Sue’s latest #writeprompt is
Arnold Percival and Bethany Groyne studied the ratings figures. There was no hiding from the fact that they were going down and, without a miracle, of any size, the prospect of another series of ‘Hunt the Prize’ would be stillborn.
For Arnold, his expertise as an art historian and critic would ensure he had employment but the buzz that came with being recognised, being stopped and asked for his autograph, being propositioned – that’s what he would miss. Bethany didn’t need more creeps sending her a plethora of dic-pics but she’d been in the TV business long enough to know two dogs don’t make a career. She punched the table. ‘We need a masterpiece. Any masterpiece.’
The researchers had tried everything but after an initial euphoria Joe Public had produced nothing from their attics and sheds to set the pulses racing. From somewhere they needed to uncover a hidden jewel.
Enter Millicent Paltry. Her father hoarded all sorts and when he died she began the laborious task of decluttering. It was fortunate for her that she visited the local antique market the same day as Peter one of the researchers. He liked the watercolour, mailed a picture of it to Arnold and the wheels moved quickly.
Everything was set; the programme would go out live, Millicent proved to be a perfect foil to the two presenters. The cameras were readied, the marque just right. The only issue was the unusually high humidity causing Arnold to sweat profusely. A super strength fan was sourced and its draught of cool air just about kept Arnold in shape.
The audience gathered around the picture as the credits rolled. Bethany started speaking as Arnold flapped at some insect that had decided on a drink from his suppurating neck.
No one was quite sure what happened next: the best guess was that as Arnold connected with the rehydrating bug and stunned it, the fan’s updraught caught its wings and sent it cartwheeling into the canvas. At that moment Bethany’s finger moved to point out some of the beautiful brushstrokes of the artist and pressed the black carapace firmly into the surface.
In combination the result was a spidery black shape appearing on the painting just as the camera zoomed in.
Everyone froze but Bethany hadn’t spent ten years working with a series of narcissistic male presenters and not learnt how to keep going.
‘And this is the clincher, the Armada Beacon, a classic symbol of Hampshire landscape artist Bertrand Arthur. Arnold will now tell us something about Bertrand and the likely value of this gorgeous piece….’