A Real Scoop

 

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EDITOR:

Ah Perkins. Thanks for coming to see me lad. Take a seat, take a seat. Now look here, there's no other way of saying this but, without putting too fine a point on it, we are concerned about the quality of your work.

PERKINS:

I'm very sorry to hear that sir.

EDITOR:

Well, yes, we're all sorry about it. Very sorry. The things is, when we took you on here at The Shepton Bassett Gazzette, we were rather hoping for something better. You understand what I'm getting at here, Perkins?

PERKINS:

No sir, I'm not sure that I do.

EDITOR:

No? Well let's take a moment to review a few choice nuggets from the testimonials you provided us with at your interview and perhaps my concerns will become clearer. I quote: "I have no hesitation in recommending Mr Perkins to your organisation. He is fastidious, dedicated, always eats up all his dinner and would make an excellent member of your team. Yours sincerely, Mrs Lorraine Perkins." Any relation, perchance?

PERKINS:

My mother sir.

EDITOR:

Your mother. Of course. So, moving on - what about this one: "I have known young Peter for most of his adult life and I can honestly say that he has never once set fire to a public building. Your humble servant, D.F. Perkins."

PERKINS:

Absolutely true: I have never set fire to a public building. Not even a little one.

EDITOR:

Very commendable.

PERKINS:

Thank you sir.

EDITOR:

Although it hardly qualifies you for your current role.

PERKINS:

I hope you're not suggesting you would have preferred to employ an arsonist?

EDITOR:

You know very well I'm suggesting no such thing. But we will gloss over that particular niggle and focus on the correspondent: D.F. Perkins. Another relation?

PERKINS:

I imagine that would be my uncle, sir.

EDITOR:

You imagine?

PERKINS:

On reflection, I'm almost certain of it.

EDITOR:

I see. Now see here Perkins, I'm sure you have a very supportive and loyal family, but this really won't do. Oh no, it won't do at all. I must have a dozen such endorsements here: Rita Perkins, Gordon Perkins, Barrington Perkins-Collingwood. Ho, what's this! 'Skipper'? I suppose you'll be telling me that's your pet Labrador?

PERKINS:

Springer Spaniel, sir.

EDITOR:

Good grief! The worry is how all this managed to get past our human resources people. I've half a mind to admire your audacity, Perkins, were it not for the disappointing show you've put on since you got here. We may only be a small local paper but we have our standards. I was under the impression that we were getting a high-flyer with a keen eye for detail and a ready wit, capable of turning out dynamite copy by the barrow load.

PERKINS:

Were you? Extraordinary!

EDITOR:

Yes Perkins, I was. And what do I get?

PERKINS:

Me, sir.

EDITOR:

You, Perkins. So what happened to the hotly anticipated surge in circulation? Where are the plaudits and the prizes?

PERKINS:

I won the office sweepstake for last year's Grand National.

EDITOR:

That doesn't count, Perkins! I'm talking about press awards and endorsements; about advertisers clamouring for space on our pages. Can you honestly say that you've made any contribution to the success of this paper?

PERKINS:

Yes sir. I think so, sir. Remember, I did get an exclusive last week.

EDITOR:

Remind me - was this the thousand word article on the proceedings of the ladies' knitting circle, or the story of the man who very nearly passed his driving test after the third attempt?

PERKINS:

You do me an injustice. I'm referring to the frog trapped down the drain.

EDITOR:

Of course! Why, it was a sensation - an action-packed drama which had the whole town gripped. Did we run it on the front page? I can't remember.

PERKINS:

No sir.

EDITOR:

I guess we missed a trick there.

PERKINS:

I thought so.

EDITOR:

Oh, you did, did you? Perkins, you are the absolute limit! The only reason we ran it at all was because the flower show was rained off and we had nothing to replace it with. That said, with the benefit of hindsight I think it would have been better had we gone with a blank page. What on Earth convinced you that anyone would be the slightest bit interested in such drivel?

PERKINS:

Drivel sir? No sir! If you recall, I managed to secure an exclusive interview with the frog.

EDITOR:

You've got no call to get carried away, Perkins. Writing 'croak croak croak croak' four dozen times does not constitute an interview. Lord knows what you were thinking.

PERKINS:

I was leaning heavily on the suspense angle, sir. I was trying to get inside the mind of the frog - to see the dilemma from its point of view. Would it be trapped forever, or would it struggle free?

EDITOR:

And did it? Struggle free, that is?

PERKINS:

Not as such sir. It more sort of 'hopped off'.

EDITOR:

Gad, I wish you'd hop off, Perkins.

PERKINS:

Righto sir, on my way.

EDITOR:

Perkins, come back here, I haven't finished with you yet. Can you give me one good reason why I should continue to employ you?

PERKINS:

I'm a pleasant and friendly individual, and a pleasure to have around the office, sir.

EDITOR:

Says who?

PERKINS:

Says the Reverend Benjamin F Perkins. "A pleasant and friendly individual, a pleasure to have around the office and a genuine source of jollity and joie de vivre." His exact words, if I remember correctly. You have his letter there.

EDITOR:

Ah, another relative?

PERKINS:

No sir.

EDITOR:

So it's a coincidence that his name is Perkins?

PERKINS:

Yes sir.

EDITOR:

Whatever - I'm not sure I care anymore. Look I'm prepared to give you one more chance. Are you working on anything at the moment?

PERKINS:

Oh yes sir, very much so sir. It's very exciting - a real ladle!

EDITOR:

Ladle? I suspect the word you're looking for is 'scoop'.

PERKINS:

I suspect you are right. It's a real scoop!

EDITOR:

Very good, well as long as it's not a follow up story on the frog... It's not a follow up story on the frog, is it? Oh heavens, it is, isn't it?

PERKINS:

It's a whole new angle on the incident. You see, there was this badger that saw the whole thing, and -

EDITOR:

No! Please, no more. Drop the whole frog thing, Perkins. I mean it, I won't stand for any more of this nonsense. No more frogs in drains, no eyewitness badgers, no snails with murky pasts, no pigeons with views on traffic congestion or hedgehogs reminiscing about their youth. I want proper, normal, local stories that will be of interest to our readers. Is that understood?

PERKINS:

Yes sir. Absolutely sir.

EDITOR:

No more weird stuff. It's freaking people out.

PERKINS:

Of course sir.

EDITOR:

Good. On your way.

PERKINS:

Yes sir. Right away sir. One thing sir - I assume my in-depth interview with Mr and Mrs Deacon's chicken is now cancelled?

EDITOR:

What? Of course not! Good grief Perkins, you still have a great deal to learn about journalism.

PERKINS:

Sir?

EDITOR:

That chicken is one of our biggest advertisers. Now get out.

 

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