Bad news, good news…

But first…
Dulltown, Europe: Today’s 18th c. expletive (from that nice little book Bozzimacoo: Origins and Meanings of Oaths and Swearwords (1975) by Mary Marshall) is ‘Dead Chelsea by God!’ – apparently the exclamation of a soldier wounded at the battle of Fontenoy, delighted that he would be invalided home to the Chelsea Military Hospital.

‘Aha!… Good, I’m glad I’ve found you. We want you to fly out with a film crew to cover that earthquake that’s just gone off… er, somewhere or other.’
‘Oh, right…’
‘Have you done an earthquake before?’
‘Well, no… I…’
‘Piece of cake! These things really do put the audience figures up, and also it shows that we really do care… You should have no trouble – the film guys will get most of the stuff, the leaning buildings, the rescuers in their masks, the piles of bodies in their bags, you know the sort of thing… Are you any good at looking upset and sorrowful?’
‘I, er…’
‘Just do your best… oh, and don’t shave, and make sure your clothes look a bit grubby, you know, as if you’ve been helping out, but don’t actually do any helping out, it’s not what you are there for… Could you manage the occasional emotional croak in your voice?…’
‘Well I…’
‘…and when you are doing your piece to camera, make sure you have clearly audible sobbing bereaved relatives in shot in the background. Oh, and keep glancing over your shoulder as if you are expecting another after-shock…’
‘We can milk these things for about four or five days and then the viewers lose interest… Oh, and before you leave don’t forget the ‘SS’ shot.’
‘The ‘SS’ shot?’
‘Yes, the sole survivor, pulled alive from the ruins after five days. We always have to have one of those. The viewers know that thousands of poor bastards have just died, but they do like a cheery optimistic ending, seeing the dirty battered figure being helped out from under the concrete, everyone smiling and cheering… it rounds the coverage off nicely and it balances things up… Then you can come home…’
‘Oh, right ho… and thanks…’

About Dave Whatt

Grumpy old surrealist artist, musician, postcard maker, bluesman, theatre set designer, and debonair man-about-town. My favourite tools are the plectrum and the pencil...
This entry was posted in conversation, drama, expletives, history, information, irony, jobs, observations, seeing, TV, words and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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