By Eleanor Duxbury
Another entry in our Write Across Sussex competition.
As Tanya tottered out of the Coliseum at two in the morning feeling rather poorly there was only one thing on her mind. Cat food. Most specifically, how was she going to get any at this time? She didn’t even own a cat.
Tanya vaguely remembered the beginning of the evening. She and her best mate Sharon had decided to have a girls’ night out to celebrate or mourn depending on your point of view the ending of Sharon’s relationship with live in boyfriend Jack. Celebrate in Tanya’s view was the right word – she had a low opinion of Jack whom she thought the meanest man on the planet. She’d never seen him buy Sharon anything not even a mouldy bunch of flowers. Mourn was Sharon’s view who thought the sun shone out of Jack’s fundament. Anyway, a two –for- the- price -of -one dinner in some pub or other in the High Street followed by free drinks (they knew the barman) in a trendy little bar. Then the Coliseum nightclub so named because of the fake plastic Roman columns and an equally fake plastic model of a Roman centurion propping up the columns.
Tania and Sharon had been coming to the Coliseum since their days at school. There were other clubs but the Coliseum only charged five pounds to get in. They both worked in the District Council parking enforcement section. Steady work as their families used to say. But Tanya had other ambitions. She wanted to be a model. With long blonde hair, large blue eyes and a size 8 figure she had had no trouble in getting on the books of a local model agency who had promised lots of work. However, no work had been forthcoming since registering and her modelling ambitions looked unlikely to be fulfilled.
Suddenly, earlier that day had come the chance of her very first modelling job. Her agency had phoned her up the previous morning and asked her to come in to their office in Potters Bar. She had told her office she had a dental appointment and took the bus there - she thought the chances of anyone recognising her were minimal.
A glass case containing a ballerina was sitting on the model booker Sue’s desk. She motioned to Tania to sit down in an armchair in front of the desk while she turned the key allowing the ballerina to pirouette around and around to the disembodied melody of The Dying Swan. Tania tried to keep her face straight but finally started giggling.
“What’s this got to do with modelling?” she asked.
“Well you might ask, “Sue replied “I have to say we do get some weird assignments. “
But seeing Tania’s face she hurriedly added:
“Don’t worry, there’s nothing pervy about it. It’s for a cat charity.”
“A cat charity?” Tania said “What’s the connection between a ballerina and a cat charity?”
“I think they said that they wanted to draw comparisons between the grace and suppleness of a ballerina and the grace and suppleness of a cat. And it’s cheaper to pose a cat with an automatic ballerina in a glass case than to find a Royal Ballet company star looking for a bit of cash.!
“And how do I fit into this? “Tania asked baffled. “Does the charity want me to do pirouettes?”
“Nothing complicated. All they want you to do is to sit with the cat on your lap while you feed it, with the ballerina turning round and round in the glass case in the background behind you.”
“Sounds pretty weird to me, “Tania said but when she was told how much she would be paid decided she could deal with a bit of weirdness.
“Just one thing,” Sue called after her as she left the agency “take a tin of cat food with you in case they forget to bring any. “
“Funny sort of charity that can’t be trusted to bring cat food with them, “Tania thought to herself as she walked out of the model agency.
It was already eleven o’clock. The first shop she went to didn’t sell cat food. The second had just sold out. Tania looked at her watch and decided that she had been at the mythical dentist’s appointment long enough and rushed back to her office. She’d get some cat food later. As she keyed in figures to her computer she dreamt about where this modelling job might lead to. Everyone has to start somewhere. It could have been a lot worse – toilet paper, anti-perspirants, haemorrhoid cream …… Who knows what she might be doing in a few months from now –running along a beach advertising tanning lotion, running her fingers through her flowing locks advertising shampoo or running her fingers through a huge pile of lovely, jubbly notes and coins – the sky’s the limit she thought breathlessly to herself as she daydreamed in front of her computer.
But right now at two o’clock in the morning she had no tin of cat food and her chances of finding any before her model assignment at seven the following morning were to say the least of it pretty remote. She shouldn’t have gone out for the evening with Sharon, no, she could have gone out with her but she shouldn’t have stayed so late, no, she should not have given up trying to find a shop so quickly yesterday. It was all too much for her. She went to the nearest taxi rank – Sharon had in the last hour decided that Jack wasn’t so bad after all after viewing the miserable youths at the Coliseum club and gone back to Jack’s flat. What happened to female solidarity Tania thought as she sat in the cab.
“You don’t look very happy,” the taxi driver said.
Tania burst into tears and recounted the whole story including the failure to buy a tin of cat food.
“My modelling career is over before it’s begun “she sobbed “and all for the sake of a tin of cat food.”
As she got out of the taxi having reached home he silently handed her a carrier bag. Inside the bag were two tins of cat food.
“I reckon the next Kate Moss needs this more than I do. I’ve got enough at home to last for a couple of days.” he said.
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