Friday 4 September 2015

Episode 34: It's a Wrap!

You know me. You followed me around the country. You loved me on the TV when I had you in stitches with jokes about my penis. You followed me in the tabloids, you supported my charitable works. Then you didn't. I don't know why, you made me a pariah. Now, I have people who love me again. So much that they made me their mayor. This is my new story, From Under Dark Clouds.

Director's chair
The wife had picked up and left the island so quick she had forgotten the kids. She insisted that she hadn't but she definitely had the look of someone who had been patting themselves down to find their wallet. She wouldn't have taken it so seriously but I did have a proven track record of maniacal hubris and the last time she laughed it off, I became mayor. There was no warning, she just stormed into the town hall while I was going through the academics of how, should I agree, I would run for government office.

Now, I really feel that in the spirit of full disclosure, dear Blogees, I should share the profanities that erupted from my fair lady’s mouth as she entered the office but I don’t think It would be fair. You see, I had always thought that her guttural use of our beautiful language is down to the fact that it is not her mother tongue and as such, the words do not have the same resonance that they have with us. However, this theory does not bear scrutiny as she was born and raised in north London. And she curses like Clarkson in Greek. Suffice to say that her volley included three generations and the full extent of both Socrates and my extended families, and my penis.

The well-assembled secretary made no excuses and left quietly.

Once she had calmed to a state of lividity, Socrates tried to engage her in conversation. I, on the other hand, knew better. He went through the arguments that he had used on me, explaining that there are numerous politicians who began in entertainment, especially in America. I will not describe the next part of the conversation as I have a number of American friends and would very much like to keep them. He then pointed out the good work that I have done in the town since I became mayor. The storm began to quell.

I thought at some point I should jump in but they were doing fine on their own. I was tempted to join the secretary.

“He’s a comic, a comedian, he makes—” she looked at me for the first time since arriving, then turned back to Socrates. “Made people laugh!”

“Did he?” Socrates replied.

She went to challenge Socrates memory then paused. “Oh! Yeah, good one!” She chuckled.

Their emphatic use of the past tense was not wasted on me and I was very close to taking offence.

“He speaks Greek like a kindergartner!” she reposted.

I reminded them both that I was still in the room. They ignored me.

“I've arranged private tuition,” Socrates pointed out.

She was calming but her pace had not slowed. She must have spent the whole flight thinking about this and she would have her say, all of it.

“Just tell me one thing,” Socrates managed. “Is he any more stupid than the others who’ll be running?”

So, there I was standing in amongst the collection of abandoned warehouses and sheds that we dare to call a business park with a camera crew and an ironed shirt. The crew were filming everything that moved and if it didn't they kicked it until it did. Workmen hammering and screwing, attaching signs to the bare wall of the empty buildings, even drinking their morning coffee.

A bus arrived and spewed its ramshackle load on the pavement in front of one of the units. One of the crew, who judged by his shouting, must have been quite important went over and arranged them into a line. He shook his head as he assessed them.

“Fuck! Is this the best you could do?” he yelled at anyone who would listen. He singled one out and stood scanning the middle-aged man up and down. “Who the fuck is going to believe he has a job?” A woman sniggered. “You’re laughing?” he spat, she stopped. “Did they find you in a caravan accident?”

Some of the crew were brought in to make up the numbers after the extras were ordered with the most presentable at the front and the most threadbare put back on the bus. Then he paced for a few minutes, giving them some kind of pep-talk. When he finished they all seemed to agree to something in haphazard unison.

The director nudged me in the direction of the crowd. “Go speak to your people. They wouldn't be here if it wasn't for your good work.” He waved his hand around the vacant units and loafing workers. I bowled over and offered a warm good-morning mustn't have heard me so I tried again.

“People, say good-morning to the mayor!” a boom operator called out, jerking his furry stick in my direction. The renta-crowd turned, surrounded me and all pulled out smart phones. After a dozen selfies, individual and groups, one of the crew pulled at my arm and the herd got back on the bus. The director followed them on, waved his arms around a bit then got off. The passengers dipped their attention to their laps and like teenagers in a coffee shop, tapped away at their phones. The bus pulled away. It proceeded fifty metres farther, stopped and everyone got off again, some were still twitching their phones. I wondered if I should go greet them again but one of the crew yanked my arm and my body followed. They positioned me in front of signs and filmed me walking through doors into the empty warehouses. My directions were that I was visiting the successful companies in my new business park to offer support and guidance. I watched as some of the extras were loaded into shiny cars and filmed arriving for work. It felt good to be in the saddle again. You know, the great responsibility that public office demands can suck on your emotional energy. It is refreshing to concentrate on convincingly doing as you’re told.

After getting the exterior shots they bundled me into a car and took me off. After twenty minutes through traffic we had left the town and were on the open road.

“I Should go through my lines,” I told the director who was sitting in the front with his laptop.

“Lines? Yeah sure. Go through your lines.”

I waited a few moments. “Could I have them, then?”

He gave me some stapled sheets of paper full of notes and it took me a while to find my part. By the time we arrived I had it down pat. We pulled into an industrial zone in another part of town where we found some businesses that were actually doing business. They pushed me through a door into one of the factories and the assistant director gave me the thumbs-up.

“You’re on, Mr. Mayor.”

I walked amongst the workers asking what people wanted and agreeing with them, smiling and shaking hands. Then telling them who I am.

“My lines?” I asked the director.

“Soon, Mr. Mayor.” As he bundled me back into the car.

Back in my town we parked in the high street and I recognised the shop I had visited and shared a drink with the proprietor. Of course! He was the businessman in the script. I had memorised my lines but I was sure the dialogue had no need to be scripted, we had drank together after all.

“So why did you chose our town to open your shop?” I asked the man whose smile was as genuine as mine.

He spoke as he had last time about his grandfather and father and the director began making circular motions in front of his mouth. Eventually he delivered his line. “This is a town where businesses can do business.”

The director huffed a huge sigh. “That’s a Wrap!”


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