It was a bright sunny morning but not that you would know it in this place. I would hazard a guess it has been sometime since the curtains had been opened and even longer since the room had been aired. The stench of discarded cigarettes mixed with the smell of cheap smelling perfume lingered like the familiarity of an old friend who had really outstayed their welcome.
The décor of the room was stylish……once!
I recognised the familiar pattern of expensive Sanderson chintz hanging on the walls, it matched the seemingly, permanently closed curtains. When I looked closer, I could see the spaces where paintings had previously hung in between the lobsided, dust covered photos. So many photos; black and white, Polaroid and what are those? Gosh, I haven’t seen framed newspaper clippings since my younger days when I would frame anything that even mentioned The Bay City Rollers. What is it that turns old newspaper yellow? I get a little nearer and think I recognise some of the faces but I can’t be sure.
The furniture is a mixture of antique and modern, it just looks all wrong. It feels like somebody is living in the past but being forced to make concessions to the here and now. My eyes scan the room further and I spy all the old dog eared magazines piled up under the coffee table. The same face seems to peer from them all. It’s the same face that is looking out from the signed black and white photos which sit alongside. I can’t make out the signature, looks more like a spider has tiptoed over the print with black painted feet. It’s funny, but even these photos look faded and forgotten somehow.
In the corner of the room stands a pretty sad looking TV and a mountain of video cassettes….who still uses video cassettes? There must be some very special memories on there to keep those hanging around. How I would love to let curiosity get the better of me and slide one of them quickly into the very finger marked video player, just for a glimpse of the secrets they hold. My mom always did tell that I was a nosy parker and that my job as a journalist suited me perfectly.
It feels like an age since the grumpy, old man opened the door and let me in. His tailed suit was almost as faded as the wallpaper but his air of subservience was almost endearing. He had made me a VERY strong pot of tea and left it over on the desk for me. I had put off drinking it as I really don’t do tea that would turn the stomach of any good builder. He had disappeared again after telling me that Miss Tilly would be with me shortly. Miss Tilly, who is she? I still don’t really know who I am here to interview, all I know is that she had approached the magazine….several times and finally I had drawn the short straw.
I wander over to the desk to tackle the tea and yuk there it is again, how I hate the smell of old tobacco and dirty old ashtrays overflowing with stubbed out cigarettes. Guaranteed to turn my stomach every time. I notice the traces of shocking pink lipstick on the nub ends, not my colour at all and I giggle to myself as I am pretty sure they don’t belong to Mr Grumpy, so I am guessing it’s Miss Tilly’s shade. As I sit and sip the ghastly tea, I notice the open diary and the first thing that strikes me is there is nothing in it, well almost nothing. There is an entry in for 9.30am every day “Call Agent” and then for today, there is me of course but nothing else, no birthdays, no appointments, nothing.
I glance down at the rubbish bin sitting at the side of the desk and see a letter which has been tossed in there. It’s open and wouldn’t take much to read it….Oh no I can’t, can I? Well it would be rude not too; after all I am doing a piece on Miss Tilly. I decide not to take it from the bin just in case but can see clearly it’s from BAFTA. Oh dear, seems Miss Tilly has been chasing up this years’ invite which apparently is not and was not ever coming. No wonder she has filed it in the bin.
I glance at my watch and add more sugar to the terrible, tannin loaded tea; well it might just help take the edge off and then I hear a shrill, high pitched voice bellowing orders for “more tea Gerald darling”. Just then, the door bursts open and in a cloud of cigarette smoke, sickly, sweet scent and a flash of pink lipstick, in wafts my subject with her hand outstretched in a fairly theatrical manner, not quite sure if I am meant to shake it or kiss it.
“Darling, Tilly Thomas, I am sure you have heard of me. Do come and sit down, I have SO much to tell you”.
©Tracey Louise Marinelli