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Rose Lane Ch9

by Jubbly 

Posted: 23 December 2003
Word Count: 5522
Summary: This is for Tim Darwin, Elspeth if you're still interested ch 8 can be found in my profile. Thanks everyone for your feedback

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Chapter Nine

Melanie hastily tore open yet another of her aunts letters, she was greedy for information these days. All those summer break plans ruined by her accident , the decision to sort out the house and work out just exactly what she was going to do now she was another single parent statistic - had gone by the wayside. Her past was catching up with her and instead of running away from it she found herself embracing it.

Dear Melanie,
Thanks for that book you sent me. I gave it a go but couldn't really get into it. Kept dozing off, I like books with good stories, like a Len Deighton or Patricia Cornwall. When you get books about a load of women sitting around gossiping it gets boring. I should know. Anyway it's the thought that counts and I don't get many birthday presents these days. Not through having no friends mind, just the fact that most of them are all dead. Which reminds me, am sending enclosed a clipping from the Herald, talk about coincidences, it's an obituary of that Miranda Allerton you used to know. She wasn't famous or anything so she didn't get a special page, just the normal bit for ordinary people. I only saw it cause I check the pages every Monday for anyone I know, just in case I can make it to the funeral. Don't know why but you tend to find more of them listed on a Monday, must be the weekend, you know
Monday-itus. Anyway as she was in the A's I saw it straight away.

PS: If you are ever going to phone me, don't do it too late at night my time as I go to bed early these days.

Love Jean.

And there it was in black and white.

ALLERTON. Miranda.
Born 1928 - Wife to the Late Geoffrey Allerton, (Died 1987) She leaves a daughter, Sui Lin. No flowers please, donations to Cancer Research.

Well that couldn't be any clearer, the old bitch had finally bitten the dust. But a daughter how could that be? Miranda was well over child bearing age when Melanie knew her. A miracle, Sui Lin? Could she, the woman who hated children so much have adopted an Asian baby? Oh what does it all matter, Melanie screwed up the clipping and tossed it in the bin, filing as usual Aunty Jean's letter in her drawer. But it did matter; it gnawed away at her like a wood louse chewing its way through furniture. Melanie's little childhood life, so far away and so long ago was worming its way into her present day life. Probably because she had nothing else to occupy her mind with. That's what happens when your lonely and depressed and totally confused about your future. She knew that it was in chapter three of her self help book , the chapter titled ' The Key to Immobilisation '.

Melanie's underwire bra cut into her flesh, ergh - metal braces for the breast. Obviously she'd put on weight since her accident, a few pounds here and there but at her age they all mattered. She undid the clasp and slipped the straps off, scooping the entire bra out from under her t-shirt in and tossed it on the sofa in one movement. Handy trick that, she thought, should I ever choose to become a lunch time stripper in some dodgy pub where no one minds how old you are because it's so dark and you're too pissed to care.
She sat back, relaxed now, her swollen boobs free to swing from side to side like two great flapping pink elephant ears.

Melanie had stopped wearing makeup and her shoulder length brown hair , which was very much in need of a cut and colour, was pulled back into an untidy pony tail. At least she hadn't resorted to pig tails or plaits like other misguided women of her standing. A generation of middle aged Heidis scooting about in trendy trainers and bum revealing jeans peopled the streets of London these days. The words mutton and lamb came to mind as did - I refuse to believe I'm over 25!
The whole day sprawled in front of her, what to do? What to do?
Melanie opened up her sketch pad, she swore you could actually see clouds of dust rise from the pages and float above the book. She even got as far as sharpening her special pencil. But no, the muse had left the building. She thought about her mate Sarah, she'd be so mad with Melanie for sinking into this rut. Sarah was nothing, if not positive.
Sarah had been 36 for the past 7 years and was so utterly convincing in her Sci-Fi time freeze ageing plan that even Melanie had almost come to believe her. Once while snooping about Sarah's dressing table searching for a perfume to borrow for a girlie night out, she'd come across Sarah's passport. Mel peeked inside and was bemused to see the date of birth.
"Sare, they've made a mistake in your passport, they've put in the wrong date of birth"
The words barely out of her mouth when she realised she'd been fooled, Sarah shook her head and smiled that put upon smile she reserved for Melanie.
"Oh darling, how sweet, you bloody idiot , don't you know my real age?"

In fact Sarah had called only the other day to invite her out.

"Come on, you can't mope about the house all summer ; we'll just go for a drink, maybe see a film. Or why don't you come round here Sunday, Pete's thinking of doing a BBQ, he's got a mate over from Canada, Finlay, nothing special just a few steaks, maybe some snapper, Alice won't be here , she's got a boyfriend now, no doubt she'll be skulking away in some teenage bedroom practising heavy petting techniques, better than chatting to some creepy 36 year old Marine on the internet who's pretending to be a teenager, at least I know where she is." she joked.

Could Sarah really be this cavalier on the subject of her daughter's sex life. Melanie thought of Ben and Alfie, in France without her. Swimming in the sea, scouring the beach for gorgeous , nubile babes in bikini's or worse, just a thong and felt quite ill. Ben did have a sort of girlfriend briefly, Chiara. She was 14 and of mixed race, a pretty girl a bit plump with curly dark hair and a smattering of brown freckles across her up turned nose. They weren't really serious, just spent time together doing homework and playing computer games. When Melanie hadn't seen her for awhile she asked Ben if they'd broken up.

"We're just friends Mum, and she's really into computers, okay."
Well I suppose that told her.

"I'll let you know Sare."

The last thing Melanie needed was a blind date, she didn't need anymore men in her life. Three was plenty, even if Alfie and Ben didn't really qualify as men yet, they were well on their way. Of course she missed sex, but it wasn't as bad as it would have been ten years ago. These days it didn't cross her mind as much, possibly something to do with not getting the male attention she used to get when she was younger. Wolf whistles from building sites, strangers flirting at bus stops. Blokes chatting her up while she waited in bars to meet people, bartenders remarking on how nice she looked.
Melanie feared she was entering the land of invisible women. Back in the old days when she'd first heard of this phenomenon, she'd laughed, "What? Oh get out of here, that is just so neurotic." She and Sarah sat in bars, perched on stools, impossibly short skirts clinging for dear life to shimmery stockinged legs; high heels hooked around the legs of the stool, there they sat , knocking back Margarita's and flirting with whoever caught their eye. But that was then, and it didn't matter how many stories Melanie read about mature women being plucked from obscurity by fashion stylists and designers and plastered all over front covers of magazines, posing elegantly with their latest 'young man' the reality or so the statistics said, was a woman over 35 had more chance of being knocked down by a bus than meeting a man to spend the rest of her life with. Good old buses, and what's more they always come in threes.

Melanie stood up and stretched her legs, she rotated her arm in what passed as physio and decided to take action.
Besides she didn't have to mope about, this was supposed to be the time she got to work on her painting, she was left- handed after all, so she didn't really have an excuse. She's got a good hand; that's what they'd said at university, her tutors, they gave her the ultimate compliment. Thank God who good hand was still in one piece. That' s what had kept her sane during this miserable time. The long summer weeks stretching out before her, the chance to be herself again, no kids just her studio and her work .

"Right, off we go then," she said out loud, " but first what say some lunch."

It was way past lunch time, with no school bell to remind her to eat she tended to forget, but today she was hungry, her growling stomach sent her into the kitchen to set about making a snack, avocado on toast sprinkled with lemon juice and pepper , an old standby. She'd never really been one for cooking,just knocking up simple meals for the kids and basics for her and Matthew; pasta, a roast, steak and salad. No wonder he preferred Kim, according to Ben, she could do a mean risotto. Now not many people apart from Italian chefs can do that, let's be honest, risotto's a real skill, well bully for her, well let her cook, she thought, cook and taste and eat and eventually swell up to the size of a hot air balloon. Mmmm, delicious, Melanie thought as she took a bite out of her toast and avocado, she sat down at the table and placed the plate in front of her. Who was it? she wondered, who was it that gave me the recipe for this?

"Do you want a Mintie?" Nanna asked no one in particular waving the packet of sweeties high in the air like someone desperate to be rescued from the sea.
"No thanks," said her daughter Jean," they're dreadful for your teeth, they'll ruin them."
"Haven't got any." replied Nanna, curtly.
"You know what I mean." Tut tutted Jean, who was always irritated by Nanna.
It didn't matter what the situation, Nanna rubbed Jean up the wrong way.
"Can you help me down this ladder Jean?"
"Oh, typical, you know I'm in the middle of making spaghetti Bolognaise."
"Would you mind giving me a lift to the doctors Jean?"
"Oh, now you tell me, I was just about to wash the dog."

Though there was undoubtedly plenty of genuine fondness between them, one couldn't help thinking of Steptoe and Son whenever they were together. A spooky, female version of the old hit British comedy, there they were, living together, side by side, day by day in a small 1920's house in St Leonards, a suburb on Sydney's North Shore. Both Jean and Pattie had been born in the house, and a third older sister Amy, who lived but three days.
"If that baby had lived, I'd never have been born," Jean would remark every anniversary of the poor little mites birth. "I owe my life to her I do, poor dear little thing." remarked Jean , in a tone usually saved for her dogs.

Their family home was a small house, with a back yard that sloped down the hill, so when ever you tried to run to the bottom you always sped up and had to force yourself to stop before crashing head on into the old paling fence. Now, with Pattie married , Jean stayed, after all they had each other, Jean and Nanna, whether they liked it or not.
Nanna's husband, Bernie, Jean and Pattie's dad died years ago. He went to a better place, as they say, a place where his wife couldn't nag, no nagging in heaven, it says so on the gates. And poor old Bernie certainly went to heaven, simply living with Nanna for all those years earnt him the right. Hapless Bernie, he would sit forlorn in his corner of the room on an upright wooden chair with a flattened old cushion for comfort. There he'd sit, surrounded by model soldiers and stamps. He collected both. A veteran of Gallipoli, and constant mourner of his poor brother Patrick, who had not shared Bernie's survival instinct. Pattie was named after Patrick, Nanna didn't object, she liked Patrick. He was a good man, handsome, brave, always the life and soul of the room. He couldn't bear living with the effects of that terrible gas from that terrible war and shot himself in the head on Manly beach at the stroke of midnight , 1925. Bernie and Nanna took comfort that at least he'd paid a visit to see their baby daughter , his namesake and had had the chance to enjoy some of Nanna's home made Christmas cake first. Some families profess to have skeletons in the cupboard, other's prefer to leave theirs out on the beach where they can be found by any passer-by.

So Bernie lived in the little house in St Leonards, a lodger in his own home, a boarder bedding down for the night , hopeful of packing up and making a new journey with each sunrise, but no, still he stayed. Bernie, always a roll up dangling from his sepia tinted lips, a bottle of DA glued to the palm of his hand and last nights sleep still nestling cosily in his weeping eye. Poor Bernie had lost an eye as a toddler. Story has it, he climbed up into his mother's arms while she was working away at her Singer and Ping! His right eye - skewered on the bobbin pin.
Nanna was convinced his death from a cerebral haemorrhage was a result of the drink, the cursed drink of the cursed Irish, Nanna always said. Bernie's parents had immigrated to Australia back in the 1880's, setting up home in the inner city suburb of Glebe . Their old house still stands there, it was a convent for awhile now it's a live/work apartment block . His mother, the beautiful Louisa died when he was five, her death certificate reports she died of acute melancholia, a Victorian way of saying she was depressed and quite possibly suicidal, one didn't speak of such things in those days, they were simply hushed up, swept under the carpet and quickly cut down from their ropes so to speak. Perhaps half blinding her own son had been too much of a torment for her. Or maybe Bernie is now sitting on his mother's knees for all eternity, a full grown man accusing her of passive child abuse and assuring her that if she'd have lived his whole life would've been different.
And so it would. She would never have approved of Nanna, not Louisa, the lithesome beauty whose cool composure turned strong men's heads. She'd have had no truck with bossy boots Nanna and her thick little fingers, pointing, always pointing, jabbing and spitting as she barked her tedious orders. "Shell the peas, hang the washing, pick up your feet up, get out of my way!"
No, no never, he'd have come back from that terrible war and married a pretty delicate young thing just like his mother, they'd have had two strong healthy sons and two neat and tidy daughters.

He'd have been a successful businessman with a big house in the mountains,he'd always loved the Blue Mountains and his collection of Mountain Devils - a wiry insect-like creature made of pipe cleaners and gum nuts, was a constant source of ridicule. But life's what you make it and he made a jolly great mess of it, a big whopping dogs mess.

Pattie and Sid made there way over through the crowd of nervous parents, relatives, friends and an assortment of odds and sods. Work colleagues who'd come out of curiosity in the anticipation they'd either enjoy the show or if not find it so awful they could spend the next six months making their work mate the butt of all office humour.
"Come on Trevor, why don't you sing us something from The King and I, I haven't had a good crap in days now and I could do with something to bring it on. Ha, ha."

"I've got the programmes, there you go." said Pattie as she passed them around like ammunition for an imminent battle.
Nanna flicked through it disinterestedly.
"Intermission, 15 minutes! That won't be enough time to go will it?" she asked, panic rising in her feeble voice.

"You should have gone before you left." barked Jean.

"I did, but when you get to my age that makes no difference, you wait and see, if you live that long of course." said Nanna, referring to Jean's newly lit cigarette.

"Just don't drink anything, "piped up Pattie.

"Is there a bar?" asked Sid, a flicker of interest at last spreading across his face.

"There's only coffee, tea and cordial, so if you want anything else you'll have to wait till we get home. Right, I'm just popping back to give Melanie a hand."
And off she went, sashaying across the tightly backed foyer, nodding pardon, and scuse at least twenty times.

None of them had ever been to the Sydney Conservatorium before or simply the Con as its musical students at the attached High School referred to it. Melanie always thought it looked like something out of a fairy story, a gothic castle resplendent with bleached white battlements set incongruously amongst the rapidly climbing skyscrapers of the city, overlooking the Botanical Gardens at the top of Macquarie St and Bridge St.
"Did you know this used to be the original stables for Government House, some horses arse was probably once there, right where're you're standing?" announced Sid on arrival.
Jean wiped her feet and moved on.

Backstage the Royal children were dressing in a fever of excitement. Melanie sat in a chair, her head tilted back almost at a right angle while her mother clumsily drew a red lipstick line around her pursed lips.

"There , that'll do, I better go back to my seat, good luck and we'll see you later."
"It's bad luck to say good luck." Hissed Angela.
"What do I say then?" asked Pattie.
"Break a leg of course, everyone knows that, you say break a leg."

"I'm not saying that, if anyone does break a leg you'll all blame me." she rose and turned to face the rest of the Royal children and announced rather loudly. " Good luck everyone."
Melanie was horrified.

Angela's brother Henry was playing Louis tonight, both brothers were very good singers, so Brian simply tossed a coin. Five performances, and Henry was doing three. Gary didn't really mind, Henry was the more sensitive of the twins , often given to tearful outbursts and desperate tantrums, Gary, on the other hand preferred to be outside kicking a ball around . Brian shook Henry's hand, "You'll be marvellous son, I know it, marvellous."
"Thank you." said Henry's mum Vera, and navigated her son away from Brian and back to his dressing room. You never know, she must have thought, you never know.

Miranda had a dressing room all to herself , it was smaller than the others and tucked away on the floor above but at least she didn't have to share it with any lesser mortals. The wall around her dressing table mirror was peppered with cards .
'Darling, you will shine' 'Go get them kid' 'You are a star!'
Two huge floral bouquets fanned out of plastic buckets, spreading cheer and sunshine throughout the cramped little room.

A crackly voice sounded over the intercom, "Good evening everyone this is the half."

Angela squealed with excitement.
"Half what?" asked Melanie, causing Angela and a few of the others much mirth.
"We've got half an hour until curtain up, till we're on you drongo, don't you know anything." said Angela pulling one of her 'Are you for real' faces and rolling her eyes at Cindy Simms.

Melanie wondered if she did. She was certainly excited or was that just nerves. It wasn't as if she'd had to learn any complicated choreography, she wasn't even going to dance, just parade across the stage with a load of other kids. But there was such a charged atmosphere . After all this was the Sydney Conservatorium, the biggest theatre she'd even been in, much grander than the stages in the school auditoriums and the community centre and scout halls she was used to performing in. And there were so many people in the audience, including all of her immediate family, all of them together in a room big enough to contain any family rows that might break out. Hopefully the surroundings would diffuse any such behaviour and the evening could pass off in relative calm, without Pattie or Jean shouting, I hate you, you've always been like this even when we were kids, or Nanna screaming back, shut up the pair of you, I'll be glad when I'm dead I really will, or Sid slamming the door and retreating to one of his beloved sheds without even a backward glance. Nope they were pretty safe this time.

Brian popped his head around the corner of the dressing room door.

"Just wanted to say thanks for all your hard work, you really are brilliant all of you, all little stars, and tonight you're going to twinkle. Have a wonderful show and don't forget there's a small party afterwards in the foyer, do tell your parents.
Now enjoy and break a leg."

There he'd said it, so if the worst was to happen at least Melanie knew who to blame.

As Miranda took curtsy after curtsy clutching one of her many tremendous floral tributes to her breast like the child she'd never had, Melanie felt a warm glow all over, her whole body tingled. They'd done it, everything had gone off perfectly, the Royal children kept in their royal line and the audience had clapped and oohed and ahhed on their entrance. Little Tish tripped over during the march and Melanie rushed to her aid, just like in rehearsal and the audience adored it.
The songs were all in tune and sounded quite professional really and the ballets were all wonderful.
When it was all over, Melanie hurried to get changed, a party she kept thinking, in the foyer, with grown ups.
Angela and Cindy wore brand new outfits. Angela had a black mini dress with puffed sleeves. the front opened suggestively revealing a dramatic criss crossing of red ribbon setting off her flat chest concealed in under a flesh coloured skivvy.
On her feet she wore the very latest shiny patent leather boots in black, wow thought Melanie, she could pass for fifteen. Even dull little Cindy had a lavender halter neck top and cream satin flares. Melanie wore an old orange floral shift dress over orange cotton flared trousers and an orange brocade ribbon tied around her forehead. - Hiawatha style or as Melanie preferred, 'Haight Ashbury style'. It had been so fashionable last year, but was now looking faded and cheap. She slipped out into the corridor and peered into the ballet girls dressing room. They were laughing and smoking Jenny Lincoln, an attractive brunette with a multitude of brown freckles sprinkled on her face must have been 18 and Inge Fauber, the cliched Aryan beauty was practically 20. Jenny wore an engagement ring on her left hand, a pert little white diamond, crowning a slim gold band. She was always talking about her boyfriend, oh Brett's picking me up in his new car, ohh Brett's borrowed his brothers motor bike today, ooh did I tell you me and Brett are thinking of Fiji for the honeymoon,ooh, ahh. Then sometimes she and Inge would sit furtively in the corner, whispering and giggling and rolling their eyes,.
"Twice a day!" Inge said. "No, really, ergh."
Melanie knew they were talking about sex, that forbidden subject she was meant to know nothing about.
Apart from the biological facts everything else was a mystery. The idea of having a boyfriend was great, my boyfriend, Melanie used to rehearse it, saying it over and over, she chose a friendship ring from the local jewellers, planned where they'd go on dates and what it would be like to bring him home for dinner, she practised kissing on the back of her hand and even sucked her own lovebite on the tip of her right shoulder as close to the neck as she could physically manage - causing Sheree Hales from her class to shout out, "Egh! Look, Baker's got a Hickey, oh no, she's done it herself!"

"Hey, watch out, didn't see you there." said Jenny as she brushed pass Melanie.
"Like a little mouse this one isn't she?" added Inge.
Melanie took a deep breath and plucked up all her courage.
"I'm one of Miss Sanderson's girls, I'm going to be in the ballet in the next show."

"Really?" said Jenny, "How old are you?"

"um..13," shot back Melanie, triumphant in her lie.

"Wow, 13 eh?"
Inge was looking her up and down now, she smiled and winked at Jenny.

"Yeah, " continued Melanie, "I'm at the Hurstville School."
The older girl's eyes glazed over, all human interest left her body in an instant; like the robot in the television series, Lost in Space whenever Dr Smith turned him off.

Jenny Lincoln seemed much kinder.
"What's your name again?"

"Melanie Baker."
"Right Melanie Baker," said Jenny, "Well one day perhaps you'll come to the city school, I sometimes teach on a Saturday morning, See you."
Jenny swung her dance bag over her shoulder and set off down the corridor. She was all of 18 and boy did she know it. Her long wavy brown hair, usually worn up for class or rehearsal was flowing down her back coating her bare shoulders . She hadn't over done it in the clothing department either, not like Miranda in her silly ankle length chiffon dress with bat wing sleeves and fake fur. Jenny made do with a pink tank top over tight hipster blue jeans cloaked by a black velvet zipper jacket and Suede lace up boots. She was so pretty, so grown up, so what Melanie longed to be. Inge was the opposite of Jenny, just as pretty but blonde , eyes icy blue, lumpy carves and plump forearms in stark contrast to Jenny's thin dancer's body. Inge looked like she was always in danger of spreading. Her figure was rounded, perfect really but the type of female who'd only have to eat one slice of buttered toast for her thighs to thicken even before the food had been through her digestive system. Inge was a very ripe peach, peel back one slice of the skin and the juice would squirt everywhere.

Melanie followed then down the stairs to the foyer. There were so many people there, all in their best bib and tucker. Hugging and air kissing, back in the early seventies the birth of this strange western custom was in still in an early gestation period but nonetheless, experimented with at social occasions .
Miranda stood in the centre of a group of very dapper young men, she held even more flowers and stood sipping a flute of sparkling white wine, laughing too loudly and smoking like a Sheffield factory. A small bespeckled man stood not too far away, watching her and trying to finish a newspaper cross word at the same time.

Jazz music competed with enthusiastic chatter and everyone seemed to have a plastic glass in their hands.
"Melanie over here!"

She turned to the voice, there they stood all of them huddled together , the women in the same dull beige coats, Sid in his ever present maroon cardigan.

"Come on quick, let's go, we've got a long way to go to get back."

Just for the next few days that motley collection of public servants, shop girls and secretaries were more than that. They were celebrities, stars, celestial bodies. Applause , curtain calls, the sweet smell of the shiny programmes bearing their names in print, all these things that made them however briefly, different.

Betty Rogers - Lady of the Chorus, not just housewife and mum.
Danny Whiteman - Gentleman of the Chorus, not just security guard and dad.

Five magical performances would transform their lives, then back to reality.

Ronnie the handsome and temperamental young Prince Chululongkorn - back to Ron, apprentice mechanic at his uncles garage.; Dimetris & Sons. Jenny, though a very lovely dancer was already too old to make it professionally, in a proper dance company anyway. She could always wear a tight skimpy outfit, don an oversized headress and hoof in a Working men's club or even audition for Bandstand. Jenny however had other plans for the future, the miniature diamond pyramid on her wedding finger was more important than anything else and her receptionist job at that smart advertising agency more appealing than all that sweaty muscles pulling, toe bleeding , anorexia striving ballet.

Jeanette, the company's Tuptim could go back to her day job as an optician. She loved her job, she was never going to throw it all away for glamour and applause, that just wasn't sensible, but a few performances a year, the opportunity to wear false eyelashes and sing her heart out was all she needed.

Terry, the king for now but come Monday, Mr Burke, Insurance salesman and team leader. Yes as Miranda feared, he was too short to be King but he was contented . Young wife, Judy , pregnant with their third, the pool under construction in the back yard, back to mowing the lawn on the weekends and drinking ice cold beer as the sun set with the neighbours, time to put his big strong baritone voice away, leave it for barking daddy warnings to the youngsters and serenading his exhausted young wife when he feared she may be tiring of him.

Even Brian had to face facts. Next week back at the helm of the passport office . He'd worked there ever since leaving school, somehow he managed to dodge conscription and went about his daily business, comforted in the innate knowledge, that one day he'd be something more than what he was.
At the age of 25, Brian took his savings, kissed his mother good-bye and set off to see the world. He got as far as London.
London, where he studied drama and waited on tables, and met gentlemen who liked his antipodean drawl and promised him more than he could ever afford.
On return, as if he'd never left, Brian slotted right back in to his old job like a library book , borrowed for far longer than the maximum allowed lending time, returned in an amnesty, and reverently placed exactly where it belongs by a bespeckled, spinster and disciple of the Dewey system.

And Miranda, with all her theatrical experience, all her years treading the boards back in Blighty; her anecdotes, her tales of studying acting and singing with a Russian theatrical coach in her tiny one roomed studio off Regents Park. Her grand days of touring England's best repertory companies, understudying the great and good in London's West End. Why did she choose gainful employment at Sydney's prestigious department store David Jones after all that?
The truth was none of them had what it took to be in the business. To go on stage night after night for months,years on end. To be bored by saying the same lines, singing the same songs to the same actors. Worrying where their next penny would come from after the show, what if they couldn't get work? How would they pay their mortgages and bills? What if they became has-beens, nobodies, failure, no they were better off where they were, amateurs or non- professionals as they preferred to be known.

So while the kings, queens and princes of the cast all went back to Brian's for cheese and wine, Melanie stretched out on the backseat of the old Plymouth and fell soundly asleep as Sid guided them back to suburbia. They drove in silence only occasionally Pattie sighing as she watched the trees and houses with pools go by. Tut, tut such a long way to go.

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Comments by other Members

Tim Darwin at 11:42 on 30 December 2003  Report this post
Julie, many thanks for posting this (I thought for a brief moment, from the synopsis, that I had had a chapter in a novel dedicated to me!).

My comments are similar to previous chapters: the greatest strength (and delight) here is the wealth of wry and absolutely spot-on observations about the little follies and foibles of life, from underwired bras to pipe-cleaner 'art' to good risotto (I am a master of risotto milanese, btb). All of that is just splendid, a real treat: this is a writer's voice speaking loud and clear with great gusto and wit.

As before, the sense of narrative does go out of focus in the course of this banquet, and the sense of losing and searching for the story thread seems, to me at least, the main difficulty--but I don't doubt you can solve that without sacrificing your telling observations about character and life which is your strongest suit. Also, the narrative is clearer here than in some previous chapters, I think becasue the device of contrasting the am-dram King & I with the realities of the players' mundane identities works particularly well.

As ever, best with this one, I look forward to the next installment!



Jubbly at 15:45 on 30 December 2003  Report this post
Thanks Tim, I promise if this ever gets published you'll get a dedication.Ch 10 will appear in the next few days.

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