CURRY NATION STREET
“Right, have any of you girls got any problems?”
Cliff Collis the producer of Curry Nation Street looked up from the script in his hand and over his glasses at the faces around the table. It was the final read-through before shooting the proposed Christmas Special.
“Problems? Like what?” said Shell.
“Well, for instance,” continued Cliff, scratching his crotch, “has anyone got or likely to have the rags on this week..? Only that, just might turn out to be a problem when it comes to close-ups. We’ve got to wrap it by Friday.”
There was deadly silence, apart from one, long squeaky fart. The whole cast looked at each other in disbelief, exchanging glances around the table. A couple of the younger members smaned and immediately became quiet again after a glare from Collis.
“Did I hear him right?” Karen whispered into Shell’s ear.
“I think so.’ Shell whispered back. ‘But what the hell’s that got to do with the price of fish?”
“Yeah’, said Karen, ‘what kind of question is that? What a nerve!”
“You want to say something, Karen?” said the producer.
“Only that this had just better be good, Cliffy-baby.”
“I just trying to ascertain whether anyone has any objections regarding the script – the nude scenes, etcetera.”
“It’s the etceteras I’m concerned about,” Karen whispered into Shelley’s ear.
“Well, come on, then... what do you think?”
Karen said, ‘Well, it’s a bit saucy to say the least. I mean we’ve never had to go to these extremes before, Cliff.”
“I’ll come to that in a moment when I attempt to address your concerns. But before I do… I WANT YOU TO LISTEN UP, FOLKS…
“I’m sure you lot don’t need me to tell you that we’ve got one hell of a ratings war going on out there and the Christmas episode is going to be a little bit special for us – I tell you, it’s going to be a fucking milestone in the history of British television drama, maybe the world. It’s also The Christmas Day special. We’ve been earmarked for the prime slot of the day – right after the Queen’s Speech. We’ll have a guaranteed audience, I guarantee it.”
“Do people still tune in to that?” said Karen.
“Too bloody right they do. That old monarchy lark, they love it, don’t they? Good old Joe Public and the Royals.”
“Well, the last thing I want with my Christmas pud, is having to watch that old sourpuss going on about horrible anuses and all that stuff…”
“Excuse me, Karen,’ Roy Cropper chipped in, ‘I think the phrase to which you refer, is the Latin expression, annus horribilis, which translates to: a year of disaster and misfortune. But leaving that aside for a moment, some of us happen to enjoy Her Majesty’s reflections of the year past, and her hopes and thoughts for the future. I most certainly am one of them.”
“Quite right, Roy,” continued Cliff, “Families across the country will be agog and…” Suddenly, Cliff Collis stared into space, apparently lost in reverie. “... and what fabulous family viewing it will make, too... Ahem! This will be a ratings winner, without a doubt. Those bastards down at the dear old Beeb won’t know what’s hit ‘em this year.”
“Am I right in thinking that the particular programme to which you are referring, Mr Collis, is Bestenders?”
‘You’re darned right I’m referring to Bestenders, Roy. You’re darned right. It’s embarrassing. Every week they turn us over with the viewing figures. I want to make it quite clear to everyone here right now… I’m absolutely determined to shoot those cocksuckers down once and for all. They’ve been giving it all the auntie/nephew incest stuff, showing the tit and arse. We’ve come a long way since the days of Mrs Slocum’s pussy and Mr Humphries’ mincing about and all that fucking ‘I’m free – ing’ all over the place. No, believe me; we’re going to get right to it. We are going to sock it to ‘em with some mother/daughter stuff…”
Tracey’s hand went up. “While we’re on the subject, there’s no way I’m doing what it says here to Deirdre. She’s meant to be my own mother for Christ’s sake.”
“Ooh, that sounds interesting, what page is that on, Tracey, lov?” said Deirdre.
“It’s bloody disgusting,” added Tracey.
“That’s because you’re looking at it out of context, Tracey.’ said Cliff. “You’re not seeing the big picture. You can’t just take a snap-shot and hope to get what’s going down… it just doesn’t work like that. Anyway, never mind that. We’ve got to give the viewers what they really want.”
“And what’s that then, Cliff, lovey.” said Deirdre, her voice reminiscent of a JCB.
“Porn, my love... pure, non-stop, unadulterated porn. The fucking warts and all... no punches pulled. It’s going to be fun, it’s going to be real, and it’s most definitely going to be messy – give it the good old Harry Monk, right into the camera lens…”
“On Christmas Day..?”
“Especially on Christmas Day!”
Cliff Collis sways on his feet and slumps down on his chair. He looks a funny colour. He takes out his handkerchief and starts to dab at his brow.
“Phew, it’s hot in here. Sorry about that folks. Got a bit carried away.”
“Ken, lov,” said Deidre, “could you open a window? I think poor old Cliff could do with some fresh air. And can somebody fetch us over a glass of water?” She pulled the producer into her bosom. “There, there, don’t take on Cliffy, lov.” She looks up at the rest of the cast. “I think it’s time we all took a short break. I think we could all do with it. Back in fifteen?”
Cliff slumps on Deirdre’s lap, gasping for breath and obviously in some distress. His eyes are shut tight against the pain, his face contorted into a hideous grimace as he clutches his chest.
“Quick, somebody... Get a camera on him,” said Steve McDonald. “Get a nice close-up of Cliff’s face. This is what I call a real Cliff-hanger. This is about as good as it gets in this business.”
Cliff rested his head against Deidre’s ample breasts, riding the undulating swell and fade of her breathing. He listened to her quickened heartbeat and something else also. Something that reminded him of a time, all those years back, something that had long been buried in his memory. Until now, that is…
It was the unmistakeable gurgle of acid in her stomach, the deep seated wheezing in her lungs. These were the little remindences that took him back. Ah..! Such fond, sweet memories, weren’t they? The little hotel in Morecambe with the black lions heads either side of the front gate. The Full English with black pudding, and bingo nights..
“Ooh, you’ve still got nice tits, Deirdre, pet, I’ll give you that.” Cliff was struggling for breath now. Sweat beaded his forehead. His skin had begun to look grey. “I’ve always loved you, Deidre... Always...”
“Oh, Cliff, lov, you’re a shocker you are.”
“Haley?” Roy and Haley were in the staff restaurant. “This Harry Monk character that Mr Collis mentioned... I didn’t know-”
“Roy, please… You don’t want to go there… You really don’t.”