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.”
“You're 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 vigorously. “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?”
Episode 9 - Bad K8EE, Rapper!
Bad Katie was mooching around in Sumit’s office. He’d gone to fetch the coffee but found his secretary had used the last of Clooney’s complimentary pods so he had to go down to the next floor to use the vending machine instead. Bad Katie took a large pine cone from a display on the windowsill and placed it carefully on Sumit’s chair, which she then slid under his desk. She slumped down in the other chair and put her feet up on his desk and began checking her Instagram.
A flustered Sumit returned holding two plastic cups of cheap coffee.
“Those better be recyclable,” growled Bad Katie.
“Really? Didn’t think you cared about the environment.”
“How very dare you! I care deeply about nature and the planet.”
Sumit raised an eyebrow.
“It’s just people I don’t give a shit about,” added Bad Katie.
Sumit grinned, pulled back his chair and sat down. He immediately yelped and stood back up again. Bad Katie sniggered.
“Katie! How old are you, seven?”
She laughed childishly. “Never too old for the pine cone on the chair. Classic.”
Sumit walked gingerly to the window and put the pine cone back where it belonged, then returned to his chair, double-checking this time. He took a sip of coffee and pulled a face like a toddler trying beetroot. He scribbled a note on his pad to call George about more coffee pods.
“So anyway, Katie. we’re still in a bit of a creative lull aren’t we? Had any bright ideas about new music?”
“Well now you mention it, I have actually.”
“Ooh, pray tell.”
“I had this brilliant idea for an album blending country and rap.”
Sumit looked dubious, and rightly so.
“But then I realised people would call it Crap.”
Sumit chuckled. “Ain’t that the truth.”
“But I think I might just have a go at rapping.”
Sumit continued chuckling. “You kill me, Katie.”
Bad Katie gazed at him solemnly.
“Oh dear god, you’re serious,” said Sumit.
“What? I’ll have you know, a good fan of mine once told me I could sing anything.”
“Your fans are a bunch of ass-kissing morons. They’ll tell you whatever you want to hear.”
“How can you say that? My fans love me. And I love them.”
“You mean you love their money.”
“That is very wounding, Sumit. Offering them slightly over-priced items of merchandise to purchase gives them a sense of being part of the family. Hugging one of my notebooks makes them feel like I’m there in the room with them.”
“They’re better off with the notebook, believe me,” said Sumit wryly.
Bad Katie stuck her tongue out at him.
“So you actually think you can rap?” said Sumit.
She leaped out of her chair and tossed her hair back dramatically. “I can do whatever I put my mind to,” she said, and sauntered out of the room.
Bad Katie bought a big packet of gold sequins on her way home. As soon as she got in she fished her gold tracksuit out of the laundry basket and spent the morning gluing sequins on it to give it some extra sparkle. Then she spent the afternoon watching YouTube videos on how to beatbox. Then she ordered a pizza and went on to eBay…
Bad Katie staggered in to Sumit’s office and plonked a massive retro boombox on to the table, sending a small floral decoration flying.
“What the hell is going on?” said Sumit. “And why are you dressed in that ridiculous outfit?”
She jiggled her bling at him and winked.
“And where did you get all that jewellery?”
“Mum’s at work. She won’t miss it.”
Sumit shook his head. “Are you on something?”
“I’m giving you an exclusive performance!”
“Really? Where’s your guitar? And what is that monstrosity?”
“This is a boombox!” She grinned at him gleefully. “Got in on eBay. Bargain. Mind you, I had to fork out almost as much again for batteries. It eats the buggers.”
Sumit rubbed his forehead nervously. “I’m almost afraid to ask, but why do you need that thing?”
“Backing track of course! I’ve been beatboxing. Made a cassette of it. Remember those?”
“Dear god. First, the coffee machine exploded and now this. What have Mondays got against me?”
Bad Katie pressed play and shuffled into the middle of the room. “Never mind all that. You’re about to experience the K8ee Rap.”
“The K8ee Rap?” said Sumit. “Oh no…”
Bad Katie winked at him and adopted a pose meant to suggest attitude.
“Why are you standing like that?” said Sumit.
“Getting in the zone.”
“You look like a constipated gibbon. And what’s wrong with your fingers?”
“Shush…. it’s about to begin….”
A series of clicks, bumps and heavy breaths emanated from the boombox.
“Hello…. Testing, testing, one, two, three….”
“What?” said Sumit.
“Quiet. I hadn’t used cassettes before, it’ll start in a sec…”
Suddenly, the boombox burst into life with Bad Katie’s beatboxing. Sumit rubbed his eyes wearily. Then she begin making jerky movements in time to the, for want of a better word, music.
She pointed straight at him and began rapping…
I was walkin’ down the street just the other day
when I saw this guy, he was heading my way
as he got real close I was feelin’ kinda wary
he was lookin’ pretty mad and it was just a little scary
I was thinkin’ to myself “this guy looks shady”, not the real slim shady!
he was eyein’ me up cos’ I’m quite a pretty lady
he said “hey there dear, how’s it going?”
I shrugged and said “I guess I’m just glad it ain’t snowing”
then I added “don’t call me dear, you could be my brother,
but I sure as hell couldn’t be your mother”
he took a step back and held his hands up high
“don’t kill me sister, I’m too young to die”
I punched him on the arm just to show I was jokin’
he had a nicotine patch, he was tryin’ to quit smokin’
he said “I gotta go, I’m late for my dinner
and my ma texted me, said she’s gotten me a tin o’
tuna steak, and don’t ya know that’s my fave?
and I also want to catch up with Q.I. on Dave”
I took a shine to the guy so I gave him my number
I said “give me a call if you fancy some slumber”
he looked kinda freaked and he ran away
and all this happened just the other day
Bad Katie silenced the boombox and grinned at him. “Well? What do you think?”
Sumit sat there in shock, his jaw hanging down. “I have no words.”
“I know. I’m so amazing aren’t I. Deffo a number one incoming.”
“More like a number two outgoing….”
“You’re already thinking about how you can promote it, aren’t you?”
“I’m actually thinking about how I can unsee it.”
“There you go. It’s unforgettable!”
“I wish it was forgettable. I’ll be having nightmares for months now. I may even need therapy.”
Bad Katie slumped in a chair and put her feet up on his desk. She gazed at him moodily. “I could run through it again if you like.”
“I don’t think I could survive that.”
“Oh don’t be such a drama queen. It wasn’t that bad.”
“Yes, it was.”
Bad Katie stuck her tongue out at him. She reached forward and grabbed an elastic band off Sumit’s desk then fired it towards a shelf across the room. It knocked over a little china ornament which promptly broke in two. “Oops.”
“Look Katie, I appreciate you wanting to explore different avenues, but we have to keep giving the public what they want.”
“Actually, you made a great suggestion just now.”
“Yes. Unforgettable! Perfect. You haven’t covered Nat King Cole before.”
Bad Katie sighed. “Back to the day job then.”
“You’ll smash it!”
“Yeah, I know. Hey, you don’t wanna buy a boombox do you?”
At that moment there was a knock on the door. Sumit’s secretary opened it and popped her head around. “Sorry Sumit, but there’s some guy called George Clooney in reception carrying a massive box of coffee pods. He’s asking for you.”
“Oh right, great.” He leapt out of his chair. “I’ll just be a sec Katie…”
Sumit left the room to go and bung George a twenty. Katie got out of her chair and grabbed the pine cone from the display on the windowsill and placed it carefully on Sumit’s chair, which she then slid under his desk. She sat back down and put her feet up on his desk again.
A short while later, Sumit returned clutching a couple of steaming mugs. “Finally!” he said. “The day is starting to get better at last. I knew old George would come through for me. Now, where were we?” He took a sip of coffee, sighed with pleasure, then pulled back his chair and sat down. He immediately yelped and stood back up again. “KATIE!!!!”
Episode 10 - Bad Katie Robs A Bank
Bad Katie was bored. Her manager, Sumit, had flown to Uzbekistan to check out a promising boy band he’d heard about in a Tashkent school, though it would turn out to be a fruitless mission because, due to something getting lost in translation, it was actually a group of boys that had been banned from their school. Meanwhile, her brother, Zurab, had ensconced himself in the summerhouse in order to learn “Stairway To Heaven” in the hope his sister might decide to include it on her next album. Bad Katie had spent the day watching bank heist movies, and it had given her an idea. She grabbed a notebook and pen and began making plans…
A few days later, Bad Katie was on a video call to her friend, Perfect Polly.
“Yes, Poll, I agree knitting little beanie hats for chickens would be something to do to alleviate the boredom, but you’re forgetting, I can’t knit,” said Bad Katie.
“I could soon teach you. It isn’t that hard and you pick things up quickly,” said Perfect Polly.
“Nah. Knitting is naff. It’s for girls.”
“But you are a girl!”
“Doesn’t mean I have to behave like one.”
“Well, we could write some songs together?”
“You know how that always ends.”
“True,” sighed Perfect Polly wistfully.
“No, I’ve had a much better idea,” said Bad Katie, grinning wildly.
“How do you fancy a bank job?”
“Me? Get a job in a bank? Do you even know me? And it definitely isn’t you either!”
“No, no. I mean let’s rob a bank!”
Perfect Polly laughed hysterically. “You nutter….”
Bad Katie stared at her solemnly.
Perfect Polly stopped laughing. “Oh, you’re serious.”
“Why not?” said Bad Katie. “It’ll be a hoot.”
Perfect Polly looked aghast. “Katie! I can’t be involved in a crime. They don’t call me Perfect Polly for nothing you know.”
Bad Katie looked at her quizzically. “Yes they do.”
“Oh. Well, anyway, I don’t fancy the idea of going to prison, thank you very much.”
“Grow a pair, Poll. We won’t get caught. I have it all planned out. There’s a little bank around the corner from me. I’ve been casing the joint for a while. The secret door at the bottom of our garden leads out into the alleyway the bank backs on to, so when we make our escape out of the back door we can just nip straight across into our garden. Simples!”
“Surely they’ll have a security camera over the back door?”
“Thought of that. I can shin up one of the trees at the bottom of the garden and splat it with paint. I’ve still got the paintball gun I used to torment Z with. I’m a crack shot, he’ll tell you.”
“Erm, okay. So you have an exit strategy. But won’t breaking in be the difficult bit?”
Bad Katie chuckled. “Child’s play. I was walking past the other morning when the manager was opening up and I heard the tones as he entered the alarm code. I memorised it easily, it was part of a riff from ‘Tiny Alien’! All we have to do is force the door open and I can disable the alarm.”
“And how exactly are we going to force a door open?”
Bad Katie winked at her friend. “One of my ex-boyfriends had a, let’s say, colourful past. I learned a few useful tips off him.”
“Hmmm. Remind me never to ask about any of that.”
“You’d be surprised at some of the things I can do.”
“Actually, I’m not sure I would. So, let me get this straight, you want us, a pair of successful recording artists, to rob a bank? What could possibly go wrong? Oh, and one other thing, why, exactly, would we want to do this?”
“It’ll be a laugh.”
“And would doing time be a laugh too?”
“Oh ye of little faith. You know what a meticulous planner I am. We’ll get away with it. Whoever would suspect us of such a crime? Like you said, we’re respected recording artists.”
“I said successful recording artists.”
“You in or not?” said Bad Katie.
Perfect Polly rolled her eyes. “I guess so. You can’t be trusted on your own.”
“Well, I could always rope Z in. But he’s not as agile as us. We’re like cats.”
“Aren’t we just.”
“Right then. One more thing, have you still got your Baby Spice latex mask?”
“Of course, why?”
“Good. Bring it. I’ve still got my Scary Spice one. Perfect disguises. I knew they’d come in handy one day, though I never did get why they thought they were a good gift to put in a VIP Goody Bag. That Spice Girls gig we went to was pretty creepy. God knows how they felt looking out at a sea of themselves.”
“Actually, I’m surprised you never tried that yourself at one of your gigs.”
“Oh, I intended to, back in the day. But there was a mix up with the interpreter from the Chinese import company and we got sent a container load of Mike Batt masks. They’d asked for a photo of me to create the masks but he thought they wanted one of him, thought they were Wombles fans or something, so he sent a pic of himself with a zany grin. All the crew were wearing the masks when I got in to the studio. It was like V for Vendetta. Freaked me out big time. Still have nightmares.”
“Oh, I got my own back. While they were all at lunch I put a few drops of superglue inside their masks. They didn’t realise until the end of the day. They all spent the evening in A&E. When the nurse came along and said ‘Mr. Mike Batt’, seven of them stood up. Heh heh.”
It was a clear, moonlit night. The dull orange glow of an old sodium street light across the road cast an eerie dim light over the door of the bank as Scary Spice and Baby Spice, almost invisible in their black tracksuits, crept up to it. Baby Spice kept lookout as Scary Spice fished out a jemmy from her holdall and set to work on the door. Within seconds, the alarm system began beeping urgently. Scary Spice calmly hummed a bar of ’Tiny Alien’ and tapped on the keypad. The alarm was silenced.
“Baby,” hissed Scary.
Baby Spice was still doing her meerkat impression, looking up and down the street.
“Poll, I’m talking to you, you nugget!”
“Oh, sorry. Forgot I was Baby.”
“Get inside quick and shut the door. No one will suspect a thing is happening then.”
Baby Spiced followed Scary inside and they shut themselves in.
“Well, that was easy,” said Baby.
“No time for gloating,” said Scary. She turned her phone torch on. “Let’s find some swag.”
“Do we really need to?” said Baby doubtfully. “It’s not as though we’re hard up or anything.”
“We can always give it to a good cause,” said Scary.
“By which you mean your offshore account, I suppose?”
“Polly! That’s a stake through my heart! I do tons for charity.”
“Remember who you’re talking to Katie! I know all about your schemes.”
“Oh. Anyway, look, this must be the vault. Big metal door. Must say, I was expecting a more impressive lock. I could pick this bugger in my sleep.”
“You can pick locks too?” said Baby. “No, I don’t want to know any more.”
The door swung silently open. Scary Spice grinned and tried to high-five Baby, but Baby was having a quick check of her Twitter and left Scary hanging. Scary shrugged and entered the vault.
“Gosh, why is it so cold in here? And where’s the cash? Just seems to be trays of these little pots everywhere.”
Baby followed her in. “Maybe that’s how they store precious stones these days, stop them tarnishing or something.”
“No matter. Must be valuable if they are in here. Let’s just fill the holdall with a few trays then scarper. To be honest, there’s so many they probably won’t even miss them.”
They stuffed the holdall and zipped it shut, then left the vault and locked it again. Then they made their way to the back door and into the dark alley beyond. A startled cat screeched and scared three shades of shit out of them before darting into the bank. Scary Spice slammed the door shut and sniggered. “That’ll give the bank manager something to ponder on tomorrow!”
Scary Spice crept across the alley and did the secret thing that opened the door in her garden wall. Once safely inside, they ripped off their masks and grinned at each other. “Easy peasy lemon squeezy,” said Bad Katie.
“Sugar and spice and basmati rice,” said Perfect Polly.
Bad Katie frowned at her. “Not sure that’s a saying. Anyway, come on, let’s get this swag inside and see what we’ve got.
Up in Bad Katie’s studio they knelt either side of the holdall and fished out one of the trays.
Bad Katie picked up one of the little pots and shook it. “No noise. Not gemstones or jewellery then. How odd.”
Perfect Polly picked up a pot. “Why are they kept so cold?”
“Dunno,” said Bad Katie. “Go on then, open it. Put us out of our misery!”
Perfect Polly carefully prised open the lid of the pot. Suddenly, she turned a whiter shade of pale.
“Oh my god, Katie.”
Perfect Polly threw the pot back into the holdall. “We’ve only robbed a bloody sperm bank!”
The two girls stared at each other in horror for a moment before simultaneously leaping on to the sofa.
“Yeeeeeuuuuukkkkk!” they screeched in unison.
“Oh my god!”
“Oh my god!”
“OH MY GOD!!”
They stared at the holdall in disgust.
“What the hell are we gonna do with them?” said Perfect Polly.
“Don’t suppose we could sell them on eBay?” said Bad Katie. “I mean, they must be worth something to someone.”
“No doubt. But how are you going to present them? Take a photo of the little pots? What about the product description?”
“Okay, okay. I hadn’t thought it through.”
“Seems to me you haven’t thought any of this through. How could you not know it was a sperm bank?”
“I don’t know, I never paid that much attention to the sign. I just saw the word ‘bank’. Assumed it was one of those shady little foreign ones.”
Perfect Polly sighed. “Let’s just get rid of them. Go get a bin bag.”
“Seems a shame,” said Bad Katie. “All those little lives….”
“Fine. Which bin will they go in, green or black?”
Perfect Polly glared at her. “Well, I don’t think they can be recycled can they!”
“But the pots are plastic, they could be.”
“Well if you want to rinse them all out, go ahead.”
“Landfill,” said Bad Katie. “But don’t blame me if a load of mutant zombies grow out of the ground and go on the rampage.”
“Biology was never your strong point, was it?”
Bad Katie was sitting in Sumit’s office with her feet up on his desk. He walked in, put the coffees on the desk, pulled his chair out, checked to see there were no pine cones on it, and sat down.
“Thanks for my present from Uzbekistan,”said Bad Katie. “I’ve always wanted a teapot stand made from knotted yak’s hair.”
“Knew you’d like it,” said Sumit. “Anyway, what have I missed?”
“Oh, nothing much. Been quite dull around here.”
“Really? Hadn’t you heard about that incident just round the corner from you?”
“Yes. Apparently, Scary Spice and Baby Spice were caught on CCTV breaking into a sperm bank. They’ve denied it of course. Rum thing is, one of them had a large holdall but the only thing the manager noticed when he arrived next morning was a cat had been left there.”
“I have to say, I’m disappointed in them. Actually, I can believe it of Scary, but I never thought Baby Spice would break into a sperm bank and leave a cat there. What is the world coming to when things like that are happening?”
Bad Katie had a slurp of her coffee. “Well, you’d never catch me doing anything like that!”
Episode 11 - Bad Katie Loses Her Marbles
Eric, the Cabbie, kept glancing at his regular passenger in his mirror.
“Don’t think I’ve seen you in your glad rags before, ma’am,” he said. “Must say, you scrub up well!”
“Eyes on the road, Arnie,” said Bad Katie.
“It’s Eric, ma’am.”
“Whatever. I’m way out of your league, you gibbering cab monkey.”
“Hardly recognised you at first. Been to some posh do have you?”
“I have, as a matter of fact. Just been presented with this necklace for my services in promoting Georgia,” said Bad Katie. She ran her fingers over the large, glossy beads. “Apparently, they are known as the Georgian Marbles. A national treasure. They were given to me because I’m a national treasure too.”
“What, just because you warbled on about how many bikes the Chinese have got?” scoffed Eric.
“I’ll have you know, mutton-head, I’m the second most successful female recording artist in the country after Kate Bush.”
“She weren’t much better, bleating on about bloody Heathcliff and running up and down hills. Give me the Quo, any day. Now them’s tunes.”
Bad Katie rolled her eyes. As the taxi stopped at a red light, she gazed out of the window. She watched as a workman lifted a manhole cover in the pavement and then went to his van for some tools. Then her eyes lit up as she spotted a policeman approaching. She got her phone ready and wound the cab window down.
“Oi! Copper!” she yelled.
The startled PC looked round. She pulled a face at him, then filmed the action as he disappeared down the manhole.
Bad Katie chuckled. “Yes!!!! Sweet! Did you see that, Arnie?”
“National treasure?” said Eric. “you’re a bloody national hazard, you are!”
“Aw, thanks Arnie.”
The cab pulled away from the lights. The policeman was already getting likes on Instagram.
Bad Katie had wanted to show off her Georgian Marbles necklace so she’d decided to go clubbing. The music was thumping. The lights were strobing. She may have had the odd gin. And maybe some vodka. There’s a fair chance some tequila sneaked in there as well. You could say she was merry. And she was throwing some wild shapes on the dance floor. It was all going so well…
“Ow!!” yelled Bad Katie. Some oafish bloke had trodden on her foot. “Watch where you’re going, Shrek!”
Shrek turned and smirked at her. “Shouldn’t play with the grown ups, little girl.”
The red mist descended. Quick as a flash, she used a patented technique (which won’t be described here in the interests of public safety) to shove the bully to the ground. She straddled his chest and set about punching his lights out. A ring of revellers quickly formed around them, chanting “Fight! Fight!” in time to the thudding music. Shrek hardly knew what was hitting him. He’d been drunk to start with and now he was punch drunk. He managed to wriggle an arm free and flail at Bad Katie. He yanked at her necklace and the Georgian Marbles scattered in all directions across the dance floor and into the crowd. Bad Katie was just about to dislodge some of Shrek’s teeth in return when she spotted a pair of burly bouncers forcing their way through the crowd towards her. She got up and wormed her way through the cheering hordes and legged it out of the back entrance.
Bad Katie slept most of the next day. Her head hurt, her knuckles were sore, she had no recollection of how she’d got home and she realised her Georgian Marbles were missing. She refused to budge from under the duvet. The bacon bap and coffee her mother had brought her lay cold and untouched on the bedside table.
When she did eventually surface that evening, she wolfed down the cold bap and coffee, dived into some jeans, and slinked downstairs in search of more food.
Her brother Zurab was in the kitchen munching khachapuri. He grinned at her. “Hi sis. Look at the state of you!”
“Sod off,” barked Bad Katie.
“Still, you look better than what the cab driver dragged in last night. Bit of a wild one, was it?”
Bad Katie growled, then proceeded to neck an entire bottle of milk.
“By the way,” said Zurab. “This came for you earlier.” He handed her a formal-looking letter.
She ripped it open and studied it. “Oh god!”
“It’s from the Georgian Ambassador. They’re inviting me to a special function at the Georgian Embassy. They want me to sing.”
“That’s great! You love performing at that sort of thing. Why the long face?”
“They want me to wear the Georgian Marbles.”
“I lost the Georgian Marbles.”
Once again, Bad Katie had wowed Eric the Cabbie with her appearance as he drove her to the Georgian Embassy. She nervously fingered her necklace.
“Still admiring your Elgin Marbles then?” said Eric.
“Georgian Marbles, you clot,” said Bad Katie. She was reassured they had fooled him but knew a much stiffer test was coming up. She’d had Zurab rummage through his toy collection to find his old bag of marbles and had him drill holes through them so she could make a replacement necklace.
The moment she arrived at the Embassy she knew she was on a sticky wicket. The Ambassador greeted her warmly but then displayed a look of surprise as she admired the necklace.
“They look different. Not how I remember them,” she commented.
“Ah, yes, well, they were a bit grubby to be fair. They are quite old after all. I had them cleaned and polished. Come up sparkling, haven’t they?”
“Amazingly so,” said the Ambassador. “Considering they are made of stone.”
“Um… er… must dash, your excellency, I have to prepare for my performance…”
Later on, Bad Katie was mingling and basking in the praise for her singing. She sipped her Prosecco and noticed as an aide approached the Ambassador and handed her a velvet pouch, then whispered something in her ear. The Ambassador looked around the room until their eyes met. She beckoned Bad Katie over.
“Katie, apparently the Georgian Marbles have just been handed in at reception.” She held out the velvet pouch in her palm. “Apparently, they were discovered on the floor of a night club. Luckily, the owner was Georgian and recognised them for what they were. Can you shed any light on this mystery?”
“Oh there they are! Thank god. Yes, well, you see the thing is, I didn’t want to alarm you, but a couple of nights ago someone broke into my house and stole them. They must have been trying to sell them in the night club and dropped them or something.”
“How awful! Well at least you are okay, that’s the main thing, and now the marbles have been recovered.” She handed Bad Katie the pouch. “Please try to keep them safe in future. They are so valuable you know.”
Bad Katie’s eyes widened. “Really? Are they?”
“Priceless. I imagine there are a few oligarchs who’d pay a small fortune to have them in their collection.”
“That’s useful to know. I mean, no, of course, I’m glad you’ve warned me. I’ll have a special safe fitted straight away.”
“Good girl. Best if they are kept hidden away for a while.”
“Yes, absolutely. Thank you, your Excellency!”
As the Ambassador floated away to greet other nobles, Bad Katie made her escape and headed home. She fired up her laptop and logged on to eBay. She took off her fake necklace, snapped a pic of it with her phone, and uploaded it. Then she started typing. “For sale. Priceless Georgian necklace available to highest bidder. Would suit oligarch collector. No time wasters please.”
Episode 12 - All About Bad Katie
Bad Katie was sitting in her manager’s office, with her feet up on his desk, checking her Instagram. Sumit had popped out to get the coffee whilst she fiddled with her phone. The moment he left the room, she leaned forward and picked up the little pot of sugar he kept on his desk. She got up and emptied it out of the window, confusing the merry hell out of a pigeon that was pecking around on the pavement below. The she took a little bag of salt from her pocket and refilled the pot, placed it back on his desk, put her feet up, and began checking her Twitter.
Sumit returned a moment later, put the coffees on the desk, sat down and sighed. “Really, Katie, I wish you’d show my desk some respect. It’s antique, made from Brazilian mahogany. Your heels are starting to distress it.”
She gazed at him soporifically. “Distressed? It’s a lump of dead tree. Get over yourself.”
Sumit shook his head as he stirred a couple of spoonfuls of not-sugar into his coffee. He carefully wiped the spoon with a napkin, then started to drink. He promptly sprayed his mouthful over the desk. Bad Katie quickly moved her feet out of the way and sniggered. “Careful Sumit, you’ll ruin your antiquated desk.”
“For god’s sake Katie, will you ever grow up? Salt in the sugar pot. Seriously?”
“How do you know it was me?” said Bad Katie, trying to look innocent.
“Because the only other person it could have been is my secretary and she’s like, you know, an actual adult.”
Bad Katie shrugged. “Whatever.”
Sumit muttered under his breath, something along the lines of wishing he’d signed Jedward instead, as he set about wiping his desk clean. Bad Katie looked on in silent amusement. Eventually, he sat back down and blew out hard. “I need something stronger than coffee when you’re here,” he said, mostly to himself.
“Aw. Poor Sumit,” mocked Bad Katie.
“Anyway Katie, how’s the yoga going?” said Sumit.
Bad Katie stared at him blankly.
“I thought you were doing yoga these days,” said Sumit.
“Do you even know me?” scoffed Bad Katie. “Whatever gave you that idea?”
“You told your fans that on social media.”
“Did I? Oh well, take no notice of that. I’ll tell them anything to impress them.”
“There’s my Katie,” said Sumit.
Bad Katie grinned. “I once told them I eat raw seaweed every morning. I knew full well they’d all be trying it, he he.”
“Innit though? Mugs.”
“You’re utterly incorrigible.”
“So, I’ve been looking at a web site all about you this morning.”
“Oh. Well, there must be loads of them. What’s it called?”
“All About Katie.”
“Not much thought gone into that.”
“It’s not that bad actually. I was almost impressed. You should take a look, you’re more of an internet person than me.”
“Yeah, maybe later, when I’ve got nothing better to do….”
AllAboutKatie was sat in the front row of the theatre. He was getting nicely settled, with his Katie Melua Notebook and pencil for jotting down the set list and a camera for snapping those all important concert photos. He also had his bags of fruit pastilles and chocolate buttons. All was well with the world. He even found himself humming mindlessly to the needlessly irrelevant background music being piped to the waiting audience.
Some of the band members sidled onto the stage in the dim light and began readying themselves and their instruments. AllAboutKatie took a few pics of them just to make sure the camera was working. Then a timid-looking young woman in glasses crept along the front of the stage and looked at him tentatively.
“Which seat number you looking for?” said AllAboutKatie cheerily.
“Er… no…. I’m not. Are you All About Katie?”
AllAboutKatie quickly glanced left and right, then whispered “I might be, but don’t tell anyone!”
“No, indeed. I won’t. It’s just, well, Miss Melua would like to meet you after the show.”
The colour drained from AllAboutKatie’s face. “Oh. Er. Oh.”
“I’ll be waiting for you by the exit after the show and I’ll take you to her dressing room. Thanks. And good luck!”
“Oh, yes, great, thanks. Why good luck exactly? She won’t bite will she?”
The woman giggled nervously and departed hastily. Her nervousness was catching. AllAboutKatie turned his attention to the stage once more but felt a tsunami of nervousness washing over himself.
Bad Katie stood nonchalantly at the side of the stage as she waited to go on. She should have gone on five minutes earlier but keeping fifteen hundred people waiting was one of the perks of the job and she fully intended to milk it. She looked at her brother, Zurab, who was waiting patiently with his guitar and staring aimlessly into space.
“Hey, Z,” hissed Bad Katie. “Stop picking your nose with your thumb pick. That’s not what it’s for.”
“I was just scratching an itch,” protested Zurab.
“Half those oiks have cameras pointed at you, at least until I arrive. You don’t want to end up on Instagram, do you?”
“No, sis,” mumbled Zurab.
The timid-looking woman in glasses tiptoed up to Bad Katie. “It’s nearly ten past, Miss Melua. We should probably be getting underway now. I mean, if that’s okay with you?”
Bad Katie waved a hand at her dismissively. “Vamoosh, mouse-face, I’m getting into the zone.”
Timid-looking woman drifted back into the shadows. Bad Katie twitched her nose, then realised she hadn’t got a tissue handy. She blew her nose into the sleeve of her glittery golden dress and strode out into the limelight to rapturous applause…
Timid-looking woman with glasses shuffled along the corridor like a reticent hedgehog. A now equally-timid-looking AllAboutKatie shuffled along behind her, lost in thoughts of a similar trudge to the Headmistress’s office on his first day at Junior School many years earlier.
It hardly seemed possible, but the pace dropped even further as they approached a door that had a sign with “Katie Melua” written in gold glitter blu-tacked to it. Timid-looking woman gazed at the sign in trepidation for a moment, then cleared her throat rather like a hamster that had tried to swallow a tic-tac. She tapped gently on the door. Had Siri been listening she would probably have said “I’m sorry, I didn’t quite catch that.”
Bad Katie, however, has the ears of a bat. “Shemodi!” she shouted. She always liked to determine if a visitor knew any Georgian. Timid-looking woman and AllAboutKatie looked at each other in panic, trying to work out which of them had the least clue what they were supposed to do.
“Come in!” shouted Bad Katie.
Timid-looking woman opened the door and peered around it. “Miss Melua, AllAboutKatie is here to see you.”
She gave AllAboutKatie a look of pity and whispered “all yours” before running off down the corridor. AllAboutKatie gulped, adopted a cheery grin, and wandered reverently inside.
“Hi Katie!” said AllAboutKatie.
Bad Katie ignored him at first as she dabbed her face with a towel. “Close the door,” she said.
AllAboutKatie complied, then waited in awkward silence for a while whilst Bad Katie continued to erase all trace of her show face. Eventually she got up and gave him a quick visual assessment. “Oh. I thought you might be a bit more interesting,” she said. “You know, tattoos, quirky hat, that kind of thing. Isn’t that how writer’s dress?”
“Erm, no, not all of them. I don’t think.”
“Oh.” Bad Katie had already slipped into some comfy jeans. She stepped into a pair of killer heels to give her a height advantage, despite it already being obvious this was a match of a lioness against a rabbit with a gammy leg.
“You were so amazing tonight!” said AllAboutKatie.
“Of course I was. I’m always amazing. Hadn’t you noticed?”
“Oh, yes. You are. Definitely. I often say that on the site.”
Bad Katie approached him and bored into his brain with her piercing eyes. “Yes, about that. Why do you do it?”
AllAboutKatie shifted awkwardly. “Erm, do what?”
“The web site. All About Me. Why do you put all that effort into it? What’s in it for you?”
“Oh. No. Nothing. I just, well, really like you and your music. I thought you deserved a nice site to tell the world how wonderful you are!”
Bad Katie didn’t blink. Her gaze alone made him feel like she had her hands around his throat and was squeezing ever harder.
“Nobody does all that work for nothing,” she said, suspiciously.
“Well, it’s in return for all the music you’ve given me. I’m just trying to repay you.”
“I don’t give you my music you know. You pay for it.”
“Yes, of course, and I’m glad to. It’s more than the music. You’re just such a sweet girl. I’m sure I’d do anything for you.”
“Don’t insult me,” said Bad Katie, with the hint of a guttural growl. “I’m not sweet at all.”
“Sorry,” said AllAboutKatie.
Bad Katie continued to scrutinise him for a moment, then appeared to lighten her mood a fraction, just like a shaft of golden evening sunlight bursting through a chink in the storm clouds. “Anything, you say?”
Bad Katie smiled sweetly at AllAboutKatie for a couple of seconds before delivering a swift knee to his nads and shoving him to the floor. AllAboutKatie lay on his back groaning. Bad Katie planted a foot on his chest to keep him pinned. She folded her arms.
“Right then. Here’s what’s gonna happen. From now on I have full control of the site. Nothing gets posted without my approval. Is that clear?”
“Yes, Katie,” said AllAboutKatie breathlessly. “I’m fine with that.”
“Good. And I want new sections on there. One for my art, one for my photography, one for my poetry.”
“Shouldn’t be a problem,” wheezed AllAboutKatie.
“My own blog page, of course, so I can rant about stuff to the fans. Maybe a page about stuff I’m reading. Movies. Nature. Ooh, a travel diary, yes, that might be fun. Perhaps a section on Georgian cuisine and wine…”
“Yes, well, I’m sure in time you can have all that,” panted AllAboutKatie.
Bad Katie glared down at him. “Not in time, numbnuts.” She dug her heel in harder. “When I tell you to do it I expect it to be done!”
AllAboutKatie grimaced. “Whatever you say, Katie. You’re the boss!”
“You’d better believe it you gibbering coot.”
He forced a weak smile.
“Oh, and I also want a little shop page so I can sell stuff I make. You know, like hard boiled eggs with faces drawn on with a Sharpie, or pebbles from the beach that I can sign, that kind of thing. There’s always someone that will pay for that kind of tat. Shoes too. I buy them in bulk from the factory, the slight rejects, for a bargain price. If I describe them as ‘slightly worn’ the fetishists crawl out of the woodwork and pay through the nose for them.”
“No doubt,” said AllAboutKatie, grimacing at her unforgiving heel. “Yes, you can have all of that. Whatever you want on the site, just say and it shall be done.”
Bad Katie grinned at him and removed her foot from his chest. “So glad we have an understanding. Up you get!”
AllAboutKatie struggled gingerly to his feet.
Bad Katie smiled at him sweetly. “It’s been so lovely to meet you at last, All About Katie. Thank you for the fine work you do. You’ll be hearing from me in due course regarding the new content.”
“Always a pleasure Katie, never a chore,” said AllAboutKatie. “Erm, I don’t suppose you could autograph my….”
“No. Go on, sod off.”
“Right, yes. Thank you Katie, lovely to meet you.”
AllAboutKatie trudged to the door and left the room. Bad Katie chuckled and shook her head. “Muppet.” He wandered down the corridor rubbing his sore chest, and thought to himself, “that went quite well…”
Bad Katie was sitting in her manager’s office, with her feet up on his desk, checking her Instagram. Sumit returned with the coffees. He dipped his finger in the sugar pot and took a wary lick to make sure it really was sugar. Bad Katie suppressed a snigger as he added a couple of spoonfuls to his coffee and stirred it. He pulled his chair out and sat down, yet again failing to notice the pine cone was once again missing from his window display.
Episode 13 - Bad Katie Does Bob Unplugged
Bad Katie’s manager returned to his office with two cups of coffee and warily put them down. He looked around nervously, trying to assess if everything was just as he left it. Bad Katie was watching him with a bemused expression, her arms folded, her feet planted on his desk as usual.
“Something wrong, Sumit?” she asked innocently.
“There’s always something wrong when you’re around,” he jibed.
“How hurtful! After all I’ve done for you!”
“After all you’ve done to me, you mean.”
Satisfied he seemed to be in the clear, he sat down and rubbed his hands purposefully. “Right young lady, what’s the latest from Katieland? I see you’ve booked some studio time next week. What’s cooking?”
“Oh, just a little lockdown side project. I’m recording an album called ‘Katie Covers Bob Unplugged’. Should be able to whack it out in a couple of days, with my talent.”
“Who the hell is Bob Unplugged?”
Bad Katie rolled her eyes. “Dylan, you elongated nugget.”
“Oh. Well, maybe on the album cover you should put ‘unplugged’ lower down, as a strap line.”
“Ah yes, I’ve thought about that. I’m going to recreate his ‘Infidels’ cover. It’ll be me, but with dark sunglasses and a false moustache and beard. See if anyone notices.”
Sumit looked dubious. “I’m sure having ‘Katie Melua’ in big letters across the top will give people a clue. They’ll probably just think you’ve let yourself go a bit.”
“Bloody cheek. I’m a master of disguise, you know. I nailed Charlie Chaplin for the Mary Pickford video. And you should see my Winehouse.”
“I’d rather not.”
Bad Katie shrugged, then necked her coffee before getting out of her chair and having a good stretch. “Well, my stomach is asking questions my mouth is struggling to answer. I think a Grand Big Mac with fries, onion rings and chocolate shake should keep it quiet for a bit.”
Sumit groaned. He opened his desk drawer and looked miserably at his soggy egg and cress sandwich wrapped in cling film. “Sod it,” he said. “I think I’ll join you!”
He tried to get up from his chair, but couldn’t move. “What the…”
Bad Katie put her hand in her pocket and tapped the little bottle of superglue appreciatively as she fought to suppress a guffaw behind her mask of fake concern.
“What’s the matter Sumit, you getting old?”
Sumit pushed against the chair arms with all his might and sprung to his feet, accompanied by a mighty ripping sound. He turned round to find a big circular patch of his trousers had decided to remain on his chair.
“Oops!” giggled Bad Katie.
Sumit decided to pop into the studios to see how the recording was going. “Hi Katie, just thought I’d drop by and see how you were getting on with the new tracks.”
“Smashing it, as usual. Only a couple more to go.”
“Wow, that’s great. Erm, should I even ask why there’s a man on the floor and you are standing on his chest?”
“A man?” said Bad Katie. “Oh, you mean the roadie. Well, thing is, the microphone was set too high for me, left like that by whatever selfish beanpole was in here last.”
“So, er, why didn’t you just lower it?”
“Couldn’t be arsed, to be honest. Besides, it is probably covered in manky germs. And my roadie kindly offered to help.”
“I suspect he probably meant to lower the mike for you, not to be a human platform.”
Bad Katie shrugged. “Whatever. Sure he doesn’t mind.”
Sumit looked down at the poor roadie, who gazed back at him through soul-less eyes. “Are you all right mate?”
“Yeah, great,” wheezed the roadie, through gritted teeth.
“See?” said Bad Katie. “He’s loving it really. Gets to admire me all day.”
“Please tell me you haven’t been standing on him all day,” said Sumit.
“Don’t be ridiculous,” said Bad Katie. “We had a half hour break for lunch.”
“Katie, you can’t treat roadies like furniture. They have rights you know. You may find the roadie community blackballs you.”
Bad Katie chuckled. “Actually, I made a fairly similar threat to him, which is why he isn’t complaining.”
“To be fair, mister,” strained the roadie. “She does pay me well.”
Sumit looked at Bad Katie with surprise. “Do you?”
She winked at him, and whispered “Course not. I just told him that. He hasn’t got the wit to check.”
Sumit rolled his eyes, then lowered her microphone six inches. “There you go mate, now you can have the rest of the day off.”
Bad Katie stepped off the hapless roadie and glared at Sumit. “Honestly Sumit, you have no sense of fun!”
Sumit looked down at the roadie. “Go on mate, scarper before she finds another use for you.”
The guy looked at him helplessly. “I don’t think I can move!”
Sumit grabbed his arm and helped him to his feet.
The roadie rubbed his back, wincing. He looked nervously at Bad Katie. “Same time tomorrow, Miss?”
“Of course!” said Bad Katie. “I’m sure I’ll find something to do to you.”
She caught Sumit’s questioning eye. “I mean, for you to do.”
“Very good, Miss,” said the roadie, and he trudged slowly away.
Bad Katie grinned. “I love being me.”
Nora the makeup artist made the last few delicate dabs to Bad Katie’s face, then took a step back to admire her handiwork. “Wow. That’s bloody impressive, if I do say so myself.”
“Well,” said Bad Katie, “the beard and moustache are spot on, and the shaggy wig looks the part, but the eyes give it away. There’s no hiding my stunning golden jewels. Not remotely like Bob’s squinty, world-weary pigeon eyes.”
“Oh, of course they’ll be hidden, silly, you’re forgetting the glasses!”
Nora fished a pair of completely black sunglasses out of her pocket and delicately applied them to Bad Katie’s face.
“Yesssss!!!” squealed Bad Katie as she stared in wonder at the mirror and saw Bob Dylan staring back at her. “Awesome!”
“Am I good or am I good?” bragged Nora.
“Okay Nor, don’t get too up yourself. The nose is passable but not a hundred per cent. Keep working on your game.”
“Oh,” said Nora, slightly deflated. “Well, it’s good enough for your photo shoot anyway.”
“What photo shoot?” said Bad Katie.
“For the album cover. I thought that’s why you wanted this makeover?”
“Yes, yes, it is. But I’m not forking out for some pretentious wally with an overpriced camera just for an album cover. I’m going to take a pic myself, in the mirror.”
“I could take it for you,” said Nora enthusiastically. She grabbed her phone eagerly.
“Don’t be a lumbering heifer,” said Bad Katie. “It has to be done with style, flair, panache, skill, perception and spatial awareness. There’s only one of us possesses all those attributes and it ain’t you babe.”
“Oh,” said Nora.
There was a tap at the door. Sumit entered. “Hi Nora. Oh, hi Bob, didn’t know you were in town! Don’t suppose either of you have seen Katie have you? I was told she was around here somewhere.”
“Er, no man,” growled Bad Dylan in a raspy voice. “like, who’s this Kady lady anyway, man?”
“You okay Bob? Sounds like you’ve got a cold or something,” said Sumit.
“Yeah man, I’ve got like a cold… something. Bummer, ain’t it?” said Bad Dylan.
“British climate for you! Get some vitamin C and you’ll be good as new in a day or two. Right, I need to find Katie.”
Bad Dylan guffawed and took off her sunglasses. “I’m here, you dithering numpty!”
“Oh my god!” said Sumit. “Nora, you’re a genius! How have you done that?”
Nora smirked at Bad Katie.
Bad Katie stuck her tongue out at her. “Actually, I think you’ll find it is my vocal talents that sealed the deal.”
“Hats off to you, Katie, you’ve done it again!”, said Sumit. “Another top ten album.”
“What can I say?” said Bad Katie. “You’ve either got it or you haven’t. And I’m dripping in it.”
“Yes, well, a little modesty wouldn’t go amiss.”
“Modesty schmodesty. I’m not going to apologise for being awesome.”
Sumit looked at the CD on his desk. “Katie Covers Bob, Unplugged. It really is brilliant work, young lady.”
“Just a pity Dylan is suing us for copying his album cover.”
“Oh, he’s dropping that,” said Bad Katie.
“Really? How come?”
“I phoned him yesterday and cut a deal.”
“Deal? What deal?”
“I’m sending Nora over to work her magic again. He’s going to appear as me on his next album cover.”
“Sweet merry Jesus in a jumpsuit,” said Sumit. “That I have to see.”
Bad Katie chuckled. “Innit?”
“Okay, I’m going to fetch the coffees. Please sit there quietly like a good girl!”
She gave him her best ‘butter wouldn’t melt’ smile.
He scowled at her and left the room. Bad Katie jumped out of her seat and sprang into action. Moments later she had carefully taped a stink bomb underneath one of the castors of his chair. She sat back down and rubbed her hands gleefully. “Heh, heh, heh….”
Episode 14 - Bad Katie On Saturday Kitchen
“Here you go Z, I made you breakfast,” said Bad Katie, handing her brother a bowl of blueberries.
“Erm, they’re blueberries,” said Zurab.
“And? You love blueberries. Knock yourself out.”
“But, they’re just blueberries. Nothing else. No yogurt, no honey, no granola…”
“Do I look like a chef?” barked Bad Katie.
“Okay, okay.” He popped a handful of berries in his mouth and chewed sullenly for a moment. “They taste a bit funny.”
“They should be blueberry flavour.”
“They’re a bit… fragrant.”
“I expect that’s because of the washing.”
“Yes, it says on the pack you should wash before serving. So I popped them in the washing machine on quick cycle.”
“Sis! They mean rinse them under the cold tap.”
“Sod that. There’s hundreds of the buggers, I’m not washing them individually.”
“You just tip them into a colander and rinse them.”
“Oh well, if you’re such a bloody expert you can cook your own breakfast next time.”
“Hardly cooking, is it?”
“Ungrateful little sod.”
Zurab nibbled a few more berries solemnly. “You used fabric conditioner, didn’t you.”
“What? I don’t know, don’t ask me technical stuff. I’m a superstar, not a maid. I just did what I’ve seen mum do. Cup of white powder, half cup of pink liquid. God knows why. Like cars–I know I have to put petrol in when it beeps at me but don’t ask me what it does with all that petrol.”
Zurab shook his head forlornly and put the bowl down.
Bad Katie rolled her eyes. “Oh come on then, grab your coat, let’s go get chicken dippers from Kensington Fried Chicken.”
“Look,” said Sumit. “I’m going to fetch the coffees. Promise me no pine cones, super glue or salt waiting for me when I return?”
Bad Katie held her hands up and smiled sweetly at him. “Nope, nothing like that at all.”
He looked at her suspiciously for a moment then left the room. Bad Katie took her feet off his desk and ran round to the other side if it. She quickly logged in to his laptop, having easily guessed his password, and had a quick fiddle around before returning to her chair, putting her feet up and checking her social media on her phone.
A few seconds later, Sumit returned. He sat down cautiously, half-expecting something unfortunate to happen, and almost seemed surprised when it didn’t. “So, things are quiet again at the moment?”
“Yup,” said Bad Katie. “Sod all happening. I’m bored shitless to be honest.”
“No musical projects tickling your taste buds then?”
“Well, I flirted with an idea for a musical…”
“Yeah, about a family of tap-dancing meerkats that find fame and fortune touring Europe. No one would take it seriously though.”
“Wonder why,” muttered Sumit.
“I had the plot outlined and the songs would have been a doddle but then I realised meerkats can’t actually sing and act and we’d struggle to find a bunch of tiny humans to play them instead.”
“They could have been normal humans playing giant meerkats,” suggested Sumit.
“Don’t be ridiculous,” scoffed Bad Katie. “Giant meerkats indeed. Leave the creative stuff to the professionals, eh?”
“Oh. Right,” said Sumit. “Well anyway, if you are really bored, I did have an enquiry from the BBC asking if you’d like to guest on Saturday Kitchen.”
Bad Katie raised her eyebrows. “Really? Have they forgotten what happened last time?”
“Probably. That was a few years ago and they have different presenters and production crew now. Besides, they are desperate. Even Rick Astley turned them down.”
She folded her arms and gave him a stern look. “So why would I want to do it then?”
“Exposure? Gets your face on telly, chance to worm your way into the nation’s consciousness.”
“Nah, I’m already a national treasure.”
“Hmmm, well, they pay a lot more than they used to.”
Sumit rolled his eyes. “Right. Let me just confirm the day for you.”
“Saturday?” suggested Bad Katie.
“Very droll,” said Sumit. “The date.”
He logged in to his laptop. “What the…”
Bad Katie suppressed a snigger.
“Katie, why is my computer wallpaper now a picture of Mike Batt in a mankini?”
“Is it really?” she said innocently. “Whatever floats your boat, Sumit…”
Bad Katie was in a taxi on her way to the television studio. The taxi stopped at some traffic lights that had just turned red. A moment later, a policeman on a bicycle rolled up alongside them. Bad Katie wound her window down.
“Morning, Miss,” said the policeman.
“I know,” said Bad Katie. She fished a little box of drawing pins from her coat pocket. “Ooh, what on earth is that in that tree?” she said, pointing upwards to the side of the road.
The policeman looked up, whilst Bad Katie dropped a handful of drawing pins around his bicycle tyres.
“Can’t see anything, miss,” said the policeman.
“Oh. Think it was a squirrel,” said Bad Katie, and smiled at him.
The lights changed to green and the taxi pulled away.
“Heh, heh, heh,” chuckled Bad Katie.
“What have you got against policemen, ma’am?” asked Eric, the cab driver, who Bad Katie insisted on calling Arnie.
“Long story, Arnie. Long story.”
“We’ve got a good few minutes yet,” said Eric.
“Not now, Arnie. I’ve got to text a Georgian restaurant about a delivery…”
“So Katie,” said smarmy TV chef. “Is it true, I hear you once did a concert in the ocean?”
“About half my life ago, yes. Get with it, grandad.”
“You must have got pretty wet!”
“It was under the sea, not in it, caper nuts.”
Smarmy TV chef laughed nervously. “Did you sing sea shanties? Heh, heh.”
“Oh. Right, well..”
Bad Katie picked up a fork and began tapping it impatiently on the glass table. “Where’s my breakfast, I’m *BLEEP* starving.”
“Er yes, just coming… Here we are Katie!”
Smarmy TV chef placed a plate in front of Bad Katie. “Tuck in Katie, and don’t hold back!”
He turned to face the camera. “So, I’ve made Katie braised donkey livers with charred baby shallot gravy, swede and turnip mash, feta crumbs, and a spinach, fennel and garlic puree.”
There was a retching noise behind him. He turned round in time to see Bad Katie spit a mouthful out on the floor. “You okay there?” he said, grinning awkwardly.
“That’s gross. Tastes like a tramp’s underpants.”
Bad Katie beckoned to someone off camera. A delivery boy walked sheepishly up to her with a large, shallow box.
“You ordered pizza instead?” said smarmy TV chef.
“Not pizza, you melon ball. This is proper food. Khachapuri.” She opened the box, grabbed a slice of cheesy bread, and began munching furiously.
“Have to admit, that does look good…” said smarmy TV chef.
She gestured for him to try some.
“Oh my god. That is so good,” said smarmy TV chef.
“Innit though?” said Bad Katie.
“I almost forgot the wine!” said smarmy TV chef. “Our expert, Quentin, has chosen a cheeky Australian chardonnay with hints of bilberry and ginseng, and creamy overtones of macadamia nut.” He poured some into Bad Katie’s glass.
She looked at it suspiciously, then took a sip. She instantly pulled a face like a demented lizard. “Ugh. What’s this? Rat’s bile?”
“But… it’s supposed to be a bargain at only seventeen pounds a bottle from Waitrose,” said smarmy TV chef.
Bad Katie beckoned the delivery boy back. He returned with a dark bottle.
“This is proper wine,” she said, emptying her glass over the donkey liver. She filled her glass with the new wine and took a hearty glug of it. “Ah. That’s more like it. Kindzmarauli.”
“Didn’t know they made wine in Georgia,” said smarmy TV chef.
Bad Katie scoffed at him. “We invented the stuff, you blubbery oaf!” She poured him a glass.
He stuck his nose into the glass and inhaled deeply.
“It’s for drinking, not sniffing,” said Bad Katie.
He took a sip. And then a mouthful. He looked at her quizzically. “Actually, this is rather good.”
Bad Katie rolled her eyes. “Of course it is, you f…”
“and sadly that’s all we have time for this week!” said smarmy TV chef. “Big thank-you to our studio guest, Katie Melua. See you next week, bye!”
Smarmy TV chef drained his glass in one go and turned to the delivery boy. “You brought any more of this?”
“Well Katie,” sighed Sumit. “I think you may have got yourself on the BBC’s blacklist again.”
“Isn’t that racist?” said Bad Katie. “Anyway, it’s their loss. Serves them right. It’s supposed to be a food show. Mule kidneys, or whatever dross they tried to serve me–that isn’t food. Good thing I had the foresight to order my own or I’d have starved.”
“Hardly,” said Sumit. “What about the stuff in your dressing room you asked for in your rider? Monster Munch, Wotsits, Crunchies, Curly-Wurlys, Jaffa Cakes and a dozen Krispy Kreme donuts?”
“Got to have snacks. You can be in those places for hours, waiting around, people fussing over your face and so on.”
“Yes, well, you know Offcom have already received complaints, mostly about you telling the host what to do with that courgette.”
“Oh, he asked for it. I’m sick of people asking me to change the lyrics to Nine Million Bicycles because they think it’s wrong. I mean, who has ever actually gone round counting them anyway? And it wasn’t even my song. Ignorant bunch of wallaby-worriers.”
“Still,” said Sumit. “On the bright side, at least you’re trending on social media and you’ve already got two albums back in the top twenty sales on Amazon.”
“Whatever. Anyway, do I get a coffee or what? I’m parched.”
Sumit gazed at her wearily. “Very well, but no tricks this time, okay?”
“Why do you always think the worst of me?” said Bad Katie.
“Because I know you,” said Sumit. He left the room to fetch the coffees.
Bad Katie grinned. She got up and loosened the height adjuster on Sumit’s chair. Then she sat back down and put her feet up on his desk and began checking her phone. “Oh I do love being me,” she muttered to herself.
Episode 15 - Bad Katie Goes Back To School
Eric, the cabbie, was taking Bad Katie to school. She had accepted, mainly out of boredom, an invitation from her old headmaster to give a talk and mini-concert to the girls at the school where she had her fondest memories of mischief-making.
“Can’t imagine you ever being at school,” mused Eric.
“Why, Arnie?” said Bad Katie. Arnie was her pet name for Eric, who she had indeed become to regard as something of a pet. “Because I’m so elegant, refined and sophisticated?”
“What?” said Eric incredulously. “Have you even met yourself? No, it’s just I’d expect you were expelled on the first day.”
“How very dare you, Arnie! I’ll have you know I was a model student, loved and admired by everyone. I was perfect!”
“You mean prefect?”
“That too. No, it was only when I got to Brit School that I turned a bit rogue. There were some bad influences there.”
“If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, eh?”
“You have to be a chameleon to get on in this world, Arnie. Change and adapt to your circumstances, go with the flow, ride with the tide.”
“Very philosophical, ma’am. Not much flow at the moment though, I’m afraid.”
They ground to a halt in traffic. Bad Katie opened the window and gazed wistfully at the park opposite. Then her nose began to twitch involuntarily. She instinctively looked to one side and spotted a policeman walking along on the pavement. “Ooh,” she said to herself, and quickly fished out a plastic takeaway container from her bag. “Oi, copp… I mean, officer!” she called out.
The policeman checked the traffic was in no danger of moving, then approached her. “Everything okay, Madam?”
“Oh yes. I was hoping I’d catch one of you lot… I mean, one of you fine boys in blue. Here, I’ve baked you some chocolate chip muffins. Just a little thank you for the sterling service you provide!”
“Oh thank you, Madam. We aim to please. That’s most kind of you.”
Bad Katie winked at him. “You’re whelks. Keep the tub, I had an Indian last week. Reuse and recycle, that’s the way forward!”
“Indeed it is Madam. Thanks again!”
The policeman stuffed the container into his jacket pocket and went on his way. Eric looked suspiciously at Bad Katie in his rearview mirror. “Not like you ma’am, being nice to a copper.”
“Pay it forward, Arnie, pay it forward.”
“You didn’t offer me one. I’m partial to a nice choc chip muffin.”
“Not those ones,” said Bad Katie, grinning.
“How come?” asked Eric. “Oh god, you haven’t poisoned them have you?”
“Arnie! What do you think I am?”
“But I did use laxative chocolate for the chips. A whole bar in each muffin.”
“Ma’am, you are one *bad* lady!”
Mr. Stenkelbaum, the headmaster of the school, gripped his lapels officiously and gazed out over the top of his half-rimmed spectacles at the sea of young females before him. “Now then girls, we have a rare treat for you this morning. First lessons will be cut short because we have a special visitor, none other than one of our most illustrious alumna, Miss Katie Melua.”
There was a general low chorus which could either have been “ooh” or “who?”
“In a moment, Katie will perform a couple of her songs for you, but first I thought it would be nice if she could give you an inspirational overview of her career so far and some reflections on her time here at the school, so please give a warm welcome to our very own Katie Melua!”
One or two whoops and whistles from the back of the hall punctured the generally polite applause as Bad Katie strode on to the stage, grinning impishly. “Hi everyone!”
She was greeted with a with an overwhelming wave of indifference as hundreds of gormless faces tried to work out if they were better off listening to some random old woman rant on than missing a history lesson. But a tough audience never fazed Bad Katie.
“Thanks, Mr. Stenkelbaum, for letting me loose on your young ladies,” she said, winking at him. Then she faced the pupils. “Do you still call him Old Stinkybum?”
The hall erupted into laughter, apart from a rather unamused Mr. Stenkelbaum. Even the teachers standing along the sides of the hall were struggling to remain passive.
“In a minute, I’ll do a few songs for you. Before that, Stinky wanted me to talk about life as a successful musician. Well, I can tell you–it’s bloody brilliant! You don’t have to work, you get tons of money, and you even get your own slaves called roadies.”
There was a general murmur as the girls looked wide-eyed at each other and giggled, clearly liking the sound of this career choice.
“But you shouldn’t see it as a career choice,” said Bad Katie. “The thing is, it’s easy for me to look at you all and think I was once just one of you, but in truth I wasn’t. I was talented, intelligent and gorgeous. Some of you may be lucky enough to tick one of those boxes but my bet is most of you are none of those things.”
A general air of unease descended amongst the audience.
“Don’t let anyone ever tell you you’re special. You’re not. You’re all bang average. Most of you will become mums and housewives and have an utterly tedious life bringing up your own sprogs. None of you will end up being me. You might as well get that through your tiny skulls now.”
A few bovine boos began to reverberate around the room. The teachers started fidgeting nervously.
“Now I’m sure there are lots of things you’d like in life. But you can’t have things just because you want them. I’m sure you’d all love to tie up Old Stinky and throw eggs at him. Life doesn’t work like that. You can’t sit around waiting for good things to come to you. If you want something, you have to make it happen!”
The teachers began applauding wildly. Their clapping had been a pre-arranged signal for her to begin her musical performance, but having just heard something vaguely positive they’d decided to quit while they were ahead before the mischievous Miss Melua could cause any more unrest amongst their minor madams.
Mr. Sidebottom, the music teacher, appeared from off stage and sheepishly handed Bad Katie her guitar.
“Oh,” said Bad Katie. “Well, I did have a few more pearls of wisdom to impart but maybe later, eh? Time for some music. And if you really do want a career in music then you should pay attention in Mr. Sidebottom’s classes, though to be honest he had sod all to do with my success.”
Mr. Sidebottom stared sombrely at his shoes.
“Anyway, in a moment, I’ll sing a few of my hits. They may have been from before some of you twiglets were born, but the cheques are still rolling in, heh-heh. But I want to begin with a special song I wrote on the way here today. It is called ‘Ode To Old Stinky’.”
Mr. Stenkelbaum put a palm over his face…
Bad Katie sat in her manager’s office with her feet up on his desk. She was surreptitiously trying to carve her initials with her heels.
“So, how was your trip to your old school?” said Sumit.
“Oh, you know, usual stuff, applause, adulation, sycophantic comments. Bit dull and uneventful to be honest.”
“Is that right? Well, I heard you caused something of an insurrection!”
“Uh? What are you on about?”
“A hundred girls tying up the headmaster and pelting him with eggs. Wherever would they get such an idea?”
Bad Katie threw her hands in the air. “Nothing to do with me. That was long after I’d left.”
“One of the girls said that Katie told them if they wanted to tie up the headmaster and throw eggs at him then they had to make it happen! So they did.”
“Well I can’t help it if my words get taken out of context.”
“Hmmm. Anyway, I’ll go and fetch the coffee. Do try to behave yourself, you’re not at St. Trinian’s now.” He got up out of his chair.
“Ooh,” said Bad Katie. “You’ve got a new seat cushion!”
“Yes. My daughters made it for my birthday.”
“Aw, sweet. What’s the green blob in the middle?”
“Oh, it’s meant to be a cactus. Their idea of a little joke.”
“An actual cactus might have been funnier,” said Bad Katie.
“Unlike you, they know where to draw the line!”
Bad Katie shrugged. Sumit headed off to the coffee machine. As soon as he left the room she fished a whoopee cushion out of her pocket, inflated it, and slipped it underneath his seat cushion. Then she sat back down and got her phone ready to video the action. “Heh, heh. The girls are gonna love this…”
Episode 16 - Bad Katie Storms A Castle
“Not sure about this makeover to your office,” said Bad Katie. “Bit bland, no paintings, no ornaments, no soul.”
“That’s the price I have to pay,” sighed Sumit.
“For making it you-proof.”
“Sumit, I’m wounded. You know I have the greatest love and respect for all art!”
“Like the fake Banksy you sprayed onto the bonnet of my new Porsche?”
“Thought it would make it ten times more valuable. Just trying to help.”
“Hmmm. Anyway, down to business. I have a potential booking for a gig at Arundel Castle.”
“Ooh, I love castles! I’m thinking of buying one.”
“Yes, well, what? Really? Never mind. You’ve done a lot of castle gigs around Europe, it would be nice to do one here.”
“I know. But they tend to be a bit stuffy about them here, like they are sacred or something and not to be despoiled by grubby musicians.”
“True. But the folks at Arundel seem to be quite progressive in their thinking and are looking to dip a toe into new ventures.”
“They need the money, you mean.”
“Yeah, probably. Anyway, they’ve been fooled by your perceived image of sweetness and innocence and see you as the perfect kind of artist to test the waters. They’ve invited us down for a day to look around, work out the best place for acoustics and to thrash out any other details. They are new to all this and know there are probably lots of things they haven’t considered. What do you think?”
“You had me at castle.”
“Great! This could be a big deal for us, you know. Let’s have a drink to celebrate!”
Bad Katie glanced over at a cabinet with some bottles of spirits on it. Her eyes twinkled momentarily. “Oh, bit early for me. But you go ahead. Be a dear and fetch me a coffee first.”
“Okay, be right back,” said Sumit.
The moment Sumit left the room, Bad Katie took out a bottle of whisky from her rucksack. She knew Sumit’s favourite brand, and her bottle looked exactly like the one on his cabinet. Except hers was filled with cold tea and vinegar. She quickly swapped them and put his bottle in her rucksack.
“Here you go,” said Sumit, as he returned and handed her a coffee. He then went to his cabinet and poured himself a large whisky.
Bad Katie raised her cup. “Here’s to castles! Gaumarjos!”
“Cheers!” said Sumit. He knocked back the contents of his glass, then promptly sprayed it out all over his desk. Bad Katie giggled.
“Sis, why do we have to traipse around these boring gardens? We couldn’t do a gig here,” said Zurab.
“Oh quit griping, you know I love gardens. Look at the colours, smell those fragrances. It’s heavenly. Besides, I need to experience every aspect of the castle, grounds and gardens in order to align my chi with the place, otherwise I won’t be able to perform to the best of my ability.”
“Balls,” said Zurab.
Bad Katie scowled at him, then noticed some pear trees against the wall behind him. “Look! Espaliered pears!”
“Do what?” said Zurab.
“They look ripe. Grab us one, Z,” she said, looking around to see if anyone else was about.
“You want me to steal fruit? Why can’t you do it?”
“I can’t reach the good ones. And they’ll only leave them to rot anyway.”
Zurab sighed, stepped over the low privet hedge and plucked a pear from the tree. He handed it to Bad Katie, shaking his head.
“Wasn’t so hard was it?” said Bad Katie, as she prepared to bite into the pear.
“Oi! You two!” shouted a gardener, who had just stood up after weeding a bed a few metres away.
“Quick, leg it!” said Bad Katie, and took off down the path.
Zurab ran after her. “Sis,” he panted. “One of these days you’ll get me shot…”
Bad Katie and Zurab were sauntering towards the castle entrance to meet Sumit who, like Zurab, had zero interest in gardens but, unlike Zurab, had had a choice in visiting them. Bad Katie took another big bite from her pear.
“Ooh, you’ve got a nice juicy pear!” said a passer-by.
Bad Katie slapped his face hard. “Pervert!”
“I think he meant the fruit, sis,” said Zurab, and dragged her onwards.
Sumit was waiting for them at the main entrance. He was pacing up and down, talking on his phone. He wasn’t actually on a call but just wanted to look important, like the half dozen or so other people milling about doing exactly the same thing.
“Hey Sumit!” called Bad Katie.
“I have to go,” said Sumit, to himself, and slipped his phone into his pocket. “So, I take it I haven’t missed much.”
“Only theft and assault,” said Zurab.
Sumit rolled his eyes. “Oh Z, I wish you’d try to keep a tighter rein on her.”
Bad Katie scoffed. “Good luck with that.”
Zurab looked forlornly at Sumit.
Sumit put a sympathetic hand on his shoulder. “I know, lad. I know.”
“Never mind the bromance,” said Bad Katie. “What’s the plan now?”
“Well, the Events Manager is on the way to meet me and discuss the fine print and legal stuff,” said Sumit. “You know, the grown up stuff. I thought it would be better if you two kids go explore the castle and get a feel for the place. There are a few options as to where the actual gig could take place so just see what grabs your imagination. We’ll catch up later in the café.”
“It had better be decent grub in there,” said Bad Katie.
“Oh, I’ve already been in. It’s very nice. They have a Death By Chocolate cake to die for.”
“And it’ll be Death By Katie if you haven’t reserved me a couple of slices when I get there.”
Zurab was in heaven staring at all the swords and suits of armour and gazed in wonder down the dimly-lit passages and slits in the walls for firing arrows through. Bad Katie was less impressed.
“So many paintings,” said Zurab. “And some of them are bigger than my bed.”
“Yes,” said Bad Katie. “But why was everyone so ugly in those days?”
“Bit harsh, sis. Painting wasn’t as advanced back then. It was all done by hand.”
Bad Katie shook her head. “I despair of you at times.”
A castle guide suddenly emerged from the shadows. “Good morning.”
“Jesus!” said Bad Katie.
“Where?” said Zurab.
“May I be of assistance?” said the guide.
“Yes,” said Bad Katie. “Who owns this gaff?”
“The 18th Duke of Norfolk,” replied the guide.
“Oh. Doesn’t he know this is Sussex?”
“The Duke is aware, madam.”
“Could have fooled me. What does he do for entertainment around here? Gawp at those creepy paintings all evening? He should get a hundred inch telly and a Sky dish.”
“The family live in a private wing of the castle.”
“What, so all of this part is empty at night?”
“That’s correct, madam.”
“Oooh, how spooky is that? Best hurry up and get out before they close up. Wouldn’t want to be stuck in here all night.”
“No, you certainly wouldn’t,” said the guide. “Legend has it that the ghost of Lady…”
“Cork it, Wikipedia, I don’t believe in all that mullarkey. Come on Z, let’s see what tat they’ve got in the gift shop.”
On their way to the gift shop they passed through the castle library. Bad Katie’s eyes lit up. “Wowzers, Z. Look at this place!”
“Looks cozy,” said Z. “Red velvet chairs, big fireplace…”
“Never mind that, look at all the books. Thousands of the buggers!”
“Yes, and all old. Bet they haven’t got a single Harry Potter.”
Bad Katie ignored him. She was busy scanning the shelves like a thing possessed. “Ooh, The Life Of John Lennon,” she muttered. “This looks like a must read, think I’ll borrow it.”
“It’s not a public library, sis,” said Z. “And anyway, not sure that is about *the* John Lennon. I mean, it looks pretty ancient, and there must have been tons of John Lennons…”
Bad Katie wasn’t listening. She shot a furtive glance at the guide who was keeping a beady eye on them from across the room. “I need a distraction, Z. Go and ask him if they have any books on Georgia or guitars or something. Just keep him talking and looking at the shelves on that side.”
“Why do I always get the dirty jobs?” groaned Z.
“Because I’m your big sister,” said Bad Katie. “Now go.”
Z went over to the guide. “Excuse me sir, I don’t suppose you happen to know if this collection contains….”
Bad Katie quickly grabbed the Lennon book, as well as a book about medieval flatbreads that caught her imagination on a whim, and stuffed them both into her rucksack. She strode purposefully towards the exit. “Come on, Z,” she called.
“But he thinks there is a book on the history of Georgia here somewhere…”
“Then tell him to read it,” said Bad Katie. “Hurry up, we haven’t got all day.”
“Oh,” said Z. “But I thought we had.”
Bad Katie glared at him.
“Right. Yes. Coming.”
Zurab was beginning to get tired and was thinking about the café. “Are we nearly there yet?”
Bad Katie was loving the labyrinthine narrow passageways and secret doors and her sense of mischief was tingling wildly. She spotted a sign and gasped. “An oubliette! I’ve always wanted to see one of those.”
“What’s one of them?” said Zurab.
“A deep pit they throw people into and leave them to die.”
“Sod that,” said Zurab. “I’m not going anywhere near that with you around.”
“Look, you head back to the café and find Sumit. I have to see this.”
Zurab shrugged and set off for the café. “Don’t fall in, sis,” he called back.
Bad Katie took her little detour to see the oubliette then began to make her way back to find the others. As she walked past a bedroom she happened to notice a guy taking a picture of a four-poster bed.
“Hang on a minute,” she said. “Don’t I know you from somewhere?”
The guy turned and looked at her. His eyes became saucers. “Katie!!!”
“Oh god,” said Bad Katie. “You’re the All About Katie guy, aren’t you?”
“Wow, I can’t believe you remember me.”
“I never forget a face. Especially an idiotic one.”
“What on earth are you doing here?”
Bad Katie sighed. “I’m doing a recce for a gig, if you must know.”
“That’s amazing. Can I have an exclusive for the site?”
“No,” said Bad Katie, firmly.
“Oh,” said AAK, crestfallen.
“Anyway, what are you doing here? Are you stalking me?”
“What? No! I’m on holiday. Just taking pictures of the beds here.”
“Oh, well, that isn’t at all creepy.”
“I love this place,” said AAK. “Wish I could stay here forever.”
Bad Katie’s eyes widened. “Have you seen the oubliette yet?”
“No, I didn’t even know they had one.”
“Let me show you, it’s just round the corner from here.”
AAK wasn’t about to pass up an invitation from her and duly followed her to the oubliette.
“Impressive, isn’t it?” said Bad Katie.
“Well, to be honest, I was probably expecting a bit more. It’s just an empty room with a dark hole in the floor.”
“It’s not so much a dark hole as a black hole,” said Bad Katie. “Whatever goes into it never gets out again. Aren’t you curious to see what’s down there?”
“You can’t get close enough. It’s roped off.”
“Nonsense,” said Bad Katie. She unhooked one end of the safety rope. “Go on, stand over it, see if you can get a good picture of what’s down there.”
AAK looked uncertain. “It’s a bit scary.”
“Don’t be a big baby! I’ll give you that exclusive if you get me a good picture!”
AAK took a deep breath and shuffled up to the edge of the hole. He pointed his camera down and gingerly leaned forwards. The last thing he felt was a heel on his backside…
“What are you looking so happy about?” said Sumit, as Bad Katie sauntered into the café.
“I love this place,” said Bad Katie.
“What have you done, sis?” said Zurab.
“Nothing. What do you mean?”
“You only look this happy when you’ve done something bad,” said Sumit.
“Yes?” said Zurab and Sumit in unison.
Bad Katie reached into her pocket. “I just bought this fridge magnet in the gift shop. It’s a memento of a wonderful day.”
Sumit shook his head and pushed a plate of Death By Chocolate cake towards her.
“And now it just got even better!”
Sumit was grinning from ear to ear as they prepared to leave the castle after a successful day. “I’m well chuffed to get that contract signed and sealed. It’s a real feather in your cap, Katie.”
“Suppose. But it’s not all about me, is it? Not any more, anyway.” She grinned.
“What on earth are you on about?” said Sumit.
“Never mind. Hey look, there’s a moat! Why don’t I get a picture of you in front of it with the castle in the background? It’ll look great hanging in your office.”
“Oh, yes, good idea,” said Sumit.
Bad Katie took his phone and and retreated a few paces. “Ah, no, you’re too close. Move back a bit.”
Sumit stepped back a couple of paces.
“No. Bit more,” said Bad Katie.
There was a yelp followed by a splash. Bad Katie clicked the shutter. “Got it!”
A few weeks later, the historic first ever concert at Arundel Castle was proving to be a huge success. Bad Katie was lapping up the rapturous applause as she settled herself down for a final encore.
“Here’s one more song, a new song. It’s called ‘Remind Me To Forget’. It’s about an oubliette…”
Episode 17 - Bad Katie By Royal Command
“Guess what!” said Sumit eagerly.
“I dunno. Er… you’re having the snip?”
“No. What? Why would you…. never mind. No, you’ve been asked to attend the Royal Variety Performance.”
“What do you mean, ‘oh’? It’s a pretty big deal you know.”
“Yeah, yeah. Thing is, I can’t imagine any of them have talent. I’d rather watch a bunch of monkeys performing tricks.”
“The Royals aren’t performing you dullard! You’ll be performing for them. It’s a great honour.”
“Is it a great fee though?”
“Ooh, you mercenary little minx. Never mind the money. The Queen is a big fan of your music and you’ll get to speak to her afterwards.”
“I’d rather meet Queen, to be honest. Still miss Freddie. They’ll never be the same. Don’t know what they’re thinking trying to replace him with some random bloke from an American talent show.”
“Yes, he is a lamb’s butt. Anyway, where’s our coffee?”
“Should be here any minute.”
“You did order it from that stall across the street, didn’t you? The one I recommended.”
“Yes. At least I’ll know you haven’t tampered with it.”
There was a knock at the door.
“Come,” shouted Sumit.
A curly-haired old man shuffled in. “Here’s the coffees you ordered.”
“Nice one, Bob,” said Bad Katie.
“Here’s your usual, miss Katie,” said Bob, handing Bad Katie a large takeaway cup. He placed the other one on Sumit’s desk. “And a special for the boss man.”
“Thanks mate,” said Sumit.
Bob winked at Bad Katie and shuffled back out of the room, closing the door behind him. Bad Katie took a sip of her coffee. “Ooh, just how I like it!”
Sumit picked his up and removed the lid. “Well, I hope this is as special as you say it is.”
Bad Katie suppressed a snigger. “I’m sure you’ll be surprised…”
As Bob left the building he screwed up the empty sachet of Acme laxative and dropped it into the nearest bin.
Jason Manford milked the applause to within an inch of its life.
“Right then you lovely lot!”
He glanced at the Royal Box and added “… and your Majesty.”
“Have we got a treat for you now! It’s a wonderful life, isn’t it? Unless you’re a Man Utd fan, heh, heh.”
There were a few half-hearted chuckles from the audience accompanied by a few whistles and jeers. Her Majesty remained unamused.
“Well, here to sing all about it is the delightful angel—or should I say Angel Delight?—miss Kay-tea Mell-you-are!”.
The audience applauded politely. The Queen whooped and hollered. Bad Katie ambled nonchalantly onto the stage. When she reached Manford she gave him a sweet smile and whispered in his ear.
“It’s Meh-loo-uh, Gay-son Man-food. And I’m singing ‘What A Wonderful World’ not ‘Wonderful Life’, you clueless bag of broken biscuits.”
Manford, somewhat taken aback, stepped back. He addressed the audience once more.
“Well, this is the closest thing to crazy I have ever been, that’s for sure. She’s all yours!” he garbled, then bolted off the stage.
Bad Katie stepped up to the mic and soaked in the rapturous applause for a moment. There was a massive wolf-whistle which appeared to originate from the Royal Box, though Buckingham Palace later denied it categorically.
“I see trees of green….”
After the show, the performers were lined up backstage. Sumit stood proudly beside Bad Katie and nervously adjusted his bow tie. “Now then Katie, best behaviour.”
“What are we standing in this stupid queue for? Couldn’t you have ordered drinks beforehand? And who is that old biddy sidling towards us and pawing people with her silk gloves? Better not be scrounging for money.”
“Katie! Keep your voice down. You are about to meet the Queen. Remember to curtsy.”
“For Caucasian women everywhere it is an honour for Katie to meet you, Your Majesty,” said Sumit, as the Queen suddenly stood in front of them.
The Queen ignored him and held her hand out for Bad Katie to shake, just as she was attempting to curtsy, with the result that Bad Katie head-butted the Queen’s hand.
“Oops,” said Bad Katie. “Sorry, Your Royal Queenness. We don’t have all this pomp in Georgia.”
Sumit closed his eyes and wondered if people were still thrown in the Tower.
The Queen cackled like a witch on helium. “Don’t worry, my dear. One is a big fan of yours.”
“Oh. I didn’t think you’d have heard of me.”
“Of course one has, my dear. All of you performers are here by one’s choice. One follows your career closely thanks to a web site that is all about you.”
“Ah…. yes, about that….”
“One even sings your songs in the bath.”
“Bit too much information….”
Her Majesty unexpectedly burst into song. “This is the closest thing to crazy one has ever known, one was never crazy on one’s own…”
“Yeah, I wouldn’t quit the day job yet,” muttered Bad Katie.
The Queen winked at her and changed tune. “Who-are-you-one’s-ti-ny-a-li-en…”
Bad Katie’s mouth fell open, but for once no sound escaped from it.
Her Majesty looked at Sumit. “And who is this handsome chappie then?”
“I’m her mana…” began Sumit.
“Man-servant,” interrupted Bad Katie. “I took him in off the streets, gave him a job you know. His English isn’t great but he’s loyal and obedient.”
The Queen eyed Sumit again. “Well, look after your mistress and she’ll look after you,” she said, in a slow and raised voice. Sumit nodded solemnly. Her Majesty sidled on to her next victim.
“I’ll look after you later, young lady,” Sumit growled into Bad Katie’s ear.
“Oh don’t be so sore, Sumit,” said Bad Katie. “She’s of a certain era you know, colonial and all that. When you mix in different circles you need to know how to blend in. Oh bollocks, I forgot to ask to have a selfie with her.”
Sumit buried his eyes in his palm and shook his head.
“I can’t quite believe this is happening,” said Sumit, a few weeks later. He flicked a speck of something off his tuxedo jacket. “Do you know how big a deal this is, Katie? A private performance at Buckingham Palace?”
“No, I don’t,” said Bad Katie. “But she’d better be paying top dollar for it. I’m missing the premiere of the latest Star Wars movie for this gig.”
“Paying?” said Sumit, incredulously. “Not many artists get an opportunity like this. It’s a real privilege.”
“For her, maybe. And she’d better leave the singing to me—she’s got a voice like a possessed cat.”
“And it’ll be lovely for you to work with Mike again. Be like old times.”
“Wait. What? What you on about? Batt’s here too? Oh for fox sake.”
“Yes, I mentioned it in the email I sent you with all the details about tonight.”
“Ah, yes, well I never read your emails.”
“Oh. I see. Well, he’s here to conduct the orchestra.”
“What orchestra? Thought it was just going to be me and Z with acoustic guitars.”
“The Georgian Philharmonic. They’ve flown in from Tbilisi especially for tonight. Mike’s been rehearsing with them all day. In particular, that new arrangement of one of the Queen’s favourites, ’September Song’. I mentioned that in the email too—I take it you haven’t learned it then?”
Bad Katie shrugged. “How hard can it be? You go and get the sheet music off Mike while I look for the song on Spotify.”
“Why is nothing ever straightforward with you?” said Sumit. He shook his head and strode off.
“Oh, and be a dear,” shouted Bad Katie after him, “grab us a flat white on the way back.”
As Bad Katie stood and soaked in the polite applause, loud wolf whistles rang out. The Queen’s Lady-in-waiting leaned over and whispered in her ear, “Your Majesty, that is not a seemly thing to do.”
The Queen removed her fingers from her mouth. “Sorry, one gets rather carried away when one hears this young lady warble.”
Mike Batt sidled up to Bad Katie, shaking his head. “What the hell key was that supposed to be?”
“Freedom,” said Bad Katie. “Nice to see you too.”
“You hadn’t read my notes, had you?”
“Nope. Never could read your handwriting anyway.”
“Well it’s lucky for you that I’m a musical genius and the Georgian Orchestra are familiar with notes that don’t exist outside Georgia. I think we got away with it.”
“Got away with it? They loved it. Her Madge was throwing shapes!”
“Yes, well, she’s probably been on the gin since breakfast time.”
“You could be beheaded you know.”
“Don’t be silly, they don’t do that any more.”
“I mean your impending knighthood. She’s not as steady with that sword these days.”
“Ha bloody ha. Oh, by the way, I thought your last album was mostly fairly acceptable.”
“For crying out loud, Katie,” said a breathless Sumit, “this is no time for a catch-up, the Queen is waiting to present you with something. Didn’t you hear me yelling you?”
“Er, no. I’ve learned to filter out your voice.”
Sumit rolled his eyes. “Come on, they are expecting us. Oh, hi Mike. Bye Mike.”
“What is she giving me?” said Bad Katie. “A stately home in Suffolk? A Rolls Royce? Is she making me a Dame?”
“I don’t know,” said Sumit. “But just remember to accept it graciously, whatever it is.”
“A vase,” fumed Bad Katie, as she paced around Sumit’s office. “A bloody vase. What the hell do I want with a stupid vase?”
“Calm down, Katie,” said Sumit. “It’s the thought that counts.”
“Not much thought gone into that. It was probably the first thing she saw when she opened the Argos catalogue.”
“Hardly. It’s encrusted with Swarovski crystals, you know.”
“Is that meant to mean something to me?”
“It means it was expensive.”
Bad Katie stopped pacing. “Expensive?”
“Do you think she’d find out if I put it on eBay?”
“I don’t know, but the engraving might be a problem.”
Sumit pointed to the bottom of the vase. “Presented to Katie Melua by HRH Queen Elizabeth II.”
“Oh. Can’t we scratch that off?”
“Katie! Just put it on display in your studio. It is something to be proud of, something to show off. Adele hasn’t got one you know.”
Bad Katie grinned. “Well, she can stick her flowers somewhere else.”
“Look, it’s a great honour to get a gift from the Queen. You should treasure it.”
“Suppose. Glad I nabbed the other stuff though.”
“What other stuff?” said Sumit suspiciously.
“Shampoo, shower gel, soap, towel…”
“Oh come on, they know everyone does it. They probably get the stuff in bulk from Poundland.”
“You are incorrigible.”
Sumit shook his head. “Never mind. Anyway, you made the Queen happy. We should have a drink to celebrate! I’ve got some Prosecco on the cabinet there…”
Bad Katie scoffed. “I can do better than that,” she said, and pulled a bottle of champagne out of her rucksack.
Sumit’s jaw dropped. “That’s Dom Perignon P3. Where the hell did you get that? It must have cost thousands!”
Sumit buried his face in his hands. “Actually, I don’t want to know. Let’s just drink it before we’re carted off to the Tower.”
Episode 18 - Bad Katie Goes Trick-Or-Treating
“You don’t look well, sis,” said Zurab.
“What do you mean?” said Bad Katie.
“Your face. It’s bright green.”
Bad Katie rolled her eyes. “It’s makeup, you tepid turnip. It’s Halloween, and we’re going trick or treating. I’m transforming into a wicked witch.”
“Not much of a transformation,” muttered Zurab.
“I heard that.”
“But… aren’t we a bit old for that kind of thing? It’s for little kids.”
“What? Free sweets on offer from every house—you think I’m going to pass on that and let a load of snotty sprogs scoff them all?”
“You could actually afford to buy your own sweet shop, sis. Doesn’t seem fair.”
“Sod fair. I’ve worked hard to get where I am, why should I fork out my own dosh when people will be dishing out delights for free? Enter into the spirit of it, bruv.”
“Stop moping and get ready. Your costume is in that box. Whack it on. I’ll paint the stitches on your face when I’m done adding these hairy warts to my cheeks.”
“Stitches? What am I going to be?”
“Frankenstein’s monster. Seemed like the least work. Oh, and go clean out the recycling bin too.”
“We’ll need it to stash our haul in.”
“Oh. But most people have little bags.”
“Bugger that. If we’re going to do this it needs to be worth our while. Now hurry up, Poll will be here soon.”
Bad Katie and Zurab were in the kitchen when the doorbell rang. They continued carving their pumpkins whilst their mother answered the door. A few moments later, Perfect Polly joined them.
“Hi guys,” said Perfect Polly. “Ooh, carving pumpkins! Can I do one?”
“Of course,” said Bad Katie. “That one’s for you. Knock yourself out.”
“Aw, thanks,” said Polly.
Bad Katie stared at her in puzzlement. “Poll, why are you dressed as a unicorn? This is Halloween. We’re meant to be scary.”
“Oh, yes, I know. I’ve left the scythe outside by the door.”
“Yes. You see, I’m the Unicorn of Death!”
Bad Katie continued to stare at her, though her expression had changed to a blank one. “And that is a thing, is it?”
“Well, no. But unicorns are supposed to be all goodness and light, so one with a scythe, that’s like well scary.”
“But unicorns have hooves. How the hell are they supposed to wield a scythe?”
“Oh for heaven’s sake, Katie, don’t read so much into it. It’s just a metaphor.”
“For what, stupidity?”
“Don’t be like that. It’s a representation of the latent hatred within the purest heart, the sinister dark side that we all have within us that can lie hidden and dormant for decades and then erupt like a supernova when the right trigger conditions are met.”
Bad Katie sighed. “Why couldn’t you just be a witch too?”
“Why couldn’t I be a witch?” moaned Zurab. “My neck hurts.”
“Katie, why has Z got a G-clamp on his neck anyway?” said Perfect Polly.
“He’s Frankenstein’s monster, obviously.”
“But didn’t he have a bolt through his neck?”
“I couldn’t very well use a real bolt, could I? Duh! I thought it was a clever solution. Looks just as frightening.”
“Except I can hardly breathe,” muttered Zurab.
“Then don’t waste air grumbling,” said Bad Katie. “Finish carving your pumpkin. What’s that meant to be anyway?”
“A demonic ghoul arguing with Satan’s sister,” said Zurab.
“Interesting,” said Bad Katie. “What about you Poll, what are you carving?”
“Mine’s a possessed fairy with spiders for eyes.”
“Of course it is.”
“What’s yours? That looks like writing. What does it say?”
“BUGGER OFF, WE HAVE COVID”
Bad Witch pushed the doorbell button and turned to Perfect Unicorn Of Death and Frankenstein’s Zurab. “Remember, leave the talking to me. Just act scary.”
The door opened and a little old lady was grinning at them. “Ooh, my first scary zombies. How exciting!”
“Yeah, we’re not zombies, gran. I’m a wicked witch and this is the Unicorn Of Death,” said Bad Katie.
“How lovely! And who’s the big chap behind you?”
“Oh never mind him, he’s just here for training purposes.”
“So, anyway, you got sugary treats for us or are you prepared to suffer the consequences?”
The old lady smiled. “Of course I have… but...”
“But what?” said Bad Katie impatiently.
“You’re rather big children aren’t you? How old are you?”
“Thirty-” began Zurab.
“Thirteen,” said Bad Katie. “We eat all our greens.”
“Very well,” said the old lady. She picked up a bowl of sweets from her hall table and offered them to her visitors. “You can each pick your favourite.”
“Z, open the cauldron!”
“The what?” said Zurab.
“The bin,” hissed Bad Katie.
Zurab stepped aside to reveal the wheelie bin behind him. Bad Katie had painted flames around the bottom of it. He opened the lid.
Bad Katie grabbed the bowl off the old lady and tipped the entire contents into her “cauldron”.
“Hey,” said the old lady. “What about all the other kids?”
“The early bird gets the worm. Be a good life lesson for them. Thanks, dear.”
Bad Katie shoved the empty bowl back at the bewildered old lady and strode purposefully back down the garden path. “Come on guys, we’ve twelve streets to get through…”
An hour later, Perfect Polly and Zurab were flagging.
“Are we nearly home yet?” asked Zurab.
“If I whinny demonically one more time I think I’ll rip a vocal cord,” said Perfect Polly.
“Quit whinging you two,” said Bad Katie. “We’ve half filled the bin with goodies already. We’re on a right roll here and we haven’t even got to the dental belt yet.”
“What’s the dental belt?” said Zurab and Perfect Polly in unison.
“It’s a posh road not far away where half the residents are private dentists. Word is they give away sweets by the sack load at Halloween. They bank on cashing in later by repairing the teeth of the sprogs they give them to.”
“You do realise that means you, don’t you?” said Perfect Polly.
“What rot,” said Bad Katie.
“I mean I have perfect teeth. Probably because I pay fortunes to one of the plier-wielding leeches from the dental belt. Time for some payback.”
“Sis, what are we going to do with all this haul anyway?” said Zurab. “We can’t possibly eat all of it.”
“Ah yes, well, I’ll cherry-pick the good stuff, obviously, but you know that youth centre near us?”
“Oh, you’re going to donate it to the kids there?” said Zurab.
“Don’t be a muddled meerkat, of course not. I’ve ordered an old vending machine off eBay. We’re going to install it there and fill it with this stuff and milk the little buggers of their pocket money.”
“That’s genius, Katie,” said Perfect Polly.
“Right then,” said Bad Katie, some time later. “The bin is nearly full of loot. What’s the trick count, Poll?”
“Well, we’ve got through two dozen eggs, dropped seventeen wiper blades down drains and let down thirty-one tyres.”
“Plus what we did to Mr Winklebottom,” added Zurab. “I’m pretty sure he’ll get the police onto us for that.”
Bad Katie chuckled. “I doubt he’s even got free yet.”
“That was a classic, I must admit,” said Perfect Polly.
Zurab shook his head. “Remind me never to cross you two.”
“What, you only just figured that?” said Bad Katie. “Anyway, there’s just one more house I want to call at and then we’ll call it a night.”
Bad Katie folded her arms and tapped her foot impatiently as they waited outside their final door.
“Perhaps there’s no one home,” said Zurab.
“The place looks dark,” said Perfect Polly.
“He always does this, he told me,” said Bad Katie. She stabbed the doorbell several more times.
At last, a light appeared in the hallway and the door opened. “What do you lot want?” asked Sumit.
“Duh? Halloween? We’ve come for our sweets mister,” said Bad Katie, forgetting to disguise her voice until half way through the sentence.
“Katie, is that you?” said Sumit.
Bad Katie cackled. “Ha, ha, ha. Who is this Katie you speak of? I am the wicked witch of the west end and I demand to be showered with sugary surprises or you will suffer my most sinister spells!”
“Bugger off. Get a job and buy your own sweets,” said Sumit.
Bad Katie looked at the car on the driveway. “Ooh, nice wheels, mister. You must be nervous of anything happening to them.”
“You threatening me, you little witch?”
“Noooo!” said Bad Katie, waving her arms around wildly. “But karma works in mysterious ways…”
Sumit definitely was nervous. “Look, I haven’t got any sweets.”
Bad Katie squinted inscrutably at him. “I’m sure you have something stashed away. A witch knows these things.”
“No sweets, I swear. All I’ve got is a box of luxury chocolates from Harrods. They are for my wife, for her birthday.”
“I’ll take them,” said Bad Katie.
She glanced at his car again. “Such a beautiful paint job.”
Sumit sighed. He shuffled off and returned a moment later with the chocolates.
“Thank you kindly, mister,” said Bad Katie, snatching the chocolates from him.
“Be gone, thieving rascals,” muttered Sumit as he closed the door.
Bad Katie grinned. “Z, it’s time to deploy the spud.”
“What spud?” said Zurab.
“The one I stuffed in your pocket.”
Zurab fished the potato out of his jacket pocket. “What’s this for?”
“I need you to shove it up Sumit’s exhaust pipe,” said Bad Katie.
“That’s not a euphemism,” added Perfect Polly.
“But he gave us a treat,” said Zurab.
“Not willingly,” said Bad Katie. “Now spud his car and let’s go home.”
“Sorry I’m late Katie. My car wouldn’t start this morning. Had to get the AA out.”
“Really? I thought you were cutting down. Didn’t know they did house calls.”
“Not that AA, cheeky sod, the car one. Turns out some evil sprog stuffed a spud up my exhaust pipe.”
Bad Katie sniggered. “Ooh, matron!”
“It isn’t funny!” fumed Sumit. “If I knew who it was I’d have them arrested. I bet it was that trio of big kids.”
“Yes, the witch, the unicorn and Frankenstein.”
“Is that a sequel to the one with the lion and the wardrobe?”
“I actually thought the witch was you at first.”
“Me? Don’t be ridiculous. I’m a multi-million selling recording artist. And it was Frankenstein’s monster, by the way.”
“Frankenstein wasn’t the monster, he was the mad scientist that created him.”
“Oh. Well, there was something fishy about the three of them anyway. You know, the more I think about it, that witch really did look like you.”
“How very dare you, Sumit! Besides, I was in my home studio last night practising my acoustic take on ‘Anarchy In The UK’.”
“Yes, well, anyway. We need to wrap up our meeting quickly this morning. I have to get out to buy a birthday present.”
“For your wife?”
“Yes, how’d you know that?”
“Oh, I remember from last year. I’m good with dates. It’s not like you to leave it so late.”
“I didn’t. I had some lovely Harrod’s chocolates for her but I had to give them to those pesky trick-or-treaters last night.”
“They were so good,” said Bad Katie.
“I’ve heard they are so good.”
“Hmmm. Well, I’m going to get the coffees. Please, no tricks this time, okay?”
“Whatever do you mean?” said Bad Katie. “Tricks? Halloween is over.”
“Like you need an excuse for mischief!”
Sumit left to fetch the coffees. Bad Katie whipped out her phone and dialled. “Z, are you in the car park yet?”
“Yes, sis,” was the reply.
“Good. If you check your coat pocket you’ll find another spud…”
Episode 19- Bad Katie Lands A Plane
Bad Katie sat in her manager’s office, with her feet up on his desk, nonchalantly fiddling with her phone.
Sumit eyed her warily and looked at his coffee suspiciously as he cautiously took a sip.
“Something wrong?” asked Bad Katie, glancing up at him momentarily.
“No, no,” said Sumit. “Apart from not trusting you as far as I can throw you.”
“Why do you have such a low opinion of me?”
“How long have you got?”
“My feelings are bruised,” said Bad Katie, sulkily.
“Yes, well, there’s no part of me that hasn’t been bruised by your antics.”
“Anyway, have you packed for the Georgia trip yet?”
“Oh, yes,” said Sumit. “Though I’m still not sure why you want me to come with you this time.”
“You normally only come with me on official music business. I just thought it’d be good for you to join me purely for fun. You know, take in the sights, experience the real Georgia, have a few laughs.”
“Then why do I have such a bad feeling about it?”
“Because you’re a naturally grumpy sod?”
At that moment there was a polite knock at the door. Sumit’s secretary entered and placed a parcel on his desk in front of him.
“This just came for you,” she said, and quietly retreated.
“Oh,” said Sumit. “I wasn’t expecting anything.”
He unwrapped the parcel to reveal a wooden box. He lifted the lid and there was a little bang followed by a sudden cloud of white dust. Sumit’s face was covered in flour.
“Oops,” said Bad Katie. “That was unfortunate.”
As the seat-belt sign dimmed, Sumit unbuckled and called for the air stewardess.
“Thank god that’s over,” he said, as the plane levelled out. “Now I need a drink. How about you?”
Bad Katie was staring out of the window.
“What? Oh, sorry, I had my head in the clouds. Literally.”
The stewardess floated up to them and gave them a smile that could accelerate glacial melting. “Hi, I’m Nino, what may I do for you?”
“Could I get a double whisky on the rocks, please,” said Sumit. He looked at Bad Katie.
“Lemongrass, passion flower and ginger herb tea, thanks,” said Bad Katie. “With a drizzle of acacia honey.”
Nino’s smile flatlined. “This isn’t Fortnum and Mason madam. I can probably rustle up a Lady Grey.”
Bad Katie screwed her face up, then scowled at Nino. “Yuk. Just bring me a Coke Zero then.” (Other calorie-free cola sodas are available.)
Nino reinstated the smile, nodded slightly, then floated away again.
Sumit got up from his seat.
“Where you going?” said Bad Katie.
“I need to point Percy at the porcelain.”
“Already? We just took off. Couldn’t you have gone before? Anyway, they don’t use porcelain on planes. It’s probably metal.”
“Well, I need to show Steven the steel.”
“Come to think of it, in this day and age it could even be carbon fibre.”
“Then I need….” said Sumit, then he paused and frowned at Bad Katie. “No, I got nothing.”
He shuffled off, leaving Bad Katie to study his seat and wonder if there was any way she could booby trap it.
The stewardess returned. “Scotch on the rocks for the gentleman, and a Happy Cola Lite for his charming daughter,” said Nino, with her smile ramped up to eleven.
Bad Katie gave her the level stare that anyone who has been the victim of could have warned Nino to be very afraid of.
Sumit came back just in time to save Nino’s bacon. He was grinning like a schoolboy as he sat down. “Thanks, Nino,” he said, and took a sip of whisky. Nino nodded and floated off again.
Sumit looked at Bad Katie. “We have a VIP on board!” he said, excitedly.
Bad Katie shrugged coyly. “Oh, don’t make a fuss about me. I can’t be arsed signing autographs.”
Sumit frowned. “Not you, you heifer. The Bublé is on board!”
“Michael Bublé. On this very plane. Jesus.”
“He’s not Jesus. Just some American Sinatra wannabe.”
“He’s Canadian, not American,” said Sumit.
“Oh well, then I take it all back. Jesus,” said Bad Katie sarcastically. “Anyway, why the hell is he going to Batumi?”
“He says he’s been told it’s the Vegas of the Black Sea. But much cheaper. He’s thinking of filming his next Christmas Special there.”
Bad Katie rolled her eyes. “God help us all.”
Some time later, Sumit had had enough of Bad Katie’s incessant snoring. “Wake up, Katie,” he hissed.
Bad Katie opened her eyes. “Fried chicken. Eh? What? What’s happening?”
“Nothing. Just a little turbulence. No doubt caused by your snoring.”
“I do not snore,” said Bad Katie indignantly.
“Try telling that to the rest of the passengers,” said Sumit.
“Then why didn’t you put on headphones and watch the in-flight movie?”
“Snakes On A Plane? I don’t think so.”
At that moment, a little chime prepared them for an announcement. “Hello ladies and gentlemen. This is your stewardess, Nino, speaking. Just to let you know, we are making really good time, and there is absolutely nothing at all for you to be concerned about. Thank you.”
Bad Katie and Sumit looked at each other in puzzlement.
Then Nino continued. “Oh, and if anyone happens to know how to fly a plane could you please make your way to the front and see me. Have a nice day!”
Mayhem, panic, bedlam, and general screaming ensued.
Bad Katie stood up and clambered over a startled Sumit.
“Where the hell are you going?” he said.
“To fly the plane!” she said, rubbing her hands purposefully.
“What! Do you even know which end the cockpit is?”
“Oh, grow a pair. I’ve had a few lessons.”
Bad Katie set off down the aisle.
“Other way,” shouted Sumit.
Bad Katie turned and strode back past him. “I knew that.”
Sumit looked to the heavens. “We are all doomed!”
By the time Bad Katie made it to the nervous-looking Nino, they could hardly hear themselves speak because of the chaos around them. She put two fingers in either side of her mouth and let out a piercing whistle. Everyone fell silent and looked at her.
“Right you lot, sit down and shut up. We got this.”
There were a few mutters and mumbles but things were generally calmer.
“Can you teach me that?” said Nino.
“Oh, well you just…” began Bad Katie.
“Hey guys, you dudes need a hand?” said Michael Bublé, swaying up to them.
“Bugger off, Bubble,” said Bad Katie.
“Hey, aren’t you that K.D. Mellower?”
“No. Now sod off, cheese dick.”
Bad Katie turned to Nino. “What’s the problem anyway?”
“It’s the pilot. He’s fallen unconscious. We suspect it might be linked to the prawn cocktail he had for lunch.”
“Why? You didn’t have it too, did you?”
“Yuk, I wouldn’t eat that fish vomit.”
“Hang on, isn’t there a co-pilot?”
“Oh yes. But, well, he had the prawn cocktail too.”
“Serves them right.”
“Aw, don’t worry ladies. I think I can land this little bird,” said Bublé.
“Why are you still here?” said Bad Katie. “And it’s not a little bird, it’s a passenger plane.”
“I’ve had a couple of lessons. Jeez, how hard can it be?”
Bad Katie scoffed. “Leave it to the pros, honey.”
“Look,” said Nino, “I think you will both be needed.”
Bublé’s eyes lit up. He looked eagerly at Bad Katie. “Hey babe, we could do a duet together!”
“I really must go,” said Bad Katie.
“Baby, it’s cold outside,” sang Bublé.
“It’s starting to snow.”
“Baby, it’s cold outside.”
“I wish I knew how…”
“Your eyes are like starlight now.”
“To land this plane.”
“I think you’re driving me insane.”
“The passengers will start to worry.”
“Beautiful, please don’t hurry.”
“Flight control will be pacing the floor.”
“Listen to those engines roar.”
“I’m opening the cockpit door.”
“You’d better make this airplane soar.”
“Right, I’m taking control.”
“Oh but it’s cold outside!”
Nino glanced awkwardly between the two of them. “Ahem. Perhaps you could get a room later but…”
“Anyway, who’s flying this baby now? We seem to be going along nicely,” said Bublé.
“Autopilot. Duh,” said Bad Katie.
“Come on, I’ll let you into the cockpit. Put on the headsets and Batumi Flight Control will talk you through it,” said Nino. She opened the cockpit door and ushered them inside.
“Where are the bodies?” said Bublé.
“They’re not dead,” said Nino. “But you couldn’t really sit in their laps. We’ve moved them to a private place to rest.”
“Which is the Captain’s seat?” said Bad Katie.
Nino pointed. Bad Katie leapt into it and buckled up.
“Hey, I should be Captain,” protested Bublé. “I’m the man here.”
“You’re the idiot here,” said Bad Katie. “I’m Batman. You’re Robin.”
Bublé slunk into the co-pilot’s seat. “Well, just shout if you need me to take over.
Bad Katie punched him in the face and put on the headset.
“Now then,” said Bad Katie. “If I remember correctly, you just push this button and shove this stick thing forward.”
She did both. The plane fell into a serious nosedive. In the cabin, there was mass hysteria once again.
“Oh god, we’re going to die. Oh god, we’re going to die. Oh god, we’re going to die,” chanted Sumit.
“Oops,” said Bad Katie. She reversed her actions and the plane gradually returned to smooth flight.”
“That went well,” said Bublé.
“Shut it, willow warbler, I’m just familiarising myself with the controls.”
“Say, why don’t we just let the autopilot land this thing. It seems to know what it’s doing.”
“Because it can’t actually fly the plane, numb nuts. It’s basically the plane equivalent of a brick on the accelerator.”
“How come you know so much?”
“Because I’ve spent my life learning instead of swaying.”
“Hey, don’t knock the sway.”
At that moment, another voice joined in the conversation.
“Flight BAT666, this is Batumi Air Traffic Control, do you copy?”
“I never copy anyone,” said Bad Katie indignantly. “My work is always my own.”
“He means can you read him,” whispered Bublé.
“I can’t see his face, how should I know what he’s thinking?”
Bublé shook his head. “We copy you good buddy. Loud and clear.”
“Good, my name is Amiran, and I will be talking you back down. Just remain calm and follow my instructions carefully and everything will be fine. Who am I talking to?”
“I am Katie Melua, გამარჯობა, you’ve probably heard of me,” said Bad Katie, patting her hair.
“No,” said Amiran.
“Oh,” said Bad Katie.
“But the rest of the guys are freaking out right now.”
Bad Katie looked at Bublé and winked.
“Keti, it might be better if we talk in Georgian,” said Amiran.
“Negative. Bubble wouldn’t understand us.”
“Who is Bubble?”
“I just haven’t met you yet…” sang Bublé, annoyingly.
Bad Katie glared at him.
“Ah. სულელი,” said Amiran.
“Exactly,” said Bad Katie. “His name is Michael Bublé.”
“What!” gasped Amiran. “Not THE Michael Bublé!”
Bublé looked at Bad Katie and winked.
“Stay with me, sway with me…” sang Amiran.
Bad Katie face-palmed. “Okay Amiran, can we just focus on the job here.”
“Yes, Keti, of course, of course. So, you should see a bright orange button flashing on your left.”
Bad Katie reached towards the button.
“Under no circumstances should you ever push that button,” said Amiran.
“Oh. Er, maybe we should just concentrate on the things I should do…”
Half an hour later there was a loud squeal of tyres on tarmac and an even louder squeal from Sumit in the cabin.
A sweat-drenched Bublé uncovered his eyes. “Oh my lord, I can’t believe we’re actually on dry land.”
“Piece of piss,” said Bad Katie nonchalantly.
“We’re not quite done yet, Keti,” said Amiran. “You’re going a bit too fast. Cut the throttle back and go harder on the brakes, but gently.”
Bad Katie ignored the last bit and everyone in the cabin head-butted the seat in front of them, apart from those in the front seats, who head-butted their own knees instead.
“Watch you don’t swerve, Keti,” said Amiran.
Bublé screamed. “Jesus Christ, look, there’s a cow on the runway ahead.”
Bad Katie grinned. “Welcome to Georgia!”
She swerved the plane to avoid hitting the cow.
“He said not to swerve,” yelled Bublé. “You should have just hit the stupid animal.”
She glared at him. “This is Georgia. We do not hit our cows.”
The plane was now heading directly for the terminal, which was growing larger in their view by the second.
Bublé covered his eyes again. “Oh god, we’re still going to die.”
“Reverse throttle, Keti,” said Amiran calmly.
The plane gradually slowed down and was only doing a couple of miles per hour when it gently smashed through the glass wall of the terminal and finally came to a halt with the nose just touching the counter of Burger King on the first floor.
Bad Katie fist-pumped. “Yessss! Result.”
“Good job, Keti,” said Amiran. “Nobody died. You are a hero!”
Bublé exhaled slowly, then whistled. “Jeez, that’s a real shame.”
“What do you mean?” said Bad Katie.
“If you hadn’t swerved for that cow you’d have made a perfect landing.”
“It was perfect, goat-breath. I was aiming for Burger King.”
“I’m ruddy starving. And that was the greatest queue jump ever!”
She quickly grabbed a clipboard and scribbled “bacon double cheeseburger and fries” on it, then held it up to the window to the slightly startled girl behind the Burger King counter.
“Oh sorry, Bubble, did you want something too?”
A couple of days later, Bad Katie was chilling out in her downtown apartment, reading all about her heroism in the local papers. Sumit knocked on the door.
“It’s open,” she shouted. “Unless you’re selling something, in which case there’s a ravenous Rottweiler standing right behind it.”
“Only me,” said Sumit, letting himself in. “It’s been non-stop this morning. We were meant to be here for a quiet vacation but now everyone wants to interview you, both here and back home. You haven’t had this many bookings in years.”
“Bugger them. They can all wait till I’ve had my holiday.”
“They’re offering silly money to get you.”
“Right, that was a lovely holiday. I’m free this afternoon.”
“Oh, and I hear the Mayor of Batumi is going to give you the keys to the city!”
“Really? I didn’t even know they locked it. Where’s the keyhole?”
“Yeah, I think it’s more of a symbolic thing.”
“It gives you certain rights. You know, like being able to lead your cattle and goats through the streets.”
“Everyone does that anyway.”
“And I think there’s a restaurant that is offering you free khachapuri for life.”
Bad Katie’s eyes lit up. “Now you’re talking!”
Sumit shook his head. “Good job with the plane, by the way.”
“No worries. Though I still have a bit of tinnitus from your screaming.”
“Oh but hey, you should check out the view from the balcony there.”
Sumit wandered over to the open doors and stepped out onto the balcony. There was a brief shriek as he fell through the rotten wooden slats of the floor and landed in the pool below.
“… but mind yourself, some of these Georgian balconies are quite decrepit. Oops.”
A vexed voice rang out from below. “KATIEEEEE!!”
Episode 20 - A Very BK Christmas
Bad Katie was sat in Sumit’s office with her feet up on his desk. She was munching a mince pie and washing it down with sherry. Sumit was busy sifting through his emails. Bad Katie stared at his jumper which had written on it “All I Want For Christmas Is A Number One”.
“Bathroom’s down the hall,” she said.
She pointed at his jumper.
“Oh. Ha ha. Now look, I think I’ve got you a last-minute booking to turn on the Christmas lights.”
Bad Katie’s eyes widened. “Ooh, I love Christmas. How much are they paying?”
“Never mind the fee, it’s an honour to do something like that.”
“Yes, yes, it’ll be fun. So long as I’m paid well. Where is it? Kensington?”
“Ah. No. Adele got that one.”
There was a low rumbling sound.
“Katie, are you growling?”
“Where then? Knightsbridge?”
“Er… Dua Lipa’s doing theirs.”
Bad Katie growled again.
“What is it with you? You should be supportive of your sisters in music.”
“Why? What have they ever done for me? Anyway, where am I turning the bloody lights on then?”
“Sounds like a retirement home for civil servants.”
“It’s a lovely little seaside town. You’ll like it.”
“What makes you so sure of that?”
“It’s near where you filmed the video for ‘Wonderful Life’. You loved doing that didn’t you?”
“Oh. Well, I’ll buy you fish and chips and sticks of rock, and we can play crazy golf. It’ll be a fun day out.”
“How old do you think I am? Twelve?”
“Yes. So, you’ll do it then?”
“Here’s a heartwarming little Christmas song for you. Santa Baby. Feel free to sing along!”
Bad Katie channelled Eartha Kitt as she treated the residents of Bognor to her rendition of the Christmas classic. Many of the assembled crowd did indeed join in the singing, evidently either unaware of or unperturbed by their complete lack of singing ability. Bad Katie rewarded them with a classic showbiz smile–the one that seems to convey how great everyone is but actually means what a tedious bunch of useless fuckers they all are. At the end of the song she stood and silently milked the applause, infused with cheers, whoops and wolf-whistles.
“Thank you so much, Bogroll,” she said at last.
“Bognor!” hissed Sumit from somewhere behind her.
“Whatever. And now…. it’s time! Are you ready to see the lights?”
“YES!!!!” roared a handful of people.
“I didn’t quite catch that,” said Bad Katie. “I said, are you ready to see the lights?”
“YES!!!!” roared the same handful of people.
“Well, I hope you get the Christmas you deserve! Let’s count down then. FIVE… FOUR… THREE… TWO… ONE…”
Bad Katie slammed the giant red button in front of her and threw her arms wide open dramatically.
The crowd groaned impatiently.
A council official behind her urgently spoke into a walkie-talkie. “Ron, Ron, what are you doing? Throw the switch for god’s sake.”
A sheepish voice crackled back at him. “Sorry mate, thought she was gonna do another number and I needed a slash. Should I do it now?”
“Yes, do it!” urged the official.
“Da Do Ron Ron,” said Bad Katie.
The Christmas lights suddenly burst into life and filled the town with much needed glitz. The crowd roared. A squirrel shrieked and fell out of the Christmas tree. Bad Katie began to tell them that her new album was out now and that her brother Zurab would be handing out free vouchers for 10% off on her online store but she was quickly drowned out by cheesy Christmas music that had now been piped into the PA system.
“Thanks very much Miss Melua,” said the official. “Nice job. Never heard of you myself, but they all seem happy.”
“It’s all right, I’ve never heard of you either. So this big button doesn’t actually do anything then?”
“No, of course not. Our insurance won’t cover a celeb electrocuting themselves. But you’d never have known if Ron had crossed his bloody legs and paid attention.”
An assistant to the official appeared from out of the shadows and nervously handed Bad Katie a large bouquet of flowers. “A little token of our appreciation,” said the official.
“I prefer the larger token you’re putting into my bank account. Mind you, these will make a good Christmas present for someone. Thanks. Right then, are they having mulled wine and chestnuts and stuff down there?”
“I would think so,” said the official.
“Good. Z! Whack these in the car, there’s grub and booze on offer down with the commoners….”
As Christmas drew closer, Bad Katie’s mother was trying to keep her mischievous daughter as busy as possible to minimise the mayhem she would likely cause. She decided to let her children sort out the tree, source the turkey and send them off Christmas shopping at the local mall for a day…
“Sis,” said Zurab. “Where are we going to get a tree from? The nearest place I can find is miles away and we won’t get a very big one in your car anyway.”
“My car!” said Bad Katie indignantly. “Sod that, I’m not having some bug-infested giant plant in my lovely car.”
“Then what are we to do?”
“Don’t worry, I have a plan. Stick your coat on and go and grab that big saw from the garage, then meet me out front.”
“What, now? Isn’t it a bit late? Everywhere will be shut.”
“Just do it, hurry up.”
Zurab plodded downstairs. By the time he collected the saw and left the garage Bad Katie was waiting for him at the front gate, flashing a small torch at him.
“Come on,” she said. “Let’s do this.”
Bad Katie set off walking down the street.
“Do what?” said Zurab, scurrying after her. “Are we walking then? Is it far?”
“Here we are,” said Bad Katie, stopping so abruptly her brother almost bumped into her.
“But… we’ve only gone three doors down.”
Bad Katie quickly flashed her torch into a front garden to reveal a pine tree in the centre of the lawn. “There! Isn’t she a beauty? Must be at least ten foot tall. Quick, get sawing.”
“What? We can’t take that, what if someone sees us?”
“Don’t be so wet. The couple that live here bugger off to Spain every winter and all the other neighbours will be slumped on sofas munching crisps and watching ‘Home Alone’.”
Zurab sighed. “What will they say when they get back?”
Bad Katie chuckled. “I know. Would be nice to be here for that. Oh well, get on with it, it won’t cut itself down.”
“What if a police car drives by?”
“More chance of seeing the RAC fixing Santa’s sleigh.”
Zurab exhaled slowly and approached the tree. As he began sawing, a couple of startled pigeons clattered all their pots and pans as they buggered off to find another roosting place. Zurab shrieked.
“Quiet, you flaming fajita!” hissed Bad Katie.
“Sorry, sis. They scared the hell out of me.”
“Pigeons are idiots. They always insist on making a racket.” She looked around to see if any curtains were twitching. “All clear, get on with it.”
A few moments later, there was a creak and a crack and the tree fell to the ground, the top of it brushing past Bad Katie’s hair with a whoosh.
“Oi, you malignant mollusc, you nearly took my eye out! You’re supposed to shout ‘timber’ or something.”
“I was trying to stay quiet,” said Zurab.
“Well, it’s down now. Come on, let’s haul it back home. Oh, and if Mum asks just tell her you had a mate drop it off.”
Bad Katie was tired. And very grumpy. She’d been traipsing around the local shops and butchers for hours trying to find a large turkey. All she’d been able to get so far was a corn-fed bantam and a pheasant. She’d just been making progress on a new song about enchanted wind chimes when her mother had rudely shoved her out of the house on this thankless mission to locate a big dead bird.
Now she’d had enough. It was beginning to get dark so she decided to take a short cut through a small patch of woodland. As she was stumbling along, humming to herself and trying out different lyrics about wind chimes she suddenly spotted something at the side of the path ahead. As she drew closer she could make out in the dim light that it was some kind of dead animal. She wasn’t sure what it was but it didn’t stink so it must still be fresh, and, most importantly, it looked about the size of a turkey.
“Well,” she said to herself. “No idea what the hell it is but it’s close enough. Mum’s Georgian, she can cook anything.”
She stuffed the carcass into her rucksack and hurried on her way.
“Oh, there you are Katie!” said Bad Katie’s mother as her bedraggled daughter mooched into the kitchen. “I was getting worried. Did you get the turkey?”
“Ah, yes, well, you see, no.”
“Look, I’ve been round a million shops. No one has any of the stupid things left.”
“Don’t worry. I haven’t come home empty-handed.”
She opened her rucksack and fished out the pheasant and plonked it on the table.
“A pheasant,” said her mother. “Well, it’s something I suppose.”
Bad Katie then took out the bantam and plonked that on the table.
“A tiny chicken. I suppose I could make soup with that.”
“Wait!” said Bad Katie. “There’s more…”
She turned the rucksack upside down and the dead badger thudded onto the table.
Her mother screamed.
“Ha!” said Bad Katie. “No one’s going hungry in this house this Christmas!”
“Katie! What the hell have you brought a dead badger into the house for?”
“Is that what it is? The light was gloomy. Well, it’s a fat bugger, must have a bit of meat on it.”
“We can’t eat a badger.”
“Because… because it’s a bloody badger.”
“Are they poisonous or something?”
“I don’t know. It’s just, well, nobody eats badgers.”
“Well, we used to eat rabbit back in Georgia.”
“That’s different. People eat rabbits. Who ever heard of eating badger?”
Bad Katie shrugged. “Oh well, not to worry. You and Dad can have the pheasant and chicken, me and Z will just have nuggets. There’s always a bag in the freezer.”
“Oh Katie. You’re a famous person, surely you must know some top chef that could maybe help us out?”
“I know quite a few chefs, yes. Been on several cooking shows.”
“There you go then.”
“Just, I can’t think of one I haven’t offended. They do tend to faff about with food.”
Her mother sighed. “Nuggets it is then.”
The next day, Bad Katie and Zurab went to the mall to do some Christmas shopping. After a few hours, Zurab was getting fed up traipsing around laden down with bags so Bad Katie took him for a milkshake and donuts. As they sat by the window, slurping and munching, Bad Katie spotted a queue of children across the mall outside what appeared to be a festively decorated shed.
“Ooh, Z, you stay here and have some more donuts, I won’t be long.”
“Where are you going?”
“There’s a Santa’s grotto over there.”
“But sis, you’re way too….”
Bad Katie was already out of the door and heading for the queue. She looked at the kids in front of her and tapped her foot impatiently. “Hey kids!” she shouted. “They’re giving away free donuts over there. Hurry up. I’ll keep your places for you.”
Zurab looked on in puzzlement as a horde of children charged towards him.
“Heh, heh,” chuckled Bad Katie.
A small child stomped sulkily out of the grotto.
“Hey, what’s the matter with you, kid?” said Bad Katie.
“I wanted a Playstation not a bloody yo-yo. And Santa smells like a cat’s bum.”
“Next!” boomed a voice from inside the shed, or rather grotto.
Bad Katie shot inside and sat on Santa’s knee.
“Ho, ho, hang on young lady, aren’t you a bit big for this? You’re supposed to wait outside while your daughter comes in.”
“I don’t have a daughter, moose-flaps. Anyway, I’ve been a really good girl this year.”
“Is that so?” said Santa dubiously.
“I’m sure you can find something nice in your big sack for me.”
“Look, lady, this is supposed to be for the kiddies. Now if you don’t mind, you’re giving me a dead leg.”
“You’ll get more than that, goat-breath. I’m not leaving here until….”
Bad Katie stopped mid-sentence and peered more closely at Santa. She sniffed a couple of times. “Hang on a minute. I know you. I’d recognise that smell anywhere. You’re Mr. Tompkins, the butcher.”
“Shhhh!” said Mr. Tompkins. “The kids mustn’t find out.”
She yanked his false beard off. “Ha!”
Bad Katie whipped her phone out and took a quick selfie of her sitting on Mr. Tompkins’ lap.
“What are you doing?”
“Making a deal.”
“What kind of deal?”
She fished a notebook and pen out of her jacket pocket and scribbled something down, then tore out the page and gave it to Mr. Tompkins.
“That’s the address you are going to deliver one of your finest turkeys to this evening. If you don’t, I’ll post that selfie on my Instagram and name tag you. I’m sure Mrs. Tompkins would be very understanding if she saw it…”
Bad Katie leapt off Santa’s knee, patted his cheeks and lifted his false beard back into place.
“You know what to do!” she said, and left the grotto.
“I still can’t believe it, Katie,” said Bad Katie’s mother, staring at the massive turkey on the kitchen table. “How did you manage to get it?”
“Oh, just called in a favour.”
“Well, you’ve saved Christmas, thank you.”
“Ah, it was nothing. Are you coming carolling with us?”
“No dear. Off you go.”
“Z!” shouted Bad Katie. “Come on, let’s go. Don’t forget your guitar case.”
“Why does he need a guitar case, Katie?” said Bad Katie’s mother.
“To stash the dosh in of course.”
“Oh Katie, you shouldn’t be taking money off people. It’s Christmas. You should do it for the joy of it.”
Bad Katie looked at her mother in consternation. “Would a plumber come out and fix the toilet at Christmas for the joy of it? We’re professional musicians.”
“Yes, dear. Well, go and do your thing then.”
Bad Katie was pleased with herself after a couple of hours of knocking on doors and singing carols. Having had some rude encounters the previous year, she’d made meticulous notes and this time only visited houses where the tips had been generous. As a result, Zurab’s guitar case had filled quite nicely.
“We’ve done all right tonight, sis,” said Zurab.
“Yes, not bad at all. And it was an inspired idea to put the ten per cent off vouchers through the letterboxes before knocking. Giving them something first no doubt made them feel obliged to return the favour. I’ll treat you to mini-fillets for that.”
“Nice. Can we go home now?”
“One last stop to make. Sumit’s house is round the corner…”
As they reached the doorstep of Sumit’s house, Zurab was about to shove a voucher through his letterbox.
Bad Katie stopped him. “Don’t waste them. He won’t buy the album, even with ten per cent off.”
“Right then. Just play the chords of Jingle Bells. Leave the singing to me on this one.”
She pressed the doorbell. The hall light turned on and there was the sound of the door being unlocked. As it opened, Bad Katie nodded at Zurab, who began strumming. Sumit stood grinning at them. Bad Katie began singing.
“Jingle bells, Sumit smells, like a bag of poo. It sounds just like, a motorbike, when he farts inside the loo, Hoo!”
Sumit folded his arms. “Lovely. Very Christmassy.”
Bad Katie fished a small wrapped box from her pocket and handed it to him. “Merry Christmas, Sumit.”
“Aw, thank you. You shouldn’t have.”
There was an awkward silence.
“So,” said Bad Katie. “Where are ours then?”
“Oh, yes, of course. Just a sec…”
Sumit disappeared for a moment before returning with a carrier bag of presents. “There you go. Have a lovely Christmas both of you and give my best to your parents.”
“Yeah, whatever,” said Bad Katie, peering into the carrier bag. “I guess you’ve gone for quality over quantity. Right then, see you next week.”
“Not if I see you first!” said Sumit.
’Twas the night before Christmas. All was still in the Melua household… Apart from a shadowy figure creeping down the stairs…
Bad Katie tip-toed up to the Christmas tree and carefully fished out the presents for her and Zurab. She carefully unwrapped a couple of them. Then she re-wrapped an iPad that was meant for Zurab and a weekend health-spa voucher meant for herself and swapped the labels on them. She chuckled quietly and crept back upstairs to bed.
On Christmas morning, Zurab yawned, stretched and got out of bed to find the pillow case he’d left out filled with presents.
When Bad Katie got up she found the empty duvet cover she’s left out was still empty. Vexed, she fished around inside it and found a scrap of paper on which was scrawled “greedy girls get nothing”. She looked up at the ceiling and shouted “Santa, you f…”
“Fooled you!” said Bad Katie’s mother, popping her head round the door. “Now come downstairs and get your presents.”
Bad Katie traipsed downstairs and began tearing into her presents. Zurab was sitting with a huge grin on his face clutching his health-spa vouchers. “Look what I got! How awesome!”
Mother and father looked at Zurab holding the vouchers and smiling, then they looked at Bad Katie eagerly tapping at her iPad, then they looked at each other in puzzlement.
“Something doesn’t seem quite right here, Katie,” said her father.
“Hey, you got happy children,” said Bad Katie. “Quit while you’re ahead.”
Her father shrugged. “I guess you’re right. Oh, and thanks for the bouquet of flowers. They’re lovely.”
A few days after Christmas, Bad Katie was sat in Sumit’s office again.
“Did you like your present?” said Bad Katie.
“I didn’t dare open it,” said Sumit.
“Why not?” said Bad Katie.
“Thought it might be a bomb or something, knowing you. I remember last year when you got me those Calvin Klein briefs.”
“They were expensive!”
“I’m sure, but did you have to sprinkle itching powder in them?”
Bad Katie cackled. “Must have been an issue at the manufacturing plant.”
“Go on Sumit, open it.”
“Oh, very well.” He opened his desk drawer and took out the small wrapped package. He carefully opened it. Inside was a small box. He opened the box to find several VIP Meet and Greet tickets to one of Bad Katie’s concerts.
He looked at her in puzzlement. “What’s this? I’m your manager, I meet you every week. And I can go to any of your shows.”
“Ah yes, but I thought you could flog these on the fan forums for hiked up prices.”
“Well, I dunno, just a suggestion. You could give them away to homeless people if it makes you feel better. Though just arrange for them to have a bath on the night if you’re going to do that.”
Sumit sighed. “I need coffee. Back in a sec.”
As soon as he’d left the room, Bad Katie whipped a present out from her rucksack and placed it on his desk, scribbled a quick note, then slipped away out of the office.
“Ah, that’s better,” said Sumit, sipping his coffee as he returned to his desk. “Katie?”
He put her coffee on the desk and took another sip of his own as he looked around the room. “Katie?”
He shrugged and sat down. Then he saw the present in front of him and picked up the note. It said “To make up for all the pranks! Love Katie x”. With understandable suspicion and hesitation, he picked up the present and gingerly unwrapped it. It was a special vintage edition bottle of his favourite whisky. He smiled. “Merry Christmas, Katie.”
Episode 21 - When Bad Katie Met Bob
“Boy, have I ever got you an amazing gig!” said Sumit, rubbing his hands gleefully.
“I’m not a boy, I’m a girl, and no, you have never got me an amazing gig,” said Bad Katie grumpily.
Sumit looked peeved. “No, I mean I really have got you lined up for something pretty special.”
“If it’s a judge on a talent show you are about to lose teeth.”
“Calm down, dear. I’d never insult your integrity like that.”
“I’m talking about the chance to work with one of the greatest icons in the history of music.”
“Bublé? He’s been chasing me for years making puppy dog eyes and warbling like a pigeon. He knows where he can shove it.”
“Katie, you incandescent oaf, I’m talking about the legend that is Bob Dylan.”
“Oh. Thought he was dead.”
“Very much alive and well, and there are certain artists he would like to work with while he still feels motivated and before he, er, does kick the bucket. For reasons I’ve yet been able to fathom, you’re one of them.”
“Hey look, the guy’s getting on and his time is precious. I did ask if he’d considered Adele.”
Bad Katie growled.
Sumit raised a hand. “It’s okay. He winced at the idea. Said he’d tried listening to one of her songs and ended up with tinnitus for a week.”
“Heh, heh,” chuckled Bad Katie.
“He said your volume was perfect. Soothed his brain instead of assaulting it.”
“The guy has taste.”
“He said you massaged his cerebellum.”
“I did no such thing,” exclaimed Bad Katie. “Dirty old sod.”
“Yes, well, this is an amazing opportunity for you. There’s so much you could learn from this guy about songwriting.”
“Works both ways you know. He’ll learn a lot from me too.”
“Yeah, like never to work with you again,” laughed Sumit.
Bad Katie scowled at him. “Anyway, what’s he paying?”
“Paying? Are you not listening? This is Bob Dylan we’re talking about. You should be paying him.”
Bad Katie snorted. “He’s well minted. And besides, I’m a highly sought-after performer, I don’t have time to do freebies.”
Sumit flicked through his desk diary. “Actually, you’ve no bookings for the next two months.”
“I have a lot of meditating to do. I need to re-centre my chi. I’ll be extremely busy doing nothing.”
“Bob wants to record a duet with you and then shoot a video for it. He’ll play your grandad. Oh, and he suggested that actor you fancy, Chucky Egg or something, to play your love interest…”
“Chuck Roxx!” squealed Bad Katie. “You know what, I’ve always wanted to work with Bob Dylan. Set it up, Sumit.”
Bad Katie put two fingers in each side of her mouth and let out a piercing whistle. The cab that was approaching slowed down and stopped beside her. She clambered in and slumped back in the seat.
“Where to miss?” said the driver.
“Hey Arnie, not seen you for a while, how you been?” said Bad Katie.
Eric, who, for reasons unknown, Bad Katie preferred to refer to as Arnie, grimaced. “Yeah. Kind of hoped you’d buggered off back to Georgia.”
“Arnie! After all I’ve done for you. I’m savagely hurt. And I was just about to say how well you’re looking.”
“That’s because I’ve not seen you for a while.”
“You’re in danger of not getting a tip young man.”
“I suppose that’s progress. I’m usually in danger of not getting paid when you’re in my cab. Where to then?”
“The recording studio.”
“Ah. Well, good to know some microphone is about to have a worse day than me.”
“What is wrong with you today? You’re testing my patience, Arnie.”
Eric sighed. “Sorry mi.. er, ma’am. The wife just left me. Ran off with another cabbie. Well, actually, he gave her a lift.”
“Can’t say I blame her.”
“I’ve thought about ending it all.”
“No, Arnie, you mustn’t think like that. Just hang in there. At least, until you get me to the studio.”
“I’ve missed your caring attitude,” said Eric.
“Ooh, hang on Arnie, slow down a sec.”
Bad Katie wound her window down as Eric took his foot off the gas. She took a catapult and a walnut out of her bag and with great dexterity sent said walnut flying through the air, where it briefly enjoyed its short-lived existence as an aerial object before colliding with the backside of a passing policeman. The policeman squealed and looked around in disbelief.
“Floor it, Arnie,” said Bad Katie, winding her window back up.
Eric grinned. “I’ve missed you, ma’am.”
Bad Katie entered the hallway of the recording studio. An elderly gentleman was squinting at the photographs hung up of famous singers who had passed through that very hall.
“Hey old man,” she said. “You escape from a care home or something?”
“I’m just waiting for a pretty young woman to share some special time with.”
“Yeah, good luck with that Methuselah. Kudos for your spirit though.”
“Think it might be you, babe.”
“Dream on, grandad.”
“The name’s Dylan. Bob Dylan.”
“Oh, right, I see. Do you want me to help you into the studio?”
“I’m old, babe, not decrepit.”
“Well you look decrepit.”
“Thanks, babe. You must be Kaydee.”
“That’s what I said, Kaydee.”
“No, it’s Katie, not Kaydee.”
Bob looked confused. “Not sure I follow you, babe.”
“That’s okay, I don’t follow you either. I’m surprised you even have an Instagram account to be honest. I suppose you have a team that handles it.”
Bob squinted at her inscrutably. “Good thing you sing fine, babe, cos you sure do talk a lot of nothing.”
At that moment, Sumit arrived, out of breath. “Sorry I’m late. Oh Jesus, what’s that smell? Sorry Katie, Bob’s of that certain age where wind gets to be a problem.”
“Actually, that was me,” said Bad Katie grinning.
Bob eyed Sumit inscrutably. “The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind.”
Bob and Bad Katie stood in front of their microphones, headphones donned.
Bad Katie cleared her throat.
“Testing, testing,” she said into the microphone.
Bob gazed wearily at her. “Ain’t you just, my dear. Look, there ain’t no need for that nonsense, these boys got everything set up sweet.”
Bad Katie glared at him. “I’m testing my voice, Gandalf, not the bloody microphone.”
“Oh. I see. Well, I never do that.”
“I know, I’ve heard your recordings.”
“Anyhow, let’s do this thing.”
“Okay. So, you’re going to sing the questions and I’ll do the answer bits, right?”
“You got it, babe.”
Bad Katie’s eyes narrowed. “Which means you get to sing more lines than me.”
Bob chuckled. “Which means you have to do less work for the same pay! Seems like you got the better deal here.”
“Okay guys,” said a voice in their headphones. “Can we go for a take then?”
Bob shrugged. He didn’t bother clearing his voice before singing. He’d never done it before in his life and saw no reason to start now.
”How many roads must a man walk down before you call him a man?”
Bad Katie put her hand up. “Hold on a minute.”
“What?” said Bob. “That was flawless.”
“Yeah, but sexist. Can’t you change it to ‘person’?”
“No. Been like that since I wrote it fifty years ago and I ain’t changing’ it now. Any other issues with the lyrics?”
“Well, actually, yes.”
“Really? You know they gave me the Nobel Prize for my lyrics.”
“So what? I got a certificate from night school but you don’t see me harping on about it.”
“Okay missy, enlighten me. What else is wrong with the song?”
“Right. For a start, doves don’t sleep in sand, they like to perch in trees or on a ledge. And cannonballs don’t need to be banned, they haven’t been used for centuries. You only see them in museums. And as for…”
Bob put his hands up in the air. “Whoa young lady, hold your horses there. Don’t take things so literal. It’s all about imagery, not accuracy. Poetic license. Painting pictures with words.”
Bad Katie sighed. “Just trying to help.”
“The song is a classic my dear, it don’t need no help.”
“That’s a double negative.”
Bob snarled. “Okay, once more from the top…”
“Oh, hi, Mister Roxx,” said Bad Katie, blushing like a smitten schoolgirl.
“Hey, you must be Katie,” said Hollywood heart-throb Chuck Roxx. He flashed his perfect teeth as he grinned and gave her his trademark wink, the one that made women love him and men hate him.
“I’m your number one fan,” said Bad Katie. “I have all your films on Blu-ray, even the straight to DVD ones that aren’t available on Blu-ray.”
“Really?” chuckled Chuck. “How’d you manage that?”
“I could tell you, but I’d have to kill you. My favourite is The Heartcrusher. I still daydream about that bit with the fluffy handcuffs…”
Chuck smiled uneasily.
“And what you did with those hollowed-out melons in The Dog-Walker’s Wife, well, genius.”
“That wasn’t actually my idea…”
“Okay people, let’s get to work,” yelled Taylor, the director of the video. “So, in this scene, we need you, Bob, gently rocking in the chair on the porch of the beach house, looking wistfully out to sea as though recalling some bittersweet moment from long ago. Then Chuck, you amble along the beach, smiling in a carefree manner. Katie, you run towards him and give him an affectionate hug like an old friend you haven’t seen in a while. Right then, everybody hit their start marks.”
Bad Katie and Chuck Roxx shuffled off in opposite directions on the beach whilst Bob Dylan eased himself into the chair on the porch. He squinted out to sea.
“Hey Bob,” shouted Taylor. “We need wistful, not inscrutable.”
“Inscrutable’s all I got,” growled Bob.
“Er, okay, inscrutable is fine,” said Taylor. “And…. action!”
Bob began rocking, Chuck began ambling, Bad Katie began running.
“Cut!” yelled Taylor a few seconds later. “Katie, I said hug him affectionately, not wrestle him to the ground and straddle him. Back to your marks, everyone.”
A bemused Chuck scrambled to his feet and dusted sand off his jeans. “Gonna be a long day…”
Bad Katie sat pouting in Sumit’s office, her arms folded, as she sulkily watched the big screen. “It’s so unfair!”
“I think it’s a great video,” said Sumit. “I’ve never seen Bob look so… well, inscrutable. And as for Roxx, I have to say he surprised me, the guy can actually act.”
“And what about that bimbo in the stupid wig and sunglasses? No one will ever believe that’s me!”
“Actually, I’ve let a few people see the video and nobody has twigged she’s a double yet.”
“She’s not my double,” hissed Bad Katie. “She couldn’t be less like me if she tried.”
“She’s a very good character actress, nailed your mannerisms, and the make-up guys worked their usual magic. No one will suspect. No one will ever know.”
“Huh. I’ll know,” mumbled Bad Katie grumpily.
“Well look Katie, you only have yourself to blame. After the eleventh take of that first scene, anyone could see that Chuck was not amused. We tried to talk him out of a restraining order but he was adamant. He would have quit the shoot and we couldn’t risk losing our star.”
“Star! I’m the star! Well, and maybe Bob a bit too. It’s our song you know.”
“Technically, it’s Bob’s song. But in terms of an MTV audience, Roxx is the star. They’ve probably never even heard of Dylan, never mind you.”
“How rude,” huffed Bad Katie.
“It’s business, Katie. Just business. Look, let it go and move on. I’ll go and get us some nice coffee.”
The moment Sumit left the room, Bad Katie took a container from her rucksack and took out three out-of-date eggs which she then carefully placed underneath Sumit’s seat cushion.
When Sumit returned she smiled at him.
“That’s better,” he said. “Glad to see you taking my advice for a change.”
Bad Katie grinned wickedly. “Well, there’s no point making a stink is there?”.
© Craig Warhurst 2021