Read Fat Girls and Fairy Cakes Online

Authors: Sue Watson

Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Humor, #Women's Fiction, #Contemporary Women, #Contemporary Fiction, #Humor & Satire, #General Humor

Fat Girls and Fairy Cakes (4 page)

BOOK: Fat Girls and Fairy Cakes
7.62Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

“So sorry I didn’t collect you sweetie, but my boss is really mean and she made me stay behind,” I said, putting my arms round her and burying my face in her soft hair.

“Were you naughty Mum? Is that why your boss kept you back?”

 “No. She’s just nasty. And I’m so sorry but it looks like I may have to go away again.” I said, pressing the battered dough into a loaf tin and opening the oven door. Grace smiled sadly.

“It’s ok Mummy, it’s just that...I miss you. Daddy does too.”

And all the emotions I had mixed into the fruit loaf suddenly rose, boiled, and bubbled over.

3 - Sex-fuelled Romps and Revolting Vicars

So there I was, in darkest Rochdale, up to my neck in compost and Christ, reluctantly producing the department’s latest offering, now titled
Is God in the Garden?
, billed as ‘a seasonal exploration of the influence of God on and around nature against the backcloth of a church garden’ but which was rapidly becoming ‘a sex-fuelled romp through the boggy English countryside’ (with a few bulbs and a bit of Jesus). The basic format was a sort of Sunday morning
Songs of Praise
Gardener’s World
. It was a live show, which was always a risk – especially as this one relied heavily on the vicar, Bernard, and his wife, Denise, as pivotal characters. Bernard would be interviewed at the beginning of each show and then go off to do his Sunday service and the show would end with his live sermon, direct from the pulpit. The idea was that this would reflect on the events of the week and tie up gardening, God and any significant goings-on in the parish. All of this would be interspersed with footage filmed during the week, of the vicarage garden and village life in general.

This all looked fine on paper but Bernard the vicar had only agreed to do the show if a) we donated to the Church Roof Fund and b) if we didn’t make any significant changes to the vicarage garden. Al had sworn on his own life that the garden wouldn’t be altered in any way and Bernard had agreed on those terms. However, this was a blatant lie because the gardening team were under strict instructions to create a weekly ‘theme.’ This meant that Bernard would wake up each Sunday morning, pull open the parish curtains and likely discover the Hanging Gardens of Babylon on his lawn. Current ideas being tossed around were ‘Mediterranean’, ‘Japanese’ and ‘New York loft style roof gardens’ – all to be jigsawed together in a surreal garden maze by the final show. Suffice to say, Bernard would be bailing out by show two and, as his wife was insisting on going commando, we’d probably be taken off air anyway. First thing was first and I needed to share the Denise-lack-of-undergarment horror with someone so I tracked down Al across the muddy ground, who as ever had got over the shock of being assigned assistant producer and thrown himself into the project with gusto.

“Ooh darling, that should get the phone lines buzzing,” was his response when I finally found him flirting with the sound man by the catering tent.

 “It’s not funny Al,” I said, grabbing his meat pie and taking a very big bite. “I know it’s late and I’m tired but don’t tell me I’m overreacting to the fact that the vicar’s wife can only talk about sex, doesn’t wear pants and is likely to share all this with the viewing public as soon as we go on air.”

“Why Denise, how lovely you look…” he suddenly gushed loudly for my benefit. Denise was behind me and within seconds she had embraced Al and had embarked on some sordid tale of three-in-a-bed bell-ringers involving the doubles, the triples and the
Bristol Surprise

I had to walk away.

It was very late and the rain was still falling lightly. We’d all had a long day and as usual we were behind schedule and working into the night. I was desperate to phone home but it was after ten and Tom and Grace would probably be asleep. I tried to fight the urge to reconnect with my family, but couldn’t resist. I convinced myself that Tom wouldn’t mind being woken up. I needed sanity and the sound of his voice telling me all was well and our little girl was safely asleep having lovely eight-year old’s dreams.

 I popped behind a tree, opened my phone and dialled. Just as it started to ring, a voice called out from the darkness. “Stella? Where’s Stella?” I closed my phone and reluctantly emerged from behind the tree.

Belinda, a young researcher with straight blonde hair, long legs and clear skin was running like an Olympic athlete across the grass towards me. “Stella we’ve got a real problem...” I put my phone back in my pocket, with a sinking heart.

“Tell me,” I said, really not wanting to know.

“Well you know we’ve been waitin’ for this ten-ton compost? It was finally delivered this afternoon – to the wrong address! The woman’s goin’ bonkers. She’s on the phone now. Says she’s left loads of messages but no-one’s got back to her. She’s losin’ it big time.”

“Compost? Hell. Er, give me a second Belinda...”

“Stella,” a new voice demanded in the darkness. This time it was Dan, one of the gardeners. “Do you want us to have the bulbs item over here? If you do we’ll need to dig it out and put sleepers down. Who’s going to do that?”

“Erm...I haven’t had chance to think about that yet Dan.”

“Have the sleepers been ordered yet, Stella?” he continued shouting.

 “Sleepers?” I answered. “Ask Al.”

“He said to ask you.”

don’t know.
in charge of ordering.”

“Stella if we don’t get those sleepers...”

“Hang on a minute Dan. I just need to get my head round ‘compost-gate’.”

“But the sleepers’ll need time to settle,
is the emergency.”

“I know Dan, I know, I’ll find Al...”

“Stella, the woman’s still goin’ bonkers down the phone about the compost...”

 “OK. Tell Mrs Bonkers we’ll get the compost moved tonight. Send her a bouquet and two audience tickets to
I know My Mrs
. If that doesn’t do it I’ll go and see her and let her scream abuse at my face for seven minutes when I have a window,” I added with a deep sigh.

“And where’s Al? Has he ordered those bloody sleepers?” I screamed into the darkness, spotting Al’s silhouette in the dim middle distance. Backlit by a halogen light, which gave him a rather unlikely halo effect, he was chatting animatedly, waving his arms in the air no doubt telling an outrageous story to the crew and some kind, innocent parishioners who’d stayed late to help out.
God help them
, I thought. As I approached, I could see that Al was now thrusting his hips backwards and forwards in an obscene gesture, to a mixed roar of amusement and bewilderment from his gathered audience.

“Ooh you are a terrible boy,” squealed an old lady in a knitted hat.

“And you’re a naughty girl, Edna,” he retorted, waving a finger at her. She squealed again, slapping his bottom in mock chastisement. I couldn’t help but smile at this until I noticed some of the older parishioners who clearly weren’t taking too kindly to Al’s floor show.

“We’ve planted all the bulbs. Now we’re just waiting for you to stop messing about and give us our instructions,” said a stern, Sergeant-Major type. His team of pensioner parishioners nodded and my heart sank for a second time. The Major didn’t look like he’d be fobbed off with any TV show tickets, least of all to
I Know My Mrs

I couldn’t face it, I needed somewhere quiet to think in peace, but while desperately looking round for an escape route, I caught Denise in the corner of my eye heading straight for me again. I wasn’t in the mood for more tales of Babylonian goings-on in the local pie shop, so I did an about turn and trudged in the opposite direction. I could feel a billowing mist of rising panic. We had only a short time before our first live show. Nothing was ready. It was a technical, logistical nightmare. The assistant producer was a Butlins Redcoat, the vicar was revolting and his wife was a crazed nympho. My list of ‘Ten Things That Could Possibly Go Wrong’ had just reached twelve. At least it had stopped raining.

I trudged through the walled garden and towards the church, walking away from the vicarage and all the queries, questions and demands. I needed to sit quietly and plan the running order.

It was more peaceful near the church and finding a low wall to sit on I started jotting down timings in my notebook, illuminated by the halogen lamps. I’d only been there a few minutes when I heard a conversation nearby. I could hear the voice of one of the researchers talking to Bernard the vicar. The girl, Sacha, was barely out of her teens and in combats and a heavy fleece with an iPod strapped to her hip. She was holding the compulsory bottled water in one hand and a mobile phone that was so clever it could land spaceships, with the other. It seemed Bernard was getting cold feet about becoming a ‘TV vicar’ and I could hear her desperately trying to convince him that God was ‘cool’ with the filming.

“I’m just not sure I’m comfortable with the intrusion, dear. My wife urged me to take part because she feels it would be good for the Parish and well, she likes this sort of thing but I’m beginning to regret it. The church should be a peaceful place and I’m really not sure I can continue...”

I felt sick; without Bernard we didn’t have a show. Forget settling sleepers and wayward compost – we were in danger of losing our star and as the producer I needed to deal with it. I put down my notebook and staggered across the grass behind the church. It was horribly muddy – as it wasn’t going to be in shot, it had been used as an access point by the TV trucks and the once manicured turf was churned up and slippery.

“Hello there Bernard, the rain’s finally stopped then?” I called, planning to use my smooth-as-silk producer’s people skills to allay Bernard’s fears.

However, within a few seconds of striding across the boggy ground, I could see this was going to be harder than I imagined. The church grounds sat at the foot of the hill so all the recent rainwater had drained into it and turned parts of the soil into virtual sinking sands.

In the darkness I hadn’t noticed how bad this particular section had become and despite making several attempts to set off determinedly, my feet kept sinking into the squelchy earth. Each step took me further down and threatened to suck my new Boden polka-dot wellies into muddy infinity. I panicked and tried to turn round to go back before anyone noticed, but I’d come too far.
Be calm, you can do it
, I told myself firmly, and forced my feet to make strong, quick movements which, to my horror, made the most obscene noise. Each excruciating attempt to lift my wellied foot out of the gloop became louder and more profane. This sudden noise in the darkness had the effect I’d been dreading and began to attract the attention of my fellow workers, who, I noted, giggled and stopped what they were doing to stare rather than help. Bernard (a true man of the cloth) was the only one to step forward and help me in my moment of need. He held out his big paw of a hand and, relieved to have something firm to cling to, I lunged enthusiastically at it. Unfortunately, Bernard wasn’t quite ready for my gusto and this vigorous rugby tackle brought us both down into the mud.

“Oh Bernard, I’m so sorry,” I cried, grabbing at him in the darkness to try and help him up.

“Stella, are you alright dear?” he said, shocked and breathless.

“I’m fine!” I cried, lurching at him for more support and slipping further in the mud.

Despite the situation, our politeness meant we both tried to help each other up but in doing so, we each simply pulled the other back to the ground. As we grappled and slid, a mass of twisted limbs and polite yelps, I was suddenly aware that camera lights had been switched on and a small crowd of researchers, runners and crew had gathered to watch the indecent, mud wrestling spectacle involving their esteemed producer and the starring vicar. “Oh my God it IS! It’s Stella!” “What’s she doing with the vicar?”

I tried to ignore them all and concentrate on getting out of this mess but the more we tried to heave ourselves from the mud, the more unwittingly intimate it became as I clung to Bernard for ballast. Trying hard not to swear and scream, I could hear Bernard shouting, “Oh...Oh I say... Oh...” and going under again. Throughout this whole mortifying episode I was praying that Denise wasn’t watching and coming up with new ideas in sexual entertainment for the parish.

Suddenly, Al appeared at the sidelines, shouting, “Go Stella. Go Stella,” and wiggling his hips in a cheerleading mantra.

“What the hell do you think I’m doing here, Al?” I yelled angrily.

“You tell
babycakes?” he screamed. “Whatever gets you through the night.” This contribution delighted the onlookers, who roared with laughter. Even in the middle of this muddy doom, my legs wrapped round Bernard in a most inappropriate way, I managed a ‘look’ under my brows. Al’s expression changed; he knew I meant business and throwing off his designer jacket and rolling up his jeans, he screamed “human chain!”

Within seconds, several burly crew members were clutching his waist (he told me later he couldn’t believe his luck). I grabbed at Al and was dragged to safe ground, closely followed by a muddy, bewildered vicar.

“Bernard, are you OK?” Al asked, grabbing his arm and escorting him to safety.

“I’m fine. Just a bit of a surprise. I didn’t expect the dark...bit of a shock.”

“Stella, you should be ashamed of yourself, the vicar’s in shock.” Al glanced over at me; even in the semi-darkness I could see his eyes dancing with laughter.

“I’m so sorry Bernard, the ground just sucked me in. Gosh I can’t believe I pulled off your dog collar,” I said, brushing at his chest in a vain attempt to wipe away the mud and reposition the collar, which was now hanging limply across his chest.

“You two need coffee,” said Al. I could see his shoulders going up and down in mirth as he walked away. I looked round to see everyone staring in disbelief at what had just happened. I wanted to shout ‘just fuck off’ at everyone, I was so embarrassed, but instead I rolled my eyes, feigned a giggle and curtseyed. Then I shouted in a mock-announcer’s voice; “Go back to your work, there’s nothing to see here.”

BOOK: Fat Girls and Fairy Cakes
7.62Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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