The coco pinchard boxset.., p.10
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       The Coco Pinchard Boxset: 5 bestselling romantic comedies in one!, p.10

           Robert Bryndza

  “There, now you can see,” she said, closing the door.

  It was a squash for the three of us between the single beds and it stunk of urine. A small window overlooked a square of concrete, which had once been the garden.

  “I would need you to write me a cheque today, for six months in advance,” said Miss Jeanie hopefully. “There is a queue of people wanting the room.”

  Ethel’s face crumpled. I couldn’t leave her there.

  Friday 3rd April 10.31

  TO: [email protected]

  I came down this morning to find the kitchen awash with shoes and material. Christian and Rosencrantz are frantically finishing the costumes for Rosencrantz’s play, which opens tonight.

  As I put the kettle on, I noticed Christian sticking a Swastika onto a jacket with his hot glue gun. I realised that with everything that has been going on, I know nothing about this play.

  I asked if Ethel would enjoy it, as she wants to come along too.

  “Course!” said Rosencrantz. “It’s all about stuff in the Second World War.”

  I left them to it. After the shock of seeing Miss Jeanie’s wotsit on television, Ethel will enjoy a wartime story. Do you want to come? Marika has parents evening.

  Friday 3rd April 23.36

  TO: [email protected]

  Just back from Rosencrantz’s play. I say play, it was called Anne Frank: Reloaded. What a shocker. Rosencrantz played Anne Frank! For a story set during World War II, there were an awful lot of disco tracks. Ethel looked very confused. She had been looking forward to singing along to ‘Roll Out The Barrel’. I watched most of it through my fingers.

  It was fairly faithful to historical fact until the wall behind the wardrobe slid open, a huge disco-ball descended from the ceiling and lots of male Nazis burst out with their tops off. Then Anne and the rest of the Franks escaped in a giant glittery roller skate, made from a shopping trolley, which rolled into Berlin and squashed Hitler.

  I had made a big thing about wanting to come backstage and say hello afterwards. It hadn’t entered my mind that the play might be awful. We waded through the throng in the student bar and found Rosencrantz amongst some fawning luvvies. Everyone was telling him what an amazing piece of theatre it was, and most vocal in his praise was the drama school principal, Artemis Wise. He was red in the face and obviously pissed.

  When he saw me, he slammed down his Campari shouting, “It’s Mum! What did you think, Mum? Don’t keep mum, Mum!”

  I didn’t know what to say. I said it was a spectacle.

  “You mean specta-cu-lar,” he laughed, flashing the bits of crisps in his fillings. “Your son is going to be a huge star!”

  Christian saw my face and I gave him an awkward smile. Artemis leant forward to ruffle Rosencrantz’s hair, but slipped off his bar stool. The students rushed to help him up, and I used the diversion to leave. Luckily, I had the excuse of taking Ethel home. She’d had a bit of a turn. I think being pinged in the eye by a G-string emblazoned with a Swastika did it. The last time she saw Rosencrantz act was in 1986 when he was a chick in Mother Goose. All he did then was pop out of a papier-mâché egg and do a little dance.

  We drove home. Chris had stayed on to chat to the actors (mainly the ones in the G-strings). I made Ethel a cup of Bovril to steady her nerves, and then Rosencrantz and Christian came home to pick up some wine for their first-night party.

  “What did you think, Mum?” he said excitedly. “I wrote the script.”

  I asked him why he had picked such a controversial subject. He said I had inspired him to reimagine historical events with Chasing Diana Spencer.

  “I’ve read your mum’s book,” said Ethel putting ice on her eye. “She told a good story… I’ve not seen such a load of crap since the BBC put Eldorado on… And that Chris, ‘e won’t need to buy a dirty mag for at least a fortnight!”

  “It wasn’t that bad,” I said, seeing Rosencrantz’s face drop.

  “Oh,” he said. “Not that bad?”

  There was a horrible pause. I looked at Christian for help but he looked away. I thought, should I treat him as an adult and tell him the truth? On the other hand, lie and tell him it was wonderful? I decided to be honest.

  “You were very good in it,” I said, “but I thought it was, well… cheap, sensationalism.”

  Rosencrantz’s eyes filled up.

  “Well, we’ve sold out!” he said. “I bet you couldn’t do that!”

  He straightened his Anne Frank wig and stormed out. Christian followed, stopping to hug me and saying, “I told him that the G-strings were too much, but he wouldn’t listen.”

  “You need to nip this acting lark in the bud before he ends up in the gutter,” said Ethel. “Stripper Nazis! If you’d walloped ‘im once in a while, I’d never ‘ave ‘ad to sit through two hours of stripper Nazis.”

  I went into the garden for a cigarette. I wish Daniel were here. Being a parent is a two-man job.

  Saturday 4th April 21.00

  TO: [email protected]

  Did you stay at Christian’s? I feel very upset about last night. I decided to tell you the truth because I want to respect you as a fellow artist, but I should have worded it differently. It’s partly my fault. I came along in the same frame of mind as I used to with your primary school nativity plays.

  I thought there was some very strong dialogue and I am proud of you. And remember, it’s the first thing you have written. If I think back to the first thing I ever wrote, it wasn’t nearly as good as Anne Frank: Reloaded.

  Now, this next bit is from your nan, it’s all her words, typed herself with one finger. She missed Britain’s Got Talent to write this.

  all right boy,

  If bein close to death nots never taught me nothing its that you dont get a second chance, I dont want to spend any more time fallen out with you. When I was a lass I didn’t have half the things you have. At your age I had to go out and wok. If Id ave told my old mum I wanted to be an actress she would ave walloped me and sent me down the clap clinic. I’m sorry I ad a go at you. I was just shocked my little Rosencrantz could be in such a blue play. But i has to realise the world as changed and you were only doing whats the fashion these days, to be a bit blue. if you do another play. You should watch Dads Army, they never said nothing rude and still had us rolling in the isles.

  Your granddad wasnt a looker like you. He could ave eaten an apple through a picket fence, but I loved the old git. did you know when he died wed had a row that morning? he stormed out, and that afternoon a bus squashed him. Id give anything to ave made up with im before he died. Come home, look both ways when you cross the road, and I will give you a big hug.

  Yer Nan xx

  Saturday 4th April 22.33

  TO: [email protected]

  Rosencrantz came home after his show with a big bunch of flowers for me, and some pork scratchings for Ethel. They had a standing ovation for the performance tonight, led by the principal. He is thrilled with the play. A member of the Arts Council is coming to see it and they are hoping for an increase in funding for the school.

  Sunday 5th April 15.46

  TO: [email protected]

  Christian was making us pancakes this morning when Ethel clacked in on her walking frame with a copy of The Mail On Sunday between her teeth. She showed us a small article tucked away on page thirty-seven called ‘Wicked Whispers’, where they dish dirt on people in the public eye. It read:

  Rumour has it that despite a million pound Arts Council cash injection, North London-based drama school, The Dramatic Movement Conservatoire, is in financial trouble. However, help could be at hand from the student body, in particular the muscled torso of theatrically named Rosencrantz Pinchard, writer and star of Anne Frank: Reloaded. Sir Ian McKellen and Graham Norton, both financial donors in the past, are said to be attending tonight’s performance with pockets bulging.

  At Wicked Whispers, we wonder where Rosencrantz did his Second
World War research. Maybe from his mother, the author Coco Pinchard? Her debut novel, Chasing Diana Spencer, went down like a V2 bomb!

  Ethel was the only one who laughed at the V2 bomb reference. Rosencrantz gave me a hug and Christian put a lot of Grand Marnier on my pancakes.

  Monday 6th April 15.44

  TO: [email protected]

  Ian McKellen and Graham Norton didn’t show up. Apparently, the principal went very pale when he saw the empty seats. I asked Rosencrantz how the school could be having financial difficulties. There are three hundred students all paying eight grand per year.

  Since The Daily Mail mentioned Anne Frank: Reloaded, Ethel has changed her opinion, calling it “a masterpiece” and “better than Cats”. I reminded her she has never seen Cats.

  “Well, I saw Elaine Paige sing ‘Memory’ for a girl in a wheelchair on Cilla Black’s Surprise Surprise,” she huffed. “I got the gist.”

  Wednesday 8th April 22.44

  TO: [email protected]

  At eight this morning a journalist called Eva Castle knocked on the door. She said she was from The Daily Mail. She said she had nothing to do with the ‘Wicked Whispers’ piece the other day and that she wants to do a nice fun piece on up and coming faces, and having a mother and son angle would be a great story.

  We chatted for twenty minutes, then she asked if she could come back later with a photographer for a proper interview. Good job because at 8am my face was hardly up and coming.

  I spent all day thinking about what to wear and what to say. Rosencrantz rushed home from classes at six, but Eva Castle hasn’t come back or phoned. I hope she hasn’t been run over. The junction at the end of the road is very dicey.

  Thursday 9th April 10.09

  TO: [email protected]

  I wish Eva Castle had been run over.

  On page seventeen of The Daily Mail, there is a big article about Rosencrantz’s drama school. It seems the principal, Artemis Wise, has embezzled five hundred thousand pounds! There is a sidepiece about how star pupil Rosencrantz Pinchard tried to save the school with his own self-penned play, and how he has risen above hardship despite his “broken home”.

  The broken home part is expanded on in another section, devoted to my literary downfall. There are quotes from Regina Battenberg who says I am “unpredictable”. And Dorian, who says he had to let me go because I am a “loose cannon”. Anne Brannigan was “unavailable for comment”, stupid cow. They have used an awful picture, taken yesterday morning of me, eyes half-closed in my dressing gown with a cigarette. Someone must have been loitering in the bushes with a zoom lens when Eva Castle and I were talking.

  Rosencrantz was turned away this morning. The Dramatic Movement Conservatoire has closed a day early for Easter due to “an internal investigation”. Artemis Wise has gone missing.

  Thursday 9th April 15.56

  TO: [email protected]

  Yes, it was me. I was set up. Chris has been here answering the phone. People I haven’t spoken to in years have been ringing saying they recognise me. This is offensive, considering the picture. Even Regan Turnbull rang! She gets The Daily Mail in Spain. One positive thing is that she has taken the awful picture of me off her Facebook profile.

  Rosencrantz just asked where I’ve put his suitcase. I forgot he and Christian are off to see Daniel tomorrow in Los Angeles. Meryl also phoned to arrange the collection of Ethel for Easter. Tony hates driving into London, so has asked if we can meet at Junction 23 of the M25 for the handover. She didn’t mention the article; she only gets The Daily Mail for the Sudoku, which she does whilst her egg boils in the morning.

  Friday 10th April 21.24

  TO: [email protected]

  I dropped off Rosencrantz and Christian this morning at Heathrow. When they were queuing up for check-in, a group of pensioners in front started to whisper and nudge and a little wizened old man came shuffling over.

  “Yes, it was me in The Daily Mail,” I said irritably.

  However, he pulled a copy of Chasing Diana Spencer out of his coat and asked me to sign it. I blushed and apologised, scrawling my name, but my happiness was short-lived. When he tottered back to the group, I heard him say, “See, I told you it wasn’t Margaret from The Apprentice.”

  I must get rid of these glasses, it happens every time I forget to put on makeup.

  “Enjoy yourself with Dad,” I said, as I gave Rosencrantz a goodbye hug.

  “We’re just going for the free accommodation!” said Rosencrantz cheekily. He kissed me and skipped off to security.

  “I’ll look after him,” promised Christian and he hugged me goodbye.

  I drove home then came straight out again with Ethel. She didn’t want to go. It is, apparently, more fun at my house. At Meryl’s, there is no Sky but there are strict bedtimes and meals have to be eaten at the table. Her face went white when Tony pulled up at the motorway services. He had brought the hearse. He said Meryl hadn’t come with him, as the only way they can legally carry a third passenger in a hearse is if they are lying in the coffin. Ethel was relieved. She has been put in the coffin on previous journeys, and even with the lid off it’s not comfortable.

  The house feels so empty. I cannot believe I am saying this, but I think I miss Ethel, just a little bit. I’m watching a repeat of The Apprentice. I look nothing like Margaret Mountford. It must be the glasses.

  Friday 10th April 23.00

  TO: [email protected], [email protected]

  I came out of the shower to a missed call. A literary agent called Angie Langford from the BMX Literary Agency had left a message. She saw The Daily Mail article, which prompted her to read Chasing Diana Spencer. She would like to meet after Easter for a chat about representation! I just Googled the agency; they are HUGE. They don’t call today Good Friday for nothing.

  Sunday 12th April 10.47

  TO: [email protected]

  Happy Easter love. I am pleased you are having a nice time with Dad, and that LA is hot. I think you needed a bit of time together after all that’s happened.

  I haven’t done much since you left. Chris and Marika came over for a pizza last night and we watched Britain’s Got Talent. We had quite a heated debate about one of the contestants, Susan Boyle. Marika believes that Simon Cowell, Piers Morgan and Amanda Holden must have known that she could sing beforehand, but Chris said they all looked genuinely shocked.

  I was inclined to agree with him. I remember watching Amanda Holden in Cutting It, and acting was never her strong point.

  I have a meeting with a literary agent on Tuesday!

  Tuesday 14th April 12.43

  TO: [email protected], [email protected]

  I went to the BMX Literary Agency this morning. Angie Langford has an office with an amazing view over Shaftesbury Avenue. The Palace Theatre dominates the window behind her desk, so when Angie was sat in her chair, the big white stiletto for Priscilla Queen Of The Desert looked like it was balancing on top of her head. She is very short, very tough and dresses head to toe in designer suits.

  The first thing she did was offer me a cigarette. When I took one and lit up, she looked delighted. She said that she only works with smokers, and she cannot be friends with non-smokers either.

  “What’s your brand?” she said.

  I told her Marlboro Lights. This seemed to delight her even more as her brand is Marlboro Red.

  “That’s good, you won’t be nicking my fags when we’re at award ceremonies. What’s your emergency brand?”

  “I’m sorry?” I said.

  “What do you buy when you’re skint?”

  “Raffles, Richmond, occasionally a John Player Special.”

  “Good,” she said. “We can help each other out then. There’s nothing worse than no spare change and no bloody fags.”

  I think I passed her test. She sat back and put her feet on the desk. She was wearing the tiniest pair of J
immy Choos. Then we spoke about Chasing Diana Spencer.

  “I loved it,” she said. “Genius. Ignore those bastards at the Anne and Michael Book Club. She is an alcoholic.”

  I said I was shocked to hear this.

  “They had to scrape her off the floor with a fucking snow shovel at the end of last year’s Costa Coffee Book Awards … and it wasn’t cos she was drinking Costa coffee.”

  I asked why everyone was so protective over her.

  “Anne and Michael are the Mafia of the book world,” she said. “No popular fiction or non-fiction becomes a best seller without his or her say so. You’re lucky all you lost is a book deal…”

  I had visions of Anne and Michael Brannigan creeping into my house with a torch and putting a book about horses in my bed.

  “So,” she said. “You got another book in you?”

  I said I had, and I opened a folder I had brought full of ideas.

  “Put it away,” said Angie. “Let’s have a glass of champagne to celebrate. You can deliver me an outline in three weeks… I’ll tout it around and get us a nice fat advance.”

  As the cork popped, I felt shocked. Should it be that easy? I have an agent! I must get cracking on the new proposal.

  Friday 17th April 17.45

  TO: [email protected]

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