Research and Development


Stephanie loves her life, she has engineered it and built it to be what she has always wanted and she simply loves it.

Years before Mum had stood and gazed at her daughter in surprise and wonder, “Oh Stephie you always look so lovely and smell so nice, I don’t know where you learnt it all.” She couldn’t understand how this girl born and reared in what could only be called slums turned out looking a million dollars, presenting herself so well and always knowing what to say and how to behave.

Mum didn’t know about the hours and hours of reading, research and secret practice in the tiny bedroom.  The correct way to sit, the proper way to get in and out of a car.  Which cutlery to use, how to eat asparagus tips, when one could or couldn’t eat with one’s fingers.

Stephanie practised her speech in secret too.  She knew that if her friends and family heard the way that she wanted to sound they would mock her.  Up her own bum, they would say.  Ideas above her station they would accuse. It wasn’t that she thought she was above them, well not much really.  As she witnessed through the television and magazines a life that was so much grander, more luxurious, dignified and elegant than that which was her lot deep in her soul she ached for it.

She bought tapes about elocution and etiquette.  She learned how to conduct herself in public and then, when she left school and took “a position” as her Mum loved to call it as a receptionist in the Grand Hotel she could watch the rich and the privileged.  The whole world was her classroom, her working day a continual lesson and she applied herself with single-minded determination.

The hours and hours of self improvement paid off. She had a senior job now with the Hotel Chain, a beautiful apartment looking out over the town centre and wardrobes full of designer gear.  Jimmy Choo’s sat in silent glory under her Vivienne Westwoods and her Gucci bags jostled for space with her Louis Vuitton.

The only down side was that it all came at great financial cost.  The jobs which had been so very valuable from an educational point of view had paid little more than the minimum wage.  As the posts became more senior the clothes and lifestyle that were de rigueur in the world which she had made her own cost an arm and a leg.

The plastic was great of course and it seemed that all one had to do was fill in the forms and another gold card found a place in the soft leather wallet, another platinum account leaked money into the tills of Harrods and Harvey Nichols.  It was all okay because of course it was only a question of time before she found “the man” the rich, handsome, generous male who was going to take all the financial worry away.

There was no question in Stephanie’s mind that it would happen, look around – these women leaning on the arms of bankers and movie producers were no better than she was.  For goodness sake some of them were even dressed in chain store jeans, why she saw one girl wearing what was unmistakably an M & S jacket.  She was the daughter of a local property magnate and so possibly she was doing it to make a point, but still.

Mr Powers wasn’t exactly what she had in mind, he was short and balding and his teeth, well she didn’t actually like thinking about his teeth.  With all his money you would think that he could have something done.  He liked Stephanie though right from their first meeting when he came to organise a Party for his sister.

“Money no object.” he insisted, “the best, just everything the best for my lovely Jane.” And so it was Magnums of Krug, Almas Caviar, Chateau bottled rare, vintage wines, it was the stuff that Stephanie’s dreams were made of.

They spent hours together discussing the party.  Which film star would be best seated next to which formula one driver.  What would be the very best order for the parade of presents.  These would come one after the other borne aloft by waiters dressed as Egyptian slaves, an extravaganza of luxurious display an over the top flaunting of filthy lucre, bliss absolute bliss.

As the costs climbed higher Mr Power didn’t flinch.  He wrote cheque after cheque all of which zoomed through the system at Coutts the money tinkling happily into the coffers of the Hotel Chain.  The more money that flowed into Head Office the less Mr Power’s teeth bothered Stephanie, the more extravagant the plans for the party became the less his lack of inches seemed to matter.  Of course the inevitable happened and he asked her if she would please do him the honour of attending as she had been such a help.  By now Stephanie had turned him into if not a god at least a not bad looking, old, balding, short guy with poor dental work.

Whirlwind, that was the only way to describe the romance.  True to herself Stephanie had kept quiet about all the research.  Jim, (unfortunate name really – a bit lower class but he just wouldn’t answer to James) Jim liked horse racing and so Stephanie did a crash course in the history and background to the sport of kings.  He often visited France, how fortunate that Stephanie had studied France for her dissertation.  Well she would certainly have done had she ever attended Cambridge and of course wishing to so very badly was only a step away from actually doing it.

The wedding, ah the wedding.  It was a shame that none of Stephanie’s family had been able to make it but then again it was difficult for them to afford the air fare to Belize.  Jim would have paid for them all if only Stephanie had remembered to tell them.  Not to worry they wouldn’t have liked the food and Mum could never put up with heat.  Stephanie did pay her a flying visit the week before with a picture of the dress and a promise to come back later after the honeymoon – yeah like that was going to happen.

So here she is, she loves her life.  Unfortunately she doesn’t love Mr Powers.  She loves the way that he has swept aside all her debts with hardly a glance.  She is charmed by the way that he insists that it is far better that she have accounts at the shops in Mayfair so she doesn’t have to risk walking around with too much money.  She really, really loves the pretty red Porsche but no unfortunately she doesn’t love Mr Powers.

Well Stephanie is nothing if not thorough; see her now burning the midnight oil.  Well the other option is the fat, little old guys groping hands eurgh.  This research doesn’t do itself now does it and there is so much of it relating to the very best and safest way to dispose of a person and it all must be done with taste and elegance of course.

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