The coco pinchard boxset.., p.6
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       The Coco Pinchard Boxset: 5 bestselling romantic comedies in one!, p.6

           Robert Bryndza

  Doesn’t anyone meet in the pub anymore?

  I’ve made Yorkshire puddings (from a packet).


  Monday 9th February 10.00

  TO: [email protected]

  At seven this morning I shuffled past my computer on the landing when it started to trill like a 1950s phone. There was a popping noise and Meryl appeared, sat in her front room with her palm tree wallpaper in the background. Her mouth was moving but there was no sound.

  In my bleary state, I realised it was the new Skype account Rosencrantz downloaded to talk to the Prada sunglasses guy, Clive. I clicked on the speakers and Meryl came booming through at full blast, saying, “Coco! It’s cock-crow, and you’re still in your nightie?”

  I said I was recovering from a boozy lunch with Rosencrantz, Marika and Chris where we all talked about men.

  “What’s Rosencrantz talking about men for?”

  “Because he’s gay,” I said. “You remember? He told us all over the PA system at your fortieth birthday party.”

  “Yes,” said Meryl shuddering. “But, are you sure he’s gay. He’d make some girl very happy.”

  “Look,” I said. “I am not going to debate my son’s sexuality with you. Again. The penny should have dropped years ago when you made him all those evening gowns for his Barbie dolls. Now. What can I do for you?”

  “I was seeing if you wanted to come for Easter?”

  “When is Easter?” I asked.

  “When is Easter?” parroted Tony, popping up behind Meryl. “You Labour voters. I bet you could tell me when Ramadan is but not Good Friday.”

  “Tony, I’m talking,” said Meryl, pushing him away. “Coco, Easter falls on April the tenth. Mum’s coming. Daniel will be in the States, Whistle Up The Wind is doing very well… It’ll be your first Easter alone.”

  Meryl blinked and let it hang there. I was too tired to think of an excuse, so I agreed.

  “Super, I’ll send you a notelet to confirm. Must dash.”

  With that there was another popping sound and the screen went blank.

  What are you doing for Easter? Could you manufacture a fake relative who could die, and invite me to the funeral? I must try to get out of it. I must also get Rosencrantz to switch the computer off when he is finished. This Skype thing is too close for comfort. Last night, I was unwittingly introduced to Clive as I walked past in a towel.

  “Ooh. Isn’t Mum a curvy goddess?” he crooned.

  I couldn’t tell if it was meant as a compliment. He still had on his Prada sunglasses, indoors, at night. Their first proper date is tomorrow evening.

  Wednesday 11th February 23.18

  TO: [email protected]

  Thank you for your message. Why can’t you lie like other teenagers? I don’t need to know that the date is going well and you are going back to Clive’s “for coffee”.

  Chris is here. He just showed me the text you sent him; “Will the sunglasses come off along with the underwear?”

  Could you please not send things like that to Chris? It puts him in a position of knowing too much and then he feels he has to tell me.

  I went for tea and corned beef sandwiches with your nan today, she sends you her love. There is a new resident in her home, Mrs Burbridge, who is jostling to be top dog. Last night she led a coup in the residents’ lounge, which resulted in Eastenders not being shown. I told her to tell Mrs Braun, the manager, but I was met with a torrent of expletives culminating in, “I ain’t a grass!”

  She is plotting to bring down Mrs Burbridge.

  “I control what is on the box round ‘ere,” she said, her eyes flashing.

  I told her not to make trouble, but she said whatever she does, it won’t be traced back to her. If I was Mrs Burbridge, I would be scared. I saw Ethel surreptitiously slide the key off the tin of corned beef and into her handbag.

  Thursday 12th February 15.47

  TO: [email protected]

  Rosencrantz has ended it with Clive. They went on a second date yesterday to the Chamber of Horrors at Madame Tussauds. It was very dark, and for health and safety reasons a member of staff ordered him to remove his Prada sunglasses. Apparently, Clive has rather overdone it on the eye surgery. It looks like two peeled eggs are straining to evacuate his head. Rosencrantz screamed in terror and ran into the arms of a Dracula waxwork.

  Saturday 14th February 13.44

  TO: [email protected]

  You got six Valentine cards? I got a gas bill. Marika has had nothing from Aristotle, even though on their last date she let him take her up the Oxo Tower.

  Presents from Clive keep arriving for Rosencrantz. They were supposed to be going for a luxury Valentine’s journey on The London Eye… The eye-rony!

  Saturday 14th February 17.07

  TO: [email protected]

  At four thirty, after champagne, handmade Belgian chocolates and a Tiffany Silver Spork had been delivered, Clive knocked on the door.

  “Don’t answer it,” said Rosencrantz, leaping into the airing cupboard and closing the door.

  Clive banged again and looked through the letterbox. I ran into the living room but he followed and saw me through the window. I pretended to be surprised to see him, and went to open the door.

  “What can I do to win his heart?” begged Clive.

  “You should find someone who wants to settle down,” I said, as nicely as I could.

  Clive pulled off his sunglasses and shouted, “Does he know how rich I am? He’ll want for nothing!”

  Despite being forewarned, I still took a sharp intake of breath. I don’t know how his eyes were managing to stay in his head.

  “Um… money isn’t everything,” I said weakly.

  “If you believe that then you’re a fool!” he spat. “I know you’re in there Rosencrantz,” he shouted. “I could make you a star!”

  We stood there, awkwardly, as Rosencrantz remained in the airing cupboard.

  “Fine!” he said, and turning on his loafers, he hailed a cab.

  Rosencrantz quickly forgot about Clive. In fact, within three quarters of an hour, he had arranged a date via Facebook with a boy from his Elizabethan dance class. I couldn’t forget the look of desperation on Clive’s face. Will he ever find someone? Will I?

  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 Burbidge’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 Aristotle. 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 St. Duke’s comprehensive. 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 one hundred 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 prise 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 three o’clock!

  Two hundred and eleven 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, and 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: marikarolinc[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 she and I 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 has changed the passwords on my accounts and deactivated 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 only 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]

  Why aren’t you answering your phone? I need you to save me from Rhydian. Foolishly, I came out on a date with him. 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 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 cou
ld 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 Ones 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.

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