darlings – we’ve got an Attorney! a lady-attorney.
and in Beverly Hills no less (very swish).
we are so relieved and intrigued and happy and ready-to-get-serious-about-business and all that – not that we weren’t before and we do have a NY based attorney but there was something so well – fabulous – about being in Beverly Hills and sipping mineral water and “talking to one’s attorney”.
it feels sparkly and hopeful.
and a sample of “Beige” from the Chanel boutique on Rodeo Drive (they only had huge bottles and we’re more of a compact-cute-can’t-drop-it-on-the-floor size of fragrance wearer).
a sample is always delicious.
actually, this morning, before we met Our New Attorney, we felt a lot like Alexis Colby’s sister (in RL) or perhaps (because of our new cat’s eyes glasses) a bit like another lady novelist of some repute, because we were Editing The Manuscript while referring to our Publisher’s Notes (it felt GLORIOUS) and writing the Catalog(ue) Copy *blush*.
and now we must WRITE more on The House on Church Row – and we feel especially inspired because our good friend Vickie Lester sent us this!
so, we’re almost there……….
The roads were jammed all the way south to Brighton. Women were driving the new Harden cars from as far afield as Scotland and had been traveling all night, fueled on Thermos of hot coffee and cheese and tomato sandwiches. Marion was astonished. She peered out from the passenger seat as they passed through odd little towns with names like Pease Pottage and saw thousands of women putting their foot down and making time while laughing and playing music, windows open to the breeze. Most of the cars were full – two women in the front, one driving and two, sometimes three if they were especially slim, in the back. It was a party on wheels and it was heading to Brighton.
At Preston Park, Lydia stopped to get petrol and Marion stretched her legs. A woman at the pump opposite recognized her from the press coverage. Suddenly women crowded around her, asking for her autograph and (strange to say for a group of Englishwomen) hugs. Marion had never felt so overwhelmed. Especially by the hugging from bosomy ladies with optimistic printed cotton dresses and delicately scented with lavender. Everyone wanted to tell Marion how she’d changed her life. Most had a story about buying the car as a rebellious instinct – a need to run away – be free at last. Others talked about reading Annabelle’s blog and finding their own voice. Marion was embarrassed to admit that she had not kept up with Annabelle’s blog. How long had she been writing it? The connections made around the blog, the campaign and the cars themselves were astonishing. There had never been a marketing push like it. And yet – and yet – Marion had to admit that she had little to do with it.
The campaign was good. Of course it was good. The graphics were excellent, the picture of the car suitably alluring and enticing and adorable, the copy promised more than a consumer product ever should. But that wasn’t why they bought the car. These women told her that reading what each other had said about the car sparked their imagination. Marion knew the boys in New York liked to talk about WOM (word of mouth, if you didn’t guess that one) but this more than people talking up a product. This was a movement.
Maybe she had not put any magic into the campaign at all. That was a bit galling. Marion had been feeling secretly proud of herself for doing it all over again. She wanted to taunt the boys in New York and Beijing and Moscow and force them to come after her. She was thrilled (not that she would admit it publicly) that Nigel himself, the last member of the Establishment, had decided to come out from behind the anonymous plush walls of his private club to teach her a lesson.
But what if none of this was her doing? What if it just happened at the right time? Well that changed everything.
Kelly managed to rescue her from the crowds of adoring women with a disgusted look and a swift pull on her arm. “Quite the working class feminist hero, aren’t you?” she sneered. Marion looked at her astonished. It was a team effort, she tried to explain, but Kelly could see that Marion was the only one they wanted to talk to.
By the time they reached Regency Square, Marion was dozing in the passenger seat. Lydia stopped the car and turned off the ignition. She pointed to Dorian in the back of the car. “We need to disguise you,” she said, darkly. Dorian nodded, he knew exactly what she meant.
“Radical red or brassy blonde?” he asked, digging into his huge bag and pulling out two wigs. Kelly laughed. The blonde wig looked exactly like the English movie star, Diana Dors. She tapped that one and he slipped it on expertly, applied some false eyelashes and bright red lipstick. “What about my outfit?” he said, looking down at his drainpipe jeans, Doctor Marten boots and skinny shrunken boy chest t-shirt. Kelly took off her leather jacket and gave it to him. He now looked like a blonde Stockard Channing from the movie Grease.
“Just keep the jacket open so no one can see you don’t have tits,” said Kelly, tapping Marion on the shoulder to wake her up.
“Huh?” said Marion, dozily. She looked back and saw Dorian and did a double take. “You look like Stockard Channing but with blonde hair,” she said, “When did you get changed?”
“You’ve been fast asleep since we left the petrol station at Preston Park,” said Lydia, “Come on, we’re here.” She got out of the car and stretched in the late afternoon sunshine. She loved Brighton. It was one of those places that her mother thought was beyond the pale – such a naughty little seaside kiss-me-quick town.
Regency Square was a 19th century development that was once very posh and had now fallen on hard times. A few grand rooms remained inside multi-person flats as memories of what was. But many of the houses were now hotels for drifting tourist trade. The view of the sea though, was glorious. Twinkling in the six o’clock sunshine, the green railings stood proudly with a seagull perched on every one, looking out to sea like statues.
Lydia consulted her notes and knocked on the basement door of one of the once grand houses. There was no answer. She looked worriedly around. Her phone rang. It was Charlotte. She had not enjoyed the journey south – the buffet car was closed and smoking was banned, even out the window of the loos (she had been caught by the conductor and let off with a warning because she terrified him so much).
“Where the hell are you?” said Charlotte. Lydia was plaintive, she read out the address from the piece of paper. Charlotte was merciless. “It moved! A Decade ago!” she gave her the new address in Cambridge Grove. Lydia piled everyone back into the car and drove just under two miles east. They took ages to park and finally found a spot adjacent to Cambridge Grove, a small mews street, with garages at street level.
“So this is Brighton,” said Marion, looking around.
“Hove, actually,” said Charlotte who was standing just inside the double doors of a mechanics garage. She quickly motioned for them to follow her and went through the garage and out into a tiny back garden and through a door in the fence. They were now inside a mews house on the other side. Some very serious-faced women in overalls (or dungarees as the English call them) were sitting drinking mugs of tea in the kitchen. It felt like an underground meeting of modern suffragettes.