Posted by Suze Appleton on Sunday, June 9, 2013 Under: Serial novel
I'm not sure about this chapter so would be interested to hear some comments. I've a feeling it will get cut from the final novel.
After the break they split up into different rooms. Jessie took the girls group upstairs to the video training department where she managed to get them the recording equipment they needed to make the film. Jo busied herself with the second group, determined to knock them into some kind of shape. As they left the room Matt overheard her offering herself fof the role of lead singer in their video, on the grounds that she had been through a course of voice training for her videos. He felt relieved that they didn't have her on their case but as he looked at the simpering Marilyn beaming at his group his spirits sank. He could just tell that she had no more idea of how to make a successful video than she did of knitting fog. And on top of that they had no script, one lecherous would-be drunk, a precious scriptwriter, a murderous goth and a simpering maiden. He looked at Jamie for support but he seemed to have gone into a deep sulk, gazing out of the door after Jo.
Matt couldn't believe this boy was so blind as to not see her for what she was. How could he have the hots for someone who would never be interested in him? Not without some serious gender realignment surgery, anyway. Still, he was at the age when everything was a sexual encounter, or a stimulating event. Jamie had obviously chosen a seat well out of range of the fluff on the front row. If he'd been sitting there one of them would either have sued him for harassment or made fun of him by now.
Marilyn nervously flicked her hair over both shoulders and turned to the team, looking keen to help, rather like an elderly aunt trying to help a young niece on something she didn't know know.
'So,' she said, rather too brightly. 'I believe we've got a Viking ship in this video? That's a brilliant connection to a piece of local heritage, you know. I don't know if you're aware of it but his area was named after a Viking, a Harald the Red. The clue is in the town name. The Harald was shortened to 'Ald' and 'thwaite' means clearing. So we get Aldsthwaite, Harald's clearing.' Flick, flick.
She smiled happily around the group, pleased with herself to have imparted this knowledge. Her love of family history research had come in useful at last.
'Yeah,' added Krystal darkly, 'but they're all dead Vikings now, aren't they?'
'Ha ha ha,' laughed Marilyn nervously, flicking her hair twice, even though the second time there was no hair to flick. 'Now if we could borrow an artefact from the Jorvik museum over in York, that would give us a touch of authenticity, don't you think?'
She smiled around the group, mostly slumped in various poses of lethargy or disinterest. Krystal pounced on the lead.
She was so enthusiastic that everyone sat up in surprise.
'Don't you think we should go there to check out our facts, Marilyn? We want our film to have some "authenticity", don't we? That would really impress John and might make him choose our film.'
They watched for Marilyn's reaction. Any mention of John always brought a rush of blood to Marilyn's face and the group watched as her expression contorted from longing to anxiety and back to longing again. Matt decided to give her another push.
'Yeah, isn't that where John is from originally? If we could find a link to his ancestors he might be really pleased that we made the extra effort. And it would be fantastic research and may even give the marketing department a real help with their campaign anyway. He can't fail but notice us'
That was all the incentive that Marilyn needed. Her whole life was geared to having John notice her like he used to do in the old days. It had all been so simple then, just the two of them and a room lined with vegetable racks. Of course the racks had not been there for vegetables, John had found a much more lucrative product to sell, albeit in plain brown wrappers. Inside each rack had been a range of colourful products, usually in lurid shades of pink, or black, apart from the oversized dildos which came in a range of skin tones.
It had been a bit of a shock to Marilyn's delicate nature when she had answered John's advert for a despatch clerk. '"Must be broad minded", the advert had said. She had never guessed that it would be for a sex toys' business until she walked through the door into the ten foot square room to be faced by the wall of racks, each basket spilling out their contents of the brightly coloured items. It had taken her several seconds to gather herself and notice John observing her from a tiny corner of the room.
Immediately smitten by John, she had taken the job. Her desk had been a small shelf fixed into a chimney alcove. Her chair had almost touched his. There had certainly been times when she had looked up to find him watching her, or heard him breathing heavily behind her. Within a week he had given her the key to the office and told her to run the office on her own. Her day had consisted of processing credit card payments and packing bundles of products into a selection of padded bags for posting. John wasn't keen on paying any more postage than he needed to and had told her to squeeze in as much as she could into smaller envelopes. The oversized dildos had always been a struggle to get into even the biggest size of envelope. She had barely been able to stick the flaps down, especially if the customer had ordered a selection of other items as well.
She returned from her daydream to see the group looking at her expectantly. Instinctively she flicked her hair.
'Okay, where were we? Oh yes, York. Why not? It will be great to show John, and everyone else, that we can produce something great,' she said nodding her head as though to convince herself, causing her hair to fall forwards again, followed immediately by flick, flick. 'And it will give the video a little more gravitas than they'd expect. But maybe not everyone. I think I can arrange for myself and one or two others to take a visit. We can go in my car as it's not far, but you may have to pay for your own entry into the centre.'
A chorus of disapproval rose from the group, apart from Matt and Jamie who didn't have the slightest interest in sitting with the hair flick all day. After a bit of skilful negotiating from Marilyn it was decided that Pat and Mina would go. Marilyn clearly wasn't keen to have either Don or Krystal in her car or in her company for any longer than she needed. Krystal, thwarted from having the skive she had wanted, went into a deep sulk, and Don, continually insisting on trying the different drinks available for the scene, only in the interests of authenticity of course, was deflected by the suggestion that he should be putting his energies into finding sponsorship.
Pat explained her 'wonderful' idea to Marilyn as Matt became increasingly frustrated that she didn't try to stop the dark and stormy night scenario. The two of them got quite carried away with their plans but still no one had written a real script, he noticed.
'So how d'you suggest we film this then?' His voice sounded harsher than he had intended but he was at the end of his patience over the whole exercise. The more they went on about it the less he wanted to be part of it. They stopped talking and stared at him.
'I mean,' he continued, 'okay, it's winter but we can't guarantee a storm on whatever day we decide to film this.'
'And on a technical note,' added Jamie, 'my camera is only a webcam so filming anything on fire in poor light probably won't come out. The light from a fire will alter the settings and probably just cause a blur so you won't see anything.'
'Details, details, Jamie,' smiled Marilyn, shaking her finger at him. 'I'm sure we can trust you clever boys to come up with something. That's part of the point of the exercise, you know, so that you learn something about the process in order to appreciate the finished product.'
'Well couldn't we just go upstairs and work with the people who are doing it professionally then?'
Matt couldn’t contain his frustration with the company's amateur approach to a piece of work that people studied for years to do right, and then usually just for a tiny part of it, and not the whole creative and practical process. He struggled to see how the video making would teach them anything about the business apart from how inept and lazy the management were, looking for any shortcut wheezes they could find to save themselves some work.
Nobody else seemed to have spotted it, apart from maybe Joanne who, with three kids, could recognise when something was a long way round to a straight answer. Matt wished he had been working with her and not the random bunch of oddballs he had the unfortunate accident of sitting next to when they dished out the project. He felt sure that a few of the trainees, with the right mix of talents, could produce something worth putting on a shopping channel, rather than the trilogy of mush that was going to result from this shambles.
He wondered what the company expected to gain from the exercise. Was it to see if they could work as a team? Or was it just a time wasting exercise to see who had the patience and perseverance to get through it. Right now he felt like throwing in the towel. If it wasn't for all those debts...
Marilyn was bristling with impatience now.
'Oh come now, Matt,' she exhorted, 'that's not the attitude we're looking for here at Pickering Picks. A clever young man like you, I'm sure you can find a way to overcome the hurdles. We expect our new staff to come forward with their own ideas, don't forget. Surely you can come up with something positive. Pat here has contributed an imaginative idea and now you're team has an opportunity to find with an original solution. What if Steve Jobs had refused to believe things could be different? There would be no massive corporation making billions of dollars from a totally new product. A clever boy like you could be the next Steve Jobs. You'll never know unless you try now, will you?' Flick, flick.
Matt blinked in surprise at the force of Marilyn's pep talk and wondered what it was she thought he was capable of.
In : Serial novel
Tags: viking york webcam