13:57: If Max’s office back at the house is a slightly better lit version of Bruce Wayne’s Batcave, then his office at work is the equivalent of the fictional billionaires work office after he’s been made destitute and bankrupt after blowing all his cash on one too many repairs on the Batmobile. Every office I’ve ever been in had a certain air of claustrophobia mixed with a scent of general dismay. The offices back at Siren are hardly decorated to the glamorous image that we try to portray on air, it’s got so many left-over goodie bags and old boy-band posters lying around rotting it’s more like the venue of a really bad garage sale being held by a destitute and bankrupt fictional former billionaire who would sell you the very cape off his back for a hot meal!
“Sorry about the mess” Max says as he quickly folds and tidies things round his desk like an eight year old that has been caught out by his mum who’d asked ten times for him to tidy his room. “It’s been a busy couple of weeks.”
“So I’ve gathered!”
He offers me his worn out swivel chair to sit in and make my enquiries. His top-of-the-range PC and office phone, which he’s proud to show me has the same ring tone as Edward Time’s colleagues at the FBI, should easily be enough resources. “I’ll be just down the corridor chap ok. Leave you to it!”
I try David on his mobile and home numbers – no answer on either. Maybe his return to The Land Of The Convicts was brought forward when all this kicked off. I get online – for some reason my first instinct is to log in to Facebook and Twitter. There’s quite a few concerned comments and messages from ‘friends’ and ‘followers’ asking if it’s true, or saying it can’t be so. Emma has made it clear on her Facebook profile her thoughts on the matter, but had to use several *’s to keep the language as tame as possible. The message is still loud and clear. Marcus has made his own attempt to clear things up:
Marcus Collins Don’t believe everything you read in the papers...apart from that bit about Dan being gay – that’s totally true!
Dan Shears Thanks lover – explains what happened with the wife!!
Poor Mikey’s Facebook page looks like a virtual wall of hate-mail, getting it in the neck for apparently betraying The Shears.
beihr u f***ing gudas hope u rot in hell u git!
The guy might be known as London’s biggest prankster but underneath all that bravado I can assure you he’s the sweetest, most sensitive guy imaginable. Insane too but in a nice way!
Mikey Beihr NO I’M NOT THE SOURCE. NO DAN ISN’T LEAVING. IT’S NOT TRUE. NONE OF IT IS TRUE!!!
I’m frankly amazed at the response. Granted, not everyone thinks it’s a bad idea. Richard Franklin thinks it’s about bloody time.
Good bloody riddance. The guys less amusing than a hot poker up the jacksie!
Some ‘friend’ he turned out to be. I decide to try and lay these fears to rest.
Dan Shears Rumours of my death (radio or otherwise depending on what else these fiction writers have cooked up) are greatly exaggerated!!
I’m not entirely sure if I’ve just written a small line of fiction, not yet anyway. Still, as far as anyone seems to know it’s the truth. I glance through the rest of my accounts and notice 2,109 people now following me on Twitter and another 59 ‘friend’ requests on Facebook. I’ve never been this popular – maybe I should get ‘fired’ more often. There’s walls posts and message of support. For a brief second I’m so distracted by my own celebrity I forget why I’m there.
The mobile rings. It’s Emma again. “Can you check your email?”
“Just about to. What you found?”
“Darth ...um, I think he’s just thrown the Emperor down in that pit!”
I get in to my work email. I’m greeted by a list longer than the Yellow Brick Road with the usual work based gumph, there’s quite a few interested parties wanting to get my thoughts on my ‘getting fired’. I gotcha thoughts right here – please visualise a grab of the crotch to get the full effect! And then...
From: [email protected]
To: Dan.Shears; Emma.Jacobs; Mikey.Beihr;
Subject: The truth!
Hi guys, hope all is good when you get this, though somehow I doubt you’ll think it is.
I got a whiff of this story a few days ago now. Someone from that comic-rag you Poms call a newspaper called me up asking if it’s true? Is Dan Shears getting sacked? I assure you this is the first I’d heard of it. I asked this so-called journalist where he was getting his facts. He said he had sources but wasn’t allowed to say anymore. I said without a doubt that Dan Shears and his team are going nowhere and that’s how I hoped it would remain. They said they would run the story anyway because of the so-called source. I said they can expect a lawsuit if they proceed and hung up. I honestly thought that was the last of it.
So imagine my surprise when I caught the paper this morning. You guys are lucky I’m such an early riser! I have the legal team looking in to it for us. Believe me when I say I have done everything I can to keep your jobs secure. Despite what you people think of me I love working with every single one of you. All your shows are amazing and well deserving of all the attention it gathers. I know I’ve given you a hard time over the past for your attitude outside, but please understand that was from the powers that be. Truth be told I’m a big fan.
Today I found myself caught between a rock and a hard place. Your employer is making radical changes to the stations it owns. I disagree with them, and have done ever since I started this job. There are things going on behind the scene that are frankly ridiculous and embarrassing. Due to this mounting pressure, and my knowledge of what has caused you to worry about your jobs, I have resigned with immediate effect. By the time you read this I will be at the airport. I have managed to secure a flight back to Australia today, so apologies if you don’t get me on my phones.
I wish I could say more, I really do. I’m tied to a contract and despite my disapproval of what is happening I cannot get into any more trouble. I just want you both to know that it has been an absolute pleasure working with you all, even though you may not have seen it.
All the best.
Dave aka Darth Dullard!!
“Woah!” I say, shocked at, well, so many things. “What do you think?”
“I’m torn between it being genuine concern and the thought he might just be trying to weasel his way out of this!”
We agree to bide our time and wait to see what happens. From the email it’s fair to say worse is yet to come.
* * *
I play around on the net for a while longer. There’s a huge outpouring of dismay and occasional relief at my alleged sacking. I head over to the online forum of the very paper that started these rumours. Members are doing everything from demanding to know where these lies came from, to celebrating at my apparent demise.
I could never stand that idiot anyway. He’s overrated on both the radio and I’m sure in the bed. The biggest waste of airtime ever.
If you don’t like him why do you listen?? You people don’t make any sense. If you don’t like something turn it off and let those millions of us who do like The Shears enjoy it without your constant whining and bitching!!
I contemplate stirring some shit and writing something myself. Maybe demanding a boycott of the paper, or spreading another rumour that I left because I wanted to become a woman. It would be interesting just to see how far it would go. But then I get distracted. My voicemail message promptly announces fifteen new messages. Funny, my network never seems to operate properly outside the confines of London. The first is from Emma demanding I turn my phone on. The second from some journalist creep wanting to get a quote – I delete that one before it even gets a quarter of the way through. The third; Emma calling me a fucking twat for still not turning the phone on, demanding that I ring her back ASAP. The fourth, Liz wanting to know I got to Bournemouth ok. They probably don’t know about my supposed career demise. The fifth, another rat-faced journalist - delete. The sixth just silence before a click, probably another scumbag journo. The seventh “Hey Dan it’s um, well its Suzy. I er, well I saw the paper and just wanted to check you’re ok. Um, I’m guessing this isn’t true. I know the prick who wrote it and he wouldn’t know the truth if it came to him and punched him in the face with a hot iron. Anyway um, I was hoping to talk to you in person but, well you’re probably busy. I’ll call you later.” There’s a distinct and uncharacteristic pause before the phone goes dead. The eighth just has background noise before what I can only assume is a small child screams down the phone. Ninth is just more dead air... I give up and delete them all. If it’s that important they’ll ring back. But Suzy, maybe I should call her back myself. It was really nice she tried to call. But what would I say?
There’s a sudden almighty crash from down the corridor. I look up just in time to see someone bolt past the office door. They’re moving at such a speed I can’t make out gender, race or any other kind of distinguishing characteristic. I walk down the corridor to where I figure the sound came from. The office at the far end of the corridor looks like a small force of nature – like a Tazmanian Devil, or Liam, has just run through. A couple of desks are on their sides, paper strewn all over the place, and what looks like a pretty important A2 size white board on its side. “What the hell happened?”
“Oh nothing” Max replies, trying to sound nonchalant but failing miserably. “Just having a minor disagreement with a colleague that’s all.”
I start giving him a hand to put stuff back together. I don’t say anything about what I’m thinking. I’ve already drawn my own conclusions and past experience tells me not to say a word, especially to Max. “So you get everything sorted then?”
I quickly get him up to speed - the rumours, the emails, the phone calls. “You’re still in touch with her then?” he asks, a little too excitedly when I mention Suzy’s message. I barely have the chance to nod my answer. “So what happened there anyway? I mean, Suzy Ryder, the sexiest woman to ever come out of, well, England never mind Norwich. Legs longer than one of Lucy’s shopping lists, the kind of breasts that you could bury your head in for a year, and, by all accounts a bit of a go-er, and you fuck it up?”
A bit of a go-er? I’m half tempted to bitch-slap the fucker! “It’s complicated!”
“Always was with you!” I think his response was supposed to be under his breath. I pretend not to hear and carry on trying to help him. There’s no point in talking to him when he’s like this, with a huge grump on.
Thankfully there’s a distraction; a welcome one, but a weird one none the less. “What you doing ringing me?” I say, answering Lucy’s call to my mobile. “I’m not his secretary y’know!” It was supposed to be a joke, but I guess it didn’t register. She snaps, demanding to talk to her husband. Lucy Bannister may have become all maternal and domesticated over the last few years, but she’s still got a pretty scary bark.
I hand the phone over to Max. “Shit!” he says, his face washing with panic. In the seconds it takes for him to take my phone to his ear and start grovelling my mind does the maths. I pray I’ve got the sums wrong. In any event, it’s none of my business. He stands outside in the corridor, clearly wary of keeping his voice down so to not draw any attention to himself. I carry on tidying, watching him through the reflection in the huge widescreen TV. It’s funny, while Lucy hasn’t changed that much, I look at Max and I see a completely different person. Not just the Fat Elvis look he’s grown in to, but his…I can’t put my finger on it, but something has changed, and not for the better. Still, like I say, none of my business!
“So what’s going on?” I ask as he returns to the room with his head hanging forward like a chicken that’s just escaped his fate in a native Chinese restaurant.
“Nothing!” His reply is very short, in both sense of the word. I go back to silent mode and carry on picking stuff up off the floor. Sheets of facts, figures, graphs and charts that could be anything from the predicted future growth of Max’s company to, I don’t know, how to develop a warp powered engine. Max continues to curse and moan under his breath, until the breath is knocked from under him as he trips on one of the white board legs and lands behind a desk. A barrage of expletives exit his mouth like they’re powered by that mythical warp engine.
“You okay down there?”
“Fucking shit arse tit of a fuckin’ twat bollocks!”
“You missed out another shit!”
There’s a strange silence in the room. Maybe Max had a delayed reaction to unconsciousness, but the child-like whimper dispels that thought. I edge round behind the table to witness a grown man with his face down in the floor. It seems like a slightly more restrained version of what one of his offspring would do after receiving a telling off from the parents. “You okay down there?” Given what I’m seeing I know it’s a stupid question.
“This is so fucked up man! It’s so fucked up.”