Interview with Blanche

Brought to light by Karen Dunn

Being a direct descendant of the love child of Kate Adie and Dan Rather I should have known journalism would be in my blood.

The only problem being it insists on lingering in my blood and never finding its way to my pen.

I'm not very good at it.

I've never made a scoop, never found a cause to champion and my most high-profile interview was with the man who had to clean up after the Dalek invasion of London, Earth back in the 1960s. Derek, his name was. Nice chap.

So when my editor rather grumpily told me I'd been granted the opportunity to interview a Time Lord, I jumped at the chance. (It wasn't until later I discovered the only reason I got the job was because three of the other reporters were on deep space missions, one wasn't feeling well, two had been lost in the great printing press catastrophe and the tea lady didn't want to do it.)

I will admit to never having heard of The Buccaneer or any of his travelling companions.

From the pathetic amount of research I had been able to do, I was of the impression he was a tall, well built, striking man.

When I arrived at La Café Jones, Paris, Earth, 1927 - our prearranged meeting point - and found myself facing a small, skinny girl who was rapidly polishing off the complimentary breadsticks, I thought I had made yet another mistake.

I walked up to the table and coughed politely, reaching into my pocket for my card.

She glared at me over the breadstick: "If that's a gun I'm gonna be really ticked off with you," she said before returning to her munching.

I pulled the card slowly from my pocket and offered it to her, "Magenta Rather Adie," I said only to have her laugh into her snack, bits of breadstick spraying down her nose.

"You're kiddin'," she cackled, "What, did your parents hate you or something?  No, no, let me guess," she snorted, "In the summer you're Magenta Rather Hot and in the rain you're Magenta Rather Wet..."

I narrowed my eyes at the sniggering brat as she sank down in her seat, shoulders trembling, before remembering my journalistic training and picturing her naked and therefore harmless and pathetic, "You have me at a disadvantage," I said politely, false smile number 3 from the Reporters Handbook of Buttering Up the Public creeping up to the corners of my mouth, "I was told the Buccaneer would be here."

She scowled at me, "Yeah, well the Buc don't talk to just no-one, you know.  I'm Blanche. You gotta talk to me and if I like you you might get to talk to him."

I slid into the chair opposite, "Why? He did agree to this interview. He was a member of the same drinking club as my editor two lives ago."

"Yeah, but that was him and not you."

"But he has the editor's word I'm reliable..."

She smirked, "No, he has the editor's word you're on your last chance and in danger of disgracing a fine family line. And besides..."


"One of the first things the Buc told me was never to trust a journalist."


She reached for another breadstick, "Well, you can't blame him what with that Jack the Ripper crap he had to put up with."

Long dormant investigative instincts twitched, "What Jack the Ripper crap?"

"You know, what with him trying to help and almost being framed by Inspector Aberline when he figured out Aberline was actually the Ripper and was leading everyone a merry dance with his "Jack" and

"Dear Boss" letters. Took him weeks to get back to his TARDIS in one piece, what with trying to dodge every private eye and copper and journo in London who were out for that big scoop." She munched her breadstick as I stared at her, "I knew Aberline, you know," she continued, "He nicked me once for begging. I'm lucky he didn't invite me down an alley to look at his shiny dagger collection."

By now I was convinced the girl was slightly nuts and I would never get to interview the Time Lord.

My disbelief must have shown because she gazed at me almost pityingly, "You're not a very good journalist, are you. I mean, that kind of thing is taught in primary school ancient history lessons in this time line. You musta heard of the..." she stopped, "uh-oh. What year are you from?"

"Um, by which calendar?"



She gritted her teeth, "BUGGER!" then smiled sweetly up at me, "Ok, you don't know about that yet...just forget I mentioned anything..." she shoved the rest of the breadstick in her mouth and mumbled, "Man , he's gonna kill me. Told me not to give nothin' away...ah nuts!!"

A nervous interviewee is not a good thing so I attempted to lead her on to safer ground, "You said you knew this Aberline. What year are you from?"

"1887 give or take a month or two."

"I can't even begin to comprehend what that must have been like."

She smiled fondly, "It was pretty cool - apart from the consumption and the starvation and the getting the crap beaten out of you by everyone from rozzers to priests. Yeah, it was peachy."

"Where did you live?"

"London. I think I was born there. "

"You think?"

"Well, I never knew me dad and me mum gambled me away in a poker game when I was five."


She shook her head rapidly and wiped bread crumbs from her top, "No, no, you don't understand. She had a full house - kings over sevens - it was worth the risk. But that git Fagan pulled aces over fours and suddenly I was a orphan in every way but the truth. Next thing I know I'm 12 years old and Fagan and his boys are paying me a bit too much attention, if you know what I mean.  Well, I has to defend me virtue one night with the aid of a big knife and a well placed knee and Fagan kicks me out on the street. And after I offered to clean up the blood and everything. "

I was appalled, "What did you do then?"

She shrugged, "I used to pinch stuff. I'd sell it on so's I could get something to eat but the Rozzers kept nicking me..." she swallowed and tried on a forced smile, "...I mean The Officers Of The Law Persisted In Showing Me The Error Of My Ways."

I feel myself getting out of my depth - this is all ancient history to me and that was one of the many subjects I failed.

"So," I said as I offered her another breadstick and wondered whether the waiter would ever appear at our table. I needed a pint. "How did you take up with the Buccaneer?"

"We had a little disagreement regarding possession."

"Excuse me?"

"I pinched the temporal stabiliser from his TARDIS and he was a little annoyed. Aged 45 years before he realised it was missing."

"Oh dear."

"Yup. When he caught up with me I had to use all my womanly wiles to persuade him it was an unfortunate misunderstanding and there was really no reason for violence."

"You mean..."

"Yup. I cried...a lot. Well, he felt sorry for me and agreed to show me the seaside if I promised not to do it again."


"And I've seen 47 planets from here to the Vulcan nebula but he still hasn't managed to get me to the seaside."

"How do you get on?"

She scowled at me and I got the distinct impression I was treading on dodgy ground.

"The Buc used to be cool. We had a laugh and he was really nice to me - taught me all kindsa things. But since I died he's been a real git. I don't like the new him at all."

"Since you died..?"

"Yeah. Happens. It's a major bummer but then I get over it."

Before I can ask the next question, an impatient voice calls from the door and I catch my first shadowy glance of the Buccaneer.

Blanche sighs and gets to her feet, "Cheers, mate", she says as she swipes the last breadstick from the box and pats me on the chest, "You're alright. I'll prob'ly see y'round," she mumbles through a mouthful of crumbs.

I wave fondly as she vanishes through the café door and reach for my wallet to pay the bill.

My pocket is empty, my wallet gone and in its place the sneaky little wretch has left a note.

'He says he'll meet you on Skaro at lunchtime in the year of the pregnant pause. Don't be late.' It reads.

The wallet I can mark down as expenses but as I pack away my things I wonder how I'm going to persuade my editor to cough up for another time machine.