Archive for March, 2013

So I’ve been resting.  Cradling the Beaut who is no longer a Beaut, but more of a bruised and uneven, traumatised mound.

Still, you get a lot of time while resting to remember things.  I remembered the pharmacist handing over the big bag of antibiotics.  ‘This one’s better with food,’ she said.

‘And that one you can’t have any lactose two hours before or two hours after,’ I said.  I know it all you see.

‘That’s not to say you can’t have a bit of milk in your tea,’ she whispered.  I love that about England.  Medical professionalism absolutely will not stand in the way of our tea-drinking.

I have been thinking about the resting thing.  I have decided not to do Edinburgh.  TITS the Musical will have to wait.  The thing is, it’s physically taxing no matter which way you look at it.  All your props, for starters, have to be carried to the theatre and back for every performance.  Arthur’s Seat obviously has to be climbed!  The Royal Mile gets crowded with elbows that could injure the Beaut.  Also Tabby has been invited to audition to perform at Camden Festival with her singing teacher and other professionals.  I have no idea why one would choose pros over our usual motley crew but there you go.

At least lying around means I can work out the morass what is Shardonnay.  Here is Chapter 2 of Shardonnay and the Big Job.

Chapter 2.

So, the next day, nine in the mornin, I drove over to Hetty’s farm. She answered the door again with a baby on her boob. I hadn’t realised yet that she always had that baby glued to the boob. He were like a permanent fixture lol and were forever tweakin the other nipple. A dog had crapped in the hall. A cat’d been sick on the window sill. Another interior of a mouse were laid out on the kitchen floor.  There was piles and piles of junk everywhere, on every surface.

Hetty’s crackpot team, that mildewed bunch of crusty new-age hippies if ever there was any, trundled up in a well sad car. Oh, makes me die!  The windscreen wipers was goin, but it weren’t rainin?  You couldn’t even see who were drivin as the driver’s seat had sunk practically into the floor.  When the door creaked open, a fuggy cloud of pungent smoke rushed out like it were glad to see the back of em. Tass grinnin all over her face, Ida with her battered guitar, pregnant Sib, wasted lanky Tim and the hairy dog fell out along with a pile of rubbish.  God, they start early, that lot.

Hetty’s dogs roamed about barkin like there were no tomorrow.  No one even told em to shut up.  Honestly this place were annarky.

Hetty had made me a little badge what said ‘Manager!’ what I pinned to me top. It felt good to have a reminder of who were in charge, because them lot needed lickin into shape. They was all fuzzy around the edges. You can’t be like that if you is preparin food. Wasted or not, I got em scrubbin their hands, trimmin their nails. I’d bought along a pile a new cloths and scourers and we got goin. There was mounds of celery, spinach, cauliflower and chard on the table what Hetty’s husband, yeah, funny beard and a bit knocked about by the weather shall we say, had bought in from his farm. I got the girls choppin it all up. We cubed the butternut squashes and bunged em in the oven. We stir-fried the cabbage. We did four curried cauliflowers in a pan. I got Sib sittin down at a side table in a nice big chair cos of her belly, preparin spinach salads, all with nuts and seeds and beetroots in em.  I been cookin for me husband for years, I know what to do. And I am a girl what just gets on with it. I don’t hang about.

Fifty women turned up at twelve, looked at their diet sheets, and selected their own pacific meal.  There was like ten different types set out, all of em vegetarian and well green.  I couldn’t help thinkin some of them skinnier ladies could do with a nice fry-up or a roast dinner with a yorkshire pud and Bisto, but still, Hetty’s word goes.   They took their food down the big room into that plastic tunnel thing what were attached to the house. At the time, I din’t know why they went down there. I were too busy clearin up the mess to think about it.

It’s not easy to remember what order things happened in neither. I just know that before I knew it, I’d been sucked in and I were well and truly part of things what before I would not of been able to dream up, know what I mean? And it’s hard to know what order to tell you stuff in. Because if I tell you something like now, then you might think it’s more important than stuff I tell you in a minute, or even tomorrow, but that ain’t true. It were all important, that’s the truth, and it will be a bit random what order I tell it all to you, because it ain’t really that well sorted out in me own head yet.  Plus, bits of it done me head in, yeah, you will see why.  And if it had happened to you, I’m tellin ya, you would of got your head done in as well.  It were almost like I were working in some kind of loony bin.  But the loonies all thought they was normal and I were the loony?!  Which is quite confusin if you think about it.  You start thinkin maybe you is the loony!!

So, on about day three or four of workin there, I’d washed all the fronts of the units, I’d emptied the fridge and washed all its parts, OMG you shoulda seen the sell-by date on some of that stuff!  Jar a pesto:  July 2008!?  What is she like? Where has she been?  I had the kitchen startin to gleam a little, so I wanted something else to do.  I thought to meself, I thought ‘I bet some of them women don’t never bring their plates back up here!’  I went down the big room, readyin meself to give em a bit a grief, waved to Ida who were there strummin her guitar and singin with a whole buncha manic toddlers what was bashin their drums, cymbals, tambourines, recorders, honestly, she had a whole blinkin orchestra.

I pushed open the door to the polytunnel thing, expecting, I don’t know, to see the women washin fruit, blendin juices, peelin apples or something OMG anything!  but I were never expectin THAT! No, honest to God, no one, unless they was potty, like gone in the head, would of expected THAT. I don’t think I can even tell you! I’m scared you might have to stop readin or it might give you a clot on your brain. Seriously though, for a moment I felt like I were in a very strange film. It’s a wonder I never passed out with the shock of it! And only then did I realise that this job weren’t gonna be like other jobs, it weren’t gonna be as straightforward as it looked. No, it were gonna be, shall we say, interestin.


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Bollywood Task Force

This is a picture of us just standing.  You should have seen us dancing!  The floor was packed.  The Bollywood Night was the best fun.

So, Claire sighed crossly at me and said she had something very serious to say.  She was driving me along in her new loaned bright blue Mini with a big bulls-eye on the roof (I know, a last-ditch attempt to keep reality at bay methinks) so the thrill of it meant I didn’t pick up on her tone.  She said, ‘You’ve been overdoing it.  You must calm down and take it easy and not get ill.’

‘I haven’t really,’ I protested.  ‘It’s just The Boyfriend and the Bollywood Night happened to coincide.  And I happen to be on the committee for both of them.  And it is flute exam time which involves a lot of zooming about and last-minute tweaking tis true.  And Fred is away in New York so he can’t put the bins out.’

Claire was not lolling like what she normally does.  I twigged she’d gone all serious.  Disapproval radiated around the Mini.  I felt like I’d skived off school and the deputy head was telling me off.  ‘Just learn to say no,’ she said sternly.

Bugger.  I don’t want to say no.  I hate saying no.  ‘No people’ give me the shivers.  Anyway after a bit she cheered up and we experimented with the Mini’s interior multi-coloured lighting and stopped for a pub lunch.

BTW The Boyfriend was absolutely fantastic.  Here is a pic of the lovely Bash backstage:

Bash backstage

So today, Miss Benyon checked up on the boob.  ‘It’s gone bobbly,’ I told her.  It has, a bit like an old jumper in places.  ‘Is it necrosis of the flesh?  Will I have to have it sawn off?’

‘I have seen lots of necrosis of the flesh,’ she said, gosh brave woman, ‘and this looks nothing like that, honestly.’

‘It’s still swollen,’ I told her.  It is.  Bloody enormous.  I had to go and buy the most humungous bra you ever saw.

‘That will take a few weeks to go down,’ she said.

On her way out the door, she spotted my dodgily hennaed hand.  ‘What is that?’ she asked.

I hid it behind my back.  ‘Bollywood Night,’ I replied guiltily.  ‘I had to go,’ I said in response to her reproachful look, ‘I’m part of the Task Force.  They needed me.’

‘You know,’ she sighed, ‘I get the feeling you are possibly overdoing it.  Just SLOW DOWN.’

Bloody Hell.  OK.  I will then.  I might not listen to my poor friend but I litrally will do anything for Miss B-sigh-with-admiration-and-joy, let’s be honest.

I texted Claire while waiting for the bus.  ‘Miss B says same as you I have to slow down.’

She texted back ‘I should be a surgeon.’

Must admit, have been bursting into tears for no reason at all.  Yeah, honestly, pathetic.  I think it’s the pills.  Four different antibiotics four times a day.  Drives one potty very quick. And puts you off your food:  for me, misery of the first degree.  Had the last Herceptin today.  For the first time ever, I lay down on three chairs while waiting, so I can’t be right.  There was a bald woman opposite me and she was so brave and cheerful while having her horrible chemo I suddenly felt a dreadful pang of pain for her, and I started to boo-hoo again. Dang!  It’s like I’m back at square one emotionally.  Cue a visit to Dennis for some angel contact.  Need to be restored to self.

The Gin Club turned up on Sunday morning to pick up horse food on their way to do the ponies.  ‘Don’t get kicked,’ I warned Mad Lucy as she looked a bit too glammed up and mascara-ed for ponies and that sort tend to be the ones who get a hoof-print on their thigh.  Judgemental, moi?  Non.  Pas du tout, just speaking from experience.

‘No, horses I can do,’ she claimed.  ‘Spent my teenage years down the stables.’

Even Jet-setting Jill was all wellied up.  I had to head off to clear up Bollywood detritus, so I waved them off fearing electrocution at the very least.

I have a little flute pupil called Inez who has accompanied us to the ponies at least once per holiday since she was about five.  Every time I would remind her that it would hurt if she touched the fence, but she never believed me.  ‘It’s not on!’ she would claim, merrily.  ‘See!’  She’d grab it in her fist and recoil like she’d been shot.  Then she would burst into tears.  I guess it’s a valid experimental hands-on method of learning.  The last couple of times she has come along, (the fifth year she has been coming), she didn’t touch it.  Halleluia, praise the Lord, I do believe she’s got it.

I went today and laughed because all the poo-picking instruments have been laid out in a tidy line.  There is not a speck of dung in the field.  The ponies look clean and fluffy and rather surprised.

I received a message from WordPress saying ‘Happy Blogging Anniversary!’  Yes, it’s been a whole year of writing.  84 posts.  This makes me dribble with excitement because it means Claire’s Birthday Turbo-Pimms Cauldron and thereby Pissed Trampolining Spring Giggles cannot be far off.  Oops, I keep forgetting, I am not to overdo it:  repeat like a mantra.  It’s harder than it looks to remember this, if irrepressibility is your default setting and fun looms anywhere nearby.

And the very very exciting news is that the editor of our local paper, who was the judge of the short story competition, has requested a fortnightly column on ‘Adventures of the Gin Club.’  He he what merry japes are to be had.  I’ve already sent him one on our trip to the Cock Inn but haven’t heard back.  I think due to dodgy puns (well, would you be able to resist with a name like that?) it has no doubt gone to his spam… or it was just too rude and he has had second thoughts.  Anyway, will keep you updated.

Must rest now, like an old biddy!  Think of me, lying there, bored out of tiny mind….

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Mellow Dramas

Well, things have been going on. Oh yes, we are back firmly in breast-land. I’d had a lovely afternoon sitting in Aunty Lindesay’s garden in the sun(!) and was just heading off on Tuesday evening to Janet’s poetry reading at the Iraqi Cultural Centre in Shepherd’s Bush when I realised I felt quite shivery and a bit ill. On my way out of the door, I grabbed some paracetamol, just in case it should get worse. By the time I was wandering around Shepherd’s Bush Green looking for the place, I had stiffened up with cold despite wearing about ten layers. I loved the talks and poems nonetheless, and as Janet advised, I let the wondrous Arabic wash over me much as you would let a bubbling brooke bathe you with its sound. However, the journey home was almost unbearable. I was aware that my bra on the right side was feeling tighter and tighter and my breast was increasingly feeling pain which is odd as mostly it is numb.

I got back to Stortford and had to take a cab. Took pain-killers, planned my strategy and slept. Did the dogs and ponies early and phoned Miss Benyon’s clinic. The woman on reception told me the first port of call was always my GP. I said the GP would either a.) prescribe the wrong antibiotics and I would die from a galloping infection, or b.) after I had waited for three hours to see someone, would obviously send me to Addenbrooke’s. But by then it might be too late in the day to see someone and I would die from a galloping infection.

She said, ‘Ah but! You might not have an infection, you see, so you have to go to the GP.’

I said, ‘Ah yes, but! I know I have an infection, because my breast is painful and red and I am feverish.’

She said, ‘You have to go to your GP.’

I am proud to say I have learnt some vital lessons in my life, one of them being ‘Trust Your Instinct,’ so I did not go to my GP. I phoned the Breast Unit instead. The Breast Care Nurse, Lisa, got back straight away and said, ‘Sounds serious. Come in immediately.’ Thank God.

I sat in a little cubicle in the Plastic Surgery Unit. After a bit of a look, they called other people who came and had a bit of a look. Then, Miss Benyon turned up. Oh swoon. What a delightful shock. She said I was absolutely right to have gone straight there and that I’d have to stay in for around four days for iv antibios! I was not expecting that. If I had I would have (oops I keep wanting to say ‘would of’ like Shardonnay) packed some knickers. It’s very odd to be whisked from whatever is your complicated, colourful tapestry of a life so quickly into a world of blues, greys and calm precision.

I was put back on the same ward I was in in August. I very quickly tuned into the fact that the doctors all seemed to be a) Gorjuss! b) Greek! So I had some lovely conversations in Greek about the economic crisis and Lefkada, Thessaloniki and the University there. I was put on a drip of strong antibiotics for two hours twice a day. Managed to phone Bash, Claire, Janet and Karen-at-the-ponies and organise care of animals.

Fred was in Paris when all this happened, but Gwanny and Grampa came that first night with newspaper cuttings thank God, as I was already so bored out of my tiny mind I was reading the toothpaste tube again and again.

The most thrilling bit is that so far I have got to see Miss Benyon five times in three days, once in her soft green operating garb and once in the bathroom! The first time she drew a black line around the red patch. She came to see me at 7pm on Thursday evening as the infection had spread. She had just been operating on a thirty-eight-week-old baby aahh bleeees. She drew a dotted black line around the scarily galloping red patch and said I needed another antibiotic that kills everything. She impressed upon me that I was not allowed to drink gin if the Gin Club came!

My neighbours in the ward were: a Lithuanian girl with horrendous tonsillitis that looked like it had almost killed her, a sweet woman with a massive scar on her throat with a funny jokey husband, and a mental painkiller addict. The nurses would say again and again, ‘You can’t have more, you only just had some.’ She got more and more arsey about it. She phoned her husband all the bloody time in the middle of the night. ‘Bring me some fags,’ she rasped, ‘and my painkillers, they won’t give me any.’ On Thursday they asked her what pain relief she normally took at home. She rattled off the four or five syllable names of three drugs I’ve never heard of. This would not have seemed so suspicious if she had also been able to rattle off the names of her various conditions! Thursday night she said she were gonna make a formal complaint and make sure that bitch who refused her painkillers lost her job. By three in the morning her husband had come and she stormed out. Ooh, bit of drama.

A new lady, Carol, is in her space now, same problem as me but only two weeks since her latissimus dorsi (same as mine) op, as opposed to my eight months. Her infection meant the implant had had to be taken out and put in again. She’s wonderful. As she got pushed in on her bed, fresh from theatre, she opened her arms and said, ‘Greetings, all!’ She’s a positive thinker. We get on like a house on fire.

On Friday Gwanny came with a book from her friend Lissi, then Janet with news of the animals, blueberries and a chocolate rabbit, then the Gin Club with gin (pas pour moi) and chocolate, biscuits, grapes. Joy and Rapture, all of it. Tried to keep noise down, but it got a bit riotous, especially when a woman in soft green garb turned up in the corridor and from the back looked like….could it be?…Miss Benyon? The Gin Club’s eyes were wide with excitement. ‘Don’t say anything embarrassing,’ I hissed. Then, ‘Oh, it’s not her.’ We deflated like a bouncy castle what’s had a great big needle (ooh, phallic image no doubt) inserted in it.

So, just when I thought the fun must be winding down, Barney arrived for a good old chat. His eyes lit up when he saw the Gin Club but unfortunately they had finished all the gin. Claire offered him a tonic, but it doesn’t really do it for him.

Miss Benyon must have gone home for the weekend. No one got to see her. Sigh. (Still, I want to keep her to myself really.)

Oh, God, I’ve just realised something. I am bored of being myself. I want to be Shardonnay.

The antibios have been giving me some quite good visuals though. Rows of garish Punch and Judy faces with big cheeks and pointy hats. Ghoul masks looming out of grey. Even with my eyes open I look out at the grey sky and see black equidistant dots everywhere spiralling randomly right and left.

This morning, Saturday, one of the drop-dead handsome doctors asked me ‘Has Miss Benyon talked to you about discharge?’

I said, with dignity, ‘We do not talk about things like that! Our relationship is far more ethereal.’

He laughed. He was talking about the fact I can probably go home tomorrow. Oh, shame. I tell you, I become institutionalised extremely fast. Love the routine of it. Love all the characters. Am fascinated by the blood-pressure machine. Love the fact the Lithuanian girl is chatting away in Russian to one of the cleaners. Love the fact Arulesh came to visit on the train. Most of all, I love the broccoli in cheese sauce and the apple crumble and custard.

Now I have made you all jells, I will give the computer to Fred to take home and go and watch another movie. Have (re)watched Tintin, Burn after Reading, Shakespeare in Love, Hot Fuzz and am going to watch Cowboys and Aliens.

(Ha ha. Claire just texted to say she has poo-picking elbow.)

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OK, it’s kind of ready.  But only one chapter at a time as I get the feeling I’m gonna get sliiiiiightly stuck somewhere in the middle. And posts might not happen every day.  At least I’ve learnt some formatting lessons this time and don’t fart about no more with big chapter headings.  Here goes:


Chapter 1.

I had to fill in a form today at the Employment Agency. It did make me laugh. I put me name in capitals. ‘SHARDONNAY.’ I stared at it for a while in satisfaction. It’s well good having a punchy name. Me mum did good there. She always says, ‘There’s only one Shardonnay,’ and she’s right there. There is only one of me. I am truly one of a kind.

On the form there were one question which said ‘Last job held.’ I thought for a minute, then, rather proudly, I put ‘Manager of Factry,’ still thinking to meself: ‘Ooh! Manager! Fancy that!’ The next question were harder. ‘Details of duties’ it said, with a little box about five centimetres by five centimetres to put your answer in! LOL. I thought back to all the stuff what went on with that job and I din’t really know what to put. Then I wrote in the little box, I wrote ‘There ain’t enough space in this here box to tell you just how much I used to …’ then I ran out of space. I know me handwritin ain’t small but God, this were just hopeless. Then I spotted some small print under the box. It said, ‘Continue on a separate sheet if necessary.’ I just sat there and had a little laugh to meself, then I walked out. Now I’m home I’m still thinking about how to answer that bloody question. One thing’s for sure, though, could I describe that bloody job in one titchy box? Nah.. I tell you, I’d have to write a bloody book to get all that in. I don’t need meself a ‘separate sheet’, I’d need like unlimited amounts of space, like as big as the universe just about. So I went and bought meself a big big padda paper and some felt tips. And I’m gonna give it a go.

Details of duties: OK then, here goes.

1. Sort The Bloody Hippies Out.  They din’t have no clue! I had to clear up the whole factry. I had to make that blinkin dirty tip hygienic! Otherwise people woulda started dyin of germs, honest, it were that bad. No one took the compost bucket out for a start, it were always overflowin with teabags and manky rottin veg. No one made sure there were any toilet paper. I mean, come on, this is basic stuff right? No one even made sure there were soap and clean towels. No one changed the dish-cloths nor put any in the wash for the next day. No one even wiped the surfaces down. No one swept the bloody floor. They was all in another world where practicalities din’t get a look-in.

I’ll tell you what they did do that lot a layabouts. They rolled up spliffs, they smoked em, they sat around gigglin and talkin absolute gibberish, and made these godawful stews with lentils in what smelt like shit. That’s about it. So that were what I walked into. And I’m telling you the truth. I am tellin it as it is. I am not exaggeratin. It were that bad, honest to God.

Yeah, thinking about it, it were a job and a half, my job.

I only took it on in the first place because Pat over the road she says to me, she says, ‘Shardie, now that Nick’s gone off again, don’t you find life a bit quiet?’

And I thought to meself suddenly, I thought, ‘Yes, I do. I do find it a bit quiet.’ Cos Nick and Gloria have not only gone off to Paris or somewhere easy to get to, they’ve only gone off to bloody Australia! And for four years I were lookin after Nick, when he were palarysed, solid, it were a full-time job, so now, I were at a bit of a loss to tell you the truth. And the job I had before that, which basically consisted of three blowies a day and passin the spunk over the road, (OK, I’m the first to admit it weren’t like that hard), kind of petered out a bit, well, OK, stopped completely is more like it, after me husband found out I’d been sellin his sperm. And you got to understand, I am a girl what likes to keep busy. I don’t like too much time to meself. It’s better to be doin things otherwise you get to thinkin too much! And no one wants too mucha that. Start goin round in circles you do, if you got too much time to do it in.

Oh, I’ve got through one felt tip pen already!  Blimey, they don’t last long!  Chuck it in the bin.  I’ll change colour.

So then Pat she says to me, ‘Shardie, my friend out in that village, whassisname, Debden is it? No, Nebden, that’s it! She wants someone to help her with her factry.’

And I’m like, ‘What sort of factry, Pat?’

She don’t answer that one. She just says, ‘Lovely lady, Hetty. Scatty as hell though. Piles of shit all over the place. Needs someone like you, Shardie, to sort her out.’ Thinkin about it later, I saw she never answered me question! Of course, later on, quite a few things made sense. But at the time, I din’t get it. No, but you don’t do you? You don’t get it even if it’s quite obvious, cos you’re like not lookin for trouble are you?

Anyway, she took me out there the very next day to meet her friend. I could see like straight away why the poor woman needed help. For starters, she answered the door of her massive farmhouse with a big fat baby on her hip and a tiny kid clutchin onto her leg standin on her shoe. You will not believe this but the baby, he had one hand up her t-shirt and were tweakin her nipple! Cheeky little chap. People shouldn’t let kids do stuff like that. It’s rude. They should keep em under control more. But then I thought about when Nick were little and thought, yeah, it’s not that easy is it though, Shardie? It’s not that easy. They got attitude, they have, little kids. And they learn to control you. Even if you say it’s not gonna happen to you, it does, oh, yeah, it does.

Anyway, Hetty had four kids runnin about from like eleven down to one, a dozen cows and a coupla horses out the back, a bloody pack of mangy dogs, several flea-ridden cats, a load of chickens what kept tryin to come in the back door….oh my lord, I could go on! The poor woman she’s tryina run this fuckin factry but she ain’t got a clue about keepin it together. It soon became clear to me that she is a fuckin fruitcake n all. Nice, a kind lady, but litrally on another planet. And not a clue in hell about lookin her best! No, she ties back her hair with string! Yeah, litrally. String what comes on a bale of straw.

She says to me, she says, ‘The job is basically to get the team preparin eight different meals for fifty people twice a day.’

I looked around the big kitchen with its pilesa pans piled up in the sink, the greasy work surfaces, the conjeeled stove and I thought Okaaaaaay! But God, did me fingers ever start itchin. ‘Hetty,’ I says to the woman, ‘Hetty. Listen to me!’ She were tryin to run off and chat to someone. I grabbed her arm. ‘No, listen! You need to get this mess sorted out. You can’t go on like this. You need someone to help get things in order.’

‘Well, I do have my team,’ she says in a bit of a harrassed way, draggin her hair out of her eyes and gesticulin to a bunch of crusties sittin out on a bench in the courtyard. You can see she’s exhausted. She’s droopin at the seams.

I take a good look at her team. Oh my Lord, no wonder the place is in a state. You would not believe these people.  They ain’t from the real world. They look as if they have come out of twenty Glastonberry festivals back to back. Looks like they ain’t never been to a hairdresser, I bet they don’t even know what one is! I turn back to Hetty, I says to her, I says, ‘Hetty, I can come back here tomorrow with me Marigolds, and get that lazy teama yours workin. They need someone to tell em what to do.’

‘I do try to tell them,’ she sighed.

‘Yeah, but Hetty!’ I says. ‘You is not getting through to em! They need someone what’s gonna boss em around. And that is one thing I am very very good at, bossin people around.’

She smiled. This were when she told me I could be Manager. ‘OK, you can be the Manager then,’ she says.

I laughed. I were really chuffed. ‘Now yer talkin, ‘Manager’, I like it!’ I says.

‘I’ll take you down the factory,’ she says.

She took me down the main room of the farmhouse and through a door into like a long polythene tent tunnel thing. It were rainin outside. You could hear the rain spatterin on the outside of the polythene. The mess weren’t no better down there. There was plates and forks and cups all over the place. Plants was ramblin about all out of control. There was like ten sofas, with their cushions all over the place and crumbs and spills. I trod on somethin and looked down and it were half of a dead mouse, with its guts on the outside! I were goin spare cos I am the type of girl what can’t see mess like that without wantin to clean it up.

I made me mind up there and then. ‘Hetty, I’m comin over tomorrow, to get stuck in,’ I told her. ‘Don’t you worry, your worries are at an end. This lot is gonna get cleaned up. All this shit,’ I looked around at it all, ‘is gonna be sorted out.’

On the way back up to the kitchen, I asked her what sort of factry it were. There were a little pause. ‘Didn’t Pat tell you?’ she asked.

‘No, she din’t say nothin about it,’ I answered.

‘Well, Shardonnay,’ she said, with a little smile, ‘We’re making….’ she mumbled a bit here, ‘erm…like, Special Juice.’

‘Special Juice?’ I asked. You could hear them bloody capitals.

‘Yeah, you know, erm..Healthy Drinks.’ She carried on quickly: ‘I think you’re gonna fit in here, Shardonnay. You’ll soon lick that team into shape.’

‘I will that,’ I says, ‘I just wanna get stuck in and make sure you lot is hygienic, before we start cookin all that food!’ I looked at her. ‘So long as it’s got nothin to do with sperm!’ I cackled, ‘cos me an sperm, we don’t mix no more!’

‘No, Shardonnay, I can give you my word, it’s got nothing at all to do with sperm,’ she said, smilin. I think Pat had filled her in on most of me story.

I run me finger along the greasy table edge probably with disgust on me face, I’m tellin ya with the grime in there it were difficult not to grimance wherever you looked.. There ain’t no other word for it all, it were disgustin. The disgustingness of it distracted me from the fact that I still din’t know what that factry really did..I walked off thinkin it must be makin apple juice and that from the fruit trees on the farm.

I probably should of insisted on findin out exactly what it were. Cos if I’d of known what were really goin on, I probly would of backed off right there and then. When I got all that hassle with the consequences of the sperm thing and all, I learnt me lesson. I bloody learnt what that bloody word consequences meant and all, din’t I? You might not know what it means. I’ll tell you because it is a useful thing to know. It means ‘things what happen due to what you done, and it ain’t always good.’ Yeah, that about sums it up. So, the truth of it is that I would never of got involved in something dodgy again, would I, if I’d of known? No, because if you learn your lesson, then the next time, you’re more careful. If I’d of known what that factry did I would never of taken on the job. But by the time I got to know, it were too late, I’d already gone and got meself sucked in.

Thing is though, that loada druggy hippies needed me, that were stickin out a mile high, they really really needed me. I told me mum all about it and she said, ‘Shardonnay, if they need you, they need you.’ And I thought, yeah, poor buggers, I can’t let em carry on the way they’re carryin on. That would be cruelty to druggy hippies and I am not a cruel person, I am a kind person.

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Just thought I would let you know that Shardonnay is now an e-book.


Dennis phoned today to say his books have arrived but he felt a feeling of anti-climax.  I told him that was normal.  The anticipation is so much better than the real thing!  And when you have witnessed all the little steps and struggled with every little thing, you are no longer amazed by any part of the whole.  I told him to take a pile of them to the Cancer Centre and his friends there will be gob-smacked by the finished product, as they have not seen any of the little developmental steps.

I am going on Wednesday to see him and congratulate him and buy a copy for me and a copy for my mum and a copy for my friend Debbie whose brother Alan had healing with Dennis a few weeks before he died.

Our friends Janet and David have just moved into a fantastic country place like seven minutes drive from here!  So exciting for us.  We can re-enact long drunken summer evenings that we used to enjoy in France thirteen years ago.

I have new exciting secret projects going on, like wowzer wowzer freak-out stuff:  can’t tell you yet, will tell you in the next post, probs.

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It’s Tabby’s nineteenth birthday this coming Wednesday, so Bash and I zoomed down to Guildford to see her this morning and deliver her presents from us and from Gwanny.  We had a wander round the shops and bought her some stuff in Urban Outfitters, cor what a lovely shop.  We were celebrating offers of places from Royal Scottish in Glasgow and Mountview in London, whoop whoop.

Then we went to her digs.  She looks out on a bank of snowdrops.  Bash took photos of Tabby as Shardonnay for the cover because I can’t operate a camera for some reason.  The brief was an ‘oops, what’ve I gone and done now though?’ type look.  Here is a selection for you.  Please bear in mind, the whole operation took less than five minutes as  Bash had to get back for another costume call and rehearsal for The Boyfriend (14th to 16th March at the Rhodes!  Please come!) by three pm.

Which one do you think is best?

This one is:  ‘Shit.  There’s a whole bunch of kids turned up at the door.’

Here is another.  ‘Oops, like litrally, what have I gone and done now, though?’


Another: ‘ It’s hard to know what’s goin on, sometimes, innit?  I mean, things just get away from you, and before you know it, they’re out of control.’


And again:  ‘Wot, Pat?  You tellin me you been exportin the stuff all this time?  Wot?  All round the world?’


Slightly less extreme might be:  ‘What I done ain’t that bad, is it?  Me mum says, Shardonnay, it could always of turned out worse.’


Or maybe:  ‘Yeah, truth is, I got meself in a bit of a mess here, but you gotta laugh, aincha? Especially when you’ve had a few.’


‘It is a hard job, Shelley, gettin it off of him three times a day!’


‘And then again, thinkin about it, he probly would be pleased to know that his little offerin ain’t goin to waste.’


‘Yeah, say what you like but I’ll do whatever I like with it.  He give it to me volanterily.’


‘Yeah, it don’t look like much, but it pays the bills, oh yeah.  And if you need the money, you need the money.’


I’m thinking the second one might be the best.

So, The World According to Shardonnay is already available as an e-book on Smashwords to download for kindle etc.  It’s $2.99.  I’ll give you the link next time as it will have its new cover image in a few days.  Fred did a mock-up of what I had in mind, but Smashwords recommend you order a proper one, which we did, and so far, it looks fantastic.

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