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His dark secret -Chapter 6, part I

by Bav Dav 

Posted: 22 February 2005
Word Count: 1083
Summary: Been off the writing as I prepare for the baby. Just been looking back over this and would like feeback.

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Content Warning
This piece and/or subsequent comments may contain strong language.

Penny Carter was an Art Director back in 1991. A freelance Art Director at that. She’d graduated from Art College with a scabby 3rd degree in Textiles and subsequently spent years navigating the snakes and ladders of the Movie and TV game-board. She realised early on that she’d never get anywhere while stuck in Scotland’s Armpit, or Dundee as it’s better known. What there was of the Scottish entertainment industry was centred entirely on Glasgow and was occupied entirely by members of a select gang of back-slappers and cock-suckers who protected their media domain viciously and without conscience. If she wanted a career without having to bend over for some fat, obsequious old prick, she would have to try her luck in the Big Smoke.

London was, and still is, the centre of all things media in the UK. All of the major TV and Film production companies as well as, pretty much, the only profitable theatres, were there. Penny knew this and found herself down there pretty quickly after graduating.

Her first job in London was as an assistant set designer for an off-West End production of Bandito!, a ‘hilarious’ romp through the lives of a pair of gay Mexican bandits in the swinging 60’s. Aside from building much of the ‘breathtaking’ desert scenery which featured prominently in Act I, she was most proud of the ‘diverting’ replica Apollo moon lander that featured in Act 2’s best bits. On the back of such ‘stunning’ reviews, it wasn’t long before she found herself working with luminaries such as June Whitfield and Ian McShane in the heart of Britain’s popular TV circuit.

She was a hard worker, working in this industry meant you had to pull long hours and 7 day weeks. That is when you were working at all. Much of her time was spent speaking to contacts and scouring the industry press for jobs. A typical production would last about 6 weeks, but those six weeks were very heavy duty. During that time she would be on set at least 6 days in the week and, more often than not, she’d be working away until midnight finishing off a room or preparing the layouts for some outdoor sequence.

Working that hard for that long took it’s toll on everyone in the business. It was no way to live. It’s not hard to see why many of them needed a little pick-me-up every now and again.

Penny’s introduction to little pick-me-ups came 2 days into the production of More Tea Vicar, a ‘disappointing’ and farcical comedy which ended every episode with the eponymous vicar being offered a cup of tea while he had his trousers around his ankles. It was mid-afternoon and Penny was struggling to keep her eyes open after staying up until 3 a.m. to finish the set of a Tourist Information office for a particularly ‘un-imaginative’ de-trousering scene. One of the production assistants saw her stifling the umpteenth yawn of the day before sidling over to whisper in her ear.

“You look knackered doll,” he said this with a rather sleazy leer which she figured she’d seen a hundred times before. As a girl with big tits she was used to being propositioned, she steadied herself, thinking that this was going to be more of the same, and tried to work out the best line she could use to put him off.

“I am,” yeah, that was a good line. That was bound to stop him in his tracks. Clearly she was more tired than she thought.

“I was just going to go up to the green room to take a line myself, if you fancy it. I’ve a couple of wraps here that are just begging to be ingested.”

“Speed?” She had used speed before. Everyone had used speed before. Yeah it picked you up but it made it pretty hard to work given that it gave you the concentration span of a retarded goldfish.

“No, no. It’s coke. Just the regular stuff, but it’ll keep you awake until tonight’s shoot,” he spoke so casually that she had to check herself. She was going to laugh at him, thinking he was taking the piss, this wasn’t Hollywood after all.

“OK,” she said, almost surprised that she’d said it. Might as well humour him. She needed a break anyway.

Boy, was it good humouring.

The green room was busy. Mid afternoon is a good time for a break. Particularly when you know that everyone else will be having a break too. Penny was just starting to learn this. TV people weren't like Theatre people. Theatre people never took breaks dahling, they just fannied about the whole time and occasionally got on stage to act/do stuff behind the scenes. At least that's how it seemed to Penny. She found herself constantly frustrated as she tried to put in the extra effort. No, TV people were more her sort of people. They worked hard. And as she was about to find out. They played hard too.

The green room was painted a kind of urine yellow colour. Penny remembered being disappointed on her first visit that it wasn't, in fact, green. Dotted around the outside of the room were a number of tatty chairs in varying stages of degradation. Pride of place in the centre of the room was a battered green leather couch. The couch was permanently occupied by a slightly tubby balding guy who chain smoked Camels. This was true of every green room in every studio across the country. The tubby bloke wasn’t always called Derek but in this case he was.

“Awright Deano, got some gak ave ya?” Derek was a born again cockney. One of those annoying cunts who were born in the Home Counties and enjoyed a private education only to reach adulthood and attempt to pass themselves off as some sort of Etonian Barrow-boy.

“Yeah, got it right here. Brought a new friend too,” Deano nodded in Penny’s direction.

Penny winced. These were not the coolest guys to be hanging around with. These were the guys that she used to bully at school. The guys that just didn’t fit in because they just didn’t quite understand the unwritten rules that all the other kids seemed to be living by. The fact that the tables which the rules were laid out on had been turned full circle was not lost on her. She braced herself and got ready to play with those who were beneath her.

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Comments by other Members

Account Closed at 18:41 on 26 February 2005  Report this post
Enjoyed the story line in this and also the MC here. Did think there was too much telling at the beginning though - I think the story starts with the Vicar bit and the conversation that runs after that. I was really into it then!

Looking forward to more, and good luck with the baby!!




Hamburger Yogi & PBW at 07:42 on 27 February 2005  Report this post
The 60s generally gets short shrift at WW (too many pipsqueeks who see it as passe). I read the whole thing and found it interesting and not defective in form.

I was wondering if you were aware of how peeved the narrator sounds and whether that was what you wanted.

Hamburger Yogi

Bav Dav at 10:00 on 28 February 2005  Report this post
Thanks folks. I'm glad to hear that the dialogue didn't make you squirm. I'm not sure whether I've got the tone right.

Hamburger, the narrator is deliberately peeved. Certainly for now that's what how I want to play it. I may revistit this when I'm finished the first draft.


Mojo at 17:45 on 03 March 2005  Report this post
I’ve just read the whole thing from Chapter 1 to the latest posting, so I suppose I’ve got some insight into whether the various chapters/narratives ‘flow’. They do. It does challenge the reader by flipping back and forth in time and, as in the latest chapter, changing the POV and totally removing the central character for a while. There’s nothing wrong with that. Readers aren’t stupid, and anyway it strikes me that despite the humour you aren’t writing an ‘easy’ novel – certainly not chick/dick-lit, or any other recognised ‘genre’. It’s actually quite experimental, something the ‘Prose Fiction’ tutors on my Creative Writing degree course would’ve wet their pants in excitement about. Then again, they did have a very snobby ‘literary’ view of the world which meant that students were forbidden to write anything even vaguely ‘genre’!

My quibble would be with your grammar, particularly the use of full stops and commas. This isn’t just down to presenting your work professionally, it also strongly affects the tone and pace. The most obvious example is the beginning of Chapter 1:

He sits and thinks, and thinks. Thinking is easy, so he thinks some more.

After a fair bit of thinking he stands and walks, after a fair bit of walking, he finds that he's thinking again, he stops.

He hasn't gone very far.

But he's there.

He's here.

It hit him like a fly on a windscreen, not a huge splat, he hadn't been thinking at full speed after all, but certainly an audible splodge, enough to stop him thinking, enough to make him realise.

The short sentences on separate lines work well for pace and tension, but the second line would fit in better if you treated it the same way, and the last paragraph would have more impact with a bit of punctuation tweaking:

He sits and thinks, and thinks. Thinking is easy, so he thinks some more.

After a fair bit of thinking he stands and walks.

After a fair bit of walking, he finds that he's thinking again.

He stops.

He hasn't gone very far.

But he's there.

He's here.

It hit him like a fly on a windscreen. Not a huge splat; he hadn't been thinking at full speed after all, but certainly an audible splodge. Enough to stop him thinking. Enough to make him realise.

Think short and long sentences to create pace and rhythm. Read your work aloud if it helps. Sorry for sounding pedantic, but I really like your style and I do think that ‘sweating the small stuff’ (forgive the cliché) would improve the flow of the text. And this is a really small thing that’s already been mentioned, but you’re still doing it: ‘its’ only EVER has an apostrophe when it’s an abbreviation of ‘it is’.

I’m looking forward to reading the rest.


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