Not being a fan of turning nouns into verbs, I winced on hearing Siralanlordsugar declare that the remaining chumps were to be "tasked" with demonstrating the essential business skill of writing a children's book. Yes, in boardrooms throughout the world, cowering minions wish they too, could write "Five Snort Cocaine In The Square Mile" with the same level of skill as their CEOs. Because anyone can write, yeah? NO.
Anyhoo, the morning call came and off they went to the London library, described, weirdly, as "home to the writers' library". Well DURR. They were to write a book for the three to five years age group, record an audio version, and then market the result.
Sam wanted to be project manager. "I have a degree in English Literature," he declared, his hands waving about like Oscar Wilde in a gale. Charleine, a hairdresser, insisted that because she was clever and more knowledgeable about children's books than J K Rowling (I'm paraphrasing) she should have the PM role, and promptly grabbed it for herself before the rest of them could shout "HUBRIS". Her team then blathered on about bees "collecting honey from flowers", rather as a human might pop into Marks and Sparks and pick up a ready meal. Bees in Charleine's world don't bother with shizz like nectar or, you know, making the stuff. They just collect it.
Sam's team, initially keen on dragons, ("I like dragons") eventually went for a mythical creature called Snotty Dink. Eat your heart out, Roald Dahl. Meanwhile Charleine's book, crap rhymes and everything, was written - yep, it takes minutes folks, why aren't we all authors? - and it was into the recording studio. Having appointed Richard sub team leader, Charleine then made it clear she loathed him and refused to speak to him even when she was speaking to him, a talent of sorts, and instead spent the time available kissing David's butt. Sam, now on draft 2,347 of his script, took rather more time and then panicked about being behind schedule. "Pfft. We're done," smirked Charleine, making it clear she didn't think much of Sam's English degree. "I hope we've beaten Shakespeare over there." I don't think Shakespeare went to university, did he? Eat that, Charleine.
Next morning, having opened boxes of their books ("Wow!" "Brilliant!") it was time to pitch their books to various publishers. Waterstones told Charleine her book was rubbish. Her extravagant hair-do drooped with disappointment. Blah blah publishers, blah blah retailer discount percentages ("er, what?") running through streets blah blah. "OUT OF MY WAY, PEDESTRIANS!" screeched Selina, who then sold a load of books for two quid each, whilst Sam looked distraught at such a rock bottom price point.
To the boardroom. Sirsugaralanlord delivered his customary bon mot, wiggling with delight in his booster seat: "One of youse will not be livin' 'appily ever arftar!" Shakespeare/Sam lost, and Charleine, chippy, mean-spirited witch that she is, was triumphant. "Me and Richard are totally fine!" she yelped, as Richard gave her the side-eye but was sensible enough not to say anything in case she slipped him a poisoned apple.
"I'm sorry," said Sam to his team. Instead of making the kind of "It's alright mate" noises nice people murmur in such situations, they stared at him as a hungry lion might a wounded wildebeest calf separated from the herd. Sam, who is far too decent a person to work with Alansirlordsugar, couldn't decide who he would bring back into the boardroom with him. "Er.... um....er....." Aeons passed. Tectonic plates moved. New galaxies were created. Finally: "Nat and... and.... and..." It was worse than waiting for the who has to dance again decision on Strictly. "Um....Brett." "Oo?" enquired Sugarsiralanlord. "Me," answered Brett, looking furious at the snub.
Mercifully, all three were relatively polite, there was no shouting and minimal recriminations, probably because Sam was so reasonable that even when the other two were telling him he was shit he saw their points of view. "Natlee," sighed Sugarlordalansir. "Your pitch woz rubbish." Natalie got fired. "Thank you." "Natalie, I'm so sorry," said Sam, looking close to tears. What a gent.
Back in the house, there was an entirely different atmosphere. None of that politeness and decency HERE, thank you very much. "I'd like to raise a toast to myself!" shrieked Charleine, as the others glumly knocked back the booze, hating her.
I rather hope Sam doesn't end up as Alansirlordsugar's business partner. He's much too decent a person for such a tawdry bauble.
First published here