Deal or No Deal on the Dole
February 19, 2009
This gormless idiot is not me. He just looks that way. And his name is not S.M. Hickson, he just pinched that name for the sake of this picture. At the moment he doesn’t have a name. But he will now. let’s call him Ted Dancin. Not to be confused with Cheers heartthrob Ted Danson (“are you Ted Danson? Are you askin’? I’m askin’. Then I’m Ted Danson”). No, this Ted Dancin could only ever dream of being a fake barman. The closest this Ted ever got to Hollywood was when some kid asked him if he was the Laurel out of Laurel and Hardy.
Anyway, this is all by the by, as this story is the second in a series of feelbad stories based around the downfalls of various contestants from popular TV games shows, and all possibly inspired by the success of Slumdog Millionaire.
Deal or No Deal on the Dole
Ted was lucky enough to get onto Deal or No Deal; Noel Edmonds’ chance-fancying what’s-in-the-box extravaganza. He turned up on the day of his destiny, looking forward to the time he would spend with the other twenty one contestants. He’d heard they all lived together in a hotel. And they did. But unfortunately Ted’s room had been besieged by a plague of weevils. He was offered alternative accommodation a mile away from the three star hostelry, in an underground bunker below a pig farm. It wasn’t too bad. The bunker had been converted. But no one knew into what.
Ted fell asleep to the sounds of pigs mating and the far off disco-partying of the other Deal or No Dealers. He slept well though, for he knew that tomorrow night he would be in the warmth of the hotel, and that within 22 days time he would be a quarter millionaire. He knew this. And he knew this because he had cosmic ordered it.
Yes! Ted had spent too many years on the dole and he was fed up. So he cosmic ordered change. It was Noel Edmonds who had brought cosmic ordering to Ted’s attention. As a boy Ted appeared on Noel Edmond’s Multicoloured Swap Shop (as a swap) and had since become a keen follower of Noel Edmonds. Sometimes literally. And when he heard of Deal or No Deal and of Cosmic Ordering, Ted ordered himself the biggest Deal he could.
He’d written it down, because that’s what you have to do. You have to write down what you want and then submit it to the cosmos. The first part was easy. Ted wrote a list:
- Meet Noel Edmonds
- Meet a nice lady contestant
- Win £250,000
- Marry nice lady contestant, with Noel Edmonds hosting the event
- Get off the dole
He was only asking the cosmos for five things. He didn’t want to be greedy. He fancied a dog, but he thought he could get one of those if part 3 of his list… woooaaahh! Not if! When! When part 3 of his list comes true. It’s like ordering from the Woolworths Big W catalogue; you order, and it is sent (Ted didn’t keep up much with the news).
He had a few problems submitting his list to the cosmos. He didn’t know how to go about it. He didn’t know what the cosmos was. He didn’t even confuse the cosmos with the same-named tour operators, having never heard of them and having never been on holiday. A little research at the local library revealed to him that the cosmos was the universe as an ordered system. But he still didn’t know what that meant and he didn’t know what to do with his list. He considered many options; burning it, eating it, posting it to Santa, posting it to God. In the end he cut it into as many pieces as he could. He cut it into 250 pieces, each piece representing a thousand pounds he would win. And then he took the pieces, and put a piece each in 250 envelopes. And then he posted them all to the third member of his holy trinity. He bypassed Santa, he bypassed God, and went straight to the top. He posted 250 envelopes to Noel Edmonds. It was the best thing, he thought. It made sense. Noel Edmonds is the King of Cosmic Ordering and Noel Edmonds would appreciate the effort. Ted wanted to do 250,000 pieces but both the size of paper needed and the cost in postage stamps made that idea a non-starter. As it was it cost Ted £90. But he knew it was worth it.
Noel Edmonds sits in silence, contemplating the cosmos before breakfast. His doorbell rings, a weak and sarcastic ding-dong as his batteries fail. The postman apologises for such a sack. He hasn’t delivered this much fan mail since the days of Crinkley Bottom. Noel Edmonds forces a smile. He isn’t angry with the postman; he’s proud of his House Party past. His anger comes from his ordering; last night he had specifically ordered no post. He had ordered a day of silence and aloneness, and now he had what looked like hundreds of fan letters to open.
A grumpy Noel Edmonds sits at his desk. He slits open the first letter with a miniature scimitar he picked up on e-bay, and then stabs the dainty dagger into his table top. There is nothing in the envelope. He looks in, searches around, and then a sliver of paper, maybe three or four millimeters square, flutters to the floor. Noel Edmonds stoops, licks his finger and picks up the piece. There is nothing on it. But look! A bit of ink. It is, if anything, like part of a ripped up shopping list found outside a supermarket when its job has been done.
Noel Edmonds plucks his paper knife out of the table and takes it to a second envelope.
An hour, to you or me, may not seem much. Many people waste days away, weeks, treating those measures of time as they would treat an hour, or even a minute. An hour to Noel Edmonds is like a day to these people. Noel Edmonds has handmade diaries that break hours down the way other diaries break down months. And no space is empty. And nothing goes unordered. And every now and then Noel Edmonds orders himself time, peace, aloneness and silence.
An hour later, after the 250th and final envelope has been opened, Noel Edmonds sits amongst a confetti of envelopes and squares, like a newlywed without a wife; his day of silence and aloneness ruined.
The day of filming arrives. Ted wakes early to the sound of pigs crowing. He heads to the hotel and has some toast. He speaks to an old man wearing a cap who keeps saying “eh?” and a young woman named Sue who owns a nail salon. She laughs when Ted asks, “like B & Q?”
Herded onto a small coach, and then into the warehouse that now homes Deal or No Deal, the contestants wait in silence. They choose their boxes and the game begins. Sue is picked. Box number 13. Sue going first suits Ted. He wants his night in the hotel. He wants to meet people, and talk, and drink, and laugh and feel; feel like a man who stays in hotels; a man who can win, will win, £250,000.
Sue tells Noel Edmonds she runs a nail salon. She tells Noel Edmonds she wants to win enough money to open another. Sue tells Noel Edmonds that Box Number 1 thinks a nail salon is B & Q. Everyone laughs and Ted feels queasy.
Sue goes away with £24,000. Enough to dream about her dream. Ted’s box had the penny in it and she gave him a peck on the cheek.
Ted assumes that’s that. Just as he’s looking forward to a night at the hotel; drinks, food, chats with Sue, a bed away from pigs; someone tells them to get ready for show two. They don’t do a show a day, they do three. But they only show one a day on television. And next up, it’s Ted.
Ted has box 11. He’s happy with that. He knows it’s preordained. He has the £250,000.
Noel Edmonds gently teases him in the run up to recording, suggesting that Ted might think a manicure is a male only medicine. Ted smiles, unconcerned as to what a manicure is.
The game goes well for Ted. In the first round he opens four blue boxes and only one red. Even then it was a lowly £3000. The banker makes a decent offer, but Ted turns it down. Two more boxes, both blue, and then it’s time for a recording break; the moment on TV when the show goes to the adverts and Noel Edmonds gets the contestant to give a reason as to why the viewers should come back. Ted’s reason is simple; “I’m going all the way and I am going to win £250,000.”
In the break Noel Edmonds praises Ted’s determination. He asks him how he can be so sure. And this is the moment when Ted’s life falls apart.
He tells Noel Edmonds and Noel Edmonds realises. This is the man who spoilt his day of silence and aloneness. This is the man who filled his home with almost empty envelopes. And this is the man that Noel Edmonds will now destroy.
Noel Edmonds has practised cosmic ordering for far longer than Ted. Since Ted placed his cosmic order he hasn’t bothered putting in any more. Noel Edmonds cosmic orders daily. And not just in the morning. Noel Edmonds cosmic orders whenever he needs to. And Noel Edmonds is the King of Cosmic Ordering.
The second half begins and Noel Edmonds is subdued. He even closes his eyes as he speaks. He says “welcome back” but there is a calm and silent ghost in the studio and no one feels welcome. Ted opens another box; a red, £35,000. A big hit. Noel Edmonds smiles, at no one; his smile heading inward towards his own mind. But Noel Edmonds has worked in TV through two centuries. He composes himself and offers sympathies.
The trip to the banker. Another big offer, higher than the first. Normally Noel Edmonds would encourage a contestant to think carefully, these are life changing sums of money. But in this case, he seems eager for Ted to go on. Ted is ruffled, yes, by the loss of the £35,000, but… it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.
At the finish, Ted is left with two boxes. One of them has one penny in it. The other has £250,000. He has one box, Sue the other. This is exactly as Ted planned it. He has no fear of the penny. He knows which box the £250,000 will be. He is offered the bankers swap; he can swap box number 2, Sue’s box, for box number 11, his box. Normally Noel Edmonds is wary of the swap; he frets over the possibility that it is he who will carry away a large amount of money from a deserving contestant; someone with self belief, someone with courage, someone with the determination to go all the way. But today, now, he seems to be willing Ted to take the swap. He closes his eyes and lifts his head as Ted says “No swap!”
The audience cheer, but Noel Edmonds, he shouts. He shouts, “No! That’s wrong! That’s not whay you say! It’s not what you say! I have to ask you Bankers Swap, deal or no deal, and then you say-“
“Sorry Noel Edmonds. I’m ready for the question.”
It is asked and Ted says no deal. Noel Edmonds closes his eyes again, but this time he lowers his head. Quietly, only to heard by Ted, Noel Edmonds says, “you’re making a big mistake. and I am going to destroy you.”
Noel Edmonds doesn’t do what he’s supposed to do. He doesn’t build things up to the big opening of the box. He stands still, arms stretching out, pulling the fabric of the universe in towards the fabric of his paisley shirt. A floor manager comes on and has a word with him. But Noel Edmonds just stands and stares through closed eyes. After moments, Noel Edmonds says, “I’m not opening that box. Never. This game is terminated.”
Without Noel Edmonds they cannot film the end of the show. And Noel Edmonds has shut down. They will film the completion in the morning.
Ted can’t bear to leave his box. He knows he has she £250,000. He knows. But he has to see. As a production assistant holds his arm to lead him away, Ted turns to the box. He rips off the tag, and the audience, all standing to leave, stop and gasp. The contestants cheer, and as the competitors take over the warehouse Ted raises the roof of his box.
He has the penny.
Noel Edmonds, hearing groans, awakes and arises. “He didn’t want the swap! He’s only won a penny! Yes! Sometimes dreams do come true in my dream factory.”
An assistant explains that they had stopped recording. This game will have to be played all over again. The crowd cheer and Noel Edmonds punches Ted Dancin.
Noel Edmonds is dragged away screaming. But the screams fade, and as Ted Dancin is treated for a suspected broken nose, the ghost of Noel Edmonds voice echoes around the walls of the Dream Factory; “I’m the King of Cosmic Ordering… not Ted, not Ted.”
Ted played his game the next day, with a stand-in host, Mike Read from Saturday Superstore. Ted went away with £5,400. He wrote a letter to Sue the nail salon woman but never sent it, deciding instead to rip it into little pieces.
The Noel Edmonds of this story is not related to the real life Noel Edmonds. No harm is intended towards the programme or its makers. I like it. No animals were harmed in the making of this story. This story was filmed entirely on location in my brain.
Coming next… Maybe. The Countdown ****.