Chapter 14:

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

Reads: 181

Chapter 14

The magazine launch party was held at the special events stadium, with guests arriving with an air of expectancy. It had been decided that Maggie should meet Alanya because so many of the guests were Jack's invitees.

Jack was at the door, standing beside four young women who were dressed in kitchen clothing and outrageously kitsch earrings and necklaces and handing out drinks. He greeted folk with much back-slapping and shoulder-punching of male associates, and kissing of females.

A banshee wail announced the arrival of the elderly extrovert architect Meg Williams with her little retinue of reluctant advertisers - all male - whose faces lit up when they saw the lovelies holding out drinks against a background of strobe lighting and thumping music.

"My boy, my boy. I'm so proud of you," cried Meg, leaving her lipstick branding Jack's chin, forehead and both cheeks.

Flashing lights drew Jack's attention to his 4XD - Maggie was back from the airport. He waved enthusiastically but was then overwhelmed by another batch of arrivals.

When he looked up, Alanya was standing in front of him, smiling and looking sensational. She was dressed up head-to-toe as a kewpie doll, and her tiny black apron carried in gold lettering the words, ‘I Also Cook'. She looked wonderful.

"Watch my make-up - it's thickly applied," she laughed. "Perhaps we'll just better hug for now."

Maggie went out to bring in the chef's hats - one for each guest with the name of the magazine in the graphic artist's idea of what constitutes a ‘kitsch' typeface. Meanwhile, taking Alanya by the hand Jack explained that he'd need to get back to the entrance quickly but there was someone he wanted her to meet - his boss.

Gavin, who'd been talking to a group of people, with his wife by his side, was floored when he turned and saw who was with Jack, but gave perhaps the perfect greeting for an Australia, "Stone' the crows - look who we have here!"

Fellow publishers around him almost snapped to attention.

"Gav - play host to Alanya until I wiggle free, please. Alanya, this is my boss and our publishing company principal, Gavin MacLeod and his wife Brigetta. Folk, this is Madam Magazine herself, Alanya Canvas."

An hour later there was a trumpet fanfare, and Maggie went to the microphone. After introducing herself she said: "Our publisher Gavin MacLeod, our special guest Alanya Canvas, ladies and gentlemen. I announce straight off the press the arrival of the first copy of Issue 1, Volume 1 of Kitchens&Kitsch.

There was polite handclapping and a couple of wolf whistles that turning into thunderous applause and deafening wolf whistles as four topless young models wearing only thongs pulled a trolley by golden chains into the amphitheatre. Standing on top of the magazines was a very muscular blonde male model wearing only a codpiece. At the sight of ‘Apollo', women screamed. The band lifted up tempo and the party was underway.

Before too much alcohol flowed, Gavin stopped the band to make a short welcoming speech. He introduced Alanya and said she'd just agreed to co-sponsor with his company a magazine symposium to be held in Auckland in February next year which she was sure would attract international presenters and attendees. He invited her to say a few words.

Holding up the first issue, Alanya said, "This magazine is launching itself into a wonderful future, I am certain of that. I personally know Maggie and Jack. I know those two have sweated blood to develop their magazine concept. But they possessed the skills, knowledge, drive and work ethics to bring everything together. I also appreciate that to call a magazine Kitchens&Kitsch they have a ton of guts. A brilliantly executed concept, Jack and Maggie; this magazine will be a runner."

Meg Williams jumped up to stand beside Alanya - "Aren't we two lovelies" she leered, raising a great cheer. Everyone knew Meg.

"You've done it Jack, and you too Maggie and I guess some credit is due to skinflint Gavin MacLeod," said Meg bursting into a speech. "Jack, you've pulled support out of your associates in our industry which leaves me breathless. I believe it's the first time I've ever paid for advertising, and you've squeezed six of the buggers out of me. Unbelievable. Tonight you guys we drink to your success. Come on Alanya - let's toss down a few gins."

Maggie had well rehearsed her thong-only girls: "Jack, Jack, we want to hear from Jack," they called.

Guests took up the chant.

"Get Jack, girls," yelled Maggie, and the topless girls formed a ‘daisy-chain' around Jack and marched him forward. He was flushed and enjoying the moment.

"Gavin. You came through when we needed you. Thanks mate. All you inveigled advertisers and especially those other advertisers brave enough to ride a hunch - thank you. Alanya - you generously gave Maggie and me your priceless little red book containing all the background notes and planning for your greatest ever magazine launch; it was an overwhelming act of generosity. Finally, my red-hair lovely from Scotland - very close friend, confidant, initiator, super photo-journo in her own right and now managing-editor of her magazine that really will flip competitors on their back. She has a streak of Rottweiler in her, and that will give her magazine real market bite. I salute you, Maggie MacRae. Now, let's attack the grog - Gavin secured it at a discount and wouldn't want any of it returned to the supplier."

Gavin took fourteen of the guest to dinner, including Alanya and Maggie. Jack excused himself and he wanted to supervise the handing out of a bottle of champagne or whiskey to each advertiser, and then return the ‘overs' back to the liquor wholesaler as pre-arranged. He wanted to stay to the very end.

At five next morning he received a phone call.

"This is a lovely suite you provided me."

"Great. How did dinner go?"

"Splendid. We were almost thrown out with Gavin and Maggie trying to dance on the table. I initially thought Gavin was a stuffed shirt opportunist - but he came through and turned out be a naughty man as well."

"So he made a pass?"

"No, he took his wife home early and returned with this gorgeous, olive-skinned woman."

"Roberta."

"Yes, that's it. Is Maggie with you?"

"No, she sleeps at her own shared flat, always."

"Oh."

"Have you been asleep?"

"Yes, and I am now re-energized. Want to come over and watch the sun rise?"

"Yes."

"In bed with me?"

"Yes."

"Oh, Jack."

After watching the sunrise they lay in the bath, a plunger of fresh coffee and sliced oranges delivered by room service beside them. Jack lay on his back, Alanya stretched between his legs and lifted up over his chests so that they could snuggle cheek to cheek. It was very comfortable and they were happy.

"That was quite a session," she said, smiling and gently pulling his left hand on to her right breast; he needed his right hand free to feed her orange segments and to sip his coffee.

"It was meant to be - I tried to worship you and fill your with the tenderness I feel towards you for your kindness and really, for being such a great companion."

"Being with a younger man makes me feel younger."

"Well, how strange - for me being with an older woman doesn't make me feel older. It would seem that whichever way we look at it, we're both winners. How enchanting."

"I would hate it if Maggie were to burst through the door right now," Alanya said, with a shudder. "Yet for some reason I cannot grasp just yet, I don't feel that I have betrayed her. We really have become close friends - I being old enough to be her mother."

"This repeated reference to age will rob you some of the magic of these stolen moments."

"Moments? I would suggest that you don't rush off - stay with me, have brunch at then return to work. I don't have to leave for the airport until late afternoon. Gavin is taking me to the airport so that we get to know each other a little more. It is unusual for me to co-sponsor any event as usually my sponsor is a multi-national."

"Good, on any project he needs a confidence boost but he always fronts up when he's needed. I suggest you ask him to appoint a professional events management company - Craig Associates are the best. There is someone I'd suggest as a main presenter - a recently retired London fashion photographer, Charles B. Loom. Charlie taught me everything I know and he knows the British magazine industry inside out - being one of the greatest fashion photographers ever, plus being a contributor to top magazines covering his interest in luxury cars, home and garden, antiques and travel.

"I know him well; was he was your guru."

"Me and almost every Tom, Dick and Harry who managed to make it as a photographer in the British fashion industry over the past 35 years. Now that he's retired he's likely to be knighted in the New Year. He's a fantastic personality and remains my idol. His capacity to be good at the things he's interested in seems infinite. Oh - he's a brilliant speaker as he's being lecturing for decades."

"Noted and underlined; I'll tell Gavin. Why aren't you and Maggie living together?"

"Search me, and she gives me the impression she doesn't know either. Strange as it may seem, we've only had the one session and that was only recently."

"Is there someone else? Who? Maggie? I wouldn't think so."

"Oh dear, I don't know what to say."

"After waiting all that time, often coming incredibly close in recent months, when we finally did it she was warm and friendly and just rolled over and went to sleep after promising that there was more to come."

"You had been working to near exhaustion level for some three months I gather."

"True, but that should still not stifle high emotion. She was in my bed, but as she rolled over to nap I felt that I was just the lodger."

"Oh dear. Should I talk to her?"

Jack looked unnerved by the offer. Oh no, please don't. Had we jelled, I wouldn't have been with you now. I was quite devastated for a few hours. I decided to give it more time and wait to see what happens when the magazine is up and running well."

"So you don't feel as if you're committing adultery?"

"Hell, no. Do you?"

"No, but things are beginning to look up. My husband Sam is going to counseling solo now; I had to accompany him for the first four sessions. She's working on his addiction to work, trying to get him to pull right back. The therapist told me that his passion has shifted from sex to work, probably because he was worried he was losing his sex drive. She is confident it is not a physical problem and believes she will have success - possibly appreciable success, which is encouraging. Which reminds me, I still have a healthy appetite. Just let me lift up for a second. There...oh my! Now just lie back and enjoy yourself."

As they rested again, Alanya said: "Maggie told me that you were ecstatically married to a gorgeous woman - Ali."

"Yes, dear Ali. And did Maggie tell you how she died?"

Alanya's eyes flickered.

"Good, I'm glad she did. You'll now understand why I seem emotionally unconnected."

Alanya blushed. "Speaking of being unconnected..."

Jack was fascinated; he'd not known an experienced woman approaching 50 would still be able to blush when thinking about sex. Well, one was supposed to try to learn at least one new thing every day. He gritted his teeth, knowing that this was becoming an exhausting morning.

Jack arrived at his office just before 12.30.

"Maggie phoned in early, sick," Milly announced. "Wasn't that launch party something? Bert said to thank you for the bottle of whisky."

"I scarcely had time to talk to anyone - I had a few words to Phil and Bruce from advertising, and that was about all."

"Well, a great party. Gavin is having a sickie as well, very rare for him, I must say. That lovely Australian woman seems to have taken a liking to you. Several of the men were all over her, but she eventually shooed them off, one by one. The same thing happened at the restaurant according to Roberta."

"Good gracious, Gavin is pushing his luck. Linda - that's Phil's wife - said that Gavin took his wife home as soon as she finished her coffee and had was back with Roberta within fifteen minutes. I really think he's having a piece of Roberta, although she is married. Now, that makes you think, doesn't it? How can Roberta be picked up from home at 10:15 at night by her boss without her husband coming flying out of the house insane with jealousy?"

"I don't know, Milly, but if you find out let me know. If I ever write a book I might use that same situation as an intriguing subplot and later reveal how the seducer gets away with it."

"Seducer? So you think he's shafting her?"

"Oh Milly; I never would speculate about my boss being involved in something like that without having proof, would I?"

"No, I expect not."

"Have you seen them at it?"

"Not, of course not."

"Well?"

"I don't know what to say."

"Say nothing, Milly. That's what I would suggest. Unless I see them at it I won't say a word, otherwise I would risk being very, very wrong, and I'm too intelligent to do that."

"Right, I think the same way you do, Jack. People who gossip ought to be put down."

Jack turned his head away and grinned.

Next morning Roberta rushed into Jack with a magazine titled MagNEWS.

"Here it is, folks. It's what Gavin calls ‘Motor-mouth Isaac's decision whether we are to live or die'."

"Motor-mouth Isaac?"

Jack replied to Milly: "Ted Isaac, a non-stop talker who writes the most influential media column in any publication in this entire country. Everyone who is anyone in the industry or who is connected with advertising reads his column. If he gives you the thumbs down it's said that your changes of lasting beyond three issues - which usually is when the creditors are circling - are zilch. Give it to Maggie please Roberta. She'd the editor."

Maggie's freckles turned white as she watched MagNEWS in Roberta's outstretched hand come nearer and nearer.

"You're as white as a sheet, Maggie," Jack said calmly. "Take deep breaths and expel through your open mouth slowly. It's can't be devastating otherwise we would have heard Gavin's body hitting the floor."

Maggie began reading the critique aloud.

Funky New Kitchen Magazine

Some fiend has led Flat Earth Publishing Ltd's chairman and managing director, Gavin MacLeod, down the garden path to the kitchen. Gavin's indiscretion in coming up smelling of garlic could be excused, as before becoming an indifferent publisher he struggled along in mediocrity as a real estate salesperson, his biggest sale being selling his own house when his first wife divorced him. Some idiot on staff, and probably on a banned substance, won the in-house naming competition with the only entry. Kitchens&Kitsch was supposed to be a leg-pull, but poor old Gavin was ‘out to lunch' that day - literally. Gavin had the name of the magazine, the bankroll to fund its launching, but nothing else. He was kicking up his heels lying in a tantrum in the office car park when two of his writers from other of his magazines rolled in drunk from lunch at 4:00 and promised Gavin to launch his magazine for him provided he gave them a dirty week in Melbourne before they started on their impossible mission.

"If this gets any worse, I'm going to throw up," Maggie snorted.

"You'll be able to sue this bastard for a million, won't you?" Milly ventured.

"Gavin's already thrown up all over his desk, which is why I'm over here with you guys, hiding," confided Roberta.

Maggie continued:

Well, right in front of me is the first issue of this magazine with the worst name in magazine history in New Zealand. It's left me uncertain about my ability to use my critical judgment any more. Attempting to mix something as wacky as kitsch and kitchens in the same magazine is insane. I recognize that utterly. Yet I found I was not repelled by this funky touch to try to put fun back into the kitchen.

You know, in many families today half of them never eat at home, half of the remaining half never eat with the other quarter and the females virtually don't eat. And so the divisions continue: some eat standing up, others slump in front of the TV while the occasional wife gets lucky when hubby yanks the table cloth and food on to the floor and lifts her on to the table. The idea of kitchens once again becoming funky places cheers me up no end.

The cover of the first issue shows a sweet young thing in a red and blue gingham bikini emerging from the oven, hair on fire and amid a cloud of flying feathers holding a burnt offering and saying, "Mum's recipe said nothing about killing the chicken before roasting it." Upon reading that I came within an ace of embarrassing myself in laughing so much; I had earlier finished a huge glass of water. Then I noticed on the kitchen wall behind the women four pink china pigs hanging on the wall, with text formed in china immediately below them announcing, ‘Pigs like kitchens'. Far out!

On the right hand bottom corner of the front cover is a publisher's notice - short and very frank: ‘Subscribe to this magazine or else we die!' That's a very clear message. On the corner opposite was a small photo of a very modern kitchen, pointing to a story on page five.

What did I find on page five? A black and white ‘Before' photo of a kitchen renovation. The caption reads: ‘Looking a little like the kitchen her mother had in Warsaw in 1944, Anna Polanski cried enough! Ivan, I want this crappy room gutted and to be presented with a kitchen that will keep my daughters off the street and my boys out of prison'. Well, that was an exaggeration. What actually happened was Anna Polanski and husband Ivan had a row over an undercooked stew. Anna told Ivan that if she had a decent kitchen she'd go to cooking school. Next morning Ivan called Bob Box Kitchen Renovations and then enrolled Anna in cooking classes. Below are Anna, Ivan and their four children in their new kitchen. All are reputedly putting on weight. Isn't it a great kitchen? Just look at that funky stuffed crocodile on the wall."

Kitchens&Kitsch has to be one of the best reads in the country right now, and it's chocker with info, wit, great pics and ideas. Kitchens&Kitsch, if it keeps this up, is going to revolutionize kitchen renovations in this country.

I give it 12 out of 10. No, just kidding - or am I? I've caught Kitchens&Kitsch fever.

Mag Info: www.kitsch&kitchen.co.nz Editor Maggie MacRae. Published by Twin Horizons Publishing Ltd.

TED ISSAC

Maggie's triumphant scream was heard throughout the sprawling building, many of the females thinking Jack had nailed her at last.

"This is sensational," Jack said, shaking his head. "Ted never fully praises anything. Disembowelment is his style. Roberta, I know I'm not your boss but please scan this article then email it without any message or company info to every single person on our database. Milly, please put up notices that we are closing the offices at 4:00 today and all staff are invited for drinks in the staff room from 4:00 to 5:00 to celebrate the company's feat in scoring a sensational review for Kitchens&Kitsch in MagNEWS. Please post copies of the review on all notice boards.

"Well done Maggie."

"You too," said Maggie. "I can't believe this. The way that writer started savaging Gavin I thought he would carve us up into little strips and then do a full demolition job. It is unbelievable. You never lost faith once you saw the concept, Jack. It's been wonderful going through this great learning curve with you."

The next day Maggie and Jack were into the grind again, and their other magazine required their attention. That evening there was a segment lasting five minutes on channel 8 - the country's second largest national TV station - about the Polanski family and their new kitchen. The front cover of the magazine appeared on-screen with the presenter calling it "the hottest magazine on the market today."

Gavin walked in to see Jack, looking as if he'd won Lotto. "We're likely to end up with fewer than 800 returned copies on the first issue of K&K, which is remarkably low. You already know that we're upping the print run for the second issue by 30%. But listen to this," Gavin said proudly. "We budgeted for 2500 one-year subscriptions to be paid by the time the second issue came off the press. But what do we have - 23,749 according to figures I've just received. This is beyond belief...I can't believe it!


Submitted: July 29, 2007

© Copyright 2022 Grigor McGregor. All rights reserved.

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