The coco pinchard boxset.., p.20
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       The Coco Pinchard Boxset: 5 bestselling romantic comedies in one!, p.20

           Robert Bryndza

  I finally found time to phone Adam and say sorry, leaving a message on his voicemail. He has just replied via text;


  It’s over. I know it, but would it be that bad? I haven’t had time to think the past few days. I just want to sleep… Let’s meet up soon.

  Saturday 18th July 19.02

  TO: [email protected]

  Great. Will see you tomorrow. I am just going home for a bit of anal.

  Saturday 18th July 19.04

  TO: [email protected]

  That was the auto correct! Not me! My email meant to read “I am just going home for a bit of a nap!”

  I am tired, I am not, and I never have…

  Anyway. Looking forward to seeing you tomorrow.


  Sunday 19th July 22.34

  TO: [email protected]

  I made an effort to tidy myself up and I bought wine and some very expensive cheese. I went round to Adam’s with an apology prepared, but there was no answer. I rang the bell several times but he stood me up!

  I went to the allotment, but he wasn’t there either. I saw his plants were drying out. I didn’t water them.

  I sat on my bench, ate all the cheese, and drank the whole bottle of wine until it got dark. Len loped past behind, tapping his stick. I sank down on the bench.

  He stopped at the back of my shed and I overheard a heated conversation he was having with another old guy. They were arguing over who would look after a large cutting Len had nicked from a grapevine at Hampton Court Palace.

  “I’ve ‘ad it down me trousers all day,” whispered Len.

  The other old guy agreed to keep it in his biscuit tin until the fuss died down.

  I stayed and smoked in the shadows until they moved away. When I got home I watched the news. At the end of London Tonight, they ran a piece on the oldest grapevine in England, at Hampton Court Palace. Someone had managed to give a steward the slip in the Grape House and steal a cutting. The steward said that the culprit must have had to be quick and quiet to outsmart them.

  Quick and quiet? Len! The string holding his trousers up whistles when he walks.

  Nothing from Adam, he must have deliberately stood me up.

  Monday 20th July 18.12

  TO: [email protected]

  It was first day of rehearsals today and I am amazed at what we have achieved in two weeks. Chris had emptied his living room, apart from Daniel’s old piano, and it is now our rehearsal room. There is a big square of masking tape marked out for the size of the stage.

  A stern young New Zealander called Byron, who introduced herself as the stage manager, greeted me at the door. Her mousy waist-length hair was pulled back into a ponytail and she had on a ZZ Top t-shirt. She handed over a name tag, with my name spelt as “Cocoa”.

  Jason was warming up on the piano, Chris and Angie were huddled in the corner over the script, and the actors were milling about making tea. Part of me wanted to run. It was all so scary.

  “Here she is,” said Chris, swooping over with a hug.

  Byron brought Angie a cup of coffee.

  “No, no, no love,” she said. “I drink it white.”

  “Do I look like a char lady?” Bryon snapped, grabbing it back and slopping coffee over Angie’s Jimmy Choos. A lesser man/woman would have apologised, but she stalked off to the kitchen.

  “She’s a bit fierce,” I said.

  “But she’s fucking good,” said Angie, dabbing her shoes with a hanky. “Done all the West End shows.”

  Then Rosencrantz arrived. We had walked over together, but he wanted to wait outside for a couple of minutes so he could arrive without his mother. He said it would be better for his street cred. The actors all greeted him like a long-lost friend. Byron stomped back with Angle’s coffee then clapped her hands.

  “Can you lis-ten,” she said. “Our writer would just like to say a few words.”

  I looked blank.

  “Where is Coco Pinchard, the writer?” She saw me, and beckoned me over. “Chaup chaup. You’re first on the call sheet for today… You did look at the call sheet I emailed?”

  “Um. No,” I said going red.

  “Why naught?”

  “I don’t know,” I said and sheepishly went and stood by the piano.

  “Hi everyone,” I said. The actors all looked at me expectantly as if I had so many answers. “I’m Coco the writer, not Cocoa the hot drink,” I said pointing to my name tag.

  The actors laughed hysterically as if it were the funniest thing they had ever heard.

  “I know we have a great team and hopefully a hit on our hands.” I went to say something else but Byron stood up and started everyone clapping.

  “Graaayt, now for a few housekeeping issues. Rehearsals start at tin every day, so you need to be here by quarter to tin to warm up chit and hev tea. Anyone here late will be fined five pounds for every fuff-teen minutes.”

  “That’s not fair,” I said to Chris, a bit loudly.

  Byron’s nostrils flared.

  “Is there a prawblem?”

  “No,” I said sheepishly.

  “Then, please don’t interrupt during housekeeping.”

  We spent the rest of the morning playing icebreaker games. I hadn’t played hide and seek for years, and after initial protests, we all were rather carried away. Angie, being the most competitive, got stuck inside Chris’s sofa bed, and after lots of fruitless pulling Byron had to cut her free with a band saw.

  After lunch, it was the decisive moment when we sat down, read the script, and sang through the songs. Thank God, it read well. Everyone laughed and cried in all the right places, and before I knew it, Byron was barking at us to put the chairs and tables back. She even yelled at Chris for leaving a teacup on his own windowsill in his own living room.

  Rosencrantz and I walked home full of joy, gossiping about the cast. I didn’t realise it would be so much fun.

  Tuesday 21st July 19.28

  TO: [email protected]

  Have you heard from Marika? I keep trying her Blackberry, but all I get is pips.

  Nothing either from Adam but then, that’s his loss.

  You did a great job directing today. I know, thanks to Byron, you didn’t get to say much but you had gravitas and filled us all with confidence. You should lose the beret though. xxx

  Tuesday 21st July 21.27

  TO: [email protected]

  Marika has swine flu, well has had swine flu. Her school in Dulwich closed early for the summer holidays because of it, and she has been delirious. Not with happiness, but with a high fever. Her Blackberry died and she couldn’t find the charger so she had no numbers for anyone. She contacted the swine flu call centre and a teenager diagnosed her over the phone, and asked her if she had a swine flu buddy. She said that, no, she didn’t. They told her to ask a neighbour to collect her some Tamiflu, which he did, poking it up through the banister on a stick.

  She is better now but I am riddled with guilt. I have a load of Tamiflu here, and we should have taken more notice. I should have been her swine flu buddy. I went over to Dulwich and made her a big pot of soup, the only thing I can really cook, and have lent her The Sopranos box set.

  Wednesday 22nd July 15.56

  TO: [email protected]

  It seems swine flu panic has kicked off amongst the middle classes, now that Wimbledon has finished. Meryl just caught me on Skype.

  “I just had to phone you,” she trilled. “Look! We’re having a swine flu party tonight!” On cue, Tony lumbered past with an inflatable pig and several balloons. “That’s Tony,” she said, in case I’d forgotten. “He’s putting things up.”

  “Aren’t they warning people not to have these parties?” I said.

  “We all want to get it as quick as possible,” she said. “Before the strain mutates.”

  “Before it’s resistant to antibiotics?”

before too many of the wrong sort get it,” she said. “By the time it’s passed through the Enoch Powell Estate over the way, who knows what the virus will be like.”

  I tried to warn her about the symptoms but Tony, carrying a big tray of glasses, distracted her.

  “I told you! We’re all drinking from the same glass,” she said. “Now put those back in the sideboard!”

  I took the opportunity to shout “goodbye” and disconnect.

  Wednesday 22nd July 09.01

  TO: [email protected]

  Morning hun, did I give that guy Marek from Slovakia my email address? I just received this:


  TO [email protected]

  FROM [email protected]

  Hello Coco,

  You like the naughty, bad lady? You remember? I am Marek, the boy that you had one night in Slovakia with on your birthday.

  I had a great evening with your love and examination of your body, which still has tip top condition after 42 year.

  I am dreaming many nights of you lying naked on the agricultural land, recalling my tongue over your body.

  My band Zobor is making a concert tonight at the Hammersmith Apollo. Want to participate? We could make a grab to bite something to eat then and then go back to my hotel for some warm intercourse.

  I live in Travel Lodge Hammersmith. It have very good transport links. Use the telephone if you wish to speak with me.

  Marek Z.

  I will have to reply to him later, but I have to go to rehearsals. You feeling better?

  Coco x

  Wednesday 22nd July 09.43

  TO: [email protected], [email protected]

  Jason has asked to see a different version of the last scene in Act One. It is up in my allotment shed amongst paperwork. I am dashing up there now. I will be at rehearsals ASAP.

  Wednesday 22nd July 23.54

  TO: [email protected]

  When I arrived at the rehearsal, Chris was waiting for me in the hall.

  “I’m sorry, there was nothing I could do,” he said.

  I went into the living room and sat behind his old piano was Daniel, playing one of the numbers for the actors.

  Byron launched herself out of her chair and came over hissing, “You’re late, agin!”

  “Why is my ex-husband here?” I hissed back.

  Byron said that she’d had to advertise for an emergency pianist via Gumtree. Jason has gone to hospital about his hand. He injured it the other day during another competitive warm-up game of hide and seek. She then fined me five pounds.

  I asked Chris why we couldn’t have hired his friend Clive, but he has apparently had a relapse, and is in hospital being detoxed.

  “I’m sorry, Cokes,” he said. “We’re up against it with time, and at the moment I just need someone who can play… Byron found him, I had to say ok.”

  At that moment, Byron called a tea break, and I went over to Daniel.

  “Hello,” he said smugly.

  His ponytail was longer and he was even more tanned.

  “Why aren’t you in America?”

  “I’m in London for meetings about a Whistle Up The Wind West End transfer.”

  “So why are you darkening my door?”

  “I Googled your musical, saw the advert and thought, what a fun way to spend a free day and play my old piano. Plus you’re paying me a hundred quid to be here.”

  Byron came over with a scowl for me, and cup of tea for him.

  “We are? I mean, yes we are,” I said. “So stop wasting time and familiarise yourself with the second act.”

  And I stomped off to look at a box of tiaras, which had just been delivered.

  As the day wore on, I got used to him being there. I had forgotten how good he is, and if I’m honest, he gave the score something. I couldn’t put my finger on it but it seemed to have a little more heart and soul.

  We finished at six and I invited him home for some Chinese. We both seemed to be in competition to see who could be nicer. No one mentioned the elephant in the room i.e. his torrid affair, desertion, and our bitter divorce. Halfway through his crispy seaweed, Rosencrantz slammed down his chopsticks.

  “You guys are freaking me out,” he said. “I’m finishing mine upstairs.”

  He went off and I poured Daniel some more wine. He leant over and stroked my cheek,

  “My Coco,” he said.

  I looked into his eyes. He went to kiss me, but the sound of his phone cut through the moment. I picked it up off the coffee table to pass it over. As I did, I saw the display, which read “SOPHIE SNOW WHITE”.

  I started to laugh.

  “What’s so funny?” he said.

  I held up his phone.

  “You always manage to make me forget what a complete bastard you are.”

  His mouth opened and closed.

  “I swear on my mother’s life, I ended it,” he said.

  I chucked the phone at him. Then mine started to ring.

  “Okay, Miss Goody Two Shoes,” he said. “Who’s phoning you? Maybe this is your bit on the side?”

  Daniel made a grab for it and answered. It was Marek. I had forgotten to get back to his email.

  Daniel held it out to me,

  “Some guy says he wants to lick your vinegar…”

  I took it, mortified. I said thank you for the invitation (to the gig) but that I couldn’t make it. When I hung up Daniel was smirking.

  “Not so innocent,” he said. “Two men on the go, one a child by the sound of him.”

  This escalated into a huge fight. Many accusations were thrown, plus a pot plant from me. It stopped when Rosencrantz came down the stairs in his pyjamas.

  “Shut up!” he screamed. “Parents… you are divorced. Deal with it. My sleep shouldn’t be disturbed because deep down you actually want to be together in your screwed-up little world…”

  We looked at each other in shock. We apologised and Rosencrantz stood over us whilst we cleared up the exploded yucca plant. I then went up to bed and Daniel slept on the sofa.

  Is Rosencrantz right? He’s not. I am sure of it.

  Friday 24th July 18.07

  TO: [email protected]

  It was another eventful day. I seem to have so many. When I got up for rehearsals, Daniel had left a note wishing me luck with the show and that he’d gone to see Meryl and Tony before heading back for the next leg of Whistle.

  I then bumped into Agatha at the allotment after rehearsal. She told me Adam had been rushed to hospital on Sunday. His daughter Holly found him, collapsed at home. He had contracted swine flu and, mixed with his asthma, it was serious. He seems too strapping and sexy to suffer from asthma. He was probably lying on the floor whilst I was outside cursing him!

  Friday 24th July 10.47

  TO: [email protected]

  I went to visit Adam in hospital. He was sitting up and looking good even through illness. He does have the most wonderful pectorals. I wanted to rub Vicks into them. I think the nurses had the same idea. I have never seen nurses so attentive.

  Question: If all patients were good looking would the NHS be more or less efficient?

  I was surprised how upset I was, and relieved to see him. It was apparently touch and go. I apologised for the Summer Ball, which now seems like an age ago. He smiled weakly and said he was pleased to see me. I only stayed a little while, as he was tired. He squeezed my hand tight and asked me to visit again. I promised I would come tomorrow.

  Saturday 25th July 18.01

  TO: [email protected]

  Hi you,

  Thought I would send a message via Bedside Entertainments. However, be careful, they charge an arm and a leg.

  We had our first run through of the show tonight. It was a shambles, a bit like a load of contestants on The Generation Game trying to perform a play they have only just seen, only it wasn’t funny. I blame Byron; she had banned them from ho
lding scripts. The piano playing was rather off too. Jason has damaged a ligament in his hand but he is soldiering on with ice packs in between numbers.

  We are doing a preview show next Friday above a pub in Camden. Do you think you will be well enough to see it? My friend Marika is coming and she would love to meet you; she has only recently recovered from swine flu.

  Coco x

  P.S. You want me to bring you any Vicks? ;-)

  Sunday 26th July 21.30

  TO: [email protected]

  It seems that when I visit Adam, the nurses love to come and interrupt. Tonight he had his blood pressure taken three times. The nurse lingered on his bicep for longer than I thought was necessary.

  I didn’t know if I should say anything but it’s still not established if I am his girlfriend. Do I have a claim on him? He let me put Vicks on his chest. It got quite intense as I slowly rubbed it in, he grabbed my hand and looked at me longingly. Then the bloody ward sister came in and ordered me out, even though it was five to, and visiting is until eight.

  “We go by my watch,” she said, her eyes flashing.

  She watched over me as I gathered up my things. I felt scared to even give him a peck on the cheek.

  Monday 27th July 11.15

  TO: [email protected]

  Adam was discharged at seven this morning. I went over to his flat to see him before rehearsal. I just missed his daughter Holly, who had brought him home. I made us a coffee and he asked if I would come over tomorrow night and meet her properly.

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