Shopaholic Takes Manhattan

Page 122

“I’d be glad to, Emma,” I say, and take a deep breath. “At the present moment, my debt amounts to…” I pause, and I can feel the whole studio bracing itself for a shock. “Nothing.”

“Nothing?” Emma looks at Rory as though to check she’s heard correctly. “Nothing?”

“My overdraft facilities director, John Gavin, will be glad to confirm that this morning, at nine thirty, I paid off my overdraft completely. I’ve paid off every single debt I had.”

I allow myself a tiny smile as I remember John Gavin’s face this morning, as I handed over wads and wads of cash. I so wanted him to wriggle and squirm and look pissed off. But to give him his due, after the first couple of thousand he started smiling, and beckoning people round to watch. And at the end, he shook my hand really quite warmly — and said now he understood what Derek Smeath meant about me.

I wonder what old Smeathie can have said?

“So you see, I’m not really in a plight at all,” I add. “In fact, I’ve never been better.”

“Right…” says Emma. “I see.” There’s a distracted look in her eye — and I know Barry must be yelling something in her earpiece.

“But even if your money situation is temporarily sorted out, your life must still be in ruins.” She leans forward sympathetically again. “You’re unemployed… shunned by your friends…”

“On the contrary, I’m not unemployed. This afternoon I’m flying to the States, where I have a new career waiting for me. It’s a bit of a gamble… and it’ll certainly be a challenge. But I genuinely think I’ll be happy there. And my friends…” My voice wobbles a little, and I take a deep breath. “It was my friends who helped me out. It was my friends who stood by me.”

Oh God, I don’t believe it. After all that, I’ve got bloody tears in my eyes. I blink them back as hard as I can, and smile brightly at Emma.

“So really, my story isn’t one of failure. Yes, I got myself into debt; yes, I was fired. But I did something about it.” I turn to the camera. “And I’d like to say to anyone out there who’s got themselves in a mess like I did… you can get out of it, too. Take action. Sell all your clothes. Apply for a new job. You can start again, like I’m going to.”

There’s silence around the studio. Then suddenly, from behind one of the cameras, there’s the sound of clapping. I look over in shock — and it’s Dave, the cameraman. He grins at me and mouths “Well done.” Suddenly Gareth the floor manager joins in… and someone else… and now the whole studio is applauding, apart from Emma and Rory, who are looking rather nonplussed — and Zelda, who’s talking frantically into her mouthpiece.

“Well!” says Emma, over the sound of the applause. “Um… We’re taking a short break now — but join us in a few moments to hear more on our lead story today: Becky’s… Tragic… umm…” She hesitates, listening to her earpiece. “… or rather, Becky’s… um, Triumphant… um…”

The signature tune blares out of a loudspeaker and she glances at the producer’s box in irritation. “I wish he’d make up his bloody mind!”

“See you,” I say, and get up. “I’m off now.”

“Off?” says Emma. “You can’t go yet!”

“Yes, I can.” I reach toward my microphone, and Eddie the sound guy rushes forward to unclip it.

“Well said,” he mutters as he unthreads it from my jacket. “Don’t take their shit.” He grins at me. “Barry’s going ballistic up there.”

“Hey, Becky!” Zelda’s head jerks up in horror. “Where are you going?”

“I’ve said what I came to say. Now I’ve got a plane to catch.”

“You can’t leave now! We haven’t finished!”

“I’ve finished,” I say, and reach for my bag.

“But the phone lines are all red!” says Zelda, hurrying toward me. “The switchboard’s jammed! The callers are all saying…” She stares at me as though she’s never seen me before. “I mean, we had no idea. Who would ever have thought…”

“I’ve got to go, Zelda.”

“Wait! Becky!” says Zelda as I reach the door of the studio. “We… Barry and I… we were having a quick little chat just now. And we were wondering whether…”

“Zelda,” I interrupt gently. “It’s too late. I’m going.”

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