There is a school of thought that there may be an infinite number of Universes. The theory suggests that whatever version of yourself you care to imagine, there is a parallel universe where that you actually exists. It follows, therefore, that somewhere there is a universe where Katie’s alter-ego exists. Let’s call her Bad Katie...
(Please remember the following events take place in an alternate universe and bear no relation to our Katie whatsoever!)
Episode 1 - The Fish Song
“Just going for a run,” said Bad Katie cheerfully. She pulled the door shut behind her and started jogging purposefully down the street. As soon as she turned the corner on to the main road she stopped, put two fingers in either side of her mouth, and let out a piercing whistle which was so shrill and loud it caused a policeman across the road to look around in alarm and promptly walk into a lamp post. Bad Katie sniggered at him and then jumped into the cab that had pulled up in front of her.
“Where to, miss?” said the driver.
“Don’t care,” said Bad Katie, whipping out her phone. “Just drive around for twenty minutes then bring me back here.”
“Sorry miss, have to have a destination. It’s the rules.”
Bad Katie glared at him. “How far away do you live?”
“Erm, well, only about ten minutes from here as it happens. Why?”
“Then drive to your house, honk your horn at the missus and bring me back.”
The driver shrugged. “As you wish, miss.”
“And stop calling me miss, you blithering yokel.”
“Right you are, er, ma’am.”
Bad Katie rolled her eyes as the driver pulled away. She held her phone against the window and took a snap of the dazed policeman sitting on the pavement as she went past. Her thumbs flew over the screen and seconds later the hapless constable was chalking up hundreds of laughing emojis on her Instagram account.
A few minutes later, the taxi driver, having duly passed his own house and dutifully honked at his bemused wife, who had happened to be in the front garden pruning her dahlias, was en route with his curious passenger to the spot where he’d picked her up. He kept glancing at her in the rear view mirror, though she didn’t notice—she was too engrossed in her phone. He thought she seemed familiar.
“Excuse me mi… er, ma’am. Don’t I know you from somewhere?”
Bad Katie scowled at him. “How the hell would I know who you know?”
His eyes widened. “You’re that pop star woman!”
Bad Katie closed her eyes and sighed. “Here we go…” she muttered.
“Yes! You’re that one what got dragged along the floor singing about bikes. Hang on, I know this… yes, Amy Whynot.”
“How very dare you! Stop right here. I’m not going to be insulted by Homer Simpson driving a cab.”
The driver sheepishly pulled over. Bad Katie hurled a tenner over his shoulder. “Keep the change.”
“But miss, I mean ma’am, this isn’t enough...”
Bad Katie was already out of the cab and storming down the road. The driver shook his head and drove away, scowling at Bad Katie as he passed her; which she gleefully snapped on her phone and had up on Instagram within seconds, with the caption “omg, just had the cabbie from hell!”
Still chuckling about her post, she popped into a newsagents and emerged with a packet of cigarettes and a disposable lighter. She hurriedly lit a fag and took a long drag, then continued on her way. She soon reached her local market, where she winked and blew kisses at almost every trader. She noticed the guy on the sweets stall was new, and she didn’t like the look of him. She took a final drag of her fag and then flicked the butt into an open box of milk gums.
Bad Katie was just outside the market when she noticed something shiny in the gutter. It was a large fish, presumably fallen off a trader’s crate. She looked around to make sure no one was looking, then picked it up and tucked it under her jacket. She walked the rest of the way home with a big grin on her face, whistling merrily.
“Hi deda, I’m back,” said Bad Katie as she took her jacket off in the hall. Deciding it smelled a bit fishy she just dropped it on the floor so someone else would assume it needed washing. She took the fish in to her mother in the kitchen. “I picked up dinner at the market,” she said, slapping the whiffy item onto the counter.
“Oh, good girl. You’re so thoughtful. I can make a lovely stew with that.”
“Yeah, be nice for the rest of you. I’m good though, just ordered a pizza with ham and corn on the cob.”
“You mean sweetcorn,” said mother.
“No. On the cob, dripping with butter.”
Her mother looked at her quizzically.
Bad Katie stuck her tongue out at her and left the kitchen. “I’ll be in my studio. You can bring the pizza up to me when it arrives, can’t you? Ta, ma. I have an idea for a new song.”
A few days later, Bad Katie was slouched on the sofa in her manager’s office. Sumit entered and handed her a coffee in a mug that said “For all you know, this is gin” on it. It was her usual mug, which usually did contain gin.
Bad Katie took the chewing gum out of her mouth and stuck it under the arm of the sofa. She took a sip of coffee and pulled a right old face in disgust. She plonked the mug down on Sumit’s desk and rubbed her hands together. “Right then, I’ve written another song for the new album.”
“Excellent!” said Sumit. “It’s about time we thought of a name for the album. I was thinking ‘Visions From Broken Dreams’.”
Bad Katie screwed her face up. “What the hell does that mean? Nah. Let’s call it ’The New Album’.”
Sumit changed the subject. “Well, there’s no rush. So what’s this new song about?”
“A fish. I found a fish the other day, and it inspired me. The lyrics just flooded out of me when I got home.”
“Er… okay. Can I hear it then?”
Bad Katie cleared her throat and began to sing.
She stopped. “No, hang on. Let me drop an octave.”
She began again, in a lower voice.
I found a fish
so I made a wish
and a fishy dish
it was so delish!
She looked at Sumit and raised her eyebrows expectantly. “Well? What do you think?”
Sumit gazed at her blankly. “Is that it?”
“It’s catchy isn’t it?” She grinned gleefully at him. “See what I did there? Catchy? Fish?”
“Right. And how does the next verse go?”
“There isn’t one. I don’t think it needs more. It perfectly captures the whole event, just like a haiku. And every line is a rhyme! How clever am I?”
“No, no, don’t. You’ll embarrass me.”
“I do feel it needs to be longer than seventeen seconds,” suggested Sumit.
“Ah, yes, well, what I thought I’d do is repeat the verse several times, with a key change each time, you know, to add a bit of drama.”
“Okay, that’s good, yes, that might work,” lied Sumit.
Bad Katie beamed at him. “Knew you’d love it.”
“Tell you what, Katie. You seem to have tapped into a vein. Why don’t you go back to your studio for a few weeks and see what other gems you can uncover?”
“I might just do that!” she said, leaping to her feet excitedly. “No rest for the wicked, eh?”
She slapped Sumit playfully on the backside, winked at him and skipped out of the room.
Sumit sighed. He sat down at his computer and fired off a memo to his secretary: “if Katie calls in the next month tell her I’m out of the office attending a folk festival in Fiji.”
There was a shrill whistle outside. Sumit got up and looked out of the window down at the street. Bad Katie was clambering into a cab...
“Where to miss?” said the cabbie. He glanced at his passenger in the mirror and his heart sank. “I mean, ma’am...”
Episode 2 - Bad Katie Live in Concert
Nora, the makeup artist, went to find Bad Katie, who was supposed to be in her dressing room. She found her back stage. A roadie was on all fours and Bad Katie was sitting on his back, legs crossed, tapping and swiping on her phone.
“Er… Katie, what are you doing?”
“Mind your own business. I’m on Twitter. More trolling.”
“Oh no, you getting trolled again? I’m sorry. People are so horrible.”
Bad Katie gazed at her levelly. “I’m trolling them.”
“Oh. I see. Well, no, anyway, what I meant was, why are you sitting on that poor man?”
“What poor man?” said Bad Katie, looking around. “Oh, you mean the roadie? Couldn’t find a decent chair anywhere. Besides, roadies are more comfortable."
“The poor sod is turning purple. How long has he been down there?”
Bad Katie shrugged. “Dunno. Not long. Couple of hours maybe? Who cares? It’s his job.”
“Erm, I’m not sure technically it is his job…”
“No, I mean he does what I say or he loses his job."
Nora crouched down to address the hapless roadie. “Mate, you can’t let her humiliate you like this. I’s just a job. Tell her where to shove it!”
“Like, I am actually here you know,” said Bad Katie.
“Thanks lady,” said the roadie, breathlessly. “But I can’t. She had me sign a contract.”
“What contract?” said Nora.
“A slave contract. She got me drunk one night and took some compromising photos of me. Said I had to sign the slave contract and do whatever she says or she’ll email the pics to my missus. She's got me by the short and curlies. The missus would do worse things than this, believe me.”
Nora rolled her eyes and rose to her feet again. “Katie! You can’t do stuff like this. I thought you were into human rights?”
“I am! But he’s not human, he’s a roadie. And it is my right to do what I like with my roadie.”
Nora shook her head. “Not quite the angel people think, are you?”
“Whatever. Anyway, what do you want? These morons won’t troll themselves you know.”
“I’ve come to do your makeup of course.”
“Bloody Nora! Have you even seen me? Do I look like I need makeup?”
“It’s just to stop your skin shining in the lights.”
“Then turn off the bloody lights!”
“Katie! Then no one would see you.”
“Suppose. Well, just don’t make me look like a bloody Geisha again. I looked so pale last time a fan sent me a sunbed. Cheek. Still, useful for drying ganja.”
At that moment, the venue manager arrived on the scene. “Hi Miss Melua, just checking everything is… why are you sitting on that man?”
“Don’t ask,” said Nora.
“No, everything is not okay,” said Bad Katie. “I’m a multi-million selling artist you know and you expect me to sit on one of those hideous plastic chairs?”
“Oh, sorry, I’ll look into it of course.”
“Too late. Don’t bother. I bring my own as you can see. And about my rider—where is the fresh garlic?”
“You mean you actually wanted that? We thought it was a joke. Why would you want garlic? Are you expecting vampires or something?”
Bad Katie glared at him. “I’m doing meet and greets after the show, imbecile. I always chew garlic before those. Now toddle off and get some, pronto.”
“Right you are, Miss Melua. I’ll go and see to that straight away.”
The bemused venue manager slinked away. Bad Katie shook her head. “Can’t get the staff these days.”
“LAY-DEEZ and gentlemen!” roared the MC, who clearly had been watching too much wrestling on television. “Created in Kutaisi. Blossomed in Batumi. Talented in Tbilisi. Please give a raucous welcome to the stage for the one, the only, the truly original, KAY-TEEEE MEL-OOOOAAA!!!”
Bad Katie stood offstage, hand on hips, looking less than impressed as the MC swaggered towards her, looking rather pleased with himself. He winked at her. “Knock ‘em dead, sweetheart.”
She kicked him firmly in the knackers then strolled purposefully out towards the spotlight, her patented and perfected sweet smile firmly set. “Hello Nottingham!”
The crowd gave her their usual rapturous reception, which she quietly milked for a moment as the band settled and prepared behind her. “Okay. So how many bicycles would you like to hear?”
“NINE MILLION!” roared the crowd, in vague unison. There were several whoops and whistles, presumably from people that didn’t know the answer to the question.
“Maybe later, if you’re good! But first, here’s another absolute classic from Mike Batt.”
“Closest Thing To Crazy,” shouted a lone attention-seeker from somewhere in the cheap seats.
Bad Katie grinned. “It’s called ‘Wombling Free’...”
First in line at the meet and greets was Bad Katie’s self-proclaimed Number One Fan. He shuffled eagerly forward, grinning like the love child of The Joker and a Cheshire cat.
“Hey Katie! It’s me, your number one fan!” said NOF, cheerfully.
“Oh wow!” exclaimed Bad Katie, with Oscar-worthy false sincerity. “Are you really my number one boy?”
“Cool. Show me the tattoo.”
“Er… what tattoo?”
“To tell the world, of course! If you’re my Number One Boy then you need to have that tattooed on you so everyone will know that you’re my Number One Boy.”
“Oh. Yes, you’re right. As always. I’ll get it done tomorrow, I promise.”
“Good boy!” Bad Katie winked at him. “My Number One Boy!”
NOF beamed at her childishly. “Which arm should I have it—right or left?”
“Oh no,” said Bad Katie. “It needs to be where everyone can see it, so everyone knows how much you love me!”
“Ah, yes, of course it does. Silly me. So...”
“Have it tattooed on your forehead, obviously.”
“Forehead. Right. Yes. Okay. But, will ’Katie’s Number One Boy’ fit?”
“Just have the acronym, silly. Ask the tattooist to tattoo K.N.O.B. on your forehead.”
“Gotcha! Thanks Katie, you’re the best!”
“I know. Now run along and get that tattoo and next time I’ll have a lovely selfie with you.”
“Can’t wait! I’m going to find a tattooist right away.”
“Good for you. Off you go then, there’s a good boy. Next!”
NOF shuffled off, beyond excited at being labelled Katie’s Number One Boy.
Next, a guy that looked like he whittled meerkats out of driftwood sauntered up to her.
“Hi. What’s your name?” said Bad Katie, almost as if she cared.
“Rupert? But, you’ve got clothes on.”
“Rupert was supposed to be bare!”
Bad Katie guffawed at her own joke. Rupert stared at her blankly.
“Rupert, Rupert The Bear? Oh, ffs. What do you want me to sign?”
Rupert meekly proffered an event flyer taken from the lobby of the theatre.
Bad Katie glared at him disdainfully. “No album then?”
“Oh, er, I’m hoping to get it for Christmas. I’ve been dropping hints.”
“Cheapskate,” muttered Bad Katie. She scrawled something on his flyer that was difficult to make out but appeared to be a four letter word and a three letter word. She handed it back to him and shepherded him off, then beckoned the next victim forward.
“And what’s your name?”
“Arthur? Are they still actually calling people that? Well Art, what do you do?”
“Actually, I used to be a monk until I discovered your music. You could say your music changed the key of my life.”
“I see. So you’re no longer a monk.”
“Now you’re a monkey!”
Bad Katie giggled loudly, signed the bewildered Arthur’s CD and shooed him away.
The next guy mooched forward, looking every inch the creep he probably was.
“What’s your name?” asked Bad Katie, almost civilly.
“Not gonna happen mate. You should be the one kneeling to me.”
“No, my name is Neil.”
“Whatever. What would you like me to sign?”
Neil winked at her and smirked. “I was hoping you might sign my little friend.”
“Oh, I’m not much good at signing small, squidgy things, and I doubt if my name would fit anyway. Tell you what though, I’ll have a go at putting my initials on it for you. Jump up on to the table and drop your pants.” She turned to the photographer and said “you may need a zoom lens for this one.”
“Eh? What? You mean here? In front of everyone?” stuttered Neil.
“Duh. This is where I’m signing, numbnuts. What, did you think I’d agree to go back to your seedy hotel room with you? Dream on.”
“You’re weird, lady,” said Neil, and made a hasty retreat.
Bad Katie sniggered. “I love my job,” she said, to no one in particular. “Next!”
As Bad Katie left the theatre, her self-proclaimed Number One Fan was waiting for her outside the stage door as usual.
“Hi, Katie, it’s me—your number one fan!”
“No shit,” muttered Bad Katie. “I thought I told you to get a tattoo.”
“Oh I will, tomorrow. But I just wanted one more selfie with you.”
“Why? Have you lost the other four thousand three hundred and seventeen you’ve taken?”
Number One Fan grinned like an idiot, appropriately. “I’ve got a brand new, top-of-the-range iPhone!”
“Let’s see it,” said Bad Katie.
He fished it out of his jacket pocket, in the process managing to drop his house keys down the drain he was standing next to. In his eagerness, he failed to notice, but Bad Katie did, and she struggled to suppress a snigger. She took the phone from him. “Ooh, nice. Let me take a pic of you first.”
Number One Fan stepped back a few paces and adopted a needlessly cheery expression of glee as Bad Katie held the phone up and pretended to frame him. “Oh wait,” she said. “Who’s that behind you?”
Number One Fan turned round to look who was spoiling his photo. There was no one in sight. Confused, he turned back to Bad Katie. She was already legging it down the alleyway.
“Hey, Katie, you’ve still got my phone,” he wailed.
But she was gone.
Episode 3 - Bad Katie Goes To Prison
Her local backstreet vinyl store was one of Bad Katie’s favourite haunts. She’d already spent most of the afternoon lurking around in there and her tummy was beginning to ask her mouth for an explanation of why it wasn’t already sending any khachapuri its way.
She was clutching a pristine copy of Dylan’s “Highway 61 Revisited” but the £1oo price tag was making her nose twitch. She glanced across at the counter assistant and made her mind up. Just in front of the Bob Dylan section she noticed Val Doonican. She picked out a grubby copy of “Rocking Chair Favourites”, priced at 99p, placed it on top of the Dylan, and headed for the counter. The assistant looked thoroughly inconvenienced and made a deliberately testy show of removing his earbuds.
Bad Katie pointed to the wall behind him. “Can I look at that copy of ‘Back To Black’?”
The assistant sighed and turned round to take the album off its mount. Whilst his back was turned, Bad Katie slipped the Dylan into her tote bag and placed the Doonican on the counter.
“There you are,” said the assistant, handing her the Winehouse album.
Bad Katie quickly extracted the vinyl and studied it. “Hardly been played, I reckon. As it should be.”
“Do you want it then?”
“What? Fifty quid? You having a laugh mate? Couldn’t pay me to listen. Can’t stand the woman.”
The assistant looked perplexed. “Then why did you ask to look at it?”
“I wanted to check if it was gold plated. Should be for that price.”
He shrugged. “I don’t do the pricing.”
“Notice you’ve got a couple of mine in. I’ve signed them for you.”
The part-time assistant weighed her up briefly. He didn’t know who Katie was but couldn’t be arsed to lecture her on defacing the merchandise so he just smiled weakly.
Bad Katie winked at him. “I’d tell whoever does do the pricing to bump them up a tenner if I were you. You’re whelks!”
“So it’s just that you want then?” he said, nodding disdainfully at the Doonican.
“For now, yes.”
“That what you in to is it?”
Bad Katie laughed hysterically. “Course not, silly. It’s a birthday present for my Dad.”
“He’s lucky to have a daughter like you,” said the assistant sarcastically.
“Yes, he is,” agreed Bad Katie.
“That’ll be 99p then.”
Bad Katie slid a pound coin on to the counter, grabbed the Doonican and bolted for the door.
“Hey miss, your change!” shouted the assistant.
“Keep it,” called Katie as she pulled the door shut behind her.
The assistant looked at the penny in his hand, shook his head and threw it in the bin. He sighed, and then put Winehouse back in her place.
Whilst walking home, Bad Katie passed the charity shop where she bought most of her clothes. She popped inside for a quick peruse, but nothing took her fancy. However, she did decide to splash out 20p on a biography of Johnny Cash. She stopped and sat down in the park and dipped in to it...
Later that night, Bad Katie rang her manager and paced excitedly around her studio as she waited for him to pick up.
“Katie! My main lady. How’s it hanging?”
“Why are you talking like that, Sumit? You haven’t been sniffing glue again have you? Anyway, I’ve had a brilliant idea for a gig!”
“Oh. That’s nice. Go on then, knock me out.”
“I’m going to do a gig live inside a prison! For the prisoners.”
She was met with an uncomfortable silence.
“Oh, you were being serious,” said Sumit eventually.
“Of course. Johnny Cash did it. He got a tv special and an album out of it. He even wrote a song about it.”
“Johnny Cash was tougher than the inmates. He’d even been one. They’d eat you for breakfast.” He paused for a moment and reflected. “I love the idea!”
“Great, get it sorted. Let’s have a film crew in. We’ll make a DVD of the show and a documentary about it, and an album of course. Oh, and get me booked in on Lorraine to yap about it.”
“These things take a lot of organising, Katie. Especially in a prison. Lots of red tape, permits, etc.”
“Amazing how many other agents are courting me these days...”
“Okay, okay, I’ll see what I can do.”
The camera crew were busying themselves in preparation for the gig. The director approached Bad Katie.
“Katie, we need to plan the camera angles for the video. Which is your best side?”
“My backside,” said Katie, and grinned idiotically at him.
He had no time for messing around and folded his arms to suggest as much.
“Don’t worry. Your little cameras are going to love me. I’m stunning from any angle.”
Nora, the makeup artist, was next on the scene, lugging her massive toolkit of paints and brushes. “Hi Katie!”
“Oh, not you again,” grumbled Bad Katie.
“Katie, why are you wearing those utterly ridiculous 8-inch platform heels?”
“I’m going to be on television! I need to look taller.”
“Well, you won’t look taller when you stumble and go arse over tit across the stage.”
“Chill pill, Nora. I’ve been wearing bad boys like these since my BRIT School days.”
Nora rolled her eyes and began dabbing her blusher.
“Besides,” added Bad Katie. “If things kick off here they make excellent nutcrushers!”
Some cheap hopeful from the Comedy Store had been dragged in to act as a warm up act and MC for the show.
“Ladies, Gentlemen, and inmates! If my warm up routine bored ya, you’ll be ready for the gal from Georgia… it’s always a pleasure to view her, it’s Katie Mel-ooh-err!”
Bad Katie plodded a little unsteadily up to the microphone in her platform bricks, making sure she deliberately trod on the MC’s foot as they passed.
“Hi everyone, my name is Katie Melua and I’m from the beautiful country of Georgia!”
“Then bugger off back there,” yelled someone from the right. From the far right, probably.
Bad Katie gazed coolly in his direction. “Actually I’m going on a skiing trip there next week. In my private jet. Fancy coming with me? Oh, hang on, you can’t because you’re in prison. Shame.”
A few uneasy rumblings and grumblings echoed around.
Bad Katie grinned. “Right, let’s get this show started! I want to begin with a cover of an amazing song by The Animals.”
A guy on the front row looked knowingly at the one next to him. “House Of The Rising Sun, I expect.”
Bad Katie began singing...
In this dirty old part of the city
Where the sun refused to shine...
Later that night, back in her manager’s office, the inquest was under way.
“You look like you’ve been dragged backwards through a hedge,” said Sumit.
“Well. I have actually. The security guards had to smuggle me out quite unceremoniously once things kicked off.”
Sumit shook his head. “Oh, Katie. What happened? You were meant to open with ‘Closest Thing’ and ’Nine Million Bicycles’.”
“Yeah, bit bored of them, t.b.h.”
“So, instead, you chose a cover of ‘We Gotta Get Out Of This Place’.”
Bad Katie smirked.
“And then ‘I Want To Break Free’,” continued Sumit.
Bad Katie chuckled.
“As if that wasn’t enough, you picked this, of all occasions, to have a stab at ‘I Predict A Riot’. ”
Bad Katie giggled.
“What on earth were you thinking, Katie?”
“I was proud of my strumming pattern on that!”
“Oh, and smashing your guitar to bits at the end? What exactly was that about?”
“Just had a bit of a rock and roll moment.”
“Then pouring lighter fluid on it and setting it on fire? Are you having a mid-life crisis or something?”
“Thought it would give them a bit of a show.”
“It did that alright. Set the sprinklers off and the alarms going, oh and I mustn’t forget the mass brawl that ensued. It was mayhem!”
Bad Katie shrugged. “Never know how a crowd will turn out.”
Sumit rolled his eyes and sighed wearily. “This is the closest thing to crazy you have ever been. You may be feeling thirty-six but you’re acting seventeen.”
“Think those lines are already taken,” said Bad Katie.
“The prison governor was considering pressing charges against you for incitement, you know,” said Sumit.
“Oh, you can make that go away, can’t you?”
“Yeah, yeah. I already have. I gave him a signed copy of your latest album and one of your scented candles for his wife.”
“That’s all good then. So, I’m booked in on Lorraine tomorrow morning?”
Sumit rubbed his eyes wearily. “I don’t know how we can promote this show. It was a train wreck, frankly.”
“Don’t be such a drama queen. They can edit out anything unsuitable. Just show the best bits.”
“We’d be left with about eight minutes of footage!”
Bad Katie rose to her feet, albeit rather unsteadily as she was still wearing those platforms. She towered over Sumit with them on, much to her amusement. She patted his cheeks and tweaked his nose. “It’ll be fine. Charlie’s a wizz in the edit room. He’ll make it look amazing.”
Sumit exhaled slowly. “Very well. I’ll email Lorraine’s people. They wanted to know if you need anything on your rider.”
“Ooh yes. Let me see now. Cinnamon Pop-Tarts, jumbo bag of Monster Munch, three cans of Red Bull, a badminton racket and a pack of hibiscus and hydrangea scented tea lights.”
“Why the hell do you need a badminton racket?”
“I don’t. Just like to keep them on their toes. Anyway, it might come in handy. There’s always flies in those breakfast tv dressing rooms. Right, I’m off. See you later, alligator!”
Bad Katie clumped off to the door and left. Sumit switched his television on to catch the late news. He read the strap-line at the bottom of the screen: “BREAKING: Mass breakout after riots at local prison...”
Sumit sank back in his chair and hid his face in his palms.
Episode 4 - The Queen Album
Bad Katie was sat in her studio with her feet up on the desk. She’d been fiddling with a Rubik’s cube for the best part on hour and still hadn’t got any colours lined up. Finally, in exasperation, she threw it out of the open window. Down in the garden below a startled cat yelped. She was just about to jump up and take a picture of the dazed feline for Instagram when her phone rang.
Bad Katie put on a posh accent and answered, “Good morning, Kensington Topiary Museum. How may I help?”
“Katie, I know it’s you, Siri knows your number.”
“Blast her, the witch,” said Bad Katie. “Hi Sumit, what do you want, I’m really busy. Now isn’t the best time.”
“Oh, and when would be a good time then?”
“Ha ha. Look Katie, I have amazing news! Gary Barlow has offered to do a duet with you!”
“You mean Gary Barlow of Take That?”
“Of course? Is there another one?”
“Bloody hope not. Well, you can tell Gary Barlow he can Take That offer and shove it up his...”
“Our sales would go through the roof afterwards. At least think about it.”
“You persuaded me to do ‘Islands In The Stream’ with Peter Maffay. Look how that turned out. ”
“What do you mean? That was great. They lapped it up in Germany.”
“In Germany maybe. But all the rest of the world lapped up was that viral deep-faked video where they put mine and Peter’s faces on Kenny Rogers' and Dolly Parton's.”
“Well, you have to admit, it was quite funny.”
“But why did they have to make me Kenny?”
Sumit chuckled. “You looked great with a beard!”
“And how great will you look with no nads?”
“Honestly Katie, you need to get a sense of humour.”
“What do you mean? I almost wet myself the other day when you slipped on that dog turd and ended up face-first in a privet bush.”
“That was not funny. It was dangerous.”
“It got ten thousand likes on Instagram.”
“Katie! You promised you wouldn’t post that!”
“Do you even know me?”
Sumit sighed. “Unfortunately, yes.”
“Sumit, I’m wounded by that!”
“Oh Katie, you know I love you really. But you do put me through the mill, don’t you?”
“No idea what you mean. I must be a joy to manage.”
“No comment. Anyway, we could do with putting a new album out, pretty sharpish. I don’t suppose you’ve got any unused songs lying about at the back of the cupboard?”
“Of course not, what do you think I’ve been using up for the last few albums? Even found one down the back of the sofa that I’d scribbled on a fag packet.”
“Ah. Never mind. Just a thought.”
“But I do have a great idea for a new album of covers. All Queen songs.”
“I know! I’m so original aren’t I? Who’d ever think to do an album of Queen covers?”
“Well, now you mention it, Elaine Paige released ’The Queen Album’.”
“Oh sod off. She doesn’t count anyway, she does musicals. Mine will be much better.”
“Yes, I’m sure. So what will you call it? How about ‘Katie Does Queen’?”
Bad Katie pulled a face rather like a squirrel that had mistaken a rabbit dropping for a hazelnut. “That sounds like a Sun headline! No, I’m one step ahead of you as usual. They are Queen songs.”
“So I thought I would call the album….”
“I see what you did there.”
“Not just a pretty face you know.”
“And have you had any ideas about how you want the album to sound?”
“It’ll be acoustic, mostly. Oh, and I thought I’d get the GWC involved in a track or two.”
“The Gori Women’s Choir? That’s a great idea.”
“Er, no. They can’t travel ‘cos of covid restrictions. I meant the Grimsby Women’s Choir.”
“Oh. I see. Hang on, aren’t they a bunch of fishermen in drag?”
“Okay, so, they may be a bit bass heavy. But that’s nothing a swift kick in the nads won’t sort out.”
“I’m sure. But how do you plan to stay socially distant from the Grimsby Women’s Choir members?”
“Ah, I’ve thought of that. I’ve bought them each a zorb ball. They can get in those and sing.”
“A zorb ball.”
“Yeah. Actually pretty good acoustics inside them.”
Sumit sighed. “Just promise me you won’t go pushing them down flights of stairs of something.”
Bad Katie looked hurt. “Would I do something like that?”
Sumit raised his eyebrows. “Do I need to answer that?”
“Oh well, I have to go, there’s a scene taking place outside.”
“Really? What’s happening?”
“Some paramedics are giving the kiss of life to a cat...”
“Well, what do you think of it so far?” said Bad Katie.
“‘Another One Bites The Dust’ is sounding terrific.” said Sumit. "Tim’s slaying the bass and Joe’s spanking those skins so crisply. And you and Z’s synchronised strumming is a sonic joy.”
“What about my use of the kazoo? Radical, isn’t it?”
“Ah, yes. Perhaps drop that back in the mix a tad.”
“I was tempted to get my maracas out.”
“Please don’t,” urged Sumit. “Anyway, how did 'Bohemian Rhapsody' go? I heard there was an issue with the first take.”
“Sort of. It was going bloody brilliant to begin with but Z hadn’t got the memo about it being an acoustic version and he went berserk with a monster two-minute solo on his Strat, giving it hammer-ons, pull-offs, harmonics, and all that crap. Amazing. But we had to do it again. Shame really.”
“Well, I hope you kept the recording. We can stick it on a bonus version of the album.”
“I also heard you’ve already shot a video for it, recreating the original, at home.”
“Yep. Me, Z, Tim and Joe all crammed into the cupboard under the stairs and I shone a little torch on our faces. Looks amazeballs. Wasn’t ideal in there, have to say. Bit whiffy. Joe had overdone the garlic bread the night before and Tim’s Old Spice didn’t help. Things we do for art, eh?”
“Indeed. And I believe you’ve just finished one of my favourites, ‘Fat Bottomed Girls’,” said Sumit.
“Indeed we have. Tape’s still wet,” said Bad Katie.
“I thought you were recording digital?”
“Well, yes, obvs, just a figure of speech. Get with it.”
“Ah, right. I love Fat Bottomed Girls.”
“Yes, I’d heard that about you.”
Sumit stuck his tongue out at her. “Are you going to do 'The Prophet’s Song’?”
“No. There’s no profit in it.”
“But we are planning to re-create the video for ‘I Want To Break Free’.”
“I’ll have a false moustache and play Freddie. The boys will be in drag.”
“Normal weekend for Tim then.”
Bad Katie chuckled. “He wants to be the naughty schoolgirl. Z will have his hair in curlers. Joe will be the gran. Sorted.”
“Can’t wait. You won’t need much work—Freddie actually looks like you in that video.”
“How rude,” said Bad Katie. “But I’ll take that. He was stunning.”
“Okey dokey,” said Sumit. “This album sounds like a winner to me. I mean, who doesn’t love Queen? I suppose I’d better start making plans for the publicity.”
“Good. Just make sure you get me on the Graham Norton Show.”
“Why him in particular?”
“Duh. Think about it. A Queen album!”
“Oh. Anyway, I believe Piers Morgan still has a slot available.”
“Hmmm. Okay. Well, just make sure I take the vinyl edition with me instead of the CD.”
“Cos’ it will hurt more when I insert it in his slot.”
“Right, gotta get on. No rest for the wicked. We have to get the last track recorded before 5pm.”
“That’s a bit tight. How come, has someone else booked the studio?”
“No, just don’t want to miss Pointless.”
“How can you think about mindless television when you are creating beautiful music?”
“It isn’t mindless, it’s educational. Mike Batt taught me that if you want to write good songs you need to watch hours of television a day. Did you know that ’Shy Boy’ was based on Mr. Bean?”
Sumit rolled his eyes. “And pray tell, which of your gems was inspired by a television show?”
“Oh, most of them. ‘I Cried For You’ came to me during Eastenders. In fact, I got an idea from Pointless the other day. They mentioned the island of Tuvalu and I came up with the lyric ’skip Tuvalu my darling’.”
“Sounds like another winner,” said Sumit, with his best dead-pan face. “So, what’s your final track for ‘In Windsor’?”
“We Will Rock You.”
“How on earth are you going to do an acoustic version of a stadium-shaker like that?”
“Well, I’ve made a little tweak to the lyrics. It will go ‘we will hug you’ instead.”
“And another hit bites the dust,” grumbled Sumit.
“Oh ye of little faith. You know I’ve got the midas touch. Whatever I sing, the mugs will buy it. My voice is a licence to print money.”
“It’ll be interesting to see what you do with it, I suppose.”
“Just wait till you hear what I’ve done with the theme from ‘Flash’. And for the video I’m going to...”
“Don’t wanna know!” said Sumit, making a hasty exit.
A few weeks later, shortly after the album release, Sumit phoned Bad Katie.
“Katie! Great news. ‘In Windsor’ is straight in at number 10!”
“Eh? It hasn’t been out long enough to trouble the charts.”
“No, I mean 10 Downing Street. Boris Johnson has bought it on vinyl.”
“He says he always suspected the Queen had a fine singing voice and he was sure the acoustics in Windsor Castle would make it sound even better.”
“Erm, but it has my name on the cover…”
“Yes, he thinks it’s Her Majesty’s stage name.”
“Couldn’t possibly comment. Thing is though, he’s hoping to invite her to go to Downing Street and perform a couple of songs live.”
“And you don’t think he’ll notice I’m not the actual Queen?”
“Even he isn’t that dim. Shame. The fee would be huge.”
“Hang on, I’ve got an idea! You know that video we did for ‘I Want To Break Free’?”
“How could I ever forget?”
“I’ll call Joe and see if he’s still got that granny wig….”
Episode 5 - Bad Katie Goes Busking
Bad Katie was slumped in a chair in Sumit’s office, her feet up on his desk. She was fiddling with her phone.
Sumit entered, carrying a couple of mugs.
“That better be gin,” said Bad Katie.
“Sorry. Coffee only here, you know that. We need to stay on our toes!”
“Your coffee tastes like rat’s bile.”
“How would you know?”
She screwed her face up at him.
“So, I heard you helped a little old lady across the road the other day?” said Sumit.
“That’s right, I did indeed.”
“Good Katie?” Sumit looked at her suspiciously. “Doesn’t sound much like you.”
“Ah well, I do have a good side you know. Besides, I noticed she’d dropped her purse in the gutter. Once I saw she was safely on her way I was able to nip back and claim it. There was nearly seventeen quid in there! Result.”
“Wait, it gets better. Her address was inside so I was able to send Z round to return it to her, tell her he found it. She was so grateful she gave him twenty quid as reward.”
“You really are a monster, aren’t you?”
“What do you mean? I let Z keep a couple of quid for doing it. That left me thirty-five quid up on the deal in total!”
“That’s probably a week’s food for the poor dear.”
“Nonsense. At that age they only eat gruel and broccoli.”
Sumit shook his head and slurped his coffee.
“So, you found me any gigs yet?” said Bad Katie.
“Fraid not, there’s not much going on at the moment, what with lockdown and everything.”
“There’s still chat shows on.”
“Most of them have black-listed you for past behaviour.”
“Oh for god’s sake. It’s not my fault if they ask inane questions that deserve an appropriate response.”
“Well, there’s always the One Show. They’ll take anyone.”
Sumit looked philosophical. “If life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”
“If life gives you lemons tell it to shove them up its arse.”
Bad Katie sat at her desk, staring dreamily out of the window. She was nibbling pistachios, skilfully extracting the kernels with her tongue and spitting the shells out on to the floor. The carpet was strewn with them, but she knew her mother would sort that later. She had more pressing concerns. Lockdown had caused all her nice little earners to dry up. All those lucrative appearances at weddings, funerals, children’s parties, corporate functions and the like, where she could roll up, belt out ‘Bicycles’ and one other, dependent on the occasion, pocket a grand, and be back in time for dinner. She was having to come up with new ways of generating income. Sales of merch on her online store had been disappointing of late, especially the new range of signed ashtrays and poop scoops. She would have to go old school...
“Hey, Z! Pack up your guitar, we’re going busking,” said Bad Katie.
“Oh no, I thought those days were long over,” groaned Zurab. “I was just about to play ‘Call Of Duty’.”
“Tough titties. You have a duty to answer my call.”
“Do I have to?”
“Yep. I’m your big sister don’t forget.”
“But I’m much bigger than you now.”
She gave him ’the look’.
“Okay, okay, I’ll get my guitar.”
Bad Katie and Zurab were sat outside Kensington station. Bad Katie had propped up a sign saying “Please help my poor mute brother pay for his operation”. Lots of people were passing by and there were several coins and a few notes in Bad Katie’s guitar case.
“Why do we need to go busking, sis?” said Zurab.
“I like to perform. Put on a show for people. Let the world see how talented I am.”
“It’s about the money, isn’t it?”
“Well, if people want to show their appreciation of my gift it would be rude not to accept their gratitude. Now be quiet, someone’s coming. Crazy, quick.”
They began playing ’The Closest Thing To Crazy.’
A woman stopped and listened to them for a while. “Aw. He plays beautifully. Is he dumb too?”
Bad Katie scowled at her. “He’s mute, not deaf. Hasn’t been able to speak since a traumatic event when he was young.”
“Oh dear. What happened?”
“None of your business. Anyway, I still don’t think it was my fault. I get blamed for everything.”
The woman gave a half smile, dropped a few copper coins in the guitar case and moved on. Bad Katie shook her head slowly and extended a digit towards the woman’s back.
“Sis,” said Zurab. “Why won’t you let me talk in public?”
“Shush,” said Bad Katie. “Someone might see you. This is a lucrative little earner.”
“But you’re worth millions! You don’t need this extra few quid.”
“Of course I do. It all adds up you know, and besides, I’m saving for something.”
“Saving for what?”
“To buy Batumi.”
“Anyway, just think of all the comics you can buy with your ten per cent.”
“Why do I only get ten per cent?”
“I’m the star, obviously. Just be grateful. You wouldn’t make anything on your own, being mute.”
“I’m not mute though!”
“The public don’t know that. Anyway, I always buy you chicken nuggets for lunch on the way home. What more do you want?”
Zurab sighed. “This is so humiliating. Sitting on this dirty pavement waiting for people to throw coins at us. And why can’t I have a little folding stool like yours?”
“Because I’m the singer. I have to have the correct posture to project my voice properly.”
“It’s so you can look down on me, isn’t it?”
“There’s that too. Look, I could do this on my own you know. You should be grateful I’m giving you a job.”
“I could have been a doctor, just like Dad,” grumbled Zurab.
“What, and work twenty-three hours a day poking around in places we really shouldn’t see?”
“It’s noble work—saving lives and making people well.”
“Singing is noble work—making people happy. And making lots of money.”
“Is money all you care about?”
“How dare you?” said Bad Katie, looking wounded. “Music is my passion, my life. It’s all I care about. Hey, grab that 5p in the gutter. Some people couldn’t hit a barn door with a banjo.”
Zurab reached for the coin and dropped it in the guitar case.
“All adds up,” said Bad Katie. “Anyway, just you listen to your big sister and you won’t go far wrong. Look at the life you’ve got now. You hardly ever have to do any work. Sit around all day, playing your ‘Call of Ducks’...”
“Call of Duty!”
Bad Katie then spotted a lady in a fur coat strutting towards them. She was carrying a designer bag with a chihuahua in it. “Hey, Z, look morose. This one looks a right patsy.”
They started playing “Nine Million Bicycles.”
The woman stopped and watched them for a while. She seemed clearly moved. “Aw. That’s lovely. Poor boy, he looks so sad. How much is his operation?”
Bad Katie pretended to cry. “Thousands,” she sobbed. “At this rate, it’ll take us years to save up.”
“Oh there, there,” said the woman. “Don’t you worry, my husband’s an oligarch.”
“Sorry to hear that,” said Bad Katie.
“Has its benefits,” said the woman. She fished a cheque book out from under her dog.
Bad Katie winked at Z. The dog stared at her as if to suggest it knew she was a scammer even if her dumb owner didn’t.
The woman scrawled away. “Who should I make it out to?”
Bad Katie had to think on her feet, realising she couldn’t risk using her own name in case the woman had heard of her. “Oh, er, Ms K. Toseland.”
The woman signed the cheque, tore it off and handed it to Bad Katie. “There you go, sweetie. You go get your brother sorted out. You could be the next Carpenters you know. Keep believing!”
She strutted away, her Louboutins clicking on the pavement.
Bad Katie looked at the cheque. “Five grand!” she exclaimed. “Bloody brilliant result. Good job I kept that secret account open. Had a feeling it would come in useful. Right, pack up, that’ll do for today. Give me the notes, you can keep all the coins, I’m feeling generous.”
“Thanks, sis. You’re the best,” muttered Zurab.
“I know. Come on, let’s get you some nuggets.”
A week later, Bad Katie returned to meet her manager. As she walked down the corridor towards Sumit’s office, she quickly finished her banana and went straight inside. “Hi, Sumit.”
“Have you heard of knocking on doors?”
“Dylan, wasn’t it? Why, do you think I should cover it?”
Sumit rolled his eyes. “Make yourself comfy, I’ll go and grab us a couple of coffees.”
Bad Katie sat down and put her feet up on the desk, then whipped out her phone to check her social media.
A couple of moments later there was a yelp and a thud in the corridor outside. Bad Katie quickly opened the camera app and ran to the door. Sumit was lying on the floor, drenched in coffee.
“What are you doing down there?” said Bad Katie.
“I’m admiring the rendering on the ceiling,” barked Sumit.
“Really?” said Bad Katie, looking up.
“Of course not! Some moron had left a banana skin on the floor.”
“Oops,” said Bad Katie. Then she took a few snaps. “Wasn’t fussed about the coffee anyway.”
Sumit got to his feet and made his way to his desk. He peeled off his coffee-stained shirt.
Bad Katie wolf-whistled. “Nice abs. For your age.”
He scowled at her. “What am I gonna do now? I have an important meeting in ten minutes and I haven’t got a spare shirt or time to get another one.”
“Oh, well, you can have mine.”
“One of my ex-boyfriends left it behind in his rush to leave. He was about your size.”
Sumit looked at her doubtfully. “Please tell me you’re wearing a bra under it.”
Bad Katie had a quick peek to check. “Yep.”
She unbuttoned the shirt and tossed it over to him. She stood there grinning as he put it on.
“For god’s sake, Katie, put your jacket back on and button it up, someone could walk in.”
“Nah, I’m the only one that doesn’t knock first.”
“Surprisingly, this shirt fits really well,” said Sumit. “Who was this boyfriend?”
Bad Katie tapped her nose and winked. “That’s for me to know and you to wonder. At least you’ll look presentable in your meeting, even if you do smell of freesias.”
“Yes, well. I just wanted to let you know I’m still trying hard to get you some bookings.”
“Oh, yes, about that. I wouldn’t sweat it, bro. I’ve been busking all week. Raked in over twenty grand.”
“Twenty grand! I’m in the wrong job.”
She gazed at him levelly. “No, you’re not. I’m a legendary, multi-platinum selling artist remember. I’ve heard you sing, it’s like a castrated orangutang. You wouldn’t make twenty pence never mind twenty grand.”
Sumit sighed. “Anyway. The One Show have been pestering me again.”
“Just tell them to stick it up their big O.”
“They are desperate for guests. They say nobody has anything to plug at the moment. There’s a nationwide plug shortage.”
“Well I’m not sitting on that manky sofa for half an hour pretending to be interested in stories about commoners with talking ferrets just to get my three minutes in the spotlight. Wild horses couldn’t drag me there.”
“They want you to do a live performance as well. They’re offering ten grand.”
Episode 6 - Cash In The Attic
Opportunities for publicity appearances were proving few and far between for celebrities during lockdown. Bad Katie’s manager, Sumit, was trying his best to find ways to keep his top girl in the spotlight. He called her to sound her out about his latest thought.
“South Kensington Sunshine Home for the Terminally Bewildered,” answered Bad Katie, in a soft Scottish accent. “We care for the confused so you don’t have to.”
“What?” said Sumit. “Katie, I know it’s you.”
“Oh. Hi, Sumit.”
“Why do you always try to make me think I’ve got the wrong number?”
“It’s not for you, silly. Sometimes fans manage to get hold of my number. It’s a good way of deflecting them.”
“Right. Okay. But could you just add me to your contacts so you can see it’s me calling?”
“Can’t be arsed to be honest.”
“Oh. Well, anyway, just a quick idea,” said Sumit, tentatively. “I thought maybe you could do Cash In The Attic?”
“Yes!” enthused Katie. “Brilliant idea. I’ll start preparing for it right away.”
“Really? Oh, well, in that case I’ll go ahead with the booking. Are you sure, Katie?….Katie?”
Katie had already hung up and was leaping up the stairs.
Sumit put the phone down and looked puzzled. “That was too easy,” he thought to himself. “I thought she’d bite my head off at the suggestion of a meaningless daytime television appearance.”
“Come on, Z, I need a hand clearing the junk out of the attic,” said Bad Katie.
“Why do we need to do that?” said Zurab, without looking away from his computer screen.
“I’m turning it into a recording studio.”
Zurab sat back in his chair, closed his eyes and took a deep breath, then started making slow, Zen-like movements with his arms.
“What the hell are you doing?” said Bad Katie.
“What are you on about, you mutton-headed geek?”
“You’re clearly in ‘busy’ mode. I can’t handle you in that state without first finding my inner calm, centring my chi and aligning my chakras.”
“I’ll soon align your chakras for you if you don’t get your butt out of that chair and into the loft in the next five seconds!”
“Oh sis! You’ve already got a studio, why do you want another one?”
“That’s for writing, and, well, getting away from you lot. But the acoustics are rubbish for recording. The attic is going to be my recording studio. All that insulation makes great soundproofing. Don’t know why I hadn’t thought of it before.”
“But what’s wrong with actual recording studios? Joe’s never gonna lug his drums up there.”
“It’s not for the band, you tame galoot. It’s for me to do solo acoustic stuff.”
“Oh. What about me?”
“We’ll see. If I need your accompaniment you’ll have to sit on the floor. Your own fault for eating like a horse when you were growing.”
“I was a good boy, I ate my greens. Not like you, living on Monster Munch and Red Bull. Sometimes I think all that Monster Munch turned you into an actual monster.”
“How very dare you! After all I’ve done for you. I could cancel your comic subscription with one call to the newsagent you know.”
Zurab hung his head. “Sorry sis. Didn’t mean it. You know I love you really.”
“Of course you do,” said Bad Katie, grinning. “How could you not? I’m a model sister. Haven’t I always looked out for you? Who else would have smuggled Snickers bars and Fizzy Fishes into your lunch packs and removed the fruit when Mum wasn’t looking?”
“I used to wonder about that. What did you do with all that fruit? You didn’t eat it did you?”
Bad Katie scoffed at him. “Yuk. Course not. I sold it to that Vegan goody two-shoes girl in my class. Good little supplement to the pocket money, that was. Mind you, I never did believe she was from Vega.”
Zurab looked at her quizzically.
“Never mind,” said Bad Katie, “let’s get cracking. This attic won’t clear itself.”
She leaped up the steps into the attic and pulled the dangling string to turn on the light. “Light’s a bit dingy, but the skylight blind is down. Soon yank that off and it will be much better in here. I’ll even be able to record by moonlight. Right then, Z, I’ll start passing boxes down to you.”
“Where shall I put them?”
“Stick ‘em all in the guest bedroom.”
“Mum will go ballistic!”
“It’s okay. I’ll tell her it was your idea. You can do no wrong in her eyes so you’ll get away with it. Not as though we can have guests anyway during lockdown.”
Zurab sighed, then looked up towards the loft entrance just in time for a box of old dolls to land on his face. He fell in a heap on the landing floor, surrounded by a dozen scary dolls staring at him creepily.
Bad Katie peered down at him. “What are you doing? No time to play now. Get a move on.”
Zurab shook his head. “Gonna be a long afternoon,” he grumbled, and started stuffing the dolls back into their box.
Sumit was rubbing his head and wincing after bumping it on a beam.
Bad Katie was chuckling. “I told you to stay in the middle of the room.”
“This isn’t a room. It’s a loft. There’s barely room to swing a cat in here.”
“Lucky for you. I take a dim view of animal cruelty. I love cats. Ooh, Love Cats. Haven’t sung that in a while. I’ll add it to my list of lockdown distractions. Besides, it’s an attic studio, not a loft.”
“But why record up here? You could afford to build a state of the art studio in your garden.”
“Your missing the point.”
“It’s about the vibe. The ambiance. The mystical sense of cosmic energies aligning themselves with your delta-wave patterns.”
“Bollocks,” said Sumit. “You just want to save on studio fees.”
“I’ll treat that remark with the contempt it deserves,” said Bad Katie. “The sloping roof makes it feel like being in a pyramid. There are magical forces in the air up here guiding my psychic consciousness.”
“I think that’s the ganja.”
“How dare you! That’s the sandalwood and lotus blossom incense sticks.”
“Hmmm. So anyway, why have you dragged me up here?”
“To show you my progress on your great idea!”
“Oh yes, right.” Sumit looked confused. “Remind me again, which idea was that exactly?”
“Cash in the Attic, silly!”
“Ah. Okay. So, erm, what did you find up here to sell?”
“Sell? What on earth are you babbling on about?”
“When you go on Cash in the Attic?”
“Go on? Speak English, Sumit,” said Bad Katie, looking irritated. “This is where I’m recording the stripped-back, intimate acoustic versions of Johnny Cash covers, for my new album, ‘Cash In The Attic’.”
A veil of pained realisation fell over Sumit’s face. “Ah.”
“Katie, I was talking about the television show.”
“What television show?”
“Cash in the Celebrity Attic. I’ve booked you for it now. They’re expecting you at the studio on Monday morning.”
Bad Katie looked aghast. “Are you insane? I can’t be seen on daytime tv. Why on earth did you agree to that, you knuckle-headed bog brush.”
Sumit rubbed his eyes wearily. “You agreed to it when I asked you about it last week.”
“No, I did not. I was agreeing to the Cash in the Attic album idea.”
“That wasn’t my idea.”
“Fair enough, I’ll take all the credit then.”
“You can’t get out of it. I’ve signed the contract.”
“Sumit, you fluffy-tailed baboon! I’m not doing it.”
“It’s for a good cause. Whatever you sell, the proceeds go to a charity of your choice.”
“Then I’m definitely not doing it.”
“You still get a substantial appearance fee, of course.”
“Yes. Pretty lucrative for a day’s filming, I’d say.”
“Oh. So what do I have to do?”
“Just find an old antique or something that was hiding away in the loft or garage and take it with you. They’ll value it and sell it at auction. You just follow the expert around and look suitably impressed when they say stuff. Money for old rope really.”
“Ooh, I think we have some old rope in the garage...”
“I didn’t mean literally. Surely you must have come across something you could sell when you were clearing this place out?”
“Wasn’t paying attention to be honest. Just chucking boxes down at Z. He put them all in the guest bedroom. Mum hasn’t noticed yet otherwise there’d have been a stink. I’ll have a rummage later and see what I can find.”
“Good. You do that. I’ll email you the exact details of the show later. They’ll send a car for you Monday morning.”
“Get me out of the house for a bit I suppose.”
“I’ll pretend I didn’t hear that. So tell me more about this Cash album idea.”
“I hurt myself today,” said Bad Katie.
“Oh, I love that song. His version is so raw,” said Sumit.
Bad Katie looked at him blankly. “No, I hurt myself. I trod on a plug.”
“That must have been a shock,” said Sumit. He laughed at his own joke.
“It wasn’t plugged in, you idiot!”
“No, of course, I was just making a little joke.”
“Well don’t. You’re rubbish at humour.”
“All right. Sorry, I know that stepping on a plug can really make you smart.”
“Can it? Well, I’m smart enough as it is. Made me use some choice words though, which isn’t like me at all.”
Sumit raised his eyebrows. “Have you even met yourself? You have the pottiest mouth I know.”
“Oh fuck off.”
“There you go you see!”
Sumit shook his head. “Anyway, you are going to record some of his songs in this confined space?”
“Aren’t I just?”
“Have you chosen the songs yet?”
“A few. I’m kicking off with ‘A Boy Named Sue’.”
Sumit looked dubious. “Okay…. interesting. Well, can’t wait to hear that, but I’ve spent enough time in this Toblerone box of yours, I’m heading back to my lovely spacious office. Don’t forget to find something old to sell for that television show.”
She winked at him. “If all else fails I can sell you!”
“Hello and welcome to another amazing episode of Celebrity Cash In The Attic,” said the cheesy host. “This week we are joined by the girl from Georgia with an enormous bicycle collection! It’s the incredible Katie Melua!”
Bad Katie looked at him in confusion. “But I don’t own a bike at all.”
“Cut!” yelled the director. “Katie, can you just smile and play along with him?”
“He’s an idiot.”
“I know. But this is television. You need to pretend he’s funny and interesting.”
“I am here you know,” said Cheesy host, hand on hips.
“Yes, luvvie,” said the director, patronisingly. “How could we not know? Now let’s start again from the beginning. And Katie, try to engage with him.”
“I’m not getting engaged to this orange antique,” said Bad Katie indignantly.
The director put his palm over his face. “This is going to be a long day...”
“So anyway, lovely Katie, what special item have you managed to find for us after rummaging around in your attic? Remember folks, whatever Katie’s item makes at auction will go to a charity of her choice.”
Bad Katie opened her Sainsbury’s Bag for Life and pulled out a small wooden box, which she placed ceremoniously on the velvet covered table. She flashed a cheesy grin at Cheesy host.
“Right, so, what have we here?” said Cheesy host. “A little antique box of some kind.”
“Not the box, you bewildered satsuma. Open it.”
Cheesy host carefully opened the box to reveal a set of yellowed false teeth. He squeaked and recoiled in horror. “What on earth? You want to sell someone’s teeth?”
“Not anyone’s teeth,” said Bad Katie. Her eyes widened, and she adopted a dramatic tone of voice. “These belonged to Stalin!”
“St.. Stalin?” stammered Cheesy host. “THE Stalin?”
“No, Bob Stalin from down the road,” sneered Bad Katie. “Of course, THE Stalin.”
Cheesy host picked up the box gingerly and pushed his spectacles further up his nose. He peered at the artificial gnashers with a mixture of fascination and disgust. “So tell me, Katie, how did you come to be in possession of Stalin’s teeth?”
“I’m from Georgia,” said Bad Katie.
“So was he.”
“Yes. Perhaps a little more detail?”
“Oh. Well, you see, my grandfather knew him.”
“Really? In what capacity?”
“Ah. Thing is, there’s something of a veil of secrecy surrounding the whole business. Grandad didn’t like to talk about it much. He was proud of the teeth but deliberately vague about how he acquired them.”
Cheesy host frowned. “Well, without provenance I’m not sure we can place a great deal of value on them.”
“Provenance?” scoffed Bad Katie. “You have my word. And I’m Georgian. Georgians don’t lie.”
“I’m sure,” muttered Cheesy host, doubtfully.
“I could sign them if you like. Well, print my name at least. Katie along the top set and Melua on the bottom ones.”
Cheesy host looked mortified. “No, no. We’ll just take them along to the auction and see what we can get for them. You never know, on the day there might be a collector of famous false teeth in...”
“Well,” said Sumit. “I have no idea how you pulled that off.”
“Pulled what off?” said Bad Katie.
“Getting ten grand for those fake false teeth at auction!”
“How dare you! How do you know they weren’t Stalin’s?”
“Erm… I’ve met you. Whose were they, really?”
“Haven’t the foggiest. But the box they were in belonged to my grandad and he didn’t have false teeth so they weren’t his. Bit of a mystery. Could have belonged to anyone. Including Stalin, I might add. And it was pretty lucky my number one fan attended the auction.”
“Wasn’t it just? He must have happened to see your Tweet mentioning the time and location of the auction and the fact you’d have a selfie with the highest bidder.”
Bad Katie shrugged. “No harm in maximising potential.”
“That poor woman must have been gutted to lose out to your number one fan though. She pushed him all the way to that 10k.”
“Wasn’t a woman!” sniggered Bad Katie. “It was Z in a blonde wig and dark glasses.”
“Katie! Poor Zurab. Honestly, the things you make your brother do.”
“He did okay out of it.”
“I let him keep the wig.”
“Anyway,” sighed Sumit. “You got a decent appearance fee. And your nominated charity will be over the moon with the ten grand. What was it again?”
“South Kensington Sunshine Home for the Terminally Bewildered,” said Bad Katie.
“Shouldn’t do. I only set it up a couple of days ago.”
Sumit buried his face in his palms. “Don’t tell me. You’re the treasurer, aren’t you?”
Bad Katie grinned at him. “Somebody has to bank that cheque...”
Episode 7 - The Man In The Bush
Bad Katie was having her weekly chinwag with her manager in his office.
“Katie, do you always have to put your feet up on my desk?” said Sumit.
“Yes,” said Bad Katie.
Sumit pulled a face like a meerkat sucking a sour cola bottle. “Gross. You’ve got a lump of chewing gum stuck inside your heel.”
“Thanks for reminding me. Proper handy place to store it. I put it there yesterday. Should still have a bit of flavour left.”
“Please tell me you’re not serious.”
“Hey, you never know when you might need a little minty refresh.”
Sumit buried his face in his hand and rubbed his eyes wearily.
“Anyway,” said Bad Katie. “I was jogging through the park the other morning...”
“Whoa, wait, what? You? Jogging?”
“Yes, of course, I’m very health-conscious you know.”
“No. I didn’t know. This comes as an utter shock.”
“These looks and this figure don’t come next day from Amazon, you know. It takes dedication and a special diet.”
“Yeah, gin and fags.”
“You have a very dim view of me, don’t you?”
“Well, I’ve started a new fitness regime. High intensity training. I walk for seven minutes then jog for seven seconds.”
Sumit looked doubtful. “Not quite sure that’s an optimum routine.”
“Yeah, might drop the jogging down to three or four seconds. Don’t want to overdo it. Anyway, the thing is, I was just walking along minding my own business when this bloke in a manky mac leapt out of the bushes and flashed at me.”
“Don’t be ridiculous. Of course it wasn’t Jesus.”
“What happened? Did you call the police?”
“Police? What on earth for? No, but it was lucky I had my phone in my hand though. I grabbed a pic of his chipolata and stuck it on Instagram.”
“Katie! It’s a serious matter. The guy could have been a psycho.”
“Well so could I!”
“Good point, well made. But you should probably carry something with you, for protection. Pepper spray or something.”
“Ooh, yes. I know a guy can get me something a bit better than that…”
Next morning, Bad Katie was walking in the park again and the very same pervert leapt out in front of her for the second time.
“Ha!” he said and flung open his mac.
Bad Katie looked at him quizzically. “Why have you got all that Lego taped across your privates?”
“It’s pixellated, in case you try posting it online again!”
“But if I can’t see your withered tiny todger than what’s the point of flashing?”
The pervert looked peeved. “Oh. Hadn’t thought of that.”
He trudged back into the bushes, though not before Bad Katie had managed another snap for Instagram. She quickly posted it, with the caption “just encountered old Lego nuts again…”
By the next morning, Bad Katie had had enough of him. He leapt out once more and stood there, gyrating his Johnson with a silly grin on his face. She put her hands on her hips for a moment and patiently watched him, rather like Indiana Jones, then pulled a taser gun from her pocket and tasered him in the Cairngorms. The flasher yelped and hobbled back for the cover of the bushes. Bad Katie grinned and continued on her way, whistling “Nutbush City Limits.”
Later that day, there was a knock on the door. Bad Katie answered it.
“Who are you?” she said.
“Are you Miss Katie Melua?”
“Might be. Depends. If you’re selling something then my name is Norah Jones.”
“I’m Inspector Plodd from the Metropolitan Police.”
“Inspector Plodd, eh? Been promoted then?”
Plodd’s expression suggested he’d heard that one before. “Might I have a word with you about an incident in the park reported to us earlier today?”
“Ah, yes. That old biddy with the blue rinse was feeding the ducks again, wasn’t she? I did warn her, though to be fair, she does give them multi-seeded wholegrain. Can’t be that bad for them, can it?”
The Inspector harrumphed. (If you have any idea what a harrumph is, good for you. I don’t, personally.) “I’m afraid this is a more serious matter, miss. An individual has come forward and made a complaint about you. He claims you tasered him in a sensitive area.”
“How do you know it was me?”
“The person in question has admitted indecent behaviour towards you. He claims to be an admirer of yours and said he’d deliberately targeted you. ”
“Oh, him. He was asking for it. Been leaping out at me all week flashing his tiny todger, the perv. He’s obviously got a screw loose. And a couple of nuts,” said Bad Katie. She giggled.
“This is a serious matter, miss. I’m afraid you can’t go around tasering testicles on a whim.”
“Don’t be afraid, PC Plod…”
“Whatever. If he’s admitted stalking me and flashing, why haven’t you arrested him instead of standing here like Inspector Clouseau, bending my ear? I was only acting in self-defence.”
“The individual has been arrested, miss, and remains in custody. But we are obliged to investigate his claims as well.”
“Why? I was just doing your job for you. Throw the bugger in jail. He can flash all he wants there. See where that gets him. Anyway, don’t you know who I am?”
“Actually, miss, I do. You’re my mother’s favourite singer.”
“Oh really,” said Bad Katie. She beamed at him. “How’d you like a signed copy of my new album for her?”
Plodd’s eyes lit up. “Really? You’d do that for me?”
“Sure. As long as you sod off and never threaten to darken my door again.”
The Inspector looked troubled. “I don’t know, miss. Allegations have been made against you, and now you are attempting to bribe a police officer.”
“You can have a selfie with me as well.”
Bad Katie was sitting in her manager’s office nibbling a Kit Kat and reminding herself that other products are available. Sumit was dipping his Oreo into his coffee and reminding himself that that is most definitely not a euphemism.
“Ooh, new mug?” said Bad Katie.
“Yes, my niece bought it me for my birthday.”
“With your face on it.”
“A mug shot!” cackled Bad Katie.
“That’s quite an expression on your face.”
“Well, I’d just sat on a cactus she’d sneaked on to my chair.”
“Heh, heh. Nice one. But why does it say ‘your text’ underneath it?”
“Ah, she’s not the greatest with computers. Apparently, it said on the web site ‘Enter your text here’, so that’s what she did.”
“Oh. Takes after her uncle then.”
“Bloody cheek. My IT skills are second to none.”
“Yes, second to nun.”
“So anyway, I understand you decided not to press charges against the perv in the park?”
“And you’ve even given him a job as a roadie?”
“Yup. I believe in giving people a second chance.”
“Really? Not like you to even give people a first chance.”
“That’s very wounding, Sumit. I’m a caring soul.”
Sumit snorted coffee through his nostrils and had to quickly fish out his hanky to wipe down his laptop.
“Besides,” said Bad Katie. “The courts would only have given him a slap on the wrist. As my roadie I can make sure his life is a living hell.”
“There’s my girl, back in the room.”
“He’ll be wishing he’d volunteered for community service once I start finding uses for him.”
“Ab-uses, you mean.”
Bad Katie grinned. “It’s only karma. Shouldn’t have jiggled his Johnson at me, should he?”
“Well, no, of course not, but to be honest I am actually starting to feel a bit sorry for the guy. And haven’t you got enough roadies?”
“You can never have enough roadies. Useful things, but not very durable.”
“Yes, you put two in hospital last week, didn’t you?”
“Not my fault if they’re weak. They should work out more.”
“Talking of which, how is your new exercise regime going? Your high intensity jogging thing?”
“Oh, I’ve finished that. I mean, just look at me. I look amazing. If it ain’t broke…”
“But I thought you had to do exercise regularly?”
“That’s right. Three times a year. Every year. It’s exhausting, but I’m done now for another year. Back to the cakes and khachapuri!”
Bad Katie leaned back in her chair and put her feet up on Sumit’s desk.
He groaned. “Katie! That chewing gum is still under your shoe.”
Episode 8 - Bad Katie Makes Some Friends
Bad Katie almost meant it when she told her mother she was going out for a run. It was such a beautiful morning, and she was wearing her expensive new golden tracksuit with matching jewel-encrusted trainers, which she was hoping would wow onlookers. She had been given it by a wealthy admirer and thought an Instagram pic of her wearing the outfit would bump the price right up before she put it on eBay. But by the time she had jogged to the end of the street she had already muttered “sod this” and hailed a cab.
The cab pulled in beside her and she hopped in.
The driver looked at her in the rear-view mirror and groaned. “Oh no, not you again.”
“Hi Arnie, how are you?”
“Why are you calling me Arnie?”
“Cos’ you keep coming back.”
Arnie sighed and wondered if the job at the fish-gutting factory was still going. “Where to miss, I mean ma’am?”
She decided a leisurely stroll back through the park would get her home at about the right time. “Oh, far side of the park. Drop me off at the North Gate.”
She sat back in her seat and gazed out of the window. It had been raining hard overnight and there was a huge puddle of standing water in the gutter ahead. Then she spotted a policeman was approaching it on the pavement. “Hey Arnie, drive closer to the kerb.”
“It’s Eric,” said Arnie. Or rather, Eric.
“Whatever. Just do it. Quick, or I’ll get you to take me to Bognor Regis for a day trip.”
Eric swerved in towards the side of the road and his cab ploughed through the standing water, soaking the poor policeman with a blanket of cold water.
Bad Katie took several quick fire photos and then shrieked with glee. “Wicked! Nice one, Arnie.”
Eric shook his head. “Have you considered getting help, ma’am?”
“Actually, I have,” said Bad Katie. “I’m getting someone else to write the lyrics on the next album. Might even get someone to write the music as well.”
“I thought you liked to write your own songs?”
“Oh, I’d take the credit for them, obviously. It would be in the small print of their contract to say it was my work. No one ever reads the small print.”
“You are one wicked lady, ma’am.”
“Aw, thanks, Arnie. Now get a move on, I’m feeling peckish and that café in the park has a special on bacon triple cheeseburgers before eleven.”
Crispin and Annie were sat on their usual bench in the park. They spent so much time there they called it the ‘crispie bench’. Crispin was a retired writer who had fallen on lean times. Annie was a former academic with a keen interest in everything that had suddenly woken up one morning and decided she could no longer be arsed to do anything. She was never able to really explain what had changed in her life, though it probably is no coincidence it happened the day after a dead squirrel fell out of a tree and hit her on the head. Crispin met Annie in a soup kitchen and they discovered they had a shared passion for sitting in the park all day doing nothing, so they began doing nothing together.
“Wonder what the time is,” mused Annie.
“Quarter past ten,” said Crispin.
“How do you know?” said Annie. “You haven’t got a watch.”
“Here comes Shrek.”
Crispin nodded towards a fat, middle-aged guy jogging towards them, panting heavily.
“Why do you call him Shrek?”
“Cos of those massive headphones he wears. Like big ears.”
“Oh. But why does that mean it is quarter past ten?”
“He runs past here same time every morning. Just after the church clock has chimed quarter past, and the bells rang ten times on the hour.”
“How observant you are!”
“Curse of being a writer. You just observe everything. Like the fact that Shrek probably won’t run past tomorrow.”
“Because that kid on the bike coming at him from the side is too busy staring at his phone to notice him. There’s going to be a pile up.”
Moments later there was general mayhem at the path crossroads. A solitary bike wheel rolled past them and passers-by ran to the scene in order to get pics of the carnage for their social media accounts.
Crispin sighed. “Like I said, a curse. Wish I could just sit here for once and not notice anything.”
“Well, you don’t seem to have noticed Golden Girl,” said Annie.
Annie gestured to a young woman in a glitzy gold outfit ambling towards them from the opposite direction.
Crispin took a long drag of his spliff and handed it to Annie. She passed him the bottle of finest Georgian red wine in a paper bag in return.
The woman drew level with them and stopped. “Ooh, do I whiff ganja?”
“What, undercover policewoman are you?” said Annie/
Bad Katie laughed raucously. “Couldn’t afford this outfit on those wages! I’m a singer. Mind if I join you?”
Annie eyed her suspiciously. Crispin shrugged and shuffled along the bench. Bad Katie sat down between them. She pointed at the spliff. “May I?”
Annie was still eyeing her suspiciously. Bad Katie removed the spliff from her fingers anyway and took a long drag, then offered it to Crispin in exchange for the wine. She gave the top a cursory wipe with her sleeve before taking a few deep gulps. “Wow! Saperavi! You old goats have taste.”
“Singer, eh?” said Annie. “What’s your name?”
“Never heard of her.”
“Well, you wouldn’t have done if you spend your whole life here getting paralytic.”
“I’ve heard of her,” said Crispin.
“Really?” said Bad Katie.
“Really?” said Annie.
“Yes, she used to be a singer for that Womble bloke.”
“It wasn’t for him, Grandad. I was his prodigy. And I still am a singer, and a very respected and sought after one at that.”
“And very easy on the eye too.”
Bad Katie eyed him warily. “Don’t get any ideas, Gandalf.”
Annie sniggered. “Don’t worry, he hasn’t had a good idea in years. He used to be a writer you know.”
“Really. I like reading,” said Bad Katie. “Or is it Reading? Always get the two mixed up. Anyway, you write anything I’d know?”
“Maybe,” said Crispin half-heartedly.
“No,” said Annie emphatically.
“Oh. Well I had Nine Million Bicycles. Surely you’ve heard that?”
“What on earth for?” said Annie. “Why did you need so many. Couldn’t you have bought a car instead?”
Bad Katie frowned and studied her, trying to decide if she was a couple of fleas short of a circus.
“Just ignore her,” said Crispin, and handed Bad Katie the spliff. “I’ve found it the best strategy.”
Bad Katie had another long drag and washed it down with a glug of wine. “Well, I could get used to this life….”
Half an hour later, Bad Katie and her new friends were sat munching on the bacon triple cheeseburgers that she’d kindly decided to treat them to. And she was still up on the deal, having paid with a twenty pound note she’d found outside the café. Crispin had rolled a couple more spliffs while she was fetching the burgers and Annie had fished another bottle of red out of her moth-eaten bag for life. It seemed like the three of them were settling in for a chilled afternoon.
Then Bad Katie’s phone pinged. She fished it out of her pocket and swiped it, leaving a nice trail of melted cheese. “Bugger,” she said, and gave the phone a quick wipe on Crispin’s sleeve.
“Kids today,” bemoaned Annie. “Can’t go five minutes without beeping at each other with their little gadgets.”
“Sugary shards,” cursed Bad Katie.
“Trouble, dear?” said Crispin.
“Oh, I forgot I’m meant to be baby-sitting for a friend this afternoon. I was hoping to have a good mooch around the art gallery. There’s this hot guy works there as a guide on Mondays.”
Bad Katie stuffed her phone back in her pocket, folded her arms, and stared into space moodily.
“Never mind,” said Crispin, and offered her a spliff. Bad Katie gratefully accepted the offer, and graciously received the wine Annie offered her. She sat in silence for a while, broodily puffing and guzzling. Crispin and Annie joined her in melancholy contemplation.
Suddenly, Bad Katie perked up. “How long will you guys be parked up here for?”
“Usually till they close the gates at dusk,” said Annie.
“Excellent!” said Bad Katie. She leapt to her feet. “Have to go. Thanks for the wine and weed. Take care. See you later!”
She set off walking purposefully, leaving Crispin and Annie to their normal state of lethargy.
“Did any of that actually just happen?” said Annie eventually.
“Any of what?” said Crispin.
A couple of hours later, a glamorous lady in a sparkly dress and high-heeled boots walked up to Crispin and Annie. The woman had a small boy with her. He was clutching her hand dutifully and looked bored shitless.
“Hi guys, it’s me,” said the woman.
“Me who?” said Annie.
“No, Melua. Katie Melua. Remember, we met this morning!”
“Did we?” said Annie, confused.
“Course we did,” said Crispin. “The hot girl in the gold outfit. Bought us lunch. Used to be a singer.”
Annie frowned. “Nope.”
Crispin rolled his eyes and shook his head. He gazed at Bad Katie, all made up and dressed up. “You’re even hotter than I remember.”
Bad Katie winked at him. “And I’m still a singer. Look guys, I need a favour.”
“Anything for you, Casey,” mumbled Crispin.
“What’s in it for us?” said Annie.
Bad Katie handed her a carrier bag. Annie grabbed it and peered inside. It contained a couple of bottles of Georgian wine and and a small packet of something probably rather dubious.
“Deal,” said Annie.
“What do you need, Kerry?” said Crispin.
Bad Katie lifted the small boy up and sat him down on the bench between the grizzled old-timers. “This is Connor. I just need you to look after him for a few hours. I’ll be back for him later, thanks.”
Crispin gazed at Connor. “Your mum is bloody lovely,” he said.
“I’m not his mother, you goon,” said Bad Katie.
Connor started sobbing.
Bad Katie pulled a bag of fizzy fishes from her purse and shoved them into the boy’s hands.
“Be a good boy Connor, these nice people will look after you,” lied Bad Katie. “Right guys, must dash, thanks a million!”
Connor started laying in to his sweets.
Annie ruffled his hair vigourously. “Don’t you worry lad, Auntie Annie will take good care of you.”
When Connor’s mother returned home she found her son lying on the living room carpet pointing at the ceiling and chanting “my god, it’s full of stars”. Bad Katie was asleep in an armchair, her lipstick smeared and hair a mess.
Bad Katie slowly woke up. “Oh, hi Paula. Did you have a good day?”
“Well, better than you by the looks of things. You look like you’ve been dragged backwards through a hedge, poor thing. Has Conn given you a hard time?”
“Oh no, no. He’s been good as gold. Little angel!”
“Really? That’s not like him. And what is he doing? Why is he saying the ceiling is full of stars?”
Bad Katie shrugged. “No idea. He’s been doing that since we got home.”
“Got home? Have you been out?”
“Oh, just took him for a walk in the park, you know, feed the ducks and stuff.”
“Ah, well, maybe that explains it. He’s not used to fresh air. Spends most of his time playing computer games.”
Paula crouched down beside her son. “Hi Conn, are you okay?”
“Far out, man,” drawled Connor.
“What? Why are you talking like that?”
“Chill, man. Auntie Annie showed me a real good time.”
“Annie?” Paula looked at Bad Katie. “Who’s Annie?”
Bad Katie laughed. “Oh, we’ve just been role playing, that’s all. He’s been calling me Annie and I’ve been calling him Crispin.”
“Uncle Crispin’s a cool dude,” said Connor.
“Uncle Crispin?” Paula looked at Bad Katie again.
Bad Katie shrugged. “Kid’s got some imagination, I’ll give him that.”
Paula sniffed. “What’s that strange smell?”
Bad Katie looked innocent. “Dunno. He was fooling around near a choisya bush. Maybe the scent rubbed off.” She leapt to her feet. “Anyway, must dash, I’m doing a livestream in an hour.”
“Oh, okay. Well, thanks so much for looking after him. You’re an angel. Don’t know what I’d do without you!”
Bad Katie grinned. “No worries. See ya then. Bye Connor!”
“Bye Katie! Can we go see Auntie Annie again soon?”
“Yes, yes, we’ll play again soon…”
Bad Katie shot out of the door. Paula looked after her in puzzlement.
“Mummy,” said Connor. “What’s a spliff?”