Red Wapping

The redhead wants the copy but she doesn’t want to know. Ian says the redhead doesn’t know. She doesn’t need to know. Ian says do the copy. ‘It’s yesterday’s story’, says Ian.

Yesterday’s news. Yesterday’s drink in my belly. Yesterday’s pain in my gut.

‘Just make the call’, says Ian.

The redhead’s in her office. She’s looking out through the glass walls, looking out over the newsroom, over all she surveys. It’s her fiefdom. We’re her serfs. She doesn’t know what’s going on. There’s what the redhead knows and what she wants to know. Ian says: ‘Make the fucking call’.

There’s pain in my hands, RSI.

Ian looks at me as I shake my arms.

‘You’ve done it hundreds of times before, no use getting cold feet now. Come on you cowardly sack of shit. Do you want that fuck on The Star to get there first? Make the call.’

Ian walks to the redhead’s office. I see them through the glass. The redhead looks at me, surveys me.

I walk over to Foreign. I ask Sarah to dial the number. She looks pissy.

‘Who is it this time?’ she asks.

‘You don’t want to know,’ I say.

‘I do want to know,’ says Sarah, ‘if you want me to do it.’

‘That girl,’ I say.

‘Which girl?’ asks Sarah.

‘The one that’s missing,’ I say.

‘No way,’ says Sarah. ‘No fucking way. Unh, unh, not me girlfriend.’

‘I can’t do it on me Todd,’ I plead.

‘Well you’ll have to find someone else,’ says Sarah. ‘Find another patsy.’

I call John on internal. ‘Need a favour, mate.’

‘Out again tonight?’ asks John. ‘More bloody showbiz? Three in a row, Dave. Getting to be a habit.’

‘No mate,’ I say. ‘Something else. Need you to make a call.’

‘One of Ian’s calls?’ asks John.

‘Might be,’ I say.

‘Yeah, why not? What’s the number?’

I read him the number. ‘Ask no questions, right?’ says John.

‘Right,’ I say. ‘Quietly, quietly, catchy fucking monkey. I’ll give you a minute to get through, so do it right now, alright?’

‘Alright,’ says John.

Thirty seconds later my phone rings. ‘What the fuck?’ says John. ‘That’s a sick joke, right? Because it’s a fucking good one. Who’d you get to record that message? You’re a sicko, Dave. Fucking good one.’

We’re all sick, I think. We’re all sick. Sick to our stomachs. Sick to our souls.

The RSI tingles. The RSI burns. My hand goes numb. I still haven’t got the copy. The redhead knows. I know she knows.

2 thoughts on “Red Wapping

  1. Absolutely brilliant Mark. Think you should write a whole bloody novel. In fact, I’d like to read a whole novel written by you, and I’m not very patient. I’ve been a redhead before, so I could actually threaten you with heavy stuff if you don’t come up with the goods on time.


    1. thank you, Grace. Too many projects, too little time! i’d bet someone somewhere is collecting the Leveson data to do a Gordon Burn-style faction account. It gets blacker by the minute.


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