Authors: Cathy Hopkins
Tags: #General Fiction
“No. I am not ready. Do I look like I’m ready?”
I was lying on a sun lounger by the pool at our villa
in St Kitts in the Caribbean, my mobile in one hand,
a chocolate milk-shake in the other. Coco was lying on
the sunbed next to mine, also wearing shades. She’s my
dog – a pink bichon frisé. (Everyone at my last school
had a dinky dog, but no one had had theirs dyed the
way I had. I had to do something – all the pooches
looked the same, white and cute but now Coco stands
out in a crowd and matches my new nail colour
I’d just been thinking how utterly cool life was here
on this paradise island when I was interrupted by a
demand as to whether I was ready to leave. Anyone
with half a brain should have been able to see that I
was no way prepared to board a flight to Europe. Like
what kind of idiot would travel to Paris in a turquoise
bikini? Even if it is from Prada’s new collection and on
everyone’s must-have list for the season? We used to live
in England when I was younger so I know how cold it
can get over in that part of the world. Like,
“Sorry, Miss Hedley-Dent, but…” whinged Henry.
(He’s my dad’s chauffeur, PA and handyman, though
you’d hardly know it. In his usual garb of Bermuda
shorts and Hawaiian shirt, and with his shoulder-length
blond hair, he looks more like a professional
surfer than a servant.)
“What now, Henry?” I was beginning to feel cross
and would have been more snappy if it weren’t for the
fact that my friend Tigsy was on hold, waiting for me,
on the other end of the phone.
“Just, er… the plane has been ready for some time
and the pilot has been waiting for you for over an
“So? Tell him that he may have to wait
because I am not ready and I want to catch some more
rays before I leave.”
“May I at least give him some idea of when you may
be ready for take off?”
I gave Henry my best withering look. Tigs and I’d
practised it for ages in the mirror at school last year
before I got expelled. One eyebrow up, nostrils
breathed in and lips tight. Tigsy said that I appeared
more constipated than cross when I did the “look” but,
whatever, Henry got the message, backed out of the
room and closed the door. He’s so pathetic when he
does that droning on thing. Like timetables…
airports… Like it’s my problem. Not.
At last I could resume my call. I lay back on the
lounger, took a sip of my milk-shake and,
I spat out the shake. It was
“Shirla. SHIRLA,” I called.
A few minutes later, Shirla, our Caribbean
housekeeper, came out from the house. She always
does everything sooo slowly. Like it’s all one mighty
effort. Probably due to the fact that she is about five
million stone heavy. She’s like a house on legs. Legs that
are made of jelly – she doesn’t so much walk as wobble
her way along. I pointed at the glass. “More ice. And
a dab more of that yummy chocolate.”
“Oo you likes the chocolate. If you not careful girl,
you going to become one big melted chocolate in that
sun,” she said as she swayed over, took the glass, then
waddled off towards the kitchen.
“Oh and can you get Mason to do me some chips
before the flight takes off. Those big square ones he
does. And bring a little pot of that scrummy sour
cream and chives to dunk them in. And something for
Coco.” (Mason’s our cook and Shirla’s husband.
They’re an odd couple, he’s as skinny as she is large.)
Shirla stopped for a moment. “Uhuh, I guess I
could,” she said, “but you ought to eat some greens one
of these days or else them spots on your chin there are
going to be breaking out all over your pretty little face.
And don’t you go giving that dog no chocolate neither.
It ain’t right.” She tutted to herself then disappeared
inside before I could say anything.
I picked up the phone again.
“Yum. Chips,” said Tigsy at the other end. “Think
I’ll get our maid to do me some. I lurve chips.”
“Sorry, Tigs, guess you heard all that? Like,
welcome to my world. Can you believe it? Henry
trying to tell
when we have to leave, like, who pays
who round here?”
,” said Tigsy. “You have to let them know
who’s boss, yeah?”
“Yeah. It’s Mummy’s fault. She’s way too nice with
them all. Like a little mouse. She’s like, er, pardon me
for squeaking. And Dad’s never here, so what can one
expect? It’s left to me to let them know who’s in
charge. Like I haven’t got enough to do as it is.”
I stared out over the infinity pool and the sea
beyond. It was glistening with a thousand tiny stars in
the afternoon sun. “Yeah. Like sometimes I think that
just because I’m only fourteen, they, like, think they can
tell me what to do. But I say, no way. No way.”
“Yeah. No way. Er, but, Leonora, I’m not being
difficult or anything but one thing I do know and that
is that sometimes when travelling, like, doing a strop can
work against you. Like, it’s the beginning of December,
coming up to Christmas yeah?”
“Yeah. Like, deck the halls with Christmas holly,
blah de blah de blah, de blah de yawn.”
“So everyone’s on the move, yeah? Not just us?”
“Well, I know from when Daddy does his own
bookings for coming into land in our ickle jet, if you
miss your slot, particularly at busy times, you don’t get
“Oh. Un problemo you think? So you’re saying
Tigsy laughed at the other end of the phone. “That
you’d better get your stonkingly rich butt off that
island in the Caribbean, Leonora Hedley-Dent, and
onto the jet or else we’re not going to be able to do our
shopping trip in Paris and get back in time for
“Like I care about Christmas. Hah bumhug to all
that, I say, it’s just
excuse for the staff to skive off
for the day,” I said but I did get up, slip my feet into
my Gucci mules with the kitten heels and make my way
through the open French windows to my bedroom.
Coco got up and followed me. She’s sooooo cute. She
walks like she’s wearing heels too.
“I know,” said Tigsy. “Three weeks to go and it will
all be one big bore as usual. The fun part will be you
being here and the shopping beforehand, although
there will be presents on the day. Daddy said he might
get me a new diamond Cartier watch this year. I’ve put
it on the list as I am getting tired of my Rolex. It’s so
last season. But really, Lee Lee, I mean, I’m going to
be okay for getting to Paris. I’m in Geneva and only
have to hop on a train to get there.”
“It’s cool. I get you. I’ll get a move on,” I said as I
took a couple of chocolate bars out of a drawer and
flung them into the suitcase on the bed. “I’m packing
as we speak but I’m not going to let Henry think that
I’m doing it for him.”
“No. Course not. But do hurry. I’ve got no-one to
plaaaay with over here.”
“I’ll see you soon.”
“Excellent. Kissy-kissy. Daddy’s booked us the
whole of the top floor at the George the Fifth hotel. I’ve
been there before when Imelda Parker Knowles had her
sixteenth birthday bash there in the summer. It’s utterly
dinky. I think you’ll like it.”
“Sorreee. Packing. Be there. Bysie-bye.”
I put my phone down by the bed and went to the
mirror, spritzed on some of my Goddess perfume,
picked up my brush and brushed my hair through. I
was pleased with the way it was looking. The sun had
made my new blonde highlights even lighter. One day,
Shirla caught me before I’d used my hair straighteners.
She said that I had fabulous hair. Hah! She has no idea
of the work it takes to keep it looking good. Like, I
would be mortified if anyone saw me with my hair in
its natural state (curly wurly), but she said that it suited
my birth sign, which is Leo. My hair, which is halfway
down my back, is like a tawny lion’s mane.
Huh. Like why
exactly would I want to look like a lion, for heaven’s sake
thought as I applied a slick of mascara.
Most of them have
manky manes, hardly the honey and fudge organic highlights that
Daniel Blake, stylist to the stars, runs through mine!
I put in my blue contact lenses to cover my boring
brown eyes, applied some concealer over my spots and
glanced round to see what else needed to be done.
Coco was watching my every move.
“Oh don’t look at me like that, boo-boo,” I said. “I’ll
only be gone a few days.”
Coco rolled over on her back and wriggled on the
bed. She’s sooo sweet, even if her tummy is a different
colour to the rest of her. (I ran out of dye.)
Mummy and Shirla had done most of my packing
but I threw a few more things in, just in case. All
essentials that they’d missed. Lip gloss. Latest chill-out
CD. More choccie bars for emergencies. I glanced over
at the photo in a silver frame by my bed.
to pack that,
I thought. I never went anywhere without it.
It was of me and Poppy, my sister. It was taken when
I was twelve and she was ten. Oh. Hair straighteners.
I threw them in on top. I couldn’t believe they’d
forgotten them, although actually yeah, I could –
another example of how nobody around here has a clue
about what matters to me. To travel without them
would be like being without an arm or a leg, they’re that
important. It was hard to know what else I’d need
though. Tigsy said it was unseasonably warm in
Europe, but it wouldn’t be as hot as it was here on St
Kitts. The only clothes that I’d worn for the past week
were bikinis and sarongs. Still. If it got too cold, I
could buy a new set of cashmere. I’d worn the ones I
got last December at least three times in the winter
season, so I was well due for new ones.
I pulled my fave pair of skinny jeans out of the
cupboard and began to put them on. Erg. Arff. They
were meant to be tight but not that tight!
Mummy appeared at the door a few seconds later.
“My jeans! They’ve shrunk.”
Mummy came in and watched me struggling to get
the jeans done up.
“Er… you don’t think, darling, that you could have
maybe put on a teensy weensy bit of weight do you?”
I could feel a tantrum coming on. I could feel it in
the pit of my stomach bubbling and boiling like a
volcano about to erupt, like, it was all right for her, she
never put on an ounce of fat no matter what she ate.
She was so lucky with her straight blonde hair and her
perfect figure. She didn’t look her age either, and
people always thought we were sisters. As if. It soooo
wasn’t fair that I’d inherited Dad’s frump genes and his
stupid curly hair rather than hers. “Me? Put on weight!
These are MY BEST JEANS. I HAD TO WAIT
THREE MONTHS ON A LIST FOR THEM TO
COME IN TO THE SHOP AND THAT DOPEY
DORA OF A HOUSEKEEPER HAS GONE AND
SHRUNK THEM IN THE WASH!”
For a split second, I swear I saw a hint of a smile
cross Mummy’s face which made me madder. She put
her hand on my arm. “Now calm down,” she said in
a soft voice that made me want to hit something.
“You’re a growing girl…”
I brushed her hand away. “Calm DOWN? Growing
GIRL? I CAN’T GROW ANY MORE. I’M
ENORMOUS AS IT IS