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.

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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….”