The coco pinchard boxset.., p.22
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       The Coco Pinchard Boxset: 5 bestselling romantic comedies in one!, p.22

           Robert Bryndza

  Tuesday 4th August 23.44

  TO: [email protected]

  We did our dress rehearsal today. Our theatre, The Carnegie Main, is one of six venues in the old abattoir. It has three hundred seats. As we were arriving, the show on before us, One Man Titanic, was finishing its dress rehearsal. We had to help the actor out of his costume when one of his funnels got jammed in the doorframe.

  I asked Byron if he had been using a special aroma machine because it stunk of seawater, but apparently it’s from real seawater leaking in. The Leith is tidal and The Carnegie Main sits below the water table.

  We used up all the time we had for our technical rehearsal so we didn’t quite get to the end of the play, which was alarming. Chris had a crisis when he saw that the stage is triangular as opposed to the square shape we have been working with, so now the positioning of the actors is wrong.

  When we finished, Hugo had to be rushed to hospital. Byron had mistakenly bought model aeroplane glue instead of latex glue for his stick-on Prince Charles ears.

  “Ah, this is Edinburgh for you,” said Clive. “It’ll get better!”

  We have sold two tickets for the first show tomorrow.

  Tuesday 4th August 12.00

  TO: [email protected]

  I have just been to The Carnegie Theatre box office and none of the journalists who received our press release are coming. We have only sold two tickets out of three hundred for today.

  The actors have been giving out flyers on the Royal Mile since eight. I made them do it in costume, to help with publicity. I thought Rosencrantz would attract the gay audience if he wore the speedos he has in the Cannes beach sequence. It’s very cold though. He went blue at ten thirty and he’s being cared for by a couple of Polish girls in a sandwich bar. They have wrapped him in catering foil.

  Hugo is making everyone depressed. He keeps repeating how his life as an actor is a joke. He had to sit in casualty until two this morning in huge prosthetic ears. Byron is mortified.

  Tuesday 4th August 17.12

  TO: [email protected]

  The two paying customers in the audience were a nice couple from Lowestoft. I sat a couple of rows behind them with Chris. They were very polite afterwards, and said they would “spread the word”. I am tempted to follow them and cut the brake cables on their car. It was a disaster. We had forgotten lines, people falling over, and Spiffy had a wardrobe malfunction with a jammed chinstrap, so Camilla Parker-Bowles was still wearing her riding hat when she was in the bath with Prince Charles.

  The cast is meeting for an urgent rehearsal in the living room of Palace Apartments. There was barely room for the actors, so Clive offered to take me out for afternoon tea.

  We went to The Elephant House tearoom, where JK Rowling allegedly scribbled the first Harry Potter novel on napkins, sheltering from the cruel Edinburgh wind. She must have cleaned them out. The little napkin I got with my scone could hardly fit a limerick.

  During his second scone, Clive very politely brought up the subject of money. I was mortified that, in all the chaos, he hadn’t been paid. As I fished in my bag for his envelope of cash, he asked me if I knew of a reasonable tailor. His ragged clothes are not much against the Scottish weather. I said he could get a lovely suit for under fifty quid from George at ASDA.

  “Let’s tally ho then!” he said, excitedly.

  ASDA is a little way outside Edinburgh and as we drove, the sky seemed to get greyer, which made me more despondent. Clive’s mood also dropped when he realised that George at ASDA was not an in-house tailor.

  I heard him mutter, “Stiff upper lip, Richardson,” to himself as he selected a decent off-the-peg suit, and a lovely warm coat.

  As we reached the checkout, my phone went off with a message from Byron. We have only sold one ticket for our show tomorrow. I turned to the chewing gum rack and tried not to cry.

  “Come on, dear girl,” said Clive, handing me a napkin. “Now is the time for guts and guile.”

  On our way back I drove slowly past The Carnegie Theatre. Outside was a huge queue for Regina Battenberg’s show.

  “I’ve never given much cop to British wine,” said Clive loyally. “Only good for sterilising wounds.”

  When we returned, Chris said the rehearsal had been a success. They were all tucking in to take away and singing show tunes at the tops of their voices. I came upstairs to lie on my camp bed. I don’t know if I can take a month of this. It’s a bit like I am on a school trip… I am thinking about Adam again.

  Wednesday 5th August 16.30

  TO: [email protected]

  No audience at all today. We did sell the one ticket, but the person turned up late and the theatre refuses to admit latecomers. It’s a shame because it was much better, everything worked well, and the actors were far less nervous.

  Hugo and Beryl were very unhappy in the bar afterwards. They told Byron, who told Chris, who told me, that we should have observed the theatre tradition that if the actors outnumber the audience then they don’t “go on”. I am worried there will be a cast revolt. Right now getting seven people to buy tickets seems like a tall order.

  After a stiff drink, I went to the box office and spoke to a camp young chap in huge Jarvis Cocker-style glasses.

  “Why didn’t you paper the house, darling?” he drawled.

  I looked at him, confused.

  “Paper the house,” he repeated.

  He saw my confusion.

  “Darling. Paper means free tickets, house means theatre. The Carnegie gives you a hundred tickets per show per first three previews, helps with the word of mouth.”

  I asked if everyone was papering.

  “Oh yes, everyone’s houses are thoroughly papered.”

  “What about the Regina Battenberg chat show?”

  “Heavily papered,” he said knowingly.

  Byron offered to resign when I told her. She started beating her breast and saying she had “lost face” and “brought shame on her profession”.

  I poured her a drink and said she wasn’t going anywhere. Without her this will all fall apart. She’s the only one who can get the actors up to give out leaflets in the morning.

  Friday 7th August 06.00

  TO: [email protected]

  Regina Battenberg was on ITV’s This Morning yesterday morning, doing promo for her chat show. What with the exposure to millions of viewers and the fact she gives her audience free booze, I can never compete.

  No one is buying our tickets, and the few that have done seem to only have bought one to get out of the rain. Yesterday we had a smattering of old people with their wet coats slowly giving off steam.

  I miss seeing you, my house, and pootling around the allotment. I need space! Sharing a box room with Chris is fine but he has been having nightmares about the show and keeps shouting out in his sleep. He woke me up at five so I came for a walk up to Calton Hill. I am sitting smoking on a beautiful monument. It is based on the Parthenon in Athens. A row of huge pillars sits on a marble base. It has no real purpose, and it is quite extraordinary to see it shrouded in mist, on a hill in Scotland.

  Below me, Edinburgh is twinkling in the dawn. Today is a big day – we have a reviewer in from Scotsgay magazine. Byron is getting everyone up at seven to be on the Royal Mile by eight. I know the actors, especially the older ones, aren’t going to like it.

  “We don’t operate before ten,” they keep saying. I have now had to bribe them with proper cigarettes. They all smoke roll-ups.

  Have you seen Adam at the allotment? If so, how was he looking? Did he ask about me? When are you coming to visit?

  Friday 7th August 18.40

  TO: [email protected]

  Ten in the audience today, which halted a cast revolt. Scotsgay sent a teenage Royalist. He was horrified with just about everything in the show. He found Charles and Camilla’s singing sex scene crude, and he hated how Lady Diana Spencer is played as a rather dim Sloan
e Ranger. He said we were committing treason. Well, he didn’t say it to me; he spent twenty minutes talking to Rosencrantz who told me. Scotsgay goes to press tomorrow.

  Regina Battenberg’s chat show sold out today. Her special guests were Keith and Orville.

  Saturday 8th August 15.30

  TO: [email protected]

  Just an update on figures:

  Reviews: None, we are not in the new edition of Scotsgay and no one at their office is taking my calls.

  Audience members: Eight.

  Hours it has rained today so far: Twelve.

  Chris woke me up at three-thirty this morning shouting, “I’ve cursed the play!”

  Morale is very low. We all got soaked this morning, and the heating is off in the flat. No one has any fifty pence pieces. As of now, we haven’t sold ANY tickets for tomorrow.

  The only good thing is that I have managed to avoid Regina Battenberg, which is easy; she wouldn’t be seen dead in Leith. She is staying in the penthouse at The Scotsman Hotel.

  Sunday 9th August 17.00

  TO: [email protected]

  Today plumbed new depths for the show. When four people turned up to watch, Beryl and Hugo refused to go on stage. No amount of cigarettes could get them to change their minds. Spiffy accused Beryl and Hugo of being unprofessional, and soon a week’s worth of pent-up emotions was released.

  I had to go on stage and announce, over the arguing backstage, that the performance was cancelled. The audience, consisting of two elderly couples, left, but then reappeared two minutes later to demand a refund. The Carnegie told them they hadn’t authorised the cancellation, so we were liable.

  I have never felt so depressed as when I was rummaging around in my handbag to give them their money back. The backstage argument then spilled out onto the stage as Queen Elizabeth slapped Camilla Parker-Bowles across the face. Prince Charles stepped in and tried to separate them. Clive, who was watching in horror, began to improvise some dramatic music. For a moment, one of the pensioners looked unsure about his refund, but his wife snatched the money out of my hand and pulled him away.

  It was then that I walked out. I took a back road away from the hordes of tourists on the Royal Mile and made my way through the winding streets, smoking furiously. Then my phone went. It was Angie saying she had landed at Edinburgh Airport. The Carnegie Theatre management has called an emergency meeting to discuss “ongoing audience attendance issues”. There was yelling and shouting in the background. I asked what was going on.

  “There’s photographers all over the airport,” said Angie. “Kate Moss is flying in.”

  “Is she coming to the Festival?”

  “Look,” said Angie pausing. “You’ll probably hear anyway, she’s here to do Regina Battenberg’s chat show. It’s attracted huge media attention. Kate Moss rarely speaks, let alone does interviews.”

  We are waiting to go into The Carnegie Theatre Manager’s office. Angie is muttering to herself and Chris is in tears, saying that everything he touches is doomed to fail.

  Sunday 9th August 18.04

  TO: [email protected]

  The Carnegie Theatre Managers are Inga and Orla Shaw, identical twin sisters in their early twenties, and they hate us. They had wanted Anne Frank: Reloaded and through Angie’s underhand dealings, we foisted Chasing Diana Spencer: The Musical onto them. Now it was payback. They were dressed very Hoxton cool in matching blue Victorian lace dresses with a high frill collar and space age reading glasses. I could see they were trying to be cool, but they looked a bit like the twins from The Shining off to see something at the IMAX.

  Angie was feisty, but we had no trump card to play. On Tuesday, they want to move us to another of their venues called The Carnegie Fun Bags. Which are two tiny inflatable cubes in a car park at the top of the Royal Mile. It has twelve seats.

  We are doing a swap with a show called Twitterati, something to do with tweeting on Twitter, and video screens. It has become huge and people are clamouring to see it.

  Angie asked them what would happen if we refused. They said we would be liable for the first 40% of gross ticket losses.

  We agreed and left. I cried, Chris cried, Angie had a tear in her eye, but it could have been smoke. I think I am going to get the show settled in the new venue and come home. I now have to go and tell the cast.

  On our way out, we saw Kate Moss arriving for her interview with Regina Battenberg. There were so many flash bulbs that I feared for epileptics.

  Sunday 9th August 20.24

  TO: [email protected]

  Chris has done what he always does when things go tits up and booked himself a suite in a hotel. I have come too, to get away, and keep an eye on him. Angie has flown back to London. She didn’t say much; we are both going to lose a lot of money and I think she is finally about to cut me loose.

  How is the cast? I have put a bag of fifty pences on top of the meter, plus cash for a take-away on the table in the hall of Palace Apartments. The one I feel worse for is Beryl. I had no clue she had a casting director coming on Tuesday who is interested in her for a part in a film. The show will look awful on a four-foot-square inflatable stage.

  If you want to get out, there is a bed here.

  Mum x

  Sunday 9th August 23.33

  TO: [email protected]

  I called Daniel from the phone in my hotel room. I don’t know why. I suppose I just wanted to talk. He was always good to talk to. I told him all about the show, and I told him I missed him… which I don’t. I miss the idea of him.

  He admitted that Whistle Up The Wind is in trouble. Middle America hates it.

  Audiences come thinking it’s the sequel to Whistle Down The Wind and get confused/angry or bored. They just did a week in Springfield, Massachusetts and the huge venue was only a quarter full. They are all waiting for the phone call to say it’s closing.

  “I might need a place to live,” he said.

  I panicked and put the phone down. I could see where this was going, and in my vulnerable state of mind, I might end up asking him to come back. It rang a few times, but I ignored it and turned off the light.

  Monday 10th August 14.45

  TO: [email protected]

  I was woken by the phone next to my bed, shrieking in the darkness. Fearing it was Daniel, I let it ring out. Then my iPhone began to trill. It was Rosencrantz.

  “Mum, it’s me. Wake up,” he said excitedly. “Tell the concierge I’m your son, and that he should let me up to your room.”

  “What?” I said, looking at my watch. “It’s two in the morning!”

  “I’ve just seen the front page of tomorrow’s, well today’s, Sun,” gabbled Rosencrantz. “You’re not going to believe this. On the front page, there’s a picture of Kate Moss, and she’s holding our poster, the poster for Chasing Diana Spencer: The Musical!”

  The concierge came on the line and asked if I knew who this excited young man was. I said I did, and to let him come up. By the time Rosencrantz arrived, I had made some tea. He handed me the newspaper.

  The picture was a close-up of Kate Moss sitting outside a pub on the Royal Mile with Regina Battenberg. Kate was laughing at something Regina was saying and in her hand was our poster.

  The Sun headline read:


  My iPhone rang again, it was Angie.

  “Have you seen this?” she said. “I just spoke to the pap who sold the picture. He says that Kate wasn’t really looking at the poster, she used it to fix the wobbly table outside the pub.”

  “Oh,” I said disappointed. “So she didn’t want to see the show?”

  “Course not. She folded it up and shoved it under the table leg. But in the picture she looks like she’s planning to see it!”

  Angie hung up.

  “Talk about luck,” said Rosencrantz. “Remember that book Skinny Bitch? It sold a packet after Victoria Beckham was pict
ured holding it.”

  “What are we getting excited about?” I said. “The fact we’re the reason Regina Battenberg’s lager doesn’t get spilt?”

  “This is how the noughties work,” shrugged Rosencrantz. “It’s not about getting things on merit or hard work, it’s all about opportunity and branding.”

  I said I was going back to sleep, that this was all ridiculous, and I wasn’t about to get worked up about our poster being used to fix a wonky table leg.

  An excited Chris woke me at ten o’clock the next morning.

  “Why didn’t you wake me up? Byron just phoned,” he said. “We’ve sold a hundred tickets for today’s show. The box office has only been open an hour!”

  My mouth fell open. By the time I got dressed and down to the Royal Mile, today’s show only had thirty seats left.

  The difference in the cast is incredible. All the fighting has been forgotten; they are brimming with excitement at the prospect of a full house. Just before 2pm, the show sold out!

  We are about to go in, Chris and I are going to have to sit with Byron at her technical table as there are no spare seats!

  Friday 14th August 16.02

  TO: [email protected]

  It has been an amazing few days. After Kate Moss was pictured holding our poster, on the front page of The Sun, Chasing Diana Spencer: The Musical became THE must-see show at the Festival. By 1pm on Tuesday, we had sold out every ticket for the rest of the run and there were requests for press tickets and interviews from every newspaper and magazine covering the Festival.

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