The not so secret emails.., p.2
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       The Not So Secret Emails Of Coco Pinchard (A Romantic Comedy), p.2
 

           Robert Bryndza
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Window Box Winemaking has stayed at number one in The Times non-fiction charts for the sixth consecutive week. Regina Battenberg is on the cover of the Saturday Review with Oz Clarke. In the picture, they are on her balcony in Croydon, enjoying a glass of her Croydon Beaujolais. Regina is wearing a Tiara — who does she think she is?

  I had prayed that Chasing Diana Spencer would hit the top ten, but no, nothing. However, my agent Dorian text to say that I have just broken the WH Smith Fiction Top 100 at number one hundred. Meryl and Rosencrantz offered to come along and see it on the shelf.

  We walked round to the little WH Smith at Marylebone Station but their book chart only went up to number fifty. Then Rosencrantz was contacted via Facebook via his iPhone to meet up with friends, so Meryl asked if I fancied riding the Tandem to the branch in Holborn.

  After overcoming the thought that people might see us as a couple of mad lesbians, I loved being the passenger. Meryl expertly steered us across London, shooting down alleyways, across parks and through little quaint streets I’d never seen before.

  Meryl made me pose for a photo next to a small pile of Chasing Diana Spencer, and even distracted a sales assistant whilst I swapped them with a load of Ruth Rendell mysteries on the recommended read shelf. Then she took me to Starbucks.

  “This coffee isn’t exactly all celebratory Coco,” she said eyeing me over the top of her Frappuccino, before arranging her features into a smile, which always makes her look a bit like Margaret Thatcher.

  “You should let Daniel go and do this windy whistle show.”

  “Whistle UP The Wind.” I said.

  “You know he has issues about being breadwinner,” she said. “And the house.”

  “This. Again.” I groaned.

  “Your parents left you a very nice house Coco, he can never compete, he could never get you that himself. You know I looked up a house like yours on the Internet. A million pounds it was selling for!”

  “It’s our house.” I said. “It’s always been our house.”

  “All I’m saying is it must always be a knock to his… Manhood.” I didn’t like her knowing use of the word manhood. I wanted to tell her that the tiny Penis on Christmas Day did NOT represent Daniel, but it felt awkward. Meryl and myself are not exactly Sex And The City girls.

  “Look, it was never about me not letting him do this job,” I said. “He should do a job he loves. He just makes bad business decisions.”

  Meryl excused herself and went to the loo. A minute later my phone went. It was Daniel.

  “I’ve just heard you made the WH Smith Chart,” he said. “Congratulations!”

  “Thank you,” I said suspiciously. “So we’re talking now?”

  “Course we are,” he said. “Look Cokes. You know that feeling you have about getting in the charts? That’s the feeling I get at the thought of launching Whistle Up The Wind.”

  There was a silence.

  “And, Tony just texted me,” he added. “He looked up the production company on Companies House. They’ve posted profits for the past six years. It’s kosher.”

  “Okay,” I said. “Do the job, but promise you’ll involve me next time?”

  “Wouldn’t have it any other way,” he said. “I love you Cokes! You’re the best.”

  I got off the phone as Meryl came back. She was a bit too surprised to hear Daniel called. She probably phoned him from the loo. I wouldn’t be surprised either if Ethel hadn’t been up on the roof of Starbucks, feeding dialogue down to Meryl via an earpiece. I think they all played me like a fiddle.

  Marika is incommunicado in Slovakia. She forgot to pack her phone charger. You know how I found this out? She used the last bar of her battery to text Rosencrantz, asking him to change her Facebook status to ‘snowed in, and forgot to pack my phone charger.’

  It makes me think I should join Facebook, what else am I missing?

  Sunday 28th December 10:14

  TO: feedback@apple.com/uk

  Dear Apple

  My son and I were each given one of your iPhones for Christmas, and I just have a technical query about the touch screen interface. I couldn’t find the answer to my particular question on your website.

  Does it matter if the screen has been sprayed with Windolene? My Sister-In-Law has a real thing about greasy finger marks on shiny surfaces and cleaned both of our phones when she did my patio window. They seem to be working fine, but please advise.

  Coco Pinchard.

  Sunday 28th December 13:04

  TO: chris@christophercheshire.com

  The Christmas tree is currently set to coloured baubles, though it seems to change when I’m not looking. I spent the morning in the kitchen with Meryl, perched on one of the breakfast stools smoking and watching her bake. She always insists on showing me how to make bread, even though I look far from interested.

  The Sunday Times Rich List came out today. Meryl is beside herself that your father Sir Richard is 497th.

  “Why didn’t you tell me you were friends with Royalty?” squealed Meryl.

  I explained that your father isn’t Royalty, but was knighted for services to catering in 1999 after patenting a super strong paper serviette. Meryl said if they had known she and Tony would have had you on the top table at their Silver Wedding ‘do’.

  She asked why Daniel and I haven’t had any other friends round for mince pies.

  “After twenty years of marriage you must have some joint friends?” I said we didn’t, really.

  “You poor thing. It’s Daniel, isn’t it?” said Meryl. “He can be rather self absorbed in his music. I’m glad I have Tony… I’m very fortunate in that respect.” She gave me a look of such pity that I excused myself and went into the living room. I had to have a good look at Tony to remind myself how fortunate I am.

  Relief washed over me. His flies were undone, his Christmas tie was decorated with dried egg yolk and gravy, and he was reading a well-thumbed issue of Undertakers and Funeral Directors Digest. He takes his job as an Undertaker very seriously, as does Meryl. I’d already had it thrust in my face several times to see the ‘Mortician’s Tip’ Meryl wrote in with, warning that Touche éclat tends to clot when it hits embalming fluid.

  Ethel was sat beside Tony, watching the Food Channel. I turned and saw Regina Battenberg, looking rather rough in high definition, plugging Window Box Winemaking. The wine critic, Jilly Goolden, was tasting her Croydon Beaujolais.

  “Looks like pisswater,” said Ethel through a mouthful of Quality Street. Jilly put it more eloquently as reminding her of, “Pick’N’Mix in a bottle.”

  “Why isn’t that Publisher, or that useless Agent of yours, getting you on the box?” said Tony. “This Battenberg woman doesn’t need to sell any more books.”

  He had a point, so I went and phoned Dorian. I got his Assistant, Emma who said he was too busy to take my call.

  “He’s in a crisis meeting,” she said breathlessly.

  “Why?” I said.

  “We’re worried about Regina’s wine being likened to Pick’N’Mix, it’s a sensitive time, what with Woolworth’s going bankrupt.” I heard Dorian yelling in the background and she put the phone down.

  I’m up in my office again. The only place I can call my own. I want my house back, especially the kitchen, even if all I use the gas hob for is lighting fags.

  Tuesday 30th December 17:09

  TO: chris@christophercheshire.com

  Meryl has surged through the house and cleaned it from top to bottom. She had a row with Daniel after hanging a Magic Tree air freshener in the piano. The only place she couldn’t get to with the crevice tool on the Hoover.

  Daniel’s contract has come through for Whistle Up The Wind. It’s touring some large venues in North America, but rehearsing above a supermarket in Peckham. This hasn’t allayed my fears.

  Wednesday 31st December 16:47

  TO: chris@christophercheshire.com

  After lunch M + T went back to Milton Keynes on the Tandem, and I took Ethel home. They al
l said thanks for a wonderful time. Did we have the same Christmas?

  There is a patch of carpet worn away under the tree. I should have put my foot down on Christmas Eve and had only coloured decorations.

  January 2009

  Thursday 1st January 00:15

  TO: chris@christophercheshire.com

  Fireworks from the London Eye are bursting above my head filling the garden with reds, yellows and blues, but I am on my own. I don’t know where Daniel is. He promised he would be home by eleven.

  Happy New Year x

  Thursday 1st January 00:31

  TO: rosencrantzpinchard@gmail.com

  Thank you for the video you emailed, of the cork erupting from a bottle of Champagne in slow motion. Very arty but an old-fashioned phone call would have been nice. Have you heard from Dad?

  Thursday 1st January 00:38

  TO: rosencrantzpinchard@gmail.com

  That picture you just emailed, of you dancing on a podium. Is that your Father with you? Why is your Father with you? What’s he doing dancing on a podium?

  Thursday 1st January 00:20

  TO: marikarolincova@hotmail.co.uk

  I was so pleased to hear from you. I wish I’d come to your party in Bratislava. Thank you for the pic of the stripper you sent. He’s gorgeous.

  However, your text read, ‘I bought the stripper poisoned and cold!’ I’ve been racking my brains, then realised it must be your predictive text. Did you mean to write ‘I bought the stripper Smirnoff and Coke’?

  Maybe it’s the baby oil on your fingers… ;-)

  Daniel stood me up.

  Thursday 1st January 12:04

  TO: chris@christophercheshire.com

  Daniel turned up last night at the NYE party Rosencrantz was attending at the KOKO club in Camden. Rosencrantz was not impressed. He brought with him the Wicked Queen, Snow White, Dame Dolly Mixture and a couple of Dwarves - all in costume.

  What was he thinking? Daniel is trying to squirm his way out of it, saying the punch at their after show party was spiked and he got carried away. I am furious with him for standing me up.

  Rosencrantz is equally furious. Daniel was thrown out of KOKO after leaping off a podium and attempting to crowd surf the VIP area. He landed on Peaches Geldof.

  I asked Rosencrantz who Peaches Geldof is.

  “She’s Bob Geldof’s daughter,” he said.

  “Why is she famous?” I said.

  “She’s Bob Geldof’s daughter.”

  “No, why is she famous?”

  “She’s Bob Geldof’s daughter,” he repeated rolling his eyes.

  I received a phone call from Dorian. I have three book signings lined up and an interview on the sixth for the London FM Breakfast Show. It gets a million listeners!

  I came off the phone excited, went up to the bedroom, and told Daniel very loudly all about it. He is in bed hung-over and throwing up in a bucket.

  Friday 2nd January 11:35

  TO: chris@christophercheshire.com

  I drove Daniel to work. He asked if we could pick up Sophie (Snow White) on the way, from hospital!

  She spent yesterday in a ward at University College London Hospital with suspected alcohol poisoning. Ironic, said Daniel, as it was the Wicked Queen who was buying her Apple Martinis all evening.

  Sophie was stood waiting outside Goodge Street Station in her Snow White costume; her lips tinged black from where they’d pumped her stomach. She seemed in a mood with Daniel and barely said thanks when I dropped them off in Richmond. Maybe it’s good he is going to be off working with a more professional bunch on Whistle Up The Wind.

  Afterwards I drove to Stansted Airport and picked up Marika. She looked so thin. She’s lost nearly a stone.

  The village where her mum lives has no running water. When the blizzard hit on Boxing Day the bucket froze in the well. They had to break the ice on the deep end of the swimming pool and the chlorine gave them the runs.

  When the road gritters made it through, Marika and her sister went to Bratislava for NYE. She went a bit wild and slept with a stripper in the corridor of the Best Western Hotel! They couldn’t get into her room, his baby oil ended up everywhere, and neither of them could get purchase on the door handle.

  I took her straight home, she has to mark two hundred and fifty of her pupils GCSE science projects before term starts Monday.

  She looked depressed when we pulled up outside her flat in Dulwich.

  “Hello London, goodbye fun,” she said.

  I have missed Marika, and you.

  Saturday 3rd January 15:01

  TO: dorianreid@reidandwright.biz

  Dear Dorian

  I have been to two book signings today and both have been a disaster. I know January is a dead time for retail so I thought I might have been placed in a prominent area of the bookshop.

  This morning in Bromley, I was put right at the back, in the Business section, where two people asked me if I was the old blond woman, Margaret Mountford from The Apprentice. This afternoon I trudged out to High Barnet where I was put in the Royal Interest section and a woman asked me if I was David Starkey!

  I know I have short blond hair, and I was wearing my glasses but it’s no excuse. When I’m in Oxford Street on Tuesday, could you please make sure they know whom I am, and that I’m sat far away from the Art section? Being mistaken for Andy Warhol would send me over the edge.

  Coco

  Sunday 4th January 11:34

  TO: chris@christophercheshire.com

  The drear of January has begun. I took down the Christmas tree and put it behind the shed. Its needles had all fallen off leaving just a brown skeleton. I put it down to decoration-related stress. Daniel is working, Rosencrantz is out doing god knows what and Marika is still marking GCSE coursework.

  I got bored and I did something I thought I would never do, I Googled myself.

  My good reviews from The Independent, The Times and Marie Claire came up, but first on the list, and in a bigger font, was an Amazon reader review I’d never seen before:

  1.0 out of 5 stars

  This author should check her history books, December 14, 2008

  By,

  Daphne Regis

  This review is from: Chasing Diana Spencer (Paperback Edition)

  I am a huge fan of the Monarchy of the Great British (I never miss her highness the Duchess Fergie-Ferguson on Oprah.) However, I think in this book, Chasing Diana Spencer, the author Coco Pilchard has her facts wrong. She has Camilla Parker-Bowles and Prince Charles announcing their engagement in 1981? It was Lady Diana Spencer who married Prince Charles in 1981, NOT Camilla.

  This author should check her history books! I recommend Andrew Morton’s Diana her true story. It’s all in there.

  One star! Did Daphne from Ohio not realise that my book is a comedy, a work of satire? A re-imagining of history, at what would have happened if Camilla and Charles had been allowed to get it on. And Coco PILCHARD?

  This is the first thing people find when they Google my name.

  I also see that I have a ranking on amazon.co.uk scraping into the top 50 thousand at number 45,870.

  I didn’t know Amazon did a book chart. I didn’t know there were so many bloody books.

  Worse still, further investigation has me at number 400,034 on amazon.com.

  There is also Amazon Canada, Amazon France, Amazon Denmark, and Amazon China.

  Monday 5th January 11:14

  TO: chris@christophercheshire.com

  I asked Marika about Amazon, she has no clue how it works; but she says she has just discovered Ebay. Her family gave her “a load of Communist shit” for Christmas and she’s trying to flog it.

  I asked Rosencrantz, who said, ‘It’s like the more books you sell the higher you like get on the chart.’ I told him I’m not completely stupid.

  Then I asked Daniel on his way out of the shower this morning, but he just grunted that he had to go to work and to phone Dorian.

  So, I have phoned Dorian,
but he’s not taking my calls.

  Having bought two copies of my own book I have gone up to 21,984 on Amazon.co.uk … but down to 500,034 on Amazon.com

  Do you know any French or Chinese people?

  Monday 5th January 16:33

  TO: mrli@crouchingtigertakeaway.co.uk

  Dear Mr. Li

  Hello, it’s Coco Pinchard (I usually order Kung Pao Chicken with Crispy Seaweed.) For many years, you have always asked, on completion of my order if there is anything else you can do for me. I can now say, ‘yes there is!’

  Would you be able — please — to look up my book Chasing Diana Spencer on amazon.cn (Amazon China) and tell me if it has a good ranking and/or if it has good reader reviews? I would be most grateful.

  Coco Pinchard.

  Monday 5th January 17:01

  TO: chris@christophercheshire.com

  Just had this email from Dorian: -

  ATTACHMENT

  TO: cocopinchard27@gmail.com FROM: dorianreid@reidandwright.biz

  I have just returned from an exhausting day of meetings to find twelve messages from you. I assumed something catastrophic had happened but my assistant said all these queries were about your ranking on Amazon.

  Coco. I am your literary agent. Not your PA.

  Amazon buys from your publisher and sells your book independently. None of us, least of all me, have any influence over your position on its chart.

  At your request, I have spent considerable time on new branding for your book signings and I am happy to allay your fears that you do not look like Margaret Mountford, David Starkey, or Andy Warhol.

  As far as how Amazon calculates their rankings it says on their website:

  “For competitive reasons, Amazon.com generally does not publish this information to the public.”

  Now unless you have a concrete book proposal, and/or a new manuscript, please don’t waste my time.

  Dorian

  That Dorian can be so vicious with his words, and his fonts. I didn’t say I thought I looked like David Starkey, Margaret Mountford, or Andy Warhol. I said I was mistaken for two of them.

 
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