Here is an intriguing scenario for you. A small independent production company has approached me and told me that they have been commissioned to make a documentary for Channel 4 called ‘The Daily Life of a Crime Writer’. They want to send a film crew to my house to film me, follow me and record everything I do on a daily basis. Well, I’ve warned you it might be a bit boring. I mean, I write every day, so you can find me sitting at my kitchen table, shuffling through scraps and scraps of paper as I start writing my latest novel. Or you can see me rattling on my keyboard as I work my way through a new chapter. Or they could watch me staring out the window, daydreaming and trying to come up with new characters or scene stealers or cliffhangers. So where’s the thrill in that? ‘Oh, but Mike,’ they say, ‘we could film you at the table, or at the keyboard, or at the window, but the interesting thing for Channel 4 viewers is that you would be naked.’
According to them, I am a naturist. People have told you that I like to walk around the house naked, and when I go on vacation, I prefer to frequent resorts that have ‘clothing optional’ beaches. And that I belong to a club in the North West of England where I can sunbathe naked, even in the dead of winter, among like-minded friends and families, and that I spend my holidays abroad in hotels and farms that have an understanding of the ‘No Clothes’ preference.
My first question is: how do they know that?
More importantly, is this the only reason Channel 4 exists? Well, apparently, excitement and temptation seem to be the only justification for their existence. They had a show recently that was about ‘body image’, and they put together a collection of tall, short, fat and skinny people who were unhappy with their appearance. The result of several weeks of discussion was that all the participants stripped naked and ran naked down the beach into a frozen ocean. A little entertainment! What a triumph for psychological therapy. What a treat for the viewers.
I think that’s horrible, but lately there have been worse things. There’s a dating show on Channel 4 where a single person chooses a date from half a dozen competitors. The problem is that the one who chooses cannot see the person as a whole, until the end. No, they must make their choice by looking at various parts of the other person’s body, which are revealed section by section in the nude, until they are shown completely, completely naked.
Is that free or not? The Dating Debacle is hosted by Anna Richardson. Several years ago she presented another program for Channel 4. It was called ‘The Sex Education Show’. That always seemed strange to me. He toured several high schools and gathered students in the hallway and talked to them about sexual matters. Weird? Why, according to the national newspaper ‘The Daily Mail’, teenagers these days know all there is to know about such things, thanks to many years of Sex Education classes in school. If they’ve had that education, I was wondering, why did they need Channel 4? As was immediately obvious, they were badly needed. The children were invited to ask questions and sure enough they did: the most basic and simple matters. Evidently, it was clear that they didn’t know much. Didn’t they receive Sex Education at their school? No, it’s no longer part of the national curriculum and when funding for schools is cut, year after year, those fripperies are the first to go.
Shamefully, Anna Richardson mocked her ignorance. I remember a poor boy asking a question, writhing in shame. Her classmates around her laughed that she was using ‘rude’ words. Anna looked down from the platform and laughed at him. It was horrible. So given that horrible story, it wasn’t so incredible that Channel 4 could decide it was my turn to make fun of me and send in the film crew to embarrass me. Why not? It might tickle the viewers.
There’s just one problem with his latest understanding of humiliation. How do they know I’m a nudist? I didn’t tell them. Did one of my friends get away? Did I tell you first? Well, dear reader, how reliable is that? You see, I’m a crime writer, and that process goes on for me 24/7. I am a storyteller. If you ask me a question, you’ll probably assume that I can turn off ‘Story’ mode and immediately go into ‘Factual’ mode. Maybe, maybe not. As if you asked me, ‘Mike, tell us about your early years,’ and I said, “Well, I was born in County Cork, Southern Ireland, in 1974, one of nine children, and my father was a fisherman”,? How do you know any of that is true?
Dear readers, how can you expect me to turn off my storytelling gene?