Coco pinchards big fat t.., p.19
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       Coco Pinchard's Big Fat Tipsy Wedding: A Funny Feel-Good Romantic Comedy, p.19
 

           Robert Bryndza
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  'Oh,' I said. 'You didn’t know? She’s… Well she died.'

  'Shit. When?'

  'I don’t know,' I said. 'I’m the new tenant.'

  'You mean you’re renting this place?’

  'Yes, hello I’m Coco.' I explained how the teeth ended up flying across his garden.

  'Shit, Coco, I’m sorry to give you the judgment. The council keeps sending these idiot Carers and when I saw her yesterday morning she was real frail.'

  'You saw her yesterday?' I said.

  'Yeah, I knew she didn’t have long… She was so nice. Still, it’s for the best.'

  'I moved in yesterday!' I said.

  'Yeah, well you can see how fast property gets snapped up on the London rental market,' he said. He pulled out a tissue and put the teeth in.

  ‘Would you return these to the family. I know she’d hate to be buried without her teeth.’

  I was still stood in shock. Rocco leant out and sniffed the teeth as he placed them in my hand.

  ‘Welcome to the building Coco,' he said. ‘Just shout if you need anything.’ And he bounded up the stairs two at a time and back to his flat.

  I closed the door and looked around my flat with new eyes.

  I have been a bit scared since then, but I suppose people die all the time. I opened the windows and doors after Shane had gone. To make sure Doris isn’t still floating around. I’m glad I’ve got Rocco, but every time I’ve taken a shower I haven’t dared close my eyes.

  Anyway, it’s nothing to moan about, I can’t really justify moaning at all. I have a place to live and I can’t wait to see you again. I love you and I miss you.

  PS Aargh! I just tried to send this email and I’ve discovered the flat has no reception for Internet or mobile phone - I’ve had to come to a coffee place round the corner to email this to you. I will have to work on being connected. I will also make sure I am out walking Rocco during association when you call me on my mobile.

  Love you, always

  C x

  May

  Monday 2nd May 11.14

  TO: submit@prisonlink.net

  EMAIL FOR HM BELMARSH PRISONER −48723 (Adam Rickard)

  Dear Adam

  I am back emailing! I bit the bullet and had a landline and broadband put in, which has blown the budget a little but now you can phone the flat and I can get online. I’d love you to be the first person to phone. My new number is 0207 946 0789.

  I thought long and hard about having it put in because I have quite enjoyed the feeling of being cut off from everything. It’s helped feel like I am experiencing a tiny bit of what you are going through.

  I tried to avoid the Royal Wedding last Friday. Shane from upstairs knocked on the door around eleven in the morning, just as the service was beginning. He had brought me some parsley, coriander, and red chillies from his garden. I’d told him I’ve been attempting to cook.

  ‘Thanks, Shane,’ I said. ‘Aren’t you celebrating?’

  ‘Nah. I’m a Republican,’ he said. ‘I can’t see anything to get excited about with this wedding,’

  ‘Well, I just heard on the radio that Kate’s sister Pippa has a rather scrumptious backside in her bridesmaids dress,’ I said with a smile. ‘You could appreciate that and still be a Republican?’

  ‘Is it on TV?’ he said, suddenly more interested. I told him I don’t have a TV, I just heard it in the radio. He invited me to come and watch, but I said no. I just didn’t want to have to talk about weddings. I had also said no to a street party that Rosencrantz, Wayne, and Oscar were organising, no to visiting Ethel, and a big no to Meryl. She had a viewing party and used it to re-launch Watson Funerals Ltd. They’re now called Funeral Pieces, a play on Carole Middleton’s company, Party Pieces.

  What’s more disturbing is that www.funeralpieces.co.uk got so many hits on its first day that it crashed.

  Chris phoned on my mobile when I was out walking Rocco this morning. He sounded odd at first, asking why I hadn’t been in contact for a couple of weeks. I said he hadn’t been in contact either. There was a silence.

  'I’ve been worried about you Cokes, but I didn’t know what to say… I’m sorry.'

  'Its fine,' I said and explained about my lack of signal, that I have moved to a new flat.

  'Yes, Rosencrantz tells me its like a Granny flat — but the Granny dropped dead and now they’re renting it out to you!’

  'The bed was still warm Chris, that was how quickly they rented it out.' He laughed and I realised how much I missed him.

  'Hey! Why don’t we go out for a drink?' he said. 'I really want to take you to the Champagne bar at St. Pancras, it’s got the longest bar in Europe with the hottest bartenders, whom, I’m reliably informed have the longest…'

  'I can’t Chris… Did Rosencrantz tell you I only have sixty-nine pounds a week to spend.'

  'I’ve never heard the phrase sixty-nine used in a more depressing sentence… No worries, it’ll be my treat.'

  ‘No. I want to see you but I’ve made this vow to stand on my own two feet. You’ve done so much for me. Why don’t you come and see the flat, I could cook something.’

  'Cook something? What can you cook?' he said.

  ‘I’m teaching myself. It’ll be something yummy,’ I lied. ‘Come on… I’ve missed you.'

  'What about Marika?'

  'What about her?'

  ‘Well she lives just down the road from you…’

  'She hasn’t phoned me,' I shot back.

  'She’s been asking about you.’

  ‘But she hasn’t phoned me!’

  'Okay… Okay, Shall we say, eight?'

  It felt weird when I got off the phone, like our dynamic has changed. I racked my brain as to what I could cook. I didn’t tell him I’ve had several disasters, and wrecked several saucepans when food became hopelessly burnt and welded onto the bottom. I also thought the flat could do with a little ambience. I have no lamps — just a single sixty-watt bulb in each room.

  I came to the edge of Hilly Fields common where Rocco was having a poo. I pulled a bag out of the new dog-do dispenser the Council has installed. The bags are hopeless, they are huge and made of thin white paper, and there’s this weird square of cardboard in the bottom. Its like trying to pick up shit with a Chinese paper lantern. Then I realised I had solved the ambience problem in the flat. I grabbed a handful of the dog-do bags. On the way home, we stopped in at the off-licence. I bought two bottles of a £1.49 white wine and a litre of value lemonade (29p). I added a big bag of value crisps (49p) and two avocados, which have been rolling around in a cardboard box under the awning outside for the past week (only slightly black and now reduced to 9p each).

  I came home, and mashed them up with some cottage cheese and some of the chilies from Shane. I took my doggy-do bags, dotted them around, and lit a tea light in each. Just when it was getting dark, Chris rang the bell.

  'Oh my god!' he said coming into the flat. 'This place its idyllic!’

  It’s strange how the right lighting can set the mood. The tea lights seemed to add mystique and excitement to my staid surroundings.

  'This is breathtaking Coco,' he said as we moved from the gloaming in the living room to the concrete outside. The tea lights on the ground had a weird effect. It was very dark, so you couldn’t see much of the tall fences. You just saw the space they cut out in the sky above, so there was a kind of glowing platform with an oblong of starry sky.

  I poured him an ice-cold 29p spritzer and brought out my green 18p guacamole garnished with a couple of Shane’s shiny red chilies.

  ‘What’s this wine?’ he said.

  ‘It’s from a local organic vineyard,’ I lied.

  ’It’s beautiful!' he said. ‘And this dip! Wow! It’s like a taste of Morocco!'

  ‘Yeah, its from the local farmer’s market…’

  Despite my blatant lies, he was right, it all tasted wonderful. The question is, what have I been spending a fortune on over the years of entertaining? All the thirty
quid bottles of wine, and equally expensive Waitrose sharing platters?

  I brought out the sofa cushions, and we sat under the stars on the little concrete strip with Rocco sleeping at our feet. We talked rubbish, smoked, and drank. It was lovely. He had a wonderful time directing the plays at the Rabbit Hutch theatre in Devon. He wants me and Marika to visit Devon, and see at least one of them, but I don’t know. I would need to find a dog sitter and some money, and Marika and me aren’t speaking,

  ‘Just think about it,’ he said. ‘It could be the thing that gets you two back together.’

  He stayed for a few hours, and then took a cab home. He has really cut down a lot on his drinking, and seems so much happier. I hope he gets another job soon to keep it all going.

  The next morning something odd happened. I came through to feed Rocco, and there on the carpet in front of the huge bookshelf was a photo of you and me. I hadn’t seen it in ages. It was taken in the bar of the Carnegie Theatre at the Edinburgh Festival after the last performance of Chasing Diana Spencer: The Musical. I didn’t even remember bringing the picture with me when we moved out of Marylebone. I looked at the shelves but I haven’t put any of my stuff on them yet, and I have just one folder of paperwork, and besides all of my photos of you are in my wallet or on my phone.

  I picked up my new landline and called Chris to ask what time he left last night.

  'Um, about ten thirty,' he said wearily. 'Why?'

  ‘Were we that drunk?’ I said.

  ‘Not really... I think I only had three drinks which is unprecedented!’

  ‘Did we look at any photos?’

  ‘No…’

  I paused.

  ‘Okay,’ I said. ‘Just wanted to make sure you got home safely.’

  'Okay, love you,' he said. 'What time is it?'

  'Just after nine.’

  ‘Ugh. I’m going back to sleep. Oh, just one other thing, you must remember to give me the details of that organic vineyard you got the wine from.’ I crossed my fingers and promised I would, and then he hung up. I looked at the picture again. I cannot work out how it got there.

  I’m just sitting up writing to you now with all the lights on. A little bit scared to go to bed and missing you like crazy. Especially your hot naked body in my bed.

  All my love - Coco xxx

  Wednesday 4th May 11.14

  TO: chris@christophercheshire.com

  Adam phoned last night and said he has been moved to a communal cell. He is now sharing with a Category A prisoner who is serving life for triple murder. His cellmate is called Kip, he is twenty and has a long shaggy beard. The only food he will eat is Dairylea cheese triangles.

  Kip apparently asks all of the other prisoners on their wing to give him their cheese triangles in return for a cigarette or doing their laundry. Adam has been handing over his from lunch and dinner for the last couple of days in return for use of Kip’s radio.

  ‘He just stares at me,’ said Adam. ‘Whatever I’m doing, he just stares, chewing his cheese triangles. He saves the foil wrappers in his pocket and when he’s finished eating, he goes to his bed and counts them.’

  ‘Are you on the top or bottom bunk?’ I said. I don’t know if this made any difference. I presumed the top would at least be a bit better.

  ‘Bottom,’ said Adam. I did my best to calm him down, but what do I know? I know nothing of what it is like for him. He said he was scared, and then he was cut off. I hope it was because his phone card ran out.

  Does your Dad know anyone influential who could speed up Adam’s transfer?

  Coco x

  Thursday 5th May 21.23

  TO: chris@christophercheshire.com

  I just spoke to Adam, his phone card did run out. He said that this evening, during association, when all the prisoners mingle out of their cells, Kip attacked another prisoner with a knife. He just calmly walked up behind a prisoner who was playing Snooker, and sunk it into the side of his neck. Luckily the guards intervened quickly, Kip is now in solitary confinement, and the prisoner who was stabbed is stable in the hospital wing. And the knife? It was painstakingly fashioned from thousands of foil wrappers from the Dairylea cheese triangles.

  Adam was trying to stay calm but said he spent two nights in the same cell as Kip, and that it could have been him who was stabbed.

  'You don’t know that,' I said.

  'I do know that. This guy playing Snooker had no beef with Kip, it seems random.'

  'Your even using prison slang now!' I said, then apologised.

  I told him your Dad has had a word with the Governor of Belmarsh Prison and that fingers crossed a transfer should be imminent.

  Thank you - Coco x

  Monday 9th May 11.12

  TO: chris@christophercheshire.com

  After a weekend of waiting, I had heard nothing from Adam. I had stupidly googled prison stories and found one where a prisoner sharpened his toilet brush into a weapon and stabbed his cellmate. I was expecting a call to say that the worst has happened, that Kip had returned…

  Then this morning I found a letter on the mat with Belmarsh written on the envelope. It said Adam has been transferred to HMP Cambria Sands, a Category D Prison in Norfolk.

  I also received a hastily written letter from Adam to say he had arrived at Cambria Sands, but hasn’t been able to phone. He has to wait to be issued with a phone card.

  Apparently, he had a knock on his cell door early on Saturday and was told he was being transferred. Adam said he duly packed away his things in a plastic bag, including the Radio belonging to the Dairylea Stabber (his words not mine).

  It was a three and a half hour journey in the heat, with no water, to HMP Cambria Sands, which is just up the coast from Cromer. He says the new place is much more relaxed. It’s an old converted manor house by the sea. The inmates (of which there are only 149) all have their own cell. There is a gym and the food is better. He is now an additional 130 miles away, but life for him should be a lot better and for that I am thankful.

  You are the best Chris. Can I have your father’s phone number to thank him?

  Coco xxx

  Wednesday 11th May 15.14

  TO: submit@prisonlink.net

  EMAIL FOR HMP CAMBRIA SANDS PRISONER −AG26754 (Adam Rickard)

  I finally got your visitor’s order. I am coming to see you on Friday! I have booked the train, and I should be there around eleven.

  I phoned Chris’ father to say thank you for helping with your transfer.

  'Not a problem Coco my dear,’ he said. ‘I’ve known the Governor of Belmarsh for years, old Wedgie Mc Duggan.’

  ‘Wedgie?’

  ‘Well, he’s Reginald or Reggie… he has a soft ‘R’ so he was Wedgie when we were at Eton. Poor bugger couldn’t get down the corridors without someone giving him a… a…’

  ‘Wedgie?’ I said.

  ‘Yes…’ he guffawed. 'How’s that silk of yours doing?' (He was referring to Natasha.) I told him that she has drawn a blank, an expensive blank.

  'Ah, terrible business it all is,' he said. 'And how is Adam?’ I began to tell him but he said another call was coming through and he would have to go, but first Chris’ sister Rebecca wanted to talk to me. I heard some pips as I was being transferred and Rebecca answered.

  ‘Hello Coco,' she squeaked. 'Christopher saw Mummy and me for lunch yesterday and was telling us all about your snug little bijou!' I had to rack my brain and then I realised he must have told her about the poo bag tea lights.

  'I’ve got something here that may interest you,’ she said. ‘We just took a stand down that we were running at the Ideal Home Exhibition and we have a string of fairy lights and some other bits and bobs left over. Maybe you want them for your little garden?'

  It felt distinctly like charity, but I thought a row of fairy lights would be nice, so I said okay.

  'Super Coco, give me your address and I’ll get one of the chaps to deliver.' I said that posting the stuff would be fine but she insisted.

/>   That afternoon I was cleaning the bedroom when the door buzzer went. Four guys were stood outside in Cheshire Ltd boiler suits. They introduced themselves and said they were making a delivery. I opened the back door for them and went back to my hoovering. After half an hour, I was wondering why they hadn’t said goodbye. I came through to the back door, and stared. The concrete strip had been cleared, and lush and very realistic fake grass had been laid. Above it, a long net canopy of LED fairy lights hung fastened on poles.

  It was a garden.

  ‘How much will this cost?’ I asked suddenly panicking. The guys looked up from fastening the last corner down of the fake grass.

  'Nothing,' said one of them. ‘This was all meant for landfill. You should see the lovely gear we have to throw away. Do you want some plants?'

  They took me out to a lorry that was filled with all of the leftovers from corporate events and private parties. I spent the next half an hour choosing freebies. I came away with some long trays of soil with real bamboo shoots, which were around waist height, four tall Yuccas in lovely earthenware pots, and three tiny cherry trees still with pink blossom.

  The real coup was the seating! Have you seen those kind of low squishy outdoor chairs that are all the rage? I got two large white ones (they were branded all over with the words MOET & CHANDON) I also got a matching low table.

  When they had carted it all through the house for me, I didn’t know what to say. I had little money left from my budget for a decent tip, so I gave them each a bottle of £1.49 wine.

 
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