Saturday 8 September 2012
Just woke up from delicious, sensual dream all mixed up with Daniel and Leatherjacketman. Suddenly feel different: sensual, womanly and yet that makes me feel so guilty, as if I’m being unfaithful to Mark and yet . . . is so sensual feeling like a sensual woman, with a sensual side which is sensually . . . oh. Children are awake.
11:30 a.m. Entire morning has been totally sensual and lovely. Started day with all three of us in my bed, cuddling and watching telly. Then had breakfast. Then played hide and seek. Then drew and colored in Moshi Monsters, then did obstacle course all in pajamas, all the while with roast chicken emitting delicious fragrance from the Aga.
11:31 a.m. Am perfect mother and sensual woman with
sensual possibilities. I mean maybe someone like Leather-
jacketman could join in with this scenario
and. . . .
11:32 a.m. Billy: “Can we do computer, now it’s Saturday?”
11:33 a.m. Mabel: “Want to watch SpongeBob.”
11:35 a.m. Suddenly overwhelmed with exhaustion and desire to read papers in echoing silence. Just for ten minutes.
“Mummeee! De TV is broken.”
Realized, horrified, Mabel had got hold of the remotes. I started jabbing at buttons, at which white flecks appeared, accompanied by loud crackling.
“Snow!” said Mabel, excitedly, just as the dishwasher started beeping.
“Mummy!” said Billy. “The computer’s run out of charge.”
“Well, plug it in again!” I said shoving my head into the cupboard full of wires under the telly.
“Night!” said Mabel as the TV screen went black, and the tumble-dryer joined in the beeping.
“This charger doesn’t work.”
“Well, go on the Xbox!”
“It’s not working.”
“Maybe it’s the Internet connection.”
“Mummy! I’ve unplugged the AirPort, I can’t get it in again.”
Realizing my thermostat was veering dangerously towards red, I scampered off up the stairs saying, “Time to get dressed, special treat! I’ll get your clothes.” Then ran into their bedroom and burst out, “I hate fucking technology. Why can’t everyone just FUCKING SHUT UP AND LET ME READ THE PAPERS.”
Suddenly lurched in horror. The baby listener was on! Oh God, oh God. Should have got rid of it ages ago but paranoid as single parent, fear of death, etc., etc. Ran downstairs to find Billy racked by sobs.
“Oh Billy, I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean it. Was it the baby listener?”
“Nooooooooo!” he yelled. “The Xbox is frozen.”
“Mabel, did you hear Mummy in the baby listener?”
“No,” she said staring delightedly at the television. “De TV is mended.”
It was showing a page asking for the Virgin TV password.
“Billy, what’s the Virgin password?” I said.
“Isn’t it the same as your banker’s card, 1066?”
“OK, I’ll do the Xbox, you put in the password,” I said just as the doorbell rang.
“That password won’t work.”“Mummeee!” said Mabel.
“Shh, both of you!” I yelled. “There’s SOMEONE AT THE DOOR!”
Ran up the stairs, head a mass of guilty thoughts: “I’m a terrible mother, there is a hole inside them left by the loss of their father which they are trying to fill with technology,” and opened the door.
It was Jude, looking glamorous but hungover and tearful.
“Oh Bridge,” she said, falling into my arms. “I just can’t stand another Saturday morning on my own.”
“What happened . . . tell Mummy . . .” I said then remembered Jude was a grown-up financial giant.
“The guy I met on Match.com and went out with the day before the Stronghold? The one I had a snog with?”
“Yes?” I said trying vaguely to remember which one.
“He didn’t call. And then last night, he copied me in on a global text saying his wife has just had a baby girl 6 lbs 12 oz.”
“OhMyGod. That’s disgusting. That’s inhuman.”
“All these years I didn’t want children and people kept saying I’d change my mind. They were right. I’m going to get my eggs unfrozen.”
“Jude,” I said. “You made a choice. Just because some guy is a fuckwit it doesn’t mean it was the wrong choice. It’s a good choice for you. Children are . . . are . . . ” I glanced murderously back down the stairs.
She held out her phone showing an Instagram picture of the Fuckwit holding his baby.
“. . . cuddly and lovely and pink and 6 lbs 12 oz and all I do is work and hook up and I’m all on my own on a Saturday morning. And. . . . ”
“Come downstairs,” I said, darkly. “I’ll show you cuddly and lovely.”
We clomped back down. Billy and Mabel were now standing cherub-like, holding out a drawing saying, “We Love You Mummy.”
“We’re going to empty the dishwasher, Mummy,” said Billy. “To help you.”
Shit! What was wrong with them?
“Thank you, children. That would be lovely,” I purred, bustling Jude back upstairs, and outside the front door, before they did something worse like emptying the recycling bin.
“I’m going to defrost the eggs,” sobbed Jude as we sat down on the steps. “The technology was primitive then. Crude even, but it might work if . . . I mean I could get a sperm donor and. . . . ”
Suddenly the upstairs window in the house opposite shot open and a pair of Xbox remotes hurtled out, landing with a smash next to the dustbins.
Seconds later, the front door flung open and the bohemian neighbor appeared, dressed in fluffy pink mules, a Victorian nightdress, and a small bowler hat, carrying an armful of laptops, iPads, and iPods. She teetered down the front steps and shoved the electronics in the dustbin, followed by her son and two more boys wailing, “Noooooo! I haven’t finished my leveeeeeeel!”
“Good!” she yelled. “When I signed up for having children, I did NOT sign up to be ruled by a collection of inanimate thin black objects and a gaggle of TECHNO-CRACKHEADS refusing to do anything but stare with jabbing thumbs, while demanding that I SERVICE them like a computer tech crossed with a five-star-hotel concierge. When I didn’t have you, everyone spent their entire time saying I’d change my mind. And guess what? I’ve had you. I’ve brought you up. And I’ve CHANGED MY MIND!”
I stared at her, thinking, “I have to be friends with that woman.”
“Children of your age in India live entirely successfully as street urchins,” she continued. “So you can just sit on that doorstep and instead of putting your ENTIRE BRAINS into getting to the next level on MINECRAFT, you can apply them to CHANGING MY MIND about letting you back in. And don’t you dare touch that dustbin or I shall sell you to the HUNGER GAMES.”
Then, with a toss of her bowler-hatted head, she flounced back into the house and slammed the door.
“Mummeee!” Shouting and crying erupted from my own basement. “Mummeee!”
“Want to come back in?” I said to Jude.
“No, no, it’s fine,” Jude said, happy now, getting to her feet. “You’re completely right. I have made the right choice. Just a bit hungover. I just need to have breakfast and a Bloody Mary at Soho House and read the papers and I’ll be fine. Thanks, Bridge. Love you. Byee!”
Then she teetered off in her Versace knee-length gladiator sandals, looking hungoverly fabulous.
I looked back across the street. The three boys were sitting in a line on the doorstep.
“Everything all right?” I said.
The dark-haired son grinned. “Yeah, it’s fine. She just gets like this. She’ll be all right in a minute.”
He glanced behind him to check the door was still closed, and pulled an iPod out of his pocket. Then the boys started giggling, moved closer together, and bent over the iPod.
Copyright © 2014 by Helen Fielding. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.