I’m at my desk. The phone rings. I hear a breathless Peirene on the other end of the line.
‘Oh, I’m so pleased that I haven’t missed the film crew,’ the Nymph pants. ‘I’m just at the bottom of the road. And I can see their van hasn’t arrived yet. I’ll be with you in a moment.’
I’m not entirely sure what she’s talking about. As soon as I put down the phone I turn back to the Advanced Information sheets for our 2017 books.
Five minutes later she walks into the office, surrounded by a cloud of different artificial smells: hairspray and perfume and creams.
‘Wow!’ I exclaim.
The Nymph’s hair is backcombed a la Brigitte Bardot, big earrings, red lipstick, dark eyeliner, matching red jacket, skirt and high heels and even her finger nails are done. As a small girl I always dressed up as a film diva aiming to look just like that. I sigh, about to continue with my work.
‘Shouldn’t you get ready?’ Peirene disapprovingly runs her eyes from my carelessly pulled back hair down to my bare feet. ‘They will be here any moment. And,’ she looks around the office, smiling fleetingly at my assistant James, ‘-and where is my co-star Anthony?’
The coin drops. I suddenly understand all the Nymph’s efforts.
We have decided to crowd-fund our next Peirene Now! book. The novel will be a response to Brexit written by the Black country writer Anthony Cartwright. Every project on kickstarter, our crowd funding platform, requires a video introduction. James filmed Anthony and myself with my laptop in the morning. It took numerous takes until we finally learned to behave naturally in front of the camera.
‘I wondered where you were,’ I now say. ‘We could have done with a diva in our video. It would have added some colour to our performance.’
I click on the film saved on my laptop. The Nymph watches the three minutes in utter silence, not even breathing. At the end she straightens up.
‘Anthony is a star, worthy of my presence beside him,’ she shakes her head slowly at me. Then turns to leave the room. I’m surprised she isn’t more upset of having missed chance to appear on screen.
‘You don’t mind that we went ahead without you?’ I asked carefully.
‘Not at all.’ She stops in mid-stride. ‘You are planning to make a couple of more videos in the coming months talking about the process of the book, don’t you?’ I nod. She continues: ‘Well, I’m off to make a demo tape now and will send it to Anthony. He can then decide who he prefers to have next to him in his forthcoming films.’ She waves her painted nails at me and leaves. A cloud of perfume follows her out of the room.
By Meike Ziervogel
Image by Shinya Suzuki, creative commons.
This blog was originally published as part of Peirene Press‘s series Things Syntactical. The Pain and Passion of a Small Publisher on 3 October 2016.