18th Feb – Like a circle in a spiral, like a wheel within a wheel, Never ending or beginning on an ever spinning reel.

We’ve made some progress with our kitchen-diner, celebrity chat show, and we’re a little closer now to what Fips calls a proof of concept. I can’t tell whether he’s being ironic or not each time he says that, so I’m going with it for now. Though I sense that my complacency is but a short remove away from referring to our output as product, and from there, anything can happen I suppose – like charging people to park in a supermarket carpark then declaring yourself to be an entrepreneur on the back of it, from where you might become an important donor to political parties.

I am passionately committed to the dismantling of personality through reasoned analysis and constructive criticism. Ask anyone. Ask my dermatologist.

On with the show; here’s another one of those words: attached. We are trying to get Dominic Cummings attached, and though he isn’t yet, we’ve received an expression of interest. There’s a stage in the creative process, it seems, or at least at the entrepreneurial product-focussed end of the market, there is, where you go round and round in empty circles and hope that something will stick to you and turn your purposeless spins into a spiral. No one is interested until someone is attached; no one is attached until someone is interested; you can’t finalise a proof of concept without the endorsement of the person you’re trying to attach. It’s all rather pushed me towards an altered perception of those who work in creative, media and arts; they don’t so much constantly wank into the void, as try to put words on the massive non-event that forms ninety percent of their work.

So, to the point; besides the drinking of cocktails and eating as if you’re visiting the real house of a real acquaintance, we’re planning to insert a couple of set pieces that will mark out the event as belonging peculiarly to Dominic, and which will hopefully wrongfoot his vacuous guests by their incongruity. The first is that we’ll have a sudden, seemingly impromptu, quiz in the middle of it. Ostensibly to offer a chance of redemption for recent failures, it will revisit the known weak points in the celebrity’s knowledge. For example, recently qualified psychotherapist, ex-glamour model, Melinda Messenger’s siting of Canberra on a map of Australia a few hundred miles east of Perth in the desert; that Elizabeth I ascended to the thrown in 1903; and in search of the answer, The Kremlin, when proferred the further clue that it overlooks Moscow, guessed Leningrad. That sort of thing, but generally higher up the food chain, to test sois-disant clever clogs who are promoting what they are passing off as books for the discerning reader.

Interesting. Essentially, you’re saying de knee bone’s
connected to him shin bone?

* I am no teenage Dieu’t-bag, but let us pause here and offer up a prayer for each and every one of Melinda’s clients to come.

To that very point is the next set piece. Dominic will ask his guests to rank their top five Russian authors in order. No doubt, most of them will be delighted to remember the names of five Russian authors, despite their claimed literary pedigree and/or they’ll think it’s an odd joke – but what they will not appreciate is that if any of them dare not put Tolstoy in first or second, and Gogol high up, or, sin of sins, rank Dostoyevsky any higher than fourth, he will treat them as if they’re retarded from then onwards.

If it’s a book they’re flogging, and it generally is, he will ask them what’s their favourite Dicken’s novel, and when they choose one, he will say, ‘but that has a preposterous plot,’ which of course applies to all of them, then leave them unaided to get out of the mess they’re in. If they’re really struggling to come up with a coherent answer at that point, he will throw them the lifeline of opting to review their own work instead, which, of course, he will trump. If they’re out to promote a film, the same, mutatis mutandis, with Alfred Hitchcock mutating for Dickens as the point of reference. It means that we may be able to lure him in to an attachment by promising him virtually no research to do by way of preparation for each show.

It will all count too, because as the show draws to a conclusion and they’re about to be dismissed, the Cum-bot will then mark their performance out of ten by each of the following categories: appearance; sophistication re food & drink; general intelligence; literary capability, should they decide to pass themselves off as an author; and wit. All the marks will then be totalled to give an overall measure of their satisfaction as a functioning human being.

Of course, if you haven’t actually evolved, some of the nuance may be lost on you.

… I like the idea that that they can trade the number for a word/short phrase instead. Then, they are filmed behind the scenes just as they leave the house, where they can behave as their true selves for a moment and give a reaction the ordeal they’ve just been through. Here, they’ll open their envelope. It’ll either be a number, which on discovering it they will ask whether it’s good or bad or something like that, and the anchor person holding the mic can shake their head and say, ‘it’s not terribly flattering;’ or they can read the word/phrase, which will speak for itself. But Fips remains to be piped on board with all that – he prefers a straight judgment of x out of 50. And he prefers this as the final twist: that they are invited to assess their own score based on their performance, and if the two scores are a long way apart, a further physical humiliation is added as a signing off gesture – like a bucket of paint on their head or similar.

We expect one or two of them to be capable of rising to an exacting examination, and so the two highest scorers will be invited back to a final show. At this stage they will understand the concept, and they will be given a fair chance to get their own back. A straight fight, Cum-bot versus ….

In a world which celebrates marriage at first sight, and the televised sharing of STDs between teenagers, this sounds like Kenneth Clarke’s Civilisation to me. Maybe it has a bit of gladiatorial jousting thrown in for the lower orders, but even in man’s most exalted state, he always made room for a bit of fun.

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