Chapter 12:

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Action and Adventure  |  House: Booksie Classic

Reads: 221

Chapter 12

Maggie and Jack attended a cocktail party for new arrivals where he saw his new Australian friend entering; Jack steered Alanya to Maggie's side. The women were soon laughing and carrying on like friends. Maggie said she and Jack were pleased to being involved with a dinkum Aussie family.

"Yes, I suppose we are a typical family of sorts - at least as a group we are dysfunctional."

Maggie lost some of her wine, she being convulsed in laughter.

After dinner the threesome went clubbing, enjoying themselves in the tradition of carefree holidaymakers.

Arriving back at their room a little before two the next morning, Maggie and Jack undressed, lay on top of the bed and after a friendly cuddle just drifted off to sleep, rather anaesthetized by alcohol.

Jack went to the bathroom a couple of hours after dawn and returned to the bed, feeling ready for action, wondering what to do. Maggie stirred and that give him a possible answer, a breast having slipped out and over her upper arm.

The phone went.

"Hi, Jack."

"Hi Alanya."

"I've ordered breakfast poolside for us all. Ten minutes?"

"Sure, that's lovely. What a sweetie you are."

"Oh Jack, you say the nicest things to a girl. Bye."

Jack turned back to the bed. Maggie had now come off her belly and had rolled on to her back, both breasts lolling there like two welcoming arms. He was hungry, so with great reluctance he switched on the radio and went off to shower, yelling, "Maggie, brekkie down at the pool in ten minutes - no, nine minutes."

* * *

Three days later Maggie and Jack were on an aircraft making its approach into Auckland. They were looking forward to normality again - and drying out and getting more regular sleep.

Thinking about the time with Alanya and family, Jack was pleased that Simon had responding well to camera tuition. He'd discovered, completely unassisted, that photographing the chests of women at the pool gave him two particular points of focus, enabling him to produce very sharp images. In two days he'd captured 22 breast shots before advancing on to a new discovery - ankles.

"Why is Simon photographing women's feet?" asked his sister.

"I don't know darling, perhaps it's just a passing fad," her mother had replied.

"Rather a fad than a fetish," whispered Jack to Alanya, before moving in to suggest that his budding pupil concentrate on close-ups of women's eyes.

"Try to capture the mystery in eyes," his tutor said expressively.

"There aren't any other mysteries to ladies," said the youngster with the confidence of a keen photographer who still had much to learn about life.

"At your age, you should keep it simple," lectured Jack the tutor. "Just regard your women subjects as objects that hang around the place, trying to look pretty."

"Yes, and be just like your father," muttered Alanya, standing right behind Jack.

As the aircraft began its final approach to the airport, Jack closed his eyes and sighed.

Alanya had insisted in coming to the airport with them and presents were exchanged.

"This is for you, Master," Simon said, watched by his proud mum.

Jack flipped through the photo album and whistled. Some of the ankles were gorgeous. The prints were near collector's quality.

"I'm sorry, but I'm taking the breast series back to show his father what he's missed," Alanya said sternly. "He's also too young to look at his photographic work."

"These are great, really great, Simon," Jack said, pushing his hand through tousled hair, making the youngster squirm with pride.

"Here Simon," Maggie said, handing him across a large package. It's a studio light and I've written out instructions for you to set up a small studio corner to take portraits. Email me any time you want tips. And email those eye shots when we finish the series and I will judge your work, letting you know where you're really on to it and where little adjustments may be required. I know a lot more about digital photography than the Master."

"Thank you Uncle Jack, and thank you Auntie Maggie," Simon said, looking at her with new respect.

Anne (Leta) gave them an exotic throw rug and rushed into Maggie's arms. "You have been so wonderful to me. Thank you so much, Auntie Maggie."

"Guys," Alanya said to her children. "Could you leave us for a couple of ticks - here, go and get a Coke."

Watching them walk away happily, Alanya said, "I'll never forget what you did, Maggie. You achieved it so easily. I was aware she was being neglected, but wasn't aware she was beginning to feel so strongly about it. Nor was I aware how deeply she disliked her name, Leta. She never did care for her second name, but now she adores it, just because you bought her a book."

"Ah, yes, but I told her that generations of girls have been brought up on ‘Anne of Green Gables' and that Anne had red hair just like me."

"It's a miracle."

"Aye, but there's more to come. There are more books in the series and I want you to drip-feed them to her. Even if you can only afford five minutes a day, every other day even, I want you to lie beside her and read. She'll accept you doing that, as I told her when I was ten my mother used to lie beside me on chilly nights in Scotland and read ‘Anne of Green Gables' to me, so many times did she read that book to me that even today I can recite the book word for word."

"I know you can do that, she's told me at least a dozen times. Whether you know it or not, Maggie, that child has adopted you."

"I know, and that's lovely. But Alanya, get her back; she's ready to receive you."

Alanya, weeping, waved to the children to hurry to her.

She gave a parcel to Anne who handed it Maggie and watched her open it. Maggie took out a heavy silver bracelet.

"Read what it says inside, using that best way you can talk," Anne said, dancing up and down.

Maggie read in over-the-top Scottish accent, "From Anne and mother Alanya with love."

Maggie fought back the tears and handed Alanya a book.

"I feel embarrassed giving you this gift, Alanya. I had it flown in from Sydney. I hope you won't be angry with me; you can always trash it."

"This is lovely, Maggie. Thank you, Alanya said, clasping the book to her bosom.

"Let me see, let me see," cried Anne. She looked at the flowers and pictures of forest animals with her mother, totally engrossed.

That allowed Simon to take two quick photographs. He then yelled, "Shark Attack!" and mother and daughter looked up in surprise.

"That will be a beauty," Jack said, as the youngster tilted his camera to view the results.

The book was titled, ‘Mother and Daughter Day Diary'. Alanya had noticed that it was printed in Edinburgh.

Jack handed her a bag, she unpacked it and held it up for the children to see, attracting wolf-whistles from nearby men spotting the multi-colored bikini.

No one else seemed to notice that Alanya had not given Jack a present. He was not put out but regretted they'd not spent more time with Alanya talking about magazines.

There was just time for a quick coffee.

A flurry of hugging and kissing began when their flight was called.

"Please invite me to the wedding Jack, I'll bring hubby if I've managed to reform him in time."

"How long have I got?" Jack asked, bewildered.

"I wouldn't have a clue, dear. Ask Maggie, she'll know."

As Jack kissed Alanya she pressed a small package into his hand, and managed to secure two more kisses as she did so.

"Thanks to you and Maggie, I feel invigorated. Now, off you go."

Once aboard, Jack opened his late present.

"Jesus!"

Maggie had to lean quite some distance over his seat to get a look. She'd opened a little red ring-bound book.

Sucking in her breath as her eyes flicked through the hand written contents, Maggie said, "Jesus!"

"It sounds like I'm interrupting a religious revival meeting, said Rose, checking that their seatbelts were fastened and handing them their favorite beverage.

From Alanya they had inherited her hand-written dossier on the conception through to post-birth re-assessment of her most successful magazine title - 20th Century Femme (now published as 21st Century Femme).

There were pages and pages of notes, jotted down between meetings or in bed at nights perhaps, as she developed each concept in her mind.

Jack pointed to a passage, and Maggie stretched to lean against his shoulder to read it:

Memo to Myself: CONCEPTS

Unless I have exhausted my thinking on each stage of my Master Plan, until I do it is not a complete. I must visualize the current status of each element with instant recall, committing them to memory to allow my brain to work on them. Each completed concept is or will be dependently linked to associated thought cells that precede or follow it. It is not important whether I complete each cell in sequence, so long as all interconnecting thoughts link strongly with complete fidelity. Whatever I think, none of these concepts is sacrosanct: in time each concept may require adjustment, a complete restructuring or to be replaced. Long live inspired thinking!

"She's so thorough, isn't she?" Maggie commented.

"Yes, but that's her style, Jack said. "Her whole approach is to plan to eliminate mistakes and the unexpected whereas I fly blind without too much preparation and attempt to make corrections and deal with the unexpected as such things occur. According to Alanya it is possible to achieve success or failure either way. She recommends you and I work closely on every aspect so that the project benefits from our individual strengths and that neither of us in our own minds should claim ownership of any aspect of the project. That way open access to the full working model will be encouraged."

"What's the full working model?"

"Our completed prototype publication that will be sent out to advertisers and agencies and on-sellers six weeks ahead of publication of the First Issue.

"Right. It would be a good idea that we work on our normal architectural projects close to home for the next three months, until we have Project-Kit well up and running."

"Yes, good idea. I should have thought of that."

"What's that pink sheet of folded cover peeping out near the back of the dossier?"

The pink sheet was a late insert, written by Alanya the previous night; it was dated.

WARNING - WARNING

Think again about the name of your magazine Kitchens &Kitsch. ‘Kitsch' used in the title has a suicidal ring to it; think about the potential readers put off by that name. You are trying to produce two magazines combined under the same title.

You have been warned!

Second Thought: So-called experts often have been proven wrong.

Third Thought: If you can brazenly persuade top kitchen designers and quality suppliers of kitchen materials and products to advertise in a magazine promoting kitsch then you will have achieved an unbelievable break through. Do something similar to persuade potential readers to get on side with your magazine then you will have done remarkably well. But is that good enough to ensure the emergence of a magazine that will truly prosper? I can't wave a magic wand, I see you as taking a huge risk. I wish I could be far more encouraging.

Fourth Though: You have combined skills, youth and determination on you side. Your main challenge is to get everything right to impress advertisers, on-sellers and readers that this is a funky magazine that means business and is delivering what it has promised. Be extravagant with pre-launch and immediate post-launch promotion. Remember when spending money: Target, target, and target. Ensure your potential advertiser and potential readership profiles stand up to scrutiny.

Final Though: Think about ‘funky'. How many magazines do you see on bookstands that really are funky? Sleep on that one.

Alanya

Maggie screwed up her nose: "Funky?"

"Funky?" Jack said, looking at the bubbles in his flute.

"She's left her best shot till last, hasn't she?"

"Yes, Maggie. And until we think about it deeply we may miss the message. Is it subliminal or something just right up there in our face?"

"Funky doesn't have subliminal connotation with me, quite the opposite really."

"I think so too, but let's do what she says - sleep on it."

"She's given us what we've needed, Jack; a kick in the pants. She's telling us to proceed with care, perhaps with less irrelevance that what we have been exhibiting, at least you have."

"Yeah, I've always been aware that relying too heavily on instinct could land us up the creek without the proverbial. Advertisers and readers are not mugs, or will part with their money readily or will remain loyal until we earn their loyalty and even then such relationship will remain fragile. We have to jolt them - with some hard marketing mix, with a touch of funk. Thank you, thank you, Alanya."

As they traveled into the city, Jack asked: "Happy?"

"Yes, I've had a wonderful time. I still can't believe we didn't have sex."

"Well, we were incredibly active socially, tending to drink rather big quantities and when one of us awoke in the morning, bushy tailed, it always seemed to be to answer a phone call or a door knock. But, as we've always said, ‘What's the rush?' Is that still the way you think?"

"More or less?

"Which, more or less?"

"Well, less if I am to be pushed."

"Hmmm. Well, here's your flat."

"Take care - see you in the morning."

Jack sat, hands behind his head, listening to Gavin wax on about being given a bottle of Dimple whisky.

"It's a nice touch, Jack. You didn't have to, you know."

"It's my pleasure Gavin. We've come back with fresh thinking about Project-Kit."

"You want me to can it?"

"No, we've got to get agreement on the budgets. I've had professional advice - we have to be heavy fisted on pre-launch and immediate post-launch promotion."

Gavin snorted. "What's new about that? Every one knows that - even I do. What Dipstick were you consulting?"

"Alanya Canvas."

"Stop pulling my leg."

"It's the truth, mate," said Jack and told Gavin the full story.

"Oh, you lucky bastard," was Gavin's principal reaction.

Jack had printed out one of the emailed images Simon had sent him. Nobody had seen him take it: the photo showed Jack standing in shorts and nothing else, with his arms around two women, wearing only bikini bottoms.

"Crickey, that's Maggie, isn't it. Boy, she carried quite a weight up top."

"Yes, Gavin, now put your glasses on and tell me who the other babe is."

"Holy Moses - Alanya Canvas. Will you look at that pair!"

"I did, mate, several times a day. We were practically living with her day and night. She and Maggie are now closer than a hen and her chickens."

"Well, I'd listen to anything Alanya said about our new magazine."

"I won't tell you she worries about our choice of name because that would only worry you."

"Too right, it would. Did she say that?"

"She has got nice upper development. Would you like to meet her?"

"Yeah, mate. Perhaps we should get her over and organize a seminar for magazine publishers. We could make a fortune if we hosted it."

"Yeah, but after the launch, eh?"

"Right"

"The only other thing she said of real importance was to think ‘funky'.

"Okay, I've thought ‘funky'. Yeah, she wants us to produce a magazine with a touch of funkiness. Just like some people produce a magazine with a touch of mongrel."

"Are you certain about that?"

"Sure as I'm Gavin Douglas MacLeod."

"Well, thanks Gavin. I told her the approximate figures of launch spending, size of print-run, number of pages, estimate of paid advertising in first couple of issues and she was reasonably impressed. But when I mentioned what we thought we should spend on promotion before and after launch she almost wet herself, saying she spent almost that much on hair, nail and facial care every year."

"Did she now, well no Aussie shelia is going to take the Mickey out of me, mate. We'll double that budget."

"She wants us to treble it mate."

"No Aussie shelia is going to tell me what to do - treble it mate and add twenty grand. Tell the numbers cruncher I have authorized the change. She trusts you, everyone around here trusts you, even Roberta and that is a relief to me. How do you do it mate? Half the bastards here seem to regard me with suspicion, yet I'm the one who pays them."

"Sheer charm, mate. Roberta and I will work on upgrading your skills in that area before you sponsor the magazine seminar. You better send your wife on holiday to OZ and Roberta down to the South Island when the fantastic Alanya Canvas comes to town at your expense. TV is going to be all over you and the PM will want to be speaker at the dinner - you better make that a charity dinner."

"Jeeze - your making it all very exciting, Jack. I can't wait to get my hands on...I can't wait to host the incredible Alanya Canvas. I shall be famous throughout our entire industry."

Maggie arrived and immediately asked Jack, "Did you sleep on it?"

"Yep."

"And?"

"I told Gavin to reach his own conclusion so that he didn't end up accusing me of coming up with a crazy idea, the reality being he doesn't believe he comes up with crazy ideas."

"It's really a bit early in the morning to hit me with verbal spaghetti like that."

"Translated it means feed it to him and he thinks it's his idea, which makes it beyond reproach."

"Well, that's easy to comprehend. So, what did you two decide?"

"Instead of a bit of mongrel to establish a clear point of different at the sales counter or through our promos, we inject a bit of funkiness."

"How interesting. I checked the meaning of funky in my pocket-dictionary and it means the pits - having a strong, offensive, unwashed odor. Yuk."

"You being a journo will know the folly of relying on pocket dictionaries."

"Yep, I'm about to look it up in web dictionaries."

"Don't bother, I've done it and I'm certain that I have unlocked the meaning she intended us to find: earthy, complicated, bizarre. Then, as a funky jazz musician wandering down music lane towards the blues would shout, ‘Hallelujah!' Therein lay the appropriate phrase I was destined to find: ‘Down to Earth'."

"Gosh, she's one clever lady," mused Maggie. "Obviously she thought if she made that as an outright suggestion we might not take the concept seriously or might just flick it away without due consideration. This way we have been forced to dwell on it."

"Yep, one clever lady. If she hadn't presented it as a poser, making that strange request to sleep on it, I wouldn't have presented the concept to Gavin who now assumes it's his idea. Wow, the process has been convoluted but we've got there. Actually, if you re-read my original over-all concept you will see that it's already incorporated - Page one, third paragraph.

Maggie opened to that page and read:

‘Editorially, we shall present all material in a precise, accurate and reader-friendly manner. Our intent is to attract readers seeking helpful, inspirational informing by keeping it simple, stripped of mindless sophistication.'

Jack said, "The word funky might confuse, but if we express to advertisers and advertising agents that our presentation will be ‘Down to Earth', that should instantly establish in their minds where our magazine will sit in the marketplace.

"You already have the front cover image of our demo publication in your mind, haven't you, before I've even had time to begin to draft something."

"Oh, very astute, Maggie but it will be decided by the Project-Kit establishment committee. Even Gavin is entitled to table something one of his mates comes up with.

"What's your concept?"

"You are the editor - wouldn't you like to begin work on the cover concept with your mind a clean sheet?"

"No, Alanya advised us not to grasp ownership."

"I accept that. Then picture a very dark blue, over-gloss cover, running into a slightly lighter toning - say 85%of the body color bleeding out on all sides, and smack in the middle is an ornate kitsch kitchen wall clock. The masthead goes above that, and some teasers of inside content down below with a strong but renovated kitchen shot on the bottom left hand corner, and a small promo message on the opposite corner."

"Yes, I can picture it. So we think we emphasis kitsch from Day One?"

"Absolutely. We want to pull advertisers and readers in to embrace it; our problem with that is advertising agencies people are too cynical to embrace anything."


Submitted: July 29, 2007

© Copyright 2022 Grigor McGregor. All rights reserved.

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