|Orange Flowers in Silver Vase ©Tracey Edges|
Saturday, 30 June 2012
PIGY 8 – The Wrap-Dress, The Boors and Mel Brookes
The White Hart had filled up and I didn’t want to lose my seat so, after a few self-conscious flappings of my hand, I caught the attention of the barman. With the universal sign for a drink you have to remember to twist your hand backwards and forwards and not go up and down or that would give out a whole different message, entirely, and probably cause you some trouble. After an enthusiastic, hopeful smile he brought me another pint. I do appreciate a bit of helpful service so bought him one too.
Mr. Blackwell and his three partners in crime, had, by this time, knocked back quite a few pints and were, rather usefully, getting louder. Rather un-usefully though they were being really boring and just bitching about what cars the accountancy partners had given themselves as that year’s bonus.
I switched off a little and listened to the sonorous tones drifting over me from the small stage in the back corner. The beautiful singer was of Jamaican descent and her long braided hair tumbled down to her amble bum which was ensconced in the tightest caramel-coloured, cashmere, wrap-dress, imaginable. She looked absolutely stunning and made the stage glow with her presence. When she opened her mouth, all around, melted into the music.
MarcieD was a good friend and I tried to melt into my booth and not attract attention to myself. I couldn’t help mouthing along to my favourite song though – ironically titled “Too Much War.” I wondered if I could get MarcieD on board to be part of the crew on the good ship PIGY. It may be worth an ask as she tended to be available in the daytimes, well afternoons anyway. She’d be no good for surveillance though – no way that MarcieD could ever blend in anywhere.
Just as they were getting too loud and utterly boorish, I heard;
“Come on, then – I’m bored here. Let’s find somewhere a bit livelier...” The implication hung in the air, on a pole. Three out of four were up for it but Mr. Blackwell had decided to stay.
“Miserable sod,” the others jostled him. “All too much for you mate – heh heh?!”
“Just go,” he said, “It’ll all be sorted soon and then I can breathe.”
They carried on waving and jeering and making the universal sign, that wasn’t asking for a drink, as they loudly crashed through the door onto Bethlehem Street in search of non-intellectual activity.
I saw Hot Toddy, quickly knock back what was left of her cocktail and swivel slowly on her stool so she was facing Mr. Blackwell.
“Ooh, you look miserable,” she purred. “I’m just about to have another one. Would you like one to cheer yourself up?” He briefly wondered if she was a prostitute but then received a blast of class and wealth and instantly dismissed that thought.
“Sorry,” he said
“Sorry?” she said. “Sorry for what?”
“Oh, erm nothing,” he spluttered. Realising, with horror, that his thoughts had slipped into his words. “Let me. What would you like?”
Drinks in hand, they got chatting about all and nothing. He was leaning towards her but not in a flirty way. Several drinks down the line and he was feeling the need to unburden. I saw Hot Toddy’s arm go round him and, in one way I was glad that he was getting stuck in but also sad that a lovely woman like Amanda was being treated quite so shabbily. Maybe he needed to change his friends. I couldn’t see the boy wonders being a great influence on anyone really.
Suddenly, Hot Toddy laughed, punched Mr. Blackwell, in a matey way and turned round to me with a massive gleaming white toothy smile and waved me over.
Ooh, that wasn’t what I was expecting, at all.
“Hey!” I smiled quizzically at her, glancing at him out of the corner of my eye. He was also laughing and looking concerned all at the same time.
“Bit of a mix up here,” she said.
“I feel terrible,” he said. “Poor Amanda.” “Oh God I hope she’ll forgive me.”
“What???! I practically screamed with frustration. “WHAT???”
“She means so much to me and we’re so busy I just thought it would be such a lovely surprise. I really didn’t know it would be so hard to lie to her though. It’s doing my head in.”
“WHAT???” I did yell this time. MarcieD glanced over with a bit of a fierce frown but when she saw it was only me and my big mouth, she gave me a big wave instead. I mouthed a silent, this time, “Sorry” in her direction.
Hot Toddy took over the conversation:
“Turns out, this chap here is a great big softie really.” I tried to instantly turn my opinion round of this ‘beast’. Nope, I needed more information first – I’d had to deal with the copious snotty tissues.
“The blonde in the car park. That was Mel Brookes.” No, not the old male version, (American film director, screenwriter, composer, lyricist, comedian, actor, producer), but the English Daytime TV presenter with the addition of an ‘e’ in Brookes. “She was picking up the house keys, while Amanda was at work, so they could do some secret filming for “We’ll Do Your New House Up”, a new programme where they decorate your new house and move you in without you knowing anything about it. Surprise Surprise!”
It was a surprise to me, I didn’t really know what to say for a second.
“What about your Dirty Weekend?” I asked.
“That was with Amanda,” he laughed. To get her out of the way while they did the work and moved us into the new house. I didn’t realise it would take so long to organize. It’s taken months and I hate lying to her. It’s been killing me.”
Houston, we have a problem. What to do about Amanda. I wanted to make her feel better. I knew how miserable she was feeling and didn’t want to prolong her agony for another second. On the other hand, I’d already shown her the footage, I’d taken, of Mel hugging her husband. Oh poo, what a to-do.
MarcieD finished her set and headed over to us. I sheepishly told her our tale of woe, after buying her a sorry-I-yelled-during-your-song drink.
When she finished bouncing her deep laughter, also sonorous, off all the walls, she did have the decency to cringe.
“How long is it for now?”
“Just a few days. I take her away on Friday evening and we come back Sunday teatime. Feels like forever though. How am I going to do this when she thinks I’m cheating on her?” He put his head in his hands, once more and we all dived in to pat him vigorously. Poor chap – in angst and being beaten to death.
“Damage limitation,” said MarcieD. “Tracey, you tell Amanda that he was morally upstanding and Hot Toddy couldn’t make him stick to her at all, however much honey she oozed. You,” she fixed her glare on him,” need to stop worrying, as that’s not helping anything.”
He looked sheepish, then at his feet, then in his drink then at us three.
“You’re right,” he acquiesced. “All this was supposed to be for Amanda and I’ve made it all about me and now I’ve upset her. Oh, God, I really didn’t mean to. I’ll take her a lovely bunch of flowers home.
“NO!” said MarcieD. “Do NOT go over the top or she’ll just wonder even more. Just be normally nice. Will you have to communicate any more with the production crew?”
“No. That’s it now. Giving the keys to Mel, was the last thing I really needed to do. We’re completing on the new house on Friday, Amanda thinks it’s all happening on Monday, but the crew will pick up the new house keys then, from the Estate Agents.”
“Good,” I said. “So no more texts, phone calls, nipping out. That will help. Does Amanda know she’s going away?”
“Yes, but she thinks we’re going to her sister’s. Just as a breather before next week. It’s her sister’s birthday on Sunday so that made me able to persuade her. The Television Company have actually paid for a lovely Country House Hotel, that part was going to be the surprise.” He looked crestfallen as it sunk in how dreadfully wrong it had all gone.
“Don’t worry you’ve got Grimsby’s answer to Charlie’s Angels on your side.” We all assumed a pose from the film poster. It was so smooth and slick you’d have thought we’d done it before. Oh, ok, maybe we had. He laughed.
“That’s better,” I smiled at him. “I’ll ring Amanda in a minute tell her the good news re Hot Toddy. We can’t really do anything about the Mel incident, except not mention it. Thank goodness she didn’t recognise her. Work on being as normally nice as you possibly can tonight and tomorrow. When you get to the hotel tomorrow evening you can blame any subterfuge on arranging that ‘romantic’ surprise for her and hopefully she will believe you. Make up something about it being complicated because you had some vouchers, or something, and they kept ringing you to sort it out. That should at least make her wonder if she was wrong. Flowers, and Champagne, in the room, there, may be a good idea though. Oh, and explain all to her sister and have her in on the surprise so she can laugh at any suspicions Amanda may confide to her. I think that’s covered everything. Good luck!”
Sunday teatime Hot Toddy, MarcieD and I were in the semi-circle mass of people surrounding the camera crew filming Amanda and, erm, Mr Blackwell’s house. I hadn’t realised that she hadn’t ever said his name. It was all ‘my husband’, either owning the connection or spitting it out.
Amanda loved the surprise. Even the somewhat dodgy wallpapers used. I think she loved the relief even more. Her sooty eyes, once again stood up to the tears. Thankfully, these were happier ones and thankfully she gave Mel the used tissues.
Mel, ever the consummate professional, managed to keep her didn’t-we-do-well, whiter-than-white smile.