Authors: Robert Bryndza
Tags: #Love, #Book Club, #British, #iPhone, #Women's Fiction, #Comedy, #Diary Format, #Chicklit
Hi Mum, I like love you. Dad like phoned me. He said you found him “courting” Snow White! I said, “don’t u mean like fucking?” and he told me off for like bad language.
Apart from the betrayal, she can’t even like act. How can he even like her, like?
I’ve de-friended her on Facebook. I’m on your side.
He’s staying with Nan. He like turned up at her Nursing Home. She wasn’t too pleased to see him. She’s charging him twenty-five quid a night. Harsh.
Love, Rosencrantz x
P.S. Heard you on the radio. You were like way mad!
I’m worried about the habit he’s got into of using ‘like.’ It has crept in since Christmas. I thought when he went to drama school they would batter all accents and colloquialisms out of him.
Thursday 8th January 15:36
I wish you had been able to hear my interview; I need your opinion on it. Marika told me it made her laugh, like when I am, “drunk and on a roll.” As with Rosencrantz’s “mad” comment, I feel unsure.
Dorian has asked me to come in and see him tomorrow morning. It must be about the Anne & Michael Brannigan Book Club. He only wants to meet if money is coming his way. Inclusion in the club can guarantee a best seller.
Instead of coming here, do you want to meet for a coffee in Soho?
Friday 9th January 23:31
Dorian didn’t say much for the first ten minutes I was in his office. He has a dark, wide imposing desk. We sat with acres of space between us, just the Apple symbol on his iMac glowing menacingly. He let me babble on before holding his hand up. I stopped and grinned stupidly whilst he adjusted his rimless glasses.
“Coco,” he said. “Do you have a drug or alcohol addiction problem?”
“What?” I said surprised.
“Do you have a drug or alcohol addiction problem?” He said more loudly and slowly.
“No,” I said. “Obviously that’s what an addict would say, but I really mean it!” I tried to joke.
“I’m serious Coco,” he said. “You seem, erratic. Last week you were convinced you were Andy Warhol.”
“No,” I said. “I didn’t want people to mistake me for him. There’s a big difference.”
“Your radio interview?” He said raising his eyebrows.
“It went well,” I said, trying to sound light.
“Did it?” He said, fixing me with a stony gaze. “Why did you feel you had to slander Anne Brannigan?”
“You made a crude joke alleging that the TV presenter Anne Brannigan of the Anne and Michael Book Club is an alcoholic.”
“There must be some mistake,” I said.
Dorian picked up a computer print out. “I have a transcript, provided by Anne Brannigan’s people, I quote, ‘Anne loves a drink, slip her a case of vino collapso and she’ll put anybody in her book club.’ End quote.”
“Oh lord. I didn’t mean it like that,” I said. “You’ve taken it out of context. I was just trying to be funny. Vanessa Pigeon laughed.” A cold feeling began to rush through me.
“Well, Vanessa Pigeon doesn’t work for the people at the Anne and Michael Book Club,” he said. “They didn’t see the funny side and until yesterday were seriously considering Chasing Diana Spencer for the shortlist.”
“Coco, I’m afraid…”
“It was a silly joke,” I said interrupting. “Like, Jordan’s got big tits! Everyone knows about Jordan’s tits and loads of comedians joke about Anne Brannigan and her wine…”
“Coco,” said Dorian.
“You remember last year’s final? She dropped a Barbara Taylor Bradford on Martin Amis’ foot,” I said continuing my gabble. “And it wasn’t because she was drinking Vimto.” Dorian held up his hand.
“This has gone to the top of your publishers at the House Of Randoms. I’ve had senior executives on the phone. Dismayed they have an author who is not supporting the Anne and Michael Book Club. “
“I do support them.” I said, beginning to cry. “It’s just, everything is falling down around me.”
“Coco,” he said, passing me a tissue awkwardly. “Regina Battenberg is also my client. I cannot risk her position in the Anne & Michael Brannigan Book Club. For that reason, I am terminating our agreement.”
I sat there, stunned.
“You will hear from your publisher too,” he said. “Sales of Chasing Diana Spencer have been very slow, and they’re now taking vanloads of returns. They’re going to recall the rest. They need to distance themselves from your comments.”
“Yes,” he said. “Then they’ll be pulped.”
He pressed a buzzer on his desk and had his assistant show me out.
I stumbled into Old Compton Street in tears and truly felt like throwing myself in front of a car, but the only thing on the road was one of those bicycle rickshaw things.
I heard a whistle and Chris came bounding up all tanned and happy.
“OMG!” he said seeing my tears. “You’re in the club! I mean the book club? “
“No.” I said, and told him.
“Oh my godfathers,” he said hailing a cab. “We need better surroundings than Cafe Nero.”
We zoomed through Soho as he fumbled for some tissues. There was copious snot and chest heaving. I couldn’t stop.
“It’s fifty quid if she’s sick,” said the driver eyeing me in his rear view mirror.
We pulled up at a non-descript doorway.
“This is Cathedral Private Members Club,” said Chris pulling out a gold laminated card. “I’ve been on their waiting list for an age. It’s discreet. “
Even in a state, I was impressed by Cathedral. A small lift spirited us down into the bowels of Soho and with a ping, we were in a stunning bar. It actually looks like a mini- Cathedral; hewn out of London’s filthy sub soil and decorated, floor to ceiling, in marble. Below the beautiful domed ceiling, and where the altar should be, was a long bar.
We sat in a sleek wooden Confession Box (with the top half cut off) and Chris ordered Martinis from a passing Cardinal.
“Screw them,” he said. “Anne and Michael wield such power, and in my opinion — not wisely. Your book should be top of their bloody list.”
“If I’d have just chilled out during that interview,” I said. “Am I crazy?”
“No. You are one of the best writers I have ever had the pleasure to read,” smiled Chris. “You just have terrible luck. This and Daniel, you don’t deserve… I expected more from him.”
“I’m so pleased to see you.” I said. Chris didn’t look like the holiday had relaxed him.
“It was purgatory,” he said dramatically. “My mother still won’t entertain the fact I don’t like women.”
“You’re forty-three.” I said. His face dropped.
“I meant, you’re forty-three.” I said making my voice go up at the end. “How can she not know by now?”
“She’s in denial. I’m the son and heir to the napkin fortune,” he said. “She invited all these awful Pandora’s, Domenica’s and India’s over on Boxing Day, who I am sure would have got me hard as a rock if, I were interested. All with lovely hair and well bred as show dogs. Mother trotted them round the terrace but I was far keener on one of the Waiters… She flew into a rage and made me sit with all my sister’s children for the rest of Boxing Day lunch.”
The drinks arrived. We took a long pull on them.
There was a ping of the lift, and I saw Regina Battenberg emerge flanked by a tall handsome young man. She was wearing a long kaftan, character turban and was carrying her mangy dog Pippin. She looked much like you would expect Norma Desmond to look, if she ran an animal shelter.
“Look!” I hissed to Chris.
“How did she get in?” he said. “ I’ve been on the waiting list for three years. “
I hid behind a fake bible, but she saw me and came over.
“Coco,” she said pulling her pale leathery skin into a cold smile. “What a nice surprise.”
We air kissed. Her little boss-eyed mutt growled at me.
“This is Ricardo,” she said gesturing to the handsome man.
“He’s a model. He’s just landed the new Armani campaign.”
“Well, this is Chris.” I said, “and he’s, um… rich.”
Chris glared at me.
“A nice thing to be,” said Regina shaking his hand. “What do you do?”
“Um…I’m between jobs,” said Chris.
“He’s just come back from Christmas on his parent’s private Island.” I said sounding horribly like Meryl. “It’s near Hawaii.”
Chris looked at me and tried to change the subject.
“It’s a relief to finally get a Cathedral membership, the hoops you have to jump through in application.”
“I didn’t have to worry about all that,” she laughed. “My friend Stephen recommended me… You know. Stephen Fry? We often meet here for a drink and a mutual Twitter.”
We all laughed falsely.
“One more thing Coco,” she said. “I just spoke with Dorian.”
“Really?” I said.
“Yes. Bad luck and all that, but at this crucial time, we can’t have you throwing up Balustrades in front of the Anne and Michael Book Club.”
“Balustrades?” I said.
The groomed young man whispered something into her ear.
“Of course, I mean Bollards… The things, you know that stop…”
“I know what a bollard is,” I snapped.
“Well, don’t be one then,” she said coldly. “Good afternoon.” And with that, they were gone.
“What a bitch.” I said.
“I know,” said Chris. “But what’s a bollard?” I told him.
“Ooh. She is a bitch.”
“Order more drinks.” I said.
Saturday 10th January 17:45
I didn’t sleep. I have just got back from helping Marika out at a car boot sale in Crystal Palace; she thought fresh air would lift my depression. It didn’t. January is not a great time to be standing outside on a frozen football pitch.
Marika’s stall was impressive. She has been watching a lot of Mary Queen Of Shops on BBC2. She had her clothes rails sorted into sizes and a two-man tent as a changing room. Crowds of people who wanted to try on her old Per Una underwear mobbed us. Some didn’t even bother to use the tent.
On the way home we stopped at a McDonalds and talked about my situation.
“You write a new book and you find a new man,” said Marika through a mouthful of French fries.
“It’s not that black and white.” I said.
“Why not?” She said. “You live in London, with huge amounts of opportunity. You own a house, you have talent, and you are attractive… People make the mistake of thinking things are hard. Where is Daniel?”
“Staying with Ethel. He hasn’t even contacted me.”
“Doesn’t his pantomime finish tomorrow?”
“We’re going to the after show party,” she said. “You need to go in there, make him, her and everyone feel uncomfortable.”
“I don’t know about that,” I said.
“He brought another woman into your bed,” she said. “You need to get him where it hurts. Right now, he is taking you for a fool. He still sees this Snow White every day, and you do nothing?”
I looked at my sad face reflected in the dark window.
“Chuck him out properly,” she said. “His clothes. Dump them on the street.”
“Yes,” she insisted. “He needs to know not to screw with you, or at least not to screw other women and expect to get away with it.”
I was all psyched up to do it when Marika dropped me home. Then I opened Daniel’s side of the wardrobe and stared at his clothes. My face is streaming with tears. How has my life ended up like this?
Sunday 11th January 17:44
“You just have to be strong for ten minutes,” said Marika, as we pulled up behind the Theatre. “Say your piece, and we go.”
I’d managed to accommodate Daniel’s clothes in five bin liners (I’d folded and stacked them neatly). As she loaded the car Marika had pulled out the Lily of the Valley drawer liner, I had placed in each bag saying,
“What are you, his dry cleaner?”
We went in through the Stage Door and up to the Green Room. Daniel was sitting with some musicians and a couple of the Dwarves. Big chunks of scenery were being carted out. The room went very quiet when we entered and his mouth fell open.
“Coco, Marika,” he said. “What a surprise, you look…”
“She looks bloody amazing, considering. Because of you she hasn’t slept,” said Marika.
“Did you have a nice Christmas Marika?” said Daniel, attempting to change the subject.
“Piss off,” she said grabbing a can of lager from a bucket on the table.
“Um…” he said, his eyes darting around. “Shall we go and talk?”
I heard myself say, “Okay.” The plan had been to drop some witty line, slap him round the face, and then walk out but it seemed ridiculous now we were here.
Marika glared at me as I followed Daniel down a murky corridor and into his small dressing room. He closed the door.
There was a picture stuck to the mirror of me, him, and Rosencrantz taken last summer at Thorpe Park. We were grinning in those plastic rain ponchos after a ride on the Log Flume. The water had made them stick to our bodies and next to Daniel and Rosencrantz I resembled a rather quirky frozen Turkey.
He went to say something, but the door flung open and Snow White burst into the room.
“As promised I’m not wearing any…” The colour drained from her pale face when she saw me. Her lip began to tremble and she put a hand up to it before running out. Daniel looked past me anxiously.
“What? What?” I shouted shaking him. “You want to run after her? What about ME!”
I shoved him out of the way. He followed down the corridor, shouting for me to come back. I carried on through the green room taking Marika with me.
He emerged from the Stage Door as I was throwing his clothes out of Marika’s boot into the wet street.
“To think I folded these!” I screamed at him.
It wasn’t the most inspired parting shot, I thought as I slammed the boot and got in the car.
I looked back at him as we pulled away. He was trying to get his clothes out of the rain. I wanted to help him. Even after what he had done to me.
“Coco,” said Marika stopping the car by a bus shelter.