Tales Of Chiswick: Chapter 1. New Beginnings


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Jun 24, 2008
Tales of Chiswick Chapter 1 – New Beginnings

As Bill Lapwing descended the spiral staircase on the new set, clutching his iPad and chirpily updating the audience with the latest tweets and Facebook updates, Roberta Jones watched from the back of the studio and thought “Jesus H. Christ, things haven’t half changed in 19 years….”.

Bill was flawless. Negotiating a very tricky new staircase, self-editing whilst reading the often obscene tweets, and chatting to the audience about the days line-up, all unscripted, all at the same time. It was impressive to say the least and a very far cry from Roberta’s early days when an audition consisted of discussing the merits of a pencil for 4 minutes. In fact the pinnacle of multitasking in Roberta’s career had been to talk to the audience whilst measuring the hip size of a skirt. It made Bill Lapwing look like a genius but it was just a different generation. She liked Bill, he was ridiculously young to be in Broadcasting but very sweet and talented at the same time. He had been a breath of fresh air to the Channel’s stodgy morning line up of ex breakfast TV has-beens. Roberta even bought herself an iPad and was learning how to use it, determined not be left behind by the new crop of younger presenters. And she was even more determined to be one step ahead of that bitch Frances Jilks and her simpering “I'm a girly girl and I don’t do technology” fakery.
But Roberta was tired. And the move from dear old Battersea to the Channel's glamorous new premises had made her realise just how long she’d been playing this shopping telly game. The Channel's decision to remove her from the Desirable Panty Liner campaign had been a massive set back and personal insult to Roberta. They had done everything possible to get her to agree to being the international spokeswoman for the brand and to peddle the appalling strapline “Under my incontinence knickers I like to feel Desirable” . It was a double blow when the U.S vetoed the idea and hired a younger American presenter. “Too old to sell incontinence” was the only feedback she had received. She was crushed.

The bullying had started soon afterwards and had taken Roberta completely by surprise. In fact it had taken her a month or so to realise that’s she was actually a victim of bullying in the workplace. At first she thought it was a joke. Even now it was almost laughable to hear herself saying the words “bullying in the workplace" and "victim” She was Roberta Jones for God’s sake!. Queen of British TV Shopping, winner of multiple awards and seller of millions of pounds worth of useless tat to the Great British Public. It was so implausible that she couldn’t actually bear to say it out loud, and for that reason hadn’t confided in anyone at the Channel or at home. Her family had noticed her change in mood, a teeny amount of the weight had returned and her usually cheery persona was subdued. She was aware of the odd comment about her appearance being made by her colleagues, and of course on THAT website and its sad forum members who seemed so obsessed with her, but now things were getting much much worse. The incidents were almost daily, her schedule had been tampered with so that she arrived late, vicious notes left in her dressing room, the dog turd in the sink, ink in her shampoo and crudely made XXL labels roughly stapled into the back of her favourite garments. Her unknown attacker was determined to undermine her every move, backstabbing her at every opportunity and doing everything she could do make her look and feel terrible. The motive was clear. This was the quickest and easiest way to break her down and get Roberta to resign. What else could it be? The Bully wanted Roberta’s crown.

Frances Jilks had started her career as a dancer, sleeping her way into a job as the Channel’s fitness guru. Since then she had managed to get herself promoted to Senior Presenter by steely determination and an astute strategy. She had built up her own following from a new audience of aspirational middle aged women with seemingly endless supplies of money to spend on bags, shoes and make up. Frances played to this, putting herself forward for these shows even though they were often at the most unsociable hours, when everyone else wanted to be at home for their evening meal with the family, or putting the kids to bed. Jilks didn’t “do” family, having only a miniature poodle and a wet but successful husband who worked late and brought in lots of lovely lolly. Frances was joyfully high maintenance. Even the dog wore a Gucci collar. And she was ambitious, so while her upwardly mobile customers had one eye on the kid’s dinner, their other eye was firmly fixed on Frances Jilks stroking a £400 handbag. It was a no-brainer.
But even Frances had been a little unnerved at some of the recent changes. Not the move, she was happy about that, Chiswick sounded so much more upmarket than grotty Battersea with that hideous power station and the railway sidings. It was the younger female presenters who were worrying Frances. Taffy O’Reilly and Jenna Fryman to name but two. Taffy had been a successful saleswoman on the Sit Up channels and Jenna came from a credible radio news background. Taffy was the ringleader, all blonde extensions, Irish charm and sharp tongued witticisms. Jenna, the quieter, more studious of the two followed her like a faithful puppy giggling, looking doe-eyed and wrinkling her cutesy nose in all the right places. They had been taken on at the same time and had bonded immediately. Now they were inseparable, walking around the studio arm in arm, or huddled over a table in the canteen whispering over their skinny lattes. They were also really really thin. Frances just knew they were talking about her. She despised them.

After Bill’s update was over, Roberta flip-flopped her way back to her new dressing room for some iPad practice. She certainly didn’t need to see Kathy Schubert from Kath n’ Co wittering on about yet another Amazing Special Value polyester top, nor the vile stinking Yippee Candles that were to follow. She was due on set for the PowerKnicks hour at 11 which she loved doing. All those fat women being paraded on set and Laney pulling their knickers down in front of everyone, it was hilarious. Till then she had plenty of time to kick off her mules and rela……. Hang on a minute who the hell had been using her iPad? The cover was off and the Post-It notes app had been opened. Someone had typed out a message:


She reeled back against her dressing table, clutching at her décolletage, a hot flush rising to her face. Flicking back her chestnut locks she twisted and strained her neck to look at her backside in the mirrow. Surely people didn’t still think that about her? It simply wasn’t possible! She’d lost a massive amount of weight and nearly killed herself on a Pilates Performer in the process. What did people expect for God’s sake? With a trembling finger she deleted the message and locked her iPad away in her drawer.

“Think Roberta…Think! What am I going to do about this? What the HELL am I going to do?”

Then in despair she flung herself on her chaise long and sobbed.

Clarisse Dutton’s acquittal for the murder of the New York furrier Kristofer Massimo had made all of the tabloids. Far from having a negative effect on her public persona it had rocketed her to the dizzying heights of C-list celebrity. Her denial that she had smuggled salmonella-laden mayonnaise onto Massimo’s room service tray with a side of fries had been vehement, and in the absence of any strong evidence being presented by the Prosecution she had been released. She walked out of court, strawberry curls tossing proudly and straight into Take a Break magazine. A number of photo spreads and hard-luck stories appeared in the low-end weeklies. How Massimo had taken advantage of her when she was a naïve chorus girl (“but that’s doesn’t mean I killed him!”), how she had clawed her way to the top of a career in Shopping TV despite a seedy start in low rent pole dancing clubs. Her story had taken centre stage for a while and as a result, her sales at the Channel boomed. In the pink-cotton-candied recesses of what passed for Clarisse’s brain there was a niggling feeling that putting her on air with the Essential Cookery Condiments range of table sauces was possibly a step too far. Especially selling the Garlic Mayo Style Dip. But whatever! She was having a super time with all the attention and the fan mail was soooo adorable. Things couldn’t be more perfect in life, except for that one last niggling thing from her past. If THAT came out it could be worse than the Massimo affair, not for work but for her precious precious family. Her darling Will and adorable brood of babies. If ONLY she hadn’t confided in that one person at work…. If only…..

In the green room Clarisse was telling Bill Lapwing about her favourite Yippee Candles which were stashed on a trolley ready for the next show. “I like the flowery ones best of all, I think… or maybe I like the foodie ones best? Yummy cookies and delish cakes for my tummy! Except they’re for my nose! Hee hee! No I think it’s the fruity ones that I love the most…. There’s one that tastes of lollipops… “ Bills eyes were glazing over and his smile becoming fixed when Clarisse exclaimed loudly “Ooh no! It’s THIS one!”. She was holding a Yippee candle to her nose and inhaling deeply “Look its Fwuffy Baby Towels… isn’t it gorgeous?!”

Bill sniffed the candle politely, “Yes very nice Clarisse, I'm not sure it smells of....”

“Doesn’t it just remind you of when you were a baby? Oh! Hee hee no of course not you don’t remember being a baby! It would remind your mummy and your daddy though I’m sure”

“Ha well maybe Clarisse but actually I don’t have a mummy and … err I don’t have parents actually.”

“No parents? How can that be? EVWYBODY has a mummy!”

“I was an orphan Clarisse, and after I was eventually adopted my parents were both killed in a plane crash. I was only three. It’s been care homes and foster parents ever since. I didn’t get off to a very good start sadly, probably because of the place I was born in. But I’m determined to make up for it and be a success now”.

“Oh my darling Billy how sad….where were you born?”

“France, Paris to be exact. I was born in a theatre in the Pigalle district. I don’t know how true it is but I was told it was The Windmill, and my birth mother was a dancer. Well a showgirl really I suppose. I really must try not to glamourize it. She must have been incredibly young at the time, I couldn’t possibly blame her for anything. Anyway she couldn’t look after a baby so…..”

Clarisse was silent, her eyes staring into the distance and her face frozen in a strange mixture of horror and dumbfounded realisation.

“Clarisse are you ok? Clarisse???”

Roberta went robotically through the motions in her PowerKnicks hour, her mind was completely elsewhere. Even the site of flabby abdomens being flopped out over the waistband of industrial strength knicker elastic wasn’t enough to distract her. She could see across the studio, Taffy O’Reilly and her sad sidekick Jenna Fryman stood arm in arm by the floor manager watching the proceedings. She saw Taffy lean to Jenna and cup her hand round her ear to whisper something. Taffy laughed out loud and Jenna dropped her eyes to the floor and giggled. Taffy’s eyes never strayed from Roberta though, assessing every word and gesture, watching her body language, mentally making notes.
By the end of her show Roberta had decided exactly what she was going to do. She was going to find that bully and when she did she was going to report her to Jet Lingstrom, the Channel's Presenter Manager. A formal grievance case would no doubt follow and the cow would be sacked. All she needed was to find out who it was. Which one of them hated her so much? Which one of those bitches was it?

Up in the gallery Frances Jilks jotted on a post it note:


She stuck it to her producer’s empty chair and made her way downstairs to the canteen. Clarisse was sat alone, still staring into the distance, rocking back and forwards in her seat.

“Hiya Clar! All ok hun? Is that that new Minny Bullet Proof mascara? Isn’t it AMAAAAAZING? I’ve done literally allsorts in mine and I can NOT get it to run! fancy a coffee babe?”

Clarisse didn’t reply, Frances muttered “sod you then” under her breath and ordered a black coffee and a Muller Lite from Jacky Johnson who was known to the public as the Squeezy-Yog on air guest but better known to the Channel’s employees for running the staff canteen. She took a table alone and started to flick through her Vogue magazine.

A couple of tables away Tiffany and Jenna were huddled over an iPhone, giggling and whispering. Across the room were three of the channels house models, Shaznay, Biddy and Tina, chatting animatedly over their coffee break. The girls were always around when Kathy Shubert was on air, they were the only models who had the height, stature and modelling expertise to make Kath n’ Co clothes look appealing on TV. Even then, numerous wind machines wereneeded to keep the garments from sticking to their slender limbs. Shaznay, the exotic one was tall, elegant and beautiful with a chic chignon hairstyle and a trademark in exotic twirling. Biddy, the equine one was blonde and striking with an impossibly long shiny ponytail cascading from high on her head who modelled like a thoroughbred horse. And Tina, the approachable on was a cockney sparrow with a gleaming bob and looks that every drab, overweight viewer wanted to emulate.

“So listen, darlings” said Shaznay, “What shall we do about this staircase? Because to be honest darlings I’m worried I’m going to take another tumble and I’m not sure I could take that”

“Well it never did Naomi Campbell any harm Sweetie, or the Westwood shoes she was modelling at the time!” Biddy neighed like a horse when she laughed, tossing her shiny ponytail.

“Sod the bleedin’ stairs, that’s the least of our worries. It’s ‘er ladyship we should be complaining about!” hissed Tina. “Shazza did you hear what she said on air last week at Battersea? She said she she’d taken the small off the rack because I’d suit the medium better… an’ we ALL know what that means nar don’t we? Eh? I’ was bleedin’ furious an’ I don’t mind sayin’ so”

“Oh God darling, it’s so depressing to have a presenter with body image issues isn’t it?” said Shaznay, checking her immaculate hair in a Chanel compact. “Why doesn’t she just accept, she’s short, she’s dumpy, and she doesn’t look like us. It’s really not that difficult”

“Well I’m totally sick of it too Sweetie” said Biddy. “Every single chance she gets to put a model down she’s onto it. Of course we ALL know what’s going on I’m sure?”

“Yer not ‘arf” said Tina, “The snooty cow wants one of us to walk so that daughter gets a look in. That’s what’s going on an’ I’m not bleedin’ ‘avin it. I tell you, I’ll make sure ‘er royal bleedin’ ‘ighness leaves this gaff before one of us goes….mark my bleedin’ words I will!”

At that moment the double doors to the canteen swung back, crashing loudly against the walls. Immediately the room was silenced. Heads snapped round and everyone spun in their seats to see what had caused the noise. Even Clarisse was disturbed from her trance and upon seeing Roberta raised her hand to her mouth in shock.
Roberta pulled herself up to her full height and stepped into the room, allowing the doors to swing closed behind her. She tossed her hair dramatically, her eyes flashed like Diamonella as she gazed round the room one by one at her colleagues. And then her gaze rested on one person and she said quietly but in a voice that no-one recognised

“I want a word with you…..”
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Julia's just posted her blog about turning out the lights on MP house, and in the dark out jumped Sophie & Dan with bouquets, arrrrrrrrr! or aaaaaaaaaaaagh !
off topic Brissles! my post has nothing to do with Julia or any other person, living or dead. Any resemblance is unintended and entirely coincidental :O)
Julia's just posted her blog about turning out the lights on MP house, and in the dark out jumped Sophie & Dan with bouquets, arrrrrrrrr! or aaaaaaaaaaaagh !

Isn't that just absolutely typical? She just HAS to be the centre of attention doesn't she? She's really getting on my t-ts with her self aggrandisement. Who cares if she turned out the lights- I do that every night before I go to bed!
absolutely fantastic!! you paint such vivid pictures with your words BB that I had some quite disturbing mental images while reading even tho these creatures of fiction bear no resemblance to anyone at all at Chiswick . Please don't keep us waiting too long for the next installment
Maybe they should swap the stairs for a pole that would suit Shaznay down to the ground!:giggle:
Oh my aching sides............. Frances Jilks (snigger) Clarisse Dutton (splutter)

As for Bill Lapwing..........(I Love you BurlyBear)

GENIUS ! ! ! !
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“Why doesn’t she just accept, she’s short, she’s dumpy, and she doesn’t look like us. It’s really not that difficult” :mysmilie_61:

Genius hon!! :rock::mysmilie_857:
BB you could be and should be a professional writer,this has certainly been worth the wait.

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