It’s ten years on from The Road to Cromer Pier, and Summertime Special Show Director Karen Wells has two potential headliners, but both have issues. Dare she take the risk? And Karen herself is at a crossroads. Will her mother Janet ever retire and allow her to run the pier theatre?
Meanwhile Janet’s nemesis, businessman Lionel Pemrose still has designs on the pier theatre, but he is facing growing financial problems. Bank manager Peter Hodson is haunted by a past indiscretion, and calls in recently widowed turnaround expert Tom Stanley. Can he keep the indiscretion a secret?
Tom is bereaved and has recently been made redundant from his own firm. He is too young to retire, and after years of long hours, suddenly finds himself unemployed. He pours his energies into the assignment, which could be his last hurrah.
Old enmities, loyalties and past mistakes surface as the future of the pier theatre is once again under threat, and those involved must deal with unresolved issues in their lives.
GUEST POST FROM THE AUTHOR & EXTRACT FROM THE BOOK!
Janet & Karen Wells
The relationship between this mother and daughter combination is at the heart of the Cromer Pier Theatre stories, as the theatre has effectively been their life’s work. Janet Wells is tough, because as a single parent in the seventies she had to be, especially when she took on the theatre after her father died. But sometimes having been betrayed at times in her career she can’t bring herself to trust people. Now nearing retirement, with no partner in her life, she is suddenly struggling to contemplate letting go.
Karen is a very caring person, but talented and driven, and now feels stifled by her mother, love her deeply though she does. The extract illustrates the close relationship between the two, the banter about their respective love lives showing the bond that they have. Neither have been lucky in love, but it looks like Karen has finally met someone.
A few days after the one-night show, back at the Pier Theatre, Karen Wells was debating the future of Amy Raven. The Summertime Special show was really taking shape, but should they take a chance on Amy? They had delayed announcing the headliner too long already, and needed to make up their minds.
They were sitting in Janet’s office, cluttered as usual with publicity materials and the assortment of paper which accumulated randomly on her desk. Janet was looking at an email proposal from Frank Gilbert.
‘What do you think, Mum?’ asked Karen.
Janet frowned. ‘It’s a good offer, but we’ve got to be practical, and she’s a big risk.’
Karen nodded. ‘That was Bryn’s opinion, too. Her show was good musically, but she seemed washed out by the end. She did the signing afterwards, but she had to sit down. I thought she was going to pass out.’
Karen knew that, as director of the show, this was really her decision, but the theatre was still to all intents and purposes a family business. Karen could read her mother pretty well, though.
Janet seemed unconvinced. ‘It’s the intensity of the shows which bothers me. A variety show is so physically demanding she’d struggle to cope. If she flunks out, we’ve no cover at all.’
Karen knew this only too well herself. ‘You spoke to her mother recently; what did she have to say?’
Janet sat back as she replied. ‘She said Amy was stronger now, and that her last show had gone brilliantly.’
Karen could tell her mother wasn’t convinced. ‘It sounds like what Frank Gilbert told her to say.’
Janet shrugged. ‘Exactly. She let people down and the industry doesn’t forget easily. We’re the best bet for her rehabilitation, living at home with her own family in a venue that she knows.’
Karen was fighting with her dilemma. ‘But, Mum, it will be so hard to tell her no, won’t it? I know we can’t let sentiment get in the way, but, well … ’
Janet nodded. ‘Yes. It is hard, Karen. Do you remember when she first auditioned back in 2009? After Les saw her busking on the pier and bought the CD?’
Karen could still recall the young, skinny raven-haired schoolgirl.
‘And even then, she only got into the show because one of the dancers got injured. She does work bloody hard, though. She was doing so well until, well … ’
Janet nodded. ‘Yes, she was. Look, I did have one idea. We could bring in an experienced understudy as a backup. The only problem is that folks coming to see Amy might be disappointed.’
Karen knew where this was heading and shrugged. ‘I guess you could have some shows advertised as featuring the understudy too. Do you have anyone in mind? As the understudy, I mean?’
Janet smiled. ‘Well, do you remember Hannah Masters? She’s headlined the show a couple of times.’
Karen nodded. ‘Yes; it was a long time ago, mind. She got pregnant and went away.’
‘Well, she’s in her forties now, and separated. Lives locally and her daughter has gone to university, leaving her with an empty nest.’
‘What a waste of talent, Mum. She was really good. Better than me, if I’m honest. The audience loved her, too. She had real stage presence, and she’s quite a dancer.’
‘Yes. That’s her. So, we could make her the understudy to the younger and less worldly-wise Amy?’
Karen thought that her mother was coming around, but she needed to push back a little.
‘But Mum, surely she’s a bigger risk than Amy? Has she worked much recently?’
‘She’s been doing dance and drama at a secondary school in Kent, but she’s moved back here. She’s singing in a pub in Holt tomorrow night if you’re interested?’
Karen looked slightly sheepish and shook her head. ‘Ah. Bryn’s taking me away for the weekend. He’s got tickets to Hamilton. I thought I’d get a break in before all the fun starts.’
‘I see … ’
Karen laughed at her mother’s quizzical stare. ‘Yes, OK. Let’s be honest; living at home – well … ’
‘I cramp your style? Yes, OK. You have a lovely time. Bryn is absolutely lovely. Nice Welsh singing voice, too.’
‘Yes, Mother dear. It’s been a while since I’ve had a boyfriend. I’m too busy running your bloody theatre.’
Janet retaliated. ‘Well OK, while you’re enjoying your dirty weekend, I’ll check out Hannah Masters.’
Karen stared at her reprovingly. ‘Well at least I didn’t have a quickie on the beach, as you did with my father!’
Janet enjoyed the banter. ‘My God, that seems so long ago now. Have you seen him recently, by the way?’
Karen nodded. ‘I’ll see him with Carol and the boys in the school holidays. He’s doing media stuff now. Carol’s glad to be rid of that Saturday afternoon sulk when his team’s lost.’
‘I do lose touch. Let’s fix a barbecue or something when they’re down. The kids are at secondary school now, aren’t they? It would be good to have some younger people around the place.’
Karen rebuked her. ‘Meaning I’m over 40 now? OK, rub it in, why don’t you?’
Karen left her mother to her paperwork, and both knew that neither of them had been particularly lucky in love. She headed down towards the Pier Theatre as the chilly April wind got up from the east. She thought the conversation had gone well.
Meanwhile, Janet reflected on the past. She still felt guilty and rather embarrassed that Karen was the result of a teenage one-night stand with Paul Warren all those years ago. But at least her daughter knew the truth, it having been kept from her as a dark secret for so long.
Janet wished Karen well with Bryn, while realising that if it led to a long-term relationship, she would be left alone in her impending retirement. She’d even played with those new-fangled dating apps on the sly, but just couldn’t bring herself to take the plunge.
She’d tried one or two singles cultural holidays, but although she’d found the company pleasant, in general the males on offer were underwhelming. They tended to be retired teachers or accountants offering great wisdom whether it was required or not, or they tried to be funny without having any particular aptitude for comedy. Maybe after you’d hit 60, having any company at all was what mattered.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
I am a 63 year old Accountant who semi-retired to explore my love of creative writing. In my career I held Board level jobs for over twenty five years, in private, public and third sector organisations. I was born in Coventry, a city then dominated by the car industry and high volume manufacturing. Jaguar, Triumph, Talbot, Rolls Royce, Courtaulds, Massey Ferguson were the major employers, to name but a few.
When I was nine year’s old I told my long suffering mother that as I liked English composition and drama I was going to be a Playwright. She told me that I should work hard at school and get a proper job. She was right of course.
I started as an Office Junior at Jaguar in 1973 at eleven pounds sixty four a week. I thus grew up in the strike torn, class divided seventies. My first career ended in 2015, when I semi retired as Director of Corporate services at Humberside Probation. My second career, as a Non Executive Director, is great as it has allowed me free time to travel and indulge my passion for writing, both in novels and for theatre.
The opportunity to rekindle my interest in writing came in 2009, when I wrote my first pantomime, Cinderella, for my home group, the Walkington Pantomime Players. I have now written eight. I love theatre, particularly musical theatre, and completed the Hull Truck Theatre Playwrite course in 2010. My first play, a comedy called He’s Behind You, is now available on: https://www.silverbirchingtonplays.com/product-page/he-s-behind-you-by-martin-gore
Pen Pals was my first novel, and a second, The Road to Cromer Pier, is now available in all three formats. It was. officially launched on Cromer Pier itself, coinciding with the new season of the Summertime Special Show.
I’m active on twitter @authorgore and on facebook martin gore author. My website is http://www.martingore.co.uk.
I’m an old fashioned writer I guess. I want you to laugh and to cry. I want you to believe in my characters, and feel that my stories have a beginning, a middle, and a satisfactory ending.