The coco pinchard boxset.., p.3
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       The Coco Pinchard Boxset: 5 bestselling romantic comedies in one!, p.3

           Robert Bryndza
 

  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, of 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 my ranking on Amazon UK is scraping into the top fifty thousand at number 45,870. Worse still, further investigation has me at number 400,034 on Amazon.com.

  There’s also Amazon Spain, Amazon France, Amazon Germany… Amazon China.

  Monday 5th January 11.14

  TO: chris@christophercheshire.com

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

  Do you know any French, Spanish, or German people? What about anyone from China?

  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, has 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 for how Amazon calculates rankings, it says on its 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.

  Mr Li got back to me, and said that my book is ranked number 5,015,001 on Amazon.cn.

  He said I should view this as a proud achievement from a population of one billion. He sent over some Kung Pao Chicken, on the house.

  It says something if the only person giving you constructive feedback on your career is the owner of your local Chinese takeaway.

  Monday 5th January 15.00

  TO: danielpinchard@gmail.com

  Your poster on the fridge says tonight you have no evening show, so do you fancy a nice takeaway? I feel I should thank Mr Li.

  Rosencrantz is off to the National Theatre with some of his drama school lot.

  We will have the house to ourselves.

  Monday 5th January 22.11

  TO: chris@christophercheshire.com

  I just had a row with Daniel. I pointed out that he has some grey chest hair mixed in with the black. Which incidentally looks very sexy on him, but he flipped out and said I made him feel old. He’s shut himself in our bathroom doing God knows what in the mirror, probably plucking.

  I have eaten both our Chinese takeaways and I’m still hungry.

  Tuesday 6th January 20.00

  TO: chris@christophercheshire.com

  I came back early from my book signing in Oxford Street. It was cancelled due to staff paper cuts. Three of them fell foul to a rather sharp pile of Margaret Drabbles, and due to Health and Safety, they couldn’t continue working.

  When I got home, I went upstairs to get changed and there was Daniel in bed with Sophie aka Snow White. They were naked. Her thin legs were wrapped around his back. Nothing was left to the imagination.

  Their red grimacing faces turned to me in shock. I ran downstairs and locked myself in the pantry. I couldn’t breathe. After about five minutes, there was a knock on the door. I opened it and there was Daniel, standing there dressed.

  “Coco, I can explain.”

  “How?” I shouted, incredulous.

  “She only came for a singing lesson… I’ve been stupid.”

  I grabbed a bag of flour to throw at him but it bent back in my hand and covered me instead.

  “I’m going to go,” he said quietly and left.

  I stayed in there for ages, the dough forming on my cheeks. Then I heard a knock at the door. I thought he had come back, but it was Marika. She had brought me a copy of Amazon For Dummies.

  I told her why I was covered in flour.

  “Piča! Kurva!” she shrieked, and then hugged me tight. She always swears in Slovak when it’s something really bad.

  She poured us whisky and we went upstairs. Sophie’s youthful imprint was still spread-eagled on our bed. Like a dirty angel in the snow. Marika stripped the sheets and put everything in bin liners. I found some Valium that Meryl had left after Christmas and we split one in front of the telly. Sliding Doors was on BBC1 and Sky 3. It must mean something. I wish I could be the Gwyneth Paltrow who didn’t come home and didn’t find her husband in bed with another woman.

  Wednesday 7th January 11.04

  TO: marikarolincova@hotmail.co.uk

  Rosencrantz hammering on the bathroom door woke me up this morning. My face was stuck to the bath mat. The last thing I could remember was sitting on the toilet, swigging brandy.

  “I’ve been knocking for like a couple of minutes,” he said looking at me wobbling on my feet. “There’s a car like waiting downstairs to take you to some radio interview.”

  “London FM!” I trilled, bolting past him.

  As I got to the top of the stairs, he popped his head out of the door.

  “Mum, why is there like brandy by the toilet?”

  ”Um, Kim and Aggie say it’s great for getting lime-scale off the bowl,” I said.

  He narrowed his eyes suspiciously.

  “Look, I’ll talk to you later,” I yelled, running a wet wipe over my face and throwing on a long coat.

  Daniel obviously hasn’t said a word to him. Surely, the one who has the affair should break the news?

  I didn’t have any time to think about it as I ran down to the car. The driver wasn’t pleased at having just twenty minutes to get me to the studio in North London and we made it with only seconds to spare.

  A harassed producer met me at the door.

  “Have I got time for a coffee?” I s
aid. I was still a little drunk and could feel flour in my hair.

  “Sorry, no,” she said. “You’re late. Vanessa has already had to extend the weather and talk about Scotland.”

  She ushered me into the brightly lit studio as I heard myself being introduced by the relieved looking host, Vanessa Pigeon.

  “And talking of windswept weather on the Orkney Isles,” she said, “our next guest has just blown into the studio.”

  The interview seemed to go well. Vanessa said she loved Chasing Diana Spencer and that the rumour is I could be a potential contender for the Anne and Michael Brannigan Book Club on Channel Five!

  On the outside, I was witty and engaging, if a little hyperactive. I hope that you couldn’t tell I’d just found my husband in bed with another woman?

  A place on the A & M Book Club would be an incredible ray of sunshine.

  Thursday 8th January 12.01

  TO: marikarolincova@hotmail.co.uk

  I’ve just had this email from Rosencrantz:

  ATTACHMENT

  FROM: rosencrantzpinchard@gmail.com

  TO: cocopinchard27@gmail.com

  Hi Mum, I like love you. Dad like phoned me. He said you found him “courting” Snow White! I said, “Don’t u mean like fucking?” and he told me off for like bad language.

  Apart from the betrayal, she can’t even like act. How can he even like her, like?

  I’ve de-friended her on Facebook. I’m on your side.

  He’s staying with Nan. He like turned up at her nursing home. She wasn’t too pleased to see him. She’s charging him twenty-five quid a night. Harsh.

  Love, Rosencrantz x

  P.S. Heard you on the radio. You were like way mad!

  I’m worried about the habit he’s got into of using ‘like.’ It has crept in since Christmas. I thought when he went to drama school they would batter all accents and colloquialisms out of him.

  Thursday 8th January 15.36

  TO: chris@christophercheshire.com

  I wish you had been able to hear my interview as I need your opinion on it. Marika told me it made her laugh, like when I am, “drunk and on a roll”. As with Rosencrantz’s 'mad' comment, I feel unsure.

  Dorian has asked me to come in and see him tomorrow morning. It must be about the Anne and Michael Brannigan Book Club. He only wants to meet if money is coming his way. Inclusion in the club can guarantee a best seller.

  Instead of coming here, do you want to meet for a coffee in Soho?

  Friday 9th January 23.31

  TO: marikarolincova@hotmail.co.uk

  Dorian didn’t say much for the first ten minutes I was in his office. He has a dark, wide, imposing desk. We sat with acres of space between us, just the Apple symbol on his iMac glowing menacingly. He let me babble on before holding his hand up. I stopped and grinned stupidly whilst he adjusted his rimless glasses.

  “Coco,” he said, “do you have a drug or alcohol addiction problem?”

  “What?” I said, surprised.

  “Do you have a drug or alcohol addiction problem?” he repeated, louder and slower.

  “No,” I said. “Obviously that’s what an addict would say, but I really mean it!” I tried to joke.

  “I’m serious, Coco,” he said. “You seem, erratic. Last week you were convinced you were Andy Warhol.”

  “No,” I said. “I didn’t want people to mistake me for him. There’s a big difference.”

  “Your radio interview?” He raised his eyebrows.

  “It went well,” I said, trying to sound light.

  “Did it?” He fixed me with a stony gaze. “Why did you feel you had to slander Anne Brannigan?”

  “What?”

  “You made a crude joke alleging that the TV presenter Anne Brannigan of the Anne and Michael Book Club is an alcoholic.”

  “There must be some mistake,” I said.

  Dorian picked up a computer print-out. “I have a transcript, provided by Anne Brannigan’s people, and I quote, ‘Anne loves a drink, slip her a case of vino collapso and she’ll put anybody in her book club.’ End quote.”

  “Oh lord. I didn’t mean it like that,” I said. “You’ve taken it out of context. I was just trying to be funny. Vanessa Pigeon laughed.”

  A cold feeling began to rush through me.

  “Well, Vanessa Pigeon doesn’t work for the people at the Anne and Michael Book Club,” he said. “They didn’t see the funny side, and until yesterday they were seriously considering Chasing Diana Spencer for the shortlist.”

  “They were?”

  “Coco, I’m afraid…”

  “It was a silly joke,” I interrupted. “Like, Jordan’s got big tits! Everyone knows about Jordan’s tits and loads of comedians joke about Anne Brannigan and her wine…”

  “Coco,” said Dorian.

  “You remember last year’s final? She dropped a Barbara Taylor Bradford on Martin Amis’ foot,” I said, continuing my gabble. “And it wasn’t because she was drinking Vimto.”

  Dorian held up his hand.

  “This has gone to the top of your publishers at the House Of Randoms. I’ve had senior executives on the phone. Dismayed they have an author who is not supporting the Anne and Michael Book Club.”

  “I do support them.” I began to cry. “It’s just everything is falling down around me.”

  “Coco,” he said, passing me a tissue awkwardly. “Regina Battenberg is also my client. I cannot risk her position in the Anne and Michael Brannigan Book Club. For that reason, I am terminating our agreement.”

  I sat there, stunned.

  “You will hear from your publisher too,” he said. “Sales of Chasing Diana Spencer have been very slow, and they’re now taking van loads of returns. They’re going to recall the rest. They need to distance themselves from your comments.”

  “Recall them?”

  “Yes,” he said. “Then they’ll be pulped.”

  He pressed a buzzer on his desk and had his assistant show me out.

  I stumbled into Old Compton Street in tears and truly felt like throwing myself in front of a car, but the only thing on the road was one of those bicycle rickshaw things.

  I heard a whistle and Chris came bounding up, all tanned and happy.

  “OMG!” he said seeing my tears. “You’re in the club! I mean, the book club?”

  “No,” I said, and told him everything.

  “Oh my godfathers,” he said, hailing a cab. “We need better surroundings than Café Nero.”

  We zoomed through Soho as he fumbled for some tissues. There was copious snot and chest heaving. I couldn’t stop.

  “It’s fifty quid if she’s sick,” said the driver, eyeing me in his rear view mirror.

  We pulled up at a non-descript doorway.

  “This is Cathedral Private Members’ Club,” said Chris, pulling out a gold laminated card. “I’ve been on their waiting list for an age. It’s discreet.”

  Even in a state, I was impressed by Cathedral. A small lift spirited us down into the bowels of Soho and, with a ping, we were in a stunning bar. It actually looks like a mini-cathedral, hewn out of London’s filthy subsoil and decorated, floor to ceiling, in marble. Below the beautiful domed ceiling, and where the altar should be, was a long bar.

  We sat in a sleek wooden confession box (with the top half cut off) and Chris ordered Martinis from a passing cardinal.

  “Screw them,” he said. “Anne and Michael wield such power, and in my opinion — not wisely. Your book should be top of their bloody list.”

  “If I’d have just chilled out during that interview,” I said. “Am I crazy?”

  “No. You are one of the best writers I have ever had the pleasure to read,” smiled Chris. “You just have terrible luck. This and Daniel, you don’t deserve… I expected more from him.”

  “I’m so pleased to see you,” I said.

  Chris didn’t look like the holiday had relaxed him.

  “It was purgatory,” he said dramatically. “My mother still
won’t entertain the fact I don’t like women.”

  “You’re forty-three,” I said. His face dropped.

  “I meant, you’re forty-three,” I said making my voice go up at the end. “How can she not know by now?”

  “She’s in denial. I’m the son and heir to the napkin fortune,” he said. “She invited all these awful Pandoras, Domenicas and Indias over on Boxing Day, who I am sure would have got me hard as a rock if I were interested. All with lovely hair and well bred, like show dogs. Mother trotted them round the terrace but I was far keener on one of the waiters… She flew into a rage and made me sit with my sisters’ children for the rest of Boxing Day lunch.”

  The drinks arrived. We took a long pull on them.

  There was a ping of the lift, and I saw Regina Battenberg emerge flanked by a tall, handsome young man. She was wearing a long kaftan, character turban and was carrying her mangy dog, Pippin. She looked much like you would expect Norma Desmond to look, if she ran an animal shelter.

  “Look!” I hissed to Chris.

  “How did she get in?” he said. “I’ve been on the waiting list for three years.”

  I hid behind a fake Bible, but she saw me and came over.

  “Coco,” she said, pulling her pale leathery skin into a cold smile. “What a nice surprise.”

  We air-kissed. Her little boss-eyed mutt growled at me.

  “This is Ricardo,” she said, gesturing to the handsome man. “He’s a model. He’s just landed the new Armani campaign.”

  “Well, this is Chris,” I said, “and he’s, um… rich.”

 

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