Monthly Archives: October 2022

Kate vs Showbiz – Chapter 39

In the ladies, Tracey stared into the mirror. Tears ran down her face. The make-up that had survived the rain now ran in streaks down her cheeks. She slapped the tiled walls and cried with frustration and anger. How dare Kate have a go at her? She’d always talked about taking risks and thinking outside the box, but now she was getting all prissy about the show. All that work and now her boss was going to kill it all because she was worried about what a few stuck-up people thought.

The door opened and Sandy from accounts started to come in. Looking at Tracey, she quickly decided her bladder could hold on for a few more minutes and swiftly exited again.

Tracey sat on the floor. The cold of the tiles helped soothe her mind and gradually she got herself together. Some dabs of toilet paper along with the handwash restored her make-up so she didn’t look like an understudy for the rock band Kiss. A couple of minutes with the hand drier made her hair a bit drier, even at the cost of extra frizz.

Looking at her reflection again, she took some deep breaths and headed out of the door.

The office was quiet as Tracey walked through, heading back to Kate. Sandy had obviously filled them in and several people looked and then turned away hoping she hadn’t seen them staring. She hadn’t. The only thing she could see was Kate’s door. She marched in without knocking and pushed it shut behind her.

Kate and Gareth looked at her. From their expression, she guessed Gareth had been playing peacemaker, but Kate still looked angry.

Oh, you’re back are you? I thought you’d.”

Tracey cut her off. “Yes I am.”


Well, we are going ahead with this.”

Kate crossed her arms. “Oh no you’re not. We do NOT organise porn shows here.”

Tracey drew herself up to her full height and looked Kate straight in the eye. “It’s not a porn show. It’s a good night out for a load of women. Women who are up for a good laugh. Women who like a night out with their mates. If you knew anything about women, you’d recognise a good idea when it came along.”

Kate looked shocked, “What do you mean, ‘if I knew anything about women’?”

I mean normal women. Women who have mates and blokes and like to have a laugh. Come on Kate, you’re not as prim and proper as you like to make out. Surely even you like a bit of eye-candy. Well, even if you don’t, lots of other people do and you know what? They are happy to splash the cash for it, and that’s what this theatre needs. Councillor Dhaliwal says we just have to run one good, big, profitable show, and the place will be saved.”

You mean fill the place with slappers.”

They aren’t slappers. They are normal women who want a good night out. There’s nothing wrong with that. I’ve done the legwork. I know how much we could make and if I’m right…”

If you are right”, Kate interrupted, “because you are the great financial genius. I’ve heard you moaning you can’t balance your credit card some months. What makes you so sure you can make the numbers add up this time?”

Tracey stood her ground. Gareth looked distinctly uncomfortable, but looking at his colleagues, he decided to try and calm things down. “Look. Ladies. Kate. I know Tracey has done a lot of work on this. I’m sure she can show you what she’s come up with properly. Maybe I didn’t explain it quite right.”

Kate said “Oh, I’m looking forward to a full explanation. I’m sure Tracey has loads to show us. Let’s just hope it amounts to more than just a collection of oily blokes’ torsos.”

Tracey smirked. “Oh yes. I’ve got plenty of those, but Ash, I mean Councillor Dhaliwal has given me the numbers to back all this up. We’re working on a plan to win the culture committee over when they meet next.”

So you’re off to a council meeting to try and persuade them are you? Well, perhaps I better come along too. Someone better be ready to sort out the mess.”

Tracey gulped. “You want to come to the meeting too?”

Well, it is MY business you are dragging into all this.”

Gareth coughed.

Tracey looked defiant. “Fine. I’ll put it in your diary and you can join us on the night. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.“.

With this, she turned on her heels and marched back to her desk, hoping she looked more confident than she felt.

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Kate vs Showbiz – Chapter 38

Tracey. My office. Now!” barked Kate as Tracey walked in. She quickly tossed the Whistles bag under her desk and headed toward the open door. Kate had a face like thunder and she wondered what the problem was. Surely a little shopping excursion wasn’t that bad?

Kate firmly shut the door and Tracey looked around. Gareth sat in the corner looking like a naughty schoolboy.

Sorry Kate, what’s up?” she asked.

I think you can guess young lady.” Kate snarled, “Gareth has been filling me in on your activities at the theatre. I must say, even for you I’m shocked. What the hell are you up to?”

Tracey was thrown off balance for a moment. “You mean the panto? You know I was helping out there. And I got out of it as quickly as I could.”

Not the panto. We all knew about that and while I wasn’t happy, I let you go along with it for the good of the job. No. I mean this show you are organising”. She spat the last words out.

Tracy looked at Gareth. He spluttered, “Kate. I think you are being a bit harsh. I mean Tracey has been doing her research…”

Kate interrupted him. “I’m sure she has. In fact, I know she has. I asked Kelvin to pull her internet search history for the last couple of weeks. When she hasn’t been checking out the latest fashion, she’s been doing a lot of ‘research’ into male strippers.”

Tracey protested, “It’s not like that. We need to bring in something big if we are going to save this theatre.”

Something big like ginormous George perhaps? I see you’ve been researching his website quite diligently. Do you actually do any work?”

That was work. We have a plan to save this place. OK, it’s not conventional, but plenty of people think it’s a good idea.”

Kate looked surprised. “Who thinks it’s a good idea? Gareth says the woman who runs the ticket desk. I’ve obviously missed her on Dragons Den.”

Not just Doris, and she knows a lot about theatre, but I’ve been meeting one of the Councillors too. Councillor Dhaliwal is a bit of a financial genius apparently and he thinks it’s a great idea.”

You mean you’ve been trotting this idea around other people? I thought it was just something you two had been cooking up behind my back. Now I find out half the bloody town knows. Have you any idea what this will look like for our business? We are supposed to be professional. We take on big government contracts. We do serious work. Now you want us to be known for pimping out greasy men.”

This was too much for Tracey. Her clothes were still damp and uncomfortable. Her hair was soggy. Even on a good day, she would be unhappy and this wasn’t a good day.

For a moment she stared at her boss, then turned and ran out of the room.

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Kate vs Showbiz – Chapter 37

Ash was waiting as Tracey burst in through the coffee shop door. She hadn’t dressed for rain, so found herself trying to tame her hair as she spotted him sitting in a corner, a model of efficiency typing on his laptop. He looked up and smiled at the bedraggled figure heading his way.

Is it still raining out there?” he asked with a smile.

Tracey grimaced, “Yeah. It started just after I left the office. Now I’m bloody soaked.”

Ash swiftly moved the computer to avoid the drips. “That’s a shame. No wonder you look a little, erm, unprepared. But I thought it’s been raining for half an hour, and your office is just around the corner.”

I had a little errand to do before I came here.”

Would that little errand be in the Whistles bag?”

Tracey looked at the bag. Too small to act as an umbrella, she hoped the contents were OK. Even at the sale price, they hadn’t been cheap. “Oh, I was just passing, you know how it is.”

Hmmm. It sounds like you need a good accountant young lady. Someone to keep an eye on your finances. We don’t want those evil fashion retailers bankrupting you do we?”

For a moment she wondered if he was hitting on her. Then the wedding ring glinted in the lights and she saw he was chuckling. “You can’t talk. That’s an Ozwald Boateng suit isn’t it? You’re no stranger to a designer outlet yourself Councillor Dhaliwal.”

Nothing wrong with that. Us accountants don’t all wear beige you know. Some of us try to bring a bit of style to our profession.” Tracey nodded her approval. “And I also have a bit of a secret” he continued, leaning forward, “My wife is a personal shopper. She knows what suits me and can usually get a bargain.”

The wife. Now she knew he wasn’t hitting on her. “Oh,” she said, “That sounds like a bit of a dream job – getting paid for shopping.”

Sometimes it is, but she’s also a bit prone to ‘just passing’ a clothes rack. Our wardrobes are testament to that.”

But a girl likes to look good.”

That’s what she tells me. I say you always look good to me, but apparently that isn’t the right answer.”

Tracey squeezed her sleeve out on the floor. “Too right. You men never learn do you? Anyway, do you think they could turn the heating up in here a bit? I need to dry out.”

Ash stood up ad offered to get her a coffee. While he was away, Tracey did her best to restore her normal glamour. Checking her face, she was pleased to see her make-up hadn’t run and her hair could be pulled back so at least it wasn’t stuck to her face. By the time her companion returned, she was feeling almost human.

Placing the cappuccino in front of her, Ash asked, “So. Why are we meeting here? It can’t just be because you wanted an illicit shopping trip, or the chance to enjoy a cold shower.”

Tracy paused and considered her answer for a moment. In the end, she decided to be honest. “It’s my boss. We have an idea for a show to bring in the crowds, but I know she’s not going to approve. I want the plan nailed down before she finds out.”

Bit of a dragon is she?”

A bit. She doesn’t think I’m much use sometimes and I want to prove her wrong this time.”

Ash stirred his coffee. “Sounds fair to me. I’ve been there myself, you want to pull off a big success. What about Gareth? Are you worried he’s going to grab the credit too?”

No chance. She thinks he’s even more useless than me. Besides, when she finds out about the plan, she will know who dreamed it up.”

Ash pulled a pen from his pocket and opened a notepad. “Ah yes, your plan. Go on then, what are you up to?”

Tracey outlined her idea for a male stripper show. She explained the ticket prices, the hoped for bar income and then described a couple of shows she’d been to, making a particular point of explaining how busy they were. By the end of her slightly lurid description, Ash looked a bit stunned.

I’m not quite sure what to say?”

Tracey tried to read his face. “You don’t approve?”

He laughed. “It’s not my sort of show. I’ll not be buying a ticket you understand, but I know how well these sort of things sell. As you say, we could have a bonanza on the bar, as well as shifting a load of tickets. I’m not sure what the rest of the councillors will say though.”

That’s what I’m worried about. Doris had to bully Freddie into it and now I have to go and present something to them next week.”

Hmm. Doris is a force of nature when she wants to be. If you have her on your side, Freddie won’t dare to complain. The fuddy-duddy councillors might be a different challenge though.”

That’s what I thought. I was hoping you might have some ideas. You know them better than me.”

Ash stared into the bottom of his coffee cup. “You know, I think I need a refill while I think about this. Your shout” he said, sliding the cup towards Tracey.

Queuing for drinks, she wondered if she’d gone too far. Coming up with the idea in London had been fine. A few drinks and the atmosphere of the club with Silvio were one thing. Even back at work she’d done her research and thought it was a good plan. The meeting with Freddie had been tougher, but Doris rallying behind her helped a lot. Now faced with someone she had to convince, her confidence wobbled.

Sitting down at the table, Ash still seemed deep in thought. “Well,” she asked nervously, “Any ideas?”

He sipped his drink. “Maybe. It’s not going to be easy, but maybe if we can get them into the showbiz spirit, we can get them to take a punt on it.”

Really?” she beamed. Maybe there was a chance.

Yes. I mean the culture committee is pretty dry most of the time. They might as well be talking about parking regulations or dealing with dog-mess. Perhaps the time is right for them to smell the greasepaint and listen to the crowd.”

Perhaps I should arrange a video of one of the shows?”

He shook his head. “No. I don’t think that will help at all. In fact, I’d be inclined not to make a bit thing of the stripping part. Mention dancing, it’s a bit less scary.”

But the stripping is what brings the crowds in.”

True. But there’s no need to shove it in their faces. Let’s see if we can warm them up first. I know a few people.”

Tracey looked surprised. “Strippers?” she squealed.

No.”, Ash said firmly, “But there is more to showbiz than taking your clothes off.”

Tracey looked curious.

He continued. “Leave it with me for a couple of days.” turning the laptop around, “Now, while you’ve been cavorting, I’ve been working the numbers and I think you’ll like what I’ve found…”

Tracey looked at the spreadsheet but it was difficult to concentrate. What did he mean?

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Kate vs Showbiz – Chapter 36

Gareth looked a little ashamed. Tracey had assured him she had a plan, and he’d been a little preoccupied to go through it with her. She had seemed so confident at the time. Now he was sat in Freddie’s office, while a projection of what his colleague had described as a “cracking bit of hot totty” stared back at him from the wall.

Maybe turning the projector off might make things better. Reaching over to the box, he discovered that it was red hot. “Owww” he cried as his fingers found the heat outlet. Snapping his hand back, he knocked the projector and spun it around. Suddenly, the hunk’s chest was beamed onto Freddie.

“What are you doing?” the manager cried, “Point that thing somewhere else!” He flailed vainly as he tried to wipe the image from his front.

Doris looked at him and chuckled. “You’re looking a bit hunky Freddie. Perhaps we should get you up on stage.

“Don’t you start Doris” replied Freddie, still trying to dodge the projection.

Tracey leaned in and pressed the off button. Mr November disappeared and Freddie’s grubby shirt returned. “Thank you”, he said and slumped back in his seat.

“You know”, Doris said calmly, “Young Tracey has a point.” Tracey looked at her in surprise. “I mean it’s not what we normally do, but then that’s the idea isn’t it?”

Freddie regained his rabbit in the headlights look. “Are you mad? Of course it’s not what we do.”

“And that’s the problem isn’t it. We’ve done what we normally do, and look where it’s got us.”

“Got us?”

“Yes. It’s got this place to the brink of bankruptcy. We’ve an audience who drift in if the weather is wet or there’s nothing on the telly. Yes, we do things to help people out, but what do we get from them? Complaints about the state of the seats or that they can buy cola from Tesco for a fraction of the price they get it from us.”

“But they are our customers.”

“Yes they are and a right pain in the arse a lot of them are too.”

Freddie was shocked. Doris liked a gentle moan but now she was sounding serious. “We can’t call them a pain in the arse. OK, they might be a bit old and perhaps stuck in their ways…”

Doris launched in, “Old. Too right. And don’t we know it. You know our bargain day when we let everyone into the cinema for the concession price? I had a lecture the other day from some miserable git angry that we didn’t let them in even cheaper! Apparently, if you’ve lived a long life, you deserve everything for free and we should be grateful to give it to you.”

“Well, we can’t keep all the people happy all the time.”

“Oh stop talking in proverbs. I know we can’t, but more and more of them just seem to come in to complain about everything. You don’t see it hiding up here in your office.”

Freddie spluttered, “I’m not…”

“Yes you are.” Doris was hitting her stride. Gareth and Tracey looked at each other. “Look Freddie, I know you have a lot to do, but all we get some nights are moans. It’s not our fault, we do our best but I don’t think it would matter what we do. They could have bloody gold-plated seats with velvet cushions and they would complain they didn’t like the colour.”

“But, the customer is always right.” Freddie stuttered, realising he was back to the proverbs.

“No, they aren’t. Sometimes they are a right pain and me and my team would love to chuck them out of the door.”

Gareth laughed nervously, “That wouldn’t do the finances much good.”

Doris shot him an angry look. “A dozen cheap seats in the middle of the day? Plus two or three cups of tea? That’s not going to help us much is it?”

Freddie was annoyed, “So what should we do? Get the oily gigolos in?”

“Yes” Doris exclaimed. “Look Freddie, we need a new audience. Younger people who enjoy a night out. We need a crowd who pay proper money for tickets and drink our bar dry. I might not appreciate young Tracey’s dress sense, but she’s come up with a new idea.”

Tracey looked down at her clothes. She’s picked her soberest suit, a deep maroon number from Office.

Doris continued, “Look, this isn’t what we’ve done before, but I don’t see we have any choice. This stuff brings the crowds in. My granddaughter was telling me about one she and her mates went to see. It was £40 a ticket! That’s half a dozen of them at £40 a ticket – think what money we could make if we filled the place. Half a dozen young women, a hundred years younger than most of the people we get in the door. And they had a good time. A bloody good time.”

“But what about the councillors?” Freddie protested.

“What about them? They want to close us down. Most of them only come in to be seen at something cultural. They don’t buy tickets, we have to give them free drinks, and then they doze off in the second half. That’s if they can be bothered to stay past the interval. Sod’em. If we are going to go down, let’s go down fighting.

Tracey, Gareth and Freddie all looked Doris. She stared back at them breathing deeply, as though she’d been in a fight. Which in a way she had been.

Gareth turned to Freddie, “I think Doris might have a point old man. You did ask us to come up with ideas to shake the place up a bit. I’m not saying I’m a fan of this thing Tracey has come up with. Not my cup of tea at all really, but you have to admit it is different.”

“And these things are popular”, added Tracey, “As I said, I know loads of people, people like Doris’s granddaughter, who love a night out like this.” Doris winked at Tracey. “Come on, let’s give it a try. Put up a bit of a fight.”

Freddie stared at the pile of paper on his desk for a few moments. He didn’t know what to think. Finally, he sat up and looked at Tracey. “OK then Tracey. Do you really think you can pull this off?”

Tracey smiled, “It’s not a problem Freddie. I can make this work.”

“Well then, I better work out how I am going to explain this to Councillor Osbourne.”

“I might have an idea on how to do that, why don’t you leave it up to me.” Tracey winked at Doris.

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