Tark and Mara were holding their AGM. Their 12,000 square foot penthouse resembled the control room of an overly optimistic mission to Mars. Every window blind was a projection screen festooned with graphs and media strategies. Every surface, including the grand piano, was a sea of printouts, computer equipment, and swatches of ruinously expensive fabric. They had twenty-four hours before their annual New Year’s Party, at which they traditionally announced the most important trends for the following year.
“You can’t just say that, darling.”
“Why ever not, my effervescent poison of choice?”
“They’re resolutions, Tark. Not ideas. I want concrete goals, and ‘make 6.5 million euro on elbow patches’ is not a concrete goal. When? How? I want dates. I want graphs, for God’s sake.”
“Fine. I am going to make €6.5 million with my new line of suede elbow patches for the New Man of 2015. Hipsters are out. Jaded Academics are in. Full beards will make way for whiskey breath and corduroys. I will revive the elbow patches by wearing them to the first anti-austerity march of the New Year, and sewing them onto Hozier when he isn’t looking. How’s that?”
Mara’s eyes would have misted over, had there been enough liquid reserves within her size minus-one frame to squeeze out the emotion.
“My husband. I have to push you, you know. Your greatness knows no bounds other than the surface I gently scratch in order to aid its extraction.”
Within 24 hours, every entertainment diarist in the country would be arriving at Tark and Mara’s infamous New Year’s Eve party, in order to learn the inside track on what was in, and what was out. What they didn’t know yet was that Tark and Mara were about to announce that In/Out and Going Up/Going Down lists were themselves to be declared outmoded. They were going to have to come up with a whole new structure for announcing nonsense. There would be no sleep for the fashion media in the early hours of 2015.
“Next.” Tark was smug. Mara loved him smug. Which was just as well, as Tark was really only not smug when sitting on the toilet, or watching other people eating.
“Cars,” said Mara.
“I’ll give you that one.”
“Easy.” Mara clasped her hands above her head and stretched her impossibly thin legs over the back of the Versailles chaise longue, crossing her seven-inch Gucci gladiator stilettos at the ankle. “We’re due a few power shortages – all the best countries have them now – so electric cars will become the new must-have problem. I predict a surge of electric SUVs across the southside by the time the first February storms come.”
“Brilliant,” said Tark, typing it into their master spreadsheet. “Next up, books.”
“I’ve got that covered, too.”
“I would have expected as such, my magnificent mantis.” Tark looked up expectantly. “Blind me with your genius.”
“Books are out,” said Mara airily.
“What? Surely you’re not about to sabotage your own livelihood?” Tark looked worried.
Mara was scornful. “Hardly. For one, my main livelihood, as you well know, hasn’t come from books since I lent my name to that range of kale yoghurt. What I’m saying is that the format is out. In 2015, I will make it no longer fashionable to read books.”
“But what about your back catalogue? All your erotic gardening crime novels, which are still paying you over a hundred grand a week in royalties?”
“Wait until you see the millions I’ll be pulling in for personal appearances. In 2015, the status symbol of choice will be to no longer have to do any reading yourself. Anyone who is anybody will have an author in their own house, doing personalised spoken word gigs. I’ll start small, with celebrity bookclubs – they never read the stuff anyway. By June, I’ll be the number one on the Middle Eastern circuit, personalising my stories for local royalty.”
Mara reached out for his hand, and came as close to a smile as she had throughout 2014. “I’ll see your €6.5 million for elbow patches, my love, and I’ll raise you €10 million for the twenty-first birthday of a Saudi prince, and his fictional lotus-loving girlfriend.”
Tark snatched his feather-light wife from the chaise longue and swung her in the air, her delighted giggles providing a pleasant accompaniment to the percussion of disturbed paperwork flying all about them.
“Happy New Year, my love,” murmured Tark.
“Happy New Year. Here’s to us.”
“And my blog readers.”
Mara sighed. “Oh, if you must. Them too. Pass me the Bollinger, if you insist on toasting bloody blog readers.”
And so, they raised their 18th-century Venetian champagne flutes… just for you.