Wednesday, 17 July 2013

In the belly of The Tele – Part Two

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Part Two of Ben’s adventures, deep in the belly of The Tele, as he goes where no man has gone before...

(if you haven't read Part One yet, you really should)

Deep below the Daily Telegraph offices, within the bowels of the semi-dormant subterranean volcano upon which the building was constructed, there is a secret chamber, its walls glittering with diamonds, its floor billowing steam from the molten rock below, its walls covered with Men of League calendars. In this chamber sits Miranda, the dread Queen of the Dungeons at News Ltd. In the journalistic trade, strong men speak of her in hushed whispers, and strong women loathe her because she’s succeeded in a man’s world without abandoning her femininity; but nobody really knows the truth, because nobody comes out of Miranda’s chamber. Was I to meet the same fate as so many of my colleagues? Was I doomed?

Penbo shoves me into the chamber and beats a hasty retreat. Miranda squats behind her shiny plastic desk, looking at me balefully with all three of her eyes. Plumes of purple smoke rise lazily from her nostrils as she gnashes her mighty teeth and makes me sweat, taking her time before speaking.

“Why did you come here?” she hisses.

I am more frightened than I’ve ever been in my life, more even than when writing theatre reviews for the Melbourne Observer. But I must die with dignity. “I am here for journalism,” I declare in a loud, quavering voice.

“Journalism?” Miranda moves with alarming speed on what, in the dim light, may or may not be legs, and suddenly she is in front of me, her hot breath right in my face, smelling of mushrooms and men’s rights. “Let me ask you this, journalism boy.”

I brace myself. This is the famous Questioning, the harshest of all Miranda’s punishments. All journalists hear about Miranda’s questions, and how they can drive even the hardest old newshound mad.

“Tell me,” she snorts, “Do you believe that there is a crisis of masculinity among our young boys?”

I wince. This is even worse than I expected. “N…no!” I gasp, astounded at my own bravery. I don’t know if I’ll have the fortitude to withstand much more questioning along these lines.

“Tell me,” she rasps again, “Don’t you believe that feminism has gone too far?”

“No!” I shriek, the pain radiating through my entire body. The sheer stupidity of the questions is like a knife between my ribs.

“And don’t you think,” she goes on, smiling horribly, “that the real sexism lies with those who make vile attacks on hard-working muscular MEN?”

I fall to my knees. This is too much. I feel the life seeping out of me, like gas out of a coal seam.

I feel Miranda’s tongue in my ear. “Tell me I’m pretty,” she chortles.


“Tell me you think speed limits should be abolished.”

I sob, crumpling, “Never.”

She rises up to her full height of five metres, ready to strike. “Admit it!” she bellows, brandishing a life-size cardboard cut-out of Tony Abbott in a posing pouch, “You are sick of feminists killing babies and hating penises! Admit that you don’t want your tax dollars spent on lesbian refugees!”

My vision has gone hazy. My bones have turned to jelly. I swoon on the rocky floor of Miranda’s chamber, commending my soul to God and hoping my family knows I died in the cause of journalism. Miranda triumphantly emits her infamous, terrifying feeding call – “Look how handsome my boys are!” – and leans down to strike…

…when suddenly, I am flying through the air. Somewhere far below me, I can hear Miranda’s wretched screams of satiety denied. I look wildly around me. I am swinging through the underground Telecaves on some kind of vine. I am cradled in a pair of huge, rippling arms, manly and firm yet tender and loving. I look up, into the face of…

Hildebrand! The suave swashbuckler of the Telegraph has rescued me from Miranda. But why? “But why?” I ask, as he leaps nimbly from vine to vine hanging from the cavern ceilings, holding me in one enormous, well-toned, tanned, smoothly hairy arm.

“Because you’re just like me, Pobjie,” Hildebrand answers in his smooth, mellifluous voice. “We’re both chasers of truth. We both believe in a cause. Oh sure, we advance that cause in different ways – me with devastatingly witty, straight-shooting, tell-it-how-it-is articles and clever television shows exposing the realities of Australian society, and you by being a bit of a sad loser – but we are on the same side. I couldn’t leave you to Miranda. I couldn’t.

Hildebrand swings us both onto a ledge and begins leading us through a series of tunnels, lighting the way with his smile. At one point we are accosted by the heavily-armed rat-men who guard the catacombs of News, but Hildebrand placates them with some pithy summaries of how suburban folk think. Finally, we see daylight. Hildebrand has led me to the surface. This is the secret entrance to the Telegraph that explorers have searched for centuries.

“Go,” Hildebrand says to me with a gentle kiss on the forehead. “Go, and tell your story.”

“But what about you?” I am in tears thinking about leaving this gentle, handsome, strong, sensitive, musically gifted, enormous-genitalled man.

“Don’t worry about me,” he replies, applying a fresh coat of linseed oil to his chest. “I’ll stay here, fighting the good fight, telling the people what they need to hear about how both sides of politics are totes cray and the elites won’t listen to the ordinary tabloid opinion editor in the street. Someone has to do it.”

“I’ll do it too, Hildebrand,” I promise.

He chuckles. “No you won’t, you’re not very talented.” And he’s right. I feel an enormous weight lift from me as I nod and cuddle him.

“Goodbye. Hildebrand.”

“Goodbye. Sorry I’ve forgotten your name.” And like that, he was gone. I stumbled, blinking into the sunlight, knowing that my ordeal at the Telegraph was over, but that I would carry it in my heart forever.

Ben  Pobjie

Ben has not one but TWO hilarious books out now. Surveying the Wreckage and Superchef.

Follow him on twitter @benpobjie