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Archive for February, 2013

Dennis texted me in great excitement today.  ‘Get today’s Daily Mail page 13 I think you will be very very interested.’  I was busy leafleting in town for our show The Boyfriend (never miss out on an opportunity to plug your show) so I texted back, ‘What does it say?’  and he replied, ‘The headline of the article says sperm donor mum tracks down her son’s global family.’  Ha ha.  He was right.  I was very very interested.  When I got home I looked it up online.  It is here for you with pictures of the Lost Boys and all.  I loved this bit:  ‘‘The similarities are uncanny. They all share what must be their father’s hair, distinctive shaped eyes, eye colour, head shape and noses.’ Kerching!

I am quite chuffed that I must therefore once again be hailed as a prophet.  Just like I were when me tits book turned out to be all coming true, when that Covent Garden Ice-cream parlour The Icecreamists started selling human boobie-milk ice-cream.  Makes me think I have quite a responsibility in deciding what to write next.  I could maybe try for world peace?  No, sadly, for some unfathomable reason, no doubt due to a blockage in a past life, I can only write and prophesy about bodily fluids.

Quite by-the-by, I found something online today that looks truly amazing and like it is from the future.  A three-d pen!  It’s called the 3doodle, and I think everyone in the world will really really want one.

Fred is busy creating the cover for Shardonnay. I have gone with Bashi’s dictionary idea, with Shardie’s very own definition of the word ‘consequence‘   highlighted.  As soon as it’s done, I’ll post it for you.  We have also prepared and re-formatted the text, ready for it to become an e-book on a site called Smashwords.

Sorry you can’t have any chapters yet of Shardonnay:  the Sequel, (it’s not necessarily going to be The Big Mojito) but I need to finish it before I can start posting.  Because sometimes, as you near the end of a book, it suddenly becomes obvious what the real beginning of the book should have been and you have to rewrite it.  By the end if you are lucky you sometimes find the proper title too.  I wonder how Dickens or Thackeray coped with this problem.  Maybe they too were obliged to finish the whole before starting serialisation.

Anyway, for anyone what cares, (and I really don’t expect you to), please be advised the sequel appears to be writing itself, driven by that powerhouse what is Shardonnay.  It is already 11,000 words in and growing apace.  I must say, that girl don’t take no shit from no author.  Help!  Am being bullied!  Despite her energy levels, the work will still take at least two weeks though so steady on.  I get people hassling me in the street/at my yoga/in Waitrose.  All very lovely, but I do have a lot of poos to pick up in the ponies’ field you know, plus coming up the Bollywood Nights event, The Boyfriend, a Japanese exchange and a Munster exchange.  Can’t just sit in bed with two dogs and one cat on top of the quilt, one dog (naughty Whisky) under the quilt, type type typing away.  That would be lazy and wicked.  😉

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Chapter 32. Massive Stuff Goin On.

Gloria’s tan character shoes scrunched on the gravel then went tap tap tap on the kerb.  A man got out of the car and opened a rear door for her.  She got in, arranged her coat tidily around her, wound down her window and gave me a polite, controlled little wave. Her face were pinched.  She were tryin not to show her disappointment. Brave little kid, I thought to meself, sadly.

I were aware of a movement by my side. Matt had let go of me arm and started forward. I turned to look at him. I could see from his eyes what he were gonna do. ‘For God’s sake,’ I said in a loud whisper. ‘We got enough to look after without a little prissy girl and all!’ I grabbed his shirt sleeve.

He yanked his arm away from my grip, almost violent he were. ‘Yeah, Shardonnay, it is for God’s sake that I’m doing this and I’m gonna do whatever I bloody like!’ he hissed. Bloody hell, not like him at all, such a pussy he is normally.

He legged it down the steps, stumbled over the gravel towards the car which were already movin away, sprinted after it and banged his fist on the roof. The car jerked to a halt. Gloria’s window slid down.

‘Gloria!’ said Matt. ‘Would you….would you, please…’ he sniffed and sobbed, honestly, he’s a right wuss, ‘do me the favour of…coming to live here, with us?….You’re so good with Nick, you see, and you could, you could sing to him every day. He…he would really love that.’ I rolled me eyes cos he were blubbin away as he said all this. Honestly, that man! His heart’ll be the death of him. Gloria opened her car door and got out and hugged Matt. They just stood there quiet, arms round each other, tears pourin down their faces.

Then a voice behind us groaned ‘OP!’

All our heads swivelled round.  There were a silence.  You coulda heard a pin drop.  Even the birds was holding their breath.  I walked back to the doorway of the lounge. Nick were moving his mouth and eyes.

‘OP?’ I says to him. ‘Funny word to say, if it’s your first word in four years!’ Then I let out one of me bigger cackles.

‘OP!’ Nick said again, and me mum and me we burst out cryin and laughin with relief and happiness. Third try Nick got his mouth to work better. ‘STOP!’ he shouted.

‘Yeah, it’s OK, Nick,’ I said to him. ‘Your dad’s taken care of it. That little kid’s comin to live with us.’  Soon as I said it in words, I realised it were right and that Matt had done a good thing.

Matt and Gloria came runnin back in. None of us could believe it that our boy were back.  We was yellin and huggin and shriekin and dancin.  Gloria hugged Nick. He said, slowly at first then faster, ‘Sebastian’s child.  You are Sebastian’s child!  Of course you are!’ over and over again.

He only had his mouth and eyes so far to work with, but over the comin days, with Gloria doin her healin on him, he got to sit up in a wheel-chair and got back the use of his arms.  First thing he did, he asked us to wheel him over to the telly.  I were thrilled to bits.  I thought he were gonna show us how independent he were by changin the channel himself or something and you know, every little helps, that would be another good step in the right direction. Matt wheeled him over.  I were just about to say, ‘Oy, Nick, you could just use the remote like everybody else,’ when he picked up me lovely silver ornamental King Charles Spaniel and smacked it into the TV, smashin the screen to bits.  He smacked it again and again, every inch of it, until he were breathless. It were well weird.  I mean, what had that telly ever done to him? I think the poor lad’s gone a bit soft in the head. Luckily the telly were a few years old and we was due for a new one otherwise I would have been a bit pissed off really.

Little by little he got walkin again. It’s takin time but I think he’ll be there soon. Could even be completely better for his eighteenth which is in like three weeks. Yeah, I know! The little guy’s not even eighteen. It’s like he’s lived several life-times innit? It’s all too much, really. Too much, too young.

Chapter 33.  Oops.

A week later I took some letters off of the doormat and took them in to Matt in his office. He were in front of his computer. He looked at me and turned the screen to face me. It were Youtube. I just love Youtube. I sat down on a swivel seat to enjoy whatever it were. Oh my god, it were me! I must say, I were lookin well hot! I were dressed in a gorjuss gold lamay top, all shiny and tight. I were waving a glass of champers around in each hand, LOL what am I like? Wherever the camera were, I were right there in its face. I’m always like that, I am, really photojeanic. I started listening to the words comin out of me mouth. They kinda rung a bell. Oh…yeah, not good…a cold feelin of dread were going up and down me spine. I held me breath as I listened:

‘Well, Finn, you do whatever you like, but without me you wouldn’t even be here to do it! I carried ya…well, ok, maybe half of ya… carefully across the road in your little jam-jar! I took care! I cared about ya! I din’t trip! I din’t lose ya! You should be saying ‘well done,’ to me, ‘well done,’ for doing that little service for ya.’ Oh, Lord, me voice were going on and on. Talk about diggin yer own grave. I were diggin me own fuckin canyon! I listened right to the end, me heart thumpin away in me chest like a fuckin herd a fuckin elephants:

‘….couldn’t get it up or had sperms what didn’t know how to swim and that’s why yer mum came to the ‘clinic,’ and b.) if he had ‘provided his own seed’ then you wouldn’t be you, you’d be some other kid, if you get my drift, and c.) even if the kid made out of that man what brung you up’s spunk was ‘you’, would you really want to have a dad like that?’

I couldn’t help but nod along as the me in the video were actually making some rather good points, I thought. But oh! That bloody bastard Finn! Not only had he made out to poor Nick that Gloria were dead, but he’d also secretly got me on film the night of his show. Little shit. Sorry, I don’t like swearing, you know I don’t, but there ain’t no other word for him. I made a mental note to meself to go round and give him a piece of my mind, and a good smack while I’m about it. Yeah, and if Shardonnay wants to give you a good smack, you are gonna know about it! You can feel sorry for that little shit. Very very sorry!

I carried on watchin. Couldn’t tear me eyes away. The person what were me lurched off to the side, sloppin her champers everywhere, and threw up in a plant pot. That did make me giggle just a tiny bit cos honestly, what am I like?!

However, I kinda knew the game were up. There were no point hidin nothin now. Everyone in the world would know the truth. That’s the problem with Youtube and the internet innit though? If one person knows it, everyone knows it. And oops, that video already had three million views and had only been put up yesterday. ‘Matt.’ I swallowed. ‘ You might as well know everything now, I spose.’ I took a deep breath. Here goes. I paused and could hardly get the words out. ‘Sebastian were… your child.’

 He looked at me and his eyes filled with tears. ‘I knew it,’ he whispered. I have never seen a man look more sad. ‘He was mine. I loved him. How many are mine?’

 ‘I’m not sure,’ I said sadly. ‘Most of the Heavenly Host. All of the Lost Boys. Hundreds I think,’ I whispered: ‘Maybe even thousands. I’m sorry.’

My husband were lookin a bit pale and shocked. You can’t blame him really.  ‘How did you take my sperm? Was it all the blow-jobs?’

‘Yes, all them lovely blow-jobs.’ I perked up a bit. ‘Lookin on the bright side, they never went to waste,’ I said.

‘No, I suppose they didn’t,’ he said, a bit stunned. Out of the blue he started smiling a massive smile, ear to ear. ‘You know what this means though, don’t you?’

I were like, ‘What?’ thinkin, ‘Oh, no, I got another one what’s gone in the head!’

‘It means…..Gloria is my grand-daughter!’

Yeah, as me mum always says, ‘Every cloud, Shardonnay,’ she says, ‘Every cloud…’ and she also says, ‘If you got your heart in the right place, Shardie, you can’t go wrong,’ and I still feel, deep down, that when I carried all them little half humans across the street in their little jam jar oh, bless em, I were only actin out of the kindness of me heart.  OK, I’m not gonna lie, the money came in handy, and let me live the life I wanted to live, but I wanted the best for them little babies too, I did. I wanted them to live. And live is what they done, oh yeah, not half!  So it might not of turned out exactly how I wanted it, but as me mum always says, ‘it could be worse, Shardie, things could always of turned out worse.’  She’s right you know.  At least we got our Nick back.  And Gloria is a lovely kid, bit weird but yeah, whatever, and she got to live with us.

Me mum and Matt and Nick absolutely love her, and that is good.  One last thing what she says, me mum, is ‘Shardie, everythin happens for a reason.’ And, thinkin about it, I can only see one reason and that is that it had to happen. If something has to happen, it just has to happen. Also, what goes around comes around and now you know, it’s actually quite nice that Matt’s got all them kids. It ain’t borin, that’s for sure. We got one big fuckin family!  Yeah, can’t argue with that!

They come and visit him for advice and fatherly times.  Like loads.  It’s like he runs a counsellin service for his own kids. They have to make appointments for ten minute slots. He had to give up his job to fit em all in.  That’s all right. We’re gonna claim child benefit for the ones what ain’t got no mums and that’s already a fair few. He does it all day long and even then he still don’t know all their names. It’s a bloody full time job even gettin to meet them all. So, although he lost Sebastian and Izzy, he gained a whole load more. A bit more than he bargained for, some would say! LMFAO.

Well, you know, you win some you lose some. Gotta expect a bit a that. This is Life, after all, what’s got its ups and downs. Life in the World According To Shardonnay, yeah, that’s me!  Been nice getting to know ya!  Next time you come round I’ll tell you about that other adventure I had after I went down Baroosh with Debs and Shelley and ended up drinkin That Really Really Big Mojito.  OMG you will laugh!  That story makes me die!  Tara for now.

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I have been chatting to our Japanese student Miyuki from eight years ago on Facebook.  She remembers everything about her six-day stay with us.  She remembers me teaching her the word ’roundabout’ on the way somewhere in the car.  She remembers bringing all her friends round to play ping-pong in the big room and the day we took her friends to see the ponies and they were taking pictures of the interior of the van because they had never seen a car full of rubbish and hay and rotting apples and head-collars before.  And today Marjolaine, a friend of Chloe’s from our time in New York, is coming over for lunch as she is now studying in London.  It is just wonderful to spend time with old friends.  I will accompany her back into London as we are going to Seana’s Fans of Feminism art exhibition opening tonight.  There will be a Feminist Jukebox with 200 specially chosen songs.

Seana's Feminist Jukebox

Here is your chapter for today.  Only one more episode after this one. But never fear.  I am three chapters in to the sequel:  Shardonnay and the Big Mojito.

Chapter 31. The Visitor

We looked after Nick for four years, Matt and me mum and me.  It were not easy.  It were constant.  Like all the time, you had to be helpin him.  But I am a practical girl and I just got on with it.  You just gotta get on with it, whatcha gonna do?  People came to visit Nick, they bought chocolate with em, not that he could eat it really.  He could only be fed through a tube, soup and liquidized stuff.  The Lost Boys came, of course, and members of the Heavenly Host, lots of em.  They bought flowers, balloons, cards, and gave him a kiss, held his hand. It’s hard though, when someone don’t react!  He just din’t react.  Not a word, not a flicker, not a twitch.  His eyes stayed completely blank. He just acted completely unconscious.  You din’t even know if he knew someone had come round!  So little by little the visits grew less.  You can’t blame people.  Obviously, if the person you’re visiting can’t move even a tiny bit, it’s not gonna be the most entertainin of visits. Matt and me mum and me, though, we din’t care that Nicholas couldn’t move, we still loved him and looked after him and chose his favourite TV programs for him.

Then one day, after four years of this, there came a knock on the door.  It were a girl.  A young girl of about seven.  She had reddish blond hair.  She were very very pretty.  ‘I need to see Nicholas, please,’ she said.  OMG posh voice or what?  There was two people sitting out in a car in the street.  I said she could come in, and she signalled to them to wait.

She brushed past me, walked straight past Matt with her little heels going click click click across the floor and went in to Nicholas.  ‘Nick,’ she said.  ‘I’m Gloria.’

Nick did not move, of course, as he couldn’t.

‘Nick,’ said the girl.  ‘You saved me when I was three.  Do you remember?  You made me better?’

OMG could this really be that Izzy’s kid?  We was convinced the kid had died wasn’t we?  We never knew Nick had saved her!  Nick’s eyebrow twitched.  This were rare and only ever normally happened when his favourite TOWIE were on so I were quite surprised.

‘Nick! Do you know who my father was?’

Nick’s eyebrow twitched again. ‘My father,’ she said, and paused for a little moment, ‘was Sebastian.

Matt and me, watchin from the doorway, gasped.  Oh, my giddy aunt!  Sebastian’s child!  So that saintly boy were the one what got that poor underage druggy up the duff.

‘Nick, this is important.  Please listen.  My mother Isobel, who used to sing with you, died a month ago from a drugs overdose.  I have nowhere to go.  You are my only hope.  I need you to look after me.’

Nick’s eyebrow twitched.  The girl looked at him in despair.  She put her hand on his arm.  ‘Nick, please! Can’t you…can’t you just make a superhuman effort to come out of this? My mum always believed you were superhuman.  Come on!  I need you.  Sebastian needs you.’

She looked around.  She went over to the telly and turned off Britain’s Got Talent.  I made a move forward to say ‘Oy! That’s one of his favourites, that is!’ but Matt put a hand on me arm and stopped me.  We both watched her walk round to the head of the bed and place her little hands on either side of his head. She took a deep breath and shut her eyes.  She stayed there, very still, very calm.  She seemed in no hurry.  The world seemed to slow down for a minute or two.  I felt very sleepy suddenly, and kind of cosy, like peaceful and happy and light.  Then she opened her eyes and walked round to Nicholas’ side, cupped her hand round his, and said in her little clipped voice, ‘Nick, they’re taking me off to be put up for adoption.  It’s just too random.  I might end up with really very nasty people.  I would much much rather be with you.  You are my uncle.  You were my father’s friend and brother.  That is enough for me.’

There were a horrible silence.  Oops, I were crossin me fingers that Matt hadn’t picked up on the ‘uncle’ and ‘brother’ bit.  Gloria looked and looked into Nick’s blank eyes, searchin, searchin, for somethin, anythin. Course, there weren’t no hope. We coulda told her that and she coulda saved her breath. She leant over him for one last try. She whispered, ‘Nick, if you let me stay, I could turn off the telly for you whenever you like!

Then she just stood there, holding Nick’s hand with her eyes shut, her head bowed. Maybe she were prayin.  I were just about to ask if she were OK when she started to sing.  She had a sweet little voice, like that little girl in Les Mis. She sang soft and high: ‘From little acorns, come lovely leaves, from little acorns, come ancient trees.’ 

Matt were grippin me arm so tight it hurt.  I understood.  Hearin her sing that song transported us back to a happy time when Nick were little.

Sfunny but you don’t realise you’re like litrally in heaven when you’re litrally in heaven. You only realise it years later, lookin back, when somethin triggers a shadow of it, a memory of that delicious time.

The emotion wellin up in us were unbearable. I got a massive lump in me throat and had to put me hand over me mouth so’s not to let out a big sob. Gloria got to the chorus: ‘We’re rocked in our cradle, we’re rocked in our tree, we’re rocked in our Father’s arms, and he’s close to me.’

She finished the song, stood quiet for a second.  Her tears had fallen on Nick’s hand.  She bent down and wiped them off with a lock of her hair.  Then she turned to us and said, ‘Thank you, Shardonnay. Thank you Matt,’ in a quiet voice.  We saw her to the door.  She shook us politely by the hand.  She looked all blurry through me tears. She went out to the waiting car.

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Chapter 29.  Got Me Knickers in a Right Ol Twist.

The next day were Finn’s album launch in the Old Vic Tunnels. Matt couldn’t come cos he had a meeting, so I went with Debs and Shelley. Bit of a wacky place OMG it’s like a rabbit warren down there. He had them crazy girls on drums, lots of em. They don’t never smile, they just bang on them drums. Havin said that, I were listening for about two minutes and I just had to start dancin! And once I started, I couldn’t stop! It were fantastic. The rhythms is like brilliant, they gets you goin. Even if you was dead it would get you goin! The words what Finn was singin was not real words, it were like a foreign language. And he weren’t really singin he were speakin a bit like rappin. He sounded like that weird Rafiki in the Lion King. A mix between that and some serious clubbin shit what you like if you done tons of E.

We brought ourselves a couple of bottles of white wine. Me and Debs and Shelley was all like totally getting into the dancin. It’s like we had tickly hips. We danced for hours. Shelley were makin me die! She were bouncin around squealin and fallin into people. When the music finally stopped we was sweatin like mad. I wanted to tell Finn how good his music were so I were lookin out for him thinkin he might come in to spend time with his mates. He were takin ages comin out. I pushed open a door under one of the arches to see if I could get backstage. It led into a cold corridor. I turned a corner, and there were Finn, talkin to Nick. ‘OMG, Finn, that were soooo good,’ I yelled. They both just looked at me, eyes all dark and nasty. I were scared. I din’t know what were up but I left em to it. What can you do? It’s lad stuff I thought to meself. Went back through the door to go home with me mates. How could I have known, see? I couldn’t of known. There weren’t no way I could of predicted what were gonna happen.

I went round Shelley’s on the way home for another coupla drinks and a fag. We had a good old giggle us girls. We was litrally screamin our heads off with laughin. Can’t remember what about, but it were makin us laugh whatever it were! I do love a night out with the girls.

Anyway, I got home and there were Nick on the settee in the lounge. He had his head in his hands. ‘Whassa matter love?’ I asked him.

‘Mum, it’s just so, so bad…’ he said.

‘Nothin a nice cuppa tea won’t sort out,’ I said.

‘No, Mum,’ he groaned.  ‘This is worse than you can know.’

What?’ I asked. ‘Nick, you can tell me! I’m yer mum!’

‘The little girl…that baby,’ he couldn’t speak, he were crying his eyes out.  I hadn’t never seen my Nick like this before.

‘What? What baby?’ I asked.

‘Izzy’s baby….Gloria.’ He gulped. ‘ I couldn’t heal her. I made her worse. She’s dead, Mum.’ He dissolved into sobs.

Ooh, that were a blow. No wonder he felt upset. ‘Dead? Oh! The poor little soul!’ I said.

‘Finn…’ he looked up at me, ‘…Finn told me, she just got worse…and worse, after seeing me.’

‘Nick, that baby were very very ill!’ I said. ‘You could tell. Her skin were grey! And how come Finn knows that Izzy anyway?’ I asked.

‘She…lives with a couple of the drummer girls.’ Jesus, the light had gone out of his eyes. ‘Mum,’ he whispered. ‘Finn says people are sayin I’m a…a fraud. And that I always have been. A fraud.’ It’s like he were tryin out the word, like he’d never come across it before.

‘Nick,’ I says, indignant, ‘you ain’t never been a fraud! That Finn’s always been jealous of you. He’s a nasty piece a work as well…not his fault, fair to say, his mum died and his dad smacked him about and that…but don’t you go listenin to what he has to say. He is one messed up boy.’

I made my son a nice cuppa tea and a rich tea biscuit. The poor lad were in shock. Never nice hearin bad news. Dead baby, not easy though is it? It’s never easy that sorta thing. Whatcha gonna say? Nothin helps. Although I did say this, I said, ‘Nick, whatever’s done is done. You can’t change it. It’s done.’ And maybe I think now I should never of said that. Because maybe it made Nick realise that there weren’t no mendin what had been done. What do I know? I’m beginnin to think I know nothin! I probably shoulda said to him what me mum always says to me when I’m havin a hard time, she says, ‘Shardie, you done your best. You can’t do more’n your best, no one can do more’n their best.’ I shoulda said, ‘Nick, you done your best! There ain’t no more you can do than your best.’ Because that woulda helped more than tellin the poor boy that what were done were done. Oh my god, I’m so confused now, I got me knickers in a right old twist.

Anyway, it’s too late now, Shardie, what’s done is done! Let’s face it, there ain’t no goin back now.

Chapter 30.

So I went upstairs and fell asleep. Oh, I don’t even know if I can tell you this bit. It’s just too bad. You won’t believe how bad it is. I’ll light meself a Silk Cut and take a deep breath, that’s what I’ll do. See if that helps.

OK, so in the morning around half nine I were in the middle of frothin a coupla cappuccinos for me and mum and I had a phone call from Nick’s London studio. They had to repeat theirselves a couple of times, cos I weren’t really getting it: Nick’d been found by some stalking press guy, half hung from a rafter by his recordin cables. Problem from Nick’s point of view is them cables had stretched a bit, so’s his feet was on the floor, so he din’t die, he just nearly died! He basically got in a coma, broke his spine, and is now like completely palarysed. The only thing what he can move is one eyebrow and that not often.

I were pretty gutted when I heard all this as you can imagine. I think I went into shock. Me mum made us a cuppa sweet tea. I were shakin like a leaf. Matt came home and we rushed to the hospital and was there for like the next three weeks. It were touch and go. We kept thinkin he’d died. He would drift in and out of conscience but mainly he were out for the count. The machines was all bleepin. We was exhausted.

It’s funny, right, but Nick still looked so gorjuss, lyin there, his blond hair flicked back like it were blowin in the wind, his cheekbones so defined, his fingers so long and relaxed. Only just fourteen years old! Still a child, but he’d seen so much. I just sat there by his side lookin at how beautiful he were, and prayed and prayed that he would come back to us. Me and Matt sat there for hours and hours every day, holdin hands and holdin Nick’s hand.

The doctors called us in to tell us stuff. They basically said that Nick were trapped in his palarysed body, but so far as they could tell his mind were still alive and workin. But there weren’t like any way for Nick to tell us that he were still here. After three months we would be allowed to have him at home and look after him there, they said.

I did want to have my boy at home. It felt right. It were hard work, but carers came in every day to help us. Me and mum put him in the lounge in his special raised bed. We made sure our massive telly were within his line of vision and chose good stuff for him to watch all day. TOWIE, Big Brother, Jeremy Kyle, Britain’s got Talent, America’s Next Top Model and that. If he did have an active brain, I din’t want him gettin bored. He could actually twitch one eyebrow, and when I put on TOWIE for example he twitched it like mad, so I could tell he liked it. ‘Alright love?’ I would shout. ‘You doin OK in there?’

Once a week we would give him Songs of Praise cos he used to like that when he were little. I think he probably still liked it. Hard to tell really. We did our best though, me mum and me. And you can only ever do your best.

If I ever went out with Debs and Shelley, cos you gotta have a break, you just gotta, Matt would take over and just sit there readin him poems, for hours and hours, one hand holdin the book and one hand holding Nick’s hand. I thought to meself, ‘Lucky the poor sod can’t hear any of that shit!’ But I din’t say nothin. What can you do? His dad were only doin his best as well. And you can’t do more’n your best.

Me mum says, she says, ‘Shardie, it’ll take time. He’s gone and hung hisself, you can’t expect it to get better overnight. These things take time.’

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Shardonnay: Part 14

So funny, one of Chloe’s friends in Boston, Emily, read the blog and thought that Shardonnay was actually my life!  She said, ‘OMG Chloe, does your mother really speak like that?  And your punctuation and grammar is like soooo different over there, I never realised!’

I’ve realised that the readers who receive the posts by email could easily make this mistake as hotmail cannot process the chapter headings, so in fact just completely misses them out.  So you go from my day to day musings bam straight in to Shardonnay’s life.  Ha ha.  Although you’d imagine that a relatively tuned-in viewer would either spot the difference or figure that I’ve finished a paragraph, gone off for a quick lobotomy and come back for another quick bit of typing.

Chapter 27. A Girl’s Gotta Have Fun.

August came and went. I got meself a couple of weekends in Southend and Matt and me we got the BBQ going out in the garden. I am partial to a Barbeque but I only like steak and only if it’s well done. I don’t like none of that half raw shit.

I saw that Finn on the telly talkin to someone about music. They was asking him when his new album would be ready. ‘People are waiting, people are desperate to see what you’ve made,’ they said.

‘Yeah, they’re like fuckin leeches, the lot of em,’ he answered. ‘I’m not fuckin ready yet, if it’s OK with you.’

Bit of a sarky bugger. He were gettin quite a reputation, going out in Camden and gettin wasted, causin trouble in pubs, gettin in fights. He were all over the celebrity news. Bit of a rock n roll lifestyle. He smashed up some lights and mics at a festival. He leapt around the stage so much it frightened me, I thought he would hurt hisself. He were like raw, that’s the only way to describe him, raw. Tiny little hips, tight black jeans, scrawny chest and them angry angry lips shouting horrible obskenities.

Then it were the launch of the Lost Boys new album. They had a big party in London where they was to play two of the new tracks live. I went with Matt. We was excited to see Nick and hear the new songs. From the first chord it were very odd. I din’t feel it much, but looking around me I saw people go a bit trancey, if you know what I mean. They all looked like they’d smoked a bit of waccy baccy, like they was out of their tiny minds. It’s like the music were doin somethin to the atmosphere. It’s like everyone had taken a step sideways in their minds, like the music had let them into a room where normally you’re not allowed to go or something. I tried to chat to some people but honest to God, they’d gone glassy-eyed. I were like ‘Hello!? Anyone home?!’ I wondered if their drinks had all been spiked.

The second song weren’t no better. I couldn’t get no sense outta no one there. Matt were backstage so I couldn’t talk to him. Everyone were lost to me. I were startin to wish I’d bought me mum with me. Then, little by little, oh my god, I started to feel it.  Did I ever!  I guess at first I had just been more resistant than other people. But, not being funny or anythin, this were scary. It were like coming up on E or something. It were like a mighty whoosh in your chest, from the vibrations like working on you, working on you, til you give in, you crack, you can’t take it. But then again, I never been that good with drugs. I prefer to know what’s goin on. That’s why I stick to Mojitos.

It were like a horrible tickly buzzing inside me ribs, then in me pelvis, in the tops of me thighs, I felt meself start to sway, I couldn’t think no more, me mind were suddenly full of colours, sliding slabs of colour what were floodin into corners of me mind what I din’t know was there. Oh, my God, maybe my drink had been spiked, I started to think! Parts of me long forgotten from when I were just a slip of a girl was being wakened up. I started to pay real attention. I listened and listened, and shut me eyes, and felt like I weren’t meself, I were like transported, I were like someone else, someone much better than me, someone older, but younger, fresher…oh, my lord, someone kinder and with nothin bad in them. This made me cry. I were just standin there sobbin me heart out. Because I knew in me heart, I knew that in me normal life I had been a bad person. I had done wrong. Plain and simple. It were clear to me. And I felt sorry, suddenly. Very very sorry for what I done.

The song came to an end. All you could now hear was sobs, the sobs and moanin of everyone in the audience. People turned to complete strangers and hugged them. I hugged the lady next to me. Big and fat, she were, and she had nasty perfume on, but she were comfortin none the less, in my moment of pain. I looked around me and could see that all the people there felt sorry, like me.  They wanted to be better people.

I did wonder as the sobs died away and the applause started, if Nick had got it wrong. Music what makes people feel bad and sad? Is that a good thing? Music what freaks out bits of your mind what you’d rather keep under wraps thanks very much? Ooh, I’m not sure. However, havin said that, I did start to feel better inside after the song. Like as if bad stuff had been taken out of me. Like all the shit had just poured itself into the ground.

Anyway, after this everyone relaxed a bit and got drunk. There was bottles and bottles of champers, which I love, so I found a waiter with a tray of full glasses, and took three of em, one at a time, necking em right there and then.  There was people lookin at me like a bit disapprovin, but I din’t care.  Me mum always says, ‘Shardonnay, a girl’s gotta have some fun.  If you can’t have some fun, life’s not worth livin.’  And she’s right.  If I go out, I wanna have some fun.  There ain’t no point in goin out otherwise, is there?  I grabbed another couple of champagne flutes.

I were starting to spin a bit when I came face to face with Finn in the crowd. ‘I din’t know you was here, Finn!’ I says. ‘How are you gettin on?’

He looked me in the eye long and hard. God, that boy has so many piercings, lips, nose, cheeks, eyebrows. It’s hard to concentrate on what someone’s saying when there’s so many distractions. But you’d have to be pretty thick-skinned to miss what he next said to me, he said: ‘Shardonnay. Well I never. Face to face at last.’ He leant close and whispered: ‘I know what you did.’ There were a pause. I were so pissed I couldn’t help myself, I burst out laughin. He looked angry. ‘You may well laugh,’ he said, ‘but one of these days I’m going to get proof and then,’ he leant over again and hissed in me ear, ‘I’m gonna tell him, and you won’t be able to stop me.’

Oh, Lordy, probably woulda been better if I hadn’t been quite so drunk.  But I drew meself up tall, hopin I wouldn’t fall over, and I says to him, I says, ‘Well, Finn, you do whatever you like, but without me you wouldn’t even be here to do it! I carried ya…well, ok, maybe half of ya… carefully across the road in your little jam-jar! I took care! I cared about ya! I din’t trip! I din’t lose ya! You should be saying ‘well done,’ to me, ‘well done,’ for doing that little service for ya.’

‘Yeah, well, if you had refrained from carrying out ‘that little service,’ then maybe the man who brought me up would’ve provided his own seed to make his own baby and maybe…’ his voice cracked, ‘maybe he would’ve loved me,’ he said, desperately.

‘Yeah, well,’ I countered drunkenly, slopping me champers out of me glass as I tried to focus on the lad’s eyes, ‘a.) he probably couldn’t get it up or had sperms what didn’t know how to swim and that’s why yer mum came to the ‘clinic,’ and b.) if he had ‘provided his own seed’ then you wouldn’t be you, you’d be some other kid, if you get my drift, and c.) even if the kid made out of that man what brung you up’s spunk was ‘you’, would you really want to have a dad like that?’ I finished my speech with a flourish of me champagne flutes, and leant over to puke in a plant pot. I were rather proud of me reasonin. I always think clearer when I’ve had a few.

Poor lad, I think he knew when he were beat. He backed off anyhow. Must say, I don’t take kindly to threats. Best nip em in the bud.

Chapter 28.  No Peace for the Wicked.

So it were a few months later and I were in the middle of pourin meself a nice glass of white wine when the doorbell went. ‘Oh lord, no peace for the wicked!’ I sighed to meself. I tell you, over the years, that front door has seen plenty of action. I opened up and there were a young lass there holdin a whingin toddler in her arms. Her face were all streaky and her mascara were runnin. She were like way too thin.

‘Is Nicholas here?’ she asked, her breath cloudin in the cold night air.

I din’t know what to say. She looked familiar. Oh, my God, it were that girl with funny eyes. It were Izzy, the one who guessed what I done with the sperm. Shit, I never liked her. Smartarse.

‘My baby…my baby is sick,’ she said. ‘I just thought maybe Nick could help her?’

I looked at the kid. It did look sick. Like grey. Unconscious. I sighed. ‘You’re in luck,’ I said. ‘He’s due back from New York later. Should be in about eleven.’

I don’t know why I let her in.  If I hadn’t everything might of been different. But as me mum says, ‘You couldn’t of known, Shardonnay, how could you of known?’  And it were well cold!  You can’t leave someone with a baby out in the freezin cold!

We waited for Nick in the lounge. I made her a cuppa tea. Gave her a crumpet. The baby were moanin softly into its cloth with its eyes tight shut.

Lucky the telly were on cos otherwise there would of been a well embarrassing silence. I finally thought of something to say. ‘You sing well high,’ I said. ‘Got a bit of a voice on ya, haven’t ya?’

She smiled. ‘Used to have,’ she whispered. A tear plopped out of her eyes. It don’t help if you ain’t got no eyelashes.

‘What’s the baby called?’ I asked.

She took a little sip of tea. ‘Gloria,’ she said.

I woulda said ‘Nice name,’ but I really weren’t feelin it, I mean, really, Gloria? The poor little scrap, with a name like that! La di da, or what, and I don’t like to lie so I din’t say nothin.

‘Why did you leave the Heavenly Host?’ I asked, curious suddenly. ‘We always wondered, cos you was like so good and you was getting so famous?’

She din’t answer. She just patted the baby, and I understood, she must of left cos she were pregnant.

‘D’you mind if I smoke?’ she asked.

‘Not at all, you go ahead,’ I said and pushed me Silk Cut over to her.

She smoked away, silently, with shaky fingers. Ooh, she were a bit of a mess, must be said. ‘At the end of the day,’ I thought to meself, ‘you only got yourself to blame, gettin pregnant so young.’ Honestly, the youf, whatcha gonna do with em, they ain’t got no clue. Honestly, to have a baby, you need a house, you need a bit of security, let’s face it, you need yourself a man. You can’t go doin all that when you is still a kid yerself, yer just not ready.

A car dropped Nick off nigh on midnight. He walked in and dropped a whole pile of recording stuff on the floor in shock when he saw the girl. ‘Izzy!’ he said, ‘For God’s sake, we thought we’d never see you again. Why didn’t you get in touch?’

‘I’m sorry, Nick,’ she said, crying again, scrumpling a disinteglating tissue into her eyes. ‘I’m so sorry.’

‘We looked for you,’ said Nick, looking into her eyes. ‘After Sebastian died we tried all your old addresses.’

‘I was only fifteen, Nick! The press would’ve done me in! Oh, yeah, you know what they’re like. They would’ve loved a pregnant celebrity teen. My parents knew I had to disappear….’ She looked down at the baby who were suddenly breathing very fast. ‘Nick, can you help her? You’re her last chance. Please.’ She held out the floppy toddler to him, her head down in shame.

Nick turned off the telly and took the kid, wrapped in its fleecy blanket, in his arms and walked over to the window. With his back to us, we couldn’t see what he were doing, but he stood really still. The orange glow from the street lamp outside shone around his body. It looked like he had a halo all around him. He hummed really low in his throat and swayed slightly. He stayed like that for maybe three minutes. Then he turned and passed the baby back to the girl. The baby were asleep, its eyes shut and a frown on its little grey face. Poor little mite.

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I have been thinking about the cover for Shardonnay.  Little wriggly sperm swimming around of course, and (Bashi’s idea) a dictionary, open at the word ‘Consequence,’ which will be highlighted.  But the definition shown will be in Shardie’s words, so for example:  ‘Somethin what happens due to what we done, and it ain’t always good.’  So, homework for this week, chaps:  define ‘Consequence’ as you think Shardonnay might.  I will use the best one on the real cover.

Dennis’ book is at the printers!  Really excited we both are.  The publishing company, Pen Press, designed him a wonderful purple cover, with a spirit in a cloud.  When it is ready I will let you know.

Chapter 25.

The next day, I turned on the telly at about seven in the morning. I screamed, ‘Mum! Come here! Have a look at this! You not gonna believe this!’

The cameras was not at the camp no more. No, they was following Nick who had his backpack on and were leaping down the hill over the rocks. The only person who’d managed to keep up with him were that grumpy Lost Boy, Finn and a couple of half-dressed cameramen. The cameras was bumping around, as the path were not smooth.

‘Oy, Nick, where are you going?’ asked the cameramen, breathless they were and tryin to button up their jeans.

Nick din’t answer them. It were as if he never heard em. He were talkin with Finn. You couldn’t hear what they was sayin, but they never stopped talkin and, it sounded like, singin. It were like a mini battle of two voices.

The path opened out onto rough scrub-land. A wide moor stretched ahead. The two lads faced each other, nodded and carried on walking but their paths split. All the people runnin after em stopped in confusion. Their heads went both ways, then they chose a way. Most went with Nick, but some went with Finn. Some of the cameras went with him too. As he walked he ripped off his furry hood, left it on the heather. He pulled off his blue coat and dumped it. Underneath he were all in black.

Me mum could see I were upset.  She said, ‘Shardie, they gotta go their own way.  Everyone’s gotta find their own path in life, no good followin someone else’s, you gotta find your own.’  I thought, she’s right, they’re different kids, different situations.  You can’t fit a round peg in a square hole.  They ain’t lived the same life, they gotta find their own way.

Our screen followed Nicholas. If you wanted Finn you could change channel.  Nick got to a road, turned left, walked into a little Italian town. He asked one of the film crew manager people if he could borrow their phone. We watched him talkin on the phone. Next thing we knew he were picked up in a sleek grey car and he and his core of Lost Boys, minus Finn of course, was whisked off. The commentators was having a field day! It were like that day the Twin Towers fell down and none of the commentators knew what the blazes were happenin? They was falling over theirselves with their little theories what went nowhere. And there were a big ol scramble with the press trying to get hold of vehicles so’s not to let em get away, as they’d probably be fired if they let the biggest story of the decade get past em.

Chapter 26.

The telly were all of a buzz about Finn breakin away from the Lost Boys. None of the Lost Boys had ever left before, except of course, Sebastian, but he never chose for that to happen. There were only that one girl, Izzy, who had left the Heavenly Host cos she couldn’t handle the pressure of the fame. Fans was grievin, as you do when your fave band loses a member like remember when the Spice Girls split up? And Take That? Horrible. Nick din’t seem too worried though. He apparently got on a plane to New York. They was in a recordin studio with the same producers what made ‘Little Acorns’ with them, working on the new sound.

Finn had come back to London with around thirty of the Heavenly Host. He went to a place in Camden, also to do some recordin. He rented a massive old house and got a band together out of his followers. There were a big chap on bass, a skinny drummer with long spiky hair, a crusty guitarist, and Finn on vocals. And this were genius: there was also about ten girls, all with black nails, black lipstick, blank eyes, not a single smile between em, and big big drums. They just pummelled them drums like their lives depended on it!  They was big news.  See, they had the sound of the Lost Boys and a bit of the fame and allure of the Lost Boys, but they was taking it in altogether a new direction.  Yeah, girls, basically.  Lost?  Yeah probably!  Matt’s kids?  Let’s just say, they had the look, so again, yeah, probably.

Some of the words what came out of that boy’s mouth though! Ooh, wash out yer mouth son! It were like, oh I can’t even say it, it’s too dirty: ‘f*** your mother in the c***, f*** her, f***her,’ and the like! Me and me mum would sit there on the sofa with our hair litrally standin on end. Frankly shockin! But guess what? People was flockin to them gigs. They was spillin out onto the street. People couldn’t get enough. The band were edgy see. They was angry. And all the edgy angry people out there was pickin up on the new vibe.

Within a month they was being interviewed on Jules Holland. Jules asked them what everyone wanted to know which was why was they so angry? Finn flared his mega-pierced nostrils, not in a good way, and said, ‘some people manage to deal with loss and pain by looking at all the positives, like all the things they’ve still got. But all this positive shit….you know, I’ve like had enough of all that new-age hippy crap?’ He leant forward and in a coarse whisper and with a sneer of his multiple-pierced lip said, ‘Life is full of shit, people! Get used to it.’ He gave a grin, again, not in a good way.

‘What shit happened to you then, Finn?’ asked Jules.

There were a pause while Finn’s eyes looked up like he were asking for patience from the Lord!

He sighed. ‘Where to start? The person I thought were me father, he wanted me dead? Me mum died when I were ten? Me real father don’t want to know….what more do you need? Half of me brothers have gone all soppy and religious, like losing their minds? No, it’s time to make a stand. See if I can save the other half from turnin to mush.’ He gesticuled to his followers.

‘By ‘brothers’, do you mean the Lost Boys?’ asked Jules softly.

Finn twisted his face in a bit of an ugly way. ‘Yeah. They’re my brothers,’ he said.

‘So at Christmas, will you be up against your ‘brothers’ for the Number 1?’ asked Jules.

Finn laughed. ‘Yeah, I’m up for thrashing it out with them, why not?’ he said.

The next week he went into a recording studio with his band and twenty of the Heavenly Host. They stayed in for more than a month. No one heard a peep out of them during this time. The tension were unbearable. What sort of a sound was they making? Everyone wanted to know. Little clips of them on Youtube from the several angry spittin gigs with them crazy blank-eyed drummer girls went viral. People was gaggin for more.

Equally, Nicholas had gone quiet. He were recordin in New York. We went over to visit just for a long weekend. It were well hot and humid, but I thought I might check out Fifth Ave while I were there, did meself a nice bit of shoppin at Barney’s and Macy’s. We took Nick out to a diner for eggs on toast, always his favourite. He were well distracted but that weren’t nothing new. Couldn’t get much sense out of him. I asked him if he’d been shoppin since he’d been there. He just looked at me like what’s shoppin? I sighed. While I were there I brought him some nice Calvin Klein underwear and jeans and a couple of trendy t-shirts from Canal St. I mean, not being funny or anythin, but a guy needs some clothes. He didn’t need much heavier stuff as it were boilin hot that summer.

Anyway, then I needed to get back. It were me mate Shelley’s birthday and we was going to the Ice Bar in London in a limo to have drinks in them big coats. I’m never one to miss a party, you know me, and I told Nick not to worry, I’d be watchin out for him on the telly. His dad stayed out there another week just to help him with practical things, make sure he were getting enough to eat and that.

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So I have managed to confuse everybody by missing out Part 10, only in title though so you have not missed any of the story.  Well done, Dave in Indonesia, for spotting that.  To rectify the situation, I have changed what was Part 11 to Part 10, and changed Part 12 to Part 11 and now this one is Part 12.  OK?  All hunky dory.  (Don’t get yer knickers in a twist, it don’t make no difference to the story, says Shardie.)

It is blizzarding away outside.  Got in trouble for imagining a snow day (SNOWDAY!  Yay!  Yay!  You can picture us leaping about in delight) when there was none, oops (our school is quite hard-line on this) a couple of weeks ago, so we have to get up and go any minute now.

News of Tabby:  she went up to Glasgow for a recall at Royal Scottish.  Stayed with my cousin Phoebe Meg and went out on the town with Lucy and Max.  Had a real ball.  News of Chloe:  she is snowed in in Boston and had to cancel her gig.  News of Alfie:  he has been writing his Japanese speech.  News of Bashi:  she enjoyed meeting Ed Drewett at a rehearsal for The Boyfriend and got to try on some stunning costumes for the show including a twenties spotty swimsuit with bloomers and matching feathered head-band.

I know some of my readers like a bit of Shardie with their morning coffee so I must not delay.  Here we are.  The real Part 12.

Chapter 23. Are We Meant to Know What’s Goin On Though?

So I were alone at home, with me mum. We just ate pizza and watched that screen. Then one night, I were not sleepin well, must be said, I had a well strange dream. I saw Sebastian, very still, very clear, in front of me. His eyes looked me right in my eyes and he said, ‘I forgive you.’ I felt a wave of peace wash over me. ‘You knew not what you were doing,’ he said, calmly. ‘And if it weren’t for you, I would never have lived.’

I watched him as he stood there. He had a robe on, which were billowin in the wind. He held out his arms and I saw Nicholas comin towards him, and they embraced. The Heavenly Host were behind them, singin. The song made me flesh creep. It were not from this world. It were of new harmony things what people have not discovered yet. I can’t explain, but it made me shiver, not with horror but with excitement.

I spoke to Nicholas on the phone the next day. ‘Nick,’ I says, ‘I saw Sebastian in a dream. He were givin you a hug. The Heavenly Host were singin new stuff.’

‘Oh, thank you Mother,’ he replied. ‘Yes, he’s looking after me. And I know what the new material is. I’m formulating it as I go. Sebastian’s teaching me from the other side. It’s coming to me, I can feel it.’

‘Oh, well, good lad,’ I replied, faintly.

On the telly you could see him singin. His companions was singin too. Sometimes, walkin along, he would turn to them and instruct them, tell them what to sing. Then you would see them tryin again, and Nicholas would be noddin away. It were amazin. There was whole teams of commentators takin over from each other all day. There were a whole channel devoted to me son. I just din’t know what to make of it. I were well and truly flummoxed. Me mum she said, ‘Shardie,’ she said, ‘We’re not meant to know what’s goin on, really. Sometimes you just don’t know, and we’re just not meant to know.’

Day after day, Nicholas walked. He covered about twenty to thirty miles a day. We just din’t know what to make of it, but we settled into a routine with our cups of tea in front of the telly. One day the Social came round to talk about Nicholas. The lady were a bit of a scream with her grey hair and  bobbly jumper. She started tryin to tell me that it would be better for Nick to come home and do his studies, ‘You must remember, he’s only twelve, Mrs Stern,’ she said, but she ended up just sittin on the settee and watchin him walk with us. She even dipped into the popcorn!  It weren’t really helping her case that in the twenty minutes we sat there we saw him talkin French to a bloke on a bike and Italian to an old lady what gave him a bun and he taught a whole new song to his gaggle of followers. ‘This kid don’t need no studyin!’ I said to her. ‘He already knows everythin!’

In the end she sighed, the lady, and said, ‘What do we know anyway? He seems to know more than us about life. Maybe we shouldn’t interfere.’ She could see full well that he were bein looked after. The older Lost Boys was runnin along beside him, and the managers and producers of their songs had cars tailin him. The teams of cameramen was kind to him, you could see.   He chose little back roads and lanes, so it weren’t like he were gonna get run over by a lorry.  He weren’t lackin for food, neither. The roads was lined with people offering him home-cooked goodies and lemonade. He would accept them but he never stopped walkin.

Eventually, after about a month of this, seemed like for ever, but we din’t miss a minute of it, Nicholas reached a wood in the North of Italy. He stopped for the night. Everyone saw him go into his tent. In the mornin he came out, stretched, and smiled, I think, for the first time since Sebastian died. He looked around at the pines, the banks, the meadow and the gurgling stream. ‘I’m staying here,’ he said. ‘The spirit is here. There is no more need to move onwards.’

He spent the rest of the day creating a shelter out of bendy twigs. Someone bought him along a tarpaulin which he stretched over his construct. A local huddle of women bought him a carpet which he laid out on the pine needles. One of his companions made him a little table out of logs. His dad, who had been part of the band of followers for a few weeks by then, handed him a little camping chair. Nicholas put it at the entrance to his shelter, and sat in it, baton in hand and closed his eyes. The camera just stayed on him. The birdsong came over, the creakin of the forest, the hootin of an owl. You could see bats start to flit about, and glow-worms shinin their little lights. And Nicholas just sat there, mediatin like what them gurus do.

It were the most peaceful TV ever. And Honest to God, it weren’t borin. I could sit there for hours with me mum just watchin him. It grew darker and darker on the screen. Nicholas’ friends gathered twigs and branches and lit a fire. We could see their faces reflectin orange in the firelight. You couldn’t hear what they was sayin, just hear a muffled conversation goin on.

The next morning, mum and me we stumbled towards the telly in our dressin gowns. Turned it on. There was about seven tents now. Lucky it were already April. The dew had fallen on them tents and were glistenin in the mornin sun. It looked magical to me. Like a fairy glade. Nicholas were sleepin still. One of his friends had fallen asleep by the fire, wrapped in a blanket. Oh, no, not a friend, when he turned his head, I saw it were his dad. Aaaah, bleess. I guess he forgot his tent. The sun were still red, and castin a reddish glow over everythin. The pines was dark green, almost black and still.

A soft humming started coming from Nicholas’ tent. It were gentle, so soft and lush it were I can’t tell you. The blokes with the cameras, the commentators, the friends, all was lookin at the tent, listenin hard. They all looked a bit like bedazzled, like they was hypnotised or somethin. People settled down on the pine needles, and waited all solemn like, for Nicholas to appear.

One of his friends made him a cuppa tea on the fire and passed it in to him. I were glad about that. I might not have been the best mum but I always liked to feed the boy and keep his little tummy happy. Some Italian woman turned up with a brioche thing, like a plaited loaf, and that were handed in to him as well.

Then, after about an hour, out he came. He only had shorts on. He looked refreshed, his eyes was gleamin, he looked fantastic. He looked at the people sitting there, and smiled. More people was comin all the time. Italian women, men, children, all gathered silently and sat down amongst the trees. Nicholas opened his arms and started to sing. It were a low song, calm and assured. He told a story in his song, a story of a boy who did not know where he had come from nor where he were goin. It were beautiful. Me and me mum cried buckets. The audience there were all cryin buckets too. People had begun to realise that Nicholas did not speak much any more, he only sang.

I began to feel more and more like I had played a part in this story. I hadn’t thought it were an important part but I were beginning to see maybe it were more important than what I had thought.

Chapter 24.  Sittin on the Settee with our Popcorn

So the next day there were a steady stream of people coming up the hill to see the boy. A right weepy lady in a beautiful purple coat (I wondered if it were from Prada cos that’s Italian innit?) surrounded by weakly wailing relatives and a priest carried her ill child to him straight from the hospital. OMG were that baby ever sick! Horrible yellow colour. Yellow and bloodshot whites of the eyes. One mass of floppy limbs. Yuk, not good. I weren’t holdin out much hope for it, really. I mean, there weren’t much you could do. It were on the way out. Bit of a no-brainer. Sorry, but some situations, you just gotta say, there ain’t no comin out of this one, matey.

Nicholas took the baby in his arms. He stood very still, took a deep breath, shut his eyes. There were an odd silence in the woods. Weird. Almost like time had stood still for a little minute. He passed the child back to the mother. She babbled thanks, wrapped the child in her purple coat and scurried off down the rocky path.

A family bought their grandmother what were coughing her guts up. Nicholas placed his hands on her achin shoulders. He shut his eyes and again you could see that strange concentration about him. Other worldly it were.

That grumpy boy Finn had set up camp over on some rocks. He had some of the edgier chaps and a bunch of girls from the Heavenly Host with him, they was singin, and drummin, and some of em was laughin and smokin.

People turned up all day all that week. On the Thursday we was sitting on the sofa with our popcorn, like wondering how Nicholas were gonna cope, there were such a queue building up to see him. People were sat in huddled groups all around. Nick spoke with hundreds of people in turn. It got later and later. Dusk started to fall. I felt worried for Nick, cos he’d been working so hard for hours and hours.

Matt and some of the Lost Boys was cooking a vegetable soup in a big pot over the fire. Nick finally finished workin with a little girl who seemed to have some awful thing like Leukaemia or somethin. He came over to the fire. He looked absolutely knackered. Matt passed him a bowl of soup. Nick looked at it, then he looked around him. He walked over to a miserable lookin tramp what were sittin against a tree. ‘Here,’ he said, ‘Eat.’

The Lost Boys started handing out food to all the people. ‘Oh, no,’ groaned me mum, ‘We ain’t gotta start feedin the bloody tramps now, ave we?’

I were scared they wouldn’t have enough for everyone and me boy wouldn’t get nothing, but people started rummagin around in their bags. The Italian families started gettin out some bread and pots of olives, ugh don’t see what people see in olives meself, someone had bags of tomatoes and peaches. The cameramen pulled a massive cheese out of their huge black bag and carved it all up and took pieces around. The groups of kids what had come trudgin up the hill got out big slabs of chocolate what their mums had given em. Mmm. The feast, apart from the olives that is, looked good even from here! Even better than our popcorn and ice-cream to tell you the truth.

The people ate and ate and laughed and drank. The atmosphere were like infectious! I phoned Debs and Shelley and got them to come over and have some Margaritas with us. I say some, I mean quite a few! We only had about seven each! Debs hadn’t been to work for a whole two weeks she’d got so addicted to watchin Nicholas. Shelley’s OK, cos at her work, she’s a hairdresser, they have the TV on all the time so she don’t miss any.

We watched telly together till all the people had gone off or settled down in the firelight.

The next day, the first people to come up the hill was only that lady in purple – maybe it were Dolcie and Gabbana that coat? just by the way it were hangin you could tell it were expensive – with the priest and all her family with the yellow dyin baby. ‘Oh, no, ere we go,’ said me mum. We all watched them approach in a scared silence. OMG, I thought to meself, they’re going to have brung the body for Nicholas to do a blessing. I don’t like bodies of little babies. It’s just not right, is it? I hid me head in the cushions and just peeked out a tiny bit I were that scared. Me mum held me hand. The lady looked Nicholas in the eye. She looked very serious. She opened up her coat. Ooh, you could see the mauvey satin lining, lush.  The baby looked out. She weren’t dyin no more. She were bright and sparkly, bouncin on her mother’s hip, wavin a squeaky giraffe.

Then the priest and the family and the lady all bowed down before Nick, like kneelin there in the damp pine-needles with their heads down. He held their hands. The granny were like strokin his feet! I thought how odd it were, I mean, he were only my little lad what liked to make a mess with his paints and what used to ask for soldiers with his boiled egg, know what I mean?

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