It is Glasgow 1984. Lloyd Cole and The Commotions Are You Ready to Be Heartbroken? plays on the radio. 29 years later Lloyd Cole will live tweet the Froch-Kessler fight and all this will seem like a lifetime ago. The Field of Blood is back for its second outing and Paddy Meehan (Jayd Johnson) is still journalling at the Shitbox Examiner earning a crust doing just what she must – car crash here, sex ring there, alleyway stabbing if she’s bare lucky. This particular night she’s out with tub of shit old stager George McVie (Ford Kiernan). Been there, seen it, done it has old George – just not with any level of significant competence. They roll up to a domestic disturbance at the home of lawyer Vhairi Burnett. Vhairi peers furtively out of the window, bleeding from the mouth. The cops are just leaving as they arrive. Nothing to see here they say. OH REALLY officer? Paddy and George will NOT be taking “nothing to see here” for an answer. They press the bell.
An imposing Irish gentleman answers the door – professional type, expensive shirt, red braces. Paddy gets straight to the point with the uppity Mick. “Are you hitting that? By which I mean punching her in the face. I at no time intended to imply any kind of inappropriate sexual liaison between the two of you.” Nothing could be further from the truth, he assures her. He’s a concerned colleague is all. Vhairi has a drink problem, he explains, one that causes her to bleed copiously from the mouth – we’ve all been there. Only thing is, she has a reputation to maintain so if she wouldn’t mind keeping this out of the paper there’s a crisp £50 note in it for her. He hands it over. £50 could buy you a house in the East End of Glasgow in 1984. Paddy is so disgusted by the blatant bribe that she takes the £50 off him and marches down the driveway awfully offended. That’ll teach him.
Paddy gets straight to the point with the uppity Mick. “Are you hitting that? By which I mean punching her in the face. I at no time intended to imply any kind of sexual liaison between the two of you.”
But what can you do? Most domestics blow over in no time but you can’t beat yourself up about it. That’s probably exactly what Paddy tells herself the following morning when she finds out that Vhairi Burnett has been discovered with her skull caved in and every tooth removed from her mouth. Well, you can’t win them all.
The murder causes LOLs at the Examiner as Paddy missed out on a really good story. Ha! Silly mare. The laughter is short lived however as it’s announced that The Examiner is being taken over – a new editor-in-chief, some guy called Maloney, is being parachuted in that very day. Editor Murray Devlin (David Morrissey) awaits the arrival with gritted teeth and twitchy sphincter of the condemned man.
When she walks in (for it is a she) she’s an unholy combination of Stephanie Beacham in Connie, Marjorie from the Peter and John Fry and Laurie sketches and that model from Volkswagen adverts who elects not to drop the keys down the drain (last seen totalling someone’s effing conservatory like a three-post ment). The Examiner, she tells them is “a provincial paper in a provincial town” (cue: fainting and involuntary defecation), that staff will be cut by 20% (fire breaks out – riot police are alerted) and that they can “tell the NUJ there’s a new sheriff in town” (3 spontaneous suicides at what well may be the worst line in written history). “Get your old man balls off that desk” she needlessly adds in the direction of a pensioner. What the…? Where, who… I just. Who is this monster?
“There’s such a thing as ethics!” barks Devlin “That’s right, yeah.” she sasses back “It’s one of the Home Counties”. While a soon-to-be redundant subeditor carbon dates the joke Paddy shoots off to another murder scene and once again she’s too late. Mark Thillingly, Amnesty International lawyer, is fished out of the river. He’s wearing a Support the Miners badge – the strike looms large in the background as does the spectre of the rabid Tory filth running the country. Murder? Aye, murder. Actually the rozzers think it’s it’s suicide but I’m not buying that are you? It’s particularly suspicious given that he was banging dead Vhairi Burnett while at uni and still kept in touch. So someone is killing lawyers – do we give a rat’s ass?
“That’s right, yeah.” she sasses back “It’s one of the Home Counties”. While a soon-to-be redundant subeditor carbon dates her joke Paddy shoots off to another murder scene and once again she’s too late.
Why yes we do and you know why? Because it’s a conspiracy. That’s right I said it. And it’s a perfectly good conspiracy drama if you can overlook the laughably broad characterisation of Baloney who makes Squealey Nause in Ashes to Ashes look nuanced. The bleakness that permeates the action is appropriate, though, as whatever the revisionists tell you the 80s was a sorrowful, mean, hateful decade that should only ever be revisited in a hazmat suit.
The verdict: Always thought Easy Pieces very underrated.
Marks out of 10: 7