Norman Jope


I am arrested by the sight of Claudia clad in scarlet panties, with the usual half-amused expression, camomile hair and cornflower eyes... she is placing her hands upon her breasts to make them disappear. She has split up from her partner, is available again. This is front page noise in L'EtoiIe Du Jour. 

"I wouldn't get out of bed for less then..." how many K, I can't remember. Perhaps, at a certain age, she will take to bed for good. Or take it about with her, to shop, to walk a dog, like Marat's bath. I may answer her advert in the Partners column of the Western Evening Herald. 'Bedridden exmodel, 47, seeks strong-armed man to push her around'. For now, her panties rustle on a hundred thousand newsracks 

I wouldn't - no, I wouldn't get out of bed for less than 47.90 a week, plus housing benefit, plus an interview each fortnight, and the occasional government-funded self-flagellation session. I can only gain self-respect from my role as a part of an acknowledged labour-force in waiting, dragging down all proletarian interest.

Claudia is applying yet another face-pack, or bathing in mare's milk, or pouting as she closes Conductors of Chaos. She is mine, because she makes the papers. Some nut may even shoot her, hurt or kill the woman hidden in the image. How can I 'fancy' a tasteless, odourless, textureless and voiceless combination of cyan, turquoise and magenta, imprisoned on a page of an ephemeral rag? And yet, I look again. Her image lingers in my mind, her alluring smile. 'She's playing hard to get, she smiles from time to time'. I might not recognize her if she grace-flounced past me in the street. 

But Claudia knocks upon my bedroom door. "You could do with some company" she breathes. There is nothing in life like not knowing your station, like not accepting you are less than beautiful. For where is the advantage in accepting it? "Come in" I smile. But someone lifts the paper from the stand, and the next face I see belongs to the Home Secretary.