Author Archives: Candice Nolan

Kate vs Showbiz – Chapter 19

As the car screeched to a halt, Sparks released his grip on the door handle. Slowly the colour returned to his fingers and he remembered to breath again.

“What’s up?”, enquired Tracy, “You look very pale.”

He gasped, “Where did you learn to drive?”

“Drive? Same as most people I suppose. My dad paid for lessons from a little bloke down the road. Why?”

“Was he a stuntman? How the heck did you pass a driving test?”

She laughed. “Friday afternoon, short skirt, low cut blouse and no bra. Funnily enough, the instructor said that’s all I’d need.”

“He didn’t mention car control?”. Sparks gently levered himself out of the passenger door.

Tracey realised the point he was trying to make. “Look, you said we needed to be at the radio station early. OK, I might have left a bit late, but we’re here now aren’t we.”

Sparks had to agree. They had certainly arrived. The Radio Birmingham sign glowed from its position over the door. It seemed to be moving, but since everything else was, he decided that all would be well when his stomach caught up with them. The last time he was sure it had been with them was just before the canal bridge, which was just after the close call with the dustcart and short session on the wrong side of the road… The memory made his knees feel weak so he tried to concentrate on making it through the door. Tracey bounded on ahead.

Two strong cups of coffee later, they were sat outside the studio chatting to a harassed producer called Ben. Looking through the window, they could see presenter Bob Footman waving a small cloth bag around.

Tracey looked confused. “What’s he doing?”. Bob’s mid-morning show might have been the most popular local radio programme in the West Midlands, but she couldn’t actually remember ever hearing it.

Ben sighed. One day he hoped to find a guest who cared about the show and wasn’t just plugging something. “It’s the guess the ackers spot. Bob pretends he’s jingling the change in his pocket and the listeners ring in to guess how much is in there.”

“Ackers? What’s that?”

“It’s Black Country slang for money.”

“And the callers win something?”

“Yeah. The contents of Bob’s pocket.” Tracey wasn’t really any wiser, but Ben continued, “Look, we’ll shuffle you in during the next record and get your headphones on. After that you take part in the show. Don’t worry, Bob will ask you about the panto but he’s got a couple of other phone-in guests as well so you’ll need to sit it out a bit. Your guy who booked this said you’d be happy to play along for a bit.”

Sparks looked up. “Play along? I thought we were just here for a quick plug, I mean interview.”

Ben sighed again. “Don’t worry, you’ll get plenty of airtime. We’d got Suzi Perry lined up for a chat but no-one can get her to answer her phone now so you get her airtime. There are a couple of footballers lined up though and I suspect Bob will go a bit nuts for them but he’ll do you first.”

It was Tracey’s turn to perk up. “Footballers? Anyone we might have heard of?”

“Just remember to say ‘Up the Baggies’ and you’ll be fine love.”

****

In the studio, Tracey fussed with her headphones as the music finished. The station hadn’t considered the needs of anyone who’s hair had volume when they bought them. The presenter didn’t have a problem and nor did Sparks with his close cropped style.

A red light came on over the desk.

“That was The Steve Millar band and Abra Abra cadabra, which I’m playing in honour of our next guests. All the way from the panto at the Leighton Oxley theatre this year, we have Tracey Dunn-Jones and top magician Sparks!” Canned applause filled the studio for a few seconds then the presenter continued, “According to my researchers, young Tracey is the latest hot thing to hit the stage playing Mor, mor” he stumbled.

“Morgiana” interrupted Tracey.

“That’s it, Morgana”, continued Bob getting it wrong, “And to play the genie, we’ve got a real life magician. Should I get you to rub my magic lamp? Perhaps you could get the Baggies into the premiership?”

Sparks grimaced. He hated doing publicity like this, but knew it came with the territory and any chance to appear in the media might pay off. “I’m a magician Bob, not a miracle worker. Cutting a woman in half, making an elephant disappear, that I can do. Getting West Brom into the top division, that’s going to take more than three wishes!”

Bob pulled a face. “Oh. Are you a Villa supported then cheeky? Sounds like someone is a few cards short of a deck eh listeners?”

In front of Bob, a small light lit up. He pushed a button and bellowed into the microphone, “Line three, who are you and what do you think I should do with our Villa fan?”

“A Villa fan?” cracked the caller, “You need to tell ‘im to get a proper team. Up the Baggies!”

“I’m not a Villa fan”, Sparks tried to protest but Bob just waved a hand for him to shut up.

“Oy reckon he’s a bit embarrassed and so he should be. Anyway, who’s on the line and how much have I got in my pocket.” He jingled the bag.

“Dead right Bob. I’m Tony and oy work in a foundry. Got the day off because me backs playing up so I thought I’d ring in to you.”

“Good to hear from you Tony. Now how much have I got in my pocket?”

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Kate vs Showbiz – Chapter 18

The producer looked Tracey up and down. She couldn’t read his face. Normally when men looked at her, their eyes widened slightly. If they were a few shots down in a club, it wasn’t just their face that gave them away. Even though she was more casually dressed in jeans, they were skin-tight, as was her top so she’d expect some reaction. In the back of her mind, her gaydar sounded an alert.

“Well Tracey, love.” he drawled, “How have you been getting on with learning the lines.”

Very badly. Never one for homework, she’d tried to read through the wad of paper but nothing seemed to stick.

“Well, it’s all a bit new to me. I’ve tried my best”. She tried to sound confident but the reality was starting to bite. Chatting to her friends on Facebook and boasting about taking over a lead role on stage had been great, but now it was put up or shut up time. The theatre world didn’t seem so glamorous at nine in the morning in a hired village hall. At least it was slightly less daunting rehearsing in a hall than in the theatre.

It didn’t help that the producer wasn’t happy with her being cast. She’d overheard him chatting on the phone as she came in and caught the words ‘amateur’ and ‘Bloody am-dram’ before he’d spotted her.

“Look, let’s start slowly. You read from the script and I’ll play all the other parts for the moment.”

“Aren’t the other actors here?”

He smiled. “I thought it would be better if we started without them. They’ve been rehearsing this for weeks. You’ve got a lot of catching up to do.”

Tracey’s heart sank. “OK. I’ll do my best.”

“I’m sure you will.” He looked down his nose at her.

Tracey gulped. “But, I think I need to nip to the loo first.”

*

An hour later things didn’t look quite so bleak. They had covered the opening scene three times and it was starting to make sense. At first, she’d struggled over the words but each time it made a bit more sense.

“I am Morgina, a poor slave girl. How can I serve you honoured Mr Baba?”

“Very good. I want you to keep an eye on my brother and see where he goes each night.” bellowed the producer in a terrible accent.

“You wish me to spy on your brother, Master?”

“Yes my dear. He is up to something and I want to know.”

“Morgaina exists stage left.”, she blushed, “Sorry, I’m not supposed to read that bit am I.”

The producer groaned. “No, Tracey you aren’t.”

“Sorry.”

“Don’t worry dear. Let’s move on to another scene. I’m getting bored of obsequious Morgina anyway.”

“Yeah, she’s a bit of a wimp at the moment.”

He laughed. “Considering what she ends up doing later on, it’s quite a change. Just remember not to rub my lamp.”

For a moment she paused. Had her gaydar been off? Then the plot came back to her.

“Yeah. OK, no polishing your shiny bits!”

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Kate vs Showbiz – Chapter 16

“Ping” sang the computer. Kate looked at the alert on her screen.

“Midlands Empowerment Forum”, the message read, “19:00 Cranmill Hotel”

Her hand hovered over the cancel button for a few moments. The Midlands Empowerment Forum was one of the networking groups for women that she had always avoided. Why women couldn’t network with men was a mystery and she suspected that it would be a mothers meeting full of small business types who ran their own little play firms to fill empty days while the kids were at school and hubby played golf or did a proper job.

Kate was firmly of the opinion that women could beat men at their own game. Business was serious and not just something you did to avoid watching daytime telly.

She and Gareth had had a few verbal jousts over the last few weeks over the KOD coffers.  Kate was well aware that the next big contract wasn’t exactly knocking down their door.  With Gareth doing pro-bono work for the theatre and Dave trying to suckle on the American teat at the moment the wave they had ridden over the last few months was looking more like a trickle.  This was the point where Gareth normally jumped in, went and had dinner with some old school buddies and ‘wham’ in came the next contract.  But he was so busy with his head up some pantomime cow he wasn’t concentrating on the cash, or rather lack of cash, on the books.  She’d tried a few times to get him interested but it was like trying to talk with someone on drugs.  Every time she mentioned money he starting going on about what a good job Tracey was doing at the Theatre, or how they’d done this with so and so councillor.  She just wanted to shake him.

Dave, on the other hand, was being quite cagey with what he was up to.  Joining the weekly briefings but mentioning a few things he had in the pipeline, but not really expanding.  He had at least grasped that they needed some money to operate and had pulled in a few pieces of consultancy work to help with cashflow, but they were only sticking plasters.  If they didn’t get some big work soon she’d have to start looking at redundancies, and that wasn’t a job she relished.  Having been through that mill a few times herself she knew it wasn’t fun from either side.

One thing Gareth had mentioned was these local networking groups.  Kate wasn’t sure if there was anyone there who would have anything for KOD, yummy mummies didn’t normally need business consultancy or change management.  But their husband’s might… and this could be her routine in to talking to the partner who worked in big business. She’d decided to brazen it out, deal with the mummy chat and play nicely; on the off chance she might find a route in to some business.  And who knows what else she might find there, sometimes there were mentions of jewellery and clothing being sold too.

She shut down the computer. There was time to stroll to the venue and the evening sunshine looked pleasant enough. Checking her appearance, she’d chosen a Hobbs suit. Not too high end, certainly not Armani, but sharp enough to mark her out as a player and not just a bit-part. The invite said there would be food, and she hoped a little wine. Something to soften the dullness she expected from the conversation.

The Cranmill was an old fashioned hotel that had been bought by an anonymous chain and given a thorough and sympathetic update. The facade looked largely as it always had, they didn’t want to mess with the Georgian architecture or face the wrath of the local planners who were particularly protective one of the few remaining historic parts of town. The sign outside was discreet, but then they aimed for a clientele who arrived by taxi, chauffeur or at least satnav in a quality company car. Tourists and sales reps could stay in the rather more gaudy chain down the road.

Inside, everything was tasteful and painted magnolia. Fresh flowers added colour along with a few modern art paintings that looked like swooshes of paint and meant absolutely nothing. The smartly attired receptionist directed Kate to the Monkspath suite where the meeting was being held.

Arriving at the door, the first impression was of a confused huddle of middle-aged women. They seemed to be surrounding plan on an easel by the double doors into the room. Most seemed to be wearing slightly dated suits that were straining at the waist as thought the owners had bought them some time, and many slap-up meal, ago. One or two women wafted around in floaty Laura Ashley smocks, Kate took an immediate dislike to them. Free spirits usually talked in mumbo-jumbo inspirational phrases and did nothing that made any sense to a normal person.

“Do you know where you are sitting?” asked one of the ladies scanning the board. Kate realised that she was looking at a wedding style seating plan with everyone carefully allocated space at one of the tables. She squinted at the tiny text searching for her name.

“Hmmm. This is my first time”, she replied, “Do we have to sit where we are told?”

“Oh yes. It’s all part of the fun. You never know who you’ll be sat next too. I was chatting to a lady who runs a new age health retreat in a pig farm last month!”

Kate groaned inwardly. This was going to be as bad as she feared. Gently easing her way to the plan, she found her name and headed for the room.

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Kate vs Showbiz – Chapter 14

Dave relaxed with a beer and took in the view.  He’d decided to rent an apartment for his time back in America.  He couldn’t stay with Alicia, that would be too strange after all this time, and he didn’t want to stay in a hotel as there’d be no room for Junior to crash over.

The apartment was over the road from the Pentagon.  Sitting in the lounge area he had a great view of the Capitol building, lit against the night sky, and could look down at a highway snaking its way across a bridge towards the main centre.  It was a short stop on the metro into town but close to open space in case he wanted to take his son out to play.

Ah, Jnr.  Having a son made things so much better but so much worse in his current situation.  He still couldn’t believe how being a father made him feel. He’d fallen in love with this crying bundle when it had arrived seven years ago.  Jnr was a lot different now, still fun but had an answer for things and didn’t always want to do what his Dad wanted.  He missed the days when the two of them had been able to go out and throw a ball around and Jnr enjoyed every moment with his Dad.  Now he had to fight to prise him away from his iPad.  He’d also been surprised how the boy had changed.  He had grown into a strapping young lad already, tall and muscled with blonde hair and blue eyes.  He wouldn’t change it for the world though and wondered, with his separation from Alicia becoming permanent, how they would make the distance work.  He didn’t want to become the absent father, resented by his son, though he knew it couldn’t be perfect unless one or the other of them decided to stay in the same country. 

Taking another slug of his beer he thought about his other quandary.  Kate, beautiful, confusing Kate. He’d fallen for her as soon as she’d arrived, late, to his second-year lecture. She’d slammed through the door of the theatre, stomped down the stairs and fallen in to an end pew.  Even the lecturer had paused, about to give her a mouth full, but her stunning smile had put him right off.  The flash of leg had probably helped too.

All he had seen was dark hair, a slash of red lipstick, tight skirt and heels. But she had captured his attention, particularly when she then started firing questions at the lecturer. By the end of the lesson, he was hooked and wanted to know more.

She marched out the same way she came in, like she owned the room.  He was impressed by her ability to get up the many steps in heels, when most students wore doc martins.  Turning to his friend he whispered, “Who’s the stunner?” “Dunno, mate.” Came the response.

After doing some fishing he found out she’d changed her major after the first year, moving from English to Politics so hadn’t been in any of his first-year classes.

Three weeks later and she rushed into another class, late again.  This time there was only one seat left in the room, next to him.  ‘Bingo’ thought Dave, ‘time to turn on the charm.’  All his bluff and bluster didn’t work though as she cut him down at every point, poo-pooing his ideas.  He liked her even more for that.

Their friendship blossomed as they argued more, debating alternative ideas. Dave could tell that Kate loved the cut and thrust of a good discussion.   As the end of term ball came around he set his sights on taking their relationship to the next level.  Turning up in his best tux he scanned the room for her, finding her striking in a short red dress, glass in hand as she held court with some guys.  Wandering over to see what the discussion was, he was surprised to hear introduce someone as ‘my boyfriend, Felix’.  She’d never mentioned a boyfriend before so he was convinced that it was only a matter of time before he could win her round.  Joining the group, he met his competition, a bearded art student who seemed to be mainly off his head, but doting on her every word.  Later on, he queried their relationship with another member of the group to be informed they’d been together since the first term, with Felix following her like a puppy.

Dave was a bit put out and proceed to snog the face off one of the random sloan girls that always seemed to be around at University, just to make himself feel better.  Returning in January he and Kate were set the challenge of debating against each other, but each arguing for something they would not normally support.  This led to many hours in the library together, helping to research each other’s arguments. Dave probed more about her relationship, finding out they had met in the first week and Felix was a fine art student.  She seemed more dismissive than besotted, but as the months wore on Felix was still around.

Dave finally realised that this was a dead duck.  His casual friendship with Kate had grown into something more concrete but it had also made him realise she was a fragile soul.  Felix was her comfort blanket, someone to keep her safe in the strange surroundings of university.  Through all bluff and bluster on top, she was shy underneath and needed his constant reassurance to help her. Dave couldn’t break that bond without ruining their friendship. He resigned himself to them being great friends.

Looking back he wished he hadn’t backed down so easily.  If he had told her how he felt then, perhaps it would have come to nothing, but perhaps he wouldn’t be sitting on his own in an apartment in DC trying to sort out a broken marriage while she was in the UK wondering what was going on.

He knew what the real barrier had been then, and it was still there now.  Kate didn’t want children.  She’d commented over and over again while they were at university how children just got in the way and she didn’t want to put her body through all that.  Every time they saw a baby she would go ‘yuck’.   But Dave had always wanted kids.  Dave Jnr was the hope that his and Alicia’s relationship, already rocky then, would calm down and he could grow up being a Dad to a little brood.  Now it would seem that wouldn’t be the case as his son would be 1000s of miles away and the woman he thought he loved didn’t want to add to the family.  In fact, he wasn’t sure she would want a stepson.  It was a real sticking point, Dave wasn’t sure he was ready to give up on being a dad just yet.

Finishing his beer he walked back to the kitchen and put the empty bottle in the bin.  He contemplated getting another but instead stood leaning against the breakfast bar separating the kitchen from the lounge.  He was tired and all this thinking was just making him feel worse.  Taking one last look at the view he walked into the bedroom and tried to switch off for the night.

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Kate vs Showbiz – Chapter 12

“Blechhhhh”

It wasn’t the sound Tracey expected to hear as they entered the dressing room. Nor was the sight of someone’s bottom partially covered with a sequin-covered leotard the first thing they hoped to see.

“Oh God”, moaned the figure hunched over in the tiny toilet cubicle.

Gareth hid outside the door. “Is everything all right?” he enquired.

“Blechhhh”

“Can I go and get anything?”, he stammered unsure what to do. “A cup of tea perhaps?” he added weakly.

Tracey stepped in. She might not be trained in first aid, but helping someone chucking up after a night out was her field. Leaning in, she gently took hold of the woman’s long hair and pulled it back away from her face. It’s bad enough being sick, but chunks of vomit clinging to your split ends made it ten times worse.

“Blimey, you’re having a good clear out”, she joked. Looking at her watch, she added, “Mind you, I normally save this stuff for later in the day.”

A deathly pale face looked up at her. Its owner paused for a few seconds to check that there wasn’t about to be a repeat performance and then slowly stood up.

“Thanks. I’m sorry about that. It’s probably something I ate. Our hotel breakfast looked a bit dodgy this morning.”. Another pause. “I’m Julie. Julie Todmonton. Sparks’ assistant.” She proffered her hand and then took it back quickly. “Can you give me a couple of minutes to clean up?”

Back in the corridor, Tracey found Freddie huddled with Gareth and a terrified looking Kelvin.

“How is she?” Freddie asked.

“I’ve been worse. Says it’s something to do with the hotel. Probably not going to be leaving a glowing review on Trip Adviser.”

“Hmm. Let’s hope so. They are on stage in twenty minutes.”

Tracey had seen the posters up for a magic act. Sparks was emblazoned across the top with a permatanned grinning face in the middle. Cartoon electric bolts shot out around him. She had to admit that if you ignored the orange skin and Photoshop white teeth, he wasn’t bad looking. This and the fact he would be the ‘big’ star in the upcoming pantomime had persuaded her to give up an evening in the name of research.

“Maybe it’s stage fright then.”

Freddie shook his head, “No chance. They are pros. When you’ve been doing your act for a couple of years in every town in the country, it gets pretty banal.”

Tracey wondered if wearing skin-tight glittery costumes and having your head cut off could really be a run of the mill way to earn a living. The clothes are OK, she thought, and I suppose it’s better than getting chewed up by Kate all the time.

As she pondered, the face from the posters appeared beside them. “What’s happening? Where the hell’s Julie?”

Freddie turned, “Ah. Tracey. Please allow me to introduce you to Barry Martin, better known as…”

“Sparks. Just call me Sparks, young lady”, said the magician.

Dressed in a sharp black suit that showed off his figure, he was a million miles from the traditional old school conjurer who would have fitted the age of the venue or its audience. The posters didn’t do him justice. For a start, he wasn’t orange. Maybe the photo was a couple of years old, but the teeth really did light up the room when he smiled and there was an undefinable ‘something’ about him. She felt a little flush looking into his blazing green eyes. “Pleased to meet you”, she stammered.

“Tracey is here to help us relaunch the theatre. She’s a management consultant.”

Sparks looked at her. “Management consultant eh? Perhaps I should consult you myself. I need a bit of bringing in to line sometimes. Isn’t that right Freddie!”

Freddie laughed. Tracey blushed again. Was he hitting on her? “Oh, it sounds more boring than it really is. We go in and shake things up a bit, that’s all.”

“Well, if you fancy giving me a quick jiggle, I’ll be back for the season in a couple of weeks. Perhaps we can discuss a little strategy?”

Bloody hell. He really was hitting on her. And she quite liked it. “Maybe we can”, she smiled, “But I think you need to check on your assistant first. She’s not feeling too good.”

“Oh god. Yes. I told her to lay off the yoghurt at breakfast. Bloody things all looked out of date to me. Stick to red meat, that’s what I say.” Then with a final flash of his smile, Sparks disappeared into the dressing room, slamming the door behind him.

For a moment, they listened outside. Inside there were the muffled sounds of a discussion that quickly became heated. Freddie gulped and lead Tracey back to the office.

*

Sat with a cup of coffee that would defy any barista’s description, Freddie relaxed. “I think Barry, sorry, Sparks, likes you.”

Tracey looked away. “You think so? I thought you showbiz people were all like that. Air kisses one minute and bitching behind each other’s backs the next.”

“Not me luv”, he chuckled, “but I know what you mean. There are some real bitches in this business – and that’s just the men!”

They both laughed. Then a thought crossed Tracey’s mind. “Sparks and Julie. Are they, you know, a couple?”

“Oh, I don’t think so. She’s been with him for eighteen months or so. Pretty good really. He tends to be, how shall we put it, quite demanding. He’s got a bit of a temper.”

“Really? That doesn’t sound good. It sounded like they were rowing when we left. Will she be all right?”

Freddie laughed again. “Don’t worry. Julie can give as good as she gets. That’s why she’s lasted so long working with him. The trouble is, he wants to be the next big thing. We’re really too small a venue for his ego. Don’t get me wrong, he’s good. Really good, but he wants his name in lights in Leicester Square, not on a provincial theatre.”

“Do you reckon he’ll make it?”, she asked.

“Maybe. I’ve seen some real no-hopers make it big on TV and plenty of huge talents spend their entire careers slogging around the circuit living out of a suitcase in cheap hotels. It’s all about luck and who you know rather than if you are any good.”

“You mean talent doesn’t matter?”

“Oh, it matters. Unless you are young and very pretty”, he looked sideways at Tracey, “then you need to be ‘discovered’ by someone and that means getting your arse out on to the stage every evening.”

“So how come he’s doing the panto?”

“Trains, my dear.”

“Trains?” she asked

“Yes. You see, we are on the line from London. The critics can get out to us and watch the show but still be back in time for last orders at the Groucho club. That way they can pretend to show an interest in the provinces and then scamper back into the comfort of a Zone 1 card on the tube.”

She nodded. “Clever.”

“Patronising bastards most of them. ‘Oh you do so well for a regional theatre’ half of them seem surprised we have seats and running electricity.”, his shaking hand spilt coffee on the table, “But we need the reviews. The councillors always look impressed when the papers from the capital give us a tiny mention, and as you know, we need to keep them on board.”

A bell rang. Freddie looked up. “Showtime I think. Would you like to see Sparks in action?”

Tracey nodded and leaving the undrinkable beverage behind, headed into the auditorium.

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Kate vs Showbiz – Chapter 10

Buoyed up by her shopping experience, Kate sat in her lounge sipping a glass of white wine later, still smiling.  She’s gone straight from the shop to the gym and had a really good session.  The sweat had been dripping from her machine in the spin class and then she’d hit body pump too.  Her muscles would be aching afterwards but it was the best workout she’d had in ages.

Kate’s chat with Olive and the shop with Amelia had given her some confidence to face up to the thing that was bugging her the most. What the hell was going on with her and Dave?  Olive was right, this had been hanging around for 20 years on and off and she’d missed the boat back at university, moping about him being in America with his (ex?)wife now wasn’t helping things.

She looked at her phone to check the time difference between the UK and America, it was only three in the afternoon over there so hopefully it would be a good time to call Dave.  Before she had time to think about it any more, she downed her glass of wine and filled up another before video dialling him on her phone.

***

Over in the States, Dave’s phone rang.  He’d just come back from the gym too and was picking Junior up later to go out for some food and take in a movie. Alicia was having an afternoon with her family and he’d not wanted to intrude.  Looking at the screen he was surprised to see it was Kate calling.

“Um, hi there.”  Dave propped his phone up on the table while he towelled his hair.  He hoped that the angle meant that Kate couldn’t see he wasn’t wearing anything else but a towel.

“Hi Dave, I hope I haven’t interrupted anything?”  Kate could just see a blur of movement on the other end.  Hang on, she thought, I don’t think he’s got anything on.  She didn’t know if to look closer or look away.

“Nope, I’m just drying off after a trip to the gym. Hang on, just let me finish getting dressed”. He turned round to walk over and grab some pants, the movement causing his towel to slip down at the back.

At the other end, Kate got a full eyeful of a rather pert derriere.  She stifled a laugh, not wanting him to know what she had seen.  It was turning into a rather pleasant phone call, she downed another glass of wine and daydreamed while she waited for him to return fully clothed.  She’d forgotten what it was like to have sexual urges, it had been so long.

Bantering for the next few minutes over who had done the hardest work out it was like old times on the call.  Dave was insistent that his weight program was harder than her spin class, she argued moving her heart rate into the red zone meant she was fitter.

“What can I do for you?” Dave was pleased Kate had called but he needed to get ready to go out soon so was wondering what the call was about, Kate never called without a reason.

“What do you mean, can’t a girl just call to say hi?”  Even Kate realised this sounded hollow, she always had a purpose and didn’t do chat.  “Actually, I was wondering how you’d got on with generating some business.”

Ah, it’s all work, Dave thought.  He was disappointed, he’d been hoping that they could talk a bit about them.

Dave reeled off a few of the conversations he’d been having, without mentioning the big meeting he’d had with the telecoms company a few days earlier.  He wanted to keep that one quiet because it was his deal and he wanted to make sure it came off before blowing a fanfare.  He didn’t know why but there was something about that job he wanted to keep to himself, probably because there were parts of the deal Kate wouldn’t be happy with.  He did mention an anecdote about using Dave Jnr as in with someone.

“You won’t believe what I did today.  Took my niece shoe shopping.”  Kate smiled again at the thought of Amelia’s face when they’d picked her shoes.  She still felt that joy when her shopping trips were a success, though it was much nicer to share it with someone else.

“What!  I thought you didn’t do children?” Dave was amazed.  Kate never even mentioned her nieces and nephews, or if she did it was only in disparaging terms.

“Ah this was different; she was like my little shopping buddy.  There were no nappy changes or sick involved.”  Kate related the shoe shopping story.

“And did you get any while you were there?”  Dave knew about Kate’s shopping habit.  He wasn’t totally surprised she’s enjoyed this trip with Amelia, it was perfect for her.  He was also pleased with her finally being more open to children. He knew the biggest stumbling block in their potential relationship was his son, perhaps this would help her to become more open.

“Ha no, they didn’t have them in my size!”  Kate finished her last glass and looked at her laptop.  Perhaps some online shopping after the call might be called for.

“You, me and Junior will have to go out when I’m back in the UK.”  Dave tested the water.

“I’m not sure his taste in shoes is the same as mine.”  Kate laughed.  She knew that she wasn’t as keen on boys as girls but perhaps she could find a connection with a seven-year-old boy.  As long as it didn’t involve sports events. 

“I didn’t mean that, maybe a meal or trip to a museum?” 

Kate realised that Dave was opening a door.  She hadn’t realised that taking her niece out could make a difference to her faltering relationship too.  The question was, did she want to put her foot into that gap or close it?

“That would be nice, how would Alicia feel?”  As soon as she said it, she realised it was the wrong thing to say.  Dave stood up and walked away from the phone.

“I’m sure she would be fine.”  Dave gritted his teeth.  Kate had just totally ruined the vibe of the conversation.  Why couldn’t she just leave that part of his life alone?  “Anyway, I need to go now, I’ve got to go and pick Junior up.”

“Fine.”  Kate, never the one to back down, didn’t like Dave’s tone.  If he wanted to be funny, she thought, then sod him.

Winding up the call, Kate was frustrated in more ways than one.  It was the best conversation they’d had in a long time, but then it had gone sour, the way their conversations seemed to do.  And after consuming nearly a whole bottle of wine and seeing a half-naked man she was feeling like she needed something to let off steam, and shoe shopping wouldn’t do it.  Picking up the phone she scrolled to another number.

“Hi Casper, yes I know I haven’t called you for a while. Don’t suppose you fancy a drink in town?”

Bootie call arranged she went off to change in to one of her sluttier outfits.  F*ck Dave, who needed him anyway.

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Kate vs Showbiz – Chapter 8

Freddie sat at his desk in the cramped office.  The admin area of the theatre was just a small corner of the behind the scenes space, a few rooms with a kitchen so they could make copious cups of tea to keep them all going.  The walls were plastered with posters from old shows, mainly to cover the cracks and peeling paint.

Spread in front of him were the books from the last few weeks. Ticket sales had been dire and even the forthcoming panto, normally a big pull for the theatre, was struggling to get bums on seats. Next to this was a letter from the local council giving him notice of a need to attend the next council meeting to explain his plans for the theatre, ahead of the vote on the planning application.

He put his head in his hands.

“You alright there, Fred.”   Doris, the front of house manager put her head around the door.

Lifting his head up and put he put on a smile, “Yes, I’m fine.”

“You aren’t really.  I’ve seen the receipts.  We are going to have to start buying our loo roll from Poundland soon to keep some money in the coffers.”  Doris winked at him.

Doris was the lifeblood of the theatre She’d been working there for centuries it seemed and knew everyone and everything.  Freddie smiled knowing that she’d stick it out until the bitter end, no matter what corners he had to cut to keep the place open.

His wife didn’t know why he cared so much and told him so on a regular basis.  Running a theatre had never been part of his career plan, which had involved accountancy as a cog in a big firm. When the wheels came off this with redundancy five years ago he decided, rather than go back to the corporate life, to do something he loved. 

The job advert had sounded enticing. The interview was easier than expected and the follow-up phone call from HR arrived before he’d had a chance to change out of his suit at home afterwards. The nice lady sounded so pleased when he accepted. At the time, the palpable sound of relief in her voice had passed Freddie by.

What he hadn’t realised that was running the theatre came with more stress and longer hours than his older job.  When staff didn’t turn up for a shift, he needed to be there.  When the fire alarm went off, he needed to be there.  And when the Council decided that they wanted to shut the place and sell it off for apartments, it was his job to fight tooth and claw to keep it the way it was. 

He cared because the theatre was important to a lot of people.  People like Doris who could have retired years ago but came to work because it gave her a reason to keep going after her husband had died and her children had moved away.  All the old people who sat through the matinee shows where they played old films, recreating their youth with a bag of popcorn while watching Fred Astaire.  The Mums who came for a break while their little ones watched children’s TV presenters make fools of themselves. It was more than just a building, it was a refuge.

“Your visitors are downstairs, by the way.”  Doris mimed making a tea.

Freddie gulped, he’d forgotten that Gareth and crew were descending today.  Quickly tidying his desk he nodded to Doris to put on the kettle and tried to get ready.  He had to remind himself these guys were here to help, but he still didn’t feel confident that they could.

Making their way backstage the KOD team were surprised at what they found.  Doors hung off hinges, lights flickered or just didn’t work.  A crew of half-naked dancers ran past them in the corridor, giggling, and shouting “move, we all need the loo and only one works!”

Tracey went to step into one of the dressing rooms and smartly turned back,  “Urgh, there was a rat in the corner!”

Up a tight staircase the worrying signs of disrepair continued, large cracks spidered across the walls and chunks of plaster lay on the stairs.  Tracey jumped as a piece fell from the ceiling and nearly hit her.

“If I’d known I needed a hard hat I would have packed one!”  she gripped at Gareth.

Kelvin put his laptop over his head to protect himself from any further falls.

Gareth gulped and then brushed down his suit, hoping it would be better when they got to Freddie’s office.

Reaching the top floor they found Freddie and Doris waiting, tea in hand.

“Hi there Gareth, glad you’ve managed to find us.  This is Doris, my front of house manager, she pretty much runs the place single-handed.”  Gareth shook the proffered hand.

“I’d like to introduce you to my colleagues, Tracey Dunn-Jones and Kelvin Armstrong.  Tracey looks after the business side and Kelvin is our IT and technical man.”

Freddie and Doris were drowned by a vision in pink as Tracey leant in to hug them both.  Kelvin just nodded.

“Please have a seat.”  Freddie tried to clear some space and find more seats for his guests, he hadn’t been expecting a full contingent of KOD staff.

“What did you think of the show?”  Behind Freddie’s back, Doris screwed up her face.  She knew how bad things were down there.

“Um, well, yes, it was entertaining…”  Gareth spluttered through his response.

“It was rubbish.  The crowd were half dead and so was the show.”  Tracey went straight for the jugular.  She’d been taking tips from Kate’s approach to things.

 Gareth jumped in, trying to cover up her bluntness.  “Well, yes, it was a little quiet down there and the audience was, erm, mature. Maybe the evening show is busier?”

Freddie’s look said it wasn’t. He stood up and waved his hands.  “It’s fine, it’s fine.  We know exactly how bad it is.  Ticket sales are at rock bottom, the audience need zimmer frames and we sell more tea from the bar than wine.  We’ve really lost our way, that’s why we need your help.”

“Why don’t you just sell it off and make a big profit.”  Tracey could already picture the shopping sprees she’d go on with the money.

“It’s not as simple as that, young lady.”  Doris was not warming to this bossy girl, especially as talking to her mainly meant talking to her cleavage. She’d seen tarts like this before and she’d got their measure.

“I’m sure it is, Doris.”  Tracey looked down her nose at the old dear trying to give her a piece of her mind.  “This is prime real estate, right in the middle of town.  Perfect for you and your friends to retire to and be able to pop down the shops after a game of bingo.”

Doris turned a light shade of pink and stood up.  “I beg your pardon!  This is more than a piece of land, it’s the place where people come for escapism, for some people it’s the only time they get out of the house.  We provide a very important service for the local community.”  And with that, she stormed out mumbling something about helping out behind the bar.

Gareth looked at Freddie across the desk.

“Fred mate, this is a big job.  You’ve got structural problems, poor audience numbers and a council baying for blood. I’m not sure we can help you.”  Gareth looked forlorn.

“I know, I know.  It’s a big task and I can’t pay you.  But at least give it a go until the panto is over. It’s our big earner and if we can get the ticket sales up I can plough some of that money back into the theatre.  I’ve already got quotes for some of the work and it can be done, as long as we sell out the whole run. Why don’t you all come back tomorrow and see our big name for Christmas, Sparks. I think he’ll be far more to your taste.”

Tracey looked shocked. Working in the evening wasn’t in her plans. Looking at Kelvin, she could see he was also pulling a face. It was too late, Gareth was already nodding, “Of course Freddie. I’m sure we would be delighted to see the big star.”

“Are you sure there is space?” asked Tracey hopefully.

Freddie laughed. “Don’t worry about that. We’ll squeeze you in somewhere!”

Tracey looked glum. Seeing her face, even Gareth realised what she was thinking. “Don’t worry Tracey, we’ll make it up to you. I’m sure we can do something with expenses.” At the sound of this, she perked up a little. Perhaps there would be benefits to this job after all. Her only appointment was with Netflix after all.

“Look Freddie”, Gareth continued, “It’s a big ask, but we at KOD never say no to a challenge. I’ll give it my best shot. “ Standing to shake hands, he turned to leave. What Freddie didn’t see was the look of concern. Gareth knew he really needed Kate and Dave on this, but wasn’t sure how he was going to get them on side.  Without their help, he was flogging a dead horse.

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Kate vs Showbiz – Chapter 4

The guillotine blade glinted in the light.

A smirk crossed the man’s face as he pulled the rope.

For a moment, the blade wobbled in its framework. Then it accelerated downwards towards the hapless victim’s neck. With a loud thunk it stopped dead, its work done.

In the crowd, a woman put down her knitting and clapped her bony hands together in appreciation.

The man pulled the rope again to lift the blade. As he did, he raised his hand to receive the adulation, a strained smile upon his face.

*

The Great Magneto wasn’t happy. He stomped around his dressing room. Standing in the doorway, the theatre manager looked on.

            “Bloody pensioners matinees!” he roared, “What’s the point? I mean we get what, a couple of dozen of the old bats in and by the time I get to the crescendo of my act, half of the buggers are fast asleep!”

The manager sighed. He’d heard it all before. The audiences were never big enough. They didn’t appreciate the “talent” properly. They should be grateful that anyone deigned to take their valuable time to appear in such a godforsaken little town.

Magneto seemed to read his mind. The rant continued, “I mean who do these people think they are? I’ve appeared before royalty. ROYALTY! And yet here I am, reduced to bloody provincial theatre. On a Wednesday afternoon! Do they not understand how lucky they are to see an act like mine? Well, do they?”

It wasn’t like listening to the same moans every week from the latest touring act was how the manager wanted to spend his time. A cup of tea would be a good start, or perhaps Heather in the bar would knock him up a sly gin and tonic. That would take the edge off the migraine he was sure he felt creeping up on him.

            “Well, what do you say to that?” enquired the great magician.

            “Godfrey, I’m sorry”, he started.

            “Magneto! Can’t you read? That’s what it says on the poster. You did put the posters up, didn’t you? Maybe that’s why no-one bothered to come in, because you didn’t bother to put up our advertising. Run out of sticky tape did you? Is there a Blu-tack crisis in Leighton Oxley this week?”

            The manager sighed again. “Magneto. Yes, we put up all your posters and very nice they are too, although perhaps you should use a more recent photo.”

            “More recent photo? What are you saying?”

            “Sorry. What I mean is, well, the poster looks a bit, how shall we say, old fashioned. Have you seen the ones for Spark? He’s coming next week”. As the words left his mouth, he realised his mistake. If there was one thing a stroppy, failing act hated more than anything it was to be reminded of a younger, marginally more successful one.

The magician ceased stomping and turned around. He was silhouetted against the lights surrounding the dressing room mirror, several of which weren’t working. “Sparks? Bloody Sparks? That shyster? He walks on wearing some black polo neck from bloody Primark and acts as though he invented magic. Like all those of us who have been slogging our arses off for years never existed. It’s not like his tricks are new, he just wanders around being smug and acting like a rap star. Where’s the showmanship in that?”

A light bulb loudly gave out, interrupting the flow for a second.

“As for old fashioned, is it old fashioned to give the audience a bit of razzmatazz? To give them a treat. They want to see something special, not someone who looks like they work in a bloody mobile phone shop. I don’t know if you’ve noticed love, but this is hardly the West End. We’re a long way outside the M25. Good grief, this is basically a suburb of Birmingham and you know what that means.”

The manager could guess, but decided to let the tantrum run its course.

            “It means, love, that this is a provincial backwater! No-one mentions Leighton Oxley in the same breath as London and New York. The only place they can be found together is in the back of my map book, and even then it’s in small print under a coffee stain!”

The migraine was definitely on it’s way. It was time to play the trump card.  “Look Godfr.. I mean Magneto. I know this isn’t the West End but let’s be honest, if you could get a booking at the Palladium, you’d be there.” Magneto started to speak but stopped as he recognised the truth in what the theatre manager was saying. “I know this isn’t a big theatre but we do what we can. I’m sorry that the audience this afternoon wasn’t massive but we have to put on some shows for the old people. It’s part of our remit from the Council.”

            “The Council? What the hell’s it got to do with them?”

            “They own the building. You don’t think we could survive on these sort of audiences, do you? If we weren’t part of the Parks and Leisure department, this place would have become opulent townhouses for professional people years ago. As it is, we might be going that way soon anyway.”

            “What do you mean?”

            “Let’s just say that it’s hard to argue that we need funding more than meals in wheels or bloody children’s trips to museums or any of the other stuff.”

            “They are closing you down?”

The manager’s face dropped. “Not yet, but I’ve heard plenty of rumours. You don’t need to be Mystic Mandy to predict our future if things don’t change.”

For once Magneto looked perturbed. For all his bluster, any closed theatre was one less venue to perform at and one step closer to an enforced retirement for him. Looking in the corner at a small basket, he saw the face of Floppsy, his rabbit. What would happen to her? They didn’t like pets in his apartment block. It was only because she was out with him most of the day he got away with keeping her.

            “What are you going to do?” he asked.

            “Well, I do have a plan.”

            “It better be bloody good, I think I saw more red velvet in there than a showing of xx”

 “Don’t worry it’s in hand.  I’ve been talking to this group of business consultants and I’m sure they can come up with a plan to sort us out.  In fact, I got rather drunk with their boss at the weekend and he gave me the impression that this was bread and butter for them.” Freddie smiled remembering his and Gareth’s antics at the weekend, they’d had a laugh but he thought Gareth was on his side.  In fact, now was the time to strike when the iron was hot, he’d drop him a note as soon as he got back to the office.

“Sounds interesting.”  Magneto stood there stroking his rabbit, he’d retrieved her from her basket as it soothed him in times of trouble.

Freddie looked at the Magician and saw a low-price Blowfeld smiling back at him.  Well if push came to shove, he thought, he could always get him to kill the councillors in inventive ways, he certainly had the tools.

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Kate vs Showbiz – Chapter 2

Pulling the shirt out of his wardrobe Gareth smiled.  The style of his tuxedo shirt always made him chuckle. From the front it was a plain white shirt, but the arms and the back were decorated with pictures of cavorting cows in various positions only seen in a bovine version of the karma-sutra. He loved going to events and later on, when the wine had been flowing, taking of his jacket to surprise his fellow guests. It harked back to the shirt he was wearing on the night he met his wife, Veronica, though this one would be about three sizes larger.  He’d grown a bit since his early 20s.

**

Veronica Trumpington-Thomas was best described as “Good Country Stock”. Her passion was for breeding cattle. Belgian Blue’s were her favourites although some had cruelly have suggested that the breeds square set stance and stocky features were not that different from their owner. She hadn’t really wanted to marry but her father had said that it was her duty so the task was set about with the same efficiency that she used when choosing sires for her livestock. The list of requirements was short, good temperament, reasonable features and respectable family lineage.

Sadly, the markets where husbands are acquired weren’t really to Veronica’s taste, she preferred the straw and dung of the cattle version, but there were events where eligible candidates could be found. Some old school friends were persuaded to invite her to the right sort of parties and after a few drinks, the process didn’t seem quite so unpalatable.

The annual young farmer’s ball was coming up so Veronica slipped into her best black and white ball gown, making her look more like a Friesian than would normally be desirable and joined in. Walking into the marquee someone caught her eye, a rather dashing looking young man lurking in the corner, looking a bit sheepish and lost in his tuxedo. 

As the evening wound on Veronica kept seeing this young man wandering around, but none of her friends seemed to know who he was. To honest, she wasn’t really that interested but after the meal and a few gins, she was starting to feel a bit randy.  Having either shagged or frightened off most of the other members of the local group she felt in the need of new blood and set out to find if he might be interested in a demonstration of her cattle impregnation techniques.

Gareth had been invited to the do by an old friend who proceeded to abandon him for the first girl who had flashed her pig tattoo in his direction.  He tried propping up the bar for a bit, and eventually took to circling the room until it started to circle him thanks to the amount of scrumpy he had consumed. More of a G and T person he had resorted to the local brew after his attempt to order something more refined had been ridiculed by the locals. The drink was more potent than he was used and attempts to soak up the alcohol with something solid hadn’t gone well as the cuisine was as rural as the drink.

The countryside all looked the same to Gareth so finding his friend’s house earlier in the day had been due more to luck than judgement or map-reading. Worse, when he did arrive, he discovered that he’d packed a suit but no shirt and since there was no chance of buying something he’d had to borrow one.  Unfortunately, this had been a bit of a comedy purchase and now the marquee was getting hotter and hotter but he really didn’t want to take his jacket off.

Veronica saw Gareth circling the marquee again, by this point he had begun to look a little green.  He stumbled and half fell into a chair on the table next to her.  She noticed him begin to put his head into his hands, and then seemed to be struggling to remove his jacket.

“Bugger this,” she thought, “Everyone is coping off and it’s about time I wrapped my lips round someone.”
She marched over to the next table.  Gareth, by this point, was fighting to keep his head between his knees and try get his jacket off at the same time.  Veronica grabbed the back of his tux and practically ripped it off his shoulders. 

“Oh” she screamed, as the design on the back of Gareth’s shirt was exposed, from the front it looked plain white but the back was something all the more lurid.

Gareth looked up in surprise, unfortunately at the same point the numerous pints all came to a head and he proceeded to vomit them down the front of Veronica’s frock with some force.

“Argh!” Veronica, now covered in pints of the local brew mixed with several partly digested pies, screamed.  “What are you doing!”

Gareth looked up sheepishly and started to mumble a string of apologies.  He hoped the rather large but attractive girl looming over him would not berate him too hard as he could feel a roulade and champagne cocktail that might be making its way up at any moment.

Veronica was about to let rip, who did this boy think he was, this dress had been specially made by her mother.  But as she turned to give Gareth what for she saw a pair of soulful brown eyes were staring at her that bore a startling resemblance to her favourite cow, Winny.  And with that, she was lost.

Many years of working with animals meant that Veronica had been covered by much worse than a bit of posh vomit.  She grabbed Gareth and dragged him off to the toilets to clean herself and him up. After letting him be sick a few more times, it was time to test the staying power of the portaloos.  Stories after the evening always included comments about the particularly loud mooing that seemed to be coming from the direction of the next field, though no one had seen any cattle.

**

20 years on and their marriage was still going strong, though the only children they had had four legs.  Their lack of offspring had disappointed both of them but with no conclusion as to why things weren’t working Veronica had gone back to animal husbandry and they’d settled into a different kind of family routine, their children being in the fields rather than in the house.

He loved his wife very much but she would insist on carting him off to the odd farming ball to make friends and for her to do some networking. He could chat to most people but this lot did get into quite a bit of detail about their farming practices, and he struggled to hold his own.  By halfway through the evening he’d often be found in a corner, pilfered bottle of gin in hand, drinking to his heart’s content as his wife worked the room. 

Two hours later and the Harvest farming ball was turning out the same way.  Gareth was just eyeing up a nice bottle of cider on the next table when someone plonked themselves down next to him.

“Hi, you’re Gareth, Veronica’s other half aren’t you?”

Gareth turned to his new companion.  Though slightly younger and slimmer they were cut from the same cloth.  He even caught a glimpse of colour on the sleeves of his shirt as he turned to face Gareth..

“Freddie Coward.  My wife, Joan, is over there talking to yours.  We have a small farm and she aspires to your level of herd.  To be honest, it bores me senseless, so she suggested I might want to come over and have a chat with you.”

Gareth visibly relaxed.  At least he wasn’t another farming expert.

“Veronica mentioned you run a company that helps other companies get out of trouble.  She said something about a naval island, I think I read about it in the paper.  It’s called KOD isn’t it.”

Gareth glowed slightly, he always liked to know that people knew what he did and the work on Fillern Holm had garnered them some good PR.

“Well, yes that was one of our best projects, working with the MOD don’t you know.  Can’t say too much but we turned things around.”

“Sounds very interesting, have you done any others?”

Half an hour later and Freddie might have been wishing he hadn’t asked that question as Gareth regaled him with stories of KOD’s successes.  He omitted to mention that most of the work wasn’t done by him, no harm in embellishing the truth here and there.

By this time the cider had been consumed and jackets had been removed.  The chaps laughed as they both had a penchant for lurid shirts, though Freddie’s had depictions from Shakespearean plays instead.  There was much blood and gore.

Reclining in his chair Gareth though, I like this lad, he’s on the same wavelength as me.  And he likes silly shirts.

“Pip pip, old boy.  Here’s to finding a shirt design even more frightening for the next ball.”

“You are on.  I’ve seen some great stuff on eBay.”  Freddie chinked his glass with Gareth’s.

“Actually, Gareth, I have to profess I have an ulterior motive here. I need your help.”

“What with, old boy.”  Gareth was finding it hard to focus, the cider being more powerful than his usual tipple.  He leant forward, trying not to fall off the chair.

“Well, I run a theatre.  It’s not a big place and we don’t get the cream of the shows, but I still love it. But we are really struggling, and if I don’t get the ticket sales up by end of March next year, then the local council will sell the place to property developers.”

Now Gareth had a soft spot for the theatre, having trodden the boards himself during his university days. He could remember the smell of the greasepaint and the joy of a receptive crowd.  What harm would there be in giving them a little help, he thought to himself.

“I know it’s not your usual cup of tea, but any advice you could give us to get of this mess would really help. I can’t pay you, but I can give you free tickets to every show we have on.” Freddie had gone from jolly to maudlin.  He really did love his theatre but times were tough and he was struggling to know what to do.  It was Joan who’d suggested that approaching Gareth and pandering to his softer side might mean he got some help.  She also didn’t want to see him not working and under her feet at home.

Gareth stood and patted him on the back. 

“Absolutely, I’m sure I can find time to give you some pearls of wisdom.  Don’t worry about the money, we’ll sort something out. Give me a call next week. Now if you will excuse me I think it’s time to go home, I’m seeing double of everything!”

Waddling back to his wife, half cut, a little niggle appeared in the back of Gareth’s brain.  Kate wouldn’t like this. He brushed it away, it was still his business after all, what harm was it to do something good for the community rather than for the money.

“Alright, Darling?”  Veronica was surprised to see her husband weaving toward her. She was even more surprised when he knocked her flying as he lost his footing.  Sitting together on the floor she took one look at her now comatose husband and thought, home time.

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Getting off our bums and doing something

No description available.

Candice: Phil and I met for our customary between Christmas and New Year conflab the other day. There was tea and cake, as always, and we talked about this whole writing malarky.

It’s been a long time since we released a new book and we have been trying to work out how to get out of our slump. Obviously we both still write, him for work and both of us for this blog, but something is stalling the output of the Nolan Parker writing team. Book 3 has been in the works for about three years now but the spark that was once there with the other two doesn’t seem to be driving things forward. The frustrating thing is we are about 3/4s of the way through but we just don’t seem to know how to finish the book. We’ve brain stormed lots of things but nothing gets us to the end. We’ve stalled.

I’ve been talking to someone recently about how to get out of a slump like this and we’ve decided on a new approach based on her ideas. My last post was inspired by that. Just write something!

I really enjoyed writing my little Christmas story so the time has come for us to just get on with some writing. It might not be perfect, the storyline might not fit, we might not get the characters right but at least we will get over our writers block and write something. We’ve been stalled by planning and trying together everything right first time. That didn’t happen with our other books, we just wrote and sorted it all out later.

So from next year Nolan Parker will be show casing Book 3, working title ‘Kate vs Showbiz’ through the blog. We will post what we have already written and then use the blog as our weekly challenge to write the rest of the book – whatever comes to mind. We’d like you to get involved in the writing process, so if we are trying to work out where to go next with Kate and Dave please give us feedback. What would you like our protagonists to do?

We look forward to sharing ‘Showbiz’ with you next year and finishing this exciting new story in the Kate series.

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