Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Episode 25: How to Manage a Press Attack

From Under Dark Clouds

After a messy legal battle with the Vatican and a very public breakdown, a British media celebrity seeks asylum in a sleepy Greek mountain village. 

Can he keep his head down until it all blows over, can he hell! He gets himself elected as Mayor!


PaparazziThe dogs had the scent and soon they would be on the doorstep baying for answers to questions I didn't understand. Doorstep interviews wasn't something I could do, it wasn't my thing, they would hound and bark and throw statements at me to make me angry, to catch me off guard. I reversed slowly into the armchair and fell into its familiar embrace. Dear Blogees, it was my only guard.


The wife was still carving slices from Socrates, who it turns out had known for some time about my fallen celebrity. He had been Pretty discreet about it, though. I suppose I owed him one for that. She stopped and let out a squall, she must have noticed my distress. She snatched the car keys from the rack and whipped past Socrates nearly knocking the Bushmills from his hand.

“The boys! They’ll be at the school. If those vultures so much as—” She stopped by the door. “I’ll cut your fucking cock off!” She wasn't going to get provisions for my shattered nerves.

A plague of hacks on my boys. I shuddered, you know I really believe she would do it.

The thing with journos is that they cannot be stopped, once they have the scent they will not stop until the chase is done and they have their Dictaphones and notepads full of front page salacity. Hacks are voracious beasts but thankfully they have very little higher brain activity, everything is instinct and their attacks can be managed.

Socrates was on the phone and by the tone of his face, I knew he had a plan and I needed someone with a plan right then, preferably a plan that involved me coming out on top. I looked at him and he threw the Bushmills in my direction. I have cat-like reactions. Whiskey, embrocation for the soul.

His conversation ended with the word NOW! He pocketed his phone and disappeared upstairs, I disappeared into the warmth of Irish arms.

He reappeared with my red golf trousers and a ‘Punisher’ t-shirt. He threw them at me. “Put this on!” I hadn't worn this getup since the first day in court when I thought I was going to win. “You've got a green leather jacket, like a coat, a military—. You know. FIND IT!”

This was Greece in July. It was 40 degrees out there. I protested. He found it in the wardrobe while I was trying to untangle the bottle from the fly of the red checked trousers. They were snug even without the bottle. Married life had padded my bones.

As we left the house, the wife arrived with my heirs, safe and sound. I ruffled their hair as we passed.

“Sort this out!” She yelled as she herded the kids to the safety of the homestead. “I'm not going back to being the centre stage in a freak show!” She covered the boys’ ears. “DON’T FUCK IT UP THIS TIME!”

As we left the village, a white van with a wok on the roof passed in the opposite direction. They had found us. Fortunately the way house numbers and street names don’t work in Greek villages, even if they had our address, they would never find us without help from the postie or a crack fraction of old ladies. I knew that this would not stop them, just delay the inevitable. I called the missus and told her to head down to the basement and answer to no-one.

Pulling up in front of an abandoned warehouse it occurred to me to ask what the fuck was going on.

“You are going to be interviewed. You are going to tell them that have brought your family to the land of your wife’s ancestors and have tried and will continue to fight for the rights of you fellow man, here in Greece.” He leaned over the seat and instructed the driver to park in the shade and be ready for a quick exit.

I finished the bottle and opened my eyes wide to my mentor. He wasn't buying it.

Sitting in the make-up chair was like home. The girl on the other end of the brush knew me and some of the better parts of my career.

By the time I was under the lights and cameras facing the over-made-up blonde with the questions, I was riding a bike.

She told me about how much she loved my work and even quoted a couple of my lines. She didn't seem to have any problem with me talking about my cock for an hour, she even thought the movies I did were good.

She uncrossed and recrossed her legs and adopted a terse expression then continued with my activist work. I unsloached and met her gaze via her legs.

“So, why are you here in Greece?”
I went into the line Socrates gave me.

“It would have nothing to do with your legal spat with the Catholic church, then?”

“Listen,” I began. “They got that all wrong. A knee jerk reaction from a hubristic, oppressive church who needed to reassert their relevance in a world that no longer recognises their hegemony.”

“You deny you are the messiah?”

“No, there is no onus on anyone to deny or support such a claim. I—”

“You believe that you are here to execute God’s will?”

Just behind the glare of the cameras, I saw Socrates frantically slashing his throat with a flat palm. His face a chewed toffee of vexation.

“And how do you think the Greek-Orthodox church will react to your claims?”

I leaned forward in my chair composing my riposte. “The orthodox church—”

She touched her ear and cut me off, laughing. “The orthodox church has no such insecurities is what you mean?”

Socrates deflated and nodded.

“Yeah, sure, The Orthodox church—”

“The Greek-Orthodox church,” She corrected.

“Totally! Well it’s an integral part of the rich weave of Greece’s culture along with Aristotle and Zeus.” Socrates coughed. “I love living here and since I began toiling shoulder to shoulder with the Greek people, I have understood the unmitigated injustice of the Eurocrats, committed against the very crucible of modern civilisation. A blasphemous affront against Olympus and all the Orthodox gods.”

“Yes, of course.” She did that thing with her legs again. “Your children are Greek, aren't they?”

Were they?

She touched her ear-piece again and asked me if I would be standing in the elections planned for early next year. I told her that I was challenged enough with the demands of the town hall and maybe that should be the full extent of my political career.

“Could you be convinced?” She asked with a sparkle.

“Of course I could, but my wife would kill me!” She smiled coyly and she may well have blushed but the weapons-grade cosmetics protected her prudence.

She announced my name to the camera accompanied by an unfamiliar adjective then turned and thanked me heartily.

The lights came up, she stood up and looked down. “Nice pants.” and walked out.

Socrates bounded over. “Well done my boy! A statesman in the making.”

I must confess, the cameras had locked and loaded my Mojo again.

“In a couple of hours, it will be edited and ready for broadcast. By the afternoon it will be on the news. By the evening, on all the channels and tomorrow in the papers. Our message gets out before anyone else.” Socrates slapped my back. “You are the 21st century Byron.”

It was already on Youtube.


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Where it all began Episode 1 




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