On Friday morning before the Melbourne Cup weekend, there had been furious jockeying between the creative staff to win the Cup Eve Monday off as a holiday. Creative director Jason had a kind of reverse-Solomon moment in preventing inter-staff jealousy by awarding the bonus Monday to himself (as he had in the past three years).
Meanwhile, everyone had been called into the boardroom for drawing of the annual Melbourne Cup sweep, which Yasmiijn de Reverien was to draw. Jason has recently appointed her as his new personal assistant, a job title he changed to 'creative co-ordinator' to deflect any suggestion of inferiority, servitude, misogyny, sexism etc. Yasmiijn's employment was greeted with scepticism from the rest of the creative department; and raised eyebrows from management, but Jason insisted he be allowed to staff his own department without interference.
Yasmiijn has flame red hair and is wearing a silky thing that looks like it was woven by butterflies. It is probably a dress. To say she is wearing it is probably overstating the case. Rather, she is in its general vicinity. It floats and sighs with her every movement.
Although Yasmiijn's name suggests Dutch East Indies and French extraction, her grandparents were migrant waterside workers from Glasgow, and her original name was Cheryl Hodgebottom. Cheryl changed her first name to Yasmiijn when she turned twenty-one, giving it a double 'i' and a 'j' for some European intrigue. However, the new name didn't really work with Hodgebottom, so a year later she changed her surname by deed poll to de Reverien, which everyone seemed to agree was an improvement. Yasmiijn was hence able to hide her original no-nonsense anglo-scottish character behind an exotic persona.
JASON HAS ASKED YASMIIJN TO HANDLE THE MELBOURNE CUP DRAW, WHICH IS USUALLY THE KIND OF THING THAT IS RUN BY THE PRODUCTION DEPARTMENT, OR A JUNIOR ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE, OR THE AGENCY MD – IN OTHER WORDS, PEOPLE WITH NOTHING MUCH TO DO ALL DAY. MAYBE JASON HAS NOTHING MUCH TO DO ALL DAY, OR JUST WANTS TO BE THE CENTRE OF ATTENTION.
JASON: There's fifteen thousand riding on this which the agency has so kindly tipped in from its media graft proceeds ...
(HE WINKS AT ANNETTE, MEDIA BUYING CHIEF)
ANNETTE: If only, Jason.
JASON: Rubbish, Annette. How do you think Harold Mitchell bought a cattle station? And of the fifteen thousand, ten for the winner, two for second and third; and, as usual, a grand for last just to keep it interesting.
YASMIIJN HAS PLACED ALL THE HORSE NAMES (WHICH SHE HAS CUT OUT FROM RACE FIVE IN THE FORM GUIDE) AND STAFF NAMES INTO TWO DIFFERENT BOXES AND IS ABOUT TO START DRAWING THEM.
SHE REACHES DEEP INTO THE FIRST BOX, DRAWS OUT A TINY PIECE OF PAPER AND READS THE NAME WITH A FURROWED BROW.
And the first horse to be drawn is ... (LOOKS AGAIN AT THE HORSE'S NAME TO DOUBLE CHECK THE PRONUNCIATION) ... Lucretia's Dream!
THEN SHE REACHES INTO THE BOX OF STAFF NAMES, AND UP COMES A TINY PIECE OF PAPER IN HER FINE, LONG-NAILED FINGERS.
YASMIIJN (SMILES AS HER EYES FLASH AROUND THE ROOM LOOKING FOR THE PERSON WHOSE NAME SHE HAS DRAWN): And Lucretia's Dream has been drawn by ... Annette! Congratulations, Annette!
ANNETTE, THE MEDIA BUYER, IS OF MEDIUM HEIGHT WITH DARK HAIR AND RED LIPS. SHE WEARS AN EXPENSIVE TAILORED TWO-PIECE TWEED SUIT, ITALIAN SHOES AND INTERESTING JEWELLERY.
YASMIIJN REACHES AROUND TO THE WHITEBOARD AND PLACES THE PIECES OF PAPER UNDER MAGNETS AT THE TOP OF TWO NEAT COLUMNS HEADED 'HUMAN' AND 'HORSE'. THE WORD 'HUMAN' INSTEAD OF 'DRAWER' IS JASON'S IRONIC ANIMISTIC TOUCH; BUT BOB THE CLEANER, AS THE AGENCY ARBITER OF COMMON SENSE, CALLS IT BULLSHIT.
YASMIIJN TURNS BACK TO THE BOXES AND STARTS TO DRAW THE NEXT HORSE. INTO THE BOX GOES HER LITHE FRECKLED BARE ARM. SHE LEANS A LITTLE LOWER. SEVERAL PEOPLE, NOT ALL OF WHOM ARE MEN, ALMOST VISIBLY WINCE IN A KIND OF SUPPRESSED EMOTION WHICH COULD BE ADMIRATION OR COULD BE JEALOUSY OR COULD BE SOMETHING ELSE LESS INNOCENT OR COULD BE THEIR HEAD ABOUT TO EXPLODE, FOR THAT MATTER.
YASMIIJN (LOOKS AROUND AND BEAMS): Massimo? It's you. And your horse is: Zelad Marcos!
MASSIMO (PRINT BUYER, GUFFAWS LIKE ONE): You beauty! Zelad Marcos! (TURNS TO ONE OF HIS MATES) What are its odds? (MATE SHRUGS. HE'S NEVER HEARD OF IT. BUT THERE IS A MURMUR OF SOMETHING AT THE BACK OF THE ROOM)
YASMIIJN DRAWS AGAIN (COQUETTISHLY): Leon! You this time! And your horse is ... Maurizio's Apparition!
THE MURMURS GROW AROUND THE ROOM, AND A VOICE SPEAKS FROM THE BACK. IT IS ...
ZIGGY: Hang on, Yasmiijn ... there's no horse called Maurizio's Apparition running in the Cup.
GRAM (WHO WAS NAMED AFTER A ROCK STAR THAT NO-ONE REMEMBERS ANY MORE SO HE HAS TO CONTINUALLY EXPLAIN THAT HE IS NOT A UNIT OF WEIGHT): Nor is there a horse called Zelad Marcos, Jason.
GRAM POINTEDLY ASKS JASON, RATHER THAN YASMIIJN, TO EXPLAIN.
JASON (RED-FACED): Ah, Yasmiijn, you cut out the horses. What's going on?
YASMIIJN: I cut them out from the form guide you gave me, Jason. Race Five. It's still on your table ...
JASON DISAPPEARS INTO HIS OFFICE AND EMERGES AGAIN WITH THE REMAINS OF A CHOPPED UP FORM GUIDE.
JASON (STARING AT THE SHARDS OF PAPER): Ah, Yasmiijn ... this isn't the Melbourne Cup field ... you cut out race five from tonight's Harold Park trots.
TITTERS SPREAD AROUND THE BOARDROOM WITH THE OCCASIONAL GUFFAW, DIRECTED AT JASON. MEANWHILE YASMIIJN BITES HER LIP AND GIVES A SAD LITTLE SIGH. SOMETIMES WHE WISHES SHE HAD KEPT HER OLD 'CHERYL' PERSONA, BECAUSE THEN SHE COULD HAVE TURNED TO JASON AND TOLD HIM TO FUCK OFF AND DRAW HIS OWN STUPID CUP SWEEP, A RESPONSE HE SO RICHLY DESERVES. BUT SHE DOESN'T. SHE FEIGNS MOCK SELF-EFFACEMENT, CUTS OUT THE CORRECT RACE, AND REDRAWS THE SWEEP.
ON CUP DAY, YASMIIJN'S HORSE WINS AND SHE PICKS UP THE TEN GRAND. JASON'S HORSE IS INJURED DURING THE RACE AND IS PUT DOWN BEHIND A SCREEN ON THE TRACK. YASMIIJN FAILS TO LOCATE JASON IN THE MARQUEE AND ABSCONDS WITH A DUBAI-BASED HORSE-OWNING SHEIK WHO NEVER FINDS OUT HER NAME WAS CHERYL.