Monday, 23 March 2015

Episode 24: Media Panic

Media Panic
The story behind the truth

Monday morning smelt like the aftermath of the world’s biggest boyscout jamboree, dear blogees. The fires and barbecues had burned all weekend leaving the air seasoned with charred concrete and grilled meat.


The roads were jamming again with shop-keepers, office workers and mechanics inching their way slowly into a new week, a week like no other behind convoys of outside broadcasting vans looking for the story behind the story. Why would anyone set fire to the city’s tax offices, why indeed. Thousands of public employees had been turned away from blackened buildings by a thick perimeter of armed police. Now, with nowhere to go they littered the city’s cafes and snack bars, making everyone very nervous and the cash registers work harder than ever before.

I parked my Vespa on the pavement next to my allocated spot that was taken by a truck with a big white dish on its roof. The rest of the car park was occupied by the usual array of staff cars but, as I soon realised, the town hall was not occupied by their drivers. I passed ungreeted through the lobby and up to my office where I found the sole public employee actually employed in public duty, the well-assembled secretary. She sat behind her PC huffing and puffing. I threw a smile and a jovial good morning her way but it cut no ice, she sighed and told me that they were all at the cafe opposite. We had not been hit by the fire storm but opportunities like this don’t knock very often.

The cafe had been divvied up by the news crews collecting sound bites and talking heads that would support their particular narrative. As I arrived they were fighting over one of my maintenance staff, who always looked woeful enough to suck the cheer from all tomorrow’s parties. It was too late, far too late when I realised the unholy error of my action. I recognised one of the reporters fighting over the spanner monkey and he did not need a double take to spot me. He launched himself with his mic a quivering foil before him, the cable uncoiling behind him as he called my name in that faux-polite way that hounding hacks do. A passing school bus just missed him, fortunately it had already deposited its precious cargo but the trailing mic cable got whipped up in the wheels. The roving reporter’s legs overtook his body and flew into the air. His body hit the yellow bus like a damp towel and only then did the bus begin to apply usual braking procedures. I knew I couldn't stick around but I couldn't kid myself that I would be unseen. There was more foreign press in town than you could shake a shitty stick at, I would be buried. I needed my publicist more than ever and all I had was Socrates. I ran.

Home felt safe, the wife dropped the vacuuming to make some coffee, any excuse. I began hunting for some chemical relief.

“If you’re looking behind the Tolstoy, it’s gone!” She yelled over the sound of the choking peculator. “…and in the Scrabble.”

I was looking in the Cluedo. Shit!

She emerged from the kitchen carrying two steaming cups and still wearing her marigolds but I was not in the mood and I knew she wouldn't be either after I told her what had happened. I was right. I phoned Socrates while she threw expletives at me. He could be here in twenty minutes. When she started throwing solid objects, I prayed he would hurry and ran for the back door and the safety of the garden. I stopped and peered through the window. Had they found me yet? I was stuck between a psychotic wife and a telephoto lens. I chose the wife.

She was telling me how she wouldn’t tell me that she told me so for the God-knows-howmanyth time when Socrates arrived. I was under the delusion that his presence would calm her but I was wrong. There was absolutely no precedent to support this belief, in fact his presence usually made her more inflammatory. But, thank the good lord and all his angels, he was swinging a bottle of Bushmills black. I implored my good lady to be a little more welcoming to our guest.

“Why?” Her face contorted in forced quizzicality. “You don’t want the world to know the ins and outs of your private life’s armpit, you fucking Diva. That’s all you’ve ever lived off, selling tickets to the public washing of your dirty pants!” She was on a roll and I’m not sure about me but Socrates jaw was visibly hanging. “I don’t see what those fuckwits saw in you, prancing around the stage talking about your cock, for hours! I can’t think of anything to do with your cock that would fill a few minutes!” she even wiggled her little finger in the air.

Socrates reeled in his jaw and turned to me. “What is she talking about?” he whispered.

I squirmed, “Don’t know mate, it’s not that small.”

He gurned and shook his head and I fell in, feeling a little smaller than her little finger now.
She hadn’t paused her tirade for a breath but now she changed tack. “Ahh! Yeah tell him, tell him what the press found out. Tell him why you’re hiding from them. Tell him before I blow the fucking doors off your little scam.”

“Now, now missus, there must be a way we can—” He was beginning to squirm as bad as me, my wife is good at that.

She was now pointing fingers at us both and I was trying to find the words to explain something I hadn’t really understood myself. Dr. Alex had helped me come to terms with so many things during our sessions but I still had far to go. I drew breath to begin but she cut me off, thank God.

“Your boy here, used to be a big celebrity back in Britain until he lost it. What did they call it?”

I mumbled an answer at the floor. She thrust her finger at me and I turned to Socrates and said. “Messiah complex.”

“Got himself sued by the Vatican!”

“How was I to know they had the rights on Messiahs?” I protested.

Socrates deflated, “Oh! Is that it?”

“Sued us out of house and home, this was the only place we could afford to live!” She was building up to the full story. “Then he went anad a Soo public fucking breakdown—” She stopped and turned to Socrates, a smile grew on her face. “You sneaky little bastard, you knew, didn’t you?” He had gone back to a squirmy denial stance but the wife had her bone and no intention of letting it go. “You manipulative shit. You knew all the time!”


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