The ruinage of the Argos Stationary utensil still photographer
Posted: 18 September 2008
Word Count: 1588
Summary: A ridiculous story/attempt at humour! -2nd draft
The park drew darker, as the city sounds drew farther away. Soon the ominous, less desirable characters would begin to appear. Virgil didn't care, he wasn't afraid of anyone or anything anymore. He would come here for solace, for reflection, for mourning. He liked to be beside water, the ripples seemed therapeutic with the moon bobbing up and down, an occasional white feather would drift past after a direct hit with a house brick but the swans themselves posed no threat.
Virgil was tortured by a horrible loss, a past lesser men would have survived. Tears flowed freely as he ripped pages from a magazine and threw them rather pathetically at the ducks at the ponds little island.
He was guilty for his careers dramatic and sudden nosedive. He had become complacent, deep down he knew it. He practically gave his job to the youngster who “stole it”, Virgil couldn't match his enthusiasm, his spunk, his perfectionism. How the rulers were so straight in the photographs, how he achieved a cheeky glint in his display of pencil sharpeners. Gregory put the sex back in stationary photography and Virgil knew it.
He was once big time in the world of photography, his actual success went beyond his wildest dreams. Putting his home town of Boston, Lincolnshire on the map was a huge milestone before he became careless. Walking down the street and having people ask him to sign their faces and catalogues. “Local lad makes home town proud” the papers would say. His friends would boast they knew him, those who bullied him would suck up to him, they were the days. They seemed so far away now as Virgil chucked back the cheap cider, staggering as he urinated in the parks pond, cursing it's inhabitants.
It was his sense of reality that went first. With all that attention he crumbled with the pressure. The blur of the cocaine fuelled parties and the beautiful supermodels he thought he was some sort of demi god. How he briefly remembered televisions flying out of ground floor motel windows, of vaguely driving a Capri into an indoor swimming pool during the school holidays. Virgil was drinking with Besty, Oliver Reed and Rod Hull. He had it all to lose and lose it he did.
His Stationary photographs were partial with bad back lighting and unenthusiastic modelling. They looked depressed and lost without any instruction much like himself. His bosses at Argos were at a loss as to what to do. Meetings were held, staff were fired, rehired and fired again. Heads rolled and there was anarchy. He didn't have the passion for it his bosses accused. He had let the money and the glamour go to his head. He was happier mixing with the stars than putting in the graft. He'd rather be seen with Schofield, Andy Crane and Mallet than paying attention to his gift.He forgot were he was from they would say. The papers told a different story.
“Virgil sticks two fingers up at the queen” said the Sun newspaper
“Virgils to blame for influx of illegal immigration” spat the Daily Mail
“Virgil claims he's bigger than Jesus” claimed the News of the World
The few friends Virgil still had desperately brainstormed and finally hatched a plan to save their friend from the clutches of his public suicide.
It was the 3rd of March 78 when Virgil Shackles checked into the Priory Clinic
After 6months of detox Virgil emerged a new,fresh faced man with that old sparkle in his eye. It was a tearful and moving apology to his fans, his friends and his family. The nation was stirred, every household forgave Virgil that day. Every household in Britain remembers where they were when Virgil said he was sorry just like they did when Neil Armstrong was woken up and forced to go outside first. Virgil was back to the rapturous applause of a thousand fans waiting outside. Many held glossy pages from favourite Argos catalogues featuring staplers and hole punchers as a tribute to their heroes return from the abyss.
And so it went Virgil began to make the headlines for all the right reasons again. Photographed helping sick children at the hospital, handing out pencils and erasers,assisting feeding the homeless in the soup kitchens, he was everywhere and above all else, his work was possibly the best he'd ever produced.
His imagery in the presentations was remarkable and sales went sky high. Thanks to Virgil people were reading and writing again. The queen had Virgil knighted that year for being single handedly responsible for the most creative period of British history. You couldn't fathom how pleased and proud British people were of their very own Virgil Shackles.Fathoming is hard.
Then she came along....
Hilary Biscuit the Diva of Boston,Lincolnshire.
She approached him at the Argos catalogue winter 83 collection in London. He was signing copies and she had queued for 6 hours with the heaving masses. She stood braving the rain for mere seconds with Britains number one celebrity Stationary photographer.
It was love at first sight.For Virgil anyway.
How smitten he was...
Pretty soon Virgil was nowhere to be seen, no charity parties attended, no hospital visits and no guest appearances in Grange Hill.
The words on everyones lips were whatever happened to Virgil Shackles?
Days turned to weeks and weeks into months and nothing. People began to fear his death or worse his return to his old ways. The sex, drugs and rock and roll lifestyle his friends just about saved him from. Many feared a relapse.....
and then it happened.....
Every channel in Britain was turned to BBC1 at 6 pm watching England play Scotland at wembley when suddenly the picture went from grassy green to pitch black and silent.
All over Britain, fathers stepped up from their sofas to slap their televisions back to life, swearing the loss of the beautiful game when suddenly the blackness flickered back to life....
The camera zoomed in to a bearded figure lying under a duvet with a haggard looking hippy woman. In his hands he held a red square with white buttons. The camera zoomed in yet closer to the mans face and there beneath the facial hair lay an ill looking,stoned version of Britains very own Virgil Shackles. Not a single kettle boiled in Britain for the five minutes this news flash lasted.
A bemused looking Virgil grinned nervously into the camera,displaying yellowed teeth and with a dry throat spluttered....
“the magic screen I hold is the future”
With a jerk of the knobs Virgil scrawled the word “FUTURE” and held up his red square for the camera to see.
“Pretty soon the entire world will be using these, we won't even need to talk to each other,why would we want to, when we can just....”
Virgil again fiddled with the red square and held it aloft......
WRITE DOWN STUFF
Quite suddenly televisions all over the world returned to the football. Leaving a mass stunned silence in every pub and household.
The arrival of etch a sketch was said to be the death of the pen and pencil. Soon they claimed everyone would carry one of these everywhere they went. No more need for pens,pencil sharpeners rulers or even paper. This was the way forward, this they said was a vision of the future. Hilary Biscuit had been hired to charm Virgil as a springboard for the launch of this product and it was obvious to all but him the public claimed......afterwards.
The boardrooms at Argos were in uproar at this outrageous coat turn, this ship jump, this horrific act of traitorism. Word spread viciously across the globe , rumour had it the great Virgil Shackles had photographed his last protractor in half light green background.
Needless to say the etch a sketch was not a vision of the future but a harmless toy for aspiring talentless cartoonists. The fad faded quickly when people realised their letters would not fit in envelopes and letterboxes. This marked the fall from the bigtime for Virgil and he and Hilary soon parted. Virgil never got over the abuse he suffered for historys most notorious fall from grace. Britains darling son was quickly replaced by a fired up, passionate young Gregory Peddlar.
Virgil went into hiding, transformed into a late night, park roaming, bitter and depressive alcoholic.
Years passed before one autumn morning a dog walker discovered Virgils body lying face down in the pond in the park, he was pecked to death by swans and dragged to his watery demise. His death was classed as an unfortunate accident and not a bizarre suicide as lots of people stuff their pockets and sleeves with bread,the coroner claimed. A large amount of alcohol was found in his blood. At the waters edge a weathered old etch a sketch contained the words “GREGORY PEDDLAR'S AN AMATEUR.”
He was buried in Boston, Lincolnshire and every household attended his funeral. People lined the streets as the hearse drove slowly past under a hail of stencils, erasers and tippex. Fans dropped stationary utensils such as rulers and staplers into the grave which had to be dug 24 feet deep to support this bizarre tribute. Among the debris lay thousands of red etch a sketch magic screens.
The driver is recovering in hospital with whiplash and minor cuts and bruises.
The Kinks “Dedicated Follower Of Fashion” was played as he was lowered into the hole. No reason for this was given.
Live forever Virgil Shackles.
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