After a week of embarrassing publicity, Slightly Mollified is forced to publicly confront a dark incident in his past
Not again. It’s early on a rainy October Tuesday and I’m standing outside the Observer office in the Student Centre. Some bright spark has being playing with the red permanent markers again. They’ve scrawled it right across the front door.
‘NO TO RASIST JOURNALISM!’
Rasist? Sigh. This campus needs a better class of protestor. I make my way into the building and let myself into the office. It’s much the same story as soon as a check my e-mail.
‘YOU B*STARD!’ Jenny from 2nd Year Science has been thoughtful enough to drop me a few lines on the above. ‘Rot in hell, Mollified’ is Seán from 3rd Medicine’s contribution to the debate. ‘Please, please get in touch – I think I may be pregnant’ is… eh, well, forget about that for the moment.
This is just getting annoying now. I’m idly thinking of calling some sort of press conference when a movement I see in the corner of my eye attracts my attention. I duck just in time to avoid the brick that comes crashing through the office window.
It lies in the carpet, surrounded by a sheen of broken glass. It’s brown. I can’t quite tell if this is an achingly hip metaphor for inclusion, or if the cretins have just dismantled the nearest wall they could find.
I’m still weighing it up in my head when I notice the chanting outside. Squinting through the broken window, I can make out the press of bodies moving towards me across the lobby of the Student Centre. Here and there, a bright flicker of orange breaks up the dark mass as torches are ignited. This is like a bad dream. Looking closer, I’m sure I can even discern one yokel in the middle grasping a pitch-fork.
In the front rank, Scottie Ahearn is kneeling down with an empty wine bottle clasped between his legs, carefully topping it up with petrol before stuffing a dirty rag in to the top. He looks up and catches my panicked eyes.
Scottie’s normally my best source; what on earth’s he doing? He’s mouthing something at me in silent apology. Stoats? Boats? What’s the Tipperary Ranger on about now? Then I get it. Votes. Scottie shakes his head sorrowfully; and then raises his voice for the benefit of the mob:
“Burn the fascist!!”
The Blueshirt has never really had much of a feeling for irony.
I crouch down under my desk and think furiously. Years of lazy student journalism haven’t prepared me for this.
It had all started just over two months ago, in the very same office. The Editor was sitting at his desk; shirt sleeves rolled up over massive, meaty arms; a smouldering cigar clenched in one corner of his mouth… actually I lie. That misguided week I spend as a naïve fresher writing the Tribune’s Dramsoc column has permanently blurred my grasp of fact and fiction.
The Editor is actually a she; and on that day in late August, the sun beaming down, and birds in the trees; she’d fixed me with a rather worrying smile.
“It’ll be the making of you, Mollified,” she said, as innocently as she could.
“I’m really, really not sure about this,” I replied. And it was true. This struck even my egotistical mind as one of the most flawed schemes to emerge from the mouth of a female since Eve had been big-hearted enough to share her packed lunch with Adam.
“Nonsense”, she shot back, a glinting little smile still fixed in to place. “It would be the scoop of the century. No Irish newspaper of any kind has ever been able to get someone undercover into the BNP.”
This was just too much. I had to point it out to her.
“Isn’t that because no Irish newspaper has ever really been arsed getting someone into the BNP? I mean, it is the British National Party. Is it really… well, all that relevant?”
“Of course it is! Just think; we’ll beat them all: the Times; the Indo; Trinity News… especially Trinity News…”
I was starting to like the sound of this. But I’m a fool. If I wasn’t a fool, then I would have stopped picturing the cold feel of a Pulitzer Prize being pressed into my perma-tanned hands; and I would have looked up in time to see the little grin that she flashed to the person sitting across the room.
If I’d been even less of an idiot again; then I would have realised who the person she was looking at was. Fintan Reynolds. The lying, jumped-up little prick.
He’s been after my spot at the section editor’s table ever since he managed to door-step Daniel O’Donnell when he was staying in the Shelbourne last year and got that front-page interview about his decade of struggling with a cake jumper addiction. The bastard. If I’d figured it out there and then, I would have leapt for the nearest stationary cabinet and stapled them both between their conniving eyes. But I just never saw it coming.
“I’m your man!” I announced.
“Superb,” she purred. “If you’d just like to sign here, here, and here,” sliding the form across the table.
“Am I of pure Anglo-Saxon or Celtic descent?”, I read aloud as I glance over the membership document. I can’t resist it. “Well, probably more Celtic than anything, but there was that class trip to Manchester where I definitely felt a few different Angles while getting… getting some… Sax…”
I look up. She’s not amused.
“Just sign the bloody thing, you ass”, she snaps.
“Yes, Ma’am”, I mumble, and hand the form back.
She seals the form in its envelope and puts it into the post trolley. “Congratulations, Mollified – you’re now a member of the BNP!”
I thank her and get up to go. As I pull the office door shut behind me, I tell myself that it isn’t the sound of cackling I can hear behind me.
Of course, the treacherous cow leaked it. Or rather, Reynolds leaked it – you can be sure she didn’t do the dirty work herself. I can just picture the little shit now, brushing his greasy mop out of the way as he crouches over the Wikileaks website. The turd. I’d have the keyboard swept for flakes of acne residue afterwards.
None of that’s going to help me now though. The sound of baying is getting closer and closer as the crowd floods into the Students’ Union corridor. This could be my stickiest situation yet.
As the first banging starts on the door, I glance up and see her. No, it couldn’t be. It just couldn’t be.
The Editor herself is standing outside, long-lens camera in hand. I fling open the door and bundle her inside before the great unwashed outside can string me from the nearest pile of Freshers’ Week t-shirt boxes.
“What are you doing here?!”
She smiles, but it’s not a pleasant smile. “Ah, Mollified. This is going to be the Observer’s story of the decade. You really didn’t think I’d pass up the chance to cover it, did you?”
“You wouldn’t dare!” I respond. “Not even you would stoop this low!”
“Oh, but I would. Don’t worry though; you’ll still have your fifteen minutes of campus fame… I’ll make sure the colour shot of your charred carcass goes on the front page.”
I think desperately. Behind me, the office door is beginning to buckle under the pressure from outside. This is not how the Mollified story is meant to end. That was meant to involve a bath full of cocaine and a bevvy of nubile young ladies from the former Soviet Republics.
Then it hits me. The lock of the door; to the side of my face, as Scottie hurtles through the entrance with a dozen of his most drippy liberal assistants in tow. He has a length of rope in his hands, and being from outside the Pale, he may well have an idea about how to use it.
But I have a plan. Before the Welfare Officer can get to work, I suddenly grab the Editor and push her in front of me like a shield.
“This is the person you want!” I shout to make myself heard above the clamour.
Scottie draws up short and stares at me in suspicion. “What do you mean?”
“What do you mean??”, the Editor asks, even more loudly.
“Just listen to that northern accent,” I say. I’m desperate, absolutely desperate, but this might just work. “A northern accent? Come on, Scottie, we all know what that means. She’s almost, probably, possibly, maybe in one of those groups. The IRB; the MOD; the DOE. I mean, come on, have you never watched UTV by mistake?? If anyone should be investigated, it’s her!!” I jab my finger at her to make the point.
She’s not having any of it, though. “But that’s absolutely ridiculous! I’m from Donegal!!”
Scottie might just be persuaded here. I chance my arm. “Well, that’s exactly what she would say, isn’t it? I mean, I wouldn’t trust her as far as I could throw her,” I add, just to make his decision-making process easier.
It works, in a heartbeat; the crowd loses interest in me and drags her away down the corridor for a proper interrogation in Café Brava. I breathe a shaky sigh of relief. Mollified has lived to libel another day.
I glance over at the Editor’s chair, now invitingly empty. Things can only get better.
The adult handlers of Slightly Mollified would like to stress that the writer does not, in fact, hold any kind of racist views. He’s an equal opportunities arsehole. Please direct your ire and general abuse to firstname.lastname@example.org.