The not so secret emails.., p.6
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       The Not So Secret Emails Of Coco Pinchard (A Romantic Comedy), p.6

           Robert Bryndza
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  Please don’t cancel your date. I am okay. Aristotle came through and is taking Marika on a romantic horse-drawn carriage ride through Hyde Park. I’m just going to have a bath and go to bed early with the Belgian chocolates. I’m going to mash them up in a bowl, and eat the lot with the Silver Spork.

  Sunday 15th February 11:44

  TO: [email protected]

  No, I didn’t have the best evening. I was getting ready for bed when Daniel phoned. I thought it was going to be a nice build bridges/Valentine’s call, but all he wanted to know was if Ethel’s spare teeth were in the filing cabinet. She had rung him in a panic. Her set has vanished from the glass beside her bed. Yesterday, Ethel stole Mrs. Burbridge’s wig and threw it in the tea urn, where it melted onto the filament. She thinks the missing teeth are retaliation.

  The sum of my Valentine’s evening was spent sterilising her spare set. I am taking them over in a minute, they have Steak Diane for lunch, and the Nursing Home use the cheapest cuts of meat.

  You want to come over later? Marika wants to tell us about her amazing night with Kostas. She is also on at me to join up to Facebook. Which is where she found him. She thinks it would do me good to meet new people.

  Monday 16th February 17:00

  TO: [email protected]

  I am just fiddling with my new Facebook profile. What does it mean if someone pokes me? I just had an old school friend do just that. A guy called Rhydian. He was my first boyfriend. He dumped me because I threw sand at him. I was six at the time.

  Tuesday 17th February 04:01

  TO: [email protected]

  Do you remember a woman called Regan Turnbull? We taught with her when we were both at Manor High School. She has the most awful picture of me in one of her Facebook albums. Taken the night we got drunk in 1998 after the OFSTED inspection. Bad angle, bad haircut, bad diet. I look fifty - I was only thirty!

  Tuesday 17th February 04:12

  TO: [email protected]

  Sorry! Go back to sleep. I completely lost track of the time. I will message her and ask her to take the picture off. Rhydian’s poke was platonic. He is married.

  Tuesday 17th February 21:00

  TO: [email protected]

  I now have 100 Facebook friends. Just keeping up with all of them is exhausting. You click through their photos and profiles and you are confronted with another person you had consigned to your past.

  One of them is a woman who heads an influential policy group at Chatham House, campaigning against beheadings in Saudi Arabia. The last time I saw her, we were five and I tried to steal her Cindy Doll, she ended up with the body and me with the head.

  Rosencrantz had to prize my hands off the mouse this evening when dinner was ready,

  “You haven’t like washed today mum,” he said.

  No response from Regan Turnbull. I keep looking at that awful picture. She never asked if she could put it out there for the entire world to see!

  Wednesday 18th February 16:30

  TO: [email protected]

  Sorry I missed your calls. I turned on the computer at nine this morning then I looked up and it was 3pm!

  211 friends and counting. I chatted to Rhydian today. He bought me a Virtual Cactus, which I must remember to virtually water. I bought him some Virtual Chocolate.

  We worked out our ‘porn names.’ Mine is Bambi Turner for which he sent me a Super Poke, his is Kenton Fluffbag. I threw a Sheep at him. He is so nice to chat to. He has a daughter the same age as Rosencrantz.

  Bad news RE Regan Turnbull. On further inspection, she hasn’t posted on her Wall or updated her status in months.

  I phoned the number listed on her profile and her Husband answered. He told me she ran off with another man last summer, and hasn’t been heard of since. She met the man on Facebook.

  I asked him if he knew her account password to remove the photo but he said,

  “If I did, this affair would’ve been nipped in the bud.” Poor man.

  Wednesday 18th February 17:03

  TO: [email protected]

  I have now looked at the photo of me so many times that it’s coming up as the first result when you Google ‘Coco Pinchard!’

  Daphne from Ohio is now in second place.

  To top it all, the Cactus from Rhydian has died. I forgot to virtually water it. Am gutted.

  Wednesday 18th February 21:47

  TO: [email protected]

  Had my first tiff with Rhydian. My status is set to, ‘Coco is currently annoyed with Rhydian’

  The reason; he bought me a Virtual Goldfish, to make up for the loss of my Virtual Cactus. What with mounting friend requests and my search for Regan, I just don’t have time for pets.

  Thursday 19th February 08:04

  TO: [email protected]

  I haven’t slept. Rhydian said the Virtual Goldfish would be low maintenance, but it was ill in the night.

  I also found Sophie Snow White’s profile. It is set to private so I can’t view her. I don’t want to friend request her.

  A horrible thought…What if she is still seeing Daniel?

  Thursday 19th February 09:15

  TO: [email protected]

  I found a way around it. I set up a fake account as ‘Karen Pritchard’ and ‘friended’ Snow White.

  There are many pictures in her photo album, mostly taken in nightclubs holding on to different men with her pink-stained tongue poking out. None of Daniel, thank god.

  I am going to engage her in some online chat, and pump her for information.

  Thursday 19th February 10:01

  TO: [email protected]

  I hope you don’t mind - but I used a photo of you on my fake profile. I was talking to Snow White as ‘Karen’ and she wanted to know what I looked like. The only pictures I had on the hard drive were of you or Goldie Hawn, and even she’s not that gullible.

  Snow White is in a relationship with a guy who works as a DJ in Manchester. She said that she was seeing an ‘older guy,’ but he was ‘crap in bed.’

  I am quite offended… Daniel is/was actually rather good. Am I terribly inexperienced? Should I get out there more? However, where is ‘out there’ these days?

  Thursday 19th February 11:46

  TO: [email protected]

  I have just written something on Snow White’s Wall that I am not proud of.

  I wrote SLAG.

  As well as Daniel, she was sleeping with Prince Charming from the Pantomime!

  Thursday 19th February 11:56

  TO: [email protected]

  Oops. No I didn’t. I wrote SALG. Snow White thinks it’s a ‘cool word’ and she has started up a new Facebook group called ‘The SALGS.’

  Just her and me are members so far.

  Thursday 19th February 12:30

  TO: [email protected]

  I blew my cover and told Sophie what I thought of her. She sent one word back; FREAK

  She also ordered me to leave The SALGS - which now has 124 members, including Chris!

  Thursday 19th February 19:00

  TO: [email protected]

  Thank you for leaving the SALGS, I appreciate your loyalty.

  I just experienced an intervention when Marika came up the stairs with Rosencrantz. I hadn’t noticed the door go. She took me into the bathroom and showed me my reflection in the mirror.

  I was shocked. I looked ancient and unwashed with huge dark circles under my eyes.

  Rosencrantz changed the passwords on my accounts and de-activated me. He has taken on my Virtual Goldfish.

  They led me downstairs, poured wine, and made me eat. I thought I would be so mad with them but I felt calm. I’m not in a good place, but the Internet is a far worse place for me to be right now.

  Friday 20th February 16:33

  TO: [email protected]

  Thank you for
last night. A good sleep has put things in perspective.

  Ethel just phoned to see how I am doing. (Apparently, she came over in the week but I didn’t see or hear her.)

  She said if her Wilf were still alive, he too would have been addicted to the Internet,

  “What with all that free porn, it would’ve made life easier for ‘im,” she said. “In later years ‘is back was so bad ‘e couldn’t reach the top shelf magazines.”

  I told Ethel I wasn’t looking at that kind of thing and put the phone down. I have just had a text from Rhydian asking if I fancied a drink this evening. He says he misses me on Facebook. Should I go? It’s just a drink and our Facebook relationship was platonic. Might be nice to get out … I’ve just sat on the stairs all morning, smoking.

  Friday 20th February 20:00

  TO: [email protected]

  Foolishly, I came out on a date. Why aren’t you answering your phone? I need you to save me from Rhydian. He is a total nut job. His wife left him last Friday. He joined Facebook to find a new partner. What’s more, his daughter Lizzie is here too (and equally nuts.) He thought meeting her would be a good way to integrate me into the family. He said he never should have dumped me when we were six. I am just hiding in the toilets.

  What am I doing?

  Friday 20th February 21:44

  TO: [email protected]

  Where are you? It’s packed in here. We just had food, which is difficult when people are dragging their oversized handbags over your head as they pass. Lizzie told the story of her Mother’s betrayal. Last week she came home from school early to find her sitting on the Gardener’s face. The only reply I could think of was,

  “You’re so lucky to have a big garden.” Come and get me, please!

  Friday 20th February 22:00

  TO: [email protected]

  No. I am in All Bar One, not The Slug and Lettuce. The windows are all steamed up so I can’t see out. We are at the back. I can barely stand. I have had too much wine. Lizzie just cornered me when Rhydian was in the loo saying,

  “I knew he’d find me a new mother on Facebook. You were the best out of all the others we looked at.”

  What if she didn’t run off with the Gardener? What if they killed her?

  Saturday 21st February 11:19

  TO: [email protected]

  I thought I told you it was the All Bar One in Covent Garden, sorry hun. On the upside, at least you now know where all the other All Bar One’s are in Central London? ;-) I finally got away at midnight, lying that I had forgotten to take the anti-rejection drugs, for my heart transplant.

  “You must get them! “ said Lizzie, “and come back for us!” Rhydian walked me outside to the pavement. We stopped by the window awkwardly. Then I heard a squeaking sound. Lizzie was at the window and was looking through a smiley face she had drawn in the condensation. She gave her Dad the thumbs up and he leant in for a kiss. My stomach contracted in a panic. I pushed him away and threw up spectacularly over the bonnet of a parked Mercedes. Their faces fell in disgust. Rhydian produced a tissue saying,

  “Well, this has been, um, lovely.” Lizzie’s face, still at the window was now boiling with tears. I just ran for it and didn’t stop until I reached Leicester Square. Maybe my vomit saved me. I haven’t heard from him.

  Monday 24th February 16:18

  TO: [email protected]

  Hi love, tried to ring but you’re not answering. You must be in mime class. I know they are very strict about you not speaking. Your Nan has been taken to Casualty after a nasty fall. I don’t know much else. I am just on my way to the Hospital. The key is under the wheelie bin. If you’re hungry, I’m afraid all we’ve got is Wagon Wheels…

  Monday 24th February 21.33

  TO: [email protected]

  Answer your phone! I have left you three messages. Your Mum has had to have an emergency hip replacement at The Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel. The Surgeon says it went well. I was with her when she came round from the anaesthetic. She had a fight with Mrs. Burbridge at the Nursing Home over who was going to call the Bingo balls. It got physical and Ethel fell/was pushed off the stage. I asked her if she reported it to the Manager, but she is still going on about not being a grass.

  Tuesday 25th February 15:04

  TO: [email protected]

  I took your Mum some nicotine patches this morning; she said she would prefer them to grapes. When I got there, she was very pale and in a lot more pain than yesterday. The Nurses don’t seem bothered. They were all huddled round a computer playing The NHS Sims, looking after virtual patients. I phoned Mrs. Braun at the Rainbow Nursing home, she says Ethel will no longer be welcome as a resident when she is discharged from Hospital. I asked why. Mrs. Braun says when she tried to break up the fight Ethel called her, a ‘potato-faced Kraut.’ I said she has called me far worse, but Mrs. Braun said that they have a zero-tolerance racism policy.

  I then phoned Meryl. She had to bellow above the noise of her food mixer that she’s knee deep in Royal icing making a four-tier wedding cake, and can’t visit before the weekend. Tony can’t either. He has a backlog of coffins due to a local outbreak of Legionnaires disease.

  I told her that your Mother will be homeless when she gets out of Hospital, but she said she had to go, and put the phone down. We need to sort this out.

  Wednesday 26th February 15:01

  TO: [email protected]

  Chris came with me to the Rainbow Nursing home. Ethel’s room had been emptied. Three drab suitcases and a Hatbox sat waiting in reception. There was no note, or message. The teenager on the desk informed us that Mrs. Braun had gone to visit her Sister in Berlin. Mrs. Burbridge hasn’t been evicted. We saw her through the window of the Resident’s Lounge surrounded by pensioners. There was laughter and music playing loudly and the sun was glinting off her smooth bald head.

  Thursday 27th February 21:34

  TO: [email protected]

  Rosencrantz came along to Whitechapel for evening visiting. I was shocked how Ethel’s condition had deteriorated. They have moved her into a stinking ward full of old women moaning in the gloom. The lone Nurse on duty was engrossed in a book about alternative medicine. When we reached Ethel’s bed, she was waxy and delirious. We tried to give her some water but her body tensed up and she began to shake. I shouted for the Nurse, and seeing Ethel, she pressed an alarm. Within seconds, a team of Doctors sped in and swished the curtains around her bed. We were asked to wait outside in the corridor. After a long hour, a Consultant came and told us Ethel had had a cardiac arrest. They managed to revive her but she is unconscious and on a ventilator. I had to play twenty questions but he finally admitted that it might be the MRSA superbug, brought on by her wound not healing.

  “So nothing to do with that filthy ward?” I said. The Consultant said Ethel was being moved to intensive care and then had to go.

  Meryl and Tony are coming down early tomorrow morning and Daniel is on standby for a flight home.

  Friday 28th February 03:30

  TO: [email protected]

  I can hear music coming from your room, can’t you sleep either? You fancy a hot chocolate?

  Friday 28th February 10:06

  TO: [email protected]

  I phoned the hospital at 7am. Ethel is still unconscious, but stable. At 8.30am, Meryl and Tony were on the doorstep in cycling gear with windswept hair. They had biked down in the freezing rain.

  They were acting with forced gaiety. Meryl was barely through the door when the bicycle clips came off, the rubber gloves went on, and she was cleaning my oven. Tony pulled a brick out of his bum bag saying he’d brought it to drop into my cistern to save water. As he disappeared up the stairs, I lit a cigarette and watched Meryl.

  “You okay?” I said.

  “Yes, thank you,” she said, scrubbing furiously. “Just a little saddle sore but apart from that…” She burst into
tears. I went over and gave her a hug.

  “What will I do if…?” she sobbed. Tony came downstairs. I signalled him to come and hug her but he went very red saying,

  “Ah, I’ll just um…” before scuttling into the garden. I poured us each a large Brandy, and for the first time ever, she’s not cooking or cleaning. We’re sat watching an episode of Sex And The City. I think it’s cheered her up a bit, although she’s had to keep asking me what a lot of things mean.

  Daniel lands at nine tonight.


  Sunday 1st March 09:45

  TO: [email protected]

  Daniel knocked on the door at 10pm. He was surprised I hadn’t picked him up from Heathrow. He had a tan, a small ponytail and was sporting some woven cloth bracelets around his wrist. Everything about him screamed mid-life crisis, including the faux American accent. I managed to be civil for about fifteen minutes, until he thanked me for saving him some cold Fish Fingers under ‘ah-loo-min-um’ foil.

  “You’re a Londoner, Daniel, from Catford.”

  “But in America I can be whaddever I want,” he said.

  “Can you stop being a dickhead then?” I snapped. He slept downstairs on the Sofa. Meryl tried to instigate a big jolly cooked breakfast with Daniel this morning. I stayed upstairs with a couple of Pop-Tarts and Rosencrantz stomped off to college with a cold hello and a Fruit Corner. M + T have gone on ahead to Whitechapel on the Tandem. Daniel and me are waiting for a taxi. I feel like I am trapped in an Ingmar Bergman film. I’m looking out into the grey drizzle whilst Daniel plays mournfully on the piano downstairs.

  Monday 2nd March 16:30

  TO: [email protected]

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