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

 

 

 

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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.>>

Swings and Roundabouts

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“What was he doing on The Patch?” Simon asks again as we do another loop of the Kingston Hospital car park, still unable to find a space after 20 minutes.

Me: “I don’t know!”

Si: “But how does he know General Smith and the pitbull?”

Me: “He’s a neighbour in Monkton Deverill.”

Si: “Of course, he is.”

Me: “Stop saying he like that.”

Si: “Like what?”

Me: “Like he. (Beating the driving wheel) Come on, we need a space!”

Si: “Because this toilet of a man deserves my respect?”

Me: “You asked to come. You could have looked after the kids so I could come on my own but no, you wanted to hang out with my ex, too.” I wave at a man getting into his car. “Are you coming out?”

Man: “No, I’m eating my lunch.”

Si: “Why can’t he eat his lunch a table like a normal human being?”

Sienna: “Is it lunchtime?”

Si: “No.”

Sienna: “I’m hungry.”

Si: “No, you’re not.”

Sienna: “I am.”

Si: “You only had breakfast an hour ago.”

Sienna: “My tummy hurts.” Vita starts to cry. “See, she’s hungry too.” Adds Sienna.

Si: “Why are there no f**king spaces!”

Simon gets out. He’s probably going to go and punch someone in the face so we can get a space that way.  Ok, this looks promising – he’s found a Granny and is helping her into her car, mind your head dear, he shuts the car door and is now directing her out of the space. The old bat drives off waving at Simon and I park up, the children still howling. Humphery will have to wait, we need to hit Costa for cheese sandwiches, NOW.

***

I tap on the door of a private room. Humphery is sitting up in bed, look distinctly perky.

“How are you?” I say, still mortified I shouted ‘I love you’ in the throes of cardiac arrest.  I want to backtrack and say, what I meant was love in a nostalgic, vintage way, like savouring a time that has passed and can never be again. But I have Simon standing right behind me touching my heels with the tips of his ageing Hush Puppies. He has a child in both of his arms – they are his props.

“You went in the ambulance!” Says Sienna.

Humphery: “Yes. I’m fine now. It was nothing, just a blip.”

Me: “Well, it didn’t look like a ‘blip’.” Simon purposely treads on the back of my heels. I gesture to the men to do the introductions, too awkward to make them myself.

Humphery: “Simon. Humphery Hurtwood. So you inherited a handful.”

“Hi,” says Simon shaking Humphery’s hand. “I fell on that particular sword.”

Humphery: “Interesting way of putting it. It takes a real man to handle a filly like Vanessa. Totally cooked.”

Si: “A gentle hand on the reins and a bit of stick from time to time.” They both laugh in a forced way which makes me want to puke.

Me: “Can you stop comparing me to a bloody horse. Hashtag MeToo, hashtag TimesUp.”

Humphery: “Hashtag Yawn.”

Si: “Hashtag WhoStoleMySpear.”

Sienna: “Hashtag CanWeGoHomeNow.”

***

Simon and Humphery are getting on too well for my liking, but it dawns on me why, they are cut from the same cloth: chest- beating warrior types with traditional views and tastes. I run through my other former flames,  even my younger Australian man-bag, The Party Guy, is a modern version of a macho chest-beater.  Hard-bodied cave men make my fanny twitch; pasty computer nerds do not.

There’s a sudden and foul stench in the room. Si and I automatically look at each other in silent accusation but it’s not us, we both look at Humphery – is it him? Of course not, Humphery never did a single ‘Donald Trump’ in the time I knew him and I’d had four years of tummy ache unable to let my wind blow free. The culprit, of course, is Vita, which is excellent timing because now Simon has to go and change her nappy. He ums and ahs and says it’s my turn. I flash him a ‘pillar of salt’ look and encourage him to take Sienna as well but he refuses.

He looks at Humphery holding the ripe baby at arm’s length and shakes his head, “Who stole my spear?”

Humphery: “You shouldn’t be making him do that. It’s women’s work.”

Me: “And now I remember why I left you. As well as the fact you’re 105 and the tip of your penis was beginning to turn blue.”

Humphery: “No, it wasn’t. Isn’t!” He looks at Sienna who is now watching Cebeebies on my phone to see if she’s listening. “Not in front of the child.”

“Potential girlfriend?” I add, knowing he has a 20-year-old now under his spell.

He whispers conspiratorially, “I didn’t have a heart attack.”

“Yes, you did Humphery.”  I sigh, thinking he’s in denial.

Humphrey: “I faked the whole thing.”

Me: “What?!” I get up to go.

Humphery: “Wait. Hear me out. Fiona got me there under false pretences. I thought we were all going to this new club in Shepherd’s Market…”

Me: “Are you’re swinging with them?! And you tried to get me to have that ‘dark evening’ in Reading…”

Humphery: “No, it’s a members’ club, interestingly enough called A&E.”

Me: “Total Swingers Club.”

Sienna: “I like swinging. Granny’s got a swing in Wiltshire.”

Me: “That’s right, darling.”

Humphery: “I’m reformed, Doctor says only one woman at a time since my heart attack; the real one.”

Me: “Get to the point.”

Humphery: “Fi-fi said, we’re not going into town because I had to sign some papers and in return she’d give me a…”

Simon re-enters with Vita and a coffee. I want him to go away again but I decide Humphery can bloody well tell Simon too. I bring him up to speed with the fake heart attack and Fiona.

“What papers did she want you to sign?” says Simon eyeballing Humphery steadily.

“Legal papers claiming she was with me in Deauville last summer and they were both skiing with me in December.  Alibis. I said no and she threatened to expose our relationship.”

Me: “What relationship?”

Humphery: “We used to swing from time to time.”

Simon chokes on his coffee.

Sienna: “Daddy, I told him Granny has a swing.”

Me: “See.”

Si: “Fuck.”

Humphery: “She had me over a barrel, and not for the first time, so I faked a heart attack.”

Si: “You did the right thing, Humphery.”

Me: “What? The NHS is in crisis, it’s a waste of money.”

Si: “You’re now a witness in a covert investigation. I have to make some calls. I need you to tell the Military Police everything.”

Me: “F**k. What have the Smiths done?”

Humphery throws his head back on his pillow and closes his eyes. “This is exactly what I wanted to avoid.” Si exits, talking on the phone. “I’ve got over 100 grand in my safe from a bent polo sponsor who uses the Filipino national bank like his personal account, the last thing I need is the police wading in.” He starts disconnecting himself from various machines.  I know the old fox is going to make a run for it.

I open the door and shout down the corridor to Simon “Quick, he’s escaping!”  Humphery’s out of his bed, I can’t let him go, he’s Si’s key witness.  I stand in his way. He dances with me to get past. “No, you can’t leave.” He picks me up and places me to one side. And that’s when I shove him in the chest to stop him leaving. He stumbles backwards, misses the bed and crack…

Follow That Dream

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Follow that dream Vanessa Wilde Humphery Hurtwood ex boyfriends

Last night I had a dream about Humphery Hurtwood. I dream about him on and off, usually, intense sex dreams that make me yearn for my younger, freer years but last night’s dream was different. There’d been an accident on a winter’s evening with a horsebox, Humphery had stopped his BMW to help but now was implicated in a much darker mystery. The horse owner kept his black leather gloves in her safe. I open it and find them, along with many of his papers.  I smell the inside of his gloves.

There is some kind of cover-up because the girl groom didn’t call the vet straight away, fearful of him involving the police because she was wearing leggings (apparently, vets strongly disapprove of leggings).

I take Humphery’s black gloves to him and warn him something strange is going on.  I look in a mirror before I go. I am very fat, like in one of those Instagram apps. I tell myself it’s because I’ve just had a baby. We go for a walk down a steep, wooded lane. Baby Vita isn’t in the dream but Sienna is. She is trying to keep up with up in the wood above but Humphery is walking too fast. I lose sight of her and have to go back. I discover her hiding in the wardrobe.  I find a buggy and put her in it but Humphery will not wait for us. We are left behind.

But what does it all mean? It must be a sign. It must mean something. I need to befriend a Freud. I’m sure I have one on Facebook. Humphery’s not been well.  Fiona told me months ago and Cathy (my friend back home in Wiltshire) confirmed he’d had a minor heart attack. I have longed to contact him but what exactly is the etiquette about contacting your ex? Is it permissible after a heart attack? I really think it must be. But what about after a dream?

I think of Humphery most of the day; while peeling the skin off a large cucumber, opening up half a pitta and stuffing it with hummus and finally scrubbing the linoleum on all fours. Everything is reminding me of him. Of his big hands. Like dinner plates and collarbones the size of tibias. He is a mythical creature: weaned on buffalo milk and centaur-like on and off the polo field. He is. Was? A Jilly Cooper wet dream.

Oh, and the drama. Not mundane married drama like who shrunk my favourite jumper? Why didn’t you pay the accountant? F**k, we’ve run out of nappies! No. More: nobody understands our love (there were 30 years between us), the drama of him trying to do the right thing by ‘setting me free’, the drama of being mistaken for his daughter and telling them I was, in fact, his lover.

There were the jealous rages if I spoke to another man, god forbid another polo player; his insatiable sexual appetite, his infidelities. Some of the best advice I was given was don’t get married; don’t get pregnant. I took the advice and the relationship, although it ended, remained perfectly tumultuous and intense, unspoilt by the everyday reality of responsibility. Of parenthood. Simon is husband material; Humphery was a lover.

I sit with the kids at the picnic bench outside our house picking at the leftover fish-fingers and baked beans. Arthur’s joined us as Mandy’s taken Mia for her jab’s at the doctors’. The children happily chomp away, oblivious of my inner turmoil.  Vita is throwing beans at the parasol. Arthur and Sienna chuckle mischievously. They hold hands at the table, friends since they were only a few months old.

I hang out the washing on the whirlygig. The back garden is north facing, right by the main road and, more importantly, hanging my underwear out here irritates Fiona who says it’s lowering the tone of the Married Patch.  I peg my silky pink knickers and decide I will contact Humphery – he’s in his sixties, had a heart attack, he’s hardly a threat and I would happily encourage Simon to contact Geordie Janey, his former love, if she were to fall ill.  In fact, I’m happy for him to contact her even in good health. I don’t like to deny the characters of our previous years, they remain part of us in our memories, habits and hearts.

But I don’t want Humphery to see me like this; chubby, in a shapeless shirt dress, hair thrown up, sensible sandals with a basket of washing. I will lose weight first. A BMW with blacked out windows drives into the close and I quickly round up the children – Vita in her walker, Sienna on her scooter, Arthur on his balance bike. The car parks under the cherry tree in front of Fiona and The General’s house. I carry on pegging my knickers until I hear the click of the driver’s door open and watch Humphery slowly raise himself out of the car. He is thinner on top, greying at the edges but still looking muscular and sexual. Like Robert Duvall or, for the younger audience, Jason Statham at 55.

Humphery doesn’t want to talk, he is rushing to get away from me, putting his hand up like the sports star he is and I am the paparazzi.  Dr Nick walks around the corner, back from the school run with his kids.

Dr Nick: “Afternoon.”

I want to talk to Humphery. I am following him.  “Are you okay? I wanted to call. Is your heart okay?”

He nods quickening his pace. “Yes, thank you. I’m fine.”

I want to tell him why I walked out, that we had four amazing years; that he haunts my dreams. “Please Humph, I need to talk to you – remember the New Forest and that thing you did with your thumb?”

He’s at the General’s door, banging and ringing the bell. Fiona lets him in, she scowls at me and Humphery hurries in, practically falling over the threshold. “‘Careful, I won’t always be there to catch you went you fall.’ You said that to me at treading-in just after the Edgington ball,” I shout, fully aware I am sounding like a nutter.

The door bangs shut.

I return to my picnic bench deflated. It’s because I’ve gone to seed. It’s because I’m fat and ruddy (the rash of death is back on my forehead probably because I’m drinking too much again. Although everyone says they can’t see it but I can see it. The dermatologist says it’s rosacea but I know it’s liver disease.) I look at myself in the hall mirror. Yuck.

I cuddle Vita and watch Sienna and Arthur now on the trampoline. I’m desperate. I need to tell Humphery about the dream. I need to find out if he’s okay. I need to find out what I’ve done wrong. Why won’t he talk to me?!

Dr Nick brings out his children’s tea and put them on his picnic table “Was that Humphery? The polo player with massive hands?” I nod. “Wow, he really is old. He looks like he could have started the sport in Victorian times.”

I break into a smile. He can see I am sobbing behind my sunglasses.  I remember the doctor’s package in his lemon lycra, flirting with me on the ladder, waking up spooning with him by accident. What is wrong with me? I love Simon, we’ve just had five glorious sexless nights in Italy together. And that’s the problem. Simon’s probably watching large amounts of porn at Staff College, while I’m checking out the neighbour and reminiscing about men his father’s age.

Fiona flings open the front door. “We need a doctor!”  Dr Nick and I run in. Humphery is supine on the sitting room floor, his body is jolting. Fiona is waving papers over his head. “I need you to sign, Humphery. Just scribble here and here.”

Me: “HUMPHERY! Why is he jolting?”

Dr Nick is checking his airwaves. “Has he had a defibrillator fitted?”

Fiona nods. “Humphery, wake up. I need you to sign!”

The defibrillator kicks in again and he starts to moan. I stroke his face. “Oh, Humphery.”

Humphery: “Get her away from me.”

Me: “I love you. I’ll always love you. Don’t die!” The defibrillator kicks in again.

Dr Nick: “Nessa, you are going to kill him at this rate.”

I return outside to the children and watch as he is stretchered into an ambulance. “Come on kids, we’re going to get in the car now.” I want to follow the ambulance. Someone has to be with him. It should be me, not Fiona.

Dr Nick: “Don’t. For his own sake. Go tomorrow.” He’s right, I can’t take the children there, especially not at bedtime, it would be hell on earth. And I don’t have a seat for Arthur. Fiona is getting in the ambulance, Humphery is wild-eyed shaking his head.

Me: “No, no, no. Not her.”

Dr Nick: “You stay here too, Mrs. Smith.”

Fiona: “I’ll do as I damn well, please. He’s my friend.”

Dr Nick: “You’re having a negative effect on the patient.” The paramedic agrees.

Fiona climbs out. “I’ll go in the car.” She gets her papers from the house, locks the door and jumps in her car.

The ambulance drives off with Fiona in hot pursuit. Nick stares into the distance. “You had quite an impact on him, didn’t you?” He turns his head to look at me. “So, what did he do with this thumb in your New Forest?”

I decide not to tell the actual story of how he trapped it in a sash window at a hotel and I saved him and it brought us closer together. Instead, I say saucily. “I’ll leave it up to your imagination, Doctor.” I really have got to stop flirting with the neighbour. And, lose weight.

 

Break On Through To the Other Side

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Vanessa Wilde Break On Through Locked In Kicking Doors Down

This is a RAID!!!!

It’s Monday.  Sienna (2 ½) has locked herself in her room, Vita (eight months) is on hunger strike and Simon, after almost succumbing to an Italian Killer Wasp, drove to work at five in the morning, still feeling horrendous but compelled by his British Army training ‘to man up and keep buggering on’.  Or maybe it was my nursing skills? Well, I didn’t know drinking Epsom Salts could make you sick. I was trying to expel the toxins.

Me: “Sienna, this is the last time. Open the door!”
Sienna: “I can’t.”
Me: “Yes, you can.”
Sienna: “No. I. Can’t!”

Still, at least the grandparents kept both the children alive while we were away. Although Shakin’ Stevens the bull has gone down with a mysterious bovine disease, which Edwin (Si’s father) is blaming on me and my ‘townie hands’. I didn’t even touch him, I just held a receptacle to catch the nut-juice.

Me: “Open this door right now, young lady!”
Sienna: “Noooooo!”

I pull the handle down repeatedly until something snaps inside and it droops like poor Shakin’ Steven’s willy.

Sienna: “What have you DONE, Mama? It’s broken!”
Me: “It’s okay. Mummy’s going to get you out.”
“Okay,” she says, starting to sob.

I scoop up Baby Vita, rush downstairs to the garage and rummage around in Si’s toolbox. I race back up and start to unscrew the door handle. I am impressed at how quickly I get it off. “Mummy to the rescue!” I push the door. Nothing happens. I push it again. Nothing happens.  “I am going to be in here forever,” wails Sienna.

I phone Leviathan, the loathed military housing contractor and listen to the muzak and ‘all calls will be recorded for quality and care’ nonsense on speakerphone. A broad Scouser called Tiger asks me for my name and postcode.  I give him the details.

Tiger: “What seems to be the problem there, Mrs Wilde?”
Me: “My two-year-old is locked in her bedroom.”
Tiger: “Has she locked herself in?”
Me: “Yes.”
Sienna: “No. I. Didn’t!”
Tiger: “Well, there’s nothing we can do today because it’s third party damage.”
Me: “She’s my daughter!”
Tiger: “Sorry wrong page, bear with me it’s my first day. Have you tried pushing it?”

I look at the phone in double disbelief. “Of course, I have. I’ve taken the whole mechanism off with a screwdriver.”
Tiger: “And the door still won’t open?”
Me: “No!”
Tiger: “And is your daughter okay?”
Me: “Not really – it’s like an oven in here.” Rivulets of sweat trickle down my inner thighs – it’s one of the greatest heat waves on record and the house is hotter than Andy Murray’s jock strap at the Men’s Wimbledon Finals.
Tiger: “Don’t worry we’ll get her out, Mrs Wilde. I’ve flagged it up as urgent so that means we’ll have someone to you within the next 3-6 hours.”
Me: “But she hasn’t had breakfast!”
Tiger: “Can you slide some toast under the door there, Mrs Wilde?”

I hang up before I can say anything rude to him. I am going to have to take things into my own hands.  “Sienna, I need you to climb onto Lamby (the rocking sheep) and open the window. Just like I told you not to do.”
Sienna: “Okay Mama.”

I pick Vita up, who sneezes ectoplasm at my coral sundress, bustle downstairs and open the front door. Standing in front of the house I watch Sienna climb onto the window sill, she is attempting to open the window.  I doubt she can do it but a small crowd is gathering, trying to work out what I’m staring at.

Mandy stands next to me.  “Locked in?”

Me: “Yup.”

Mandy: “It’s those bloody cheap doors. Mine have been stuck twice. Almost rights of passage.”

Sienna tries to unlock the window. She is struggling but then she does it! She pushes the window open, which stops with a clunk at the safety catch.

“You did it! Well done, Sienna!” I shout proudly.

Doctor Nick (who still hasn’t burnt our fence down at this stage) adds his two-penneth. “Not very health and safety conscious, Nessa. And for her next stunt, Sienna will abseil off the roof.”

“Can I borrow your ladder?” I ask the doctor, looking at him for the first time. He’s sporting his all-in-one lemon lycra again, which is vile but I can’t help but notice his snug ball hammock which makes me smile at him inanely and now he’s smiling back. Oh god, we are flirting, which seems particularly inappropriate given my husband’s brush with death and my toddler’s current imprisonment.

Nick fetches his telescopic ladder and props it against my roof. I hand Vita to Mandy. “Ness have you tried really pushing it?” She asks. I ignore her stupid comment and, armed with rice cakes and a sippy cup, mount the ladder.  I ascend two rungs and Dr Nick is right behind me ‘just steadying the ladder’, almost pressing his package into my bottom. As I climb the next two rungs I can feel wetness start to soak into my dress. Oh god no, he’s not that hot. Or have I had a pelvic floor quake? I realise the sippy cup is leaking. Dr Nick, helpfully, turns it the right way up, which causes me to lose my balance and send rice cakes and the sippy cup to go flying. Dr Nick has his hand pressing into my back to steady me. “Let me go up,” he says.

“No. I can do this.” I say, taking some of Si’s imaginary ‘man up’ pills.  I may have the body of a post-natal Mummy who likes wine but I have the stomach … of a post-natal Mummy who likes wine (and cakes). “Please.” He says touching my hand.

“It looks like you’ve wet yourself! Doctor get a bit close?” shouts Mandy, laughing. I dismount the ladder and hand over to the doctor. “The view’s much better from down here,” says Mandy joining me on a ‘perve’ of our neighbour. “I totally get it now,” she says. The sun bounces off his buns causing us to put our shades on. “Shame he’s dressed as Bananaman!” We both howl. The doctor’s on the roof now, unhooking the window latch. He jumps on to the rocking sheep and is in. We all cheer. He holds Sienna up at the window triumphantly.

***

One hour later and we now have one A&E doctor and one toddler stuck in the bedroom. Nick throws his feather-weight at the door but he can’t break it down from that direction.  He yells out of the window that he’s, “going to pass Sienna down off the roof” but all the Mummies have decided that is far too risky.  But Nick wants action, he’s ‘sweating like a paedo in a playground’ (or a toddler’s bedroom) and is ‘bloody late for work’. Mandy helpfully throws bagels at the window and a bottle of water. They all miss.

I call Leviathan. I want an update on the locksmith but ‘Angela’ has no record of the job. “But I booked it with Tiger,” I wail.

Angela: “There’s no one by that name here.”

Me: “Tiger. Scouse guy.”

Angela: “We’re all Scouse, the call centre’s in Liverpool. Hold on, there’s a Tyrone.”

Me: “That’s him!”

Angela: “He said you hung up before you confirmed the job. I’ll book it again but it’ll be another 3-6 hours.”

“But my little girl’s trapped,” I say my bottom lip trembling. I haven’t had breakfast either and can feel my blood sugars plummeting.

Angela: “You do what you need to do Mrs Wilde – I would.”

Me: “What about the door?”

Angela: “Your little girl’s trapped. Sod the door.”

Me: “So I won’t get charged? Because I broke this vintage car on a holiday …”

Angela: “Knock it down.”

Me: “OK.”

I walk up to the bedroom door and remember the time when I was at a ‘Fun Loving Criminals’ afterparty with Captain Dick and Crazy Cath, and the burly black manager of the bar was in the Ladies’ doing loads of coke with some groupies and I suddenly had this really good idea to pretend I was the police. So I kicked the door down and shouted: “THIS IS A RAID!”

And the door flew off its hinges, and the groupies are flushing the gear and suddenly the manager has me by the neck against a wall and is shouting in my face – and I’ll never forget this curious arrangement of words – “You f***ing c*** a** b****!”

It was the poncho-wearing bassist who got him to calm down and let me stay because he said I was just ‘dicking around having a British larfff’. And I strongly agreed with because it was true. I asked him if he was hot in his woollen poncho in mid-August and he said in a smoky rock and roll voice: “Baby, I’m only hot because I’m talking to you.”

I zip up the same thigh high boots I wore that night, don the biker jacket (which will no longer accommodate my bazookas), take a breath and shout. “Stand back Sienna! This is a Raid!” And bam! I kick the door down. But to my horror no-one is there.

I follow a rope made out of sheets down to the ladder and watch as everyone is slapping Dr Nick on the back and cuddling Sienna. This was meant to be my moment and it’s all ruined.

I totter downstairs in my thigh high boots, out into the sunlight. Sienna runs into me with a flying cuddle. “Doctor Nick saved me! And I went on the roof!” I cuddle her tightly.

“You were meant to be in there,” I tell the Doctor.  “I just rescued you. I just kicked the bloody door down and you all missed it.”

“I’d like to have seen that,” says Doctor Nick.

“Why the f***are you dressed like that?” asks Mandy.

The Leviathan van pulls in.  The locksmith follows me up in my sexy boots and I show him Sienna’s door. He’s not sure if I’ll get charged but it definitely seems ‘excessive force’ to him.

The words c*** a** b**** float into my mind again.