The Meltdown of a Banker's Wife (6 page)

BOOK: The Meltdown of a Banker's Wife
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‘Oh God. I feel awful!' said Kelly.

Mel shot out of the car, up the driveway and rang the doorbell. It took a while for Robert to open the door and when he did, he looked rather ruffled and had what looked like lipstick on his collar. Surely not?! Well, she didn't have time to contemplate the scene because she heard a ‘flump' as Kelly fell out of the car onto the pavement, legs akimbo like a not-so-sweet baby ox. She was trying to balance against the car to get to the back and let her children out, but she looked like a mime artist, pushing against invisible forces and trying to walk through real matter. Robert peered down the driveway.

‘Well … help me then!' ordered Mel. So he followed obediently in stockinged feet to the car. Stockinged feet! He
had fishnet stockings poking out from the ends of his trouser legs. This was altogether too weird for this time of day when she'd had enough weirdness to last a lifetime. Robert approached the back doors and let his children out. They looked like a pair of mucky urchins. It seemed as if both of them were a little shell-shocked but they hadn't been weeping silent tears as Mel had feared. In fact they didn't appear that surprised to see Kelly in this state or to see their father in stockinged feet and … Oh My God! Was that the remains of false-eyelash-effect mascara on his lashes!? It must be the light, she thought. Please let it be the light. Kelly was holding on to the car with her bum swaying back and forth, resembling a person with no sea legs trying to stand on a small rubber dinghy out in a less than clement sea.

‘Can you carry her in? I don't think she can let go of the car. I'll bring the kids.'

Gingerly, Robert approached his wife, carefully trying to gain a hold. ‘Gerroff me!?' Kelly said.

‘Kelly, come on. What have you been doing to yourself?'

‘I would ask you the same thing,' replied Kelly, but at least allowed Robert to support her up the drive. Mel decided it was best to make a quick getaway. She'd seen enough for today. She didn't want nightmares. She left Kelly's things by the door and shot off down the path, making excuses that she had to get the children home to bed.

‘Don't you want a drink?' offered Robert. He really didn't seem to want to be alone with Kelly, but it was not Mel's problem.

‘No, thanks anyway. Hope she's better soon! Bye!' she trilled, relieved to be leaving.

‘What was wrong with Auntie Kelly, Mummy?' asked Amy.

‘I think she might have a tummy bug,' lied Mel.


‘That's twice in one week, Mel! We're going to have to get the car valeted. It's like a swamp in the back seat. What was Kelly doing anyway? Since when has she been drinking in the daytime?' huffed Alan. He was right, it was getting beyond a joke. The leather was starting to soften with all the gastric juices that had been splattered on it. It was quite an interesting biological experiment really. One could observe how the fly can digest its prey on a gigantic scale.

‘I really don't know what's going on between Kelly and Robert. Methinks something is “rotten in the state of Denmark”, so to speak,' insinuated Mel.

‘Or perchance Robert's rehearsing for a pantomime?' reasoned Alan hopefully.

‘Yes, that'll be it! Mind you, it's only May. Bit early for a pantomime,' but Mel hoped that Robert was indeed planning to tread the boards. A nice, simple, wholesome and unthreatening explanation.

She changed the subject. ‘Well, they'll both be back in school on Monday!' she said brightly. ‘Last half term before summer hols. They're growing up so fast! Where's all the time gone?'

‘They'll be teenagers before we know it,' agreed Alan. ‘That reminds me, Mel. I wanted to apologise for the amount of time I've been spending in work.'

‘Well, thanks for acknowledging that. I was beginning to wonder how we'd managed to make the children! We couldn't do it now … that's for sure … unless we used a turkey baster and some dirty magazines!'

‘Thing is though, Mel … the boss is telling me that I'm not committed enough. He says that my “work/life balance” is far too weighted towards home and family and that I'm never going to get beyond first base.'

‘I do not believe it, Alan! Come on! You're having an affair aren't you!? This is all some elaborate excuse. You're buttering me up with apologies then saying that you need to spend more time away! Good grief, Alan, do you think I was born yesterday? I …'

‘Mel, honestly! Big Swinging Dick is coming over from the States at the beginning of July. Boss says that I need to show one hundred per cent commitment or my balls are on the table. And he says that he's wondering if I've got balls to put on the table!' Alan cringed.

‘It's difficult for me to support you on the “balls” front, Alan,' Mel sniffed. ‘I haven't seen them in a very long time! Who the hell is this Big Swinging Dick anyway? I mean … has he got a life?!'

‘No, Mel. I don't think he has. All the top dogs at Ponsonby and Tosser have wads of dosh. They've got huge penthouses. They've got private jets. They've got herds of call girls. But no, I don't think they have what you and I might describe as a life,' sighed Alan. ‘In fact, I often wonder if they're human at all. Half of them are paranoid, jumpy, temperamental cocaine-heads.'

‘You're not going to tell me you need to start a cocaine habit as well, are you? Seriously, Alan, what're you going to do then? Are you going to sell out and spend every waking minute at work?'

Alan sighed deeply. ‘I really am going to have to, Mel. For the moment anyway. “If we snooze we lose” they've told us. That means my job and our livelihood. They're going to cut staff and the ones that will stay will be the ruthless bastards who don't care what they sell or to whom, as long as it makes wads of dosh.' He really seemed to be unhappy at
the prospect. Mel decided to give him the benefit of the doubt, although she couldn't see how they could continue any sort of meaningful relationship at all if he was away swinging his balls about more than he was already. But she had to admit that she hadn't exactly helped the situation by burning down the kitchen.

‘Well, as long as we get a decent holiday all together this year and you leave your bloody work gadgets at home.' Mel decided to get some benefit out of the situation. ‘And,' she continued, ‘do you think I could go on a spa weekend with a couple of friends soon? I really could do with a break. I feel like “Old Mother Hubbard” at the moment!'

‘Mmmm. Let's see what we can do, eh?' Alan said, noncommittally. Mel decided not to push it. Alan looked too withered and worn and she didn't want him reporting to her that his stupid misogynistic boss thought he was being henpecked.


‘I don't want to go to school!' wailed Michael.

‘I don't either, Mummy!' chorused Amy.

Monday morning. The usual frantic routine. Too much to do, too little time.

Finally they were walking to the school gates.

Lunchbox? Yes! Uniform? Yes! Hair combed? Yes! Overclothes on top of underclothes? Yes! Good grief! This was organised after a week off from the routine. And all with no kitchen and a house full of builders.

She dropped Amy off first.

‘Bye, Mummy,' snivelled Amy, kissing Mel's cheek. Then off went Michael, all grown up in his uniform. Mel felt overcome with sentimentality and was just about to cry when Poppy came up behind her.

‘Boo! Long time, no see, Melly! How was your week?'

‘I really don't know where to start and I'm not sure I want to at the moment! How was yours?'

She knew she was soon going to wish she hadn't asked that question as undoubtedly Poppy and her megastar deity of a husband, Tarquin, would have been jetsetting over as much of the posh world as possible in a week, taking the nanny along with their child, Algy. Mel wasn't sure what Tarquin did for a living but they seemed to have a life of opulence and luxury that she could only dream of. And they did it as a family.

‘We popped over to the villa in San Gimignano for most of the week. Just lying about by the pool. That sort of thing, you know!'

Mel wished she did. It was difficult to empathise with someone who could swan off to her own villa in Tuscany at the drop of a hat when she could only ever hope to spend it with friends throwing up everywhere in the Home Counties.

Home and daytime TV beckoned. Morning chat and scandal programmes posing as therapeutic, philanthropic clinics. Really they were today's ghoul and freak shows. Mel would never have admitted it, even to her bestest friend, but she loved watching them. That was how sad she had become. Along with magazines of the same genre, these shows made her feel better … made her feel like at least she wasn't as badly off as some. People washing their very dirty linen in public made her feel … she shuddered to let the thought take shape in her mind … superior. Mel decided to stop analysing her attitudes and behaviour and just get a cup of coffee and veg in front of the TV for a bit. She already missed the children, although when the children had been there all the time, she yearned for time to herself. Still, Michael was only in school for three days a week at the moment so she might as well make the most of her freedom.

On the show today was a woman of eighty years of age who liked dressing in black PVC and lace and had a favourite PVC skin-tight jumpsuit with a quick-release crotch. She enjoyed the attention of many a young buck and her granddaughter had phoned the show to try to put a stop to the woman's licentiousness. Then there was the bald, fat man who liked to wear terry nappies fastened with a safety pin and covered by plastic pants … (God knows where he bought such items?!). He also wore a frilly bonnet and booties and sucked a dummy. His particular fetish was being fed milk from a bottle by a woman in twin set and pearls and being burped over her shoulder afterwards. This stuff was real TV gold. Mel was sure she wasn't the only person who believed
that. The whole country probably watched it in secret. Even Kelly and Robert's life seemed rather dull and straight compared to this lot. It put things into perspective and that's what was good about it. She was just settling down nicely when the phone made her jump.

‘Mel – Oh my God! What was I like last week? I'm so sorry. I can't remember what I did. I am mortified!' Kelly, of course. She had probably slept over the weekend and had only now emerged from her pit, wracked with doubt and guilt about what she had or had not done and whether she had any friends left.

‘Oh, Kelly! You're alive then?!' Mel answered haughtily. Yes! She was going to make Kelly squirm! After the embarrassment of Brighton, the stinky unhygienic car, the strange company, the disappointed children, Kelly deserved to squirm for a bit. It might actually do her some good, Mel reasoned. Yes, Mel was actually an angel and she was going to rub Kelly's nose in it. Oh not out of spite or bitterness … no … this was pure altruism! She was doing it to save Kelly from herself, to save her relationship with her husband, to ensure a secure and happy future for Matilda and Ivan! Yes, Mel's suit was noble and true.

‘How did I get home? Do you think someone spiked my drink? Because I have huge gaps in my memory. I'm sure I didn't drink that much! What if I was raped? Do you think I was raped?'

‘No, Kelly, I don't think you were raped. You had gallons to drink and you brought more to the beach with you. You also brought three butch girls who were all very nice and helpful. I don't think you would be here now if it hadn't been for them. One of them gave you a fireman's lift to the car.'

‘How the hell did she manage that? Robert can't lift me and he's six foot seven and pretty muscley.'

‘She was a big girl, Kelly. A very big, strong, capable sort
of a girl who looked like a rugby prop forward. Her name was Tracey. She had two friends called Sophie and Felicity. I think you got quite close to them … you know, Kelly? Very close, maybe?' Mel needled. There was a silence on the other end of the phone. ‘Um … Kelly … are you still there?'

‘Er … um … yep. Right. I'm remembering bits but it's all rather fuzzy and keeps cutting out on me … hang on … Oh my God … Oh God … please tell me I didn't do that!'

‘You probably did.' Mel was starting to enjoy teasing her friend. ‘They gave me their numbers. They said that if I wanted someone faithful to share my life with just to give them a bell because they more than hinted that you can't be trusted. How did they describe you? Ah yes … “a bit of a goer…” I think that was the phrase.'

‘Oh my God! Did anyone else see us?'

‘It was a packed sunny day on Brighton beach in the half-term holiday. What do you think, Kelly? It wasn't at all attention-grabbing. You blended in like a little wallflower … singing rugby songs; snoring on your back in the sand; dribbling and being carried over the shoulder of a huge lesbian in leather and chains, covered in more rivets than the Titanic!'

‘What happened with the children? How were they?'

‘Are they talking to you yet? Last time I saw them they were in a stupefied silence and I feared for their sanity.'

‘They were a bit quiet and kept tiptoeing around me but I thought it must be because I was like a bear with a sore head. Do you think I've scarred them for life?' Kelly whined.

‘Well, so long as you don't make a habit of it … I expect they'll be OK. Kids are very resilient. Alan was surprised you were drinking in the day though.'

‘You told Alan!? Oh my God! I'm never leaving the house again!' Kelly put the phone down. It seemed that she'd had enough embarrassment for one day. Mel was relieved because she really couldn't handle all this this morning. It was too early for her. She just wanted to switch off her inner worries
about her friend and watch the very weird gentleman covered entirely by tattoos and huge fat body piercings that had just appeared on the telly. This man could barely talk because his tongue was so heavy with piercings that it was lolling out and kept catching on his lip piercings. It was like watching someone macramé with their skin. Really quite fascinating.

Two cups of coffee and plenty of voyeurism later, Mel decided that she'd better actually do a bit of housework and some shopping. She hated housework and shopping. Housework seemed pointless because the place always got messed up again and food shopping was equally so because it all got eaten. She really missed work. She hated being referred to as:

a) Housewife

b) Domestic engineer


c) Homemaker.

She wondered why she had been sent to school at all. She could have started this lark at a much earlier age and never have had to suffer sleepless nights working for exams or waiting for their results. She could have had a great time bunking off and then found some nice rich man to settle down with and start breeding in her teens. Then she might have been satisfied with the joys of vacuum cleaning, dusting and ironing. She doubted it though. She always marvelled at people who were organised in their cleaning. These people who had no clutter and houses that glowed with care and love and polish. Mel was hopelessly sentimental about decluttering and she was also paranoid that the people at the rubbish tip were going to sift through all her litter and pinch her identity. She was convinced that if she threw a receipt or card statement away the next moment there would be someone else called Simkins in Detroit, Vancouver or Dubai buying out entire shopping malls.

Anyway … she chucked out things which didn't contain
sensitive information and then decided to go and get some food in.

She took a deep breath before going into the supermarket. Perhaps if she thought about it in a different way … you know … like they teach you in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. Yes … think positive … She was so lucky … indeed blessed … that all she had to do to get food and drink and the luxuries and basics of life was to go to a shop. She didn't have to hunt for and/or grow food. She didn't have to trek for miles to get water from a muddy hole full of cholera and malaria-infested mosquitoes and then carry the plague-ridden soup back balanced on her head. She reprimanded herself for bemoaning her fate. Only the decadent could afford to be bored. Only the spoilt could moan about the ease of getting their daily bread from a supermarket and not even having to worry about finding the cash to pay for it. She was so rich that she didn't even need to count money. Just a plastic card and ‘Bob's your uncle'.

BOOK: The Meltdown of a Banker's Wife
9.97Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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