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Roddy Doyle's SHAM - Chapter Four

Last update - Sunday, May 15, 2011, 16:28 By Roddy Doyle

So, there you have it – as the oldies say. We’re up and running. We’ve told the Aislings they’ll be on telly, so they’re standing there, trying not to look as if the camera’s on them. It is – I’m holding it and it’s aimed at them - but I haven’t turned it on yet. They don’t know that and they’re hopeless, in that Irish reality TV kind of way. It’s perfect.

It’s legal. I think.
I won the battle of the titles. I explained to Brigita – I argued – that putting a show called West Sex East up on the Net would attract a heavy stream of political and sexual weirdness, the type of wrong weirdness that would never let us go mainstream. I’m not sure what I actually meant, but I felt it and I loved the feeling: I wanted to win.
And I did win.
So, anyway. I’m the man behind the camera. I should feel like Kubrick or Scorsese – and I do. I feel a tad sleazy too, a bit of a perv. But I can live with that. I’m creating art and employment, exactly what my country ordered.
We’re not calling it Sham either, although that was my original idea and it’s brilliant. But then I had a better brilliant idea. I’m full of them these days. So now it’s called I’m Irish, Get Me Out Of Here. We’re training a selection of Irish people – not just the Aislings – to stop being Irish. Upskilling them, by knocking some of the boom paddy out of them. It’s kind of the opposite of Irish College. Un-Irish College, or De-Irish College
Brigita stands between the Aislings. She is going teach this pair to be Latvian in eight ten-minute online lessons.
That’s the plan.
I turn on the camera – there’s nothing to it. We’re rolling.
Lesson One: Thank you.
–Say Thank You, says Brigita.
–Why should I, like? says Aisling 1.
–Say Thank You.
–Fuck off, says Aisling 2.
The Aislings are furious. They’re all set to jump on Brigita. Three young women fighting all over the furniture – it’s already a hit.
–I’m teaching you to be Latvian, Brigita reminds the Aislings, before they decide to rip her face off.
–Yeah, says Aisling 2. –And?
–Say Thank You.
–I can’t just, like, say it, says Aisling 2. –There has to be a reason, like.
–When was the last time you said Thank You? Brigita asks.
–Christmas, says Aisling 1.
This is absolute class because, (a) she isn’t joking, and (b) it’s April.
Brigita looks right into my eyes. Well, she actually looks at the camera but I’m the one holding it, so – Anyway, she looks into the lens, and at the millions of youtubies lurking behind it, and says –Hi. I’m Brigita. I’m Latvian and I am in Dublin on a mission, like. I’m teaching the cute Aislings to be Latvian. Hi, Irish Aislings.
–So, how are you?
Aisling 2 tries to smile. And it works, she succeeds.
–I’m fine, she says.
She looks at the camera and does one of those little waves.
–And you? says Brigita, to Aisling 1. –You are fine too?
–Cool, says Brigita. –So. First Latvian lesson. Saying Thank You.
–In, like, Latvian?
–No, says Brigita. –English.
–I already know how to say it.
Brigita turns to me – okay, to the camera.
–Aislings are, like, going to marry Pakistani men at the conclusion of these lessons.
How many times have you heard that line before? Never, is my guess. We’re making cinema history here. And national history. And international history.
–Say Thank You, says Brigita.
–Why – ?
–Say Thank You!
I drop the camera. No – I don’t. But I drop everything else. My guts and my cool. It’s a roar like nothing I’ve ever heard before, from any woman or man. It’s a roar that must, must – must – be obeyed. So –
–Thank you, I say, at the exact same time as Aislings 1 & 2.
The roar – Say Thank You! – is still filling the room, so I’m not certain if we actually did say Thank You.
–Good, says Brigita.
We must have said it.
–Very good, says Brigita.
Aislings 1 & 2 are feeling gratitude for the first time since their first holy communions. It’s on their faces – I wouldn’t have recognised them. The camera’s shaking – I can’t help it; I’ll be grand in a minute. But it looks cool, the wobbly effect, like we’re going through the aftershock. I expect the tsunami. It would make complete sense. I’ve already been swept away, so I might as well get drenched.
–So, says Brigita. –Cool. To be Latvian or, like, any other nationality, you must be polite. Do you understand, Aislings?
–Yes, thank you, says Aisling 1.
–Me too, like, says Aisling 2. –Thanks.

Continued next month

© Roddy Doyle 2011

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