The Shopping Channel

Entry by: Oren Pepper

30th September 2016
If you were to flick through the myriad channels of an average TV set in the early days of the present decade you would find, sandwiched somewhere between the endless repeats of cookery programs and live sports coverage, a television program of almost unrivalled vapidity. While other programs attempted to educate their viewers this particular show had no such intent; rather, it relied on the gullibility of an audience that would believe, whole-heartedly, anything that the host told them. Whether what Ron Lovell, the blonde, aging yet still handsome presenter told them was true was beside the point; all that mattered was that the viewers believed it was true.
The network for which Ron Lovell worked, Diamond Standard Productions, treated him much as the Egyptians treated their godly pharaohs – with an obsequiousness born out of awe and fear. Although he was pushing sixty Ron Lovell was still an imposing presence. His shoulders hulked into muscle-wrought mountains behind his neck and his arms stretched the material of even the roomiest shirt. A gleaming smile set within a square jaw endowed him with a film star like beauty, which was accentuated even more by the blueness of his gaze. In 2011 he was voted Britain’s most attractive senior citizen; a judgment few would disagree with.
For three times a day, Monday through Friday, Ron would host the most popular shopping program on British television: Devilish Deals with Ron Lovell. From synthetic rubies to electronic potato mashers, Ron’s ability to sell large amounts of entirely unnecessary goods was unrivalled. However, in truth, most of the people who bought the things displayed on Devilish Deals did so because of their undying devotion to Ron’s career, not because they needed another self-wringing mop. With a well-timed grin and a blatantly sexual wink Ron could have the phone-lines clogged within minutes, regardless of what was on sale. In the opinion of British women over sixty Ron was a national treasure – by which they meant, of course, that he was supremely more attractive than their husbands. He was permitted this hallowed place in their affections not only because he was good looking but also because he appeared to fit the role of an ideal husband. The fact that he was happily married with a grown-up daughter allowed elderly women to lavish their praise upon him without seeming like sex-starved cougars. Instead of praising his appearance – an act that British women of a certain age considered vulgar at the time – they could praise his morals or his reportedly fierce protection of his family. Indeed, at the time, most people – not just elderly women – viewed Ron Lovell as the epitome of gracefully aged masculinity.
Which makes it all the more sad that on the 4th of October 2013 Devilish Deals was broadcast for the final time and Ron Lovell was never heard of again.


Linda Lovell was seven years old when she found her father having sex with Tina McCormack, the local Avon representative. They were rutting against the side of the shed while Linda’s mother washed dishes and she played, quietly, on the swing-set in the garden. In fact, it was due to her considerable skill as a swinger that she had been able to spot her father’s less-than-discrete-discretion in the first place; the shed was visible at the very apex of a well-timed arc.
As Linda grew older she realized that her father had probably never meant for her to witness his infidelity (having sex herself had taught her that passion renders even the smartest people momentarily witless). Yet despite this realization she could never quite forgive him for what she saw that day – the image of his hairy, sweat-beaded buttocks thrusting towards the cavern of Tina’s dress still remained in her memory, like a cattle-brand burned upon her heart. She had never told her mother, who would never have believed her anyway; she was much to frightened of her husband to question his devotion, even to herself. It was the first time Linda realized the enormous difference between how her father acted and who he really was.
One would think that growing up with a famous father would be exciting for a young girl. However Linda’s father had been immovably strict about keeping both her and her mother away from what he called ‘the limelight’. Linda had never been to the studio where her father worked nor had she ever seen him working, apart from on television. When she watched her father on TV she was struck by how utterly different he was from the man she knew. Gone were the wrinkles on his forehead. Vanished were the gruff tones of admonishment he directed at her mother. And, most startlingly, her father was almost perpetually smiling – a thing she had witnessed in the flesh a mere handful of times. She imagined that while driving to work her father took off the mask her wore at home and resumed his glamorous life as the famous Ron Lovell, free from the apparent shackles of herself and her mother.
In her maturity Linda realized that her father suffered from what she called an Arthurian complex – the belief that because of his handsomeness and musculature he was entitled to a far more interesting life than those that surrounded him. In short, he believed he was the eternal hero of womankind, a knight whose only affliction was his sublime attractiveness. It also meant that much like the knights in chivalric Medieval stories he was a man almost entirely composed of action, not thought. Such an analysis allowed Linda to explain the various vile acts committed by her father, not least his impalement of Tina McCormack in the garden. While Linda could never like her father – he had been much too cruel to be forgiven – the creation of a fictional ailment at least allowed her to pity him.
On the 4th of October 2013 Linda had decided to visit her mother. She knew her father would be at work and that, free from his surveillance, they could talk much as they had when she was a little girl. Despite her mother’s timidity to her father she was really a very likeable woman. Regardless of how mean-spirited Linda’s father could be her mother was always there with a comforting smile and a whispered joke about ‘the famous Ron Lovell’. On the day of Linda’s visit, however, she was not in her usual jovial mood. In fact, she seemed downright sullen upon answering the door.
Linda should have known something big was about to happen.


The day Marguerite Lovell left her husband was the happiest day of her life.
It began much like any other day: making breakfast for Ron, ironing his shirt, tying his tie and then waiting, patiently, until she heard her husband’s car crunch over the driveway towards work. Linda was coming over later and she wanted to surprise her with something – a cake or a warm tray of biscuits. Usually she would have consulted her collection of cookery books in the hope that Nigella Lawson or Delia Smith would have the ideal treat for such an occasion. But that day, inexplicably, she did something she did so rarely her husband clearly had never expected it: she went on his computer. Not, as he would later accuse, in order to snoop through his documents but merely to find some culinary inspiration in order to impress her daughter. Marguerite Lovell was not an inquisitive woman, especially when it came to her husband.
For twenty-nine years of her married life Marguerite had had suspicions about her husband’s devotion to her. The evenings he would return home smelling faintly of perfume were, at first, heart breaking. But over the years she had become adept at convincing herself of her husband’s quality of character. No doubt all the executives at work wore perfume, or at least their secretaries did. Ron was many things but he was not a cheater. Sometimes she would even watch Devilish Deals to remind herself just how out of character infidelity would be for a man so adored by the nation.
Only as the years dragged on she realized the man who appeared on television was not her husband. Instead, he was an idealized version of what Ron thought he was: kind, friendly, and intelligent. The man who returned home to her and Linda at night was none of these things. Truthfully, thought Marguerite after a particularly spiteful argument one evening, he was a brute – a stupid, handsome brute. Still, she was resigned to her fate. To be the wife of a celebrity wasn’t so bad, even if he was a fraud. After all, she would always have Linda.
But upon illuminating the screen of Ron’s computer on that October morning Marguerite was confronted with un-ignorable evidence of her husband’s faithlessness; proof that he was, indeed, a truly detestable man.
The e-mail was from a woman named Eleanor von Rietz – one of Ron’s assistants on Devilish Deals. She was tall, German and far too young for a man whose nose-hair was trimmed bi-weekly. ‘Dear Devil’ it began ‘Thank you so much for the necklace, it is so much more beautiful than any of the scheisse we sell on DD. I will be sure to pay you back with kisses (and more) this evening. All my love, Eleanor’. Although the message was short it was, in Marguerite’s mind, irrefutably damning. Her husband was cheat. Ron Lovell was a cheat.
For the rest of the morning she sat re-reading the email, confused about why she wasn’t crying. Did twenty-nine years really mean so little? Did she ever really love him? What was wrong with her?
Thankfully, while pondering these questions, morning had turned into afternoon and Linda had arrived. Marguerite answered the door and failing to conceal her shock, told everything to her daughter.
‘Why can I not cry’ she had asked her daughter after showing her the e-mail. ‘Perhaps I’m in shock’
‘Mum,’ Linda had replied, as calm and mature as she had been since she was seven years old ‘it’s time. It’s time you leave him. You can’t cry because you – no, we – knew this all along’
The moment she heard these words Marguerite’s world seemed brighter. Her daughter was right; it was time. Today was the day she would leave her husband. After all the years of debasement and cruelty she would finally be free. She would finally be truly, truly happy.
As a smile larger than she had ever seen spread across her mother’s face Linda fell into planning:
‘You’re coming to stay with me, Mum. I’ll help you pack’
Without a moment’s hesitation her mother had agreed, but with a caveat. She was going to have a little fun first.


The Daily Bitch
4th of October 2013

‘Superstar sex-magnet Ron Lovell’s career has officially made a nosedive. Everyone has heard the story by now but I thought, just for fun, I would write out the entire scene just to ensure it is remembered if there is some sort of digital collapse or something. Gossip like this deserves to be remembered:

Ron’s famous smile is glinting at the camera when he announces, as he always does, that he needs a new caller on the line. Eleanor von Rietz is standing like a beautiful busty mannequin by his side.
‘Hello beautiful, what’s your name?’
‘Can I interest you in a new blender Marguerite?’
Upon hearing more of his new caller’s voice Ron’s face suddenly drops; he recognizes her.
‘No, Ron, you can’t interest me in a new fucking blender. But you know what you