17: Jack Bauer’s Guide To Throwing The Ultimate Sickie

TV tie-ins are the holy grail of the book market. Because everyone loves the telly. If there were a telly that you could afford to casually drop on a sandy beach, or carelessly plunge into a hot bath, books would be out of business. 

I can only hope that the same sinister forces that are keeping a lid on the car that runs on water and the everlasting light-bulb are also keeping a weather eye on any mad scientists with ideas about a television that you can dry over a radiator if it gets wet.

Sinister forces that are at least as resourceful and badass as the permanently put-upon, peppily-personable, and perennially-in-a-parlous-predicament protagonist of Fox TV’s 24, Jack Bauer.

Jack Bauer is the capitalist’s dream employee. Without thought for personal safety, personal hygiene or what’s on the telly that night he puts in as many hours as necessary to get the job done. Often in one epic shift.

He’s as far from the right wing press fantasy of the malingering council worker as you can get.  Here’s a public employee who has actually died at work and just got up and walked it off.

But on the other hand he can also do the classic malingerer’s ‘I’ve got a sore throat’ husk better than anyone. Except Batman. Obvs.

So, given that no-one has more chance of inspiring credulity in sceptical employers he’s the best fictional character to front a book called Jack Bauer’s Guide To Throwing The Ultimate Sickie.

As well as, y’know, the whole name thing. It wouldn’t work half as well if we couldn’t secure the rights and had to call it Trigger From Only Fools & Horses’s Guide To Throwing The Ultimate Sickie.

It’s such a natural winner the only obstacle will be ‘managing to avulse the title rights from Fox’. I reckon they’ll crumble in the end though. How else are they going to monetize their gritty, amoral and ultraviolent post-watershed TV drama? With a cookery book?

I’ve already got a few ideas for chapters, which is more than some TV tie-in writers start with;

‘Set up a perimeter’ Quarantining the infection.

‘I’m sorry but you’re going to have to trust me’ Selling the sickie over the phone.

‘Don’t fight it’ Picking the right time to go back to bed.

‘Chloe, I need you to do something for me’ How calling in to delegate vital work makes you seem more committed.

‘Right now you don’t have a choice’ How feigning paralysis can delay even the most pressing sales meeting.

And of course 

Dammit!’ Why it’s important to give the impression that you don’t want to be throwing a sickie even though that is of course what you want to do more than anything else in the world.

This one’s a guaranteed smasheroo, appealing to 24 fans and would-be sicknote thespians alike.

The 24 TV series may have now concluded, but there’s still a decent chance of the format reappearing as a feature film some time in 2014. That gives me about six months to write the cash-in book. 

Given that I’ll need to call in sick on a fair few days, just for research, that leaves us pretty tight for time.

I’m going to need an answer more or less right away on this one. The clock is ticking