The Manager {Madhvi Ramani}

When Carey Carson was on her way out, after having become addicted to cocaine, after almost dislocating her daughter Martini's arm whilst pulling her through a crowd of paparazzi, after ranting on Morning Break, raving on Late Talk, falling over whilst pushing a pram containing her second child Macaroni, after her third marriage, when she did not even look good any more as the magazines pointed out by circling a pouch of back fat here, a belly expanding there (going so far as to insinuate that she was pregnant again - she was not) and highlighting the bags under her eyes, after the bailiffs had moved in and she had filed for bankruptcy, Wendy Wallace offered her a deal.

The contract was most singular. It offered Carey a quaint house in the remote countryside to live in, a car, and an allowance to cover her monthly expenses. In return, Carey would have to consent to a) clause 19 (b) that she would not use any illegal substances b) clause 711 (e) that she would no longer have any contact with her ex-husband Trevor Gates, father of Macaroni, who had been physically abusive, encouraged her drug-taking and squandered most of her fortune and c) 934 (a) that she would be filmed twenty-four hours a day by the cameras installed in every room of the house and car, and by the crew that would accompany her to other locations, and that all footage acquired could be streamed on the internet and used for a weekly reality show called Carey Comes Back! She signed.

The first season of the show was a success. The arc that Wendy had designed for her client was simple; she was to be groomed from the swearing, crude has-been pop star, into a perfect middle class woman to match the detached house that she had been installed in.

We saw Carey learn new parenting skills;
- Don't tell your children to 'shut-up' when they try to express themselves. Listen and encourage their views, advised Nanny Nancy, looking at Carey over her designer, purple-rimmed glasses. (In the investigation that followed, it was revealed that Nanny Nancy was not really a child care expert but an actress with a questionable CV, also represented by Wendy. The spin-off series and parenting books that ensued profited the manager greatly.)
We saw Carey getting a new haircut, going from platinum blonde to a more natural blonde (exclusive pictures of which were sold to celebrity magazine Peeps).  We saw her learning how to dress;
- Eew girlfriend, what's with the pink tracksuit? And this little Lycra number? Uh-Uh
, quipped wardrobe guru Matteo Manheim. (He replaced these items with clothes that befitted her age and status as a mother, and came from a list of brands the manager had pre-arranged deals with.)
We saw, to our great amusement, Carey learning how to cook wholesome, homemade meals;
- Sauté? What's that? Sounds like a perfume
, she said to domestic goddess Amelia, who, smiling benevolently, defined it as 'to lightly fry'. (Amelia's appearance on Carey Comes Back! enabled her to reach a demographic audience that she would not previously have appealed to, thereby boosting her recipe book sales by forty-two per cent.)

Make-over artist Trevor Barton gave her a more subtle look (deals with L'Oreal, Revlon and Mac were involved), she was given elocution lessons, taught how to manage her money, encouraged to shop, sew, garden and do Pilates. Towards the end of the season, her life had been turned around. She was hailed as a modern Eliza Dolittle, proof that anyone could be anything.

It was around this time, in between cleaning, sautéing and listening to her children's theories on why it rains and Jilly the Frog, that the glimmer went out of her eyes. Sometimes, she would get up early, do everything that was expected of her, then sit in the spotless kitchen and - like a robot malfunctioning - blurt out in her original accent, 'Shit I'm bored', and by the end of the first season, we, while still taking pleasure in watching Carey act out a model life, were on the verge of thinking the same thing. We needn't have worried, for Wendy had already planned her next move. Before the start of the second season, press releases were hinting at a possible romance in store for Carey.

The love interest turned out to be Theo Landers, also a client of Wendy's. He looked like a Ken doll brought to life, complete with plastic pecs, fake tan and dimples (which, at least, appeared to be genuine although it was questionable as to whether the smile was). Although Theo was - and there was no doubt about this - a prominent celebrity, no one remembered exactly how his fame had come about.
Their eyes were filmed meeting across the red carpet at a celeb bash sponsored by Felder's, where they had a drink and a dance together. He called her up the following week to ask her out for coffee (at Starbucks, who in the aftermath denied having had anything to do with the manager, even though the cafe that the couple met in was unusually quiet and at least one person in the background was later identified as an actor). Carey appeared uncharacteristically coy over her soy-strawberry-frappacino, sparking lively debate (is she, or isn't she interested? Are they or aren't they? Will they, won't they?).
They continued to see each other in a variety of settings and it became clear that they were indeed performing an age-old mating dance; she ran her manicured nails through her fake hair extensions and painted her lips a brighter shade of red (Cherie, by Revlon); he flexed his biceps and placed a hand on her bare knee.
At this stage, the majority of us might have switched channels or projectile-vomited over our laptops were it not for the disembodied, slightly cynical voice commenting over the show. The Voice verbalised the audience's sentiments to wry effect, and allowed us to keep watching as she offered him forkfuls of food over candle-lit tables, he put a protective arm around her as they watched a horror film, and she gazed at him dutifully playing with her children - his dimples, fake tan and bulging biceps emphasised by their pale little bodies, making women all over the country swoon with delight or look at their own partners - apathetic sacks of lard - with distaste.
They shared their first kiss on the patio of the country house at what would have been sunset were it not a bleak, windy day on the Sussex Downs, making them appear as two silhouettes, flimsy cut outs against a gray slate, or, if you looked at it long enough - and we did - cut outs in a sheet of washed-out paper itself, empty, black holes, as if they were nothing more than an optical illusion.
Of course it was not just the witty voiceover that kept us watching; it was the question of when they were going to do it. Fuck. We checked the internet recordings every morning to see if anything had happened the night before and a few people, like Gary Sommers from Lancaster, even lost their jobs because of the hours spent keeping vigil over Carey's bedroom lest Theo sneaked in and they copulated in secret. But, despite some false alarms, (in which people claimed that they saw two bodies moving under the duvet, or shadows resembling erect penises), they abstained.
When they decided to take their relationship to the next level, and Carey asked him if he'd like to move in, a frenzy ensued. (Where would Theo sleep? Would they, were they, finally going to do it? Was this the ultimate publicity stunt or were we witnessing a genuine love story? Was this pornography or reality? Was this reality or reality TV?)
A special live stream of the show aired the night that Theo moved in, and everybody watched. Even people who didn't usually watch. Even people who, until then, did not know or really care who Carey was. Even people who denied that they watched. They did.
We sat on the edge of our sofas as the children were bathed, read to and put to bed according to their routine as recommended by Nanny Nancy. We stared as Carey closed the children's bedroom door and Theo approached to give her a lingering kiss. Our eyes bulged as they made their way slowly, ever so slowly, to the master bedroom and stood facing each other from opposite sides of the bed where they peeled off one designer item after another, until she wore only her sexy black lingerie (Agent Provocateur) and he a pair of tight boxers (Calvin Klein). Then they disposed of these too, and stood before each other, and the world, naked. What they did next surprised us. Those of us who thought the whole thing was for the cameras, were expecting something akin to a celebrity sex tape or a porno, with her rubbing her silicon-implanted breasts and saying she wanted him inside her, or him pulling her hair whilst pumping her from behind, to ensue, while those less cynical among us expected to see them gazing into each others' eyes in missionary position, her trembling beneath his muscular body, with mutterings of 'I love you' and limited bodily fluids, much like the love-making scenes evoked in rom-coms. Instead, they switched off the lights.
Our pupils dilated, we crept up to our screens, played with the brightness levels on our remotes, but were ultimately reduced to deciphering what we could from the dim light of the bedroom and, of course, the sound.

Nevertheless, the sex was incredible. They tussled and thrashed amidst mussed sheets. He howled as her white-tipped nails dug into his flawless flesh, leaving tracks of blood, glistening black. She yelped as his saliva slicked incisors bit her erect nipple. Sparks, ghastly green, flew between and around them. It was frantic, frenetic sex, electric, frankensteinesque sex.
The next morning, they went about their business as usual. They played with the children, watched television, pecked each other on the cheeks, read stories about themselves in the celeb mags, ate a lunch of steamed salmon and green beans and discussed the weather, betraying no hint, and thereby making us question our own perceptions, of what had passed the night before.

But that night, it happened again. And the following night. And the night after that.

During the day, they were like two dolls acting out an innocent existence in that quaint house, which did, the more we looked at it, come to resemble a Wendy house, but at night, under the cover of darkness - for they always had sex with the lights off - they transformed into wild, unpredictable creatures. It was like nothing we'd seen before - not in our own limited experiences, nor on television or even the internet. It was the vicious sex of two people who had sold their souls to the devil, and only in the act of fucking, were able to feel anything.
Viewing figures sky-rocketed, records were broken, publicity generated publicity. Not only was the television show a success; Carey's internet following, which was already significant, mushroomed, with fan groups forming around all sorts of things, like the popular Carey Goes to the Loo! group, whose members studied her toilet habits, the quality of her turds and the expressions she made on the seat in the belief that they revealed her true physical and mental state, multiplied, causing websites to crash and philosophers to expound that all of existence came down to sex and shit.