Saturday, November 3, 2012

5. Gerald

The next morning, Gerald Morley called Tony and Steve into his office.

Gerald was a tall, rather plump man, in his late 50's, with fluffy brown hair that looked suspiciously like a wig. For at least five years, every director at YTV had tried to accidentally set a large atmospheric breeze off in his vicinity, but the hair had always held firm. If it was a wig, and there were plenty of people prepared to share hearsay that it was, it was of the highest quality, and appeared to be held in place with industrial strength superglue.

Before smoking in the workplace was banned Gerald was notorious for sitting behind his desk smoking cigars so big they would make Fidel Castro jealous. After the workplace ban, he became notorious for sitting behind his desk sipping extra strength whiskey whilst still smoking gigantic cigars with the kind of nonchalance that only the Head of the Station could get away with. The legend has it, that his team of lawyers, rumoured to be so effective that they would have sent OJ Simpson to jail, skirted the ban by creating a new country separate from the United Kingdom that extended only for the length and depth of his office. However like many rumours around Gerald, this has yet to be proven, although the cigar box on his desk has a motif suspiciously similar to that of a crudely designed flag.

Gerald's office was the largest at the station. In fact, it was larger than the entire research department. The d├ęcor was, to put it politely, a hideously dated conglomerate of dark brown, light brown, 1970's sitcom brown, 1930's bank manager brown, Austin Allegro brown and Teak. The Teak desk was a present from Mark, a set designer who had placed a substantial wager with the rest of the department that he could get a piece of good furniture kept in Gerald's room for more than six months, he had ten weeks left to go. Mark had told Gerald the desk had formerly been owned by Margaret Thatcher, although in reality it had come from the local branch of Habitat.

Gerald bellowed in his staggeringly deep voice, reminiscent of Brian Blessed in slow motion. “Come in gentlemen.”
Tony and Steve opened the chunky oak door and walked in. “You may sit down.” commented Gerald with the air of a stately Prince.

Tony and Steve sat next to each other on a suspiciously low mahogany coloured sofa, which caused them to have to look up in order to see Gerald like a schoolchild at a shop counter. Gerald looked like he was about to take candy from schoolchildren, although rumour had it that he always looked that way, even whilst at home with his wife Geraldine.

“Gentlemen.” Gerald announced. “This is disappointing. Your show failed to do anywhere near as well as we expected. In fact, after the, frankly unusual breakdown in signal, your share of the audience was lower than the repeat of Dad's Army on BBC2. It was especially strange as we don't even have breakdown slides anymore.”

“I told you!” remarked Tony to Steve with uncharacteristic smugness.

“I am speaking gentlemen.” remarked Gerald. Tony stopped and faced back towards the boss.

“Your show was disappointing, the guest line up was far too high brow for our station.” remarked Gerald as he poured a measure of Dalmore 62 into his crystal glass. “Shakespearian actors, historical drama actors, conceptual artists. How do we expect our audience to buy into this?”

“I'm afraid that..” Steve started to explain.

Gerald carried on. “In fact the only thing that might have saved the night would have been the publicity from the crazy Chinese lady doing something controversial, but your technical faux par meant we didn't even get that.”

“I told... sorry.” Tony uttered.

Gerald summed up. “Gentlemen, you have one week to get your figures up. Get some pop stars, boy bands, psychotic page three girls, I don't care, just get it done. If your figures haven't gone up by a million for the next show, I am pulling the plug and replacing you with repeats of Rising Damp.”

“Yes sir.” Steve kowtowed. “A lot happened to derail this week's show, we'll be sure to fix it for next week.”

“See that you do.” sneered Gerald. “Oh and change that backdrop to pink or something, it looks like you are about to do a Ouija board on that set.”

“I told you.” whispered Steve to Tony with a huge smirk spreading over his face.

With that, Tony and Steve walked out of the room back into the world of colour. They passed Annie and Tanya from the kids show 'Wild About Animals' and nodded in polite greeting.

Gerald caught sight of Tanya, and invited them in. “Come in gentlemen.”

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