A Policy Shift
The busy looking woman with the clipboard and headset pointed at everyone in turn with her pen and asked ‘Ready?’
An affirmative ‘Yes.’ and thumbs-up signal followed her question to the assorted directions in the semi-darkness around her and one of the cameras seem to nod up and down too. There’s always a joker thought Rosalind.
She made tick marks against her checklist on the clipboard as she went and and then touched the microphone button on her headset.
‘OK gallery, studio floor ready, you can get John and the body in now.”
There was a clanking noise, then a raised platform with two leather and chrome chairs facing each other illuminated in a bright pool of light, ringed by the set and closely flanked by the cameras. The set up was designed to impart the feeling of an interrogation taking place. Rosalind knew that it was just part of the illusion. Television specialised in illusion.
Three minutes passed and the studio clicked and hummed as if it was quietly expectant itself. One of the cameramen started to whistle ‘Why are we waiting’. There was a munching sound from behind the other one.
Then a doorway opened in a wall and in walked the body, studio slang for the interviewee, accompanied by a small bald man in a grey suit, reading out his own checklist from a tablet device.
“…and if any difficult economy questions come up, remember, deflect, it’s a question that they should ask the Chancellor, etc, etc, …” he was saying as he bustled along, skilfully avoiding the cabling lying in wait on the studio floor by some genetic slapstick avoiding sense.
John arrived, momentarily silhouetted by the light which poured in from a doorway that suddenly appeared in the opposite wall and then disappeared again. He wandered insouciantly over to one of the chairs and sat down. He looked sharp as usual, dark suit and handsome. Rosalind tried to still her fluttering a little and she breathed slowly and deliberately to regain her control. Don’t be stupid, she thought, he’s 80% Hugo Boss fragrance… they must put something hormonal in it.
There was something else about him today that she couldn’t quite put her finger on. Happy? Satisfied? A sort of mixture of the two? She thought there’d probably be a German word for it.
She leant over and whispered in his ear “You’re meant to wait for her to sit down first.”
He looked up at her, smiled.
“Not today.” he said.
The buzzing of bodies like busy bees across the studio floor seemed to rise in intensity, as if perhaps an invasion of the hive was in prospect. Make-up people flourished brushes, sound technicians wearing headphones wandered about the place saying ‘One two, one two…’
Then suddenly they all disappeared as Rosalind’s urgent voice cut through.
“Opening credits sequence, 30 seconds… places… Live in 10…9…8…” and then she counted John in silently with her fingers…
John switched into presenter mode. “Welcome to Politics Live Talk,” he smiled at camera one.
“Today is a special one for our program. Number 10 has finally decided to answer one of our most asked questions, by actually allowing the Prime Minister herself to give an interview today. Welcome Prime Minister.”
“Thank you John, it’s a pleasure to be able to talk to you today.”
“We’ll see.” said John.
Rosalind quietly gasped a little. The Prime Minister’s face barely changed but one eyebrow twitched a little. Off-camera the Prime Minister’s little assistant took a handkerchief from his trouser pocket and started to squeeze it a little.
“You see, there’s been a shift in policy today.” John continued.
“Well, I don’t know about that John,” said the PM confidently, “After all, I’d be the first to know if there was one, wouldn’t I?” she asked.
“Not yours, Prime Minister. Ours.”
“I see John. But I’m here to talk about this Government’s achievements and how we are implementing what the people of this country want us to do next.”
“I know you are Prime Minister,” There was a trace of a smile on John’s clean cut face, “But today I’m going to properly examine what you say, instead of just letting your… untruths pass. I’ll be following up my questions you see. Until you answer. Properly.”
“We welcome examination of course, it’s the job of a responsible media to question what we do.”
“Yes,” agreed John, “You say that. But usually you ignore the question. You say what you came to say, even if it has no relation to the question. It has been the way of politics broadcasting for years. But not today. And we’re not leaving until I decide we’ve finished.”
There was a clunking noise from somewhere at the edges of the studio. John smiled.
The Prime Minister stared at John impassively for a moment, her gaze not betraying any thoughts. Then she looked towards where her little man was standing next to a camera, squeezing his handkerchief into a ball until his knuckles whitened, and raised a questioning eyebrow.
The little man shrugged.
“I’m sure the British people will be interested, I’m always very clear about everything.” she said.
“Yes,” said John “you are so clear you’re transparent. Due to not having any substance I think.” He smirked. “Remember, we’re live. You can storm off of course. On camera. They’ll see everything. Until the end.”
The Prime Minister looked imploringly at where her little man was moments ago but he was now running across the studio towards a door.
Rosalind jabbed at her microphone button urgently.
“Are we alright with this? Gallery! What’s going on? Hello? Hello? Should we cut to the emergency Flog It episode?”
There was nothing but a hiss in her headset.
The little man had now reached the door but was failing to open it.
“Yes,” John continued, now cradling a pistol, “So, Prime Minister, locked into a TV studio which is currently broadcasting live to the nation and with a presenter who will possibly be arrested for murdering everyone when your security gets in, here’s my first question…”
The above story is my entry into this month’s #BlogBattle for the prompt word of ‘Shift‘. Do pop along to read other BlogBattlers takes on the prompt word here.