THE GIRL NEXT DOOR – Part 1
“Pat I know you have two bookings tomorrow but there is an important audition at Illustrated at 3pm sharp. Make sure you get there looking gorgeous.”
Illustrated was a magazine that specialised in photo-journalism similar to Picture Post
Sometimes I wondered if Paula, my agent, had any conception of how long it took to get from A to B in London. Half the time I had to take taxis and even then would be sitting, agonising in the back as we got stuck in yet another traffic jam No wonder I had started getting migraines.
All that morning was booked for an ongoing women’s magazine serial where I was meant to be a poor little girl in Paris spotted by this mature couturier and groomed to be his muse. These serials were fun as one had to act, and it appealed to my’ living in a dream’ persona. I also got to wear beautiful gowns, but by the end of a session - with all the changing of clothes, hair styles and make up I was usually exhausted.
After that, I had a straight forward photo shoot at 2pm which usually lasted an hour. How the hell could I get over to Illustrated by 3pm? Of course I couldn’t and when I arrived the auditions were virtually over. The room was full of the most gorgeous creatures including – to my amazement - Marta.
‘You’re late!’ she snapped. I explained I couldn’t help it as my last booking finished at 3pm and I had to cross London.
‘Well you’d better tell someone you’re here – they’ve taken all the names!’
Just then a woman with a clip board came in and I explained what had happened. I said Paula Day had sent me; she told me to wait and disappeared into the interview room. When she returned she said Mr B had finished seeing people but I could pop in briefly. I grimaced at Marta and followed the secretary into the room.
The man behind the desk cut short my apologies.
‘Hang on a minute – you could be just what we’re looking for. He made a phone call and shortly two younger men appeared.
‘Sit down and tell us something about yourself.’ I sat down and starting babbling on and apologising at the same time and could feel my cheeks getting pink.
‘Right! What we’re looking for is ‘the girl next door’. He indicated the two men.
‘This is Ben the journalist and Phil the photographer, who you would be working with. The job involves going up to Morecambe next week-end and being photographed with a famous person. If we decide to use you would you be available?’
My week-ends were usually spent pottering round the garden in scruffy clothes but this sounded interesting so I said yes. He asked me to wait outside and I joined Marta.
‘How did you get on?’
‘Well they seemed quite interested.’
‘Listen Pat – we haven’t had a chance to talk for ages. When this is over come round to my house – my mother would like to meet you and we can have a good gossip’
Of course I agreed - I couldn’t say no to Marta after all she had done for me; taking me under her wing and introducing me to Paula, although I was longing to get the train home to Epsom and relax.
The girl with the clip board came in and thanked everyone for coming and asked me to stay behind.
‘I’ll see you in the foyer!’ Marta hissed.
Back in the interview room the man behind the desk was smiling.
‘Congratulations Pat. We‘ve decided you are the right girl for us. You’ll be travelling up with Ben and Phil. Sally will give you all the details. Is there anything you want to ask?’
Er – I should think so!
‘May I ask who the famous person is?’ My imagination was running riot.
‘It’s Wilfred – Wilfred Pickles.’
During the war Wilfred was the first BBC announcer to have a regional accent; he was a Yorkshire man and used to end his broadcasts with
‘and to all the people in the north – good neet!’
Some people, accustomed to the mellifluous tones of such as Alvar Lidell, complained. He was sacked and became a radio celebrity and host of a BBC Programme ‘Have a go!’ which ran from 1946 –1967. His wife Mabel was his partner on the show and one of the many catch phrases was ‘Give ‘im the money Mabel!’
I adjusted my expectations and went to join Marta.