After the performance I saw my family off and returned to the Buckmayne
Community Centre. Chairs had been stacked away, and a crowd pressed
round the makeshift bar. Martins brandished our drinks.
'What was that again?' I said when we clinked glasses.
'Whittaker, my dear boy, I was asking about the woman you were avoiding
Martins pulled out a notebook. 'Celia the fairy was played by . . . '
'Played by Imogen Lawley, who looked ravishing in a lavender-blue
number. Any more charmers you know?'
'Penny Lawley. In white over there, talking to the vicar. She was the
'I do know my Iolanthe. In fact I'll go over to have a word with her
now, which will let you get back to the sister.'
'Just wanting an interview.'
'Imogen can ask me any time. But hark, the damsel approaches.'
'Imogen,' I said when she stood in front of us, 'this is Joel Martins,
director of Casebook Films. Imogen Lawley, reporter on the Dorset
She surveyed the plump figure with its tangled mop of graying hair.
'Doesn't look like a film director to me', she decided, staring up
through those extravagant lashes.
'Very true,' conceded Martins, seeing Imogen pose in exasperating
innocence. 'But we have to employ the most unlikely types. Even Stephen
here is going to be a star of the small screen. History in the
Community, Time and Tradition. We haven't decided on a title yet.
Depends on what we find locally. Could be quite rewarding, wouldn't you
'I don't know what you mean, Mr Martins.'
'I mean you should come for a screen test.' He gave me a flustered look
before turning back to the woman who smiled at him indifferently. 'With
your sister. We need local people.'
'Which sister, Mr Martins?'
'Good God, Whittaker. Is the place overrun with talent?'
'Whole tribe of them', I said gloomily, wondering if Martins knew what
he was taking on. But in fact Melissa had married and moved away, to
Ludlow or somewhere, the smart wife of an accomplished country lawyer.
Penny was the left-over, the damaged goods, and only Imogen could be
called shameless, the vamp with the pale green eyes and snub nose.
'Excuse me, you two', I said. 'Ought to circulate.'
'Who now?' said Martins, reaching for his notebook.
'Ted Ten Percent. Imogen will explain.' The woman gave me an open
stare: Imogen with the tight hold on life, who gives exactly what she