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Rose Lane Ch13

by Jubbly 

Posted: 08 January 2004
Word Count: 3522
Summary: Other chapters are stored in my archive.

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Chapter Thirteen

May 1972 and The Rose Lane Musical Society presents Carousel!
Carousel, a big, happy, epic story of love, life and the whole damn thing.
The scene opens in a small town on the coast of Maine, New England where Julie Jordan a young girl, falls in love with Billy Bigelow, impetuous and handsome young barker for the Carousel in the local amusement park. They run off together and both lose their friends. He becomes desperate, bullies his young wife Julie and rages bitterly until he learns that he is to become a father . To get money to bring up the coming child, he helps with a hold-up arranged by a shiftless sailor friend, Jigger Craigin, which is thwarted, whereupon Billy kills himself to avoid capture.

After fifteen years of Purgatory, Billy stands at the back door of Heaven, escorted by the heavenly friend. Here he meets the starkeeper, who informs him that he will never get into heaven until he redeems his soul.
He is given a chance, he is allowed to return to earth for twenty four hours during which time he must perform one good deed. Billy is given a glimpse of his fifteen year old, unhappy daughter and steals a star to give her. When he arrives on earth, awkward and blundering, he cannot persuade the girl to accept the gift, he is angered by her refusal and slaps her. But she is not hurt. His love transcends his roughness and the slap feels like a kiss. The child is freed of her unhappiness and Julie knows that , in spite of everything she did not make a mistake in marrying the man of her choice.

"Tut, sounds stupid doesn't it? That's not a proper story, not like Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, now that was good, I enjoyed that."
Proclaimed Nanna as she read the programme aloud.
"I don't like musicals," announced Sid, "I can't stand all that, walking around talking then suddenly stopping whatever they're doing and bursting into song, ridiculous, would never happen in real life."

"So this isn't the one about that mulatto woman then, I remember that, she was called Julie wasn't she?" piped up Nanna.

"No, that was Showboat, they did that a few years back, according to the programme." said Jean .

It was that time of year again and once more the sparse family members were summoned to enjoy the next Rose Lane musical.

"She's got quite a bit in it this time apparently," said Jean.
Melanie was older now and dancing in the chorus, she was 13 and had all but lost her flat chested childlike demeanour. When they flounced across the stage, holding their skirts out in front and swirling their frilly hemlines side to side, she was portraying the role of a young , ripe, eligible village girl not a royal child .

'June is busting out all over ' the singers chorused and the ballet girls danced with summer abandonment.
Sid laughed about that number after the show.

"Ha ha, June wasn't the only thing busting out all over, heh heh, some of that lot were busting out themselves, ha ha, good job we weren't down the front we'd have lost an eye."

"Don't be so rude Sid, Pattie say something. " lectured Nanna, perhaps too sensitive when it came to jokes regarding optical accidents, after all she was still old one eyed Bernies widow.

"Anyway I thought that tall ginger headed woman was a bit long in the tooth to play Julie, that actress, what's her name, the pom that was in the King and whatshername"

"I, it's the King and I for heavens sake and her name is Miranda... Miranda Allerton."

Poor Pattie was tiring of having to explain everything over and over to her family. Why couldn't they be more like Vera's brood, just stood politely by the bar, sipping orange juice all crisp and tailored in their Sunday best.

But Nanna had a moot point, Miranda had pleaded with Brian and Maureen to be cast in the role of the young beautiful heroine in this tragic doomed romance.

"Well "said Brian as gently as he dared. "I had planned on you playing Nettie Fowler."

Miranda turned blood red, so there was no real end to her head and beginning of her hair, they were one. A furious crimson red.

"Nettie Fowler! For Gods sake Brian, how old do you think I am?"
Brian shrugged and tried to laugh it off.
"I'm sorry Miranda, I just thought well what with Ronnie playing Billy, it just wouldn't look right."

Miranda seemed to grow in height, she rose like the Medusa of Greek myths, bi annual permed curls replacing the traditional snakes on the she devils head.

"How dare you! My husband donates a generous sum of money to this tin pot musical society on an regular basis. Only this morning he told me he'd secured three more sponsors for us. You need him and I need to play Julie, alright?"

Brian did they only thing he knew to do,

"And so you will, big kiss!"

Which is how Miranda played the oldest Julie Jordan on record. But the crowds loved it and the show was a success. Miranda was a proud woman if not a touch self deluded. She and her husband Geoffrey, emigrated to Australia in the early sixties and settled down to a comfortable life in Cremorne. Geoff had a very good job as a dentist and Miranda ,after first deciding not to start a family took a position at the elite department store, David Jones. Miranda had always been exceptionally fond of shoes and as manageress of the shoe department she was in seventh heaven. (One to Six being the musical society and her voracious sexual appetite.) Her English accent made her appear educated and knowledgeable and therefore quite often superior to her down to earth Aussie customers.

"But of course one wears navy shoes with a navy blazer, it's the done thing." And she would wink and click her tongue on the roof of her mouth, reassuring the buyer of their decision.
They regularly sought her out for advice and eagerly tried on any new imports at her suggestion .

"Just in from Rome, the latest thing? Huge in Italy, Gina Lollabridgida wouldn't be seen in anything else. "
But all this elaborate 24 hour a day performance was a far cry from Maggie Clark eldest of five, born Romford, Essex, 1928 to Edna and Albert Clark. Dad, Albert had worked long hours at the local brewery and always stank of hops. Whenever Maggie had cause to pass by Central Railway station the whiff of the nearby brewery dragged her unwilling, back, back to her early life in Essex.
Damn it! she always thought to herself, must remember never to get out at this bloody station again.
Her mother, Edna was what was known as a 'lady who did,' she did for a local doctor. Cleaning his surgery from top to bottom, making him tea and sandwiches even slice's of home baked cake were brought in and offered as an mid afternoon treat.
Edna the indispensable, they called her both at home and at work. Sometimes young Maggie went with her, made herself useful, sweeping and brushing and emptying bins. The doctor took a shine to Maggie and when she complained of tummy pains he was only to ready to examine her. "There you go dear, lie yourself down and remove your under garments and we'll just take a look, mmmm, I'll just lock the door don't want anyone disturbing us eh."

As soon as Maggie's sisters could they left school and sought unskilled jobs either at the brewery or as shop girls in the bustling town centre, soon they all had suitors, babies and husbands in that order. But Maggie had always been different, flighty her mother called her, a dreamer. Maggie wanted more than what her sisters would blissfully content themselves with. She'd imagined by the time she turned 30 she'd be a household name, a star of stage and screen. Maggie had made a pact with herself to get something better out of life than her parents had managed. She was an attractive enough girl, tall, with long red hair and she certainly stood out at the local Sainsburys where she'd started working at the age of 14 though she could easily have passed for 18. The manager often remarked on her mature looks.
"You're just a school girl luv, but my Gawd you could pass for a woman." Then he'd grin, and click his tongue and wink. The war was on and everything seemed so exciting to young Maggie, from the dogfights over Hornchurch as she and her sisters stood on top of their shelter to watch - to the morning Maggie went out the front door only to witness a Messerschmitt coming up the road at zero feet with guns blazing.
"Oh Goodness," she remarked, "what about my hair?"
For all it's devastation the war brought excitement into their lives. There was Mrs Cook at number 14 for starters. When Mr Cook was reported missing in action Mrs Cook was left alone with two small children to feed and clothe. After several years and no word from her husband, she met Mr Foster and married him. When Mr Foster was called up and the telegram came saying he'd been killed in action she was left a widow for the second time and now she had four small children to look after. Two years later a letter arrived from the Ministry, Arise and applaud Mr Cook is alive and well and due back home next week. Oh my, what a predicament, all those years away, fighting for his country a prisoner of war, looking forward to returning and seeing his wife and two children again. Oh no, what to do. Mrs Foster, as she was now known, called the authorities. Within weeks she'd reverted back to her original married name of Cook and had her two children by Mr Foster taken away and adopted. They were never mentioned again and the neighbours sworn to secrecy. It was a very special time in Britain and quite often produced extraordinary events in the lives of very ordinary people.

When the war ended and Maggie was still just a girl, as a means of making a few bob she started singing in pubs on Friday and Saturday nights. The corner by the dart board her stage, thanks to her height she had no need of boxes or crates in order to be seen. Maggie wore a tight fitting black evening gown with white rabbit fur trim on the neckline. It was pre-war and once belonged to her mother's sister Eunice. But with a few alterations to modernise it, she looked every inch the part of 'Cabaret singer'. Sometimes she even sang for the price of her father's pints.
"Ain't she a good girl, get us another one in here and she'll take requests."

One night when Maggie was warbling 'A Nightingale sang in Berkeley Square' a Mr Poole stood silently at the end of the bar all alone. He applauded and offered to buy her a sweet sherry and within hours the pair were a couple. Mr Poole kept his liaison with young Maggie a secret from Mrs Poole who no doubt would not have been best pleased by the arrangement and set about spending as much time with his young mistress as he could.
Rumours spread and Maggie's mum took her to one side.
"Don't you go getting yourself into trouble Margaret my girl, I'm warning you if you come a cropper don't expect your father and I to bail you out, our child rearing days are long over, thank the Lord, long over."
But Maggie did get herself in trouble, Mr Poole was horrified, he was a respectable businessman and father of three, this could not continue. So he paid for the abortion and told her it was probably best if they ended their relationship. Her parents packed the disgraced Maggie off to live with her father's sister Ivy up in Hackney with the words of warning, if you must sing in public places then for Gawd's sake keep your legs crossed.
She got work in a department store in Clapton High St, and set about launching herself onto the stages of London's West End. She even got as far as a weekly engagement in a hotel in Mayfair where she sang love songs with a big band for middle aged men and their female companions. One of the audience members took a real shine to her, a Mr Campbell, married for 22 years and father of four, a business man with a grand house in Highgate Village. He professed to love Maggie, told her she was beautiful and should be a star, in return for a weekly night of illicit passion he paid the rent on a tiny bedsit in Paddington away from Aunt Ivy's disapproving glare and made sure she had enough money for food, clothes and singing lessons. Miranda took classes with the acclaimed Madame Zorna, a Russian émigré who had rooms in an old house in Primrose hill.

She taught singing and acting, and recited the list of her famous pupils at each lesson, Maggie had never heard of any of them.

That's how she met Geoffrey, he was a neighbour of Madame Zornas, a serious young man who'd just started working as a dentist, he rented a room next to Madame Zorna and one day, after weeks of watching the elegant redhead come and go he spoke to her, inviting her to join him for a brisk walk on Primrose hill and tea and cakes in a nearby cafe. She accepted and within weeks the pair were engaged. Geoff liked her confidence, the way she straightened his collar and patted his hair down when out of place. She allowed him to do things to her that no other woman ever had, in fact most other women didn't really have much time for shy Geoff at all, his only previous sexual experience had been with a couple of tarts but Maggie made him feel like a real man. She was already Miranda by then, having changed her drab and dull, provincial cognomen at the urging of madam Zorna, "Maggie is a terrible name for a star, you must have something more exotic, I once had a Persian cat called Miranda, that should suit you, my cat lived to a ripe old age and once de clawed made a very acceptable companion."

But Miranda's career didn't pan out the way she'd hoped, Madame Zorna died and Miranda found it hard to get any theatre work at all. She viewed Geoffrey Allerton as her way out of mediocrity, so when Geoff was offered a job in sunny Sydney , Australia, Miranda saw the unlimited prospects.
If little else, Miranda had star quality , she loved to entertain in her charming flat in Cremorne, superb quarters with an interior veranda that encircled all the other rooms. Miranda placed cane chairs and tables in the sunniest positions around the enclosed portico, thus making it even more functional than the exquisite living room. The ideal locale to sip morning coffee and peruse the papers, or you could stand and allow the harbour views to wash over you like a domestic real three D Imax cinema. What with guests preferring to socialise around the edges of the apartment, The Allerton veranda was fast becoming a by -word for Australia , people clinging to the edges, rather than inhabiting the centre, inside the great continent itself. She lived there quite happily with her husband Geoffrey and her two beloved cats. Esmeralda the sleek Russian Blue and Gustav, a fat white Persian with too much fur and most of it all over the sofa. When Miranda sat on the lounge to watch the Television or listen to the stereo, her precious felines would clamber all over her, pressing their paws up and down on her lap, marking out their territory, She's mine, she's mine they mewled and Miranda sat back, stroking their coats and sending tingling rushes of love through her long fingers and right into their little cat hearts.

Miranda was a very good cook, her speciality anything European, delicious pasta dishes, Goulashes to die for, authentic Paella all a far cry of her mother's gammon steaks with watery grey mash. The Allertons often entertained and on such occasions Miranda would always take centre stage .

The dining table dressed to perfection, a floral centrepiece of local flora, white linen napkins and the Geoff's family silver made the finished product resemble an effortless work of art.

Demanding the attention and appreciation of her guests at all times, Miranda would always take her place at the head of the table, leaving Geoff to find a seat where he could. Brian usually sat next to her and an assortment of gay men both from the society and David Jones would make up the party. Few women were ever present, the exceptions being Maureen, Miranda's one true female friend and occasionally the odd younger woman, usually from work or her Jazz ballet class. These girls kept very quiet and sat in awe gazing at Miranda as though she was everything they ever wanted to be. Of course Melanie was far too young and gauche ever to attend these extraordinary events but once Inge was invited, Melanie remembered her laughing about it in the dressing room backstage.

"You should have seen what she was wearing, a gold lame caftan with Chinese slippers, looked like she was going to tell your fortune not serve up your dinner."
That was round the time of Carousel when Inge had been granted the honour of her first speaking role playing Miranda's daughter. Casting gone mad, there was absolutely no family resemblance on either side and the age difference meant that Miranda's character had given birth to her love child when she was nearer to thirty than the naive teenage ingenue in the original script and partner in parenting, Ronnie as Inge's father, merely four.
Inge had been taken under the wing for the duration of the production but the care and devotion didn't last long. When Miranda noticed Inge and Brian whispering and cackling together one day her natural paranoia took over and Inge was frozen out.
"That girl really can't act Bri darling, she's not a bad little mover, but a bit beefy round the hips for a serious career in dance, don't you think?"

It didn't matter what Brian thought, when it came to Miranda her unwavering hold over him left him with no real opinions of his own.
Inge left the Rose Lane Musical society soon after, and gave up dancing altogether. After successfully applying to Qantas for a dream job she was granted her wish and her pink satin pointe shoes were hung up in favour of comfortable but stylish court shoes to go with that tight fitting little uniform favoured by all airlines of the period.

Miranda's star burned bright over the next few years, she was glorious as the lead in Mame, everyone said so, and genuinely charming in 'Calamity Jane'.
Over the years many of the staunchest members drifted by the wayside or in some rare cases went on to better things.
For all its self importance the society was a tiny world of its own, a place where Miranda was Queen and Brian King , somedays swapping roles to suit their moods. It's no surprise citizens of this odd little Principality quite often found the need to escape and seek refuge under a more Democratic regime.


The phone rang loudly and unexpectedly in Melanie's house. It disturbed her and for a moment she didn't even know what it was.
"Hello." she said breathless.
"Yes, who is this?"
"Hi, um, Melanie, don't know if you remember me , it's Oscar Keane, we met at my show."

His voice threw her, Oscar Keane? The artist? The Installation artist?

"How did you get this number?"
"Oh sorry, hope you don't mind, I got it off Elise, she said you'd be cool about it."
"Oh right, yes,fine, " Mel's stomach was churning with nerves. "Well how can I help you?"
"You can help me by having dinner with me this Friday night, that vegetarian Indian place on Church St, I want to discuss some ideas with you, how about it?"
Was this a date? Melanie trembled, she was confused and had almost completely forgotten she was still a woman and automatically , when effort was taken, still attractive to the opposite sex.

"This Friday?" she asked.
"Yeah, I'll meet you there, I've booked a table for 8 o'clock, presumptuous I know, see you then."

A date, well, well, and an excuse to go shopping for clothes. What better way to cheer up an estranged fortysomething mother of two . Hurrah!

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Comments by other Members

Anna Reynolds at 19:13 on 08 January 2004  Report this post
Julie, what a tease- but at last Mel gets something all for herself. The passage a few chapters back about the installation was lovely and a bit mad, and I'm glad Oscar has followed up his earlier promise to figure in her life somehow. Also, like how the Miranda background is becoming more fleshed out now, and her iron grip over Brian and the Society is beautifully clear. Please tell me you're not writing these chapters in 4 days or something, just uploading them that way?

Jubbly at 20:52 on 08 January 2004  Report this post
No Anna, I finished the book a few months back and I'm uploading. I'm really pleased it's being read and enjoyed. I don't hold out much hope for publication, everyone seems to say the same thing. Great characters, well written but there's no market for it. Hopefully I can do the commercial thing sucessfully then have another go when I'm famous...Dream on.


oh by the way, the installation is based on a real event by my friend the great perfomance artist Denis Lane, she did the spookiest things with sound in a cemetary and I just had to write about it.

Account Closed at 09:55 on 10 January 2004  Report this post
Great! Not much to say: it was a good read and I loved the Miranda backstory, very believable seeing how she's turned out. A good character (is she real?!) I like the way most of your characters have a GB-Aussie link it's a good linking pin throughout the novel.
I'm definately getting in to this now as a reader!


Oh yes and I love the father's comments about the shows. I couldn't agree more about his opinion on musicals!! No that's not true, in fact, I like them on stage, just not on film... except children's films.

Jubbly at 11:35 on 10 January 2004  Report this post
Thanks again, yes Miranda was very real, though I knew nothing about her personal life. Her name was Marjory and my mother was simply entranced by her. Just had another turn down on it though, so I'm unsure as what to do with it. I will post another chapter in a few days.



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