Testing Times - Chapter 17 "Break A Leg"

Testing Times - A Tommy & Tamara Story  



"Break A Leg!"

Friday 1st May (Continued)

Tammy shut the door to her dorm and had a better look around. The walls were now peach instead of magnolia and the room felt a little warmer, or had the small hole in the window frame been sealed? The bedroom furniture had been replaced plus the bed linen was now a floral design, rather than the rather plain design the boys had.

In the bottom of the wardrobe was her laundry bag, embossed with "Miss Tamara Smart", the blouse she'd worn earlier was already in the bag. Tammy checked the time, she had an hour before her meeting in town, and decided to have a shower. Unfortunately the dorms were not en-suite, although the under-construction girls' dorms would be.

Tammy stepped out of the tennis dress and removed the sports bra that she had found with the dress. This all went into the laundry bag. A peach towelling dressing gown was hanging on the back of the door so she slipped this on, tying the belt tightly. She picked up a bottle of body wash, a towel and her key before padding down the corridor to one of two shower rooms. There wasn't a shower cap available so she would just have to be careful.

Tammy was somewhat refreshed when she came out of the shower room and quickly made her way back to her room. Fortunately all the boys should have been in lessons at this time. She redressed into her street clothes, applied minimal make-up and checked the room. The towel went over a rail to dry, any smalls were in the laundry bag, everything else was in the wardrobe. She dropped the bag into the laundry hopper on her way back to reception, the sports bra might raise a comment amongst the staff, she thought.

John was nowhere to be seen so Tammy assumed he had something to do. Now that he had his own transport Tammy knew she'd see less of him. She dropped her dorm key off with Janet Adams.

"What did you think of the room, Tammy?"

"It's not bad, I could do with somewhere to crash after an exam!"

"Just don't spend the night in there, but it's yours to use until the end of term."

"Thanks, the uniform and other bits were up there, is someone going to collect them, when we're done?"

"Not that I'm aware, you'd best ask Joanne or Mr Cutter next week."

"I'm seeing Joanne tonight, but we probably won't have time to speak."

"Do enjoy yourself tonight, break a leg! I'll be there."

"It's a full house as far as I know."

"It is, a few staff asked me last week to get them tickets but there's none available. I understand, however, that a few journalists will be there every night in case of another incident."

Tammy groaned. "I'm not expecting anything, and there's no chance of a repeat of the last one." She was referring to Angela's late father, George Small, when he grabbed Tanya on the opening night of West Side Story.

"Quite, no chance of a repeat of that."

Tammy drove into town and parked behind Sarah's shop. She buzzed the intercom that had been installed by the entrance to the first floor.

"Come on up Tammy." Other than Sarah's cameras, monitoring the delivery door, she couldn't see an devices, so how could they have known?

Hilary was waiting for her, holding a security door open. That door hadn't been there last time. The space was clean and some partitions had been erected, it did not look the same. A few people Tammy didn't know were present, and one or two she did.

"Right, you know Dave Brown," he gave Tammy a kiss, "and Jonathan Meach", who also greeted her with a kiss.

"Hiding in the back room is Jimmy Ruddle who installed your secure phone, the rest are his team of chippies and sparkies." There was a collective "hello Miss".

"Good afternoon everyone, I can see you've all been busy."

Hilary suggested to Tammy they went to a side room that was already finished. It was windowless and the door seemed heavy.

"This is a secure room, the walls, floor and ceiling are lined to prevent radiation or sound leakage. Any restricted equipment will be in a similar room the other side of that wall, Jimmy's installing the phone and fax in there at the moment. This will be a meeting room."

Tammy noted the lack of a table, but at least a few chairs were available. Dave Brown was last in, closing the door with a soft but reassuring click.

"Lovely to see you again Tammy."

"Always my pleasure Dave, how is everyone down South?"

"As well as can be expected, Tammy." He clearly didn't want to go any further.

"Now", said Hilary, handing her a sealed envelope, "in there is is your security pass. Press it against the reader on the exterior door to get into the stairwell. The code for the door at the top of the stairs is unique to you and is on a slip inside the envelope. The code will change regularly."

Tammy started to open the envelope.

"What if someone steals my card?"

"They have thirty seconds to enter the correct code or the alarms go off. There's also full remote monitoring of the cameras. However, we can't make the security too overt as we're supposed to be a commercial organisation."

"Okay, what's the public angle?"

"We'll act as a consultancy, providing clients with the maritime-related information they seek, either directly or via our own contractors. Government clients may get a little value added data but otherwise it's the same service."

"So it's hiding in plain sight?"

The three spooks nodded. Tammy now had a good look at the security pass, the photo was one taken that morning by Chris Cutter.

"So Chris Cutter works for you?"

"No Tammy, he's a contractor, but we employed him for this job as we needed some photos of you for our own publicity."

"You didn't ask for photos of me in the tennis dress, or even a swimsuit, did you"

Hilary laughed, "No! The tennis outfit would likely have been for the prospectus but any swimwear shots were way outside the remit. I'll deal with that."

Tammy shuddered, "don't let him anywhere near schoolgirls, or boys, again. Please!"

"Consider it dealt with."

They talked for half an hour before Tammy made her apologies and left for home.


Tammy arrived at the theatre shortly after six after an early dinner. A few were there already.

"Come on young lady, let's get you sorted first, we've plenty of time. Debbie is helping me this time, she's in with the boys."

"Thanks Joanne, I got the note, by the way - is Wednesday okay?"

"That's my day off this week, how about Thursday at ten? I've had a cancellation."

"Okay, Thursday."

"Good, now sit still."

Tanya arrived a few minutes later, her lipstick smudged, there seemed to be a second colour mixed with Tanya's usual pink.

"Joanne, what was the lipstick you used on John for the photos this morning?"

"Chanel Rouge Coco, it wasn't cheap but it suited him. I'll give John the tube after Tuesday's shoot as I can't use it for any other model or client. You'll get anything I used on you, too."

"It looks like Tanya's wearing plenty of his lipstick, why didn't he clean his face?"

"Boys forget, and Tanya obviously didn't notice." There was a shriek from the future Mrs Hibbert.

"What is that?" She was staring into the mirror.

"Your boyfriend's make-up, if I'm not mistaken!" Tammy was enjoying herself.

"You didn't!"

"I did", said Joanne, "for the photo shoot, but it's not my fault if he didn't use the wipes I left for him."

"He's been walking around in make-up all day?"

"Yes, I included a matte top coat as he kept licking his lips. He was also wearing foundation, eye liner and a little mascara. A natural look, of course, for the camera."

All the girls in the dressing room had now heard the commotion, a similar noise was coming from the boys' room, including a familiar high pitched laugh.

"Who's in there with him?" Tanya was almost shouting.

"Your sister."

Tanya was not happy, not happy at all.

"Settle down ladies", Sandy Franklin had arrived, "I'd like everyone ready by seven thirty if possible. We're making a presentation to Iain before the performance as this is his last directing job at the theatre."

"But ... but."

"But nothing, Miss Smith."

Sunday 3rd May

Tammy and John accepted the applause after the final performance on Sunday evening. The cast was shattered, this was the fifth show in three days, but they knew they had done their best.

One of the problems of popular plays, especially Shakespeare's plays, is that the script can be too well known to an audience, with self-appointed experts criticising the most minor differences from the 'original' Shakespearean words.

This being the Highlands, putting on Macbeth required a very thick skin. Using a young cast was positively dangerous.

Iain Brown was beaming; the press reports had been positive, each performance had played to a full-house and, most importantly, the cast had not made one mistake.

They took one more bow before leaving, stage left. The house lights were coming up and sounds of movement in the auditorium followed Tammy as she headed for the dressing room.

Sandy Franklin, who had been managing the backstage, and Jill Davison, a theatre trustee, were waiting for the girls.

"Well done everyone."

"Jill, we just did our best, but I'm glad it's over."

"Tammy, you did more than that. Because of the quality of this and other recent productions we've been offered additional funding and we have new sponsors. We were a little concerned that we couldn't afford all of the planned refurbishment but the funds have been secured."

"New sponsors? I thought money was tight locally?"

"We have received a very nice donation from Caithness Maritime Research, they also took a full page advert in the programme. I'd never heard of them before, though."

Tammy decided to keep her association with Hilary Bull's operation to herself and busied herself cleaning the stage make-up off her face. "I'm looking forward to a shower as soon as I get home, Jill."

"I can't argue with that." Jill sniffed the air and quickly walked away.


It was half past ten when Tammy arrived home, too late to have anything more than a sandwich. She'd eaten very little during the day because of the matinee show so was just grateful of the decent breakfast that morning. Bed followed swiftly.

Monday 4th May

As it was a Bank Holiday, Tammy felt no urgency in getting up. No-one had school, most had no work either, that included their staff, Leanne, Julie and Tammy's PA Pru. Her phone rang.


"Hi Tammy, it's Sarah."

"Oh, hello."

"Are you doing anything today?"

"Catching up with sleep."

"Well, I have a shop-full and could do with a hand."

"What about Lori?"

"She's not answering her phone."

"Okay, give me an hour."

"Can you make it sooner?"

"I'll see what I can do."

Tammy groaned but as she put her phone back down, her bladder gave her a not-so gentle reminder. A minute or so later Tammy was in the shower. Fifteen minutes later she sauntered into the kitchen, in search of coffee.

"Good morning sleepy-head."

"Hi Dad."

"I thought you were spending the day in bed?"

"Sarah's called, she needs a hand."

"You have revision to do, it isn't long before your first exam?"

"Don't remind me, I've just over a week, but this will only be for a few hours and it's a good distraction."

"Okay, but don't over- it."

"I won't, is it too late for some brekkie?"


Tammy pulled up behind Sarah's Boutique just before ten and made her way into the store. There were half a dozen ladies browsing, accompanied by a couple of disinterested males. Tammy's arrival did not go unnoticed.

"Well done, great performance." This view was echoed by everyone present, had they all attended the shows?

"Thank you." Tammy quickly put her bag and coat in the store room and was soon back in the front. "Who can I help"?

Business was good for a couple of hours then seemed to tail off completely around midday. By half-twelve not a soul had been seen so Sarah decided that was enough.

"I've done well this morning, much more than normal for a Monday, so let's turn the sign over. Can you walk to the night safe with me?"


A couple of minutes later, the two locked the store, after setting the alarm.

"I had a visit from one of the contractors working upstairs last week."


"Yes, that Miss Bull introduced him. Jimmy Ruddle was his name."

"Okay, what did he want?"

"He offered to check the security system and connect it up to their police alarm, I didn't connect mine up as it costs too much for the monitoring line."

"So you took up the offer?"


They walked swiftly, although, as it was lunchtime the streets weren't quiet. There were no problems depositing the money and the two started walking back. "Fancy some lunch?"

"Sure, Sarah."

As the pair walked into the Castletown Hotel they almost walked into a lady dragging a case. She turned around.

"Hello Tammy."


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