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. 🙈

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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….”