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General

I used to abhor these evenings. Hours of incestuous arse-licking by a load of self-congratulatory hacks and terrible food. However, I’ve been looking forward to tonight’s ceremony for ages.

I watched Carla this morning in the reflection of my laptop screen, adjusting the scattering of minor journalistic awards to make space on the shelf for the big one. She must have been fairly confident and rightly so. I have to say she looks particularly gorgeous tonight in her glad rags, sat next to me clutching her champagne flute and making small talk with the spectacled geek from the Times and his appalling wife. I’d need a few more glasses of this low-grade fizz to make anything beyond pleasant conversation with these saps.

Thank goodness for that, the compere is bringing us to order. I’m bored with picking at crudités that look like exotic beetles and I’m relieved to get into the formality of the evening. It’s where I feel most comfortable. I have kissed a lot of babies, listened to whining pensioners, attended tea parties and opened school fetes, but give me the cut and thrust of parliamentary debate, a White Paper to read and the annual party conference every time.

Oh, it’s time to clap again. I’d love to get pissed now but it would just spoil the moment. Now, this man walking up to get the award for ‘Political Journalist of the Year’, Greg Fallon. He knows how to do exposé, subterfuge and secrecy, and how to open doors. Mind you, so does my friend Tony, who found Fallon’s love nest after following them to that cheap hotel in Fulham. I have friends in all sorts of places now.

I’d like to say I was gutted, shocked, angry and a thousand other destructive emotions at the thought of Carla's infidelity, but I was actually relieved when Tony gave me the press-on fingernail in a familiar shade of purple he’d retrieved from the tousled bed sheets. ‘Damson Dream’ is one of Carla’s favourite shades. Where do they get the names of these colours? I wouldn’t know whether to drink it, fly there or lick it off the petal of a rare Amazonian orchid. I had suspected for some time she was playing away but I just hated not being sure. Once I was, for some reason, I felt… liberated.

Listen to the sanctimonious jerk, thanking his friends, his family, members of the panel and the freedom of the press. Fallon, do you think I missed that quick glance over here as you held up the grotesque trophy? What was that line from that Jimmy Cliff song? ‘And they think that they have got the battle won. I say forgive them Lord, they know not what they've done’. The harder they come, Carla, the harder they fall.

My hands are beginning to tingle from over-applauding and I’m trying not to be the first or last one to stop. Carla, that was two seconds too long, dear, and I think standing up was a little excessive. Politics teaches you to turn adversity into strength, and in the end it all worked out nicely, of course. I do like it when a plan comes together.

It just took a few scribbled notes left on my desk, my laptop left on with unrestricted access to my email account and those damaging photos of politician colleagues and prostitutes. Carla just couldn’t help herself but take the bait and pass the lot to Fallon. Result? He gets her head on his pillow and an award-winning story, and I get rid of the fools in the party who were blocking my path to the top. Well, when I say ‘top’, I don’t mean ‘top, top’. For now I’m a happy junior minister in the Home Office, content to bide my time, although others have decided to elevate us to minor celebrity status. We were even asked to appear on ‘Celebrity Big Brother’ last year. Carla would have killed to go on, and had a possible book deal in the offing, but can you imagine the damage it could have done to my career?

I can feel Carla’s fake fingernails digging into the back of my hand as she grips it tightly. It must be her category, ‘Business Journalist of the Year’. I’m looking at her shade of varnish and thinking it’s maybe ‘Sugar Syrup’ or ‘Madison Rose’. She doesn’t even look at me, but stares at the stage like a rabbit caught in the headlights as the names of the nominees are announced. I instantly recognise a couple of the names on the big screen, including that of Carla Lawson, my dear wife. I don’t blame her for keeping her maiden name, it sounds so much better then Carla Beene. I don’t understand why they had to invite that fool from the Financial Times to announce the winner though.

Here it is then, the big moment. Carla can’t see my fingers crossed under the table, the fingers on the hand that isn’t white from the loss of blood circulation. The fool is opening the golden envelope. I wonder if he can read? Apparently he can, and he can shout with artificial enthusiasm. ‘Miranda Palmer, from the Observer!’ I feel the iron grip release as Carla claps in defeat. It must be painful to join in with the acclamation of her rival. She gives me a teary smile and I can’t help but put my arm over her shoulder and pull her close. Then I have to clap as well. There’s nothing worse than a bad loser, not that I am one.

As I watch Miranda climb the stairs to the stage in the stunning, electric blue dress that I bought her in Paris last weekend, I allow myself a brief grin. There is a woman who would get down on her knees for a good story, and she does it so well.

February 01, 2020 10:57

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2 comments

Sue Mitchell
23:23 Feb 12, 2020

A thoroughly hateful character with an equally despicable wife. You build the characters well, revealing their innate unpleasantness through thoughts and actions. A sad indictment of today’s political scene that it sounds authentic. An engaging read, but now I must go & wash my eyeballs.

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D Crichlow
22:49 Feb 12, 2020

Your description of one man's climbing the professional ladder with a knife was amusing to read and effective. I thoroughly disliked the main character, which is good. The ending was no surprise, once you got the DNA of this person and saw that it was snake. The choice of showing this character through this awards show was well done. You revealed his plan and him slowly, so the ending was a nod to what you knew him to be. Your effective character development was due, I believe, to your smooth writing style, which kept the story movin...

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