WRIT LARGE: Ch 8, Part 2
In this part, the game continues and the conversation turns to Bernard’s potential Netflix biopic. Tuah and Putera suggest that their employer Lim Kok Thay is interested in Lucas writing his biography as well.
Tuah and Putera win a few rounds, but it seems that Olivia is on a lucky streak. When Leann teases her about reading the cards, something which always reminds me of Dustin Hoffman in the movie Rain Man, Olivia shrugs. “You know what they say: Lucky in cards, unlucky in love.”
“Who says that?” asks Cathie.
“My gran always said it,” says Olivia. “I guess it’s one of those old wives’ tales like eating carrots will give you perfect eyesight.”
Putera is smiling. “Does that mean that if we are unlucky in cards, we will be lucky in love?”
“I’m probably not the best person to ask,” says Olivia. “Lucas, what do you think?” Her cheeks are a little flushed, and I wonder if this is a sensitive topic for her, so I should choose my words carefully. I sip my cold, non-alcoholic beer and say that I’ve walked under many ladders and am still alive so I would not give any undue attention to an outdated saying that has no proof to back up its claims.
Leann, who appears to have an ear on every conversation taking place, smiles at me. “We have an old proverb in Singapore: If there are no fish, prawns are just as good.”
Everyone stares at her. Eventually, Cathie asks, “What does that even mean?”
“I have no idea,” laughs Leann. “Which is precisely my point. Anyone can make up a crazy saying and tell people that it has been handed down through the generations. There will always be some people for whom it will apply to their life.”
“Well, I prefer prawns to fish anyway,” says Olivia.
The men from IHG Hotels tell us about the time they were in Bora Bora and hired a boat for a day to visit the smaller local islands. They stopped the boat in the ocean and went diving to catch lobsters and shrimps for their lunch, which they cooked over a makeshift barbecue on a tiny, deserted island. They were relaxing after their meal when a leather-skinned man strode past them, barefoot, white hair and beard reaching down to his chest. “He looked like I don’t know how you would say …?”
I suggest he might be thinking of the old man of the sea.
“Yes!” He grinned at me. “He came from nowhere, and there was nowhere on the island for him to go to.”
“How bizarre,” says Olivia. “And is this a true story or a local proverb about no place ever being entirely deserted?”
“A true story,” he says. “Like a scene from a movie in which the bad guys are hunting down Tom Cruise.”
I tell them that they might have provoked a more enthusiastic response from Olivia if they had mentioned a Ewan McGregor movie as Olivia is his number one fan.
“Oh, I wouldn’t go that far,” says Olivia. “I just think he’s a very versatile and underrated actor.”
“Moulin Rouge,” says Leann. “One of my favourite movies because it is so colourful.”
“Big Fish.” Cathie nods. “Mainly because I’m a Tim Burton fan but Ewan McGregor plays the role well.”
I toss Trainspotting into the mix and the women roll their eyes at me, while the men watch bewildered. I summarise the film’s plot for the gentlemen and add that it is a film with a cult following and, in my opinion, the actor’s finest role.
“Ewan McGregor,” says Tuah, “I hear that his name has been nominated to potentially play Bernard in a Netflix Original of his biography.”
I glance at Olivia, sensing that Leann and Cathie are watching intently. She chews her bottom lip. A habit I have noticed she adopts when she is about to own up to something.
“I might have mentioned that also,” she says, hunching her shoulders as though she might be swallowed up by the designer jacket. “You have to admit the idea is growing on you, Lucas. Everyone else can see its potential.”
I ask if ‘everyone else’ includes Bernard.
“Hmmm … he’s warming to it. And guess what – he loves Ewan McGregor too. It probably helps that the boys are on my side, especially after Battlestar Galactica and the skywalk at the Gardens. I think they see me as the coolest PA ever.”
“I do not doubt that for one second,” says Leann. Even Cathie is smiling indulgently at Olivia the way she might smile at one of her own relatives.
I’ve noticed Olivia has that effect on people. She lights up a dull room with her presence as though her smile radiates sunshine. People listen to her. She is brim-full with energy like the bubbles on a champagne glass, and I imagine it would be difficult to win an argument against her. Or indeed a game of poker.
“Have you met our chairman?” Tuah addresses Olivia. “Lim Kok Thay?”
“I don’t think so,” she says.
“We have spoken with him,” he gestures to Putera when he says we, “about the Netflix biopic concept, and he has expressed his interest in both the series, and Lucas writing his biography.”
I sense Cathie’s intake of breath. It would be unfair for me to pass on her biography and hand it over to Leann, despite my utter certainty that Leann is the best person for the project, only to then accept another with the Malaysian billionaire. But at the same time, I do not wish to seem ungrateful for the opportunity, especially when Tuah and Putera have been so welcoming and courteous.
I tell them that I am deeply honoured to be in such demand and amongst so many powerful and charismatic people, but that I have yet to start work on Bernard’s story and if Lim Kok Thay can find another author that he is willing to work with, it would negate the need for him to wait for me to clear my diary.
“He is willing to wait,” says Tuah.
Even behind the sunglasses, Leann must sense my hesitation because she steps in. “Lucas, I think it is a wonderful opportunity for both you and the chairman and following hot on the heels of Bernard’s biography too.”
“I agree,” says Olivia. “Nothing like keeping up momentum.”
I raise my hands in mock surrender and tell them that I will think about it over my next drink. Cathie says, “Gents, if one drink is all Lucas needs to consider your offer, I would say it is a done deal.”
Leann raises her glass and we all toast what I remind them to be a potential agreement, but I have the impression no one is listening; they are already two episodes into a Netflix Original that hasn’t yet been written.