Monday, 7 December 2015

(SATIRE) A trio of Christmas ghosts describe their harrowing encounter with Leigh Alexander

A shambling, catastrophe of a human being - described by one commentator as the by-product of a hypothetical coupling between an ogre from a book of fantasy art, and an orange-toned member of the perfume counter staff, in a provincial branch of Debenhams department store - has thoroughly traumatised a trio of Christmas ghosts who had been sent to help her become a better person.

The phantom life coaches were part of an intervention organised by friends of the downward-spiralling gaming journalist Leigh Alexander, with one acquaintance describing the unconventional therapy session it as “the final attempt at putting the brakes on this slow-motion train wreck that we've all been watching for years.”

Associates close to Alexander have reported increasingly erratic behaviour from the former Editor at Large of Gamasutra, including but not limited to, episodes of megalomania, delusions, an almost total loss of self-awareness or any sense of personal accountability, and a preponderance towards large-scale acts of self-sabotage that wreak massive collateral upon anyone in her vicinity. One colleague, who asked not to be named, expressed alarm at her “diminishing coordination, wild flailing arms, and flopping, poorly-secured breasts, that leave horrified bystanders uncertain as to whether they are being attacked, or about to be sloppily embraced.”

Nigel Bifford, who took part in the intervention, rose to fame during the 1980s as the original orange ghost in the arcade classic Pac-Man. He now works as Chief Ghost of Christmas Past at Festive Apparition Solutions:

Our three stage revelation program helps our clients to achieve perspective on their anti-social behaviour by allowing them to observe pivotal moments in their lives from the vantage point of an outsider. But only during December. The rest of the year I work the videogaming convention circuit where I sell autographed photographs of myself for $50.

In my role as Ghost of Christmas Past, I transported Leigh back to a happier time in her life when she occupied the borderline respectable position of News Editor at Gamasutra. Prior to our journey, I explained that we would be visiting the past as spectators and would therefore be unable to impact on our surroundings. Despite this warning, upon our arrival, Leigh immediately began stomping around the Gamasutra offices, enquiring after the whereabouts of her Male Tears mug, bellowing orders for coffee and wine, boorishly issuing fatwas against people who had upset her on Twitter, and bragging about the double A+ she received in Misandry Studies while at high school.

When I reiterated that, as observers of the past, we could not be seen, or heard, or invoke any influence upon the events that were unfolding before our eyes, Leigh issued the baffling claim that she was a megaphone who could heard throughout time and space like the voice of god. After this she became louder and more obnoxious than I thought was possible.

Following her tenth failed attempt to pick up a bottle of Shiraz from her desk, only for her wraith-ish fingers to pass through the green glass, she broke down in tears and asked me whether I thought Mr Big would ever call her back.

I explained that this was unlikely as Mr Big is a fictional character from Sex in the City. I suppose that she could have meant the preening rock band Mr Big, although I don't imagine they have plans to call her either.

On the return trip to the present, Leigh made an impulsive passionate lunge at me from which I instinctively recoiled. We spent the remainder of the journey in silence while I mentally composed a report to be filed with human resources.

After I dropped her off at her home, Leigh said that I had been disrespectful towards her and that she was going to make an example of me. The following day she posted my contact details on Twitter and instructed her followers to tear me apart. When I responded in kind I was contacted by a member of Twitter staff who informed me that I had breached the site's terms of service and who subsequently exorcised my account.”

MODE 5 meets The Ghost of Christmas Present at a branch of CafĂ© Rouge and catches him in a surly mood: “I have a brief cameo in the hotel level of Hitman: Contracts,” he tells our reporter “but I expect that you want to talk to me about Leigh Alexander...”

Despite this frosty reception the atmosphere soon thaws over a bowl of Lobster bisque, as he discusses his recent attempts at turning around the perpetually down-sizing career of the troubled gaming journalist:

Unlike Oprah or Jeremy Kyle who are given carte blanche to break the bad news that you've been a raging dick since birth, in front of a whooping studio audience, festive ghosts are expected to present their client with evidence of their poor behaviour in the hope that this will spark a revelation and a sea change in their outlook on life.

I began by showing Leigh scenes of staff at Offworld (the website where she occupies the position of Editor in Chief) frantically filling-in job applications during office hours. Later I showed her the same staff members, having relocated to a nearby pub, using a mobile phone app called 'Grand Piano Falls' to plan walking routes to and from work for Leigh, that would take her under the maximum number of pianos being hoisted in and out of high windows on any given day.

I like to use symbolism in my interventions. To hammer home a point I wanted to make about Offworld's attempts at boosting traffic by piggybacking on tragedies such as mass shootings (a practice known as Quinning) I took Leigh on a weekend break to the African savannah where I showed her a flock of vultures pecking at the carcasses of an antelope and her two calves.

I swear I looked away for five seconds. When I returned my attention to Leigh, she was making out with one of the older male lions who hadn't been quick enough to slope away with the others. Later I watched incredulously as she openly mocked a group of impoverished boys dressed in ragged clothing, who were attempting to gather water from a filthy polluted stream, referring to them loudly as “hood men.” I was mortified.”

MODE 5 was unable to interview The Ghost of Christmas 2016 due to unforeseen time zone discrepancies. In a statement that turned the hair of our young intern white, he said:

I took Leigh into the near future, to the backwaters of the internet where her vanity website / internet quarantine chamber - Offworld - has been closed down on Christmas Eve due to a terminal decline in traffic and the site's vocal supporters apparently not caring enough to donate money for its upkeep. Seriously, the blog you kept about your cat - the one that you haven't updated since 2011, and can't even remember the password for, gets more hits.

The only visitor present at the closure of Offworld is a yahoo webcrawler who Alexander drunkenly accuses of stealing her ludicrous earrings, apparently oblivious to the fact that she is still wearing them.”

The ghosts reported that they were unable to gauge the impact of their visitations upon Alexander due to her inebriated and incoherent condition. However, the following day she tweeted:

Doxed and harassed by ghosts in my own home telling me I'm a bad person. Have blocked any further hauntings.”

The Ghost of Christmas Past said: “Chaperoning Leigh Alexander was like babysitting a malevolent overgrown toddler with fetal alcohol syndrome. I think I may have developed PTSD.”

When MODE 5 approached Alexander for comment, we discovered her lolling out of a second storey window, waving an almost-empty bottle Advocaat, yelling down into the street: “YOU BOY, WHAT IT DAY IS IT?.. IS... IS IT THURSDAY?

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