Oh, Miss Hepburn

by Rosie Baillie

In the Foyer at Green’s Playhouse

‘Right girls, let’s be having you, form a line please.’

‘You’d think we were in the army,’ Christina whispered to Dot as she scampered into the line. Mr Philips began his inspection. ‘Now girls,’ he bellowed as he looked up and down the line, ‘If it’s Good?’

‘It’s Greens,’ the girls chorused back.

‘And if it’s Greens?’

‘It’s good.’

Christina held her breath as Mr Philips began to move down the line. She hoped as ever that he wouldn’t stop in front of her, but his stick made its familiar tap on the floor as he turned to face her.

‘Ah, Miss Kemp.’

‘Yes, Mr Philips?’

‘You are looking, how shall I put it, slightly unkempt, Miss Kemp?’

Dot stifled a giggle further down the line.  Before Christina could answer, he continued,

‘You could make more of yourself, Miss Kemp, accentuate yourself. Look at any of these other girls if you want to know how.’

‘I’m sure I could Mr Philips,’ Christina looked at her shoes.

‘Now Miss McKenzie, you are looking…’ He stopped for an uncomfortable amount of time as he looked Dot up and down, ‘quite delectable today, quite delectable.’

He reached the end of the row of girls and then turned to bark out his usual, ‘right, at your stations girls, we open at midday,’ and, just before he retired to his office, he said, as if it was an afterthought,

‘Oh Miss – eh – Miss McKenzie, I will require your assistance in the projection room at 1.30 pm sharp, Billy will be otherwise engaged.’

In the Stores

Christina and Dot were loading their trays with cigarettes in preparation for their first customers.

‘Look, Dot, you don’t have to go in there with old Mr Creeps, that’s not part of our job.’

‘I know it’s not Chrissie, but look, it’s fine. I’m a big girl; I can look after myself.’

‘He’ll look after you alright duck,’ shouted Maggie, the kiosk supervisor with a wink as she squeezed past. ‘Right then, Christina, Dot, and Ruth, you’re on trays and walkarounds – don’t say I’m not good to you; Betty and Janet, you’re on the kiosk with me. We’ll swap after the first showing.’

‘I mean it, Dot, you could just come straight into the screen with me, say you forgot or… say you came in to keep an eye on me, make sure I didn’t get too caught up in watching the film?’

‘Like I could stop you from watching that film, how many times have you seen it so far?’

In the Screen

‘Good afternoon, Miss Hepburn, it’s great to see you again,’ Christina said silently to the screen as she leant against the wall in the aisle, by the door.

‘This is my favourite time you know, I’ve done my rounds, the audience are settled, and it all goes quiet when the newsreel comes to an end. It’s bliss. I bet you love it too, whenever you go to the movies. If you get time to go, I mean.

‘Oh Miss Hepburn, I’ve got so many questions for you. You see in this bit where you break Cary Grant’s golf club over your knee, and then he pushes you over? I mean, how dare he do that to you. I know it’s a film, and all and you’re acting, but I bet you would never let this happen to you in real life.

‘And you know, here’s another thing, Miss Hepburn –

Christina’s reverie was interrupted by Billy, Mr Philips’ projection room assistant opening the door. He leant in, checked the screen, gave her a wave and a wink, and ducked out again.

Want to know more? The full story and other like it can be found in The Low Road: A Celebration of Dundee’s Nethergate available on this website.

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