Steve Braunias' Secret Diary of Mark Weldon

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"I'm the smartest person in the room," I said to Hillary Bary. Photo / Peter Meecham
"I'm the smartest person in the room," I said to Hillary Bary. Photo / Peter Meecham

MONDAY

"I'm the smartest person in the room," I said to Hillary Bary.

"My name is spelled with one l and two r's," she said.

"Well, it's too late to make any difference now," I said. "But I'd like to wish you all the best as you head out the door with absolutely no plans to join TVNZ."

"What?"

"Well, it's not as if they'd want you! It can't be easy being a woman in broadcasting at your age. If you hadn't quit, I was about to suggest you take on some lighter duties elsewhere. There's always an opening for someone like you in telephone sales."

"What?"

"Listen, I'm paying you a compliment. You've got a nice voice. I could use a voice like yours on the sales team."

"You want me to work for the Newshub sales team?"

"Of course not," I said. "I want you to work for the sales team of my vineyard, Terra Sancta."

"Are you, by any chance, insane?"

"Oh, I see what you're getting at," I said. "You think I'm frothing at the mouth. It may look like that, but I gather it's just one of the side-effects of drinking my own wine. There appears to be something sour about it. Something difficult to swallow. Something sick-making. Oh well! Chin-chin."

The old bag got up, and left.

"Good riddance!" I said, and made plans to shift my desk into the newsroom.

I had a good look around, but couldn't find it.

I looked everywhere and then I remembered I'd put it in a broom closet under the stairs.

TUESDAY

"I'm the smartest person in the room," I said.

MediaWorks chairman Rod McGeoch said, "You have the full support of the board."

"Well," I said, "that proves it."

WEDNESDAY

"I'm the smartest person in the room," I said.

Scout gossip editor Rachel Glucina said, "Yes, indisputably, but do you have any gossip? Know of anyone whose head is about to roll? Anything juicy like that?"

"No," I said.

THURSDAY

"I'm the smartest person in the room," I said.

Prime Minister John Key said, "Mate," he said, "you did the right thing by quitting."

"Have a vino," I said.

"No, I'm good," he said. "But listen. You should be proud of what you achieved at TV3. You did so much for that network, especially in news.

"John Campbell! Don't make me laugh. Investigative journalism! Don't make me think. At the end of the day, the majority of New Zealanders don't want stories that expose the stuff this Government tries to conduct in secrecy."

"Have a glass," I said.

"Not right now," he said. "Hey. You can leave that place with your head held high. You dismantled the culture of it. At the end of the day, the majority of New Zealanders don't want culture. But I'll tell you this. Your name will be remembered for a long, long time."

"Have a drop," I said.

He said, "Are you happy with the terms of your exit? Do you want someone to run their eye over it? My lawyer's good. Have you met my lawyer? His name's Ken Whitney. Funny thing, he's not actually a lawyer. And he doesn't represent me. He misrepresents me. Am I making myself clear?"

"Have a drink," I said.

"You talked me into it," he said. "I'll have a beer."

FRIDAY

I was at home looking for something useful to do when I stumbled across the broom closet under the stairs.

It felt just like old times.

It even smelt like the newsroom at TV3.

I stepped inside, and said, "I'm the smartest person in the room."

"No, you're not," said the broom.

- NZ Herald

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