Exactly twelve months ago, I was summoned to an office by a distinguished and venerable media magnate, a room of such vast expanse that the intimidating distance between the door I entered through and the monolithic mahogany desk behind which said magnate sat felt like the space separating opposing goalposts on the pitch at Wembley. When advised to proceed, I resembled Bracket, the dutiful butler from ‘Chigley’, plodding down the lengthy gallery taking him to Lord Belborough.
Once I arrived at the desk, the legendary figure whose call cannot be refused was facing the window, overlooking the flat wet panorama of Norfolk, a marshy emerald landscape peppered by rosy-cheeked, big-eared boys and buxom wenches carrying baskets festooned with jars of Coleman’s Mustard. An odourless vapour rose from behind the leather chair and the only sound to punctuate the unsettling silence was the occasional unhinged chuckle. I became convinced I was poised to be confronted by a Bond villain stroking a white cat, but when the chair eventually swiveled round from the window and its occupant fixed me with a stare that commanded instant subservience, I was face-to-face with Madam Anna Raccoon.
She told me she’d seen some of the videos I’d produced. ‘Particularly,’ she said with a disarmingly charming if untraceable English accent, ‘that Exposure series. Master G and I especially enjoyed that one.’ She invited me to take a seat and I acquiesced with an anxious desire to please. ‘I was pondering on Saturdays,’ she continued. ‘Such a lacklustre comedown from my hectic weekday schedule. Saturday needs a kick and I envisage a video – a weekly video in which the news events of the previous seven days are summarised with satire. Naturally, there was only one person I could approach. Do you accept your mission…Petunia?’
The pause before she spoke my name for the first time seemed wide enough to span the Broads. My throat was dry and I couldn’t verbally reply so I settled for a nod and a weak smile. ‘Marvellous,’ she said. ‘I shall expect the first to be posted next Saturday, and every week thereafter. Good day.’
And with that, she swiveled back to face the window again and the vapour I calculated must have emanated from the silver e-cigarette wedged between her lips like the poison dart of an Amazonian tribesman began to rise once more. I knew our summit was at an end and I made my way towards the distant door. As my hand made contact with the handle, she momentarily stopped me in my tracks. ‘I do hope you won’t disappoint,’ she said, a statement issued in a manner that implied to disappoint would be to forfeit one’s life. I exited the office and scurried home. I had work to do. And now that work is at an end, exactly one year on from that memorable summons. I do hope I didn’t disappoint…