Today I have the pleasure of sharing a lovely extract from Rosie Millard’s The Brazilian, as well as giving you the opportunity to win a copy for yourself! 🙂
Many thanks to Imogen Harris at Legend Press.
Publisher: Legend Press (14th June 2017)
Stansted Airport, 0730 hrs. The team stands, wearing large
anoraks and baseball caps, waiting for something known as
the ‘Carnet’. The Carnet is a customs document allowing
the admission of television equipment into a foreign country
without the need to pay duty. “Have we got the Carnet yet,
chaps?” shouts Simon to two men in the middle distance. He
chews gum anxiously. “Come on, come on.” Simon is the
director. It’s his job to get the crew to Ibiza.
His production manager, Kate, walks up to him. A woman
wearing a roll-neck jumper, carrying a large file and whose
only gesture to grooming is a sleek blonde bun of hair, she
rubs his shoulder affectionately. “IIWII,” she whispers. “It
Is What It Is.” Simon smiles, as if her touch is painful. Two
weeks of 24/7 filming in and around a beachside villa in Ibiza
putting a bunch of nobodies through a series of ridiculous
tasks. Particularly as they are all trying to be somebodies.
Plus one massive celebrity to arrive later. He sighs, thinks
of the money, all that overtime. It must be worth it. He’d far
rather be working on Panorama. “Come on, guys,” he mutters
beneath his breath.
While the crew fiddle around with a stack of bright, hard,
shiny, ridged cases, the nobodies sit at a table drinking tea
and, in one case, whisky. They are the cast for the latest
series of the well-known daytime ITV reality show called Ibiza (or Bust). Each of them has signed up to go on holiday
with nine other unnamed, vaguely notorious people. In
Ibiza. For at least a week, possibly more. The hitch? They
each vote each other off. Everyone gets a £3,000 fee for
turning up and taking part. The final person on the show gets
£20,000. They have all just performed the first task, namely
the staged ‘Meet’.
Simon told them each what to do and they obeyed
him to the letter, like children. Everyone was brought
out one by one. They were each obliged to kiss everyone
else, twice, on the cheek and gush with unbridled and
spontaneous happiness. As if they knew each other. As if
they were friends. Famous friends. They must enthuse that
they are all going on holiday together to Ibiza. The show
promotes togetherness, but is of course designed to highlight
separation, confusion and confrontation. They greet each
other but inside, their heads are whirring with alarm and
confusion as they struggle to identify each other. They are
strangers but must seem as friends, individuals pretending
to be a gang.
They have been selected by Simon. They include Philip
Burrell, a contemporary artist with as yet unfulfilled ambitions
on winning the Turner Prize and a TV financial adviser called
Alan Makin. Both of these characters live on a notoriously
prestigious square in North London. They do not like each
other. Then there is Gemma, a ‘celebrity estate agent’, who
Simon rather suspects will go out first, and an ageing man
known as Jasper The Wizard, who once had a magic show
a long time ago on ITV. Then there is a married couple,
Nigel and Jocelyn, presenters of Families Ahoy!, a travel
show on a distant satellite channel for ‘adventurous parents
and their offspring’, a ‘celebrity farmer’ known as Moo,
whose fame largely lies in the feat of feeding a baby lamb
with human breast milk on Breakfast TV, and his partner,
Cresta, an obviously sexy It Girl who may or may not have
provided the breast milk. Finally, thinks Simon, the chap he
keeps forgetting. A contemporary hippie and environmental
protester called Fish.
This bunch is going to be joined on the island by a tenth, as
yet unknown celebrity. It is this person’s availability that is
responsible for not only the time, but also the place of the
filming. This is someone who is properly famous, thinks
Simon. He’s told the other contestants, the nonentities, about
the arrival of a tenth celebrity and was gratified to see the
effect it provoked. There is a distinct sense of tension about
the group, aided by the faint aroma of body odour.
“Well,” says one of the Adventurous Parents, stretching
her hands high above her head and in the process, revealing
two dark patches that have already started to form underneath
her arms. “Hope getting away has been easy for everyone.
It’s been a piece of cake so far for us. We haven’t even had
to worry about clearing it with the kids’ schools.” She looks
around, hoping someone will challenge her on this. “Because
they are all homeschooled, of course,” she continues.
“How many children have you got?” asks Gemma the
celebrity estate agent, who has a strong sense of conversational
“Eight,” says the Adventurous Parent.
Gemma widens her eyes, and can’t think of anything to say.
“My pelvic floor is just fine, if that’s what you are
wondering,” says the Adventurous Parent, “isn’t it, Nigel?”
Her husband giggles inanely.
Gemma, who has no children, is lost for words.
“You’ve moved into the Square?” says Philip to Alan
Makin, the TV financial adviser, with scant enthusiasm. Philip
is not sure he is very pleased about this. Finding a neighbour
on this show was not part of his plan. Indeed, he had hoped
that he might achieve this daytime televisual challenge wholly
undetected. Philip is a snob about most things, but particularly
about daytime television.
“Indeed I have!” says Alan loudly, looking around at
the other candidates. “Hey everyone, Philip here and I are
neighbours! I judged a talent show there earlier this year.
Fell in love with the Square. Wonderful Georgian rigour.
Marvellous use of light in the main rooms. Do you know it,
Gemma? Part of your catchment area? Great heritage. Very,
very well refurbished, if I may say so. Didn’t, er, didn’t you
take part in it, Philip? The talent show, I mean. I remember
you were there, weren’t you? Great fun.”
“I may have done, dear boy,” says Philip, who remembers
the event quite well. “So many things going on at the moment.”
He stares off into the distance. He is already regretting signing
up for this nonsense, regretting leaving his wife Gilda behind,
regretting leaving all his work just sitting idle in the studio. His
assistant, Jas, is going away too. There’ll be lot of work when
he gets home. He’s damned if he’ll be voted off first, however.
Let that idiot Alan Makin go for the fall.
A silence descends as everyone muses separately on the
forthcoming challenge. “Well, here we all are,” says Gemma
unnecessarily, touching her hair. “I was really amazed to see
who else would turn up on this!” She examines a manicured
hand. “I mean, it’s going to be great fun. I really have no idea
what to expect! Who do you think is going to win? Although
of course I don’t think it’s about winning, of course. It’s just
about making some great telly, isn’t it! You guys. We are all
going to have a hoot! It’s just about fun!”
“No,” says Philip drily. “It’s about winning.”
There is a silence. Jasper The Wizard drains his whisky rather
loudly and stands up, barely concealing a burp. “Sorry, chaps.
Right. Anyone for Departures?”
“Are we all getting on?” asks Simon, bustling over to the
table. “Have we all got our boarding passes, hand luggage,
everything? Has everyone been to the loo?”
“We are not children,” says Philip acidly, quickly smiling
in Simon’s direction to let him know that he didn’t really mean
it. “Arse,” he mutters under his breath.
The group is herded by Simon beside the Body Shop
while a camera sets up the shot, and then on instruction from
Simon, moves together, talking and wildly laughing, towards
Customs. Cresta, the It Girl, leads the charge. Gemma notices
that Cresta always makes sure she is surrounded by a herd
of men, swinging her hair back and giggling whenever the
camera focuses on her.
“And… cut!” shouts Simon. “Brilliant! You are all
naturals!” Kate walks up to him and peers over his shoulder
at the group. “How on earth are we going to cope with this
gang?” she murmurs.
“I have absolutely no idea,” replies Simon. “But that is the
magic of television.”
At the gate, Alan Makin cheers up immensely because
he has been recognised by a member of the public. “Did you
see that?” he says, laughing loudly as he wanders back from
WH Smith. “Lady over there when I was buying a copy of the
Mail. Noticed me. Comes rushing over, oh she was so happy
to see me. Loves the shows! Think I probably made her day.
Of course, I had to have the obligatory selfie with her.” He
looks quickly across the group.
“That’s nice,” says Gemma. “I bet that happens to you a
“Well, from time to time,” says Alan modestly. “I still have
the old fan base.”
The others remain silent. Alan’s fame and their
comparative lack of it, a lack that might prove fatal on this
show, hangs quivering in the air.
“I was once recognised on the Great Wall of China, funnily
enough,” says Jasper, presently.
Nobody says anything.
“Come on, then!” shouts Simon, making herding motions
with his hands.
Want to win yourself a hard copy? (UK only I’m afraid due to postage costs) All you need to do is comment on this post, by Friday 1st September, and I’ll pick a winner at random! 🙂
If you’re not lucky enough to win then why not buy yourself a copy…..
About the author…..
(via amazon author page)
I am a journalist and author. Between 1994-2004, I was the BBC’s Arts Correspondent during which time the Tate Modern opened. This provoked my first book The Tastemakers (T&H, 2001) which analysed why contemporary art became so fashionable in the Nineties.
After the BBC I wrote for The Sunday Times and was Arts Editor of the New Statesman. I’m now a columnist for the Independent and write for lots of other papers and magazines. In 2009 my husband and I and our four kids went around the world on a crazy project to visit the French overseas departments, which resulted in 6 TV documentaries for the Travel Channel and a book, Bonnes Vacances (Summersdale, 2011), a comic account of how to go around the world without leaving France.
My first novel The Square was published in 2015; its a comic romp set in a London garden square and came out of a fiction writing course run by University of East Anglia. When I’m not writing, I’m usually working in Hull. I’m chair of Hull UK City of Culture 2017 which is going to be one amazing year.