Parents, Pals, Pets,
Did I forget to wake up this morning? This can't be true. Here we are, four totally gorgeoise girls, just about to put on the MOST horrible, stiff-petticoated, frilly-aproned, lacy-bonneted, puff-sleeved (yes, I did say PUFF-SLEEVED), grotesque waitress outfits. Our evening is to be spent stomping up and down stairs with dishfuls of delicacies, which are to be served to a collection of squawking old fossils that belong to my mother's vast circle of "terribly close" luvvie friends.
Honestly, it's not as if I even agreed to do this. I'm sure I never heard my mother say, "Would you mind being a cutesy-wootsey, dahling, just for me and wearing this oh-so-sweet little waitress outfit for Mummy's party?"
I mean, I would have said no, wouldn't I? But as it is, Mercedes, Portia, Minnie, and I are about to squodge ourselves into these gobsmackingly ghastly frilly things (with HATS to match, when hats are just SO last season). Well, actually, I'm the only one who's going to be squodged, as Mercedes, Portia and Minnie are all -- how shall I put it? -- well, TINY, slim, skinny, itsy-bitsy and I'm, um, LARGE. Yes, "large" just about covers it, although to be quite honest, not many things do -- cover it, I mean.
Things went badly wrong about two and a half years ago when I was twelve. I went to bed all innocent and sweet with my teddy bear and my picture of Brad Pitt, as you do, and suddenly during the night, BOOM! -- bosoms. Not those nice, well-shaped, pert little numbers that I had hoped for, but HUMUNGOUS, great barrage balloons that started under my arms and seemed to end somewhere near my navel....Then the rest of my body decided it wanted to match my boobs, and there I was -- a great, big, walloping whale with a wobble rating of about a zillion.
I don't know why my mother has decided to have a "drinkies" party tonight. I mean, we've done the Christmas and New Year bit and now all I want to do is to curl up in a (huge, heffalump) heap, finish my Christmas chocs and dream about seeing Adorable Adam at school on Monday. But Mother just had to have "a teeny-weeny party, dahling, to round off the festivities." How pointless is that? Especially when some of us are quite well rounded off already, thank you.
Mother used to be a model, way back in the mists of time, and she still likes to surround herself with "like-minded people" (her words, not mine). She still looks pretty good, I suppose -- she is really, REALLY thin (she married way above her size and I obviously have none of her genes). She has cheekbones that could cut glass and very envy-making small feet. (This is SO thoughtless of her as I could at least have borrowed her shoes since the clothes are a no-no, but sadly her Manolo Blahniks will never be worn by Cinderelephant here.)
When Mother, whose name is Clarissa, isn't throwing parties (why do you "throw" a party? Is the idea to hit someone with it?), she is out shopping for Britain or having bits of herself tweaked or slapped or massaged back into some sort of order. She also spends a lot of time having "alternative therapies" (alternative to retail therapy). These are 'a lot of old rubbish', according to Flossie, our cook. The therapies might be anything from drinking gloop made from dried-up snake and kangaroo spit to lying about having needles stuck into her.
She's always having a go at me about my heffalumping tendencies and raising her eyebrows when I tidy up the remains of the pudding. She'll eat her words (HA!) when I'm a famous foodie, cooking for celebrities. At the moment, she just can't see that there is a gorgeous me hiding in my pink padding. I'm sure she can't believe that she could possibly have given birth to anything bigger than a stick insect.
ANYWAY...she met Potty, my father, Hector William Cookson Potts, in court. He was doing his barrister bit, with his wig on, and she was there giving evidence for her friend Lillian who was a bunny girl. (I didn't have a clue what a bunny girl was until Flossie explained it to me. It's a woman dressed up as a rabbit, with ears and a tail and nothing much in between, who serves drinks to a man in a place called the Playboy Club, which should be called the Sadboy Club in my opinion.) Lillian did something naughty with a Russian spy and my mother had to go and say that as Lillian didn't know he was a Russian spy, what she did wasn't so terrible, was it?
Potty was blown over by Mother's fluttering false eyelashes, and after a whirlwind romance (she must have done a lot of fluttering), they were married.
Potty is much older than Mother. He is at least a hundred and she says she is "nowhere near middle age" (but she'd better hurry up or I'm going to get there before her). I do sometimes think about how old Potty must have been when they did what they had to do to make me, i.e., IT, and my mind has to go somewhere else pretty damn fast -- YUCK, YUCK, YUCK!!!
My father has been called Potty (short for Cookson Potts) ever since he was at school (about ninety years ago) and now he is seriously living up to his name. He's stopped doing the barrister thing now, partly because he is so old, but also because he wanted to spend more time writing his pamphlets.
He is totally potty, but divine with it, and I always say that if you are going to have bats in the belfry you might just as well have them in the whole house.
This Christmas he sent photocopies of his bottom to all the people he doesn't like, which seems like a perfectly sensible idea to me. (I wish I'd sent one to Slimy Sydney, but he probably would have thought it was sexy or something sick like that and stuck it up on his wall....Actually, I wonder if my whole bottom would fit on the photocopier...?) So far Potty's had four letters complaining about his Christmas cards and Christmas was only ten days ago.
He and Stinker often enjoy "a little stiffener" of whisky and Twiglets together. Stinker's our dog. He's a terrorist or a terrier or something like that. The only really good thing about Stinker is that you never hear him bark, and, frankly, he's the only member of my family who isn't barking. He gets terribly over-excited after their "drinking" sessions (Potty dribbles a little of his whisky over some Twiglets, which Stinker then chomps his way through), and he tends to hurtle up and down the stairs and generally misbehave.
The most important person in the entire house is Flossie, our most divine, brilliant, fab, pink, and squishy cook who looks after us all and the house and everything. She has her own flat in the basement, next to the kitchen, which is the nicest part of our home in my opinion. The kitchen is huge and always sunny and warm, even when it's raining, and it always smells of something extremely edible or of warm, clean laundry, which is almost as delish. She has a bedroom and bathroom and the fabbiest cozy sitting room, with big, soft patchwork cushions and nothing so smart that you're not allowed to sit on it.
There are doors from her sitting room out into the garden, which is quite big for Knightsbridge, and three times a week Diggory comes to make the garden look wonderful. Potty loves to help and often wears his wig and his gown for these gardening sessions. Stinker is terribly hot stuff at digging, but not usually in the right place.
When it is Diggory's day on, Flossie makes him custard tarts, which are his favorites, and she always puts on a clean pinny. "He's my little bit of excitment," she says with a chortle, and I think we'll just leave it at that.
We all live in this too, too smart house in Knightsbridge, "a stone's throw from Harrods" (although why anyone would want to throw a stone at Harrods is beyond me), Mother, Potty, Flossie, Stinker, George, and me, Angelica Cookson Potts (no hyphen -- hyphens are SO not smart), better known as Angel. I live at the top of the house, in Heaven (of course) and "cousin" George lives in a room on the half landing....He's not really my cousin. George is Lillian's son. (Lillian is the one who used to wear rabbit's ears and do naughty things with Russian spies.) Lillian and my mother shared a flat and mother says Lillian "was like the sister I never had." She and her husband, Hank, live in the West Indies. They wanted George to get a "proper education," so for some reason they sent him to school here. Ever since he was a little boy with a snotty nose and scabby knees, George has spent most of his holidays from boarding school chez moi.
George is three years older than I am and is doing his A-levels. He seems to be allowed out of school a lot now. He says it's "study leave," whatever that means. It seems more like leaving the studying to me, but I expect he knows what he's doing. He's become all "strong and silent" these days and does a lot of "smoldering." Flossie calls it "sulking" and thinks he probably needs a jolly good dose of something to bring back his sense of humor.
All my friends seem to fancy George, which is totally weird. I mean, I know he looks better now he's got contact lenses, but he's hardly a babe magnet -- a fridge magnet, maybe. I can't see why anyone would fancy George. He used to cry at the end of Bagpuss! But Mercedes says he is "mysterious," and I say, "Whatever."
Mercedes is tall and coffee-colored and has beautiful almond-shaped eyes and wild and exotic hair. (Why is it that people with wild and exotic hair always want it to be straight?) Her parents are just SO wealthy, it's scary. Her dad runs a huge travel business and owns hotels all over the place, and her mum, who is half-Jamaican and half-Spanish, designs all the oh-so-posh interiors. The only trouble is, Mercedes hardly ever sees them. They're always abroad, jet-setting all over the place, so she has to live with her grandparents. But they're really lovely, her grandparents. I just think she is so lucky to have any -- mine all turned up their toes before I was born.
Mercedes is brilliant at sports and has one of those well-toned bodies that, frankly, I would kill for. She's a terrible worrier, and at the moment her major worry is having to wear braces on her teeth (and we're talking train tracks here, with head-gear. GRIM -- but at least she only has to wear the head-gear at night). She really shouldn't worry, even if the grotty boys do call her Metalmouth, because anyone with half a brain cell (not a boy, obviously) can see she is going to be just SO exotic and beautiful as soon as the braces have done their stuff. She also worries a lot that no one will ever want to kiss her, but I am sure she is wrong.
Portia is named after some bit of a totty in a Shakespeare play. There isn't a pound of flesh on her and she eats EVERYTHING, but I love her anyway. Her parents are both doctors (which could account for her obsession with germs). Her mother is a plastic surgeon, which I think is pretty cool (I have asked her already about liposuction, but she just laughed -- shame).
Their house is really lovely and sort of shambolic. Portia has two little sisters, who she quite often has to look after while her parents are working. She's really good at science (and anything to do with germs) and she's got masses of energy (from all that calorie-packed food she eats, probably), and is STICK thin. The only problem with being stick thin, according to Portia, is that (a) she can't find clothes that are small enough (how sad -- not) and (b) she hasn't got any boobs yet. I keep telling her, you can't have everything, and snake hips are WAY better than wobbly bits. To make up for her goosebump front, Portia spikes her gingery hair, which makes her look sooo fab and foxy, it's amazing. She says she's spotty, but honestly, that's a lie.
Then there's little Minnie (Amelia really, but she's so small that we've always called her Minnie). Well, Minnie is just TOO pretty. She has blonde hair, a sweet face and one of those perfect, curvy cuddly figures that the boys all fall for. She makes out she's a total airhead, but actually she is Brain of Britain as far as maths is concerned. She is also seriously good at art and design and can make just SUCH amazing clothes. Before Christmas she made herself a posh frock out of one of her mum's old satin curtains. It was to die for -- you would never have guessed that it had once been window wear.
Minnie's got two brothers, neither of whom are any use in the boyfriend department. One is much older and is in the navy. Her little brother has been sent to boarding school -- he's a bit of a handful and runs away a lot. Both Minnie's parents are really arty. Her dad is a photographer and he has a darkroom at home. Her mother is a journalist and travels a lot so Minnie is often looking after her dad. I love their house too. It's full of books and dogs and cats and you can sit anywhere without being squawked at and told not to dirty things.
Boys all think Minnie needs looking after because she's small and blonde and curvy but Minnie is oh-so-able to look after herself and has done so since she was able to climb out of her highchair.
And finally, Adam. Adam is the Love of My Life. He's in the Upper Sixth at school. He rides a huge, throbbing, motorbike and I know he would fall passionately in love with me if only he would notice that I exist. He's got this really dark hair and the sort of eyes that seem to look right through you. Not that they would ever look through me -- I mean, he'd need to have X-ray vision to get through this lot. I've been considering making major Life Changes to get Adam to notice me, but I haven't quite worked out what they should be yet.
Copyright © 2003 by Cherry Whytock