Authors: Gill Davy-Bowker
Michael came out looking as unhappy as he always did at the moment and Algy and Toby followed, smirking rather nastily behind him. Michael had marks and holes all over his trousers. He slunk towards his mother and put his arms tight around her, burying his face in her tummy. Mel fixed Algy and Toby with a stare which she hoped would freeze the blood in their veins â¦ if they had any â¦ but they just walked past, heads up, to meet their mothers, laughing rather too loudly. Mel felt like throttling the pair of them, but it wouldn't have looked good in the eyes of the law, if she actually attacked two four-year-olds, even if she did feel at that moment that they were in fact, the spawn of Satan. She peered over at smug little Poppy who was chatting to Toby's mum, pretending she hadn't noticed her shoot angry glances in her direction. The woman was either totally insensitive or she was quite happy that her son was bullying Michael.
âDid you tell the teacher about the bullying, Michael?' Mel asked, trying to keep her voice from shaking.
âI tried, but she told me that Algy was only playing around and that I should just ignore him,' Michael sniffed.
âHello Mummy!' called Amy, as she ran and jumped on Mel's back. At least Amy seemed to hold her own at school â¦ that, at least, was a blessing. âHello sweetie! How was your day?'
âIt was good. We made things out of plaster of Paris today. I made a model of a snail. Tabitha said it was horrible so I told her that she was horrible because she is. Then Mrs Beastley told me off and put me in the corner for Time Out.
But I don't care. I hate Tabitha. She's such an idiot!' Then she stuck her tongue out at the girl as she came out of the classroom and Tabitha's mum gave Mel a snooty look.
âDon't worry, Michael,' soothed Amy, noticing how upset her brother was. âI'll sort them out for you tomorrow.'
âThat's very good of you, Amy, but I'd better see what I can do or you'll only get into trouble for hurting younger children. I'm going to see the headmistress in the morning.' Mel was seething as she marched to the secretary's office to demand an appointment.
âI need to see Mrs Avery as soon as possible please,' she almost spat at the secretary. As it happened, Mrs Avery was just coming through her door.
âMrs Simkins. I could see you now if you like. What's wrong with Michael?'
Mel was close to tears.
âCome in,' offered Mrs Avery. âWould you like tea or coffee?' Mel declined as the lump in her throat was so large, she felt she would have choked on it.
âIt's that dreadful Algy Cuthbertson and his friend Toby Kemp. They've been bullying Michael and if you don't deal with it I'll â¦ I'll â¦' Mel found herself speechless. She cuddled both her babies.
âWell, I haven't been made aware of any bullying at St Mortimer's School, Mrs Simkins. It's not a problem we normally encounter,' stated Mrs Avery, glibly.
âPerhaps that's because you're ignoring it. Just as schools always have!'
âWe have a strict anti-bullying policyâ¦'
âWhy? You don't seem to think that bullying exists here!' cried Mel. âI'm going to have to write a letter to the Board of Governors and may even be forced to bring in the media if this continues! I am not having either of my children subjected to damaging influences that could adversely affect them foreverâ¦'
âI can see you're upset, Mrs Simkins,' soothed Mrs Avery. âPlease be assured that I shall investigate this, but Algy is normally such a sensitive and helpful little boy.'
âAh â¦ so you're implying that Michael is making it up and that I'm just a neurotic mother, are you? Well, we'll see about that. I'll be writing to the authorities tomorrow and I can always take both my children and, of course, their fees out of this school. They'd be better off in the state school than in this place! It's like
Tom Brown's Schooldays
. That Algy will turn into some dreadful sociopathic school bully â¦ is that what your rotten system condones?' ranted Mel. She was glad to observe that her words had hit home. Mrs Avery definitely appeared rather perturbed.
âWell, of course, Mrs Simkins, that is your prerogative. I shall discuss this with Michael's form tutor and we'll see what can be done about it.'
Mel knew what she thought should be done about it, but in this age of political correctness, it wouldn't be allowed.
âThank you,' Mel replied. âI hope you do.' She gave her one last hard stare and then left the room. She bumped into Kelly as she walked through the gates. Ivan and Matilda were running on ahead.
âOh, hi Kelly. Michael's being bullied â¦' and against her better judgement, she started to cry. They all sat on a low wall. Ivan and Matilda came back and the children played hopscotch together on the pavement. Kelly just held her friend and let her dribble snot all over her shoulder. After all, that's what friends are for.
Mel had been too upset and enraged to organise a girly night in when she was at the school gates so, after consuming large quantities of comfort food and feeding the children, she phoned them all. At least Kelly and Imogen could come over. It would be nice. At times like this, she wished that she
wasn't the only parent around to deal with Michael's bullying plight. It would have been so comforting to tell Alan and cry on his shoulder and he could sort it all out, but he was busy entertaining Big Swinging Dick and so that was that.
âOh well â¦ actually â¦ bugger the cruditÃ©s and healthy snacks!' she exclaimed. The children peered quizzically at Mel, but said no more. She took the children to the burger bar and then bought a huge shedload of chocolate, crisps, Irish cream liqueur and cakes. This was going to be a night filled with fat, alcohol, fat, flavourings, fat and sugar and it would be lovely.
She felt significantly calmer as she put the children to bed. Amy was over the moon because the burger bar had insect cuddly toys that made cute noises and moved on wheels. Michael was happy because he bumped into a friend for a change. He has a friend! Oh joy! âOh, thank God!' thought Mel. His friend's name was Jonah. So two contented children tucked in and afterwards they went to get the huge stash of very unhealthy groceries and off-licence purchases. At home, she dumped the stash in a heap on the table with some glasses. She'd tried the domestic goddess bit the other day and it had been a disaster, so this time, everyone could help themselves. There was no point in putting on a show anyway, because the kitchen still looked as though the Americans had suspected that it was harbouring a high-profile terrorist. It was better by far â¦ definitely â¦ but it would need a great deal of effort to get it into a proper working state again.
The doorbell rang just as she was sinking her third gin and tonic. Kasha, Kelly and Imogen had managed to turn up at the same time. The husbands were staying at home babysitting and the girlies had even brought sleeping bags. Well why not? It'd be fun to act like a kid again. They were all rather fed up with trying to be adult all the time. Children don't realise that the child never really goes away when you grow up. You act and speak sensibly as an adult, but mainly
you are just going through the motions. Mel didn't like repeating rules like a mantra over and over again. She didn't enjoy grocery shopping, cleaning, cooking or eating healthy food very much. If she was honest, she'd serve and eat rubbish. It was only her love for her family that pushed her into sensible, grown-up mode. She often found it very hard to argue the case for broccoli or fruit or the joys of lentils with the children in any convincing way. She felt like a bit of a hypocrite when she preached about the benefits of healthy living! Well, the kids weren't around to witness the sins of the mothers tonight. They would never know the depths to which an adult can sink when totally true to him or herself!
The girls had had the same idea. They hauled huge bottles and boxes of plonk and calorifically explosive food through into her dining room. They had brought overnight bags full of make-up and hair dyes and nice smellies. This was going to be good.
Alan phoned to say goodnight, which was very sweet considering that he would probably get accused of being âunder the thumb' by the other boys. For once, Mel wasn't going to be paranoid and read some deeper meaning into his phone call.
No, stop it, thought Mel. I am free from my insecurities today. Have some more gin, Mel â¦ Thanks very much.
So they all curled up on the sofas and put an eclectic collection of music on: Blues, Motown, Reggae, Garage, House â¦ not too loud though, of course. They had to be reasonably sensible for their own good or they might get dragged off to a police cell for disturbing the peace. Imogen had even managed to get her hands on some cannabis. She was a dark horse, that one. Normally she was a big noise in the local Pony Club and Brown Owl in Brownies, but today she was a totally hippy chick. They piled through the door into the garden to indulge in that particular vice, hoping the miserable neighbours wouldn't smell the perfumed smoke and alert the
authorities. They all instantly regretted smoking the stuff, apart from Imogen, who was totally mellow. Mel ended up being very sick in the blackberry bushes and climbing roses. Kelly and Kasha were white as a sheet and lying on their backs on the grass, holding onto the the lawn with whitening knuckles for dear life.
Finally, they staggered inside, put
The Blair Witch Project
on the DVD and started on the beauty treatments. It could be argued that this was possibly not the ideal time to embark upon projects involving permanent hair dye and bleach, but they could hardly string two words together let alone get into any intelligent debate on the finer points for and against. They tried chocolate face masks â actual chocolate. They cleansed, toned, moisturised and made each other up. No one's hand was steady so it was just as well that nobody could see themselves straight in the mirror. It would have frightened them.
âWhere did Alan say he was going tonight?' slurred Kasha.
âIt's a jolly with the yankee contingent of Ponsonby and Tosser. Apparently he's got a humungous swinging dick!'
âHic â¦ I remember when Robert first went out on one of those things with the advertising and PR people. He was never the same again. Apparently, PR doesn't just mean Public Relations â¦ it can also mean something to do with bottoms and insertable objects. I really didn't know what he was going on about the next day, but soon after that he started wearing strange woodland animal costumes and â¦ well â¦ other stuff,' Kelly revealed.
âOther stuff?' Did Kelly know what Mel had seen that night then?
Was she aware that Robert was dressing up in lady clothes?
âI wouldn't mind,' continued Kelly, âbut he keeps breaking my undies because he's far too big for them and he uses all my best make-up. I've started hiding all my expensive things and leaving cheap stuff around,' yawned Kelly, not really
seeming at all perturbed by her revelation. Well, at least that was one secret Mel didn't have to keep. Kelly obviously had known all about it for very long time. âYou know Mel â¦ we really should call those lovely girls we met down in Brighton â¦ what do you think? Have you still got their phone number?'
âWho? Sophie and â¦'
âYep! Sophie, Tracey and Felicity.' So Kelly had remembered all their names despite the state she was in â¦ Interesting â¦ But not something into which Mel wished to delve further, thank you very much! âNo â¦ I don't know where their numbers are,' she lied.
âYou know,' piped up Imogen, âI had a crush on a girl once. She was in the sixth form when I was in the fourth at boarding school.'
âOh!' exclaimed all the others except Kelly, who had dropped off to sleep on the floor with her face covered in false hairs (from a broken set of eyelashes), chocolate and red glossy lipstick.
Kasha and Mel just looked at each other and took a large swig of cheap plonk. Their taste buds were so anaesthetised by now that they could have been drinking vinegar and not noticed.
âOh shit!' slurred Alan as he lumbered through the door and fell over Kasha's inert body. âWhat the hell's going on!?' He surveyed the room. Three women (one his esteemed and sensible wifely wife), were sprawled on the floor covered in all manner of foodstuffs. Their faces were painted like horror film dolls and their hair was glowing strange, vibrant and unnatural colours. The cat and the dog were crawling around the bodies, cleaning up like vultures. It was truly an apocalyptic scene.
âOh hello, love,' grunted Mel as her beloved husband fell over her. âHow did it go?'
âI'll tell you when you're in a fit state to listen, I think! What have you all been doing? You look like a bunch of extras on
And now the dog's been sick in the corner. Well â¦ I'll clear it up then I'm off to bed,' Alan huffed loudly. âAnd you won't believe what the cat's dragged in!'
Mel managed to get to her feet. Luckily the huge calorific intake seemed to have counteracted the effect of the almost as huge alcohol consumption and she found she was able to safely navigate her way to the kitchen and lo, the kitchen floor was besmirched with the contents and viscera of some poor unidentifiable animal. It couldn't even be ascertained whether the animal was flesh or fowl. Mel was at a loss to identify whether the thing had been furry or feathery. And Ozzie was sitting on the kitchen worktop, licking his paws and delicately cleaning the blood and gore from his impassive and guilt-free face. Can you imagine how scary a human
would be if he or she had a killer instinct and morals like that? Ozzie was like some mass murderer. It looked like whatever the unfortunate thing had been, it was the size of a small Labrador. It always amazed Mel the diversity of wildlife that could be found in a metropolitan garden. She'd only been aware of its biodiversity since they'd had a cat. However, the wildlife was mostly dead thanks to Ozzie.
âI suppose at least he eats most of it,' observed Alan as they both tried to clean up the crime scene.
âYes, I suppose so,' agreed Mel. Kasha came wandering in, apparently a little worse for wear, to say the least. âI think I need coffee and a bacon sandwich. I really, really need coffee,' she groaned. âI'll never make it to school with the kids in the morning otherwise.'
âYou are not intending to travel home and take the kids to school in four hours' time, surely!?' Can't Simon do it?' suggested Mel.
âMmm. Yes, probably. I wasn't really thinking straight. We must have coffee â¦ now.'
One by one, the girls wandered out into the garden with coffee. Mel found herself grilling large quantities of cured pig meat and they all tucked into bacon butties. Remarkably, they all looked relatively human by daylight.