Wired for that low-fidelity sound

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The Independent Culture
"You know, you're very dangerous," said a suited man to the blonde across the table. The cheesy pick-up line was more accurate than he could have dreamed. The blonde had been hired to test his fidelity, and he was just about to flunk. "I was told that last night," the blonde replied teasingly. "This guy said there was something about me that could get him in trouble." The hidden microphone, presumably.

The man who procures these sordid little ambushes is Mike Emilianow, a dapper hustler with a robust sense of his own morality. Betrayal, he said in Mark Phillips's film for Modern Times (BBC2), is a "crime against the heart", and he's happy to help in the fight against crime. To this end he recruits bar-dancers ("They tend to be more open-minded, more in touch with their sexuality") to schmooze his hapless targets, men who couldn't be said to enjoy the full confidence of their partners. Of course, there are those who would argue that hapless doesn't come into it. These men can always say no, as Mike pointed out.

Then again, the criterion for passing the test does seem extraordinarily high. Emilianow's methods are like waving a sirloin steak in front of a junkyard dog, so it's hardly surprising that quite a few of the dogs begin to salivate and forget themselves. "It's very unusual to see such a beautiful girl... sitting by herself," said the suited man, so dazed by testosterone that he didn't begin to question his good luck. He flirted, revealed confidences, arranged another date, at which point you heard the trap spring shut. But there were no opportunities for second thoughts and no easy conclusion about exactly where the blame lay. His girlfriend was herself married, so was presumably expert at betrayal herself. Besides, she had been stringing him along for some eight years before seeking this final guarantee of fidelity. He was, he confessed to his new, astonishingly sympathetic acquaintance, "sick and tired of waiting". His girlfriend wasn't chastened by this revelation of exhausted patience, just as it hadn't crossed her mind that the first betrayal was her own.

One of Emilianow's clients did have second thoughts, recognising that trust, by definition, must always live with the shadow of a doubt. She called off the operation to find out whether her lover was married, obedient to her growing sense of shame. "She's in denial," said the detective, shrugging his shoulders dismissively, but to less mercenary eyes it looked like she was emerging from it, freed from the infantile need for absolute proof. The others got exactly what they paid for - an engineered disappointment which would leave them the sweet, sickly consolation of being wronged.

I have become addicted to The Real Holiday Show (C4), and that after only two hits. The first edition was good, with its account of an accident- prone excursion to Guadeloupe, but the Wylies' film of their fortnight in Lanzarote was something special, a Donald McGill postcard with a wistful message on the back. "The Blobby family on 'oliday," shouted Mr Wylie, displacing a startling amount of the Atlantic Ocean. "Ooh, me boobs fell aht!" yelled his wife, not wishing to be outdone. They bickered on the beach, got burnt, giggled and indulged their considerable appetites. "I'm not drunk," said Mrs Wylie with the careful gravity of the well oiled. The camera, in the hands of her husband, suddenly lurched alarmingly to the left. "I can't get drunk," she continued accusingly, "because I've got to watch the children. They're my first priorirty... I can never say that word - priorirty." A little later they all went out to throw the Germans' towels into the pool, hardly able to stand for beer and laughter.

They had been going on holiday on their own, explained Mr Wylie, but then his wife had a miscarriage and he couldn't bear to leave the kids behind. Which was less than jolly, but warming all the same.