The secret diary of . . . Murray McCully
I was making a daisychain out of paperclips this morning and thought to myself, all work and no play makes Murray a thirsty old dog.
I came up with the idea of killing two birds with one stone. I'd go and visit the boys at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs - and invite them out for lunch.
They're a miserable bunch at the best of times and need a bit of cheering up. They always get a lift whenever I go in and do the rounds. I can read it in their faces.
"Morning, lads!" I bellowed, as I stepped through the lift.
The room fell silent. They're very attentive like that, the way they hang on to my every word.
They also hang their heads down low. It makes it very hard to see their faces.
I outlined my plans and said that I'd looked into the matter very carefully, and thought the best venue for an outing was Mac's Brew Bar at the Taranaki St wharf.
"I want to organise a piss-up in a brewery," I boomed.
Someone said it wasn't actually a brewery, that it was a restaurant and bar, and the beer wasn't brewed on the premises.
"Fiddlesticks," I blathered.
I handpicked a crew of four officials, and we set off. When we stepped out onto the street, I said, "Remind me. Which way is it?"
One of them said, "Right."
"Good lad," I said, and led the way.
One of them said, "But you've gone left."
I said, "Me, gone left? Fat chance of that! Haw, haw!"
We walked for an hour towards a steep gorge. I had a good feeling about a shortcut, and led them into some bush.
"Listen up, everyone," I said. "We're all cold, and damp, and it appears that one of you has gone into hypothermic shock. But let's face facts. We're here because I was given very poor advice."
One of them sneezed, and said, "Where are we, do you think?"
I looked around. There were so many trees. They all looked the same.
"What's important," I said, "is that we establish cellphone reception. You. Yes, you. Walk to the top of that distant peak, and see if you can get reception."
"Listen up, everyone," I said. "We don't know if he's managed to get reception and has called for help, or whether he's got lost and died. But let's face facts. He should have let us know one way or another."
One of them trembled, and said, "Cold. So cold."
I said, "Listen to him! Always moaning. Let's light a fire. Why do I have to think of everything? You. Yes, you. Fetch some wood. It's a bit wet here, what with all the rain; climb over that craggy ravine and see how you get on with finding some nice dry pieces."
"Listen, Murray," the Prime Minister said, "you mustn't blame yourself for what happened."
It felt good to lie in a nice, warm bed. I had a few cuts and bruises but nothing serious, and of course I hadn't lost any weight.
He said, "I'm just thankful and very, very relieved that you saved your own skin."
I thought back to the cold, dark nights, and the loneliness of that last day.
He said, "I suppose we'll never know why they led you into the Rimutaka Ranges."
He said, "But look at you! You look great. You really do."
A nurse came, and measured my pulse. She was a pretty young thing. Such soft skin.
She said, "Now then. What would you like for your lunch, Mr McCully?"
"Call me Murray," I said.
She said, "What would you like for your lunch, Murray?"
"Nothing," I said. "I've already eaten."
Steve Braunias is a Metro staff writer.
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