas.

Andrew Bolt, a columnist at the Herald Sun, blogs at heraldsun.com.au/andrewbolt