A Cock and Bull Story

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Shakin' Stevens the bull | Vanessa Wilde

I light up a cigarette next to Shakin’ Stevens (the other side of an eight foot, 10 bar reinforced, galvanized steel gate). Wanking off a bull isn’t as bad as I thought. It’s worse. Much worse.

***

I realise the magnitude of the task when two burly men turn up to help from local farms.  Because Limousin cattle aren’t like your chilled Highland coos or your huggable Herefords they are insane in the brain. Probably uptight because they are French. Although, according to Simon, all continental cattle are psychotic.

I’m in overalls and rubber boots trying to see through my bleary eyes after two hours sleep and a six-hour journey from London here, via Wilshire to drop off Sienna with Granny and Roge.  I’m hoping this isn’t going to take long (as with many other assignations in my life) because I have to catch a flight from Heathrow to Naples at 18.30 and it’s a long drive from Mid-Devon.

I lean against the steel cattle crush where the heifer on heat is waiting to receive Shakin’ Stevens.  My diminutive father-in-law, Edwin, calmly leads the gigantic ginger bull to the heifer, he snorts in anticipation (the bull), having had the smell of her up his nostrils most of the morning.

I have the semen collector ready. The bull is brought into the entrance of the steel pen containing – I didn’t catch her name but let’s call her Cindy Lauper to keep with the 80s theme. She stirs with a swish of her tail and bam Shakin’ Stevens raises himself onto his hind legs in a display of tremendous power. I try to get the container onto his astonishingly small penis, given his leviathan proportions, but it slips off. He dismounts and gets into a better position using the back of the poor Cyndi to steady himself. I plug into his willy and that’s when he goes nuts, rearing, snarling and backing into the burly men. One has his foot trodden on; all the men wince. But not for his foot, for the bull’s willy. Apparently, I need to be more gentle.

When the bull is calmer he wants to try again. This time I slip the collector onto his sheath and he beefily blows his load into the tube. Cyndi who seemed up for a bit of action can’t understand what is going on. “Is it in yet?” She moos.  Mercifully I get my arm and container out of the way as a ton and a half of meat crashes back down onto four legs on the concrete floor.

Edwin takes the container, screws on the top tightly and hands it to his lab. man who places it into a cool box containing liquid nitrogen, ready to take back to the laboratory to be stored. Mercifully they took samples from Adam Ant and Boy George last week, “Or you’d have more work to do,” says Edwin seriously.

“Boy George?” I say barely stifling a snigger.

Edwin: “Aye Boy George, he’s my best bull. It’s Adam Ant firing the blanks.”

***

Back at the farmhouse, Edwin has a lot of knowledge he wants to impart and if I’m not writing it down he isn’t happy. I assure him I have all I need for a 900-word column but Edwin thinks he’s commissioned a weighty tome on his life and Limousins.

“Note it down,” he says telling me about the history of the breed. We have another cup of tea; the third. But I really need to go because I’m still in Devon at lunchtime and I need to get to Heathrow.

Penny offers me a ham and cheese sandwich, I eat it hurriedly. “I really will have to go after this.”

Edwin: “But I haven’t shown you the new pastures.”

Me: “No I don’t.”

Edwin: “Nonsense, if you do a job, do it properly,.” He narrows his eyes at me. He thinks I am one of those slack Alices – whoever she was, poor girl – who just fannies around the edges of things. Well, that maybe be true but fannying around the edges is very important, underrated occupation.

Edwin sits back in his vast oak chair at the head of the table, as Penny brings yet another pot of tea to the table.  How much tea do these people drink? And I can tell Edwin intends to take his time over lunch. I look at the clock.  I have to leave now in order to be there two hours before my flight. I am going to stand up to him and be firm.

***

An hour later I am in his Land Rover doing a tour of the fields so he can show me how he’s under-sewn his pastures with a clover and herb mix to give his stock the best conditioning possible, which is commendable and interesting BUT I HAVE TO GO.

He finally drives me back to the farmhouse by which time it’s quarter past two. I kiss Vita and hug Penny, running through my lists with her: “Car seat, dummies, bottles…”

Penny: “Yes, got all of those.”

Me: “Everything is on the ‘baby manual’ (I have created separate child operating manuals for each Granny). Call me if any problems.”

I awkwardly shake hands with Edwin.  “Thank you for looking after Vita.”

Edwin: “Don’t thank me.”

Me: “Okay, I’m not.”

Edwin: “Not good with babies.”

Me: (bravely) “Or people in general?”

Edwin: “Animals never let you down.”

Me: “I really need to go! Oh, but now I don’t want to leave my baby!” I shower Vita in kisses. Oh god, all I’ve done is fantasized about leaving my children and now I want to take Vita with me. And Sienna, I miss her so much already. I well up.

Edwin: “Stop dithering, girl!”

I suppress the urge to punch him, jump in the car and drive off, waving madly at my baby.

***

It’s now 14.25. F*ck! As I return up the valley to the digital world my phone starts pinging with texts from Simon wondering where I am. I put Heathrow into the sat-nav and, Jesus, it’s going to take me three hours.  I’m never going to make my flight.

I dump my car at Purple Parking and it feels like I have held my breath the entire way. I certainly have held my bladder. I take the minibus shuttle to terminal three, we get stuck in traffic for 15 minutes, I finally get there, run into the airport with my wheelie and backpack, I drop my bag at the check-in (with no queue because I’m so late), go straight through to security, shamelessly queue jump my way through pretending I’m looking for a small child, have my water and perfume confiscated, manage not to set off any alarm bells (they once thought I had an Improvised Explosive Device in America because I’d chucked phone chargers and laptop cables on top of my SLR camera, packed it with books and a mirror, which on screen made it look like a text book IED.  Alarms sounded, glass safety doors closed and I was taken aside by the Head of Airport Security and grilled about what was in my bag so hard I wasn’t even sure if it was my bag anymore.)

I burst onto the duty-free concourse and shout ‘Simon’ across it. People stare but don’t care how bonkers I look because I am not going to miss this flight. Si waves and points in the direction we need to go. We run side by side but my bladder’s sloshing to bursting, after three hours on the road and all that bloody tea. “I need the loo,” I shout.

“No time,” he says, which is rich coming from someone with a toddler’s bladder.

Me: “Simon, stop!”

I run into the Ladies, dive into a cubicle and pee for Britain. Our flight is called. “Last call for flight BA329 to Naples.” It’s okay, I think, I’m going to make it. We are going to have our Italian holiday, with loads of fun and sex and spaghetti. I take a big breath and relax. Then I look down and see the crimson water.

Not now. Not bloody now!

I wipe, stuff my knickers with half a loo roll and walk out like John Wayne.

Si: “Quickly.”

Me: “I need to go to Boots.”

Si: “No, you don’t. Look,” he says showing me a bumper pack of condoms in a plastic bag.

Me: “Keep the receipt.” I say, already mincing over to the pharmacy.

***

We are the last passengers on the plane.  Si stares out of the window, silently mourning his sex life, while I sit *tight* until we are up in the air and I can go and spend some quality time in the restroom. I sit on the loo and am about to cry because everything is ruined until I realise, we have made it. We have made it. No kids. Just the two of us. For five days. In Italy.

I return to my seat, where Si has already ordered G & Ts.

Si: “We did it.”

Yes, we did!

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Let’s Talk About Sex Baby

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Let's talk about sex baby vanessa wilde

“Have you phoned your parents yet? We need childcare,” I say surfing babysitting websites in bed, still unable to drag my sorry hung-over carcass out of it. My head is throbbing and my breasts feel like they’ve done work experience at Yeo Valley.

I look at Si. He still can’t quite look me in the eye, having found me spooning with Doctor Nick in the small hours, after returning with Sienna from A&E.

“You never do that with me,” says Simon sitting on the bed, Vita in his arms.

Me: “Do what?”

Si: “Cuddle up like you did with Doctor Nick. You don’t.  I try to spoon you and all I get is thanks, now f*ck off and goodnight.”

I laugh.

Si: “It’s not funny. I’ve done my best to be sensitive to your needs but you’ve shut up shop and I need sex. We need sex.”

“That’s why we are going on a two and half thousand pound holiday to Italy – doh – to have SEX.”  Sienna walks in and looks quizzically at us both. We hold our breath waiting for her to say the s-word. She doesn’t. Instead she climbs into bed with me for a cuddle.

Simon is pole-axed. “Two and a half grand? TWO AND A HALF GRAND?! We don’t have any money!”

I cuddle Sienna a little too tightly. “Ow!”

Me: “Lower your voice, Si.”

Si: “Lower your expectations.”

Me: “That’s why I married you.”

Si: “Cheap.”

Me: “Unlike the holiday which is about us being together and reconnecting.”

Si: “I get that but why does it have to be so expensive.”

Me: “Because I think we’re worth it but we’re not going anywhere unless we can find someone to look after the girls.”

Sienna: “Mummy, my arm really hurts.”

Me: “My poor little poppet.  What else is Daddy going to do? You put athlete’s foot cream on her fandango, take their toys to a war zone, lock us out of the house, don’t put her bed rail up so she falls out and now you begrudge us our first holiday in nearly three years.” I say, tears welling up as I move myself with my own heartfelt words.

“Naughty Daddy!” Shouts Sienna and Vita trumps on his hand.

“Jesus! Of course, Mummy’s perfect even though she went binge drinking with her friends and was found cuddling the bloody neighbour!”

I try to stifle a snort. Si and I look at each other, our eyes twinkling. We burst into laughter. “Bring on Italy,” he says clambering onto the bed to kiss me. “You’re right – sod it. How many days?”

Me: “Five.”

Si: “What for two and a half grand?”

Me: “Let it go.”

Si: “Where are we staying – a palace?”

Me: “Yes. Call your parents. We need childcare,” I say handing him the phone.

Si: “Okay, okay. But what about your Mum?”

I shake my head. He sighs and dials his parents’ number. It rings out so he leaves a message.  “I’m not holding my breath,” he says.

“And I’m not taking the girls to Positano,” I say.

Si: “Well, you’re going to have to work on my Dad.”

I groan, putting a pillow over my head.  Sienna jumps on top of it.  I will do anything to get to Italy. Anything! Even sweet-talk Simon’s father who Si would describe as a straight-talking, paternal Jock (Scot). I, however, would suggest tricky and reminiscent of the Dickensian patriarch Mr M’Choakumchild in Hard Times is more accurate.

Habitually I am able to charm the elderly into submission (having dated a few Saga-louts in my twenties, including Humphery Hurtwood, a naughty equestrian with hands the size of dinner plates), with a little saucy humour and the heave of my ample bosom it’s been enough to make any sanguine crusty crack a smile, but not Edwin Kettle. He has a steadfast immunity to my wiles and is deeply suspicious of anyone who hasn’t put their hand up a cow’s backside. And I’ve done a lot of things in my time but that particular pleasure has eluded me.

“Right, I’ve left a message; your turn. Try your Ma again.”

I call Granny and Roge who been angry since the Salisbury incident (not Nobuchok, the other crisis involving soft toys on The Plains). In fact, it’s more that I left them alone to cope with the children in order to go drinking with my wayward older sister, which they find unforgivable.

“Hello Granny,” I say upbeat.

“Hello,” she says coolly.

I tell her about Sienna’s green-stick fracture to her wrist and Granny defrosts in seconds, wanting to know how her little sunbeam is.  I tell her I was out with some girlfriends at the time.

She groans. “Did you drink too much?”

Me: “Yes.”

Granny; “You’ve got to stop this, you’re nearly 40.”

“I’m 34! Si was looking after them and forgot to put up her bedrail.” I say, throwing him under the bus.

Granny: “Typical.”

Me: “I know, he does one night and she ends up in A & E.”

Granny: “Men!”

Si rolls his eyes and leaves the room. I imagine he’s sneaked off for an hour visit to the loo with the newspapers but miraculously he returns having folded the washing.

“We’re not all bad, Granny,” he says loudly.

I tell her he’s folded the laundry.  She says I don’t know I’m born, Roge hasn’t lifted a finger for the past 49 years, which I know isn’t true but it makes me laugh.  Si is laughing that now Roge is getting it in the neck instead of him.  I am glad to be back on good terms with Granny, we clash from time to time but it’s never for very long because we love each other dearly.

I’m just about to ask about next week when she reads my mind, “Listen, your father and I have spoken and now we’re feeling a bit stronger – we think we can manage the little ones.”

And instead of saying thank you, I say. “I think it might be a bit much so why don’t you just have Sienna and I’ll ask Edwin and Penny if they’ll have Vita in Parracombe (the farm in Devon).”

Granny likes the sound of this plan very much. “Because Sienna doesn’t wake up as early as Vita, does she?”

Me: “No, not ’til 7.30.”

Granny: “That’s still very early but Roge can do the morning shift until I’m ready at 10.” (Granny doesn’t do mornings).

We organise the drops off plan and I hang up. “One down. One to go.”

Si: “You lied and are going to hell.”

Me: “If I told her Sienna gets up at 5 she wouldn’t do it.”

My phone pings; it’s Mandy WhatsApping me: “I just drank your f***ing b milk in my coffee!!!!! I didn’t put it on Buck’s cornflakes cos I realised it was gross but he used it in my coffee (he takes his black). Just made myself sick. Hate you – all your fault. [PUKE FACE]

***

Some hours later, Simon’s father calls.  Si spends 15 minutes buttering him up and I am supposed to close the deal.  “Well, I’m glad the bull’s performing well, Dad.”

Edwin: “Yes.”

Si: “Wish this one was.”

Edwin: “What?”

Si: “Just handing you over to Nessa.”

I take the phone and he says: “Now let’s not beat around the bush I know why you’re calling. Penelope and I will have the children on one condition.”

Me: “Okay…”

Edwin: “I’m after some publicity for my new Limousin genomics programme so I’m laying down a Country Matters challenge for you.”

Me: “Right…”

Edwin: “I want you to collect semen from Shakin’ Stevens and I have a feeling you’ll be very good at it.” Bizarrely Edwin names all his bulls after 80s pop stars. I accept his challenge and hang up.

W*nking off Shakin’ Stevens – talk about taking one for the team.

***

 Si is still chuckling about Shakin’ Stevens at bedtime when we fall into our love nest, me, dog tired from my hangover, Simon, dead, from looking after the kids for a whole 24 hour period. Weak.

We cuddle up and start to kiss. My phone pings and we break apart. It’s Mandy on What’sApp. Si sighs. “Parking Nazi is back on Facebook.” And the sad truth is, instead of having sex I swipe to the page and read out the latest missive from Queen Fiona, more excited by Miss Julie calling The General a ‘pr*ck’ and ‘giving him the middle finger’ than the prospect of sex with my husband. Poor Simon.

Still, we’ll always have Italy….

Girls’ Night Out

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girls' night out london vanessa wilde comedy

A few Weeks Later…and it’s Fizzy Friday.

The warm weather has brought The Patch alive. Dr Anna and Mandy have placed their picnic tables next to mine and the kids are all having big communal tea with Maz and her brood from ‘the other side’ of the patch, joining us.

We hover over the children stealing crisps and slices of pizza, already on the prosecco, planning our big night out.  Maz, a dentist and resident aesthetics guru, who does botox on the Patch with a military discount (I haven’t had any – botulism and hypochondria prove unhappy bedfellows. I can’t feel my face!!!! etc) is excited about hitting the town.

“I’m going to dress like a total slut,” she exclaims in her soft Brummie accent.  But we all know she will look chic and beautiful, making the rest of us, as always, feel frumpy and fat.

Me: “I’m going to wear whatever I can get into with the help of several hoists and industrial strength Spanx,” I declare.  Mandy clinks her glass with mine. We are on the same page or on the same hanger, as it were.

The husbands fly into the close on their road bikes like colourful drones. Si dismounts, followed by Buck and there is a clatter of cycling shoes.  Dr Nick speeds in, back from a typical night of gunshots wounds and stabbings at Charing Cross hospital. The men greet each other and stand, crotches thrust forwards, in a ‘ride’ of blinding lycra. We, a ‘muddle’ of mothers, avert our eyes and continue planning our night out.

“Hello ladies,” says Simon attempting a seductive voice, but sounding more like Alan Carr. “So this is what we get up to all day – drinking fizz, chilling in the sunshine?”

We all roll our eyes like defective 1950s housewives. “It’s just one social blur,” says Mandy sarcastically. I hand Simon baby Vita’s spoon and tell him I am done, it’s over to him now.

Si: “Can I at least get changed?”

“Nope, it’s time you got to know what it’s like to not have a shower or a sh*t in peace.”  We all cackle. “Yesterday Sienna flushed the loo, with me still on it!”

Maz says,” Yep, Deepesh gives me a bidet most mornings. (pause) Enjoy your night, Simon,” she winks flashing him her pearly whites.

“Piece of cake”, he says. “Stand down ladies, the men are in charge.”

***

All our husbands are looking after the kids tonight except for Maz’s hubby, Lal, who is away on a mission in Africa.  Maz’s mother is down from Bromsgrove to babysit. “Honestly she’s doing my head in,” she says as we walk to the train station. “It’s like I’m 16. She keeps asking what time I’ll be back and I’m like I don’t know? 12, 2? Totally depends what kind of night we have.”

Dr Nick, Buck and Si have all joined Daddy forces to ‘watch each others’ six’ at bedtime and then sit outside with a clutch of monitors, drinking beer and eating Deliveroo. What could possibly go wrong? But it’s not our problem because we are GOING OUT!! Hitting the city we have been living in for two years, but unable to visit because of children, chores and work.

And tonight I am officially giving up breastfeeding and drying up the boobs because Vita is on formula and food so I can get ‘tight’ both physically and alcoholically.  I’m already feeling like Katie Price in my LBD but I’m not complaining, the bigger my boobs, the smaller my waist *seems*.

Mandy is leading us to a fav. place of hers on the Embankment near her office and very soon we are already on our second round of cocktails in the funky outside bar, not far from the Savoy. Or the MoD. Which I guess is why I am now locking eyes with f***ing Fiona across the sea of summer drinkers.

I kick Mandy. “Ow, why did you do that?”

Me: “Fiona, at 3 o’clock, be subtle.” She swings her head around and Dr Anna and Maz stand on tiptoes by our high circular table to get a good look.  “Really subtle, guys.”

Mandy waves and to my horror gestures her over. Fiona shakes her head and raises a glass in our direction, her face stony and grey. She is with a chiselled younger man who is taking notes as she talks and sips wine.  We all decide unanimously he is hiring her for after-hours work as a dominatrix.

Dr Anna: “I can’t believe someone with such appalling judgement is working in Government PR.”

We get another round in. And another. We don’t notice Fiona leaving, or her having a quiet word with the manager – we don’t care. Mandy has had an idea to snort brandy like we used to in our 20s. Maz and Dr Anna missed out that particular pleasure and are not up for trying it now. Then eminently sensible, and now fast changing from lightly coated to battered, Dr Anna wobbles and says, “Oh god it’s so bad for the mucous membranes but f**k it.” And she snorts a teaspoon throwing her head back. “Jesus! My nose is on fire!” She says, now resembling a sectioned Fiona Bruce.

More time seeps away until now my breasts are rock hard and even copious amounts of ethanol can’t mask the pain. I need to milk myself.  Now. We all go down to the loos together, drinks in hand, the girls will help me if necessary.  I hug each of the women I now love as much as my own children, before popping out a boob and squeezing out the milk into the sink.

“You look like Lolo in Eurotrash,” says Mandy.

Maz: “Oh my god – she died.”

Dr Anna: “Why?”

Maz: “Her boobs were too big, like Nessa’s, they exploded.”

We all start to laugh, knowing we shouldn’t because it’s tragic and wrong but this only makes it worse.  I can’t squeeze, I’m laughing so hard and my boobs hurt and then I get a crazy let-down, a release we are all experiencing because we are us again, we are out, we are laughing! And now I am spraying the mirror like Jackson Pollack, Maz is snorting like a little piggy and Mandy has wet her knickers again and….

BANG! The door almost flies off the hinges as the manager and two security men enter.

We stop laughing. I stay still like a statue, my boob hanging over the basin.

Manager: “Get out all of you or I’ll call the police.”

She suddenly sees my naked breast and the scene begins to make sense to her. “Oh. Right. Sh*t. That is not what I expected.” She pushes the two meatheads out of the ladies toilets, both of whom are still trying to get a good look at my boob.

Maz: “Er, what the actual?”

Manager: “I thought you were doing coke.”

Dr Anna: “What?? No way!!”

Mandy: “Why have you got any?”

Dr Anna: “Shut up Mandy!”

Me: “I think I’m expressing Kaluah!”

Manager: “Carry on, take your time. Got two at home – seven and five. Been there.”

***

After all sharing photos of our beloved children with the manager, we finally reemerge from the ladies to discover our bill has been significantly reduced.  In fact, it’s free.  Everyone toasts my aching mammaries with the remnant of their drinks and the night continues, until we somehow find our way home, fall in through our respective doors and I terrify my husband by mounting the stairs like the SAS.

I know I am pissed because Simon looks much taller, skinnier and greyer than usual but before I can fully process the picture I paw at him, exhaling toxic fumes before letting out ‘a ripper’ and passing out fully-clothed under the duvet.

As I come-to in the morning I begin to remember the actual nadir of our night out: going back to someone’s house god-knows-where and filling up a milk jug with my ‘Jersey cream’, ready for an unsuspecting flatmate’s cornflakes in the morning.🤢🤢🤢 Poor chap. Still, think of all the antibodies! I am giggling to myself under the duvet (still half drunk) as Si walks in with Sienna. Her arm is in a blue plaster cast. I sit up.

The man I’d got into bed with was Doctor Nick. (Holding the fort whilst Simon took Sienna to A&E.) And now he thinks I routinely fart in bed. My mystery is shattered! I can never face the neighbours again.

And then a blurry polaroid slides into my mind from last night. The house was Mandy’s; the cornflakes, Buck’s. 🙈

Lock and Key

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Key Husband Taken Key Vanessa Wilde

Sienna gently shakes me awake, before shining my iPhone torch into both retinas. Argh!  I grab the phone. It’s 5.48am.  “Go back to bed,” I say but she is wide awake. “It’s morning,” she replies. I swipe to the Cebeebies App, select ‘Hey Duggee’ and give her the phone to take back to bed. My head is pounding, my mouth furry and I just want to go home, to get back to normality and forget about the last few days. I look at Simon, he is staring at the ceiling, deep in thought. He is not going to let any of this go easily.

Si: “Vita’s been up all night while you were snoring your head off.”

Me: “Sorry. I’ll feed her.”

Si: “Is it safe?”

Me: “I didn’t smoke anything.” Then I remember all the Marlboro Reds. Oh, God. Still, they are legal.

Si: “You’re still over the limit,” he grunts.

***

In the small kitchenette of the Granny annexe, built over Roge’s workshop for my mother’s mother, I defrost a pouch of expressed breast milk in the ancient microwave my Granny once used.  I pour the milk into a MAM bottle and stir it with an 80s Royal wedding teaspoon. Apparently, Vita’s refusing to take the bottle again and hasn’t been eating much at all. I open the door to check on her, she is awake so I try to feed her from the bottle. She punches it away and nuzzles into my boobs. Oh god, I’m back where I started. I take a breath, cuddle her and mercifully she starts to drink from the bottle. She is hungry and gulps down the contents.

Si is cleaning his teeth with Sienna when I suggest we all head back to London and enjoy the weekend together there. “We can potter in the garden or go to Kew…”

Si: “Can’t, Army 100k cycle today.”

Me: “Not again.”

Si: “It’s been in the iCal for ages.”

Me: “But…”

Si: “This isn’t about cycling, it’s about repairing my career. I need to show my face at everything, do everything right from now on, not get pulled out of work by your parents because you’ve gone AWOL and left them with the kids. General Smith is gunning for me.”

Me: “Can we come and watch? The cycling, not the gunning, I mean.”

Si: “Not exactly a spectators sport,” he says curtly.

Me: “I think we’ll head back to London then.”

Si: “You need to apologise to your parents first.” I nod.

***

Si heads off and I get the children their breakfast. When they are both happily munching I call Granny. “Hello,” she says in a strained voice.

Me: “Can we come for coffee?”

Granny: “We are not receiving before 10 o’clock.”

“Oh, right. Okay,” I say, knowing I am firmly in the pooh.

So I decide to take the girls out on a country ramble instead, the sunshine will do us all good. I put Vita in a sling, help Sienna into her red wellies and open the door. Except it’s locked. I yank the handle down again.  I then start looking for the key, but it’s nowhere to be found and in my heart, I already know what the problem is. Simon’s locked us in.

I call him but he doesn’t answer, so I call Granny back, knowing I will get both barrels.

Granny: “What now?” She says out of breath. “I keep putting a foot in the bath and then the phone rings.”

Me: “I’m locked in the flat, Si’s taken the key.”

Granny: “What’s wrong with you all?”

***

Roge opens the door with his key. He looks cross.

Roge: “You’ve broken me and your mother. You said the day.” He looks at me. “Eyes like piss holes in the snow. Why do you do it to yourself?” He gives me a hug.

Me: “I don’t know. Don’t worry we’re going back to London.”

Roge: “How? Your car’s in Cheltenham.”

Oh, bugger. I’d forgotten about that bit. And Granny’s not taking me back to the car until after lunch, because she’s brought in all our favourites and we are going to have to eat it, all of it.

Granny: “I can cope with the girls when you’re here but not on our own.” She says tossing a salad. The girls munch happily on olives and breadsticks, enjoying eating outside in their grandparents’ beautiful garden. Vita has thankfully found her appetite.

Granny: “We were so worried, she didn’t eat anything and wouldn’t stop crying and screaming and grandpa was brilliant because you know I can’t deal with crying babies but it almost pushed him over the edge.”

Me: “I’m sorry. I’m sorry, but Granny….”

“I haven’t finished. We love our grandchildren with every fibre of our being but yesterday was a nightmare and you’re not doing that to us again. So we have decided – and I’m sorry daring – we are not having them when you go to Italy. We just can’t. You’ll have to see if Si’s parents will have them in Devon – they’re much younger than us.”

Me: “The same age.”

Granny: “Vanessa I don’t think you realise how ill I am. I look okay on the outside but inside I’m 92. Would you like to see the amount of tablets I’m on?”

Me: “Dad said you could cope.”

Granny: “He says a lot of things.”

Roge: “I said for the day, not the whole night.”

Me: “But Simon came back in the afternoon.”

Granny: “None of us could cope.”

Me: “Well if three of you couldn’t, how do you think I do?”

Granny: “We are in our 70s and they’re YOUR children.”

Me: “I needed a day to myself.”

Granny: “Going to smoke wacky backy with your sister is not the answer.”

Me: “I didn’t.”

Granny: “But she’s still on it?”

Sienna: “On what Granny?”

Granny: “Eat your ham.”

Me: “She seems in a much better space.”

Granny: “Still with that appalling man, Brian the gorilla?”

Me: “Dog. They seem pretty close.”

Granny: “Until he goes back to his other wife and children.”

Me: “She’s touring with the West Country circus this summer I think we should go.”

Granny and Roge exchange uncomfortable glances.

***

We drive en-masse to pick up my stranded Volvo, me in the back again like a child between my own children. It shouldn’t feel humiliating but it does.

Granny: “Let’s see if there are any wheels on it.”

Me: “It’s Cheltenham.”

Granny: “The wrong side.”

The car is, of course, intact and mercifully Steph and Brian are out.  Roge and Granny look disappointed; they haven’t seen Steph in over six months.

***

My car is finally packed with children, the beloved cuddly toys: Bunny, Tiggy, Taggy and all the other accoutrements. As I motor down the M4 back to London, I start to feel better, which is strange considering I’ve never wanted to live in a city, now I am leaving this recent blip behind me, I feel I can start anew.  I will be better at this marriage and motherhood stuff. No more ball dropping.

I park up in our drive and wave at Mandy & Buck sitting on their picnic bench watching the children play in our close.  And that’s when I realise I don’t have a front door key.

I turn my handbag upside down, the nappy bag and its contents are emptied over the lawn, just as Fiona returns from running her tits off again. She scowls at me and disappears into her house.

SIMON HAS TAKEN THE KEY.

This is too much. First the toys, then locking me in, now this. No wonder I went on a fricking bender. He’s driving me to it.

I call him and this time he answers. “Si you locked me in the Granny flat this morning and now you’ve taken the effing house key!”

“What?” he says out of breath. “Cycling. Big hill.”

Me: “House key!”

Si: “Oh.” He says. “Spare?”

Me: “Course we don’t have a spare, that would mean we were organised! (pause) Now we’re even.” I hang up before he can reply and saunter over to Mandy and Buck.

Me: “Hi guys. Enjoying the sunshine?”

They nod.

“Listen, I’ve got a slight problem….”

 

 

 

 

Wilde Cocktails: Worst Thing You’ve Done to Your Husband

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When taking a bath becomes a hairy occupation…

The Curious Mummy is still mulling over whether I can air her confession. Yep, that bad. Hopefully, she will let me release the story and her milky breasticles next week!

Happy viewing. X

Twisted Sister

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Twisted Sister marijuana vanessa wilde

Simon still isn’t returning my calls 24 hours after I stormed Salisbury Plain. And I’m tired of apologising and crying.  Granny and Roge have been lovely, but they are beginning to do my head in as only parents can. Honestly, if Granny tells me one more time I’m not eating enough I will scream.   I need to get away from all of them, my parents, my children, everyone.

I speak to Roge in his office.  “I’m going to disappear for the day. Can you and Granny manage with the kids?” His initial facial expression is one of extreme fear but he grins at me.

Roge: “Go, have a walk, get some air into your lungs, we’ll be fine. (pause) You’ll be fine.”

Me: “Tell Granny I’m doing one of my challenges for Country Matters.”

Roge: “Where are you really going?”

Me: “To see Steph.” I leave before he can protest. I need a big sister fix.

***

I draw on a Marlboro Red, take it deep into my lungs and exhale. It’s not the fresh air Roge suggested but it seems to be doing the trick.  I guzzle my pint of wine and lay back on the plastic sun lounger in Steph’s overgrown garden, surrounded by a broken whirligig washing line, builder’s rubble and the stench of dog poo.  I look up, Hoolie (short for Hooligan) the English sheepdog is doing yet another sh*t in the long grass.

Me: “I think that dog’s got problems. He hasn’t stopped pooing since I got here.”

My sister takes an extra long toke on her bifta (a cannabis cigarette, for the uninitiated). “He’s a dog. That’s what they do. They sh*t,” she says smiling goofily exposing her nicotine-stained teeth.

Me: “And babies, they do the same, but I don’t let them do it on the lawn.”

Steph: “That’s because Simon’s made you uptight.” She offers me the joint. I wave it away.

Me: “I’m not uptight”.

She sits up. “Hah! You’re uptighter than a cat’s a-hole. Your channels are blocked; I can feel it from here. You need to free yourself. The mind is its own place, it can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.”

Me: “Milton? Bit Judeo-Christian for you.”

Steph: “I like Milton. Have done since school.”

Me: “The only Milton I know these days is the stuff to clean up sick with.”

I gulp another mouthful of sauv blanc and watch my stoned sister dance around the garden in her tie-dye harem pants trying to comically avoid the dog poo landmines. She has an incredible body – her tummy is toned and brown, unlike my white blancmange overhang. She stands on one leg and brings the other up to her hand. My parents think she is a loser but I think she is astonishing. I wish I’d run away to the circus with her. I always wanted to work with horses and she does every day, standing on their backs, jumping through hoops of fire and travelling the world.  Of course, there is a downside to her Gypsy life, namely her dysfunctional relationship with Brian-the-Dog, but my marriage isn’t exactly in the best of shape these days. My husband’s not even talking to me.  But I’m not thinking about him today.

Steph snaps me out my reverie with a scream. She’s stood on a landmine.

***

I bring a soapy bucket of water out of her dilapidated Georgian flat in leafy Cheltenham. “You’re right, I need to get this garden cleaned up.” As she steeps her sh*tty foot, we hug. I draw her in tightly, my big sister, who introduced me to raves and MDMA. “Grown-up life is really hard,” I say, the tears now flowing.

“You’re acing it, Ness. Look at me – I’m standing with a foot in a bucket covered in dog shit.” She cackles like a witch, which is appropriate as she is one.

Steph: “Come on, let’s do a spell to thank the Goddess for our blessings, for Sienna, Vita, for Hooli, for Simon.”

Me: “Not him. Not yet.”

Steph: “Okay, not Simon.”

She runs inside and returns with a candle, an orange, baking parchment, string and Brian-the-Dog, back early after his day job collecting refuse.  He is still in his hi-viz jacket and green combat trousers. The waft of rotting vegetables pokes me up the nose.

Brian: “Nessa. Come on give me a hug.”

And he means it too. I jump up from the lounger and start to runway from this hulk of a brown stinky man. I jump onto the rubble. “Careful – landmines!”

Brian: “I don’t bloody care, I’ve had a 2 week old nappy explode in my face.” He grabs me off the rubble and hugs me, I want to be sick because of the smell and he’s tickling me to death.

“B*gger off!” I shout.

***

He goes in for a shower and returns in a white kaftan. “Did Steph tell you?”

Me: “That you’re a weirdo?”

Brian: “That I’m the High Priest of Cheltenham.”

Steph is smiling nodding and I haven’t a clue what they’re talking about but I am smiling and nodding too. “That’s Great. Well done, Bri.”

Brian looks at me and searches my eyes. “She’s ain’t got a f*cking clue what I’m on about! So posh, so well mannered.”

Steph: “It means he’s head of our coven and the local chapter.”

Brian: “So I can perform special rituals.”  They exchange glances and smirks. I decide I don’t want to know the details. He lights up, inhales deeply and cuts the orange in half with a golden dagger and then Steph lights a candle and drips wax on it or something else but I’m so battered I don’t know what’s going on or who I am. I stare into the flame vacantly.

***

My next memory is being in a Chinese Restaurant. Quite a smart one.  Everyone is looking at us, Brian is back wearing his hi-viz jacket and we are sitting in a side room away from the other customers, drinking beer out of bottles, eating dry shredded beef – my favourite – when suddenly I have this idea to throw rice at Brian, and then more rice at my sister but these tiny act of rebellion cause Brian to go ‘proper mental’ and he starts throwing the whole meal at me, beer hits me like a wet slap in the face, a spring roll smacks me on the forehead and seaweed, loads of seaweed rains down like confetti. So I do the only thing I can think of, I throw the sweet and sour prawns at him.

Steph and I race outside leaving Brian to deal with the irate Chinese management. He is laughing saying ‘calm down, calm down, just have a larff.’ He tries to speak Chinese in his broad Gloucester accent, bowing at them, his hands pressed together but the diminutive manager is shouting, ‘Get Out! I do not want you back, ever.’  Brian insists on paying the bill and gives the man a crisp fifty.

Meanwhile, Steph sparks up another fruity rollie and then decides she needs a wee. She hands me the joint while she disappears to crouch down in a side alley, while I am left standing dazed, leaning against the restaurant, listening to the Manager now calmly chatting to Brian, because he ‘knows he’s not a bad man, it’s the bad women he’s with’.

Brian: “Sisters.”

Manager: “Double Trouble.”

Brian: “Both my girlfriends….”

Manager: “No way.”

Brian: “Way.

The joint is burning away as I notice a car pull up to the curb.  The window goes down. Oh God, they think I’m a hooker, I think as I look down at my stained orange sundress, flecked with strands of seaweed.

“Is that marijuana?”, comes a familiar voice. I look into the car more carefully.

It’s Simon.

Toy Soldiers

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Lost cuddly toys toy soldiers Vanessa wilde

Wednesday 6.30pm
Si won’t stay for supper. He’s done the wall and needs to get back to Wiltshire – he has a big day tomorrow. He starts to tell me all about it but I zone out after the first military acronym…

I smell my seven-month old’s bottom. “Jesus! (To him) Sounds great, Simon. (To the kids) Right, bath time everyone.”

“I’ll help,” says Si getting the hint.

He washes Sienna’s hair while I dunk Baby Beelzebub.  These are the precious moments of family time, but now he has to rush off again to serve Queen and Country and for once I actually feel sorry for him. We make a good team and I love him deeply even though he annoys me to the stars and back. (I know the feeling is mutual).

He dries and dresses Vita, while Sienna continues to play mermaids in the bath. She has a new game of late where she sits on the edge and uses the side as a slide, creating a tidal wave of soapy water.

“No, Sienna!” we both say smiling at each other fully cognisant of the fact that mixing our genes and character traits was always going to to be a dangerous and devious experiment.

“She’s got your genes,” I say.

“No, it’s your Jock genes,” says Simon

He suddenly looks grey and weary. “Sorry I can’t stay,” he says. “I can’t wait for the time when we are all living together in the same house.”  We kiss again.  All this time I’ve been complaining about staying with the mini-psychopaths, when actually, it’s a greater wrench to leave. (That is until you get to where you’re going, free, unburdened, able to finish a sentence and concentrate, without vast changing bags of rice cakes, snacks and wet wipes weighing you down or the sudden palpable fear that you don’t know where The-One-That-Can-Walk IS!)

“Wish me luck,” he says descending the stairs.

“Good luck,” I say not having the faintest idea what for.  “Knock ‘em dead.” I add. Si grabs his Army hold-all, black rucksack and is gone.

It’s only when both tots are finally in their pyjamas I realise I haven’t seen Vita’s Bunny or Sienna’s two hedgehogs, Tiggy & Taggy.  I secure my feral creatures in Vita’s cot with some pop-up books and search downstairs for the cuddly toys. I’m not going to panic they are here somewhere. I look in the Chinese vase where bricks, magnets, and remotes are hidden. No. In the Ikea circus tent? Nope. Under the kitchen table? No.

I return upstairs and search the rooms, but the toys are nowhere to be seen and what’s worse, I can’t find a dummy for baby Vita to such, either.

Sienna laughs with excitement as I lift the cot up to see if Bunny or the dummies are underneath. Nothing.  This is getting serious.  I ask Sienna if has she’s seen Tiggy & Taggy.

Sienna: “Maybe they’re on holiday.”

Not a-f***ing-gain! Why has everything got to go on holiday? Except us!

I snap. “Where the hell have you hidden them?” The impending horror of what is to come for the next ten hours starts to close in on me: the broken sleep, the incessant wailing, the bloodcurdling screams.  No, no, no! They must be somewhere! 

I look Sienna in the eye, my face almost touching hers, “I’m going to ask you one more time, where is Bunny and the fricking hedgehogs?”

“I don’t know,” she says unblinking.

Me: “Yes, you bloody do.”

“No, I bloody don’t.” She shouts in my face. “Maybe they’re in the woods with Piglet.” (Another animal enjoying a ‘holiday’.)

I take a big breath.

F**K.

I run downstairs and Vita starts to howl. Sienna joins in for good measure, shouting “Tiggy and Taggy are lost in the woods and a fox is coming! And they are lonely!” She cries harder moved by her own story.

And I KNOW that two-year-old sod-ette is responsible for their loneliness and terror and I need to find them to avoid the same terrible fate. I tear downstairs apart, I tear upstairs apart; I run out into the Close like a woman-possessed, look on the trampoline, under it, in the Wendy House, under the cherry tree. I put out a message on the Patch Facebook Page. I Whatsapp my neighbours. And…. NOTHING.

And suddenly I’m in the middle of the Close, in the descending darkness looking this way and that, because there is no solution Taggy WAS Tiggy’s back up and Bunny doesn’t have an understudy. I am screwed.

I phone Si. It goes to voicemail. It’s not his fault, don’t yell at him. Breathe, breathe.

Me: “Hi honey, have you seen Bunny or Tiggy and Taggy? They are missing. Call me when you can.”

***

But he doesn’t call back and it’s midnight before the screams and wails stop and the small people finally fall asleep and so do I.  And then the night terrors begin with the baby passing the sleep-killing baton to the toddler and back again so I barely have any sleep.

By dawn I am broken, my teeth feel too big for my mouth and my face is numb because I’ve been sleeping on my phone waiting for Si to call.

And then Sienna, lying next to me in my bed, whispers conspiratorially. “Maybe our toys jumped in Daddy’s rucksack?”

I squint at her from under the covers and she says with a shrug. “Maybe they wanted to go to Wiltshire.”

***

I load my protesting toddler and screaming baby (still without a dummy) into the back of the Volvo and finish packing up all the crap that two children under three require.

I lock up the house, jump in the driver’s seat and exit the Close, travelling up through West London to hit the M4 to Wiltshire.  I know Simon is doing something near Salisbury this morning. Jesus, maybe he’s dealing with Russians and Novichok? Should I turn around? I’m not really sure I want the kids as extras in McMafia. And then I remember he mentioned Salisbury Plain, so type it into the Satnav.

My mission is clear: I need to get Bunny and Tiggy & Taggy back and that’s it. And I KNOW they are in his rucksack because it’s the only logical explanation. Yes, Sienna will have put them in there, but he should have checked. He should have checked.

After several hours on the road, my iPhone tells me to turn right through a gateway in the middle of the plains. It looks like I’m in the right place, there’s the obligatory razor wire and loads of signs saying ‘KEEP OUT’, ‘MOD PROPERTY’ ‘DANGER’. I try to call Simon as I drive up the dusty track but the phone is switched off. I curse him as I hit pothole after pothole. Why the hell would you take Bunny and the hedgehogs? Why?! Are you chronically stupid, Simon?  No, I have married someone terminally stupid!!!!!

MEANWHILE, AT THE TOP OF SALISBURY PLAIN

Simon is preparing to host a Field Firing Exercise with live ammunition.

General Jeremy Smith is in a supervisory capacity, waiting for any slip-ups because after all the contretemps on the Patch he wants to see Simon fail.

Simon has been planning the exercise for months.  He takes out a map and explains to the adjudicators what is going to happen and what they intend to achieve.

CUT TO:

My ancient Volvo is coming to the brow of the hill. The children stare out of the window uncertain of their new surroundings.

Sienna: “But I thought we were going to Granny’s?”

Me: “We are. Later.”

I can see people waving at me, I wave back. They wave more enthusiastically. So do I, driving past them. One man even walks in front of the car causing me to swerve – I think he is also terminally stupid.

I can see Simon across the Plain in front of me and I can see his black rucksack in the front seat of an army Land Rover. I abandon the car and am drawn towards the rucksack like a woman-possessed in a strange twilight world. I duck under the barbwire, crawl through the scrub and run towards the Army Land Rover.

Simon, oblivious to the breach of security, shouts “FIRE” and suddenly – URGH! I am rugby tackled from both sides and now I am having a heart attack. URGH! So this is what it feels like. I’ve often wondered and now I KNOW. Urgh. The. Pain.

Whistles are blown. Alarms sound.

“Check Fire!!!!!” shouts Simon.

“Heart attack,” I say flailing about.

“You’re winded,” says a man in pan-stick and camouflage (my neighbour and Mandy’s husband).

Me: “Buck?”

Buck: “What the bloody hell are you doing here?”

I can’t speak.

Buck: “Just breathe. Breathe.”

Me: “Heart attack.”

Buck: “Winded.”

Simon peers down at me his eyes obsidian, his face beetroot from shouting. The General gets a good butchers, too.
“Bunny. Rucksack,” I say wheezing. I sit up and point shaking at the Army Land Rover.

Simon retrieves the rucksack and opens it as he walks back. He pulls out Bunny, Tiggy, and Taggy.  I am still struggling to breathe but tears of joy run down my face at seeing them; and then the overwhelming realisation I have interrupted Simon’s big day – which happens to be a live firing exercise hits home.  I look to the car, frantic. They’ll take my kids away. They’ll take them.  “The children.”

Buck: “Corporal Bone and Private Smethick are entertaining them.”

Buck puts his hand on Simon’s shoulder. “Once Mrs. Wilde is safely back in the car, and in a different county we will re-start the exercise, Sir.”

“Yes,” says Simon flabbergasted. He pulls himself together.  “We often coordinated a breach of security at the start of the exercise to ensure we can deal with any nuisance ramblers. The naked one is a persistent offender.”

“Really?” says the General.  “Naked rambling. Hmmm. (pause) Of course, I will be reporting the incident.”

Si: “Of course, Sir. There is a website.”

“Right.”

I am given a once over by Doctor Nick – who shakes his head and asks how many units a week I really drink – before I am escorted off the MoD site by armed guard who follow me all the way to Granny & Grandpa Roger’s house.

***

Granny puts her arm around me.

Me: “I’ve f***ed up his career. His life. And all for some cuddly toys.”

Roger: “Come on Frog Face, it’s not all bad. I mean getting onto the Plain AND under the wire – that’s pretty good going. When I was in the RAF I only managed to shin a radio mast and put a ‘We Sell Green Shield Stamps’ sign over the NAAFI”.

“Thanks Dad.” I say beginning to feel a tiny bit better. Maybe it’s in the genes?

Wilde Cocktails with The Curious Mummy

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Welcome to ‘Wilde Cocktails’

Wilde Cocktails is a brand new segment where Vanessa chats to bloggers and celebrities about parenthood over strong gin cocktails.

My first guest, and general guinea pig, is yummy mummy Donna Jackson a.k.a The Curious Mummy: @thecuriousmummy.

Over the next few weeks I will post some of our most embarrassing moments of motherhood as we natter and drink heavily at Mr. Fogg’s Residence in London: @mrfoggsgb

Cheers!

Love, Vanessa x

Vanessa Wilde | A Blog comedy about Motherhood, Marriage and Much More.