Thursday, January 20, 2011

Debbie, PA to Mr Screwtape: Football Crazy, Football Mad Hiya!

Just sweeping up the chicken bones, cigar butts and beer tins. My Guv'nor, Mr Screwtape had a few too many and is snoring at his retro desk, his horned head resting on his traditional-style blotter.

The Boss, His Satanic Majesty, came down to watch the football with Mr Screwtape down here in Reception. We can get it on the Contracts and Arrivals screen, the giant HD plasma over the reception desk. Mr Screwtape explained that the combined subscriptions saved us the cost of going topside. The Boss asked about 'adult channels' and my Guv'nor looked baffled, as usual, so I said that if there were any, they were definitely part of the package and nothing extra had been ordered. The Boss looked fleetingly annoyed, then went back to acting as if I don't exist. Suits me.

His Satanic Majesty was in a good mood for once as he had taken off his business suit and was slumming in a Hawaiian shirt and roomy shorts. They don't chafe his hide. His red pelt is regrowing, judging by the curly wires peeping out around his hocks. He has given up being full-body waxed as he has broken up with his girlfriend Miranda, at least for the time being. She insisted on him being peeled each month and while he can dish it out, he can't take it. The howls used to rattle the stained glass windows in the firmament. He was celebrating his freedom with an enormous Cohiba glowing in the corner of his mouth and scratching himself luxuriously with his long nails as the new hair poked itchily through.

Mr Screwtape got in to the spirit of things by dressing in antique football strip and blowing an ancient shrill whistle. He claimed he got it from George Best in return for the succession of beautiful women George had bedded, but when I checked the file, it seems very little business was done with Best. A few passes to him which defied physics, but that would have been no use if he had not had his own gifted feet. Still, Mr Screwtape has an old autograph book of his most important signings and Best is in there, so they had some private business which didn't show in the main sequence files. The Boss had better not find out; he's apt to turn nasty if he thinks his representatives are trying to cut HellCo out of the deal.

Lord Lucifer and Mr Screwtape settled themselves on the Barcelona office chairs, their hooves up on the leather upholstery, with beer, pizza and chicken legs laid out within reach on glass coffee tables. They like to throw the bones over their shoulder as they once saw Henry VIII do, so I learned to duck. His Excellency clicked his fingers imperiously every time he wanted a ring-pull popped and the can appeared in his hand, as if by magic. I did more running than Rooney.

At the end of the match the Dark Lord was on his feet, shouting his approval at Fabio Capello and saying that he must get a pair of glasses with a heavy black line across the frames, it obviously made people take you seriously. He'd been feeling as if people didn't treat him as if he was quite real. More like he was some mythic joke character, and he wanted to improve his public recognition. He looked at the pictures, the cameras sweeping the pitch and the crowd and then looked accusingly at Mr Screwtape.

"Screwy, there's a lot of people there. A lot of demand unsatisfied. We should be exploiting that."
"Yes, Sir" said Mr Screwtape "and we have agents on the sideline in every team in the country. I'm particularly proud of the Parent's Recruitment campaign. We've had several referees abused and assaulted already, and the players are only seven years old."
"See, that's your trouble, Screwy. You don't think big. Junior league, pah. A game that size and there must be millions of dollars we could be earning through selling moody tickets, fixing the outcome of games and betting on them. And that's before HellCo have made a single signing. What are we offering these people?"

Mr Screwtape was doing the goldfish thing with his mouth again. I coughed and broke in.
"Your Highness, we've been wondering if you would condescend to captain the HellCo team. We are negotiating with several prominent talent agents".

The King of the Underworld preened and slapped Mr Screwtape on the back, knocking the pea right out of his whistle, which rolled away under the reception desk.
"I'll show you how it's done, Screwy, it will be like Cloughy and Taylor, like er, er, er,..."
"Morecambe and Wise, Sir" I suggested.
The Lord of Chaos looked at me and narrowed his goaty eyes, but decided that treating me like unwelcome chewing gum on his hoof was still the way to go.
"Call me when you've got the lads assembled, and I'll take over" he roared, then took himself happily off, burbling about wild parties and wilder women.

Mr Screwtape looked crestfallen.
"Are we really negotiating with key players, Deborah?"
"I'll have to get the files, Mr Screwtape, as I understand you have some expertise in the area".
It was Mr Screwtape's turn to fix me with a hard stare.
"There are no files Deborah, and I'll thank you to remember I have been doing this job for several millenia." He clicked his fingers and this time some real magic happened. The autograph book appeared. "There are some people with whom one has a cordial relationship regardless of anything else. The angels couldn't save George Best and I couldn't sign him. He was the architect of his own downfall."
"What happened to him, Mr Screwtape, Sir?"
"The usual. There was a hearing. The moderators took in to account the violence against women and the thefts. I appeared against him."
"Against him? And yet he gave you his autograph?"
"So you admit you have been going through my personal belongings. He had done me a particular service and I repaid it by prosecuting very lightly."
"Yes. I wanted George Carman QC very badly. His was a valuable contract, and it wasn't easy as he was a leading lawyer of his generation, adept at wriggling. Best helped me goad him by seducing Carman's wife. In fact, he was happy to oblige. ".
"What happened to Carman?"
"He's down on Deck Three with the Specialists. The charges included trying to have Best killed, even though he was Carman's drinking chum.The moderators found it most unsporting". He continued thoughtfully "Even when you tell them all Best did, there was still that spark, that recognition of someone who had been given a gift - two if you count the looks - and yet those very things helped destroy him. One wonders; if he had been as ugly as Rooney, would he ever have got in to some of the scrapes? Perhaps he'd have stayed on the straight and narrow. Unfortunately."
"Mr Screwtape - you could have got Bestie killed!"
"Don't be silly. Carman was happy enough to give a woman a slap, as was Best, but Carman was fundamentally a cowardly bully. So long as nobody was prepared to do it for Carman, Best was safe. He was a much bigger danger to himself than anybody else was."

He was subsiding in to a reverie of past successes, but time was pressing.
"Mr Screwtape, Sir, there's another match on Sunday and it might not end so well, His Excellency is expecting a football team to manage and you have yet to corrupt an entire international industry".

"A demon's work is never, done, Deborah" he sighed "And by far the most difficult part is that FIFA have got in to the corruption business well ahead of us". With that he popped the rings on the remaining four tinnies of Wife Beater, downed them in swift sequence and slumped senseless at his desk.

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