The Apprentice Files

Back at the hotel, Team Bell End are brainstorming a name for their new aftershave.


Marketing expert, Chaz, was, as usual, full of something and on this occasion he was full of an idea.

“I’m thinking of something masculine, something prehistoric, something dangerous, something powerful and animal-like. I’m thinking, “Elephant”. I can see it now. ‘New! Elephant for Men!’ “

Imogen, also as usual, looked unimpressed and pursed her tiny lips so hard her ears popped quietly. She reached into her Jimmy Choo clutch bag, whipped out her eyebrow pencil and quickly raised an eyebrow. She was about to be a smart-arse again.

“But Chaz, dear Chaz, elephants organise themselves into a matriarchal society where the females have all the power in the herd and where adult males are exiled into the wilderness and left to fend for themselves. An elephant herd is like my family in many ways except mummy isn’t a huge cow. She’s actually quite small. Anyway, we’d have to find a way to emphasize that it’s the endowments of the male elephant specifically that we’re pitching rather than accidentally emphasizing generic characteristics which could equally be female ones.”

There was a stunned silence in the room as everyone tried their best to remember how the massively long sentence Imogen had just spoken had actually started. Chaz gave up trying first.

“Bull.” he said.

Imogen looked crest-fallen but that was just her resting face. She went on the offensive immediately, largely because being offensive was so much easier for her than anything else was.

“I’m sorry. How very dare you. I’m simply saying …”

Chaz moved quickly to explain himself before he was eviscerated by one of Imogen’s ‘hard stare and lengthy, compound sentence’ combos.

“No, we’d have to call it ‘bull’ so the customer can see that it’s a male elephant we’re on about. I can see it now on the shelves in Boots. ‘New! Bull for Men!”

Imogen cocked her head slightly to one side just to look a little bit more patronizing.

“Hmm. I hear what you’re saying Chaz, even though I’m not really listening to you, but the fact is elephants are not prehistoric nor are they even especially dangerous.”

Chaz started to lose his cool, of which he had very little to begin with.

“What do you mean they’re not dangerous? Of course they’re bloody dangerous.”

Imogen smirked. She’d out-maneuvered Chaz yet again and she knew it. She pursed her already pursed lips so much she looked like she was playing an invisible bassoon in a woodwind quartet.

“Are they Chaz? Are they really? Then how come I was allowed to feed a Chelsea bun to one at Windsor Zoo when I was only five? And, actually, they’re not that powerful either come to think of it. Daddy killed one with a single round in Borneo when he was on his honeymoon yonks ago back in the eighties.”

Chaz, spotting an opportunity to fail at getting his own back, countered the attack.

“Wait a minute! I thought your parents only actually got married three years ago.”

Imogen smiled. Chaz had fallen into her trap. In trying to catch her out he had only made things worse for himself. His poor attempt at trying to out her as a liar would backfire badly.

“Oh. Yes. Silly me. I meant on honeymoon with his first wife who died shortly after they were married. It’s so sad.”

With a well-manicured index finger, Imogen wiped absolutely nothing away from the corner of her eye. Chaz quickly realised that everyone else now thought he was an even bigger gimp than he actually was and now sympathised with Imogen just a little bit more than before. For a moment, he couldn’t believe he’d been such an idiot but then he remembered the rest of his life and could believe it after all. He knew the balance of power had just shifted towards Imogen but put his best brave face on and attempted some damage-limitation.

“Oh. I see. Er. Um. Sorry.”

Imogen sniffed to make it appear like she was crying.

“No. It’s fine. I didn’t know her obviously. She died while they were on their honeymoon. Tragic. Daddy’s never got over it, despite the massive inheritance.”

Chaz, gamely, carried on trying to be sympathetic.

“Wow. That’s awful. Was it an accident?”

Imogen sighed again, sniffed again and took one of those deliberately loud and obvious gulps of air before speaking. The sort of loud and obvious gulps of air you take when you want to make what you’re about to say look far more emotionally difficult to say than it actually is.

“Oh yes. Entirely accidental. Daddy aimed both rounds at the elephant but it was dead after the first round hit it and the second round carried on for another four miles before hitting his new wife right between the eyes just as she was sipping her first Pimms of the evening out on the hotel terrace. He can hardly speak about it to this day and when he does, usually when he’s drunk with his polo chums, he get’s so upset he has to laugh hysterically simply to make it seem like he’s just laughing because he’s so upset.”

Chaz, still trying to be sympathetic but now slightly aroused because Imogen had mentioned firearms, tried to steer the conversation towards something he knew a little bit more than nothing about.

“Oh my God! That’s just awful. Still, he must have been using a really powerful gun to bring it down with just a single round. Was it a Winchester .457 by any chance?”

Imogen looked at him, smiled and shook her head. Just for a moment, Chaz imagined this was because she didn’t know what a Winchester .457 was. Little did he know he was about to be crushed flat by the sheer weight of Imogen’s brain.

“No. He finds the Winchesters a bit too slow to reload so he uses a Russian GP-34 40mm Grenade Launcher instead. Tasty bit of kit. Blew the fucking cow to smithereens apparently. Good job he only needed her feet for umbrella stands.”

Chaz reeled at the depth of Imogen’s gun knowledge and got a little bit less comfortable in his trousers as a result. Then he spotted an opportunity to make her father look ghastly which, by association, would make Imogen look a little bit ghastly too.

“I’m sorry? Your dad made umbrella stands out of his new but dead wife’s dismembered feet?”

Imogen laughed out loud. This really was too easy.

“What? No, silly. The first round blew the cow elephant to smithereens. The round that hit his new wife was going so slowly when it hit her in the face that it didn’t even explode. It just stunned her.”

Chaz, now more confused than ever, and that takes some doing, sought clarification.

“So how did she die then? Was it shock?”

Imogen’s eyes lit up. Check-mate.

“No. She fell backwards off the terrace and was ripped to shreds by a Komodo Dragon, thus proving that Komodo Dragons which, incidentally, are far more prehistoric than elephants, are also a species where males are the dominant gender, are really very, very dangerous and are remarkably animal-like too all of which means they are a much better animal to represent our brand. So that’s decided then. We will call our new aftershave, ‘Komodo’. Any more questions?”

Chaz shook his head. He had nothing left in his locker except for a picture of himself that he thought was a mirror. Curses. Imogen had out-scored him again. If he was going to turn this failure into success he was going to have to raise his game and bullshit everyone else around him at a much higher level.

He glared at Imogen who was now sitting cross-legged in an old leather armchair directly opposite him. She looked back, matched his stare with her own and raised him, literally, with an uncrossing and recrossing of her legs, a la Basic Instinct. Chaz gulped. He wasn’t altogether sure what he’d just seen but he knew there’d be playbacks.

Meanwhile, Imogen had picked up a copy of ‘Killing Stuff in the Woods Monthly’ and was casually flicking through its pages pretending to read while smirking to herself smugly.  She’d landed some pretty hefty blows on Chaz and that was as close to blowing Chaz as she was going to get. He would also be unable to get the sight of her uncrossing and recrossing her legs out of his head all night so she’d made sure he’d be dog-tired in the morning as well. Win. Win. Pass the gin.

Footnotes

Despite watching the footage nearly twenty-six thousand times, video technicians have been unable to establish for certain whether or not Imogen was or was not wearing underwear. Similarly, they are unable to prove or disprove Chaz’s belief that there is something up there with teeth.

Despite being asked on numerous occasions, and offered considerable amounts of money, Imogen herself has not yet revealed whether she was wearing any underwear  either and is said to be waiting for the value of the information to peak. Close friends of hers, and others who actually hate her guts but want to be on telly, say they doubt she was wearing any knickers as her scrawny body is so starved it absorbs underwear believing it to be food.

Shortly after the program was aired, a former teacher from Imogen’s Prep. School contacted the BBC to confirm that suggestions that Imogen was only pretending to read were not true. Apparently, she actually can’t read and refuses to learn because it’s common and it’s easier just to pay people to do it for her.

Rumour has it that Chaz has been given a warning for trying to persuade studio cameramen to use the camera/crossbow once featured in ATV’s, ‘The Golden Shot’, when next shooting any scenes with Imogen in them. Secretly, BBC bosses have agreed that it does sound like a bloody good idea.


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