Thursday, 16 December 2010

Chapter Four

An arm reached out and grabbed her from somewhere in the darkness. Yanking her roughly aside, a hand clamped across her mouth, cutting off the scream that rose in her throat. She tried to turn around but whoever was holding her had her locked in a vice-like grip. She watched in terror as the straggle of passengers moved further and further away. It was only then she realised that it was she who was moving away from them. She was being carried along, half suspended with the points of her heels grazing the tracks below. Then without warning, they leaped and she felt herself sucked through a vacuum. Floating on nothingness for what seemed like hours, they finally came to a stop.

She was thrown down on a hard surface, temporarily knocking her unconscious. When she came to, dread coursed through her veins. She was in the strange ballroom of her nightmare but this time she didn’t appear to be imagining it. She looked up to see Coffee Breath’s pockmarked face looming over her.
‘You!’ She met his unflinching gaze. ‘What the hell is going on?’
‘Wouldn’t you like to know,’ he said nastily.
‘Very nice you two, let’s take a short break.’ The director stepped out from the shadows signalling a rap. Lacey and her fellow actor dropped their assumed guises and gratefully slumped into their seats at the side of the sound stage as the production team and crew milled around with clapper boards and cardboard coffee cups. As the make-up girl approached though, Lacey detected a distinctly hostile air. When she had entered Lacey’s trailer earlier that day she had been chirpy and chatted incessantly in her cockney accent about how much she loved Lacey’s work on the series. But now all expression had deserted her features. Wielding a blusher brush as though it were a deadly weapon, she descended on Lacey’s face and attacked her cheeks with gusto. Now mere inches in front of her, Lacey saw that the girl’s skin was scaled and pale green, her eyes a muted pink. She seemed possessed. Lacey screamed for help but no one heard.

Looking wildly around Lacey saw that the area had been abandoned, scripts tossed aside, chairs overturned and coffee cups lying on their sides spewing their lukewarm contents onto tables and floor. The panic began to gnaw its way up through her insides. Her heart throbbed violently and her skin felt clammy and hot. Not knowing what to do, she carefully extricated herself from beneath the girl’s unblinking stare and moved slowly away, watching the girl who remained in position in front of Lacey’s chair. As she moved further towards the exit Lacey caught sight of a pair of shoes sticking out from behind a train carriage on-set. Brown suede lace-up brogues with denim cuffs above them. She moved closer, and as she stepped round a most shocking sight lay before her. Brown brogues was embroiled in an intense make-out session with a pair of scarlet pumps from which protruded a set of fishnet-stocking encased legs belonging to none other than Winnie Gravington. Lacey’s on-screen nemesis and an aspiring starlet famed as much for her private school-girl etiquette as her acting talent, Winnie currently had her hands glued to Coffee Breath’s head as she energetically probed his mouth with her tongue. Feeling nauseous at this most disturbing of revelations, Lacey’s instinct was to back away. But. She paused, realising Winnie and Coffee Breath, real name, Gus, were probably the only other people still on set at this precise moment. With the exception of course of alien make up girl who was still posing in front of Lacey’s abandoned chair, blusher brush in hand. Taking a deep breath Lacey ventured nearer the empassioned pair writhing around on the makeshift train track.

‘Winnie? Gus?’ she said in a small voice.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Chapter Three

Now 8.47am Lacey and her fellow commuters had been held in the blackened carriage for the best part of an hour. Passengers were beginning to get restless, bitching to each other about the failures of London’s public transport service. The driver could again be heard over the intercom announcing that there had been a power failure of sorts and more news would follow shortly. More grumbles followed and they were once more alone in the darkness. Somewhere in front of her Lacey heard the onslaught of an asthma attack as one girl’s panic gave way to jagged, rasping breaths for air. A haunting concerto kicked in on her iPod play list, as though echoing the drama unfolding before her as the girl’s breathing became distinctly shallower as she choked for breath. Calls for a doctor rumbled through the carriages as those around the suffering girl attempted to help. Lacey wondered if she should offer the girl a drop of her Rescue Remedy, but thought better of it and was relieved when word made its way back to them that a doctor was indeed on board and was making his way down now.

A cramping sensation suddenly attacked her calves as the pressure of balancing on heels threatened to overwhelm her pain threshold. She gripped the seat in front of her, the commotion around the asthmatic gaining force as the doctor arrived on the scene. Lacey watched shapes manifest in the darkness and a cacophony of soothing voices rallying round the girl whose breathing had begun to steady somewhat, aided by an inhaler.

The driver’s voice came over the intercom once more to say that he would be making his way through the length of the train. The passengers would now have to be escorted through the tunnel to the previous station but not before he secured the line. Murmurs of disbelief abounded and the checking of watches created a frisson of activity. Asthmatic girl had since calmed with her breathing regulated and even. Though Lacey feared this development would provoke a second attack and shot her a worried look. However, it appeared the man on crutches beside asthmatic girl was the more likely of the two to have a problem.

Two and a half hours of standing in one spot had reduced Lacey’s body to a vestibule of pins and needles. Still shrouded in near-darkness, her eyes had grown accustomed to the strange surroundings so when a set of emergency lights flickered to life in the tunnel alongside the train she felt a mild burning sensation behind her retinas. Squinting, she surveyed the carriage, her fellow passengers doing the same and shifting irritably in their places. Four policemen, accompanied by transport staff, made their way through the train now, imposing a red sea-like split of passengers and forcing Lacey to compress herself against the seats as they passed.

She caught the eye of the last policemen as he brushed past. Ruggedly handsome beneath his official cap, he smiled at her. Startled, Lacey smiled back too late and inwardly kicked herself for missing an opportunity. She was soon distracted as the driver’s voice could be heard once more. ‘Ladies and gents thank you for your patience this morning,’ he said. ‘If you will now begin slowly making your way through the train…’ People began shuffling forward further along the carriage and Lacey waited for the throng beyond her to show signs of movement before levering herself off her vantage point to join them.

Progress was slow with people waiting for those in front to navigate the darkened carriages, discarded newspapers and uneven tracks of the tunnel. When Lacey finally stepped down onto a wooden plank, the first of many stretching away before her, interspersed with large stones, she almost toppled over. She held out her arms for balance as she maneuvered herself along the uneven pathway, looking like a demented tightrope walker.

And then it happened.

Monday, 13 December 2010

The Matt that got the Cream!!

Four (Cher), three (One Direction), two (Rebecca), won (Matt),
The 2010 X Factor is for this year, done.

Take That ruled the stage throughout the weekend’s events,
As Dermot held the audience in constant suspense.

We waited, on edge, for that final result,
Waited for the drama, the tears, the exult.

Cher wore a skater skirt to rap with,
While One Direction adopted Robbie as their sixth band man.

Rebecca came out on top with a top blonde diva star,
Promoting her new flick Burlesque was Christina Aguilera.

Matt got all cosy with a flame-haired, leggy girl,
Steaming up the stage – is a romance set to unfurl?

We all drew a sigh of disbelief when SiCo’s boyband placed just third,
Convinced that their hoards of admirers would get them on top of the world.

Rebecca was stunningly glorious singing Lennox’s sweet dream hit,
It was a close call in that final showdown, though she needn’t worry one bit.

As far as a career with that voice is concerned, she’s our style and vocal queen,
She’ll get a contract without a doubt; she’ll live out her everlasting dream.

A bromance was sparked on that winner’s stage as Aiden moved in for a hug,
Championing his mate Matt to win, could Rhianna be in for a war of tug?

All the misfits from the audition process gave a terrible rendition of some song,
It was so bad I daren’t name it lest the artist in question should feel wronged.

Cheryl sported a slicked back do and a mermaid tail after that,
Dannii looked pretty in feathery white as she took a bow next to her Matt.

Louis sat patiently in his dickie bow tie looking on as his colleagues acts shone,
He put all his strength into supporting Rebecca urging scousers to pick up the phone.

But it wasn’t enough for the J-Lo-alike as decorator Matt took the crown,
Yet she stood and she radiated staying true to her grace in a floor-length shimmering red gown.

So what will become of our X Factor champ as critics are already quick to compare,
Him to Mr Brookstein of the debut show, of whom no one has heard hide or hair.

I predict more success for Dannii’s protégé,
Mark my words that Mr Cardle is definitely here to stay!

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Chapter Two

The clanging became more insistent. ‘I have to get out of here,’ Lacey thought. Suddenly, her eyes flew open. Heart thumping; her eyes roamed wildly, searching for the source of the ringing. She alighted on the illuminated device on her bedside table. It was 7am.

It was a dream. It had all been a dream.

Frantically, she threw herself out from under the covers and began pulling out garments from drawers and cupboards. A rush of dizzying nausea washed over her and she slumped back onto the bed for a moment, regaining her centre. She continued with her morning routine, slipping into her shirt and trouser suit, which she had ironed and pressed the night before. Her mother, a nurse, had already left for work, leaving Lacey alone in the house. Her head throbbed as anxiety and panic gripped her. Doing her best to ignore it, she shouldered her handbag and retrieved her portfolio from the dining room table.

‘I’m going to get this job. I’m going to get this job.’ She repeated her mantra the whole way down the road, inwardly buoying herself along as she made her way into the train station.

Plugging her headphones into her iPod she stood back as the train roared into the station. Joining the crush of people flowing on, she squeezed herself into a space and leaned against the seats of the train carriage prepared to just immerse herself in the music. No such luck, at the next stop an inordinately rude girl stepped onto the train. Lacey tried not to listen as she spewed profanities and verbal abuse into her mobile directed at some poor sod who was apparently at home and thereby unhindered by the affliction of rush-hour tube travel. Phone call over, angry girl then turned her fury on some poor fellow standing in front of her. Blasting him for his McDonald’s-own coffee breath and abject proximity to her in such a small and confined space; she muttered that situations such as this explained how people were convicted of ABH. Lacey exchanged an alarmed look with the lady standing opposite. Coffee breath tried to explain there was little manoeuvrability for him as angry girl pointed out some space behind him. To her irritation he refused to move into it. She huffed and puffed until the train finally pulled into Finchley Road where to everyone’s relief she alighted – Lacey assumed to wreak havoc for the community of the Jubilee Line.

A deluge of people replaced angry girl and others who got off and the train continued forward on its journey. A few minutes after departing the next station, the train heaved to an untimely stop somewhere within the tunnel. Most people didn’t particularly notice this fact, engrossed in morning headlines and assorted literature. Then the lights went out plunging the train into darkness. Lacey looked up at the carriage ceiling, expecting the overhead beams to come back on. But nothing happened. Trying to ignore the unease tugging at her consciousness, she studied her fellow passengers in the muted light. People on top of people. Bags pressed into the backs of others. Sighs of irritation. The hands on so many watches ticking down the minutes as they stood and sat in unfriendly silence, willing the train to move forward so they could attend to appointments, meetings and other working commitments.

The driver’s voice crackled through the intercom. It sounded alien and far away.
‘Sorry for the delay to your journey Ladies and Gents, I’m just waiting to hear what the problem is but hopefully we’ll be on the move again soon.’ A murmur of discontented grumbles passed through the carriage. Lacey tried to peer out, beyond the double layered windows into the tunnel but recoiled at seeing the red brick of wall mere inches from the train’s exterior. Breathing heavily she fished in her bag for the bottle of Rescue Remedy she had plucked from the bathroom cabinet before leaving the house. Her trusty aid for the nerve-inducing ordeal of the interview; she slipped a few drops onto her tongue now, relishing the taste of the calming ingredients as they dissolved in her mouth.

She swallowed and shifted slightly on her 4” black Louboutin heels. Discomfort was beginning to settle on her limbs as the time passed, slowly.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Chapter One

She couldn’t understand it. One moment she’d been sitting patiently in the lobby with her portfolio, alongside all the other girls in their starched white shirts and Zara trouser suits, waiting for her name to be called. The next she appeared to be suspended in some kind of alternate reality. The room, empty and dark with high ceilings and low-hanging chandeliers looked across between the hotel ballroom in The Shining and the decorated hall of her graduation ball. The red leather couch which had moments ago been occupied by two other girls, fidgeting and nervous, was now bare. Lacey made to stand up, causing something to rustle underfoot. She looked down to find the pages of her carefully constructed portfolio fanned out in a chaotic pile on the marble floor.

She tried to peer into the blackness and called out. ‘Is anyone there?’ But all that she heard was her own voice echoing back at her from the cavernous corners of the eerie gloom.

The job she had been about to interview for was as a Junior Copywriter within one of London’s top advertising agencies. Highly competitive, ruthlessly creative and the ideal beginning to her dream career. The application process had been a nightmare. As it turned out, thinking outside the box was not as easy as the woman on the phone had made it sound. ‘Just remember, she’d said. ‘You’re idea has got to be better than all the other hundreds of applicants.’ Lacey was sure she had meant it to spur her on, but she’d hung up the phone more apprehensive than ever.

The brief she’d been set was to develop a television ad campaign for Blue Star, the up-and-coming denim brand of the tweenage generation. So she’d brainstormed and called upon the prepubescent thoughts of her youngest sister and her friends and worked it all out on a big A3 flip pad from Rymans. Convinced she’d landed on a genius idea she’d run it past her Dad’s advertising pal who’d been in the business for ten or so years, and who had encouraged her to apply in the first place. He had tweaked and critiqued in red pen and handed it back to her to polish up. She’d cried with premature defeat and had then wiped her eyes, berated her self-doubt and got on with the task at hand. Happy now with the final result, involving gymnasts wearing the jeans and performing a series of routines in them to reveal their elasticity and comfort before teaming them with the sparkly halter tops favoured by her sister’s generation to take them from day to night; Lacey had sent off her application to Wyatt and Sullivan with immense trepidation.

Hardly daring to check the post, her email or her answer machine messages, she had immersed herself in mundane chores around the house, helping her mother with washing, shopping, cleaning and cooking. Anything to distract herself from thinking about what the outcome would be. This was the first proper paying job she had applied for since leaving university. Of course she had managed to secure the required work experience, the first placement via her Dad’s advertising buddy, Phil, and afterwards, through sheer determination and initiative. She had proved herself a remarkable asset and all five placements had resulted in glowing reviews and reams of examples for her portfolio.

The call from Wyatt and Sullivan had come exactly eleven days later, not that she’d been counting, from the same woman who had filled her with doubt over her application. She’d been granted an interview and was to appear at the firm’s London office two days later. As soon as the line had disconnected, she’d emitted a scream of unadulterated joy. The nerves had soon set in however as it dawned on her that she’d only made it past round one.

Somewhere in the depths of blackness a ringing started up, muffled at first but gradually gaining momentum. Lacey shut her eyes.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Two Fat Ladies

Mary and Ann, no not wives of a King,
This weekend took their final spin and sing.

Strictly fans finally booted out, the mouthy PM known as Widdy,
As Scott & Nat danced circles around her, turning her head all giddy.

A twist in the usual proceedings saw Mary ousted for Cher,
Cowell, Cole & Minogue voted no, as Louis cried it just wasn’t fair.

Mary beat the crying Cher hands down with her vocal skill,
But Cher’s urban cool has Simon convinced she’ll more likely top the bill.

Last night saw a spectacular host of guests wow the cheering crowd,
From upside down violinists to Glee it was a night to make music proud.

Cheryl’s music pal and his fellow Black Eyed Peas,
Had the time of their lives on the X Factor stage – but that Will, he’s a right old tease.

He wouldn’t confirm either way which of Cheryl’s girls he prefers,
He thinks Rebecca’s having a Gaye old time but he also rather likes Cher.

The cast of Glee incited the finalists to keep on believing they can win,
As Matt, Rebecca, One Direction and Cher, prepare to learn who’ll sink and who’ll swim.

Meanwhile on Strictly a romance was aired as Kara’s partner confirmed they’re an Artem,
And their Moulin Rouge Tango was sizzling hot – the judges just can’t get enough of them!

Pamela scored a perfect 4-0 on the weekend she turned 61,
While Matt Baker injected the show with some goofy and groovy and most of all, fun!

Gavin finally turned in a brilliant performance with a Blues Brothers’ inspired routine,
Mastering the dancefloor with two weeks to go – will he realise his other sporting dream?

Back to ITV and the ‘next big boyband’ are continuing to take the show by storm,
Attending the world premiere of the new Narnia film, this lifestyle’s becoming the norm.

Although the clear vocalists are Rebecca and Matt, I’m not sure this year that’s enough,
As Britain’s population of teenage girls keep voting to save their teen crush.

Apparently flu was doing the rounds catching Simon and Matt in its trap,
To be honest though, I truly believe that VT was overkill of bedridden Matt.

It’s cold outside, and bugs abound, it’s standard for this time of year,
Let’s not make a federal case out of it, just get up and persevere.

Sympathy votes will no longer work as the finale edges closer to our screens,
But who will be voted as this year’s champion, our X Factor King(s) or Queen?

Friday, 3 December 2010

Life's Little Luxuries

* Is the knowledge that something is of the utmost quality
* Is embodied by prestige and superior craftsmanship
* Exists in Michelin starred restaurants, five star hotels, the rails in a designer store, decadent interiors and Fortnum & Mason
* Means paying top dollar because you know that it will last for years to come
* Comes wrapped in tissue paper with a silky bow around it
* Is exclusive, exceptional, unique
* Is the treat you indulge yourself with just once in awhile
* Distinguishes the classy from the classless
* Can be found where you are least expecting it – a boutique off a New York side street, a gorgeous body cream in Boots, the interior of a friend’s home…
* Is discernable by the rest of life’s experiences
* Can be enjoyed by just one person or by many all at once
* Implies a great deal of thought and affection when bestowed upon someone else
* Means something different depending on who you are and where you come from – it is something that makes you feel privileged, whether it be for one minute or one week
* Is immersing yourself in the pages of a good book
* Is a warm bath and hot food on a cold day
* A call from an old friend
* A handwritten letter from a loved one
* Is the way that dress, that necklace, that suit makes you feel when you wear it
* Is an hour long massage at your local spa
* Is a movie on a Wednesday afternoon
* Is a spontaneous lunch with friends
* Is spending the day at your favourite art gallery
* Is sitting front row at a concert or the theatre
* Is crawling into a comfortable bed at the end of a really long, hard day
* Is attainable for those who reach for it
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