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This story sees the return of Shumash, the estate agent whom Katie’s mum rather likes (as in Katie and Mr. New) We also learn a few details about Katie and her mum – for instance, if you listen carefully you will hear how old Katie is, and we give Katie’s mum a first name.

Shumash is involved in one of those TV programmes about homes and houses. He tells Katie’s mum that if she agrees to let the cameras into her home, they will redecorate it for free. Could there possibly be a hitch in that plan? Unfortunately when things go wrong, it’s a situation where Katie’s mum is very reluctant to use magic to get them out of a fix.

Story by Bertie.

Read by Natasha.

Proofread by Jana Elizabeth.

Bertie would like to thank everyone who leaves comments on with ideas and requests for Katie stories. ‘C Face @ Fun’ suggested that Katie and her mum could go on a TV show, but not necessarily because they wanted to. So thank you ‘C Face @ Fun’

Katie’s TV Magic -

You may remember that Katie’s mum is single – because she does not live anymore with Katie’s dad. A few episodes ago, she met somebody she really liked – his name is Shumash and he is an estate agent. Her little romance did not last very long because Shumash’s mother did not approve of him dating a witch. But maybe that’s a little difficulty that can be overcome? What do you think?

When Shumash rang Katie’s mum, and his name and his picture lit up on the screen of her phone she was – well – just a touch nervous:

“I know he’s just ringing about business,” she said to herself. And in a way, she was right.

“Hello Doreen,” he said – (we haven’t actually mentioned this before, but Katie’s mum is called Doreen)

“Hello Shumash,” she replied. “It’s lovely to hear your voice.” And then she wished she hadn’t said that, because really she wanted to come across as quite cool about hearing from him.

“I’ve a favour to ask,’ he said.

“Go on,” said Katie’s mum, quite pleased, because she would like to help him out.

“Can I borrow your house?”

“Borrow my house, why would you want to do that?”

“And borrow you, actually,” he went on, “and perhaps Katie too, but not the cat. I’m not that fond of cats to tell you the truth.”

“I’m really puzzled, what do you mean?” asked Katie’s mum.
“I thought you would already have a good head’s up,” said Shumash. “Can’t you look in your crystal ball to see what’s in store for you?”

“Not really,” she replied quite firmly. “And I don’t like it when you talk about magic that way.”

She had gone from feeling pleased to hear his voice to being quite annoyed and thinking to herself: “Well I’m actually quite glad it didn’t work out.”

“Oh sorry,” said Shumash, “what I mean is… well it’s like this you see – there’s a new TV programme about homes that’s asked me to be their special pundit. It’s called “Flog Those Four Walls.” I give them my professional opinion on how to make a home really desirable – I mean the sort of house that people would really like to buy and that you could sell in a week if you put it on the market. If it’s your home they are looking at, they give it a complete makeover – anything I say really – like a new kitchen, bathroom, wallpaper, floorboards – all for free – the TV show pays for it all! It’s the pilot show, and I thought what an opportunity, maybe you would like your house decorated for free… you would wouldn’t you? If not, no offence, there’s loads of people I can ask.”

“Well it’s a big thing… I mean thank you… I’ll have to think about it.”

After she had hung up, she thought: “What a cheek! Our house doesn’t need decorating, I like it just the way it is.”

That evening she was still feeling quite cross about it. In fact, over dinner that night she told Katie what Shumash had said in quite a hurt sort of way.

“Mum!” said Katie, “what are you talking about? Of course we want a new kitchen and bathroom!”

“Why?” said her mum, quite baffled.

“Why? Where do I begin? The taps drip, the enamel is chipped, the lino is peeling.”

Everything that Katie said was quite true, but Katie’s mum still did not see why they needed anyone else’s help to fix it. She just did not like the idea of other people coming into their house and telling them what was wrong with it.
“If I knew that you cared so much about the bathroom,” she said, “I would have worked on a decorating spell.”

Katie rolled her eyes up to the ceiling as she always did when her mum said something out of touch with reality. When she had finished rolling them she sighed and said: “Last time you used magic to do some DIY we had to call the fire brigade.”

Her mum went red.

“No, I mean yes, well I suppose that’s sort of what happened,” she admitted, now remembering the disaster with her spell to mend the fuse box.

Katie might not have been quite so eager to take part in the TV programme if she had known that the presenter was Jazz’s mum. Jazz was a relatively new girl in Katie’s class who had all sorts of airs because she was the daughter of a “celebrity.” Her mum’s TV programme about buying and selling homes was moving from channel 165 to a “proper’ channel – one that actually could count its viewers in millions. She had recruited Shumash as her “pundit” because he had helped her buy her house, and because he was good looking and charming. “Screen confection” she called him.
Katie didn’t say anything about the TV programme but her best friend Isis did. “Have you heard Katie and her mum are going to be on TV?” she said to Isabella who was immediately quite jealous.

“If that’s true I won’t risk watching them,” she said. “Their witchy faces might break our expensive new high definition TV.”

It wasn’t long before the news reached Jazz. “Well my mum likes a challenge,” she said, “and I expect Katie’s house is a complete shambles like she is.”

Katie’s mum set to work tidying up the house and packing up anything that was too much of a give-away about their interest in magic.

A couple of weeks later a researcher came over from the TV station to look around the house. She had an electronic tablet with her which she used to take photographs and write notes on. She took closeups of the dripping taps and the spells that Katie had written on the walls when she was a little witch – they were in scribbles, but if you knew about magic you might realise that they were actually special symbols.

She went up into the attic and ran a finger through the dust on a half broken crystal ball. She made notes about the piles of old magazines called “Hubble Bubble.” She noticed some robes that looked like they were meant for Halloween, but actually had been Doreen’s wedding dress.

Before she left she asked Katie’s mum to sign a contract. She glanced through it. It said that the TV company and their workers could decorate her house in any way they thought fit. The clauses went on and on in tiny print. She got the gist. She was signing away any say in how her own home would look when they had finished with it.

“Oh well, they’re paying for it,” she sighed, and signed.
The TV crew finally arrived 10 days later. The producer was flicking through the stills on her tablet: “Let’s start in the kitchen,” she said.

Katie’s mum sat down between Caroline and Shumash. An assistant set up three bright lights for the camera. Suddenly the kitchen was bathed in light. Katie could see cracks in the wall paper that she had never noticed before. A knob was missing on the cooker. Paint was peeling off the door. Then the assistant quickly brushed some cosmetic powder on her mum’s face. But somehow she did not look her best. Her eyes were worried.

Caroline began the interview by saying: “Well Doreen, relax, just tell us a little bit about your life – you’re a single mum aren’t you?”

Katie’s mum wondered what that had to do with anything. “Well, yes, I live here with my daughter Katie…. Oh, and our cat Solomon.”

Solomon who had been initially wary of the TV crew and their cables and equipment had just slinked in through the cat flap. Although Katie’s mum could not see him, she felt him coming in.

“And you run the magic shop in the precinct don’t you?” prompted Caroline.

Katie’s mum nodded, and felt as if she was acting rather than holding a normal conversation. She was very aware of the camera lens pointing at her. Her mouth was dry, and it was quite hard to speak.

“Yes,” she said, “we sell interesting things from around the world. Anything to do with magic and rituals – only good magic of course – cauldrons, gourds, witchdoctor’s canes, tribal masks and statues – and we also have a selection of herbs, scents and candles.”

“I’ve been in it several times,” said Caroline enthusiastically. “I love it – there’s no other shop like it – it’s fascinating – how’s business?”

“Doing well,” said Katie’s mum – because the Witches’ Convention was held at that time of year.
“But not well enough to buy a new kitchen,” simpered Caroline.

“Not yet,” said Doreen with a sigh.

The camera caught her slightly harassed expression just as Solomon jumped up onto the table and started to prowl around.

“Ah, there’s the witch’s cat,” laughed Caroline. And Solomon purred. If you understood cat purrs you would know that he was saying: “Don’t forget that this house belongs to me, so I am the star of the show,” because he really did believe that the house was his and that Katie and her mum worked for him.

The first interview was over and Katie’s mum did not know whether to be relieved or furious. She realised now that the TV company was mainly interested in their house because it belonged to a witch. They thought they had found a more fascinating subject than your average family living in a three bedroom semi-detached house in South East Croydon.
Next the producer wanted some shots of Katie’s mum cooking in the kitchen:

“Can you chop up some garlic?” she asked. Because for some reason the general public thinks that witches put garlic in all their spells, but in actual fact it’s too strong and can overpower some of the more delicate magical ingredients. It’s actually used for driving magic away – but these myths persist. Katie’s mum obliged and chopped up some garlic and onions while some witch’s broth bubbled in the cauldron on the stove. It was vegetable soup out of a carton, but who was to know?

Then they brought in Shumash to give his expert opinion of the kitchen for the camera:

“As you can see it as an antique feel, and warm, earthy coloured tiles, but it’s quite dark, and everything is a bit worn, and there’s lots of clutter. To sell this house, I would clear out all those pots and pans, paint the walls white, and buy some nice fitted kitchen units.”

“Oh well, they’re paying for it,” thought Katie’s mum. It was a refrain that she kept in her head every time she felt annoyed by what they were doing. She needed to say it to herself quite a few times that day as they filmed all the defects in her bathroom and bedrooms, and criticised all the clutter around the house.

They filmed her in each of the rooms, and they showed Katie in her bedroom:

“So you are a typical messy teenager,” said Caroline to Katie.

“No I’m not!” protested Katie with a giggle.

“Well this is your idea of tidy, I’d hate to see what you mean by untidy,” said Caroline.

“Well perhaps, but I’m not a teenager until my birthday!” said Katie.

The producer liked that little interview and said it was bound to be in the programme.

When they filmed Katie’s mum sitting on her bed, the producer asked her to say a magic spell.

“Why do you want me to do that?” asked Katie’s mum. And they had a little argument about it, because Katie’s mum really did not want to do anything witchy on television.
“But you are a witch, aren’t you?” insisted the producer.
“Who says I’m a witch?” said Katie’s mum. She was one of course, but she didn’t see why she had to talk about it on television.

“Well you signed a contract in which you undertook to do a magic spell for us.”

“Did I?”

“Yes you did.”

Solomon looked at Katie’s mum and meowed: “Meow!” Nobody else could understand what he meant, but Katie’s mum knew. He was saying:

“You did read the contract right through, didn’t you?”
And Katie’s mum had to admit that she had not read every word of it. She just saw that she was giving them the right to do what they wanted to in the house. It was too depressing to read it all.

Anyway, she absolutely refused to do any magic for them, and there was a bit of an impasse. She said that if they wanted to call the whole thing off, that was fine by her. They argued for about half an hour, and then it was time for the crew to pack up and go. They said goodbye rather tensely.
“Oh well, if they don’t want to decorate the house, that’s fine by me,” said Katie’s mum. “I really don’t think they will do it the way I would like anyway.”

Later that evening Shumash called. Katie’s mum did not answer, but he kept on calling until eventually she pressed the green button on her phone’s screen and said wearily:
“Good evening Shumash.”

“Look, I’m so sorry,” he said. “Please believe me, I really didn’t know that they were going to do that. I really just wanted to help you and Katie out because I know you haven’t got too much money and I thought it would be good for you to have the decorators in for free.”

“It’s all right,” said Katie’s mum wearily. “Let’s just say it was an experience. I don’t suppose we will hear from them again.”

But rather to her surprise, they did hear from the TV company the following Monday. They called to arrange a time for the builders and decorators to arrive. And since she had signed the contract, she agreed for them to come round.

When the workers arrived, she spoke to the men and found out that the company was sponsoring the programme by doing the work for free. They had hoped that Katie’s mum would do a magic spell and create a big sensation. It would be fantastic publicity for them.

“Oh I see,” said Katie’s mum. “That explains it then.”
Nobody likes having builders banging and sawing in their house, coming in and out all day, leaving their tools all over the place, playing loud music on the radio, and making dust and mess everywhere. It always seems to go on three times as long as planned and it’s impossible to lead your life as normal while it is all going on. After the first two weeks, Solomon and Katie agreed that it was time to speed things up, and she did a little spell to make them work three times as fast without stopping for hour long tea breaks. It was all done two days later.

They were really relieved when the builders had packed up and left. The house did look new and spotless and it smelt of fresh paint. But Katie’s mum sighed.

“It’s all very well, but it isn’t what I would have done myself,” she said. And Katie had to agree that it really did not feel like their own place any more. It looked like houses look in those brochures you pick up in the bathroom shop – sort of glossy but boring and conventional.

“Don’t worry Mum,” said Katie. “We’ll gradually mess it up again, and in six months or so it will look more or less like it used to.”

A few days later the TV company came back to film them in their newly decorated house.

“Yes it’s lovely,” lied Katie’s mum as she stood next to the gleaming new power-shower.

And they thought that was that. But then a week later a letter arrived. Katie’s mum opened it, glanced her eye over it, and looked shocked.

“What’s up Mum?” asked Katie.

“It’s a bill, that’s what’s up,” said Katie’s mum. “They say we’ve got to pay for the whole house make-over. It’s almost a hundred thousand pounds.”

She sat down and looked quite shocked.

“But I thought they were paying,” said Katie.

She picked up the letter and read it through. It was from the director of the TV Production Company. It said that he was very disappointed that Katie’s mum had broken the contract by refusing to do a magic spell. Her refusal took away the main interest of the programme, and therefore she was liable to pay for all the work.

“But we can’t afford to pay,” said Katie.

“Not unless we sell the house,” said her mother. “Well at least buyers will like the spotless new bathroom.”

Later that morning, she telephoned the TV company’s director, fully intending to be calm and polite, but she felt so overwrought with emotion that she ended up shouting at him and calling him a crook.

Next, letters started to arrive from a firm of solicitors threatening to take her to court.

Katie’s mother wrote back saying that it was unreasonable to ask her to do magic, and if they wanted to take her to court, it would be like putting her on trial for Not Being A Witch, which would be a first in legal history.

Of course Jazz at school knew all about what had happened. Katie was afraid that she would be saying mean and spiteful things about her behind her back. But actually Jazz was much nicer than she expected.

“My mum feels really bad about what happened,” she told Katie. “She had no idea that the company would take your family to court. It’s her boss that’s doing it.”
“It’s alright,” said Katie. “We don’t blame your mum.”
“Look,” said Jazz, “why don’t you just do a little spell for the programme. Then they won’t be able to take you to court anymore.”

“Because,” said Katie,”my mum doesn’t want to be the star of a freak show.”

Then Jazz took Katie’s arm gently, like a friend, and said: “I couldn’t sleep last night. I was thinking about this so much. I know my mum is really upset too. And then I thought of something. You see, if you do a little spell – you could do it like it was a kind of joke – and everyone at home would think it was just a special effect. Who can tell the difference between real magic, and TV magic? It all looks the same right?”

And Katie – who was really tired from worrying about the whole thing – suddenly felt quite relieved. Excited even. “Why yes,” she said, “that’s really smart. I hadn’t thought of that.”

That evening her mum wasn’t quite so quick to see the ingenuity in her plan. She didn’t want the TV cameras back in their house ever again. But then Caroline telephoned and said she was speaking as a friend and “off the record,” but wasn’t it wonderful that Katie and Jazz had got together and come up with a solution to this awful situation?

And although Katie’s mum still refused to do any magic for the TV show as a matter of principle, she agreed that Katie could do the spell, if that’s what she wanted to do.
The next day Caroline came back to the house. This time brought her own camera tripod and lights. She explained that she started her career in TV as a camera operator and had become a presenter later. She set them up in Katie’s bedroom and sat with Katie on her bed and said:
“Well Katie how do you like what we’ve done with your bedroom?”

“Hmm,” said Katie, “not bad, but I would like it even better if it was a bit more untidy like it used to be.”

“I bet you can soon fix that,” said Caroline.

And Katie said: “I expect I can,” and as she spoke she tapped her nose. There was a whooshing noise in the room, and sparkly stars in the air. A moment or two later all her clothes, old teddy bears, torn posters, pens and homework were strewn around the room. For good measure, the walls had changed from white back to a lilac colour as before.
“That was fast work,” said Caroline laughing.

“Well faster than the builders’ work at any rate,” said Katie.

The film ran on for a few seconds of silence before Caroline said: “Nice job Katie, you should have your own show,” and she got up to look at the monitor on the camera and play back the footage. “Yes that will do nicely,” she said.
And six months later, the TV programme was broadcast. It didn’t top the ratings and it wasn’t a moment in TV history. The bathroom company got a little publicity but not the big splash that they had hoped for. Anyone who watched it all the way through thought the scene with Katie untidying her bedroom was a nice touch and it made them smile. Unless you actually knew Katie and her mum personally, you would never have guessed that it was real magic.

And that was the story of Katie’s TV Magic.

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