Take a look at this, please, and spot the one ridiculous part of it:
I’ve been flown out to St Tropez by a swimwear fashion company that is desperate for me to model their Summer collection. We’ve taken test shots with me pointing at things out of frame. Some of us have taken coke, some of us have taken Pepsi. And now it’s down to the real business: I ask what they’re willing to pay me.
The fashion CEO takes out a pen and a piece of paper. She writes a figure down and slides the paper across the table to me. As I read it, my eyes widen and I try to look calm.
Sometimes you’re rotten to me. The thing you were supposed to think ridiculous is that stuff with the paper and the note about the money.
At no point in the history of any negotiation with anyone about anything has a single soul written a sum of money down on paper and slid it across any surface to anybody ever.
Yet we see it in TV and film drama around once a month.
I think the shows might have a mind to the drama’s prospects for being repeated on ITV4 for the next several decades. The Six Million Dollar Man, for instance, could now just be somebody working at the top of the BBC pay scale, at least so long as it is a man.
Or maybe the makers are thinking of international sales and how never actually saying or showing the figure in Sterling or dollars or whatever it is might be a distraction.
There is one last possibility I can think of and it’s that the writer has not had the same level of experience in fashion modelling that I have and so doesn’t have a clue what an impressive figure would be. In either sense.
I have a solution. Say the figure aloud. We’re already supposed to get that it’s a big number because of the recipient’s reaction, we’ll still get that it seems a big number to him or her in exactly the same way.
Whereas when it’s this note slid across a table, I’m out of the story. I’m seeing a constructed piece of artifice, I’m not seeing characters I’m engaged with.