45. Apposite Posers for a Poseur
Nick looked at his watch. “Tempus fugit,” he said. “Remember old Rait, the classics teacher at Morrison’s? The one with the nose. Remember him? That’s all the Latin I remember. Tempus fugit. Time flies.”
“Yes,” said Bruce. “Et cetera.”
Nick was busy erecting a small umbrella reflector at the side of the room. “Et what?”
“Et cetera,” repeated Bruce. “It’s the Latin for whatever.”
“Useful,” said Nick. “I must remember that. Now, Bruce, I think that we’ll start with a few face shots. Full on.” He indicated a place in the middle of the floor. “You stand just there and look over here where my hand is. That’s right. Great.”
Bruce, positioned in front of the reflector, looked at the space previously occupied by Nick’s outstretched hand. He sucked his cheeks in slightly, but only slightly; years of practice in front of the mirror had taught him that the key to cheek control was very gentle inward pressure. If you sucked in too much you ended up looking like those boy band members who all tried to look so intense when there was nothing, or almost nothing, in their heads. Young pop musicians trying to look all intense and serious – it was laughable.
There was, by contrast, a lot in Bruce’s head. He was thinking of life, and of how it has a funny way – an uncanny way, at times – of working out. Every time things had gone wrong for him – through no fault of his own, of course – they had righted themselves in no time at all, just like the Campbeltown lifeboat. If there was a Campbeltown lifeboat, which Bruce thought there was. When he was a boy he used to be sent up to the Mull of Kintyre to stay with Doreen and Victor Douglas, distant relatives of his father. They had taken him into Campbeltown and there had been a pipe band playing in aid of the lifeboat; he remembered that. And people had come up to him in the street and tousled his hair and said what a “bonnie wee boy” he was. He smiled at the memory. There were lots of people who would still like to do that, although now there was hair gel to consider.
Yes, his life was like the Campbeltown lifeboat. A wave, or misfortune, would come along and turn him over and within moments he would be back on an even keel, getting on with life at full steam. That had happened when he lost that job at Todd’s ridiculous firm; when that neurotic woman had invited him to lunch at the Caf'e St. Honor'e and had more or less seized his hand – for emphasis, she said – what an explanation, he thought; I must remember that – and her terminally boring husband had come in and created such a big fuss. Over nothing! I would no more have touched her than have flown to the moon. Mind you, I must be honest. Would I? Is there any woman in need whom I would turn away? Probably not… St. Bruce, patron saint of needy women. C’est moi. No, there are some. There are some to whom I would have to say, “Sorry, appointments only!” Some of those political women, those bossy Labour types always thinking of new ways of restricting men. I would have to draw the line at them; I really would.
And then there was the wine business. That chap Will Lyons thought I knew nothing about wine. Rien. I showed him. Ch^ateau P'etrus – no problem! And I made a tidy profit there; enough to set me up in London, not that I should have even bothered to go down there. London. What a waste of space. And when things had gone wrong there, had it worried me for more than three seconds? Non. It was straight back up to Edinburgh and kapowski into a new job – looking after Julia – that was the job. Running the wine bar was simple by comparison. What a stupid, stupid woman! Talk about wastes of space; she was a positive environmental disaster. And as for Watson Cooke, with his Scottish schoolboy rugby cap. Well, if the cap fits, wear it, Watson Cooke! You’re welcome to Julia and her stupid, stupid baby. If it looks like you, W. Cooke, it’s going to look like a rugby ball. That would be a great birth announcement in The Scotsman: To Watson and Julia, a rugby ball, at Murrayfield Stadium. Thanks to referee and linesmen.
“Something amusing you, Bruce?”
Bruce looked at Nick, who was pointing his camera at him from a couple of feet away, crouching for the right angle.
“Nope. Just thinking.”
“The smile’s great. Try and think about something else amusing. Great smile. It’ll wow them down at the agency. Most people these days have forgotten how to smile naturally. It’s all teeth.”
Bruce applied his mind to the thinking of something amusing. It was quite difficult when one was asked to do that, as amusing things tended just to crop up of their own accord. What was there to laugh about? Watson Cooke? Watson Cooke, the Watsonian?
“Knock, knock,” he said.
From behind the camera Nick muttered: “Who’s there?”
“Emma who?” asked Nick.
There was a brief silence. Then the camera was lowered and Nick beamed back at Bruce. “Emma Watsonian? That’s really funny, Bruce. Oh, I can hear it. I’m a Watsonian. Emma Watsonian. Oh, that’s really great, Bruce.” He paused. “The old jokes are always the best, aren’t they?”
“Hold it!” shouted Nick. “Hold that expression. Great. Just great. That’s the face of Scotland being serious. Thinking about the environment, maybe. Or wave power. Stick the chin out a bit more – great – that’s the face of Scotland thinking about those new power generating thingies you stick at the bottom of the sea so that the currents move the doodahs and the power comes surging out to charge all our Scottish iPods. That’s it. Great.”
The shutter clicked a few more times and then Nick straightened up and lowered the camera. “Have a break now, Bruce,” he said. “This is going really well.”
“Ecstatic,” said Nick. “I’ll show them these tomorrow, just to whet their appetites, and they’ll go wow, totally wow! Give us more of that face! Give us more! More!”