There was also a third option. One that, unlike the other two, I doubt I’ll be able to reschedule. Suzy and I were planning a week away in California. I ended things the day before we were going to book the tickets. Suzanne Walker has been described by many as one of the sexiest and/or beautiful women in the world, certainly topping that chart in the UK. She’s a regular fixture on a variety of men’s magazine (aka teen porn!) including Good Laad. For the last three years running she’s been in the top three of every prestigious 100 Sexiest Women poll. This year she got the top spot in all the ones I saw, which might be a lot! She’s started to break out in to TV, and is soon opening her own modelling agency, Vantage. Well, Suzy Ryder has done all this, Suzanne Walker’s very own Hyde. Only this Hyde won’t make sarcastic remarks about bad songs for mass amusement. She’ll pose provocatively in front of the camera. She’ll show ninety-eight percent flesh. (I know this. We spent a whole night working it out using random formulas which I drew on her body will coloured marker!) She’ll give tantalising interviews about her apparent rampant sexual desires. She’ll leave her admirers thinking that if they met her in the street they’d be in with a chance. That’s what Suzy Ryder does, a far throw from her Jekyll alter-ego. Sure there’s the long legs, the round yet pert breasts - the perfect female form. But behind that is the mind of a MENSA member, the tenacity of a fully fledged business-woman and the heart of a fighter. I firmly believe she would get this country and at least one-third of the entire planet back in decent working order within twelve months. She’d do what Bono, Geldoff and all the other celebrity do-gooders have so far failed to accomplish. She’d certainly give British politics a much needed makeover that’s for sure!
We met in similar circumstances to the winners’ party at Paradigm’s last night. I’d just landed the drive-time gig. It seemed a good idea to kill two birds with one stone that night – introduce the new face of drive-time and get them to run the show. Football was the theme. It was mid-September so the new season had just kicked off. David had somehow managed to get a well known national football team to agree to a meet-and-greet. I was surprised at how many people turned up. How can a game involving a bunch of spoilt pretty-boys kicking a small piece of rubber around a field for ninety minutes be so glamorous? But the players were there, complete with their WAG’s. Other celebrities who were football crazed turned up. There was a band. The press turned up, and that’s kind of how we met. Before being labelled with her many Sexiest Women Alive tags, Suzy had been discovered as a Page 3 girl. She quickly became a favourite and was increasingly seen at high-profile events like this. We were actually forced together really. A photo situation for Simon from Barnstable who’d won the competition. He’d posed with the team, the teams manager, the teams feral-like mascot, the teams ball, one of the teams trophies, and a couple of page 3 girls, Janet from Leeds and Suzy from Norwich. They asked me to make it a foursome, so I ended up positioned between Simon and Suzy. I made an inappropriate joke about rubber. She laughed. The flash went off and everyone separated.
22:42, I remember that vividly. The huge digital neon clock emblazoned with the station logo burned the digits in to the clubs sweaty air. I looked to the right and she was heading out of the dancing masses, straight for me - short skirt, tight low top showing the mid-rift and sparkling black heels. Time seemed to slow down. It was as if I’d somehow managed to find the slow button on the remote control so I could savour every small movement, change in skin tone, bounce of hair (not to mention breasts but I say this now I’m not a complete perv!). Suddenly she was in front of me. She brushed the brown lock from her face, smiled and just started talking. For the life of me I don’t know what we talked about, but it must’ve been funny ’cos she was laughing again within ten seconds.
If you’d seen the papers the following morning you’d be forgiven for thinking it was two-person prequel for last nights vodka based romp-session. A couple of grainy pictures of Suzy and me walking arm in arm out the club, nothing sensational there right? But the story, the headline of which was Rising Star DJ At It Again, was where all the juice was. I’d been living in London by that point for just under two years. I’d arrived with a clear aim of getting my shit together. That included breaking in to radio “properly” (instead of just dipping my toe in the water as Dad had always called it), getting my social life back, but in no uncertain terms staying out of so-called ‘meaningful’ relationships. I started climbing my way up the greasy radio pole, swing-presenting for all the major (some not so) radio stations. Five months in, Siren asked me to work exclusively for them – no regular time slot, just not to work for anyone else. That led to working the late-night shift where I gained my reputation as a bit of a trouble maker. Then a brief stint on day time, occasionally covering drive, until my predecessor Rob Jensen left for Australia. (Everyone goes to Australia? Why? Do they want to be convicts??) All during this my social life ballooned. I also discovered that while I’d banned myself from those ‘meaningful’ relationships, I could still have those that had.....less...meaning? Flings. One night stands. Hook-ups. Call them what you like. It was sex at the end of the day. And it was bloody brilliant, for a while anyway. I felt like I was playing catch-up. Up ’til this madness started I’d spent two years with one girl. My first girl. Just look where that got me!
Anyway I was turning in to a regular Don-Juan. But when I started getting serious exposure from the radio (and by exposure I mean landing myself in trouble, sometimes so serious it was reported to Offcom) the ladies realised it might be interesting to kiss-and-tell. Rachel Carter started it off. She was a PA at one of London’s many production companies. We met at a rap-party. I was in ripped jeans and my favourite Clash t-shirt. Her a classy black trouser suit. I was drunk and wouldn’t stop talking. She was sober, but still laughing. I was horny. She sucked my cock. That was just within five minutes of each others company. We ended up in a hotel paid for by her work, doing things that are frankly impossible to imagine written in print. Or so I thought. The paper she went to certainly didn’t have a problem recounting (or in some cases re-imagining) every sordid detail, within reason obviously. Everybody got something out of it too - I had the kind of night you only usually see in a teenage boy’s wet dream and saw my star rise just a little bit more. The press sold a few papers and found another ‘bad boy’ to focus on. Rachel lost her job, but she recovered from that by landing a presenting role on daytime TV, a string of underwear endorsements and a best selling column in the same newspaper. Everybody won.
Mind Dad and Liz didn’t see it like that. Dad thanked his ever-sharp instincts that he’d forced me to adopt a pseudo-name. “Can you imagine what you could still do to the family reputation?” he screamed. Liz was slightly less business like. “I hope you’re using condoms!” Of course I was. Having fun didn’t mean you had to be stupid! I reminded them of my plan, that this wasn’t me. Dan Shears was a mask, a character; the Batman to my Bruce Wayne. Under all this I was still their Daniel. Liz seemed to understand. She told me to be careful. Dad just told me to grow up. That was the last they said on the matter, even after what happened just a month later.
After what happened with Rachel I developed my screening process a little more. Made sure nothing happened in a public place. Tried to have us leave the venue or wherever as innocuously as possible. Of course the pictures were still taken and printed under another half baked headline, which was never going to stop. But it seemed a lot more civilised. I tried to gauge as best I could what the girls intentions were. Were they there for another sordid scoop? Or God forbid a relationship (which was scarier than the first option!). Of course they all said it was just sex, no strings. A couple of them were telling the truth. The others kind of gave themselves away by subtly writing notes in a journal pretending they were adding important notes in their diary, or disappearing in to the bathroom all too often to speak in to a concealed Dictaphone. Put it this way if you’re reading this and you work for someone like MI5 and have some positions available don’t hire these girls!
Then there was Jalena. Genius Jalena; the girl who went one further. The one who cranked it to eleven! Again, similar situation as before; this time a launch for a new glossy film magazine. I’d managed to score an invite after a wild night with Karen, one of the junior staff writers. She was a little like me in a way – didn’t want the hassle of a relationship or the prospect of losing her job, so she was bound to be subtle. She made sure me and a few others from the station got an invite (in exchange for a plug or two on air of course. Nothing’s ever free!). Jalena was there schmoozing with anyone and everyone - an actress by trade. She was there talking about her “small but pivotal role” in the latest home-grown indie-film that was supposed to “put your faith back in British film”. The people who’d seen the film had strongly disagreed, but Jalena was still doing her bit to keep her film above water. I say her film, she was only in it for the first half hour and spent two-thirds of that playing a blood-drained corpse. But it was her big break. She’d just come out of a three year stint on a well-known teen soap playing the sexy manipulative one. As it turns out it wasn’t much of a stretch for her! She recognised me, not sure how but I can hazard a guess. She played it cool at first by giving out lingering glances across the foyer. We met properly at the bar. She said she really loved my show. I said I’d really enjoyed her film. At least one of us was lying!
We ended up back at her place, a rookie mistake. It was another night of heightened carnal pleasure. I won’t go in to the details. I don’t need to. If you’re on the internet (and take the safety parameters off your search engines) you can find proof of it just by typing my name in. A Dan Shears Sex Tape. It’s easy to dismiss as a fake due to its poor production value, grainy out-of-focus footage and the fact that you never see my face. Only it’s not, a fake that is. I don’t tell people that obviously. It’s not exactly something you want on your CV (unless you’re a spoilt talentless heiress to a multi-million dollar fortune). Most people have dismissed it save those who know me fairly well. Emma’s one of them. We don’t know each other that way, but like I said, she has an eye for detail! “It’s not bad” she said when she saw it the first time. “Makes that film that Jalena bitch was in look like fuckin’ Citizen Kane!” Dad and Liz have never mentioned it, which is odd. They either find it too embarrassing to talk about or felt they’d said everything they needed to after the whole Rachel debacle. Anyway Genius Jalena lived up to her nickname by using the film (which shows her much clearer than it does me) as a spring-board in to Hollywood. No joke. She’s in an all-star big budget summer blockbuster this year; Afterburn is billed as a gritty crime thriller. Jalena Jenkins (her real name too!) is playing the character of Carmen Von-Teese: a sexy but manipulative heiress to a multi-million dollar fortune who plans to launch a film career by sleeping with a number of famous men (and women) and telling all before ending up on a cold concrete slab. From what I’ve heard it’s told in flashbacks. Apparently she’s alive a total of five minutes twenty-four seconds. The other thirty-one minutes of her screen time is spent on that cold slab, and given the state of the injuries I think they used a dummy. I’m a big fan of irony!
* * *
We’re getting up to speed now. The train is fairly smooth considering, but that doesn’t stop the dude with the trolley stumbling from side-to-side. “Sanchez!” he’s shouting. “Sanchez!!” He walks a few paces, stops, and shouts again. “Sanchez??” He can’t walk and talk at the same time - clearly a victim of Vin Diesel Syndrome. Can’t be any older than sixteen. A few of the other passengers start looking around for Sanchez, he’s nowhere around. “Sanchez?!!” He stops by a middle aged woman, looks like the bitchy business type. Slicked back hair and a huge end-of-work grump on her face. Must’ve been a bad day.
“Sanchez! Erwant Sanchez?”
“What do you mean young man?”
“Erwant bloody Sanchez or not?”
The trolley. Sandwiches! He’s selling sandwiches!!
“Oh, sandwiches!” The woman says in a clearly sarcastic tone.
“Dat’s wot I sade, Sanchez!”
“I would rather eat your disgusting tongue after I’ve ripped it out with a cleaver, flattened it with my walking boots and rinsed it in my dogs’ water bowl”.
The trolley guy stands their completely dumb-founded.
“And maybe then you could learn to talk properly. Now fuck off!”
He rushes down the aisle to the other carriage, clearly embarrassed but unable to vocalise it as, well, his legs are moving!
Edward Time’s just shot someone in the foot, apparently to save their life. Wonder who he voted for?!!
Anyway, there’d been a few girls since Jalena, but she really made me increase my “security” around women. I’ll be honest; nothing much happened. I guess when they’d seen I was being cautious they weren’t interested, which I why I was thrown a little when I met Suzy.
So my history was well documented. I was a notorious player who’d had his come-uppance on more than one occasion. Everyone saw Suzy and me leave that night and figured it was another classic night - the coupling of the countries sexiest woman and the countries rising DJ star/love rat. It was to be the ultimate sexual encounter.
Couldn’t be further from the truth. Yes, she did come back to mine. She’d said that she was a guitar-nut - something to do with her brother. I offered her the chance for her to come round and see my instrument. She laughed again. So did I. She has a really infectious laugh. I liked her laugh. At mine the first thing I did was turn the amp on and offered her three guitars to choose from. Understand this was a big deal. No one was ever allowed to touch the guitars. They were three of my top ten prized possessions, ahead of an original pressing of the Beatles White album or my TX-Sound recording studio I gave pride of place in what used to be the spare cupboard. She bypassed the Gibson Explorer, and the Dean Vendetta for the Fender Stratocaster. She knew her stuff. It’s a classic - fire-red and orange, made in 1977 and still my favourite. Suzy’s too as it turned out. She was nervous putting the strap over her shoulder. It wasn’t because she didn’t know what she was doing. I just think she really respected it. She went to play some notes and I stood there with no expectations. I thought I’d be hearing an out-of-time version of an old nursery rhyme or something. For a split second I thought I was, but I couldn’t remember Jack & Jill having trouble getting some Satisfaction. She was a Stones fan! (Classic Stones, not geriatric Stones!) She played the riff to virtual perfection, before breaking in to Hendrix’s Purple Haze. It was like I was getting a live performance of the nights soundtrack performed right in front of me.
“I’m a bit rusty at the moment” she said with genuine modesty. “My nails are too long!”
Now I secretly bite my nails and I’ve never played notes like she could. I picked up the Explorer and we jammed a little. The Clash, Led Zepplin, U2, Oasis – they all got little tributes played to them. Mind you so did The A-Team! We laughed, a lot. We talked about everything – family, friends, work. She told me about her beginnings and how she got on Page 3 and how she can’t take all these Sexiest Women accolades at all seriously.
“What do you think?” she asked. “I mean, about what I do?”
“I think it’s a wonderful thing. You’re inspiring pre-pubescent boys and giving every other male less chance of getting problems with their prostate.” My jokes tended to take a few seconds to sink in. Slow burners I call them. But Suzy was already ahead of me.
“Well you’re far too old to be in the first category so I’m happy to help maintain your health!” She was fast, witty, self-deprecating. She knew she was being gawped at and perved over by half the world’s male population. And I’d hazard a guess that when the sun reaches the other side of the world the other half would start bashing away. She was ok with it. “It’s not me they’re thinking about, it’s a character. A part I play. They’re wanking over Suzy Ryder, not me!” At that moment I met Suzanne Walker. She was sexier, more beautiful than her alter-ego. Plus she could play some Hendrix. “I’m guessing you do the same?”
I struggled to gather my thoughts. “What?”
“Well, most people know Dan Shears isn’t your real name. You made it up right? Give yourself a bit of distance between all that and reality?”
I could’ve just nodded and agreed. “It was more to do with my Dad not wanting to have the family name embarrassed!”
“Harsh. Who’s your dad?”
“Graham Sterling. He used to own...”
We said it in perfect sync. “Sterling Hotels!”
Suzy couldn’t believe the coincidence. Her father was a high flying business man in his own right. He owned a communications company back in the last 70’s and early 80’s. Apparently he would always make sure than whenever he had a conference it would be somewhere close to a Sterling. “He would always say ’they don’t make ‘em like that any more’. Where’s your dad now?”
“Spain. Took the empire to Europe in a half-baked bid to retire! Yours?”
“Back in Norwich, retired as well.”
“What does he think about your job?”
“I’m not sure he knows to be honest. He’s got advanced Alzheimer’s”. I wanted to apologise (wasn’t sure what for) but she didn’t miss a beat. “Mum’s really proud though. She was the one who built my website. Even put the pictures on there of me with my tits out!”
“That’s a little weird ain’t it?”
“Not when you charge people money for the privilege!”
It was like this all night, talking about serious stuff like our plans for the future (hers to run her own modelling agency, mine to be a top rated media whore with at least one National Broadcasting Award), to not so serious stuff like ‘Has Superman ever got a stiffy in public?’ We looked at each others websites. (I may have looked at hers a little too intensely!). Found each other on Facebook and Twitter and became friends/started following each other. I let her do some mixing on the desks and in the studio. She listened to a couple of podcasts. We debated whether there would have been more survivors on the Titanic if more women had had large breast implants. She taught me how to walk like a model with a few trademark provocative poses. I tried them. Thank God no one had a video camera set up for that!
So we clicked. You’re probably thinking that it got all hot and sweaty from there on right? Maybe our clothes came off in the lounge and we did it right there on the sofa. Or maybe she did a seductive strip-tease to Hendrix’s Foxy Lady before heading over to mount my cock. None of that. There was some heavy snogging during a late night showing of some random Tom Cruise film about him being a sports agent, which for some reason lead in to a brief conversation about whether I was a leg or breast man, but other than that it was friendly. Nice. Close. One of the best nights of my life.
She stayed over, I slept on the couch. In the morning she grabbed a quick shower (no there is no camera in my bathroom!). I offered her breakfast but she had to leave in a hurry. No food because of a big photo shoot over at The Botanic Gardens. She didn’t want to look bloated. “Tits out in the flowers” she described it. Gardening would never look sexier! Then the question I’d promised myself I would never ask again. “You fancy doing something tonight?” My voice was all trembly, hands all shaky. My hands hadn’t shaken in a long time. “We could go for a meal. Or catch a play or something?” I must have sounded like I was begging desperate. I was. I didn’t want her to leave. I became...needy!
“I’m busy ’til eight tonight. Meeting some big talent agency honcho about getting some TV work.” I felt my heart sink a little. “But I’m free after that!” I must’ve looked like a small dog that’d been told it was times for walkies! “Come meet me in Covent Garden. You can come round to mine if you want. I don’t do much cooking so it’ll be pizza!” If I had a tail it would have been wagging so fast it could’ve propelled me across the Channel!
“Sounds like fun” I said, trying for nonchalant but failing miserably. “See you then!”
Ten minutes later I’d taken a shower (which had started as a freezing cold one for reasons I’m sure you can imagine!) and was soon stood in hysterics in my own bathroom. She must’ve doodled in the steamed up mirror after her own shower. I was staring at two huge breasts holding up what I assumed was the Titanic with the message “If only Kate Winslet had known...” with a few x’s in the corner.