The not so secret emails.., p.8
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       The Not So Secret Emails Of Coco Pinchard (A Romantic Comedy), p.8

           Robert Bryndza
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TO: [email protected]

  I am sorry. You were right. You were so right.


  FROM: [email protected] TO: [email protected]

  Dear Coco

  I was awake all night after we came off the phone. I’m sorry. I can’t do this. You need too much from me, but I need to get out there and achieve things, and I can’t do it with you. Next to you, I am nothing. You are an incredible, generous, vibrant, amazing woman and you will always be my best friend. I am sorry.

  We can make this quick and painless. I have found a link to an online divorce site it will be cheaper than going through normal Solicitors and arguing over how to separate everything.


  He’s telling me in an email? And separating everything? How could I be so stupid! Oh and now I’m ‘vibrant’ what the F does that mean?

  Friday 13th March 15:44

  TO: [email protected]

  Spoke to Daniel. He didn’t answer his phone until the tenth attempt. He was shocked at how angry I was, he had expected some tearful heap. He tried to convince me that the online divorce option was the best. I told him I am not separating anything.

  “Well, you have to,” he said, with harshness in his voice. “Otherwise, I’ll cut you off. How much money do you have? A couple of hundred?” He wants half the house. I asked him what has changed. He said it was him and not me. The emotion of nearly losing Ethel made him ‘rash and vulnerable.’ Marika came straight over from work.

  “You were right,” I said.

  “I was starting to hope I was wrong,” she said, and gave me a long hug. I refuse to crumple. What a bastard he is, and how stupid I am.

  Saturday 14th March 21:56

  TO: [email protected]

  I met Rosencrantz’s new boyfriend today. I wasn’t going to but I refuse to let Daniel disrupt my life further. I was very impressed with Christian. Tall, blond, gorgeous and charismatic, he was dressed top to toe in theatrical high fashion, sort of Vivienne Westwood meets Elizabethan fop. He is studying at the London College Of Fashion. He’s only twenty but his back story is impressive; son of Government Diplomats, spent his childhood travelling, speaks fluent Mandarin, has volunteered for the Red Cross and last Christmas he raised £7,000 hiking up Kilimanjaro for charity. He is so mature, and so wise for his years. After he had gone Rosencrantz told me off for talking so much.

  “I didn’t need to hear about you and Dad in so much … Detail.”

  “You’ve hardly said ‘like’ all evening,” I said surprised. Rosencrantz told me that Christian fines him fifty pence every time he drops a random ‘like’ into a sentence. I wondered why Christian was clutching a limited edition Vivienne Westwood piggy bank. Why didn’t I think of that?

  Sunday 15th March 15:45

  TO: [email protected]

  Meryl rang today, the row wasn’t mentioned. She gave me Ethel’s new phone number/email address in Whitechapel Hospital! She has had a ‘Communications Module’ installed next to her bed by a company called Bedside Entertainments Ltd. She can now watch television and communicate with the outside world. I asked her if it was expensive.

  “Not with the NHS,” said Meryl. “The greatest gift this country has given us is universal healthcare for all!”

  She was sympathetic about Daniel, but commented how difficult it will be dividing things up.

  “I would hate to lose half my Wedgwood, let alone half my house,” she said. Afterwards I thought, why do I have to lose half?

  Monday 16th March 13:43

  TO: [email protected]

  Had coffee with Chris in Regents Park for what he called a ‘Divorce Summit.’ We sat on the tables by the lake in the early spring sun. He said he had looked up three bedroom houses similar to mine in Marylebone. One sold last week for over a million pounds. My Granddad bought it in 1929 for £600! I’m not pretending I’m naive to think what its worth but it’s always been just our house, and the thought of selling it… Well, I did cry over my chocolate muffin. Chris has offered, as an early Christmas present, the services of his Solicitor.

  “You can’t let Daniel get away with,” he said. “What with that and Meryl on his side, they’ll take you to the cleaners.” He has booked me in tomorrow to see Mr. Spencer, the Cheshire family Solicitor.

  Tuesday 17th March 13:44

  TO: [email protected]

  I had an uplifting meeting with the dapper Mr. Spencer in Chelsea. I was just getting over how my shoes sank ankle deep into the decadent Axminster carpet in his waiting room, when he took me into his office. Is that Chandelier real? And the paintings, I am sure I saw a Picasso. Even his laptop had a mahogany trim. I was only in there for twenty minutes but his soothing clipped tones made me feel so safe and confident.

  He has outlined a plan of action and explained my rights. How much is he costing?

  Wednesday 18th March 18:09

  TO: [email protected]


  Yesterday I met with a Solicitor. This is what is happening. As you are the unfaithful deserter, I keep the house. I am also requesting a one-off settlement of thirty-thousand pounds.

  Unless you arrange for collection, your personal belongings will be packed and shipped to Meryl. Your Steinway Piano will be placed in storage and you will be sent the bill. I am sure you think this unreasonable, but in the eyes of the law, it is entirely reasonable. My Solicitor told me that if I wanted to I could pursue you for monthly spousal support for, well, ever. Let me know the fax number for your hotel. My Solicitor needs to send you some paperwork.

  Wednesday 18th March 22:16

  TO: [email protected]

  Just had a phone call from Daniel. I could hear him sweating across the Atlantic. He asked how I could afford a divorce lawyer from Chelsea.

  “You’re gonna clean me out,” he said sounding panicky. He says if I sell the Steinway Piano for £15,000, I can keep the money. He will pay the other £15,000. I said I would talk to my Solicitor and put the phone down. He’s a cheeky bastard. I took out a loan to pay for that bloody piano.

  Thursday 19th March 19:12

  TO: [email protected]

  I went to visit Ethel today in Hospital. She was surrounded by elderly patients, perched on the end of her bed, and dotted around in wheelchairs. They were crowded round the little screen provided by Bedside Entertainments Ltd. As I reached the bed an episode of Murder She Wrote was finishing, so the patients excused themselves. Ethel didn’t introduce me, even though she was on first name terms with them all.

  “I’ve spoke to Danny,” she said when I’d sat down. “Divorce,” she mouthed, shaking her head. “I couldn’t tell anyone on the Ward. The shame would finish me orf!”

  We sat and looked at each other for a minute.

  “Why do you want to take all his money Coco? You’ve got your house, that must be worth a few bob?” I reminded her, that Daniel wanted the Divorce.

  “It’s up to wives to tell their ‘usbands what they want,” she snapped. “Yer too soft!” She pursed her lips and we stared each other out again. An old woman shuffled past in a nightie covered in pictures of cats.

  “Ere Dora,” shouted Ethel. “This is me Daughter-in-Law. The one ‘oo switched orf me life support.” Dora looked scandalised.

  “She was on a Ventilator at the time!” I said seeing the other patients start to prick up their ears, “And it wasn’t just my decision.” Dora didn’t look convinced. Ethel then told me that when I’d ‘pulled the plug’ she’d had an out-of-body experience. Looking down from above she had seen us all around her bed. (My roots had needed touching up, apparently.) With her back pressed against the polystyrene ceiling tiles, God had told her to get down, as she still had work to do.

  “And he was right,” she said lowering her voice. “I need to save your marriage.” She leant over and fumbled around in her locker, pulling out an
Ann Summers Lingerie catalogue. She pushed it across the bedcovers.

  “This is your solution?” I said. “Crotchless knickers.”

  “Well, there’s more flattering stuff for women your age.”

  A Nurse, who came to check Ethel’s chart, interrupted us.

  “Did Mrs. Pinchard tell you how well she’s doing?” she said. “She can get outside for a cigarette.”

  “Nurse Carol ‘ere got me the Zimmer frame with the ashtray welded on it,” said Ethel proudly. “She’s like a second daughter.” I had had enough by now and got up to go. Ethel grabbed my arm.

  “Please don’t do it,” she whispered. “There’s a lot to be said for a sexless marriage, I’d recommend it, just please don’t Divorce.” I almost felt sorry for her, she is always boasting about her son’s big house with its en-suite bathroom. Daniel grew up with an outside toilet.

  Friday 20th March 13:47

  TO: [email protected]

  Daniel has hired himself a Solicitor. A guy called Derek Jacobs. The name sounded familiar and then I realised why. Derek Jacobs was the Pantomime Dame in Snow White! He used to practice law before he had a mid-life crisis and went off to Drama School.

  Christian has been staying here for most of the week. I did have the rule of no overnight guests but he is so easy to have around. He now lights me a cigarette whenever I come home. Also Rosencrantz is so happy. They spend lots of time cuddling on the sofa in front of old black and white films. Christian has the Powell and Pressburger box set. We all watched A Matter Of Life And Death last night, as the rain tink tonked on the roof.

  This morning Christian was up before all of us. I came down for breakfast to find him sat at the kitchen table with a sewing machine and bundles of fabric. He is making costumes for Rosencrantz’s first year project, a short play. Christian seems like a keeper.

  Saturday 21st March 14:00

  TO: [email protected]

  This email isn’t divorce related. As per every year, I am reminding you that tomorrow is Mother’s Day. It is no longer my job to buy a card and forge your signature.

  Rosencrantz went to see Ethel yesterday; he said she had crowds of old folks around her bed watching television. It seems a near death experience has made her more sociable.

  Monday 23rd March 10:34

  TO: [email protected], [email protected]

  Daniel & Meryl

  I have just received an invoice from Bedside Entertainments Ltd. It’s not an NHS service. It is a premium rate service and Ethel put my name down for billing! She has been charging the other patients to watch television. I thought it was odd she was being so sociable, but now I know. Rosencrantz said her water jug was full to the brim with fifty pence pieces. She had told him it was for charity.

  I’ve scanned in a copy of the bill. How can Bedside Entertainments justify their call tariffs, and charging £4.99 to watch Carry On Up The Khyber? Ridiculous. The TV/Phone module has been removed until the bill is settled.

  Tuesday 24th March 08:40

  TO: [email protected]

  I hadn’t heard a peep from Meryl or Daniel about this bill, so I went to Whitechapel in a rage. Ethel looked quite shocked.

  “Where’s the jug?” I said searching her bedside locker.

  “They’ve confiscated it,” she said re-arranging her nightgown. “I was going to give it to charity.”

  I asked her which charity.

  “Um… The Little Spastics,” she said vaguely. “It was all a mix up with the bill.”

  At the back of her locker, I found her savings book. When I opened it there was only £2,000 left. £18,000 had been transferred out.

  “Where’s your money gone?” I said, she looked away.

  “Ethel!” She told me she had given it to Daniel to buy his piano

  “So you’ve lent him money to buy his piano?” I said.

  “He said you were selling it, against his will.” I told her that he had suggested selling it and that it’s worth only fifteen grand.

  “What about the other three grand?” said Ethel sharply. I looked at her.

  “The little bastard!” she said. I came home to a message from Mr. Spencer. Daniel’s Pantomime Dame/Solicitor has agreed the Divorce paperwork, giving me the house, and a lump sum payment of £30,000, based on the difference of what the piano sells for. He is expecting me to get £15,000 for it. However, his stupid Solicitor/Pantomime Dame failed to specify in the paperwork how much I actually have to sell it for.

  I have been thinking about how I can pay you back for Mr. Spencer’s services. You have always talked about having a piano in your library. How about I sell it to you for, say 1p? You get a lovely old piano and Daniel has to cough up £29,999,99p! It will teach him a lesson, and the best thing is — it’s legal.

  Wednesday 25th March 15:44

  TO: [email protected]

  I officially filed for Divorce today. Chris has invited us over tonight for drinks around his new piano to celebrate. He has given me a shiny penny mounted in a tiny frame. Under it he has written. Here’s to the future.

  Thursday 26th March 09:02

  TO: [email protected]

  Daniel received the paperwork from Mr. Spencer, which included the invoice for the 1p piano! He rang screaming,

  “Divorce won’t come quick enough you bitch!” before slamming down the phone. Then I went to visit Ethel. She’s not happy with Daniel either. She phoned him after I left the other day, and “put the fear of god up ‘im.” He wired the money back to her within the hour.

  “I didn’t think you had it in you,” she said. There was a hint of admiration in her voice. She said it might have lasted if I had been a cow from day one.

  “I was a cow to my Wilf, and we ‘ad an ‘appy marriage — until he got himself squashed by a bus.”

  Due to an administrative error her phone bill has been paid by the NHS trust. A copy of the bill was mixed up with her medical notes and they thought Bedtime Entertainments was a new kind of rehabilitation therapy. The jug of money was confiscated by Nurse Carol and donated to charity.

  “Guess ‘oo the fat bitch give it to?” said Ethel lowering her voice, “Miss Tiggywinkle’s bloody Hedgehog Hospital. What are those prickly little bastards gonna do with it?” At that point, Nurse Carol came up to take her blood pressure and Ethel said,

  “Hello love! It’s me favourite Nurse!”

  Saturday 28th March 10:47

  TO: [email protected]

  I was woken at seven this morning by a phone call from the Hospital. They said to come and collect your Nan, as she had been discharged! When I arrived an hour later, she was sat in the reception in her big fur coat with a scowl.

  She has been declared fit enough to be an Outpatient and thus a ‘bed blocker.’ She has to go for rehabilitation three times a week for the next couple of months. She can’t manage the stairs to the loo, so she is in the living room on a camp bed with one of my lovely never-been-used Jamie Oliver pans. I know I never cook but it hurts me to think of the first, or second thing that pan will contain. Are you home tonight? She’s looking forward to seeing you.

  Saturday 28th March 12:01

  TO: [email protected]

  I came out of the bathroom naked this morning as the computer was ringing and Meryl and Tony appeared via Skype.

  “Tony look away!” ordered Meryl from the screen. I screamed and ran into the bedroom. When I came back in a dressing gown, I could hear Meryl yelling at Tony to go and have a cold shower.

  I sat down and tried to compose myself.

  “Coco,” she said. “Do you always walk around naked?”

  “Only when I’m alone.” I said, vowing to tell Rosencrantz to switch off the computer when he is finished.

  “Large bosoms always put Tony at sixes and sevens,” she said, as if it were my fault he saw.

  “You got my messages then?” I said, trying to change the subject.

bsp; “Yes,” she said. “The Hospital did phone me this morning but I said you were the closest kin, for her Outpatient appointments.”

  “What about Nursing Homes? Both Ethel and I would rather she is in a nice home.”

  Meryl then told me that Mrs. Braun has gone ahead and written to the Local Authority, effectively blacklisting Ethel in the London area.

  “I can’t be a full time carer.” I said. “I need to start thinking about working again.”

  “Oh Coco!” she said. “If you were an Indian you wouldn’t think twice about caring for family.”

  “Well, um,” I said momentarily thrown off.

  “Look,” she said, flashing her Margaret Thatcher smile. “You need to acclimatise yourself to the day, and put your bra on. Let’s just agree what I have said on principle and we can talk more. It’s just short term, that’s what family does, well at least whilst you still are family.”

  With that, the screen went blank. I will find Ethel a home if it kills me. Otherwise, I will kill her.

  Saturday 28th March 16:45

  TO: [email protected]

  The cheapest private Nursing Home is seven hundred pounds a week!

  “I’m not forking out that,” said Ethel.

  “Me either,” I agreed. She then waved a copy of Rosencrantz’s Stage newspaper, with an article about a new council funded Nursing Home for retired theatricals. I am going to write a suitably dramatic email and hope it will land her a place.

  Sunday 29th March 09:00

  TO: [email protected]

  Dear Miss Jeanie Lavelle

  I have just seen your article in this week’s edition of The Stage. Your Nursing Home for retired theatrical artistes looks marvellous. I am seeking suitable accommodation for my Mother-In-Law, Mrs. Ethel Pinchard

  Ethel doesn’t have an Equity card, or any TV/Theatre/Film/Radio experience but I think she would fit in well in the world of elderly show biz. She is very outgoing, opinionated, and prone to over excitement. As far as her theatrical pedigree is concerned, she was a formidable player on the Catford Karaoke circuit in the late nineties, often winning first prize singing I’m a Red Toothbrush, You’re a Blue Toothbrush. She was recently forced to leave her Nursing Home of five years when it collapsed due to subsidence, losing many of her beloved possessions, and her Local Authority medical records.

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