Fan Outrage As The Shack Bags A One-Way Ticket To Deathsville

Added on 14 May 2011

There have been, understandably, a lot of questions in the press this past week or so on the matter of Elvis Shackleton’s death in a freak moon landing accident. Why Did Elvis Have To Die? screamed the Sun on Monday morning. Fan Outrage as The Shack Bags A One-Way Ticket To Deathsville said the Independent. The Mirror was more direct. WTF? Elvis Dead In Moon Disgrace. The Express and The Mail were more literal, perhaps not quite understanding that Elvis Shackleton never actually existed, with the respective headlines, First Diana, Now The Shackster and House Prices Tumble As Immigrants Set To Take Shackleton’s Place on Space Programme. The Telegraph was more succinct than the rest. Over a picture of an attractive eighteen year-old girl that Shackleton had met once in a bar, their headline simply read Fucked!

So, what’s it all about? To get to the root of it we need to go back a couple of weeks to a conversation I had with my therapist. And let’s not ignore the elephant in the room there. Yes, therapist. All us crime writers have therapists. You spend your life murdering people in fiction, chances are that you’re going to be pretty messed up in the head. Both the Society of Authors and the Crime Writers Association offer a free counselling service to all newly published authors, with funding dependent on how many corpses there are per novel. 

[On an aside. Watched Outnumbered last night on BBC1. Might have been a repeat. Not sure. There’s a joke where Hugh’s standing talking to his mum, and behind them is a large papier mache elephant. His mum asks what it is, and Hugh.... well Hugh over-explains it. ‘It’s the elephant in the room,' he says, 'we don’t talk about it.’

Ruined a perfectly good joke. He didn’t need to say that it was the elephant in the room! It’s obviously an elephant in the flippin’ room! Don’t explain it! I’m still annoyed, because it’s a good joke and no one else can do it now. In fact, it would have worked well to have it there throughout the series with no one ever saying anything. Anyway…] 

I’ve always talked to my therapist Maurice about Shackleton as being my business partner, and dear dear Maurice has presumed all these years that Shackleton actually existed. Then a couple of weeks ago I ended up explaining that in fact Elvis is my imaginary business partner in the way that children have imaginary friends. He presumed at first that it was some kind of tax dodge, but I said it was more so that I had someone to talk to at lunch. 

Maurice seemed disconcerted by this, although perhaps that was because he’d been exchanging Christmas cards with Elvis for the last twelve years. That day’s session lasted a few hours longer than normal, and I finally left with Maurice’s last words ringing in my ears. Elvis Shackleton must die! 

The next episode in the sorry tale was when Shackleton stormed out of a business meeting, jumped in a space ship and took a one way trip to Hell. 

And so Shackleton is gone. At least now I’ve got Maurice.