Authors: Claudia Carroll
And then I remember. Something nice and straightforward that’s all lined up anyway. And it makes me look cooperative and interested in taking part in a big documentary and being a team player, without the awkwardness of actually having to turn down any of his awful pitches. ‘Well, there is something, emm, Oliver, if you’re interested.’
‘Yeah, shoot, go for it.’
Now he’s beginning to sound like one of those high-energy executives you see on TV shows like
. Except this guy would be the type to do the actual hiring and firing, not one of the poor eejits sitting opposite at a boardroom table, sweating and stressing and waiting to see who’s for the chop, as I probably would be.
‘Right. Now don’t laugh.’
‘It’s just that I’ve arranged to call at a house tomorrow to see if I can help a very worried lady who wrote to me about some disturbances there.’
‘Brilliant! A haunted house, love it!’
say that it was haunted, I don’t know what’s going on and I won’t know until I get there.’ Rats, why did I have to open my big mouth? But now he’s run away with the idea, almost as if he’s trying to create a story out of nothing.
‘Already I’m seeing a darkened room, candles, you looking fabulous all dressed in black at the head of a table touching hands with this woman and saying stuff like, “Is there anyone out there? Knock once for yes and twice for no.”’
‘Oliver, I have to stop you right there. I’m just having a look-see, that’s all. Maybe a possible energy-clearing. Most definitely
a séance.’ Shit. He sounds like he’s expecting a dramatic re-enactment of a scene from
‘Hey, just kidding,’ he says, although half of me thinks
wasn’t. ‘OK, now I’m seeing us shooting you on a night camera. Maybe we’ll find out a bit about the history of the haunted house – you know, whether Mary Queen of Scots ever stayed there. Audiences love that kind of thing.’
‘It’s a housing estate in Rathgar. I’d be astonished if Mary Queen of Scots was ever passing through.’
‘Just kidding. OK, now I’m seeing a dusty attic. Maybe we’ll get an actress to dress up as one of the Brontës in a white sheet or something. LISA? CAN YOU PUT A CALL IN TO WARDROBE?’
‘The Brontës? In a dormer bungalow in the middle of Dublin?’
‘Hey, just kidding. Although I do see you coming slowly into the frame telling the viewer about how you’re identifying with this spirit so much. God, this will make show-stopping television. I can practically smell the BAFTA . . .’
OK, that’s quite enough. Foot down, now. And, while it may sound rude, I think this is someone you need to spell things out to, in bullet-point form so there’s absolutely no grey area or misunderstanding. ‘Oliver. Will you listen for one minute, please? Number one, yes, I am very happy to take part in your documentary. Number two, yes, you are very welcome to come along to this house tomorrow. Number three, the lady I’m going to see is, well, let’s just say a very private person
it’s highly unlikely she’ll give permission for her home to be filmed. So if you can respect that, we’ll all get along.’
‘Absolutely,’ says Oliver, smoothly. ‘You know, I am a professional and under no circumstances would I ask you to do anything you weren’t happy or comfortable with. OK?’
We hang up and although outwardly everything seems fine, my instinct is saying something different. Something very different.
Sweet baby Jesus and the orphans. What have I let myself in for?
THE TAROT DECK
THE MAGICIAN CARD
Wow, and i really mean WOW. The Magician can do anything, go anywhere, be anything his or her mystical, magical qualities can conjure. Wealth, power, fame, prestige, glory and success are within your grasp. Anything you desire is yours for the asking
Just maybe not the fella you fancy, but then you can’t have everything, can you? It is, after all, only a tarot card we’re talking about, not a magic wand
. . .
BEFORE CARRYING OUT
an energy-clearing, as any psychic worth their salt will tell you, it’s advisable to go to a place of calm and serenity, empty your mind, breathe deeply and allow yourself to get in touch with your inner voice.
This morning, I, on the other hand, have to put up with the following:
screeching from the bottom of our stairs and, even though my bedroom door is closed tight, she sounds as loud as a Hezbollah rocket attack
): Jo? Cassie? Come on down! You’ll never guess what I made – brekkie!
shouting back at her from our bathroom, but again, clearly audible
): Hang on one second. For you to be up and about at this hour can only mean one thing. You WANT something.
deeply miffed or, at least, sounding as if she is
): Oh, welcome to cynical land. Population: YOU.
Must tune out all distractions. Must focus on task ahead, a bit like the way Zen masters are supposed to. Must not get sucked into domestic squabbles. Breathe, breathe and breathe again . . .
to the sound of a flushing toilet
): So why don’t you save us all a lot of time and energy and just tell us what it is you’re after?
: OK, well, seeing as you’ve asked, I do need money, just to tide me over, just a few euro, just for now. Seeing
how you’ve all banned me from doing what I normally would. Taking my platinum card and charging myself happy.
her voice and my blood pressure rising
): On principle, NO. What happened to all your big notions of standing on your own two feet?
): It’s only to get me though a bit of a cash-flow crisis, until I really start making it as Cassie’s agent. I have a primal, basic need to shop, you know.
: Oh, for God’s sake, if this is about dresses by Diane von Carlsberg or whatever it is she calls herself —
as though her religion has just been insulted, which, in a way, it has
):That’s Diane von FURSTENBERG and FYI, Mrs Big Fat Scroogie-pants, the reason I need dosh is to buy household . . . emm . . . whaddya call them? Oh yeah, appliances. I happened to notice that Harvey Nicks have a sale in, you know, essential housey things like, emm, loo roll and . . . after dinner mints and . . . hand lotion . . .’
Deep breath, focus on reaching a cool and detached state of Tibetan monk-like calm, must connect with my inner voice and block out all exterior distractions/discussions about loo roll, hand lotion, etc. . . .
): Are you seriously suggesting that you do the grocery shopping at Harvey Nichols? Charlene, even the royal family doesn’t do that.
): Don’t be cross with me, sweetie, I am trying, you know.
coming back down to earth a bit
): Hmm. Very trying.
Anyway, kind-hearted old Jo is obviously reminding herself of the huge upheaval Charlene has been through and feeling a bit guilty for snapping the head off her, because when she comes out of the bathroom and goes downstairs, she says to her, in far more conciliatory tones, ‘OK, OK, you guilted me into it. I can give you exactly one hundred euro. It’s not a lend, it’s for keeps, but you have to promise to pay it forward to an aid organization of my choosing. Not one of your trendy, glamorous save-the-lesser-spotted-whale charities. OK?’
playing down her victory
): Thank you. You’re very kind. Oh, and one more teeny favour?
: Go on.
OK, slightly pushing her luck now
): Well, it’s just that I’m going to need clothes, aren’t I? And handbags. And don’t even get me started on shoes. And all my stuff is back at the house. And you can hardly expect me to go round there and collect everything, now can you?
There’s a silence and I swear I can practically hear the sound of Jo’s eyes rolling.
: Right, we’ll get Marc with a C on to it. After all, he’s our resident expert on conflict resolution.
):You’re so good to me, sweetie. (
Sound of dozens of air-kisses
.) OK, now come on, hurry up, I want you to eat your brekkie. Bang on Cassie’s door, will you? I’d say she’s still asleep and we have a big day ahead of us.
): When you say ‘I made brekkie’ what exactly do you mean? Because if it involves bacon or sausages, frankly I’d rather eat a Travelodge pillow.
: Oh, keep your vegetarian smug-brella up. Especially for you, I opened a tin of pineapple chunks I found in the back of a cupboard.
A full hour later, Jo’s long gone to work and I’m still waiting for Charlene to decide on what she’s going to wear. She’s standing in front of my wardrobe in her nightie, filching through my stuff with a ‘discard’ pile at her feet that’s mounting higher and higher by the second.
‘You don’t have to come with me, you know, I won’t be offended in the least,’ I say for about the thousandth time, in the vain hope that she’ll take the hint. ‘You’d be bored, it’s no fun and with any luck it’ll all be over in an hour or so.’
She’s barely even listening to me. ‘What is it with you and the colour pink?’ she mutters, flinging my last year’s, really expensive, investment-buy cashmere cardigan into
‘discard’ pile with abandon. ‘With my hair colour, it makes me look like a marshmallow.’
‘Charlene, we’re going to do an energy-clearing. It’s not like there’s a dress code. Besides, my stuff doesn’t even fit you properly.’
‘Welcome to my wonderful world of “Got no choice”. I need clean clothes. Supposing Jack is there?’
did you say?’ Oh shit and double shit. Never even thought of that. Suppose he is?
No, he wouldn’t be . . . would he?
‘Well, you never know, sweetie. I mean, he’s the one who introduced you to Oliver in the first place, they’re both producers at Channel Seven, so who’s to say he won’t come along too?’
Oh, bugger, bugger, bugger, she’s right. What’ll I do? I won’t be able to see a thing, I’ll be beyond useless, I’ll let everyone down and, worse than all that, I’ll have to tell Charlene.
And won’t that just sound lovely?
Yes, Charlene, my old friend, I fully appreciate that you’re going through a personal crisis at the moment, but, by the way, I think I fancy your fella, in the full knowledge that nothing can ever happen between us. However, the more immediate issue at hand is that whenever he’s in the room, my psychic gifts seem to fly out of the bleeding window.
Yeah, great, best of luck with that speech, Cassie.
Think, think, think . . .
‘But won’t Jack still be shooting the
‘Should be finished by now. Can you believe it’s almost ten? How long
does it take you to get ready, Cassie?’
I can’t even answer her back, I’m too busy racking my brains.
Hang on. Oliver wants to film me this morning for – what did he say again? For a freelance documentary he’s putting together, wasn’t that it? Yup, sounds right. Which is brilliant. This is nothing to do with either Channel Seven or the
then. I hope. And nothing to do with Jack. Theoretically. And therefore there’s no actual, cast-iron
for him to be there.
Shit. Unless Charlene goes and invites him. That would just be my bloody luck, wouldn’t it?
On cue, the phone rings and Charlene races downstairs to get it. Now, I’m only hearing one side of the conversation, but it goes something along these lines.
‘Hello? Sweetie! You
I’m so pleased! But why didn’t you call my mobile? Oh, right. You want to speak to her now? Yeah, she’s here, upstairs, taking ages to decide what to wear. Yes, OK, relax, I’ll get her. So, when am I going to see you? Not until
Meetings, meetings, meetings, is that all you producers do? Well, how long do your bloody meetings go on for, anyway? No, no,
understand. I’m just not feeling
prioritized in your life right now. Frankly, this kind of treatment is a relationship weapon of mass destruction.’ Long pause. ‘Right, fine, I’ll see you then. I suppose. Well, thanks for fitting me into your action-packed schedule; much appreciated. Oh, and just so you’re aware? Right now, you’re being obnoxious at a level not even acceptable in show business. CASSIE! PHONE!’
Another instance where you don’t need to be psychic to know who it is. I come down and she practically flings the phone at me before flouncing back upstairs again.
‘Cassie? Hi, it’s Jack here.’ He sounds frazzled, stressed.
‘Hi. Emm . . . how are things?’
There’s a pause and I can hear pandemonium in the background. Phones ringing, voices chattering, doors slamming. ‘Oh, just the normal post-broadcast chaos. Look, the thing is, Oliver Hall just mentioned that he’s planning on doing an EFP shoot with you this morning—’
‘Excuse me, a what?’
‘Sorry,’ he says and I swear I can almost hear the smile. ‘Technical term for a location shoot. EFP stands for Electronic Field Production, or the way I’m feeling this morning, Extra F**king Pressure.’
We both laugh and then I remember that Charlene’s upstairs and I shut up.