Television studios no longer have the mystique they once had. We have all become armchair presenters and know the format of programmes so well that
we treat actual television production with contempt: in short, we could all do better. Meridian sat in a studio green room even now, convinced that
he, actor, thespian and artiste that he was, could do much better than the present shower ever could. Meridian had been invited to appear in a
"Punch" and Judy vox-pop 10 minute filler on Spontaneous Human Combustion, scheduled between the recipe-of-the-day and an item on "Raising
achievement in ball room dancing'. He detested the programme and all it stood for: one had standards, after all. But the money was so useful,
tidying him and Lumpkin over, whilst waiting for the rapidly diminishing pittance called "The Royalty Cheque”. Besides, the studio had a reasonable
hospitality suite and no drink tastes quite as good as a free drink. Unless it's another free drink, of course. Or, a bottle. Meridian helped
himself to another tumbler of Bushmills and sighed “Bottoms up" - if only Sir Ian hadn't been unavoidably detained at the airport...
So, Meridian slurped his favourite malt, whilst critically watching the monitor, mentally summoning new POVs, as the chef showed how to do interesting
things with eggs, flour, cheese and bouquet garni. Reaching once more for the complimentary whisky, Meridian belched and snorted. Claridges was so
much better, their chefs so much more imaginative. What they could do to eggs, flour, cheese and bouquet garni was unbelievable. Whilst in his
reflective mood, Meridian failed to notice the door to the green room opening. In walked the floor manager, all headset, clipboard and stopwatch.
"Five minutes Mr. Love."
Woken from his reverie and his preferred camera shots (closer camera 3, get intimate, pull the focus - tight - on Richards groin), Meridian turned to
the delectable totty that was a vision in black.
"Five minutes? Five minutes, you say? To what?"
"Until you're on, Mr. Love. Now..." She looked at the clip board, scanning down the list with her pen, "....has make-up tended to you?"
"Make-up? Five minutes? I think not. I do not remember being pampered." Meridian looked dreamily, as he remembered other times, other places,
where he had been pampered. An incident in a bordello came to mind.
"So, I'll get the make-up artiste, shall I?"
Not easily distracted, Meridian thought to pursue the hunt for this potential quarry: he could not rely on meeting Sir Ian afterwards; thespians are
"You're a pretty little thing, aren't you? You have a name, child?"
"Hmm, quite. I'll get make-up for you then."
"You think I should?"
"It will stop the flare, Mr. Love. Four minutes."
On the monitor, Judy was sampling the chefs offering. Trying hard not to look nauseous, Judy thanked her guest and handed back quickly to Richard.
Just as the camera cut away, Judy could be seen coughing up into the washing up bowl. Meridian would have framed that in close-up. Not having this
autonomy, however, he returned to more immediate things.
"Make-up! Make-up! I, Meridian Love, actor, bon viveur, will have make-up! Be a sweetie and call for make-up. I must not flare for my
At this precise moment, Richard announced what was to be the feature after the break.
".... and welcome back, after the break. Now, and this is serious, we look at the fascinating world of the paranormal. Ghosts and ghoulies?
UFO's? Falls of fish? The Loch Ness monster? Big foot?? All these - and more - we won't be talking about. But, we will talk about Spontaneous
Human Combustion or SHC as some call it. That's right! People bursting into flames and being consumed by fire. All without the aid of a match!
Clever, eh - so useful for the bar-b-q!! Now, let me introduce my guests.
"Meridian Love, author, poet, thespian, bon viveur and expert in things arcane. Mr. Love?"
Richard narrowed his eyes and looked pained. A true professional, however, he carried on.
"What do you think of SHC?"
"It exists. I have seen photographs of such things. People burn as if made from fire-lighters."
"Pfff!" This from a blonde, well-built young man sat on the couch next to Meridian.
Meridian slowly turned his head and peered over his half frames.
"And you are?"
"Of course. I am most sorry to not say good morning to you. My name is....."
Richard finished the sentence “Professor Psips Seimen, our sceptic."
Meridian coughed out loud, choking on his own phlegm. "The Professor Sips semen? Did I hear that correctly?"
"Zat is quite correct. Herr Psips Seimen, at your service. Enchanted, Herr Love." One could almost hear the German click his heels.
Meridian still could not believe his ears. Bushmills had truly rotted his brain, as his mother had predicted.
"Semen. You sip semen? You admit to this, freely? This is a wonderful admission if true."
Richard went pale, whilst Judy nodded knowingly.
The German smiled, his teeth flashing under the spotlights. As if to a child, he said
"Not Psip: Psips, please."
"Au contraire, my German friend: the English is 'I sip semen, you sip semen', although 'she......'" Meridian looked slowly at Judy....."'Sips
semen'. It's quite easy, really. Ah! So easy to conjugate, so easy to sip semen...."
Richard struggled uncomfortably in his chair. Judy, forgetting the gagging she had just received, dreamily reminisced about other gaggings,
pleasurably received in the years before Richard, whilst her tongue eagerly licked the corners of her gaping wet mouth.
Richard squirmed in his seat. "Er, ah, gentlemen, please, enough. Let me introduce you."
"Mr. Love, Meridian, this is Psips Seimen, Professor of Neo-earth studies at the University of Berlin. Professor Seimen, this is Meridian Love,
actor, raconteur, high-roller and Fortean researcher."
"Pleased to meet you Herr Love, my old chum, you say?"
"Semen. Sips. Charmed, I'm sure. Do you swallow? Dear boy, have you met Sir Ian? He, too, sips.....he, too, swallows...."
Richard flinched "Gentleman, can we get on, please." Frantically, he tried to signal 'cut' to his producer.
Seimen returned to his thesis.
"Herr Love, Meridian, mien chum, what you say is ridiculous."
"I?" The statement, the look in Meridians eyes, would have warned other men. Not so Seimen, who merely nodded.
"Indeed, old chum. You speak of SHC as if it exists. It does not. It is proved that people, drunken fools, fall into fireplaces and burn as
candles. Whoosh! Their clothes are wicks to the body’s fat. Zat is all. No mystery."
"Rubbish. I have seen photographs. SHC exists." Meridian’s face turned pale.
Now, Seimen had faced angry tribesmen brandishing spears, fought bare-handed with polar bears and once landed a 747 at Heathrow when the pilot and
co-pilot had succumbed to dysentery (which is not easy when the seats, and controls, are covered in effluent), so Meridian’s obvious rage did not
"Your statements are hot air, Mr. Love."
"My statements? Hot air?"
"Indeed. Quite so. Your book....."
"Yes. My book. The Irish book. What of it?"
"....is piffle-waffle. It tries to mystify quite ordinary facts. SHC is one of these....."
As the two faced one another, the director spoke to Richard through his earpiece. "Richard. Richard - first close your mouth and get a grip on
these two for Christ’s sake. Get those two to stop warring and get them talking - but not about fellatio - ok?!." But Richard paid scant attention
to this, as he started to feel uncomfortable under the hot studio lights.
"His face has became red, the colour has changed from a pallid pink to a sunset scarlet", mused Meridian, who momentarily forgot his pending fight
with the rather rugged but attractive semen-sipping, hopefully semen-swallowing, German, as even now he adopted his poetic stance.
Richard fought for breath, struggled to loosen the knot on his silk tie. Sweat glistened dew-like on his forehead. "How the sweat glistens..."
thought Meridian "...how it shimmers and races down his face like rain down a window pane." A new poem formed.
"The Muse is with me! Fetch paper, bring forth my quill! I, Meridian Love, must write! I burn with
As he spoke these words, Meridian discerned a dull blue flash out of the corner of his eye. Turning in the direction of the light, Meridian saw
Richard doubling up, as a flame played from his abdomen. As if in slow motion, Richard rolled to the floor, grasping his stomach, as the flames
erupted forth, great billowing sheets of vivid turquoise. Black, sooty smoke rose upwards, ever upwards to the lighting gallery. Meridian jumped for
joy and clapped his hands.
"He flares! How Richard flares!"
Hurriedly, a make-up artiste, misunderstanding what was happening arrived, ready to powder the helpless heaps highlights, whilst Judy rushed over to
"Save him, someone bring an extinguisher. Richard, my Richard, I'll save you!"
Siemens stared unbelievably at the scene before him.
"Herr Love, I am most sorry and apologetic, am I not? I feel you are quite right with your book, that prestigious Irish book. Perhaps we could go
for a drink afterwards? Mien Gott, I need a drink....."
"A drink! Marvellous, Semen! I accept your apology and your drink - or, perhaps, two? SHC exists. Proved beyond doubt! Look! See how the flames
consume! How the shadows dance! How the flickering lights his face. Such exquisite colours and movement. This is marvellous!!"
By now, the studio was in uproar: Meridian jumping about excitedly, bellowing out poetic prose; Seimen, his world view forever destroyed, sat sobbing
on the couch, whilst Richard burned at his feet; meanwhile Judy, in her desperation to damp-out her partners fire was, unfortunately, unable to
locate any fire extinguishers. Thinking laterally, she adopted the novel idea of squatting over his smouldering torso, lifting her dress, dropping
her knickers and commenced peeing on him.
Meridian couldn't believe his eyes, or indeed his good fortune (for he had once paid good money for this service). The poet in him, and it must be
said, the voyeur as well, came to the fore:-
"And with each stream of golden piss,
The foul-scented hiss of steam arose,
So offensive to the Germans broken nose,
But wonderful, quite delightful to behold
A urine-yellow lake, now strangely cold,
Pool around his tortured, sodden clothes...."
On and on Meridian rambled, writing stanzas on the floor managers clipboard. All around was chaos and disorder: Meridian was in his element. This
was excellent, even better than any scenario he had fantasised about Sir Ian!
To be continued...