Lieutenant Wisteria was in a quandary. In her job as Cloudbase Welfare and Morale Officer, she came across problems with regularity and it was always nice to do something upbeat and … fun. So she’d been pleased when Colonel White agreed to her proposal for a regular staff bulletin or magazine. She enjoyed putting the issues together - a monthly update with four quarterly specials - and the magazine had received plenty of positive feedback. But, that had been last year, and now it was time for the first Special edition of the new year and things weren’t looking as rosy.
It wasn’t that people weren’t sympathetic when she approached them for input, and they always listened to her requests with apparent willingness to comply – but then, more often than not – she never heard from them again.
Now it was crunch time. The colonel had asked her yesterday when the next issue was due and handed her a few official notices to include. Trouble was – she had nothing else to fill the pages of the ‘Baselines’ Spring Special.
Well, not completely nothing – and that was part of the problem. Lieutenant Viridian had written a dreadfully long, erudite and soporific article about the meaning of ‘Easter’ and - although she respected Viridian’s faith, and his right to write about it – she knew that the article, as written, would upset far too many people. Colonel White had been most insistent that the magazine – which she had lobbied for for some time – was to be non-denominational, non-controversial and light-hearted, in the main.
Along with Viridian’s sermon and the colonel’s base notices, all she had was the list of newly-received books in the base’s small library. All four of them. It wasn’t Lieutenant Flaxen’s fault – she regularly updated the list – but lately she’d been working on some project for Lieutenant Green, and hadn’t had a chance to buy anything new. After all, she was a primarily a research officer, and maintaining the fiction collection was something she did out of the kindness of her heart.
Wisteria decided that what she needed were some punchy articles to grab the attention of her readers. Non-controversial, punchy, entertaining articles – and quickly.
She put her radio cap on and headed for the Officers’ Lounge with a determined step. She walked into the room and surveyed the assembled members of staff.
Captain Scarlet was reading a TV listings magazine; Captain Ochre was painting a miniature model of a bi-plane of some kind, Captain Grey was reading and Captain Magenta was writing at a small desk against the wall.
“Excuse me, gentleman,” Wisteria began.
They all looked up and chorused, “Hiya.”
Lieutenant Wisteria advanced into the room. In contradiction of the visual evidence, she began her appeal, “I’m sure you are all very busy, but I need some articles for the spring special edition of Baselines and I was wondering…”
“Oh, look, Wisty, I’m sorry, but I have this inventory to do for the armaments department,” Captain Scarlet interrupted. “I mean, I’d love to write you something, but I just don’t have the time…”
“But you could write it about the armaments department, Captain,” Wisteria suggested.
“Yeah, you’re supposed to be an expert, Scarlet,” Ochre said. “The least you could do is help the lady out.”
“Why don’t you write an article about your toy planes, Ochre?” Scarlet said, glaring at his companion.
“I don’t do articles,” Ochre replied, with a smug smile. “I could give you a picture or two, if that’d help, Wisty?”
“Well…” Wisteria didn’t want to discourage anyone, but a page covered in pictures of model planes didn’t quite fit the bill. “It’s a nice idea, Captain Ochre, if you could write an article about them too? How about ‘My favourite models’ or ‘Model-making for beginners’?”
Ochre shook his head vehemently. “I’m not that good at expressing myself on paper, Wisty. Maybe you could find me a ghost-writer? Failing that, I’d stick with Scarlet’s articles on ‘Guns, mortars and knives of interest.’”
Aggrieved at what he saw as being singled out, Scarlet looked at the other two captains and said, “Why don’t you ask Grey to write about scuba diving, or submarines – he’s an expert too.”
“It’s probably illegal to write about what Magenta’s an expert at,” Ochre laughed.
The Irish-born captain grinned and smiled at the lieutenant. “Look, if I can think of anything, I’ll do what I can? Okay? I could maybe do something about films, if you like? I’ve seen an awful lot of them.”
“I’d certainly appreciate it, Captain Magenta, or from any of you. I could make this a special edition about the captains’ hobbies and interests…”
“What makes you think we’re anything except boring?” Ochre muttered.
“Hey, I bet there are plenty of female staff on board who’d be keen to see your schedule of social engagements, Ochre. I mean, they’d get some idea when it was their turn to be wined and dined, wouldn’t they?”
“What’s that supposed to mean, Scarlet?”
“Nothing, just a comment.”
“Please, don’t let this be a source of conflict. I just need all of you to write a little article, preferably with a picture or two,” Wisteria amended as Ochre started to protest again. “Maybe you could speak to Captain Blue for me, Captain Scarlet? I understand he has several hobbies.” She glanced at Ochre who was sniggering. “Please, Captains, anything you can do would help. After all, the colonel’s very keen for the magazine to be a success.”
“Wisty, you are an emotional blackmailer.”
“Well, Captain Scarlet, I don’t have much choice, I’m a desperate woman,” she replied, smiling at them all.
The captains laughed, and agreed they’d do their best to help – honestly.
Two Days Later:
Lieutenant Wisteria pressed the send button and sat back with a sigh of satisfaction for a job well done. Now all she had to do was think about the next special edition….