A legend of NZ journalism, admired and adored by colleagues in newspapers and at TV3, Gordon ‘Flash’ McBride has died. David Slack bids farewell.
Some people find the right words to say goodbye to a dying friend. I struggle. I stare at a blank card for an hour. Only at the funeral do I find the words: that it feels unimaginably cruel, that you are a fine person, that you will not see these children grown, that I don’t know why I couldn’t say this while you were here.
We had all the time in the world to say goodbye to Gordon McBride. We said it in all kinds of ways. There was a living wake at Trentham races last summer. There was a weekend in Martinborough. We drank in a K Road bar with a llama. We took photos of the broken wind-wand. We bowled up to a complete stranger and asked to look through his enormous RV because that’s what happened when you went out into the world with Gordon.
I wrote about this last summer. Just look at the photo of him laughing with Colin Hogg. That’s what he was, Gordon: all noise and laughter and exuberance, and the room was never quite big enough to contain him.
He finished at TV3 just before everything seemed to be turning to shit. It felt right that someone who had done so much so well should leave before those months when so much went wrong and bad.
Almost anyone who held a mic and wore a TV3 parka has a story about Flash and how he was the best boss they ever had. He would talk with so much pride and affection about them.
We sat in the hospice the week before last, talking about the earthquake, and the noise of the rescue helicopter, and work. He wanted to know the controversies and the fresh outrages. We talked about Metro magazine and the StuffMe merger. We talked about the book launch Steve Braunias had just had. Gordon reminisced about buying Steve a hot dog from the Munchener on Cuba St and keeping it in the freezer for him for a year.
Sometimes I would talk with him about his treatment and his medicine, but I only once found the real words. We were deep in a whisky bottle. I said, “You’re having a good death, aren’t you?”
“I am,” he said. “I am.”
And then we said nothing, and then he found another track he wanted to play, and he turned it up a bit louder.