October 17, 1938 (Claire)
Claire hated this. She despised the never ending cycle of long nights and early mornings, of hotel rooms and limousines. Claire was tired of the crowds of well dressed, self important people who wanted to speak with her for ‘just a moment’. Claire felt so alone in those crowded rooms, she hated being there.
Frank said it was important to cultivate the rich and the powerful, they paid for everything. They paid the extravagant price for a ticket to her concerts.
The patrons paid the salaries of all the people that looked after Claire, that set up the piano she traveled with, that followed her everywhere and took care of everything so she could make music.
There was Mrs. Graham, her personal dresser, who took care of all her clothing and made sure she was dressed, coiffed and made up for her performance six nights a week. Mrs. Graham was a widow (her husband had died during The Great War) and treated Claire as though she was a beloved grandchild. She was also a wizard with a needle and very fashion savvy. Mrs. G. had been with Claire since birth, having been her parent’s housekeeper since their wedding.
There was Geillis Duncan her personal secretary. She made all the hotel reservations, confirmed all the tour dates and handled all of the logistical things touring required. Geillis was 20 which was terribly young, but it didn’t matter, she was charming, blunt and ruthlessly efficient. Uncle Lamb had hired Geillis in when she was 16 and Claire was 14. Geillis was the closest thing Claire had to a friend.
There was Hector Forrester, only a year or two older than Geillis, who was her chauffeur and took care of whatever else Claire needed. It was a little awkward the first time she needed personal items, but Hector was completely unruffled, which made it slightly less embarrassing. He ran errands, picked up last minute items and basically made everyone’s life run smoothly.
Hector also escorted Claire everywhere and Geillis jokingly referred to him as the bodyguard. Not that Claire needed a bodyguard, but at five feet even, she was very small and it did make her feel safer knowing Hector (who stood 6’) was there.
Lesley Mohr took care of the piano (a Steinway designed just for her), the small practice harp that had been her mother’s, and the harpsichord Uncle Lamb bought for her when she was six. Les and his wife Lizzie tuned them, packed and unpacked them, guarded them during transport as though they were their children. Lesley and Lizzie were also responsible for setting up the space wherever she played.
There were Joe and Gayle Abernathy, her sound people. Joe had been Claire’s sound man since her first solo concert. Gayle had been the personal secretary to a very temperamental soprano when she met Joe. When Joe proposed, Gayle quit and never looked back. From Joe, she learned all about how to make Claire sound her best in any venue and sometimes Gayle’s ideas produced better results than Joe’s did. They were a great team and quite sought after by venues, their race notwithstanding.
Not that they would ever leave Claire. Joe had grown up with Claire, his father Paul had been her first manager. His mother had been a Jazz singer and had died giving birth to Joe. Joe’s dark skin gave Paul some problems, but Paul didn’t care. He had loved Victoria, Joe’s mother. Julia, Claire’s mother hadn’t cared either; being Irish and Catholic, she knew all about prejudice. She was one of the few big names that hadn’t dropped him, and Paul never forgot it. Neither did Joe.
Last but certainly not least, there was Frank Randall. Frank was her manager now. He planned the tours, the fundraisers, the social events and did all the advertising. Frank had been her manager since Paul died when she was sixteen. He had been Paul’s assistant, so it made sense to Uncle Lamb to hire him.
The only thing Frank didn’t do, was handle the money. All of her finances were overseen by the lawyer that handled her trust fund and her parents’ estate. Ned had been her parents’ lawyer and had always handled her money too. She called him Uncle Ned, although he wasn’t a blood relative. He didn’t tour with them but she was just as responsible for his livelihood as she was for everyone else’s.
The other person that didn’t tour with them was Alec. He stayed home and looked after things while everyone else came on tour with Claire. Mrs. G. called him every day for a check in, and Claire talked to him on Sundays after church. Claire wasn’t sure how old he was, but it was older than Mrs. G. who was in her 50’s.
Eleven people. It didn’t sound like that many, but to Claire, who would turn 18 in three days, it was a heavy burden and a huge responsibility.
Sometimes, Claire wished she could just be normal, although she didn’t really know what normal was.
October 17, 1938 (Jamie)
‘How long do I have to be here before I can go back to the house’? Jamie wondered. He knew why the group was all here, they needed the patronage of the people who sponsored the concerts and paid their salaries. God in heaven, he hated these receptions. They always made him feel as though he was on display.
At 6’3” Jamie towered over everyone else in the room, although thankfully some of his kinsmen were at least 6’ so he wasn’t the only tall man, just the tallest. That and his red hair made him stick out. It probably didn’t help that he wore his hair longer than was fashionable. With his curls, if he wore it short he looked more like a poodle than a man. When he wore it long the weight pulled out a bit of the curl. Besides, with the kilts and such that they wore on stage, it looked fine tied back.
More than fine if the reaction of some of the reception’s guests were anything to go by. Most of the daughters and even a few of the wives of the wealthy men who patronized the concerts, vied for his attention. It disgusted Jamie if he was being honest. He had no interest in being the plaything of a neglected wife or a spoiled child. Jamie wanted a love like the one his parents had. Until then he’d bide his time. Mam said that when he found the woman of his heart, he would know. That her soul would speak to his and his would answer.
Jamie hoped so. He wasn’t the only single man in the Schola, but he did get tired of all the lasses trying to become his wife, or even just his lover. Not that he had a lover. It may not be what everyone expected, but Jamie intended to take one woman to bed...his wife. Jamie was of the opinion that if a woman was expected to be chaste until she married, twas only fair that a man should be expected to be chaste as well.
Uncle Dougal thought he was insane or stupid. He had told Jamie that someone should ken what the Bloody Hell they were doing on the wedding night. Jamie retorted that they could figure it out together. Not that he was completely ignorant. His Da had very thoroughly explained what should and should not happen in the marriage bed. Mostly, Da said, it was about listening and respect for the other person. The conversation had been embarrassing at times, but Jamie was thankful that his Da made him listen. He wouldn’t want to look like a fool, or worse; hurt the lass, when he found her.
He wasn’t likely to find his heart’s own choice this evening though. Not here anyway.