Doctor in The House.

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doctor in the house vanessa wilde

The morning starts chaotically with me running late to drop Sienna at Nursery. Vita is in the buggy still eating her Marmite soldiers and dippy egg, unaware of the speed she is travelling across the tarmac of The Close. “Why are we always late, Mummy?” shouts Sienna trying to keep pace, carry her bag and Tiggy and Taggy, her cuddly hedgehogs.

“Come on!” I call. Sienna suddenly stops and refuses to go any farther. “I don’t want to run.”  I pick her up, throw her on my back and we gallop to Nursery, Sienna giggling in my ear.

As I stroll back to the house, I can see a very pale Doctor Nick looking up at the windows of his house, pacing this way and that.  He tries his front door handle and looks under the welly rack outside the door. “10 stabbings and now this,” he says kicking a terracotta plant pot. “Ow!” He hops holding his foot.

“Morning,” I say

“Nessa!” He is VERY pleased to see me. “Oh thank god.”

Me: “I wish my husband would say that.”

Nick: “Did Nanny Sara leave the keys with you?”

Me: “Nope.”

He looks dejected. “Been on nights,” he says looking under the doormat but there’s nothing there. “Just done 18 hours straight.” He suddenly brightens, “You have our spare key! With the Legoman In your cupboard.”

Me: “Come in and have a rummage.” I say, unlocking my front door.

He follows me into the kitchen and opens Si’s key cupboard, colour-coded and organised like a serial killer’s mind. He searches up and down the rows and then looks at me disappointedly. There’s no spare key. His eyes are like two piss holes in the snow and he is swaying a little. “I need sleep,” he moans.

Me: “Crash in our spare room. I’m in and out all day. Make yourself at home. Help your self to anything.”

Nick: “Anything? You sure?”

Me: “Yup.

I rescue a wailing Vita from the buggy outside, shake the egg and toast crumbs onto the grass and bring her inside.  Nick is already halfway up the stairs.  “Spare room’s first on the left.  Have a good one.” I say, internally congratulating myself for being so neighbourly and so grown up for being able to handle a hot man sleeping in my house, unchaperoned.

I hear the spare room door shut and I make myself another coffee. I would do anything to go back to bed too but I’ve got to get ready for ‘baby swimming’. Groan. As I pack Vita’s nappy bag and organise her swim stuff I have a flashback to Nick, sporting his yellow lycra, climbing up my ladder and pressing into me whilst I was attempting to rescue Sienna, trapped in her room. No-one looks hot in lycra – especially a neon shade of urine – however, Doctor Nick does. Or is it the outline of his willy which makes the shiny cheapness of the material and lurid colour fade into insignificance? Maybe. Definitely.

I ponder other packages on The Patch. Si has a lovely package but his is better encased in black Calvins, and navy chinos, teamed with black loafers. He has an all-in-one lycra cycling leotard. And. It. Frightens. Me.

I strip off my clothes at the bottom of the stairs to change into my swimming costume and realise it’s in my room.  I jog up in my underwear, open the door and let out a scream.  Doctor Nick is in our bed!!

Nick jumps out of bed with a yell. He is butt naked and I get a full-frontal eyeful.

Me: “The spare room is next door!”

Nick: “I’m dyspraxic!”

Me: “Then why did you become a trauma doctor?”

Nick: “I like a challenge.”

Me: “Fuck!”

I hear the front door click open. Si walks in and looks straight up the stairs to see a naked doctor and his wife, sporting nothing but over-laundered peach underwear.   Nick’s eyes are bulging out of their sockets.  He knows how this looks.  “Morning.” He says feigning nonchalance.

“Hello, Doctor!” says Si, carefully picking his way over my discarded clothing in the hallway. He greets Vita in her bouncer in the kitchen.  An exhausted Doctor Nick pleads, “Can I go back to sleep?”

Me: “Yes, of course. Sorry.” I rummage in a chest of drawers, find my costume and am outta there in a flash (so to speak). As I close the door quietly, he says, “You’re a peach.”

I rush downstairs, pick up my clothes and enter the kitchen. Si is making himself a coffee. He smiles at me. I am cross he is so cool. “We could have been shagging! Why are you not angry?!”

Si: “He’s obviously come off nights and forgotten his key. Am I right?”

Me: “Yes. But..”

Si: “That annoys you?”

Me: “Because you don’t think I’ve got the magic anymore! You don’t think I’m a ‘hot piece of ass’!”

Si: “Reverse that ass over here…”

And, dear readers, while the good doctor slept soundly in our marital bed (and Vita watched Mr Tumble), we had a little tumble of our own in the kitchen, shaking the key cupboard so vigorously Mr Legoman dropped out. Oops.

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Bathtub Curve

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bathtub curve vanessa wilde hairy bath

If only our bath looked like the one in the picture.  Military accommodation is more circa 1978/79 – the Winter of Discontent-ware – not avocado but poo brown and cheap.

Anyway, the other day I knew Si was coming home midweek to spend a rare night with me so I got the kids to bed early (and they actually went to sleep), had a bath (I know), put oatmeal on my face, pumiced my feet, shaved my legs, pruned my lady garden, and did all the stuff mothers never have time for anymore to make me look less circa 1978 than my bathroom.  I massaged my body with almond oil and found a silky negligee I hadn’t seen for seven years and popped it on. I was up for a very early night.

Si unlocks the front door and walks in, muddy and still dressed in camouflage. He jogs up the stairs and is sad he’s missed story time but is very pleased to see me in my slutty negligee, my hair carefully tousled, with just a hint of red lipstick.

He starts taking his clothes off in a hurry. “I just need to jump in the bath, I’ve got sweaty balls after the live firing exercise on Salisbury Plain.”

“You were firing your balls?”

“No, but you can standby to receive some nut-juice tonight, love, ” he says adopting his an ancestral Yorkshire accent, with all the charm of the North to boot.

“Your powers of seduction know no bounds,” I say huskily.  I’ve had that cold that’s been going around. I give my nose a rub and then blow it noisily.

Si does a little-naked dance shaking his willy in alternate circles. It’s like snake charming on speed.  He flexes ‘his guns’ (biceps) and – I know what’s coming next… “These swans need feeding,” he says as he makes beaks out of his hands so he arms look, not so much like swans but maybe duck-billed platypuses.  His kisses each of his impressive biceps and runs into the bathroom. I hear a splosh and that’s when I suddenly start stuttering, “No. Wait. No.”

I creep into the bathroom to see Si reemerge from under my bath water – “ah that’s better,” he says but it doesn’t look that way because his whole body is now covered in my hairy trimmings and he has turned into a werewolf. He peeps down at his Jack Nicholson chest and the hot romantic mood that we had going changes. “Have you been shaving your bits in the bath again?”

“No.” I say weakly.

 

 

 

 

The Return

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the return final smith removal lorry vanessa wilde

So just when was I beginning to get some work done (apart from my bloody chair keeps going down as I’m trying to type. I have to keep pumping it up and pfffffff, I’m going down again and not in a fun way. And weirdly it used to be, didn’t it? Can’t think of anything worse now. I’d want to squirt it with Milton first. I mean look what happened to Michael Douglas. HPV people!)

Anyway, just as I’m beginning to start writing important articles again for Country Matters like ‘Should Dogs Be Allowed on The Bed?’ and a cut-out and keep guide to Trug Making, forgetting all about the neighbours and their strange and treacherous goings-on, this happens:

The bloody removal lorry that took the Smiths away a few weeks ago is BACK and so are the Smiths, complete with their strange ruddy child and incontinent Dachshund. Si and I twitch behind Vita’s curtains unable to believe our eyes. They are moving into the house two down from their old one. A really lovely couple we know had been allocated the house because it was easier to get to GOSH (Great Ormond Steet) with their special needs baby.  “They’ve been sent to Shepperton.” Says Si. “And now we know why.”  Teflon Fiona looks up and waves. We are forced to wave back. Shepperton is twinned with Chernobyl for social life and architecture (but slightly less radiation).

Si gets on the blower to Buck. He and Mandy are watching from their window, too. Buck has ‘intel’. Apparently, the residents barricaded the entrance to the married patch in Catterick – they didn’t want traitors living there. Si hangs up and there is a pounding on our front door.  We look at each other. “You go.”

Si: “No, you.”

Me: “This is your shitty line of work. Nothing to do with me.”

Si sighs and pads down the stairs to open the door. He looks through the spyhole. “It’s Dr Nick.” He calls up the stairs and I start inhaling again.

Nick: “Jesus, let me in. I can feel her laser beam eyes boring into my back.” Si bundles the doctor in and puts the chain on the door.

Nick: “That year seemed to go in no time. It seemed just like weeks since they left.”

Me: “Did you speak to them?”

Nick: “No. I was putting the bins out when they got out the car. I didn’t know what to do so I strode over here with purpose, avoiding eye contact at all costs. I thought she was meant to be in jail.”

Si: “Trial’s not til next month.”

Nick: “And she was definitely selling stuff to the Russians?”

Si: “Yup. We’ve got surveillance of the last 30 ‘drops’.”

There’s a knock at the door.  Sienna comes out of the kitchen from drawing and wants to answer it. We all tell her she can’t. Dr Nick looks through the spyhole. “It’s Mandy and Buck.” He puts his hand to his chest to calm his racing heart.

Mandy: “Quickly! Hurry up!”

Nick closes the door behind them. Now what?

I scoop up Vita from her, awoken by the visitors and we settle down in the sitting room, while Si makes tea.

Buck: “I’m not living next to traitors. End of.”

Nick: “Innocent until proven guilty?”

Buck: “With respect Nick, if you’d seen the file… That woman’s put 100s of lives at risk, including Prince ‘Arry; she’s f*cked up loads of counter-terrorism operations all over the world and made hundreds of thousands while she’s at it. I hope they throw away the key.”

Si: “I’d like to see her head on a pike outside the Tower, like in the good old days. But we have to act normally, especially as none of the wives or you Nick are meant to know anything.”

Me: “What? I didn’t know that.”

Si: “I told you not to tell anyone. I made you swear on the Bible!”

Me: But I’m not religious. I didn’t tell anyone… But I Might have posted it on Facebook. But that’s all.”

Buck / Si: “What?!”

Mandy: “I didn’t tell a soul, Buck.”

Buck: “Well done, pumpkin.”

Bloody Mandy is so disloyal. Talk about throwing me under the bus. 

Nick: “I told loads of people because Nessa didn’t tell me it was a secret.”

I glower at him. “I’m joking,” he says. He squeezes my thigh until he becomes aware Si is staring at him and awkwardly coughs taking his hand to his mouth. I look at him.  There is something, isn’t there? I feel noticed. I can still make men spontaneously grip my thigh!  Dr Nick and that new brain surgeon in Fiona’s old house, they could have a thigh each. Is it okay to think that? Yes, I tell myself, smiling at Si, who is currently holding court. He’s hot too when he shuts up. But he does go on and on… He’s speaking in acronyms now. “JSOC, SO2, SO4, MOD..”. Some days I think I’m Lynn and he’s Alan Partridge in the Army. ‘Er. Lynn, report to the cutlery drawer. There seems to be a problem with pieces cutlery occupying the wrong territory. The spoons have invaded the forks and the knives have annexed the teaspoons. Would you like to explain how this happened?’ And I say: ‘Yeah, I tipped the cutlery basket into the drawer, slammed it shut with my butt and it just sort of happened.’ And the blood would drain from his face as he tried to process the sort of person who would do something that. The sort of person he had married.

The doorbell sounds and we all stare at each other, panicked (yes, even the trained killers). Si asks me if it’s another one of my Amazon deliveries but I shake my head. “Vains” he says, which is our very mature game where whoever says vains first is exempt from doing a particular task, usually nappies. I habitually win but today I have lost the door. Urgh.

I peer through the spyhole. “Is it Granny?” says Sienna. I shake my head. It’s the TRAITORESS. I rush back into the sitting room. “I can’t do it. Maybe she’ll just leave?”

Si: “Go! Act normal.”

Mandy: “That’s a bad idea for Nessa.”

Everyone laughs. I need to have a word with that so-called friend. I walk to the door about to turn the handle but I freeze. I don’t need this stress. This isn’t my gig. I turn around.

Si: “Open the bloody door!”

FFS.

I open it. A quick peek and there’s no one there. I let my shoulders drop from around my ears and close the door, but a running shoe stops it from shutting. I push on it. I don’t want her in. “Ow!”

Me: (out loud) “Go away!”

“It’s Anna.”

“Oh. Come in. Sorry. I thought you were in Africa saving lives.” I open the door wide and standing before me, instead of Dr Nick’s wife, Anna, is FIONA.

Arghh! I run from the door. Everyone in the living room, including Sienna, whispers to me: “Act normally.”

I run back to the door and say I was in the middle of my HITT. I finish with some star jumps as she regards me.

Fiona: “In your slippers?”

Me: “Yes. Welcome back. Seems like no time at all.”

Fiona: “Catterick was lovely but it’s good to be back. Looking forward to Book Club. Mandy said you were hosting this week.”

The blood flows to my face and my cheeks start to burn and that’s when I hear myself say, “Mandy’s just in the sitting room. Come in and say hi.” Because if I’m going to be thrown under the bus I’m taking every other bastard with me.

Me: “Look who it is!”

Everyone jumps up and there is a chorus of ‘hi’s’ and ‘how are yous?’, their voices a little higher pitched than usual. Mandy is particularly shrill. ‘Hi! That’s great you can make book club. I put the message on the Patch Facebook page and it must have automatically come to your email,” she says looking at me pointedly. But that doesn’t wash with me because I’m going to have to host a Russian double agent at Book Club now and I didn’t even want to host bloody Book Club in the bloody first place.

Me: “Mandy was just saying how much she missed Basil. Now you have your dog sitter back.”

Mandy’s eyes flash at me. “And your babysitter. You know how fond Nessy is of little Fenella.”

Fiona: “Ah, well I’m ahead on that one. Vaselina’s coming to work for me fulltime.”

Me: “What?”

Mandy: “What?”

Fiona: “Gave her an offer she couldn’t refuse.”

And, in that moment *poofff* goes my newly arranged childcare – enabling me to WORK – and the entire Patch’s babysitting.

Will this woman stop at nothing?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apples Don’t Fall Far from the Tree.

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apples don't fall far from the tree vanessa wilde

We are in the West Country harvesting nature’s bounty of apples, which we are going to turn into cider and cider vinegar (when our cider doesn’t turn out quite as expected).

So far, Si has tried to gas the children with sodium metabisulfite fumes whilst sterilising the cider drums, which led to me rescuing them and placing them away from the toxic steam in a nearby safe tree house. When Si refused to stop the sterilisation process in the kitchen, I threw all his drums into a field and whipped him with fermentation piping.

He then poured the chemicals down the loo which will now kill all the bacteria in Granny and Roge’s septic tank.  It’s like pouring bleach on a compost heap – except I think that might explode. It certainly would with sodium peroxide. Anyway, apparently ‘he knows what he’s doing’ because he ‘does it all the time’. This from the man who put athlete’s foot cream on his eldest daughter’s woo-woo!

I placed the children in front of Cebeebies (after the noxious gases had dispersed) whilst we continued our ‘discussion’ in the kitchen. Apparently, I’m over-emotional. However, when he took the girls a snack I heard him say: “Ahhh, a baby foal’, gazing at My Pet and Me, his mouth open.  I marched in and said, “Now release sarin gas next to that baby foal, Simon. Because that’s what you did to our baby foals this morning. And after I grew in my own womb!” I ran off crying again and Si snarled something about someone ‘stealing his spear’. He just doesn’t get it. I love our children and only want to protect them from a chemical attack, is that so much to ask?!

Whilst I decontaminated the kitchen, he took the girls to the orchard to shake the trees, letting the apples rain on their heads and wondered why there were yet more tears. He thinks it’s because they are female and that it’s not got anything to do with being hit on the head by falling missiles. He’s just been back to the house to put their cycle helmets on them so he can do it to them again, like some kind of military desensitisation exercise. They are one and three-years-old but he thinks helmets are health-and-safety-gone-mad because ‘HE never wore a helmet when he was pelted by apples as a boy and it didn’t do him any harm.’ What the actual F***?!

We are now at the pressing stage and the hessian sacks ordered by Roge have arrived, courtesy of Amazon. I really need to go NOW, in case he mangles Vita’s paws in the apple masher or lets Sienna play with a random chainsaw.  Undoubtedly he’ll play down any injury they incur: “You’re overreacting again! Vita only crushed two of her fingers, the other eight are fine.” Or “I used to play with chainsaws when I was three and I’m okay. (Yes, I lost a brother but people died in those days.)” Oh, and I’ll get the other life-affirming story about the time he was pushed into a sess pit by his father to undo a blockage which was ‘hilarious, even though he got human faecal matter in his mouth and was hospitalised with E-coli poisoning several days later’ because it’s ‘a right of passage’ in Devon.

Hang on – Granny’s just come in with Vita wet through, freezing cold. Until next week…..

#funinthecountry #ciderhouserules

 

 

 

Blow Out

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The Smiths moved out this week, still under investigation by the Military Police, Mi5 and the Met Police. It’s a total sh*t storm but Teflon-coated Fiona seemed impervious to the seriousness of the charges against her, ie TREASON! She coolly asked me to have Basil, the incontinent Dachshund, whilst she barked orders at the removal men like a rabid Doberman.  And General Smith managed to get a knee in Si’s bollocks before being arrested, recommending him for a nine-month tour in Kabul. Bastard. Si’s contesting the posting but we are not holding our breath (and I thought Swindon was bad).  The crazy thing is The General is keeping his job as there’s little or no evidence to connect him to selling secrets – all they can do is move him sideways to Catterick which is where they are moving. However, they’ve both had their passports confiscated…

Back in the semi-normal world, I’ve been hard at work for Country Matters doing loads of challenges including flint knapping, fly-fishing and, the other week, glass blowing with Mandy, who took a day off to be my photographer. We bunged the kids in the nursery for the day and Vaselina*, a cleaner in the UK and a property tycoon in Bulgaria (two mansions in Sofia and a holiday home on the Black Sea) came to look after ‘her little Princess’ Vita.

We set off to Totnes the day before – leaving the kids with Si and Buck who were both outraged we were having a night away from the children.

Si: “When do we ever get a night out, mate?”
Buck: “Never, Mate.”
Men.

***

As we drive out of the Married Patch we grab each other’s hands like ‘Thelma and Louise’ – we have actually done it. We have left our children for a whole 24 hours!

When we eventually arrive at the Premier Inn, the plan is to order room service, a glass of wine and watch ‘Greatest Showman’ all cosied up in our kingsized bed. What actually happens is we eat our burger and chips, down two bottles of wine, talk throughout the film and pass out – Mandy managing to get dressed, me fully clothed – the TV flickering all night.

The next morning I am dying of heartburn, with a burning metallic mouth. Mandy says she isn’t coming with me, she’s staying in bed all day. I crawl, still clothed, to the bathroom and somehow manage to brush my teeth.  Mandy bangs open the door and vomits into the toilet. “Oh no, it’s the virus!” She says. What virus? “The one me and my sisters get when we get pissed. Oh god, I think I’m allergic to alcohol.”

The site of her heaving over the porcelain cranks up my stomach juices and now I need to puke too. I burp battery acid, spit it into the basin, take my toothbrush and scrub the enamel of my teeth. I look at myself in the mirror. I told myself I wouldn’t do this. I have children now. Yet here I am again preparing for a day of gritting my eroded teeth, ‘pushing on through’ and pretending not to feel like a crushed bail of dung.

Mandy is sitting on the loo now. Her hair is like a scribble. She’s NOT coming, she says almost crying.

-Yes, you are.
-No, I can’t.
-You have to you can do this.
-You can’t make me.
-No, but if you were my friend you would.
-That’s mean.
-We are in this together.

We manage to swallow a few mouthfuls of Premier breakfast and arrive at the glass blowing centre. I think we are masking our woeful condition well, apart from drinking several pints of water each.

Martin, the ageing blower, with a thin grey ponytail and purple spectacles, shows me the pellets of Swedish silica which are melted at 1100 degrees in the furnace.  When the glass is hot enough, using a blowing iron he shows me how to gather the white-hot liquid like honey, turning it all the time with a wooden dipper. I don my heat resistant gauntlets and wield the blowing iron from the furnace towards a steel scaffold on which to rest it. I am sweating like a spit-roasted pig and Mandy has the giggles as I almost take Martin out with the red-hot blowing iron. He grabs hold and places it on the scaffold. I step away from the blistering heat, which is making my head glow red.

It’s now time for me to blow.  “The trick is to put a quick burst of air into the pipe and then trap it with the thumb to create the first bubble,” says Martin.

Mandy has now remembered to take photos with my ancient SLR.  She crouches down to take some arty shots. Martin turns his pipe and directs me to shape the ‘gathered glass’ with a wet Financial Times (apparently the best owing to tighter grain). He pops his baton back inside the furnace to gather more molten glass and hands his pole to me. I keep turning it slowly and then take it over to a table coloured powders and glass crystals are laid out like a vast palate.

I cover the molten globule in emerald green and a fine white powder like a sugary swizzle stick. He takes his stick back and puts it in the hot ‘glory hole’ – I catch Mandy’s eye and we both snigger, still full of wine. I imagine blowing into Martin’s glory hole and making the fire rage with my ethanol breath.

Instead, he wants me to blow on his pipe. I put my lips to it and blow with all my might and the globule enlarges. A few more goes and it’s triple the size.

Martin transfers the globule from his blowing iron to a solid rod called a ‘punty.’ Using jacks he gets me to cut into the molten glass and then pull out the edges to give my ‘vase’ a quirky design. It is then cut from the baton and put in another furnace to cool slowly over several days.

Mandy and I are much more serious now. She is photographing the scene like Mario Testino and I am Ellie, off Countryfile.   It’s going well until it’s Mandy’s turn to have ‘a blow’.

We trade gloves and camera and Mandy gets stuck in melting the glass pellets, whilst I become Tony Richardson (but without the porn and tattoos) capturing the scene for Vogue, no, Vanity Fair. In fact, I’m Annie Lebovitz. Far more salubrious. And Mandy is doing well dipping into Cobalts, vivid yellows and lilacs to give her creation colour. I move back to capture the moment, farther back, farther still… Mandy shrieks, “Nessa!” Just as my hoof makes contact with the display shelves behind, holding Martin’s most important creations over his lifetime of blowing. I turn and watch a vast perpendicular vase totter this way and that. It seems to be settling and then crash! It falls and what follows is a domino effect as piece after piece explodes on the floor in slow motion until his workshop looks like a 2am ram-raid.

I am standing open-mouthed. So is Mandy. Martin has his hand to his mouth and is going a strange shade of purple. FUCK. Oh FUCK.

And then Mandy and I make eye contact and I think ‘please not now’. Please don’t let my nervous reactions take over but I can’t stop them and I start to shake uncontrollably as the giggles take over my body like a disease.  This is always what happened when I got into trouble at school or was accused of something I hadn’t done. I would start to giggle and condemn myself to a terrible punishment.

I internally slap my face and get my sh*t together.

But no amount of money, wine or even the offer of Mandy and I taking him to the pub for a proper p*ss up can console Martin. He doesn’t cry but he is devastated. We try to clear everything up, sweeping and salvaging what we can but in the end, he asks us to leave.  And that’s when I can’t stop myself asking if he can send our vases in a few weeks time? He looks angry. “Maybe collect?” I venture.

Mandy drags me out, explaining something I already know – that I will never see our vases again as he will be ritually smashing them, whilst drinking neat vodka.

 

*formerly called Blagorodna

 

 

 

Waxing Lyrical

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This evening’s post is going to be rather bald, like other bits of me.

I had a mobile beauty therapist come to my house today and there was a bit of a mix up, instead of a high bikini line wax I had a Brazilian and I didn’t really know how to tell her to stop but when she asked me to get on all fours I knew it wasn’t going to end well.  What made it worse was the new neighbours popped by for tea, invited spontaneously by Simon who had been out with the girls. Sienna flings the living room door open and, well, Simon practically hurls the poor brain surgeon (our hot new neighbour) to the floor to stop him seeing me, and Dr Nick was there, of course, straining to catch a glimpse. Mercifully I was angled north so all they got was me dressed up top, grimacing, with a stranger fannying around (not quite the term given, what she was working on) at the back of my naked rump.

And the humiliation continued with Simon inviting me to join them all for tea at the picnic table outside when I’d ‘cleaned up’. The cherry on the cake was he’d made a cuppa for the beautician too so everyone got to make small talk with someone who had more recent and intimate knowledge of my undercarriage than my own husband.

I tried to joke my way out of the situation by saying, “I now know why hemlines fall as you get older, they follow the pubic hair growth down your legs.  I went for a high bikini wax and was startled when she waxed between my knees.” Ahaha. Dr Nick choked on his tea and Simon moved the topic to something mind-numbing: cycling.

I have so much to tell you, including Mandy and me going glass blowing – which was extraordinary. I’m not even going to hint.

I’m going back to sit on my rubber ring. Because that’s how it feels. Simon is in shock and already on the whisky. He’s so horrible, he said he thinks he’s got mild PTSD from being married to me, not from going to Afghanistan. And I was the one HAVING the wax. Anyway, I showed him my fanny after the neighbours had left and he wasn’t even complimentary. He said, “You look like a plucked chicken.”  So I told him he could go back to choking his own after comments like that.  I’m on strike. This old bird is not getting pluck again. Ever.

Red Sparrow

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Honestly, all this sex we’ve been having. My wrists are so weak I can hardly type.

So, I promised to bring you up to speed with the General Smith scandal. Remember I had that bag of charred papers shoved in my garage? A few days later I get a knock at the door and it’s the Military Police (this time they haven’t come to see Sienna) they’ve come to take ‘the evidence’ away.  One of the detectives is has a thin paisley tie and looks like DCI Meadows out of ‘The Bill’, (who I, incidentally, met in my 20s and asked me out for a drink in his native Brentford. He had cherry red Saab convertible and was very proud it.) The other is skinny, anaemic, with haunted eyes like Mackenzie Crook. He leans forward to look into the house and the stench of stale fags hits me.

I call Si to make sure I am supposed to hand over ‘the swag’, he tells me they are working for him. He’s coordinated the whole operation! So I park the kids in front of Mr Tumble and open the garage door, just as Fiona Smith drives into the Close at 90mph. She gets out of the car and wants to know what’s going on so I tell her the council are taking away a dead fox I found on the road and, of course, she doesn’t believe me because of how they are dressed but it’s all I could think of. The detectives shove the bin bag in the boot of their Ford and drive off. “There’s a distinct smell of burning,” says Fiona, nose in the air.

“I know,” I say, “I’m not proud of it but I tried to burn the fox.”

She shakes her head and marches back to her house. “Bloody neighbours!”

And this is the really annoying part, two days later we are up in Wiltshire at my parents’, when the Military Police and the Met Police do a 5am dawn raid, kicking the Smiths’ door down, arresting Fiona and General Jeremy, confiscating their phones, laptops, computers and removing box upon box of files and paperwork AND I MISSED IT. Mandy, Buck, Dr Nick and Dr Anna saw the whole thing because the cops made sure the whole neighbourhood was alerted by sounding their sirens as they entered The Patch. Mandy said she saw the ‘suspects’ handcuffed, bundled into two police cars and blue lighted off for questioning. AND I BLOODY MISSED IT.

And the latest is that they think she’s working for THE RUSSIANS and has been informing Moscow of British military ops for years. Fiona, is, basically a Red Sparrow! (But an old minging one compared to Jennifer Lawrence) Which explains the kinky sex and dominating Jeremy.  And all the while she’s been crusading about nursery school teachers, broken antique thrones, walls, wendy houses, chalk marks and parking permits – now that’s what I call deep cover.

They are both denying the charges but Si says the evidence is overwhelming. So it’s all been a bit of a change from the habitual pondering over green shitty nappies (teething or bacterial infection?), countless episodes of Topsy and Tim and their bloody mother grinning like a goon and one of Sienna’s friends puking all over the Franco Manca pizzas at a recent playdate. We have had a taste of espionage. Oh, and Humphery Hurtwood has apparently skipped off to South America with his big wodge of wonga (and big hands) so I think that brings us about up to date.

Tomorrow I’m off glass blowing in Totnes for my Country Matters challenge and I’m taking Mandy as the photographer. We can’t wait.

I’m off to ice my wrists now (and other bits). Honestly, I’m glad the holidays are over and Simon’s back to work and we can go back to a normal sex-starved marriage again. This Red Sparrow is going back to being a boring House Sparrow. Oh, nice touch, Vita has just punched her milk across the kitchen. Did I tell you we’ve taken to calling her Grant because of her outbursts of violence and her first word: MUM – which she shouts like Grant Mitchell at the top of her baby lungs. MUM?! Now she’s throwing cucumber at me. Life is beginning to feel back on an even keel.

Whisky n’ Mama

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So. Where was I?  I’ve been distracted by a wonderful dream last night where I was at a bar, a dimly lit bar with leather chairs and sofas, with Martin Clunes from Doc Martin and Men Behaving Badly. I’d met him outside near the sea somewhere in England. I was swigging a miniature whisky when I was randomly introduced to him.  He asked me if I was a whisky drinker and I lied and said ‘yes’ and that’s when he asked me out for a drink in this dark bar.

After listing whiskies I had heard of and correctly categorising them as having a heavy peat or mild peat taste – I said Talisker and Jura were heavy peat and Glenmorangie, Glenfiddich and Aberlour were milder, but I didn’t have a bloody clue whether that’s right. I still don’t.  Please comment if you know.

Anyway, I then confessed I was talking out of my bottom and hadn’t a clue what whiskies I liked if any, and that made him like me more. And the rest of the dream was spent with him educating me and my palate on whiskies of the world and, even though there wasn’t a hint of sex, it was one of the sexiest dreams I’ve ever had.

Which is a fabulous way to start a day. Male or female, trans or + (not sure what the last one is but it makes me feel zeitgeisty), married, civil partnershipped or single – a lovely hot dream is good for morale. And so is a lovely shag. Still on a high of Martin Clunes, I initiate nooky with Si, our bodies still warm and relaxed from sleep, until suddenly we hear the thunderous patter of two tiny feet and – urgh! – Sienna jumps on Simon, knees him the gonads and blows a raspberry on his head. He is now writhing in pain like he’s been shot and is shouting at Sienna ‘to be more careful’ which causes her to start wailing, which wakes Baby Beelzebub who adds to the general commotion by screaming at the top of her significant lungs.  I try to cling onto Simon’s hand and onto my thoughts of Martin Clunes, but Simon yanks his hand back to quickly protect his balls from a second body slam from Sienna. Martin and the whisky bar is fading. Must save the dream. Where’s the save button? It’s gone.

So, back to the story. Where did I get to?  So much has happened on The Patch since the last instalment, including two very exciting things.  One, I saw Dr Nick NAKED. And, two, a hot brain surgeon has moved in with his family and I literally can’t take my eyes off him. Think Idris Elba meets Simon Webbe from Blue but with the brains and northern charm of Professor Brian Cox, formerly the frontman of Inspiral Carpets. And Simon is agog at his successful company director of a wife, who is slim but booby (she hasn’t ‘run her tits off’ – Si doesn’t like that) and, given she’s had two children, is an inspiration. I feel a jog coming on because I need to get this carcass moving.

So, and I am getting to the point, incredibly slowly, I grant you, THEY moved into Fiona and General Jeremy Smith’s house YESTERDAY because the Smiths have gone. But Doctor Nick NAKED?!  I was on my way back from having a vast amount of gin at Mandy’s house and dancing to the Scissor Sisters’ greatest hits, glass in hand, when I looked up and saw Nick at an open window bollock naked, just out of the shower, his ripped torso glistening. He had a big stretch and must have gone up on tiptoes because that’s when I got a glimpse of his tackle and he noticed me and hit the floor as if taking cover from incoming fire.

By the way, did I tell you the Smiths got arrested?

No? Well, that’s going to have to wait until next week because Vita’s having a nap, Sienna’s in front of ‘Jungle Book’ and Si is literally pawing at me saying ‘we have a sex window’. (We also have a naughty cupboard but that’s another story.)  It’s all the fresh air camping on the Isle of Wight and in the Brecons – we’ve been getting back to nature and are now rampant rabbits.

See you next week with a big juicy bone of a story. And speaking of juicy bones …

 

 

Vanessa Wilde is Away.

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Dear Readers,

I am taking three weeks off and will return with another nail-biting instalment on Sunday 2nd September 2018.

Tomorrow we are off to the Isle of Wight in our new VW campervan (tales of which I will regale in the fullness of time). Expecting a proper British holiday of rain, soggy socks and highs of 19ºC – none of this continental heatwave nonsense. Can’t believe I’m going for a week, especially as I am doing it ALONE; well, without Simon, I meeting Mandy there with her two tiny fiends.

Anyway, Mumbles here we come!

And there’s a Garlic Festival too, where I’ll be plaiting garlic and doing a ‘Boswell scale taste challenge’ for Country Matters. It’s going to be fun, fun, fun. And the campervan’s going to smell like a Frenchman’s jockstrap after that Day Out, lucky children. Still, on the plus side, it’ll keep the vampires and sandal-and-sock wearing GBWs (grey bearded w**kers) at bay.

Happy Holidays.
Love,

Vanessa Wilde x

 

Absence​ of the Normal, Presence of the Abnormal.

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absence of the normal, presence of the abnormal vanessa wilde

We are in the sitting room.  I am on the sofa with my notebook as Simon briefs me on what’s ‘going on’ with Fiona and General Smith. “I can’t give you details on the nature of the investigation but it is serious.   I need you to keep an eye on them during the week.  What you’re looking for, as with any threat, is an absence of the normal, a presence of the abnormal.” Simon puffs his chest out as he lectures me. He just needs a pointing stick, overhead projector and he could be giving one of his signature PowerPoint presentations ‘on why men fight.’ (which are meant to be riveting, by the way).

Me: “Right.  So…”

Si: “I’ll take questions at the end.”

FFS.

Si: “We have eyes on them but any extra information you can give us may prove vitally important.”

And then I remember something. “Are you taking questions now?’

“Yes. Girl in the blue,” he laughs. We are the only ones in the room. He is such an arse but I can’t help giggle.

“We saw her – Fiona – on our Girls’ Night Out. She was at the bar on the Embankment, talking to a hot younger man, taking notes. We all decided she was moonlighting as a dominatrix. She didn’t look happy but then she never does. She sort of waved in our general direction and raised her glass. But then he was questioning her, he looked like the one in control.”

Simon is playing around on his iPhone. “Did you hear anything I just said?” He doesn’t reply, still absorbed by his phone. “Si?”

“What? Yes. Sorry, just trying to find the dictaphone app. Got it. Right, can you tell everything you just told me now? Just waiting for the app to download… And ready.”

***

I am peering around Sienna’s curtain, from where I have the best vantage point of the Smiths’ house.  Vita’s napping, Sienna’s at Nursery. Simon still won’t tell me what’s going on but I am beginning to put some fragments together. He almost told me something important in Italy and it’s driving me nuts.

So here’s what we know so far:

  • Simon started doing ‘some digging’ on General Smith after being made to rebuild his wall (which he didn’t knock down)
  • The General started causing trouble for Si after I stormed a live-firing exercise that Si was commanding on Salisbury Plain (to rescue Bunny, Tiggy and Taggy – the children’s favourite toys. A low moment for me.)
  • Si tries to tell me in Italy that, with help from an Mi5 contact, he’s uncovered something about General Smith (but we are interrupted by local musicians and waiters). He says it ‘goes all the way to the top’.
  • I try to question Si further when we are touring Amalfi in our Citroen 2CV but he won’t talk about it. All he says is The General “could go to jail”. Si is then ‘taken out’ by a wasp. (Or was it a tiny killer robot sent by the people who killed David Kelly, the Iraq sexed-up dossier guy? OMG. Go away thought. Shooo. And breathe, Nessa. Breathe. Oh my god. I can’t feel my face.)

I take a series of deep breaths and continue to jot things down in my journal. What else?

  • General Jeremy Smith and Fiona, his wife, are under covert investigation but we don’t know why.
  • They live opposite us on the Married Patch in Greater London.
  • They have one daughter, Fenella, aged 7 and an incontinent Dachshund, called Basil.
  • The General works in Whitehall as a Chief of Staff.
  • Fiona is a government PR manager, also working in Whitehall. (And how she got that job in the first place is a bloody mystery.)
  • Humphery, post heart attack, turns up to go for drinks at the A&E Club in Shepherd’s Market. (I googled it and there is no record of the club)
  • Fiona asks Humphery to sign papers giving her and The General alibis – one for last summer and one for December.
  • In return, she will do Humphery ‘a favour’. Undoubtedly sexual, although could be money?
  • He allegedly fakes a heart attack, doesn’t sign the papers and escapes in an ambulance.
  • She follows in her car with the papers. Does he sign them at the hospital?
  • They are involved in an elderly swinging-ring or circle.
  • Humphery has a frosted blue ‘glans’ or tip of penis. Fact.

I have a quick look through the curtains. 11.02am, no movement. I duck down with another jigsaw piece to note down.

  • Humphery has 100k in his safe from a Filipino polo ‘patron’. I write down, MONEY LAUNDERING??

“So, let’s look at the possible crimes,” I say out-loud. 1) Money laundering 2) Soliciting or prostitution 3) Fraud.

They’re not fiddling the school fees because they live here all the time – that’s a classic one for nice military families. In fact, Fiona’s causing problems most of the time, remember the nursery school teacher? I peek over the windowsill this time using Simon’ military issue binoculars I found in the cupboard. I scan the Close. Fuck, Fiona’s car’s gone!

I note down: 11.06 Smith’s BMW estate gone, didn’t see person leave.

***

The fact I missed Fiona’s car irks me for the rest of the day.  I need something to report back to Si.  I serve the kids’ lunch outside, even though it’s like an oven and one of the hottest summers on record. I repeat the exercise at tea time, ignoring Sienna’s pleas to ‘eat in the cool of the kitchen’ which is merely on plate warming temperature, instead of full broil mode outside. Dr Nick and his brood join us for our Death Valley style kids’ tea.

Dr Nick: “This is great acclimatisation training. East Africa, here I come!”

Me: “What?”

Dr Nick: “I deploy in two weeks.”

Me: “No. Poor you. Poor Anna.”

Dr Nick: “It’s only a four-monther.”

Me: “I guess, that’s not too bad.”

Dr Nick: “You don’t know where I’m going!”

When someone on the Patch deploys it brings it home that your husband or partner could be next. Si’s last tour (when we met) was in Afghanistan in 2010. He lost his best friend and 10 soldiers. I don’t want him going anywhere dangerous anytime soon.

Fiona returns in her car. Thankfully the children are still at the table and therefore safe.  She swings the car past the cherry tree and puts into reverse, backing up fast. She gets out. I try not to make eye contact but she’s walking over; she wants to talk. I try not to blush but my ‘rosacea’ or liver wind or whatever is making me beetroot with the guilt of spying weighing heavily on my conscience. I am a crap spy. Dr Nick – who doesn’t miss a trick – looks at me and then at Fiona, curiously.

Fiona: “Hi, hi. I need a favour.” I try not to nod but do it anyway. “Can you take Basil?”

Me: “Hmm.”

Fiona: “For a few days?”

Me: “A few days?”

Fiona: “Yes. I’ll pay you.”

Me: (lying) “I don’t need money.”

Dr Nick: “‘I’ll do it for money.”

Me: “You’re a doctor – you’ve got loads of wonga”.

Dr Nick: “That’s GPs”.

Fiona: “For god’s sake, will one of you do it?”

Dr Nick looks at me. I look at him. I can’t take her dog it will compromise my surveillance operation.

Dr Nick: “No can do, we’re off to ‘Shenter Parcks Amshterdam’ for a week before I deploy.”

I sigh and say as authentically as I can, “We’d love to have Basil, wouldn’t we kids? How’s Humphery?”

Fiona: “Not great thanks to you but he’ll live.”

Me: “He’s not answering my texts.”

Fiona: “You surprise me. He had to stay in for two extra days to get over the concussion.”

I put my hands over my eyes. “What did you do?” Asks the doctor.

Fiona: “She KO’ed Humphery just after his second heart attack.”

Fiona brings her poor dachshund over and plonks it on my lap. She walks off again returning with his cage, bowl and lead and barks instructions about feeding and walks. She then races off with a wave and a bang of her front door.

Dr Nick: “Lovely to see you too, Fiona. Always a pleasure. What a total and utter bitch.”

I raise my cup of tea to Nick. “I wish they were sending her to East Africa instead of you.” Basil pees on my lap. I grab a handful of wet wipes and clean my kaftan, unfazed.

Dr Nick: “Why did you K.O the old guy? I thought you liked him.”

Mandy walks over with Arthur and Mia who’s she’s picked up from Nursery.  “Prosecco?” Nick and I nod.  As Mandy pours the fizz, Fiona gets in her car and I speedily round up our feral children on all manner of scooters and bikes before she can run them over. She disappears around the corner in fifth. I covertly note down the time she leaves, clink glasses with my friends and that’s when we notice a strong smell of smoke.

Five minutes later we can see the smoke too, coming from Fiona’s back garden. This is a presence of the abnormal. I take the decision to enter Fiona’s garden for safety reasons, by scaling the fence using strong Mummy arms and know-how from a misspent youth. Dr Nick opens the gate by reaching over and unbolting it – he raises an eyebrow at me. There is a small bonfire blazing – a combination of garden waste and documents. I grab a bean pole and start flushing out the papers. Dr Nick turns on the hosepipe and douses the flames.

I fetch a bin bag from my house and shove as many papers into it as I can, I take it to our garage throw it to the back, behind the dusty boogie-boards and diving equipment. I wander back to the scene and there, standing with Dr Nick, is General Smith, wanting to know why the doctor’s in his garden. Nick casually explains that the bonfire is too close to the fence and, given the hot weather has made everything tinder-dry, he decided to put it out. The General is unimpressed. The doctor calmly suggests The General might like to Google the local authority’s guidelines on bonfires and smoke control. Nick looks at his phone and reads: “Avoid burning at weekends, public holidays and on sunny days when people are outside enjoying their gardens.”  He points at the sun without a cloud in the sky and over to The Close, where children are playing like a 1950s suburban idyll.

The General mutters something, marches inside and I sit at my picnic bench, coolly sipping prosecco with Mandy, texting Si. <<Have an important update on ‘Operation Pampas Grass’ and evidence in our garage.>>