Ireland - The presenter of the popular Irish national radio show 'Gardener's Gripes', a show that helps solve listener's gardening problems, Colm Hargreaves, was today acrimoniously sacked by executives of RTE Radio (Ireland's national broadcaster) apparently for not possessing a face.
In a statement to the press, RTE Chief Executive, Dermot Flanders, said "since Hargreaves began working at the station he has been freaking out his fellow staff on account of his unique facial condition whereby he has no eyes, ears, nose, or mouth. I accept that it's unfortunate and a real tragedy for Colm but the reality was we had no choice but to let him go".
Although Flanders was swift to outline the reasons for Hargreaves's dismissal, curious, critical reporters quizzed him as to why the faceless DJ was hired in the first place.
"because he looked like such a freak his position in our organisation became completely untenable".
"We brought Colm on board for his indisputable knowledge of gardening. In the interview we were amazed at his ability to discuss the smells of various types of flower despite not having a nose. We were very impressed. We thought the fact he had no face wouldn't make a difference as our listeners would not see him. We joked that he "had a good face for radio".
Continuing on, he said, "However as time wore on, it became clear, that, regardless of his expertise, because he looks like such a freak, his position in our organisation became completely untenable".
The woebegone Hargreaves, thought to be the world's only sufferer of NFS (No-Face-Syndrome), possesses all five senses one commonly associates with the facial features he lacks. He can see smell (he loves the smell of pink azaleas), see, hear, and of course, given he works in radio, speak too. The grounds for dismissal, his employers admit unashamedly, are entirely of a superficial nature.
Head researcher on Gardeners Gripes, Gemma Snipes, said she routinely became uncomfortable during the weekly staff meetings at the station.
"It was impossible to know who or what he was staring at", said while nodding suggestively towards her cleavage.
You couldn't say what he was thinking, he is a completely closed book. It was funny at first, kind of a novelty but after a while, I'll be honest, it totally freaked me out".
She added, "How can you seriously expect to brainstorm ideas for a successful radio show while in the back of your mind, there's some guy in the room whose probably staring at your breasts with a big smile on his non-face, without you even knowing it".
A furious Hargreaves (one can only imagine how downwards his eyebrows would have been pointing if only he had any) gave his reaction outside the RTE headquarters in Donnybrook, Dublin.
"I have faced prejudices my entire life. In school, they called me "no-eyes", a cruel twist on "four-eyes" the already cruel nickname that bespectacled students must suffer. They also called me "no-mouth", "no- nose" and... well you get the idea".
He added, "I remember this one time Tommy Black, the school bully, drew a picture of me on the blackboard. It was just an outline of a head. And he had a speech-bubble beside it saying "Look at me I'm a big faceless freak who probably has no penis either". That was so hurtful. I spent the entire rest of the day pulling nasty imaginary faces at that bastard but that was small consolation".
Ruthless prejudice was not only confined to Hargreaves's schoolyard either. In recent times it has also extended to his, as Hargreaves himself puts it, "near non-existent" romantic life.
"It's so hard to find a woman these days who will go out with a man with no face. They're so shallow. They're only interested in their Brad Pitt's or their Johnny Depp's or their Dolph Lungren's or some other big stupid hunk of man".
"You know, I've never once had a woman come up to me and say, "Hey Dermot, you're looking well today, is that a new haircut". Just because I have no facial features doesn't mean I don't have feelings or nice hair for that matter".
He continued, "I remember I was so in love with this one girl. Her name was Natalia. She was Russian. She seemed to understand me and not mind the fact I had no face. It's so hard to find a woman these days who will go out with a man with no face. They're so shallow. They're only interested in their Brad Pitt's or their Johnny Depp's or their Dolph Lungren's or some other big stupid hunk of man. Just because they have faces doesn't make them better people. It sickens me their attitude. I suppose I have to face facts. Do you get it... face facts - women don't appreciate my sense of humour either".
He recalled, "But Natalia was different. We got on so well. I was in love, yes. We used to joke that our children would have one eye, one eyebrow, half a mouth, half a nose... well you get the idea".
Little did Hargreaves know that sweet nectar of true love was about a turn as sour as a jug of milk refrigerated in an oven in an already over-hot kitchen.
He glumly remembered, "one day I caught her doing an impression of me among her friends. She had put a pair of tights over her head and was dancing around the room shouting in a silly voice, "look at me, my name is Colm and I'm a big freak with no face and I should join the circus where people could point and stare at me all day for amusement ".
A now tearful Hargreaves went on, "Then she saw me and panicked and said "Colm, Colm Colm it's not what it look's like, I was doing an impression of another guy with no face... called Colm... er... I saw a documentary last night ... on ...er .... Discovery.... and ...er.... it was about all these people with no faces", but I knew she was lying. I lost complete faith in women after that".
Hargreaves is now contemplating life after Radio. Can he put the pain, the rejection, the taunting behing him and start afresh?
Reflecting on his miserable existence, Hargreaves said, "With Natalia it was as if my heart had swelled to bursting point such was my ecstacy. When I caught her with the pair of tights over her head, my heart burst into a million tiny pieces. Every time I hear or see a beautiful woman poke fun at me - they think I can't see them you know- my heart shatters into a million more tiny little pieces. It's an endless cycle of perpetual heartbreak. I calculate that by now my heart must be comprised of 67 quadrillion little pieces. I don't have concrete medical evidence of the precise number though".
But what of the future? He has played poker at a high level, and is renowned for his inspired bluffing. But Hargreaves himself knows that to forge a career exclusively from playing poker, he must prepare for the fraught life of a compulsive gambler, that is all stress and instant reward, but with little respite for the heart. Given the already fragile, fragmentary nature of Hargreaves's heart, one must question the wisdom behind such a career move.
A confused reporter then asked Hargreaves, "How the hell do you eat?"