Rose Lane Ch 19
Posted: 06 February 2004
Word Count: 2348
The last musical Brian directed was back in 1976, he fell out with Maureen, you see. Largely over the programming and Brian's personal ambitions. The company had been going for over thirty years and viewed itself as traditional with a bit of fun thrown it, fun being, the odd review and political gag, sometimes the guest appearance of an old retired member, or even someone who'd left to make a career for themselves in the professional industry. But the latter was very rare indeed. The exception being much to everybody's astonishment especially Brian's, Ronnie. The former Prince Chululongkorn was spotted by a struggling agent who'd only come to one of the productions as a favour to Maureen, an old old friend. He was impressed by Ronnie's masculine good looks and more than adequate singing ability so he suggested him for a role in an Adelaide production of Oklahoma. Well before you could say surrey with a fringe on top, Ronnie had a career in show biz.
Within a few years he was becoming a well known name, when he took a sabbatical from the stage and joined the cast of a popular TV soap, becoming a regular for nearly ten years and eventually winning a Logie for his trouble, the press never mentioned the Rose Lane Musical society or Brian or Miranda or any of them, and why should they? Ronnie never mentioned them himself. He had banished all past experiences of the rose lane Musical Society to a dark place he would seldom visit. For Brian had confused him, dare I say broken his heart in some small way. Big, brave, ladies man Ronnie was lost in this new world. Brian had seen to that.
Brian wanted more for the society, he wanted to inject some vitality into the flagging old troupe, make everything more contemporary.
He wanted to do more diverse productions such as Hair, Godspell and even Jesus Christ Superstar, when he jokingly mentioned a possible rendition of the Rocky Horror Show, that really was the last straw, he and Maureen hadn't been getting on for a while now and this was it!
She threw her arms up in dismay, "Either he goes or I do and may I remind you all that I am responsible for all the financial backing."
So that was that, after seven years with the Rose Lane Musical Society Brian Trinder had an itch. His swan song was the old thirties operetta Sweethearts, it was chosen because of it's appeal to Maureen, she was in the original, and Brian was intent on destroying any loving memories she may still harbour.
Everything was changing, old Miss Sanderson had passed away, a podgy, potato of a woman, with grey curls plopped unkindly on top of her head, expiring a great pudding in contrast to the former slender prima ballerina who adorned the walls of the city studio, there was even one in the Hurstville branch. Miss Stella Sanderson in Swan Lake. An enchanting feathered Aphrodite, long china white neck and ballerina black hair pulled tightly over her ears in the typical 'classical' fashion of the day. Melodramatic black eyeliner painstakingly drawn over and under the eyelid in an unnatural version of the eye. Fake feathers pinned to her hair, a better swan you couldn't have wished for but now the Dying Swan was dead. Miss Lorraine was busy in the Hurstville school and Miss Belinda was having a baby.
A new teacher had been drafted in to take over, Dottie Kahn, blonde, buxom, a former chorus girl at the Tivoli, aged 45 and full of fun.
"Right girls, let's get in there, try and have a hoot with this little routine, we might be up in the Swiss Alps but I want you to pretend you're dancing up a storm in Hawaii, OK"
"Um, why?" queried the sceptical Angela.
"Why? Because Hawaii is a hell of a lot more fun than dreary Switzerland, OK, and a one, and a two and a....
Dottie had been to America, she'd even worked there, in a few stock rep companies, dancing her butt off for peanuts, as she was so fond of recalling.
There was only one ballet in Sweethearts, a short, lyrical interlude where the girls had to pretend to be milkmaids and dance about the stage with plastic buckets craftily disguised as wooden pales balanced on poles over their shoulders, gaudy floral skirts teamed with white puffed sleeve blouses and bright coloured aprons completed the am dram dairy look. Melanie gambolled across the stage, a grin fixed to her over made up face but in truth she was bored stiff. The thrill and buzz of the musical nights were losing their appeal, instead of attending all day Saturday classes at Miss Sanderson's school, Melanie preferred sitting alone in the yard just sketching whatever came to mind. She'd stopped taking her ballet exams, they were getting too hard now, only for students who seriously wanted to pursue a career in that arena and cripple their feet with concrete hard pointe shoes, soaked through with puss and blood from dozens of raw and painful blisters. Besides Melanie never really had the right body for dancing, that had been pointed out to her several times and at last she was ready to accept the truth. No more lying in agony on sweat soaked wooden floors, holding the soles of her feet tightly together while simultaneously pressing down her knees trying to maintain the ultimate turn out, nope, the torture was over.
Melanie's drawings were so good, everyone said so, striking figures, sketched in the briefest of lines, Melanie liked working with charcoal, her depiction of the family dog Cassie was framed and took pride of place in the lounge room.
"Oh that's very lifelike Melanie luv, you keep expecting her to leap out of the picture and give you one of her big Tonguey kisses, slurp slurp. " Sid remarked.
Members of the society had come and gone during the three years of Melanie's involvement, old members had left to join other Musical societies where they felt more comfortable , places closer to where they lived, where they didn't feel threatened by Brian's overwhelming, larger than life character who was so easily displeased these days.
If Brian liked you, life was wonderful but if he didn't for whatever reason, you couldn't but help feel you were missing out on something and if he liked you then fell out with you everything was impossible, you really had to leave.
When Brian and Miranda stopped talking you could feel the tension in the air , a foggy mist of spite had fallen on the room .
Miranda as usual had a lead role in Sweethearts but she and Brian were very out of sorts. Something to do with Brian going to Miranda's house for Sunday lunch and drinking rather a lot of sparkling wine. apparently he'd said a few things to her husband that he really shouldn't of.
Tara was only too pleased to recount the evening to the wide eyed Melanie and Angela in the ladies.
"Miranda said he was an absolute bastard." she mimicked Miranda's hoity toity voice and pulled a face, as though someone had painted a moustache under her nose in newly dropped manure.
The girls gasped, wide eyed.
"She threw him out, he said she's a bloody bitch and he only drank so much because her tired old roast chicken was inedible."
"Brian told you this?" asked Melanie, incredulous.
Tara nodded, " Miranda too, I got to hear both sides, regular Roman catholic priest I am, got the pair of them confessing, who cares, I say."
Now it was Angela's turn to look astonished.
"Brian said that about Miranda to you?" sneered Angela.
Tara sighed and lit up another Dunhill coming hot on the heels of her last.
"I don't make things up, sweetheart, or have you got another name?"
Angela was visibly affronted causing Melanie to suppress a giggle and whilst simultaneously catching Tara's eye.
Quick as a flash, Tara winked back at her.
"Oh Melanie, could I possibly have my book back if you've finished with it? Unless of course you want to lend it to one of your friends."
Melanie shook her head.
"No, I mean yes, I'll bring it in next week."
"Useful?" asked Tara, a knowing smile creeping over her frosted lips.
Melanie nodded and washed her hands.
"Good, glad to be of service, cio."
Tara exited the room leaving her perfume lingering behind.
"God that girl is so up herself, what book did she lend you anyway? asked Angela.
"Oh, nothing, just um....you know.....a book about um...." Melanie dithered, her eyes wandering around the room and settling on biro scrawled words above the sink...'Here I sit broken hearted, paid a penny and only farted'
"The History of Graffiti." she blurted.
"What?" asked Angela, screwing up her face until the resemblance between Angela Daley and a rodent was never in question.
"A book about graffiti, it's fascinating, come on we're going to be late."
Miranda and her husband had always had an understanding when it came to Miranda's sexual experiments, as they called them. He understood that he didn't want to know about them or discuss them ever and Miranda understood that this was the case, and no one had ever broken this sacred pledge, until Brian opened his great drunken yap.
"Don't know how you put up with the old trollop, if she was mine I'd slap her senseless."
"Brian, please!" warned Miranda, still trying to turn the whole scenario into a joke. "You're not in the theatre now."
"Oh don't I know that luv, I'm surprised you're not riddled with the clap Geoff mate, I'd go down one of those private clinics and get myself checked out if I was you" he continued.
Things got ugly and Miranda asked Brian to leave but instead of putting on his coat and bidding farewell with good grace Brian had a bit of a tantrum, he smashed one of Miranda's good crystal wine glasses on the kitchen floor then called her a lot of nasty names and muck raked like he'd just won a gold medal in the art.
"What about that Keith, you remember, the tenor from Half a Sixpence? Ooh, broke his heart Geoff."
Miranda pulled her arm back in her most histrionic gesture so far and released her hand like a missile, striking Brian's face hard and leaving a fire red brand on his right cheek.
Geoffrey went to his room and pretended to read a dental journal as he often did when his home life resembled the dramatics that Miranda craved so intensely.
Eventually they both calmed down, and a formed a striking tableau worthy of any of the great Italian masters. Brian clinging to the stoic Miranda and sobbing like a baby into her magnificent, commodious bosoms.
"Have to make a phone call," he said , dragging himself to his unsteady feet. "It's private."
Miranda waited outside her study door with her ear gently pressed against it.
"Meet you at Caps, about an hour, got to get across the bloody bridge."
"Where are you going?"she pleaded when he finally came out.
"I'm meeting someone."
"No, please don't go I'm sorry."
"Get off," he whined. "It's okay, I'm sorry too, see you next week."
But Miranda didn't believe he was sorry, she watched him swagger up the street from her bathroom window, he was such a good looking man she thought, they'd been so close once but now there were others, others younger than she who made him howl with vicious laughter, others who would sit at his feet, waiting for crumbs, the parley at the party about the very latest shows from London , others to listen to recordings of Broadway shows with. One in particular whom Miranda did not care for, Philip, a handsome young man, tall, blonde, not much of a singer but since his very first day two productions ago, he'd certainly made an impression with everyone. Oddly he never really took to Miranda, she wasn't used to that, gay men loved her as did married men, they all adored her charms, but Philip was off hand, almost rude to her. He saw her the way she sometimes saw herself, on those bad days, when she couldn't get up in the morning, when she awoke in the middle of the night and panic set in, he saw her as an ageing matron, not really that talented or special at all. But Brian adored him and he felt the same, it didn't take Brian long to seduce Philip, apparently he'd had a girlfriend when he first arrived, he'd met her at the Christian fellowship they both attended on a weekly basis, both sets of parents had been talking marriage plans since they were teenagers, but deep down Philip thought it would never really stand a hope in hell.
He loved his Judith, and they kissed each other on the lips every once in a while and only with the blessing of the lord but the thought of anything else the two of the might get up to, made Philip squirm with disgust and aversion. He told her he needed time to get to know himself, she said she understood and he should spend his time communing with Jesus their lord, asking the right questions and therefore yielding all the right answers. Both sets of parents were understanding, let God decide what's best, he'll let you know when the time is right and he did. Just minutes after Brian had taken him back to his little childhood room in the house in Randwick and lay beside him in the narrow bed, when Brain had pleasured every part of his body. Jesus spoke to him quite clearly,
Philip he said, you must follow the way of the penis, do not look back, a ladies downstairs is not for you, don't go there. And Philip swore to his God that he never would.
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