Welcome to Chapter Twenty-One in the serialisation of Neil Mason’s gripping debut novel There There My Dear. Viewing figures are all that matter to the Prime Time Minister panelists, who plan to court public attention with a staged altercation.
If you’ve missed out on the earlier chapters, don’t worry. To catch up on events so far, just follow this link to catch up!
There There My Dear
Stark and featureless. He would never refer to it as ‘minimalist’ because that suggested conforming to a defined mindset. Gordon Ames had always seen himself as somebody who could not conform to anything that had a following. He was not a supporter of any specific football club or political party; he never went to church and he felt no loss as a result. Not anymore.
Nearly thirty years ago he had lost his father to a cocktail of cancer mixed with remedies. Then, he had envied the faith of others, coveted their blind belief. Before his father’s death he had turned to God for help, asked him to spare his father’s pain, to make things better. Prayers unanswered had killed his potential for belief. For faith.
Bland and unimaginative. He would be comfortable with that description. It would give him leverage to state that his powers of imagination were best used elsewhere. In his writing.
Stripped floorboards, white walls and white woodwork everywhere, and not even the relief of magnolia. There were certainly no ‘feature walls’ or colourful accents. His home was cold and uninviting.
Partially naked except for a bath towel around his waist and a hand towel over his shoulder, Ames emerged from his bathroom to be greeted by a telephone ringing.
‘Yes?’ He never stated his name when he answered the phone. ‘Who is this?’ Often he never bothered to answer the phone but he had decided to make the effort, descend the bare stairs and pick up the receiver from the telephone in his hallway. He hoped it had been a worthwhile journey. ‘Hello, Michael. This is quite unexpected. What do you want?’
On the other end of the line Michael Sills’ voice was typically crackly, sometimes faint and annoyingly confident. Ames wondered whether his caller had ever sold double- glazing, alarm systems or houses in a previous life.
Sills spoke continuously for several minutes, reminding Ames of Kyle Andrew’s requirement for feud. Ames listened without interrupting.
Sills’ reasoning was sound. Fletcher was too old to go out drinking and Ames had the kind of personality that invited conflict and encouraged feud. It was obvious, to Sills at least, that the only option was for the two younger men to have some kind of public meltdown, just where the paparazzi could see them.
Ames pointed out that filming had not yet started and that there was no point in affecting any such thing for some time.
‘I know. I know. But we need to plan this. Carefully.’
Ames once again listened to Sills’ theory that, once filming was underway, they would feign a significant disagreement over one of the contestants. This would have to be during the pre-recorded episodes. Then, as soon as they had confirmation that the live show was going ahead, they could stage their disgraceful altercation for maximum impact.
‘We get this right and Kyle will love it.’
‘It would be harder to get it wrong. I mean, the audience would take little convincing that you and I would fall out and, frankly, it would not be a stretch to pretend that I didn’t like you.’
Sills could not tell if Ames was joking. Ames knew this. Ames liked this. And he used his favourite weapon to find out if Sills had any real backbone.
‘Yes,’ came Sills’ disjointed voice. He must have been on a mobile phone. ‘I see your point.’
Confirmed. Sills had no backbone whatsoever.
With his newly acquired power, Ames decided to end the call. ‘Michael, I have to go. I have bathwater dripping off my nut sack and I’m starting to feel the cold. We’ll talk more at the next meeting.’ He placed the receiver back into its holder, smiled and went back upstairs.
To Be Continued…
How real is reality TV? From the outset, the media mogul and creator of Prime Time Minister is planning to make a mockery of an established political process, deceive the public, create false controversy in order to manipulate viewing figures, and control the outcome of the competition.
Is every reality TV show built on this same basic strategy? I wouldn’t like to say!
But I’d love to hear what you think, so please leave your thoughts on my Facebook Page . Be a part of the conversation!
Chapter Twenty-Two to be published next week.
Very best wishes,
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