Ok, so I promised last week to use the current weeks Observer column, but the best intentions etc… tomorrow (I promise, I promise) I’ll update this weeks column and bring this blog up to speed; as such.
The Far Right Hand Man
Several years ago, while living in Brisbane, I answered a call for volunteers to help out at a small radio station. After a quick interview, I was informed that ‘my talents’ were perfectly suited to fill a spot on Monday nights; taking calls during a late night talk show, and relaying any messages to the host.
So, the following Monday night I lobbed up and met Chuck, the announcer. He sat me next to a phone in the tearoom, and while he made the coffees, I asked him what his show was about.
“Well,” he said, “I discuss topics of the day, politics, opinion pieces that sort of thing. Don’t worry,” he smiled, “you won’t be too overworked. Just don’t swear at the callers.” He disappeared into his studio leaving me wondering what sort of listeners his show attracted.
Taking a sip of my coffee, I gazed out the nearby window and was stunned to see a couple in a nearby unit engaged in some sordid, yet acrobatic, nocturnal activities. In shock I sprayed a mouthful of coffee through the window into the lane below, covering my car, and the drunk lying next to it, in a fine brown haze.
Suddenly, Chucks’ voice came over a small speaker mounted just above my head, and ignoring the couple in the flat, I listened to the start of his show and was gobsmacked to discover Chuck’s political views were just to the right of Adolf Hitler’s’. He was outlining a plan to have all graffiti vandals tied to a stake in King George Square and flogged, when the phone rang.
The caller was wild, “If anyone deserves flogging pal, it’s nuts like you!” he hollered.
“Listen, I just answer the…” I started, but he’d hung up. I wrote down his comment and rushed it to the studio. Chuck gave me a ‘thumbs up’ without missing a beat on his next tirade; bringing back prisoner chain gangs.
By the time I’d returned to the tearoom, the phone was ringing off the hook, and every caller was outraged, except for one old dear who wanted help finding her cat. I relayed the heavily edited messages to Chuck, who quickly read them before replying with some caustic comments of his own over the air.
At the halfway point he came out and asked me, “So what do you think?”
I was about to answer him when he caught sight of the heaving couple in the unit. “Sick freaks!” he roared, and dashed back to his studio inspired to new levels of indignation.
The phone calls started again, and the only happy caller was the little old lady who had found her cat; she had accidently locked it out on her patio. As I stood to deliver another batch of hate mail, I noticed the couple in the flat were enjoying a post workout cigarette. They stared at me in astonishment as I gave them a friendly wave and dashed off.
Chucks’ spit flew across the studio as he wrapped up the show, and afterwards we returned to the tearoom for a post show debriefing. The phone rang again, as we entered the room. “You disgusting creature,” shrieked a female voice, “haven’t you got anything better to do with yourself?!”
My mouth hung open for a moment, “Sorry?”
“You don’t know who I am do you?” she snarled.
I genuinely didn’t, and Chuck, sensing my distress, grabbed the phone, “Who is this?!” he demanded.
A nearby voice screamed, “Look out the window!”
We did. Glaring back at us from the unit window was the acrobatic lady, she had a dressing gown on now, and was waving her phone at us in an intimidating manner.
“You perverts should be locked up!” she screeched, “Have you no sense of decency!” She was still yelling as I closed our window and drew the blind.
For the first time that night, Chuck was speechless, and he was still sitting with his head in his hands as I made my way home. I could hardly wait til next week.