But to be honest, I’m quite relieved. In fact, the more dumbed down the better, as far as I’m concerned. I mean, writing a Daily World article with all my notes to hand was one thing, but answering tricky questions on live TV is quite another.
So anyway, I’m going to start off by saying “If you were offered a choice between a carriage clock and £20,000, which would you choose?” Rory or Emma will reply, “Twenty thousand pounds, of course!” and I’ll say, “Exactly. Twenty thousand pounds.” I’ll pause briefly, to let that figure sink into the audience’s mind, and then I’ll say, “Unfortunately, when Flagstaff Life offered their customers a carriage clock to transfer their savings, they didn’t tell them that if they did so, they would lose a £20,000 windfall!”
That sounds quite good, don’t you think? Rory and Emma will ask a few very easy questions like “What can people do to protect themselves?” and I’ll give nice simple answers. And right at the end, just to keep it light, we’re going to talk about all the different things you could buy with £20,000.
Actually, that’s the bit I’m looking forward to most of all. I’ve already thought of loads of things. Did you know, with £20,000 you could buy forty Gucci watches, and have enough left over for a bag?
The Morning Coffee studios are in Maida Vale, and as we draw near to the gates, familiar from the opening credits of the show, I feel a dart of excitement. I’m actually going to be on television!
The doorman waves us through the barrier, we pull up outside a pair of huge double doors, and the driver opens the door for me. As I get out, my legs are shaking slightly, but I force myself to walk confidently up the steps, into the reception hall, and up to the desk.
“I’m here for Morning Coffee,” I say, and give a little laugh as I realize what I’ve just said. “I mean. .”
“I know what you mean,” says the receptionist, kindly but wearily. She looks up my name on a list, jabs a number into her phone, and says, “Jane? Rebecca Bloomwood’s here.” Then she gestures to a row of squashy chairs and says, “Someone will be with you shortly.”
I walk over to the seating area and sit down opposite a middle-aged woman with lots of wild dark hair and a big amber necklace round her neck. She’s lighting up a cigarette, and even though I don’t really smoke anymore, I suddenly feel as though I could do with one myself.
Not that I’m nervous or anything. I just fancy a cigarette.
“Excuse me,” calls the receptionist. “This is a no-smoking area.”
“Damn,” says the woman in a raspy voice. She takes a long drag, then stubs the cigarette out on a saucer and smiles at me conspiratorially. “Are you a guest on the show?” she says.
“Yes,” I say. “Are you?”
The woman nods. “Promoting my new novel, Blood Red Sunset.” She lowers her voice to a thrilling throb. “A searing tale of love, greed, and murder, set in the ruthless world of South American money launderers.”
“Gosh,” I say. “That sounds really—”
“Let me give you a copy,” interrupts the woman. She reaches into a Mulberry holdall by her side and pulls out a vividly colored hardback book. “Remind me of your name?”
“It’s Rebecca,” I say. “Rebecca Bloomwood.”
“To Becca,” the woman says aloud, as she scrawls inside the front page. “With love and great affection.” She signs with a flourish and hands the book to me.
“Thanks very much. .” Quickly I look at the cover. “Elisabeth.”
Elisabeth Plover. To be honest, I’ve never heard of her.
“I expect you’re wondering how I came to know such a lot about such a violent, dangerous world,” says Elisabeth. She leans forward and gazes at me with huge green eyes. “The truth is, I lived with a money launderer for three long months. I loved him; I learned from him. . and then I betrayed him.” Her voice dies to a trembling whisper. “I still remember the look he gave me as the police dragged him away. He knew what I’d done. He knew I was his Judas Iscariot. And yet, in a strange kind of way, I think he loved me for it.”
“Wow,” I say, impressed in spite of myself. “Did all this happen in South America?”
“Brighton,” she says after a slight pause. “But money launderers are the same the world over.”
“Rebecca?” says a voice, before I can think of a reply to this, and we both look up to see a girl with smooth dark hair, in jeans and a black polo neck, walking swiftly toward us. “I’m Zelda. We spoke yesterday?”