The not so secret emails.., p.22
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       The Not So Secret Emails Of Coco Pinchard (A Romantic Comedy), p.22

           Robert Bryndza
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  I had stupidly left my iPhone on, and it rang during the live show. I tried to ignore it but he told me to answer. He then grabbed my phone and put it to his little radio mic.

  Ethel’s voice boomed into the studio saying,

  “Ere Coco, that Anne Widdecombe is on the telly, I never knew how much she looked like you.” There was a pause and Jean Christophe told her she was live on BBC1.

  I wanted the floor to open up and swallow me, but Ethel continued chatting away.

  “Ooh! I’m on telly!” she said. “Oh yer gorgeous, you are, if I were forty year younger…”

  She went on to ask if Jean Christophe was single, and when he said no, she still tried to set me up with him.

  “Go on Jean Christophe, give Coco a kiss, you’ll make ‘er day!” he gathered me up in his arms and kissed me full on the lips, to the squeals of Ethel echoing through the studio.

  “Slip ‘er the tongue Jean Christophe!” She shouted. “Not all ‘er eggs are past their sell by date!”

  I could have killed her.

  After the show, the producers were thrilled at such an ‘hilarious’ segment. Jean Christophe was very sweet. Kissing my hand before his car took him off to meet his girlfriend at Claridges.

  He made me think of Adam. I wonder if he was watching and if so, I hope he was a bit jealous.

  Sunday 16th August 12:30

  TO: [email protected]

  I have just been to see Ethel in her new flat. It’s in a nice little block, just off Catford High Street. There is a warden on the front door and a communal lounge, but apart from that, its self-contained. The IKEA furniture looks quite good, she still can’t get over the fact that it all belongs to her.

  “I’ve never ‘ad nothing I’ve owned before,” she said stroking the sofa. I remember Daniel telling me that growing up, even their toaster was rented from the Co-op.

  Jean Christophe Novelli gave me a signed cookbook for Ethel; she is still excited about having been on television. Everyone in the sheltered housing is talking about it. I met her new ‘best friend,’ an Australian woman called Irene who reads palms. When Ethel cleared away our coffee cups, Irene offered to do a reading.

  “You’re going to meet a tall dark handsome stranger,” she said examining a crease in my palm.

  “She’s done that already,” shouted Ethel from the kitchen. “He’s a beautiful dark man, but she buggered it up.”

  “Ah yes,” said Irene looking closer. “Yes, love could be something which eludes you, but,” she said, leaning into a crease by my little finger. “I do see a companion … A cat. You’re going to get a lovely cat.”

  I asked her to tell me about my career.

  “I just see cats,” said Irene. “Maybe you’ll open a Cattery?”

  “Thas’ a good idea Irene…” shouted Ethel from the kitchen. “This writing business will never make ‘er rich.”

  I want to be back in Edinburgh, I miss it all. The buzz on the Royal Mile. The roar of the crowd before our show begins.

  Marika is moving into my spare room. Her Landlord has vanished; he hasn’t paid the mortgage on her flat for six months and it’s been repossessed. She thought she had until October, when her tenancy agreement ran out. I am just going over with the car to collect her and all of her stuff.

  Monday 17th August 17:44

  TO: [email protected]

  Marika persuaded me to go to the Allotment today. We finished moving her stuff late last night and after waking up after lunch, she said we must go and enjoy the sunshine.

  I really didn’t want to see Adam, but Marika was putting on a brave face about losing her home so the least I could do was risk seeing him.

  I raided Marika’s suitcases for summery things to wear. I haven’t been on a proper shopping spree in ages, and I picked out a cool tracksuit. When we got to the Allotment I began watering, Marika opened a deck chair, stripped down to a string bikini, and began to oil herself. You should have seen the old guys, ha! Not a lot of digging was done.

  Just after lunch Marika was sunbathing and I came out of my shed to see a young woman, thirties, blond with a thong riding high above her low cut jeans, bent over picking sweet corn from Adam’s allotment.

  “Um, excuse me?” I said.

  She looked round and took off her shades, “What?” she said.

  I was about to tell her off, when Adam came out of his shed, (shirtless in denim shorts- woof) saying,

  “What’s wrong?” Then he saw me.

  “Coco, I thought you were in Scotland?”

  “I’m back for a few days… Who’s your friend?” I said.

  “I’m Tonya,” she said with a hint of attitude. “Who are you? One of his mother’s friends?” Tonya looked like she knew exactly who I was. I thought Marika was asleep, but she came alive, leaping out of her deckchair saying,

  “You want a slap you cheeky bitch?”

  Tonya folded her arms. “What did you call me?”

  “You know she’s too young to be his mother’s friend,” said Marika.

  “I wouldn’t know, I’ve never met his mother,” Tonya said, backtracking.

  “Just know. I’m watching you,” said Marika, putting her shades back on and sitting down. Adam looked at me with something in his eyes, I don’t know if it was longing or regret or just that he was embarrassed. Tonya was now rather scared of Marika, and told him to hurry up.

  I went back to my watering. They gathered their sweet corn up in a plastic bag, locked up, and walked down the path disappearing in the dust. Tonya put her hand in the back pocket of his denim shorts and turned to look at me. I went into my shed for a cry. Marika followed and gave me a hug.

  “He’s moved on, already,” I blubbed. He’s letting her eat his corn on the cobb.

  “She’s probably just some old slapper off,” said Marika. It didn’t make me feel any better.

  Tuesday 18th August 18:00

  TO: [email protected]

  I had a meeting today with Angie. A representative from The Edinburgh Festival Awards phoned her; they are coming to see our show! Securing a nomination would be a very big deal. Jerry Springer: The Opera won numerous awards at the Edinburgh Festival in 2002, and then transferred to the West End. Just don’t tell the cast though. Hugo only had his Aunt in last week and he was rather over doing it.

  Your Nan phoned tonight, she is coming up to see the last show with Meryl and Tony. During the Festival, the hotel prices triple so Meryl is looking into hiring a static caravan, just outside Glasgow.

  Wednesday 19th August 21:00

  TO: [email protected]

  It is good to be back in Edinburgh. I have tried to forget about Adam and enjoy what is happening now. I have seen many weird and wonderful shows. One Man Titanic was rather good yesterday. I let Mike, who performs all of One Man Titanic, buy me a drink in the bar afterwards. He is my age, a little nervy, but handsome enough. He apologised that his iceberg wasn’t very big. He ran out of fifty pence’s for his electricity meter and half his ice cube trays defrosted. I was about to offer to drive him to ASDA and buy him some ice but Rosencrantz dragged me away.

  “You can do much better,” he said. Can he detect my fear of singledom?

  Beryl and myself were invited on Lunch With The Hamilton’s this afternoon. It’s another theatre chat show hosted by Neil and Christine Hamilton. They were both very nice. Christine looks much less scary than when she was heckling Martin Bell on that playing field. I think having a fringe has helped.

  I finally bumped into Regina Battenberg today, on the spiral staircase down to the bar. She was wearing a huge fur shawl and carrying her dog, Pippin.

  “Congratulations, darling!” Regina shrilled. I looked round, then realised she was talking to me.

  “Thanks,” I said.

  “I’ve been meaning to pop over and see you!” she lied. “You must be so grateful to me, what with darling Kate Moss giving you all that fluke publicity.” She
leaned in and tapped her nose. “Don’t tell anyone, but I gave her the poster!” she then hugged me. Pippin growled.

  “What a great idea Pippin!” said Regina. “Pippin just said you should come and be a guest on my show today!”

  I looked at her, and then Pippin and realised she was serious. She grinned enthusiastically.

  “How about it?”

  “Yes?” I said.

  “Super! I’ve been needing a replacement for Anne Widdecombe, the poor old girl has terrible flu!”

  My heart sank, and it sank low. I got Chris to come with me. We were shown to reserved seats in the front row. I had been told that Regina would signal for me when to go on.

  At 5pm exactly the lights dimmed and an announcement blared, “Please put your hands together for the one and only Regina. BATTENBERG!”

  A hysterical ripple of whooping ricocheted round the auditorium as the curtain swished back to show Regina sat with Pippin on the fake balcony, which was slowly sliding out of the wings towards centre stage.

  Regina was not the best host. The main guest was a veteran of the Second World War who had the terrifying experience of once meeting Adolf Hitler. What could have been an incredibly interesting interview was ruined by her banal questions, of which there were only three;

  Did Hitler have a dog?

  Do you think Hitler’s little moustache was a ‘stick on’ one?

  Did you crap yourself?

  The rest of the time she talked about herself. Then I heard her ask me to join her on stage. Up close, the harsh lights glistened on her thick face powder, clinging to the tiny hairs on her lined face. Her black eyes were like bottomless pits, and her slash of red lipstick seemed to have a life of its own. She informed the auditorium that I was here for the final segment of the show called ‘How to make window box wine!’ before directing me to stomp on some grapes in a plastic washing up bowl.

  As her assistant was drying my feet, she pulled a dripping corn plaster out of the bowl.

  “I think you left something behind cheesy feet,” she said holding it up and gurning to the audience who all collapsed into gales of laughter.

  “Can we have a big hand for Coco Pinchard! The only contestant to make cheese and wine!”

  Afterwards we went straight to the bar. I was furious at being set up, even more so at Chris for laughing the loudest.

  “I thought you were in on it too!” he said.

  If that bitch shows up for my show she can piss off!

  Friday 21st August 16:44

  TO: [email protected]

  Regina Battenberg returned the favour and came to see my show. She got in, even though it was sold out. The theatre put out an extra chair for her, on the front row. She was also allowed to bring in Pippin!

  Hugo wasn’t happy. He is allergic to animal hair and he sneezed so hard that one of his false ears came off.

  I was annoyed, as we had a representative from The Edinburgh Fringe Awards in. Afterwards I went to the box office and asked why she was allowed to bring him in, she’s not blind, and Pippin is not a Guide Dog.

  “Miss Battenberg is exempt, due to the Britt Eckland clause in our Health and Safety policy,” said the boy in the Jarvis Cocker glasses.

  “What?” I said.

  “The Britt Eckland clause,” he repeated.

  Apparently Britt Eckland did a show at the Edinburgh Festival a couple of years back, and refused to go anywhere without her little dog. The local council caved in, and designed a ‘Britt Eckland clause’ so that celebrity dogs can be exempt from Health and Safety legislation.

  “It’s paved the way for dog carrying celebrities like Paris Hilton and our own Regina Battenberg to visit the Edinburgh Festival,” said the Jarvis Cocker boy excitedly.

  I don’t know what is more ridiculous, the clause, or the fact that Regina Battenberg is classed as a celebrity. She did approach me in the bar afterwards, to offer her congratulations. She was wearing a character turban with a (real) stuffed budgie on it, and said it was ‘fantabulous’, which isn’t even a word. She calls herself a writer?

  The man from The Edinburgh Fringe Awards seemed to love it too. When we came home, I bought Hugo some anti-histamine.

  Sunday 23rd August 16:45

  TO: angiela[email protected]

  Man from Edinburgh Awards was in again. He laughed very hard. Ears stayed on. (Hugo’s that is.)

  Monday 24th August 16:01

  TO: [email protected]

  Awards people in again. This time there were three of them and they made a lot of notes. Beryl twigged who they were during her finale song I’m a Regina I Don’t Sing In A Minor.

  Wednesday 26th August 16:17

  TO: [email protected]

  More awards people in. I watched them even more closely; they looked bored and didn’t laugh. They have now seen it four times. However, I see it most days, still laugh, and I wrote it. Is that sad?

  Thursday 27th August 12:10

  TO: [email protected]

  The nominations have just been announced in The Scotsman.

  Chasing Diana Spencer: The Musical has been nominated for three Edinburgh Festival Awards!

  Best Musical; Coco Pinchard & Jason Schofield, Best Newcomer; Beryl as Queen Elizabeth II, and Best Direction; Christopher Cheshire.

  I am utterly, utterly thrilled, most of all for Chris.

  “I could be a real professional Theatre Director,” he said, his eyes lighting up. The ceremony is on Saturday night in the ballroom at the Assembly Rooms.

  Do you want to stay with us when you come and see the show? Chris’ parents have just said they are coming. He was shocked. His mother rarely strays north of Harrods… She has already asked how the exchange rate is for Scottish pound notes.

  I am sad now it is all coming to an end. It’s been like one long party here these past weeks. Edinburgh never sleeps and we have seen more theatre than you can imagine, plays run day and night. Have you seen Adam, or the terrible Tonya?

  Sunday 30th August 07:14

  TO: [email protected]

  I have just walked up to Calton Hill, and I am looking out over Edinburgh in the morning mist. I haven’t really slept much because WE WON!!!!


  I just wished I were a bit more sober during the ceremony. Byron had been in charge of buying drinks for us to have, before the taxis arrived to take us to the ceremony. I had given her a hundred quid for Champagne, but because she is a stickler for budgets, she refused my money and spent only what was left in the kitty from our original £15,000 budget which was £3.09.

  In Leith, £3.09 buys six litres of White Lightning Cider, which rendered us all, apart from Clive, rather plastered. Everyone looked so elegant, even Byron finally shed the ZZ Top t-shirt and was persuaded into something more formal; A Hard Rock Café Dubai t-shirt with leather waistcoat.

  The Edinburgh Festival Awards were fun, terrifying, and rather competitive. Each show nominated had their own table, dotted around the ballroom.

  The Edinburgh Fringe Award itself is a piece of slate about the size of a large book, framed in wood, with the name of the winner in silver writing. I am afraid I did a bit of a Gwyneth Paltrow at the podium when I accepted on behalf of Jason and me.

  I looked around the room, at the actors, Chris, Byron, Angie, Regina Battenberg (who was typing on her Blackberry) all the hangers on and industry people, and my eyes came to rest on Rosencrantz. Looking handsome as could be in his tuxedo, his face full of hope and pride.

  I thought, after all that has happened he is the most important thing in my life, the one I am most proud of. He dreamed of putting on his own play, with Christian, yet when it was all taken away from him he conducted himself wonderfully. He has never moaned, even when we were wet and cold and I made him wear speedos on the Royal Mile. I said my award was for him.

  When I sat back down next to him, he had tears in his eyes,

You’re like, wicked mum,” he said. He meant ‘wicked’ in the cool sense, I think.

  Chris was also emotional and directed his speech to his parents.

  “Mother and Father, I now have a career. A profession, so you can’t marry me off. I have work to do!” He was gutted when I told him afterwards that it hadn’t been televised.

  Beryl was rather bewildered when she went up to accept her award.

  “Best newcomer? I’ve been doing this for thirty years … I was a Benny Hill girl.”

  Regina Battenberg was nominated in the solo show category, but lost out to One Man Titanic. I wished the ceremony had been televised, if only to see the look on her face when she lost! I was pleased for Mike though, his ice issues have continued to plague him.

  On Regina’s table were various producers, publicists, Pippin, and Dorian, my old Agent! When Regina went off to hobnob, I sat beside him.

  “Coco!” he said grabbing Pippin, who was trying to eat the centrepiece on the table, “Well done. You know if you’d have come to me with the play idea, I’d have gone with it…”

  I gave him a thin smile. “Really? I thought I was a loose cannon?”

  “No, I was misquoted. I said ‘loose woman’,” he wormed. “You know, like the girls off that lunchtime show. They’re great!”

  “I’ve heard Regina is going to leave you,” I said. “Right now she’s discussing a media deal with BBC Worldwide.”

  Luckily, at that very moment, Regina was sat at a table engrossed in conversation with Alan Yentob, the former BBC Television Controller. Dorian went pale and began to sweat. On cue, Pippin peed down the front of his shirt!

  After the ceremony, Angie had to fly back to London so I went outside to have a cigarette with her before she left. I’d run out of Marlboro lights, so asked if I could nick one.

  “See,” she said. “I told you I didn’t want you nicking my fags at award ceremonies… But I’ll let you off this once, you did great babe.”

  “You did great babe.”

  “I’ve done even better,” she said hugging me. “We’ve got a meeting next week with the Trafalgar Studios. They want to talk about transferring us to the West End!”

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