Read Amanda's Wedding Online

Authors: Jenny Colgan

Amanda's Wedding (8 page)

BOOK: Amanda's Wedding
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‘Oh God, Mel!' she yelled. ‘He needed somewhere to crash, he was worried about coming home alone, he wanted a bit of shagging attention … America probably wasn't half as much fun as he's telling everyone it is – I mean, does he have a job from his great pop-star mate yet? Honestly, how can you let yourself be taken advantage of like this? Aren't you worth more than this? Aren't you?'

Linda walked into the sitting room. Her fat face fell.

‘Ehmm, I didn't know you were having people over.'

‘Yeah, you know Fran, don't you?'

‘Hello! How are you?' perked Fran, taking a momentary break from her onerous shouting duties.

‘Fine.' Linda retreated. I heard her head out of the door with some elderly voices.

‘Shit! Do you think those were Linda's parents?'

The door slammed.

‘God, I feel awful. And it's Monday today. Sunday is parental visit day. Everyone knows that!' I was grumbling to myself. ‘Why doesn't she tell me these things?'

‘Isn't it written up on the calendar?'

‘Who the fuck keeps a calendar, for fuck's sake?'

Fran pointed out the large thing covered in kittens on the back of the kitchen door. I thought that was Linda's idea of changing artistic taste. In big pink letters, it said ‘parents coming today' under the date. There wasn't another single thing in the whole month.

‘What is the matter with that girl?' I cringed. ‘Why can't she just go out with her friends and get rat-arsed like everyone else?'

‘Does she have any friends?'

‘No. Don't think so.'

‘Do you ever think of asking her out with us?'

I couldn't stand Fran pulling this saint act.

‘You ask her!'

‘She's your flatmate!'

This was getting childish, so I just sighed and made a half-hearted flapping motion which was supposed to mean OK without actually committing myself to anything. Alex temporarily forgotten in the light of someone else's troubles, something else occurred to me.

‘I wonder what's in those enormous parcels she keeps getting.'

‘So, to make her life a complete misery, why don't we snoop amongst her stuff as well?'

‘You started it!'

‘Did not!'

‘Did too! When Nicholas was here!'


We looked at each other enquiringly.

‘Well …'

‘That would be extremely … naughty.' Fran giggled nervously.

‘Well, I've already ruined her day …'

We looked at each other and both leapt out of the room.

Linda's sanctum was possibly the most spotless place I have ever seen. Even the teddy bear looked like he'd been through teddy grooming school. Everything in it was either pink or peach, and the wall managed to be both, with the help of the type of nasty border normally only seen in motorway hotels. There were frilly things everywhere – tie-backs, potpourri holders, ornamental pigs. It looked like the wet dream of a seven-year-old girl.

‘Wow,' said Fran, picking up the matching brush set from the glass top of the dressing table, under which rested a doily. ‘Miss Havisham's cleaning rota's certainly improved.'

I couldn't see the parcel I was looking for and headed towards the cupboard. Fran picked up one of the Laura Ashley pinafore numbers Linda favoured and flounced round the room singing, ‘I'm Linda, and I couldn't be sorrier for breathing! Sorry, please pay some rent, how about five pence a month? I'm just going out now – oh, of course, I never do …' I grimaced.

Suddenly, the phone rang. We both jumped out of our skins, as if we'd been caught doing something very wrong. Which, of course, we had.

‘You answer it!' I hissed, absurdly, to Fran, and snatched the dress off her. Wrong-footed, she did as she was told.

I went to hang the dress back up and, as I did, I noticed the box peeping out of the back of the cupboard. Feeling thoroughly low, I picked it up anyway.

Inside there was layer upon layer of chocolate:
everything from little Flyte bars to enormous, one-acre Galaxys, and those huge Toblerones you can only get in Duty Free. Some were just empty wrappers, strewn about in a most uncharacteristic manner.

‘Chuffing hell!' I exclaimed, as Fran walked back in.

‘How did you know that was Nicholas from all the way in here?'

‘Look at all this!'

‘Oh my God. Eating disorder city. Jesus!'

‘I know. She just gets fatter and fatter. She must eat in secret all the time.'

‘What are you going to do?'

‘What am I going to do? Oh, take full responsibility for it, obviously. I don't know! We don't even say good morning!'

We looked at each other.

On the overwrought bedside table, beside the crocheted tissue-box cover, there was only one picture, of Linda – a chubby child – standing next to a vicious-looking pony.

Oh God, what was I going to do – mention it to her? D'oh! What did advice columns say? Leave some handy leaflets lying about. I didn't know if they did ones that said, ‘We were snooping in your room and found something you're obviously desperately trying to hide.' Go down the pub? I tried to judge a tasteful length of time before suggesting this. Fran gave me a look that plainly told me it wasn't long enough.

‘Huh? Sorry, I was just thinking about Linda.'

‘So what do you think we should …'

‘I have absolutely no idea.'


‘I suppose I could try and be nicer to her,' I offered.

‘Well, you do live together.'

‘So do you, practically, and you're not nice to anyone.'

‘That's because most people are boring. But Linda's like, you know,

‘OK, OK already.'

I hoisted myself up and went and tackled some of Alex's and my washing-up. Well, it was a start.

‘So, ehm, that was Nicholas on the phone then?'

And not, say, Alex (who was out buying furniture), having had a big change of heart and begging me to move with him to Fulham.

‘Yes. You appear to be in demand.'

Well, hooray!

‘However, I told him you weren't available, so he asked me out instead.'

Boo! OK, I may have despised the guy, but I'd like to think he could tell me apart from other members of the same species.

‘Huh. Did you say yes?'

‘What do you think?'

‘I think you said yes, you would smoochily love him forever and ever, and did he have any more of his hilarious accounting stories?'

‘Oh, and also he said you may have to test for some disease or other.'


Fran gave me the finger and laughed evilly.

‘Melanie, given that you're probably the only person who's ever gone to bed with him, I wouldn't worry too much.'

The brief tension gone, I told her about how awful the party had been, which I knew would please her. She was particularly interested in Angus.

‘Sounds intriguing. Was he handsome?'

On the sniff, as usual.

‘Ehm, I don't know. Have you seen that film

‘He looks like a pig?'

‘Hear me out …'

‘Farmer Hoggett?'

‘No! You know the dog in it who goes bad and bites people …?'

‘He looks like a dog?'

‘Well, he has an air of wounded nobility.'

‘In dog form.'

‘Ehm …'

We both sighed.

‘God, there really are no men left,' exclaimed Fran for like the billionth time.

I couldn't help it, but I must have involuntarily made an Amanda-type look, because she pretended to knee me in the tits. She didn't quite pretend properly and unfortunately did hit me in the tits. Fran's always played rough.

Linda came back eventually, on her own. We both stiffened. As usual she headed straight past the sitting room for her bedroom. I held my breath, terrified she
was going to find something out of place. Maybe she had a hair taped over the doorframe and some talc or something, and now she was going to kill us …

Fran gave me a meaningful look, so I heaved myself up again.

‘Erm, Linda, do you want a cup of coffee?'

There was silence from beyond. No doubt this was a terrifying and unprecedented advance on my part. I felt horribly embarrassed and ashamed. Finally:

‘No, thanks.'

‘I think you've only got half a pound of sugar left anyway,' whispered Fran meanly.

‘OK!' I shouted. ‘We're off to the pub. Do you want to come?'

Linda came out of her room and looked at me, her pale eyes suspicious.


‘Ehm, no reason … you know, Monday night …' I trailed off weakly.

‘No, thanks. I'm going to clean my wardrobe out.'

‘Ohhh – I mean: Oh, right, have fun!'

Then Fran and I fled to the pub to meet Alex and Charlie. ‘Amanda & Fraser Ltd' had generously deigned to join us: the presence of two good-looking West London boys had obviously upped our social desirability somewhat.

Walking into the pub, I shot a sidelong glance at Fran. It was not looking good. Amanda was sitting in the middle of the three men, showing off in her pertiest manner. Fraser was watching her dutifully – or staring at her adoringly, I couldn't make out what was
true and what was bitchiness on my behalf – and Alex and Charlie were sniggering and nudging each other.

Alex gave me a kiss, and I went to get some beers, while Amanda said something and everybody laughed. I looked at the beautifully cut profile of the man I loved and suddenly felt empty, even when he yelled, ‘Mel, gorgeous gorgeous thing, get over here and sit on my knee immediately.'

How could he be so sweet and still want to move to Fulham with Charlie? I sat on his knee and tried not to mope, but it wasn't easy.

‘So, anyway,' Amanda was squawking, ‘I spoke to the designer and she says she's never seen such a tiny waist! They're going to have to do it all by hand specially, and it's going to cost an extra two thousand pounds! Can you imagine!'

‘Bloody hell!' said Alex dutifully.

The other boys nodded blankly. That infuriated me: they listened to her because she was pretty, but they wouldn't know what a wedding dress cost at gunpoint.

Then she gave Fraser a look and snapped her fingers. He immediately got up and fetched her another drink. Fran and I looked at each other in amazement.

Anyway, to make myself sound at least vaguely interesting, I spilled the beans about Linda. Fran looked disapproving, but only because she didn't think to tell it herself. Everyone was enthralled, so I tried not to embellish too much. Well, everyone except Fran, who was being disapproving, and Charlie, who was staring at Fran's breasts. And Amanda, who was attempting to
tell a rival story about her suspected anorexia, which she was trying to make sound like a pretty cool disease.

Suddenly, Angus walked in, and it was like a chill hit the air. Fraser smiled anxiously in welcome, while Amanda gave him a very tight look out of the corner of her beautifully made-up eyes and deliberately smiled without smiling.

‘Oh, hello, Angus,' she said. ‘So glad you could make it.'


Good God, what was he, an extra from
Cold Comfort Farm
? Angus sat down stolidly.

Fraser looked around. ‘Does everyone know Angus?' Everyone hummed and pretended to – even if (like Fran) they'd never clapped eyes on him before – so we didn't all have to go round and introduce ourselves.

I'd gotten to that delicate part of sitting on somebody's knee when I'd forgotten to balance my toes on the floor and they now had an extremely dead leg which they were being too polite to tell me about.

‘Hey, elephant baby, darling, obviously I adore you, but if you don't get off my knee now I'm going to collapse and die,' my beloved announced loudly.

Amanda brayed with laughter, as she was the dictionary antonym of an elephant, whereas clearly, I was the synonym.

There was nowhere to sit, so I edged to the end of the group, red-faced but pretending to take it as a joke, next to the naturally red-faced Angus who was staring surlily at a pint of English bitter. This was a bad ploy, because by the time I re-emerged from my
mild and unnoticed strop to re-enter the conversation, the conversation was away from my nutsoid flatmate altogether and back on to bloody

‘So,' Amanda was saying, ‘we're going to hire out the entire castle and have heather and haggis and tartan swathing and pipers …'

BOOK: Amanda's Wedding
7.3Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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