I called my mum last week and told her that her cherished first born would be appearing on television this Tuesday. Excitement in the household was such that the family promised to turn from their unstinting diet of daytime soaps and quiz shows to watch, even though this would necessitate navigating their way to hitherto unvisited parts of the satellite network.
Despairing of the BBC and ordinary commercial stations ever incorporating Strictly Sales-Trading into their Saturday evening light entertainment schedules, I accepted an offer from a financial news organisation to appear on their show and discuss emerging markets, with particular regard for Turkey, which, were I ever to appear on Mastermind, would probably be my chosen specialised subject.
Flattered and excited in equal measure that this might represent the launch of my TV career or, at the very least, my introduction to performing stand-up comedy, I rented a suit (well-fitting, woollen) to replace my own (polyester, inherited). I matched it with a complementary cufflinks and tie combination and set to work on a script that would combine wit and profound economic insight, all liberally sprinkled with dazzling aperçus and verbal brilliance.
I envisaged a cosy fireside chat with my interlocutor in a lavishly appointed studio and plenty of opportunities to affect omniscience. I prepared a succinct disquisition on emerging markets and their longstanding efforts to align themselves with the democratic and contentedly globalised mainstream, which would lead on seamlessly to Fukuyama and The End of History.
I planned to speak movingly of how my own career reflected the trajectory of emerging markets, how I thought I would be in the vanguard of a new world order, but instead found myself with a front-row seat, bereft of fizzy drinks and popcorn, in The Cinema of Disillusion.
The first indication I had that all was not as I envisaged was an email from Fake Financial Services (normally operative under its acronym FFS) asking me to contact the media department at Salvation Bank, who would arrange for me to stand beside the trading floor under a bright light before a camera that showed nothing except the all too familiar contours of my countenance fixed in a rictus grimace.
The producer told me the interview was only being screened in Turkey, rather than around the globe as I had hoped, and suddenly I was downsizing my expectations faster than a new press secretary at the White House.
I made a call to the family, who were frantically scrolling through the lower echelons of the TV guide in the belief that I was on something of the order of Larry King Live or The Johnny Carson Show and told them to put down the remote control and revert to The Antiques Roadshow because, unless they had a satellite dish like the Jodrell Bank Observatory, it was unlikely they would catch this idiot on their lantern.
The media people of Salvation Bank looked underwhelmed when I shuffled along to the monitor.
“What are you going to talk about?” I was asked.
“Turkey. I think.”
She looked at me dubiously.
“Do you know anything about Turkey?”
Now that she mentioned it, I wasn’t sure if I did. There followed a slapstick sketch of unintentional comic genius (the only type I have at my disposal) where she tried to "mic me up", as we say in the biz.
The suit being new, all its pockets were still sewn up and there was a disconcerting rip as I forced one open to get the control into my bum pocket and then fed the wires through my suit to avoid resembling a man kept standing only by the continuous application of an electric current.
I put the suit jacket on and took it off several times before everything was in place and heaven knows what trepidation was passing through the minds of the studio manager in Istanbul at the sight of the octopus-assembling-a-deckchair-cameo from the Turkish expert, resident in London.
My ears are asymmetric, with the right one abutting my head like a railway signal. As a consequence the earpiece had to attach to my left ear, but it was facing outwards, and there seemed to be a delay of several seconds to make matters worse.
For a last-minute soundcheck, Istanbul asked me to count to 10. I winked at the media girl with a just-leave-it-to-me insouciance and did it in Turkish. This is how it came to pass, I think, that when I was finally revealed in all my glory to the seven or eight Turkish FFS viewers, they were greeted with the sight of a grown man counting to 10 on his fingers and getting sekiz (eight) and dokuz (nine) the wrong way round.
At least, I think this was the case. I could not see the interviewer himself. I could only see my own reflection, remorselessly travestied by time and the exigencies of a quarter of a century waiting for an asset class to emerge and my career to start.
For all I know, the whole palaver could have been an elaborate ruse on behalf of Turkish intelligence services to obtain footage of this wholly subversive and caustic commentator on their home market.
By carping consistently from the sidelines, I devote many of my considerable energies to bringing down the totalitarian regime of he who reigns supreme in my Pantheon of Morons, president Erdogan, exalted above even that fat, short-fingered vulgarian in the White House.
I couldn't hear the exact nature of the questions being posed, either, so I took the same approach as I adopted to my university finals and answered the questions I thought they should be asking, rather than the ones they did.
I articulated my extremely bearish stance towards Turkish assets and bemoaned the sufferings of an immiserated population whose country now resembles an open prison.
Next time I visit, I’m confident I shall be arrested the minute I set foot on Turkish soil, but incarceration for something in which I believe, namely freedom of expression, would impart a meaning to this life of which it is otherwise bereft.
The interview made up in brevity for what it lacked in comprehensibility. I was cut off mid-stream and could hear advertising jingles before I could even finish my sentence. I walked off disconsolately, or I would have done if several wires hadn’t hauled me back as if on a bungee.
Unlike Alexander, I weep because there are too many worlds left unconquered. The talking head was the walking dead. Sandwiched between advertisements for life insurance and a crypto-lira pyramid scheme, they didn’t even bother to upload the interview to their website.
Off air. It’s back to the day job.