I originally wrote this for a competition a year ago but didn’t quite finish it, and then forgot about it until I came across it today. So, with a quick bit of tweaking, here it is.
OK, lock that smile in, the music’s fading, here comes the camera… it’s 11pm, this is your slot. It might not be much, but it’s yours and no lousy new co-host is going to change that… They want you out, you know it, your career’s on a knife-edge, so don’t give them an excuse. Whatever you do, don’t call her Poopy!
‘Hi!’ Bright, breezy, eye contact with the camera, you’ve done this thousands of times before, it’s all good. ‘And welcome to After Dark on Kwiksell TV with me, Jasmine Marshall. It’s a pleasure to have you with me tonight, and it’s equally pleasurable…’ Lies, just make sure your eyes don’t show it, Jas, ‘… to introduce my new co-host. She’ll be joining me every night from now on, so please give a warm welcome to’ – don’t call her Poopy! – ‘Poppy Pearson!’
Listen to the crew clapping. Backstabbers. Wait, Jas, you should be clapping too… just politely. Maintain appearances, this job is always about maintaining appearances. Remember the time you were testing those knives and you cut the tip of your finger off? You smiled, you introduced the next item, and while the camera was off you, you had a plaster put on, then you smiled your way through the last 20 minutes and went to the emergency room afterwards. You got through that, you can get through this.
‘Hi there,’ Poppy chirped. ‘It’s so good to be here with you Jasmine.’
Look at her, with her big doe eyes. Pretty enough to appeal, but not so much as to be threatening to the army of mums, tipsy on red wine after another day with the brats, that made up Jasmine’s audience. That perfectly kept smile, perfectly kept fingernails, perfectly kept clothes. And look at me. Old. Bags under my eyes. Out of shape. I’ve been doing this too long. I don’t look ‘on-brand’ any more. But this is my gig. Come on, Jas. Deep breath.
‘And it’s great to be here with you too, Poppy.’ Phew again. ‘We’re going to have some fun tonight.’
‘Let’s take a look at the amazing products we’ve got coming up in the next hour. We’ve got a range of garden gnomes dressed like the cast of EastEnders, a set of pens that double-up as knitting needles, a three-foot cuddly monkey that sings Uptown Funk…’
Honestly, the crap they’re trying to shift these days, I swear it’s getting worse.
‘…and my personal favourite for the night, a home cheese-making kit.’
I’m going to have to bring Poopy – don’t call her that on air, you know they’re just waiting for an excuse to fire you, the slightest mistake will have you turfed out of this place, stop even thinking about calling her Poopy – into the conversation.
‘Do you like cheese, Poppy?’
That’s it, keep it going, all smiles, happy, happy.
‘You know Jas…’
Who told you that you could call me that? I didn’t realise we were that familiar.
‘…I love cheese. Honestly, if I could, I’d live off cheese…’
No you wouldn’t.
‘Cheddar, Edam, Gorgonzola, Stilton, Wensleydale, I just love it all. But do you know what my favourite cheese is, Jas?’
And nor do I give a flying one.
‘I love – I mean, really, truly, love – camembert, with crusty bread and caramelised onions. It’s to die for, Jas, it really is.
Liar. You don’t look like you’ve eaten cheese or bread in a decade.
‘That’s… great. Great. Thanks a lot, Poopy.’
Shit. Shit, shit, shit! Can I pretend that didn’t happen? No. No, I can’t. Look at that smirk on her face. And the director’s too. They’ve got what they wanted. This’ll be her show alone tomorrow. They’ve won.
‘Um, sorry, I mean Poppy.’
‘No problem, Jas. Don’t even worry about it!’
She’s still smirking.
‘Now let’s have a look at that three-foot monkey!’
‘Let’s do that, Poppy!’