Natalya foreword



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BRIAN, up left, in his lab, in a white coat, hums cheerily, reading print-outs.

In JACK's office, right, MICHELENE is bending over a desk getting a quick seeing to from JACK. The fax spews out a message. JACK leans sideways - reads - yelps. MICHELENE turns her head. He rips off the fax, holds it in front of her. They both whoop with glee at the message.
SCENE SIX

THE CAFE VIOLET. At lunch are EBBA, NATALYA and BA. They eat in silence for a beat. BA, head down, is eating with enjoyment and concentration. EBBA refills BA's glass with pink lemonade. CAROLLE enters, sees them, crosses to join them.
CAROLLE

Hi.
EBBA

Hullo.
CAROLLE

Having lunch?
EBBA

Ah...yes.
NATALYA

(Grabs CAROLLE by the arm.) You got them?
CAROLLE dives in her huge bag, waves tickets.
NATALYA

(To EBBA) For Ba and me.
CAROLLE

Tickets for the charity show.
EBBA

Oh Natalya! (To BA) Carolle's got tickets, you can go to the fashion show.
BA

Good. Fuck Michelene. (They laugh.)
EBBA

Ba! (To CAROLLE) Thanks, Carolle, I know they've been like gold, with the Princess coming.
BA

I be Princess.
NATALYA

Of course, darling. We find you marvellous dress...big jewels...
BA

Lots...
NATALYA

So many you can't walk.
BA

That's no good.
NATALYA

I'm joking.
BA

Oh. (Her hands are sticky, she wipes them in the tablecloth.)
EBBA

Ba!...use your head!
So BA wipes her hands on her head. They laugh.
BA bends her head to her food, then looks up abruptly.
BA

Why haven't I got a boyfriend?
EBBA and NATALYA look at each other.
NATALYA

Ah, who needs it?
BA

(Simply) I do.
An awkward silence. CAROLLE clears her throat, turns to EBBA.
CAROLLE

You were going to give me some tips...about writing...
EBBA

Oh. Yes. I'm a bit tied up at the moment...
NATALYA

Help her. (EBBA grimaces at her.) Ba...we buy hat.
BA gets up, takes food with her. She and NATALYA leave. CAROLLE leans forward, expectant.
EBBA

Oh. Ah...would you like something to drink - never mind... (as CAROLLE takes on her drinks decision face) have some Evian. (Pours for CAROLLE.)
CAROLLE

(Waving for WAITER) They know me here. Could I have it with a dash of Perrier, or if they haven't got Perrier, just a splash - a smidgen of Malvern water? (Waves frantically. The WAITER walks the other way.)
EBBA

Have some lemon. (Chucks a lemon from the table display into Carolle's glass.) Oh, sorry...(as it splashes CAROLLE).
CAROLLE

It doesn't matter. I'm not dressy. Not anything really.
EBBA tries to think of something to say.
EBBA

We were going to...you were going to tell me about...

CAROLLE

Yes.
Another silence. EBBA makes to start, sighs and stops.
CAROLLE

I realise...
EBBA

Sure. (Has a go) You want to...ah...write?
CAROLLE

Yes.
EBBA

Apart from journalism.
CAROLLE

I'm never going to get anywhere with that. Let's face it, it's who you know. And legs.
EBBA

Surely that's true whatever you - (she catches CAROLLE's eye, shuts up. Pause.) Now. Let's see. What books do you like? Thrillers?
CAROLLE

If they're not too gory.
EBBA

Adventure?
CAROLLE

Not really.
EBBA

Love stories? Joanna Trollope? Rose Tremain?
CAROLLE

Oh yes.
EBBA

Anita Brookner?
CAROLLE pulls a face.
EBBA

Bit of a downer?


CAROLLE

What's wrong with happy endings? It is fiction.
The WAITER leans over, refills their glasses with Evian.
EBBA

(After an awkward silence.) Being a writer is a lonely life.
CAROLLE

Not for you.
EBBA

That's because you don't see me when I'm working. (Thoughtfully) They do say it helps if you've known pain.
CAROLLE

Pain? My editor says I look like something that's happened to Julia Roberts.
EBBA laughs.
CAROLLE

I did have an idea. About a woman.
EBBA

Go on...
CAROLLE

About a woman who looks after her mother. Then the mother leaves.
EBBA

Did your mother leave?
CAROLLE

Yes. (Slight pause) She was very good-looking. Slim.
EBBA

Your father?
CAROLLE

He was always afraid she would walk out.
EBBA

Write it. Write the story.


CAROLLE

I don't know how it ends.
EBBA

Good - it can end the way you want. (She looks up as MICHELENE and JACK loom over her, both grinning broadly.) What are you doing here?
JACK

Three guesses.
MICHELENE

In the bag!
EBBA

What?
JACK

It's happened!
MICHELENE

One big happy family! Tara! (Does a twirl.)
EBBA

What's happened?
JACK

Lamarr Wainthropp. Taken over you, me, amalgamating seven companies under the Wainthropp umbrella...we're all part of the biggest international publishing consortium on the globe.
MICHELENE

Celebration time! (As CAROLLE hovers) Hullo, Carolle.
CAROLLE

Wow! May I do a feature - ?
MICHELENE

Ring my office. Waiter, could we have a bottle of champagne? Krug?
NATALYA appears with BA, who is wearing a colourful new shortie coat with silver dangly bits and carrying a striped hat box.
BA

Hi guys, what's cooking?
She pulls a grotesque face at MICHELENE.
MICHELENE

?
BA

(Hisses) I'm in my element.
MICHELENE

Has she been drinking?
JACK

(To NATALYA) Celebration! We've just been taken over by Mr Big - Lamarr Wainthropp... the czar of publishing...where's the bloody champagne?
NATALYA

Fantastisch! My husband! (Kisses him.)
CAROLLE

Won't it mean shake-out?
JACK

Possibly, probably. But it means bigger capitalization, wider circulation...better deals for all our clients...(hugs EBBA) darling...if you want that place on a windy beach with a leaky beach hut - room for a mansion out back - (WAITER serves champagne.)
EBBA

This is good? (BA knocks hers back, gets a refill.)
NATALYA

More money?
JACK

Yes...yes! (To each.)
EBBA

(To MICHELENE) You think so?
MICHELENE

Way of the world. Publishing as Gentlemen's Relish? - for the birds!
EBBA

If you can't beat them, join them.
MICHELENE

Absolutely!
JACK

Art's always been dependant on patrons...kings, emperors -
BA holds her glass out to NATALYA for more champagne.
MICHELENE

- now it's press barons.
CAROLLE

There's sure to be shake out.
MICHELENE

To Lamarr Wainthropp! God bless his Y-fronts, health and happiness to all who sail in the new ship Conglomerate...yoohoo!
BA spews up all over MICHELENE.
BRIAN enters his lab, switches on light. There is a projector. He switches on and projects slides of wriggling worms. He twiddles the knob till he gets a close-up of a worm.
BRIAN

Oh, you beautiful creature!
He sits, leaning forward, gazes at the close-up of the worm.
In her corner, CAROLLE sits, slumped in her chair, depressed. She switches on the television, can't stand the loud chatter, switches off and just sits.
SCENE SEVEN
JACK

(Paces in dinner jacket, calls) Come On!
MICHELENE enters in full taffeta, one leg bare to the thigh. Poses for his verdict.
JACK

Yeah! - catch up with that later - Ebba...
EBBA enters, looking beautiful.
JACK

Woo-woo!
EBBA

Shut up.
MICHELENE

You see? She can - when she wants.
JACK takes their wraps from MICHELENE, hustles them out.
JACK

Come on, we're late...
BA tries on NATALYA'S clothes. CAROLLE eats from a large bag of crisps.

Later. EBBA and JACK. They are in the same clothes.
JACK

I can't believe it. Usually he's pretty foxy, he's like a lot of these money guys, he's sharp enough to keep his trap shut, but he never stopped talking to you. What was he saying?
EBBA

We were talking about birds.
JACK

Birds?
EBBA

He was brought up near the seashore, like Bri and me. Funny when you grow up by the sea... makes you claustrophobic inland.
JACK

Did he say that?
EBBA

Yes. I said I felt the same.
JACK

You were on the terrace for ages. Did he come on to you?
EBBA

No.

JACK

What about you?
EBBA

Me?
JACK

Yah - do you find him attractive?
EBBA

(Shrugs) For an older man. There's the aphrodisiac of success - the power thing.
JACK

Rattle of the wallet turns you on, huh?
EBBA

No, but I recognise it.



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