Runner-up: Anne Petrie
Silence is Golden
Sometimes fans still turned up on the doorstep, looking for an autograph or a photo.
‘Send them away, Gerald,’ she would say, and Gerald did.
‘Miss du Moulin is not receiving visitors today.’ She insisted Gerald always used those words. Every time a new Gerald arrived, he had to learn the rules. Recently the Geralds that the agency sent were not what she considered proper butlers at all. The latest one was a girl. ‘Can’t discriminate today,’ the agency had said. Still, the girl seemed alright.
Now, sixty years after her last appearance in front of the cameras, she had agreed to one more starring role. She deserved it. There had been no ‘Garbo talks’ moment for Marguerite du Moulin. She’d had to tell Gerald about the plan. Gerald thought it was ‘really cool.’
Gerald helped her arrange herself on the chaise longue in the drawing room. They had chosen the outfit together: midnight blue evening gown, a silver fox stole draped over what were now undeniably crepey arms and sequinned high heels that she couldn’t stand in. The wig of crimped blonde waves was the one she had worn in ‘Miss Maisie’.
Gerald showed the TV documentary crew into the room. They stopped dead, as she had known they would.
‘Darlings,’ she said, her voice a rich baritone, ‘I’ve been cross-dressing for nearly eighty years. It’s such fun to grow a beard again. Come on, get on with it. You can’t discriminate today.’
Winner: Julie Durdin
The Big Scoop
After all the trouble they had gone to, they hoped the tip-off proved its worth. The competition was on, and they had been happy to forego their dignity and their hard-earned pennies in order to attain pole position in front of Doris Anders’ door.
They’d drawn straws, and then bickered over the outcome. They’d thrown pennies in their caps and then argued over the fairness of that, their hats differing in size and shape. A quiz on Doris’s former life as an escort, model and then millionnairess had decided matters.
Toby Watson, the youngest news guy on the block, had done his homework and now stood in front of the rest, outside the famous recluse’s door, poised to capture her on film – front-page news.
Would she still be a beauty or had the years since her last public appearance taken their toll? Soon they would find out.
Fingers at the ready, all talk ceased as Doris’s bedroom door opened a crack. She was about to emerge.
A camera clicks.
“All you got is a picture of a door, mate,” someone says.
The door opens fully. Two men dressed in black step over the threshold. Perched on their shoulders is a white coffin. Draped over it is a purple feather boa, Doris’s trademark neckwear.
“Not much better than the door,” someone grumbles.
Slowly, the coffin bearers walk past the newspaper guys and Doris Anders, the famous recluse, faces the cameras one last time.
Congratulations, Anne and Julie! And thanks to everyone who played. We’ll see you guys next week – happy weekends, all.