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Please Welcome, Ch 2

by Jubbly 

Posted: 27 November 2003
Word Count: 1608
Summary: Here is the second chapter of my ongoing saga. I have really appreaciated all the comments from fans to detractors and I've really tried to soften up the character of Tina, so I hope it works a bit better. Cheers all you WWs out there.


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Chapter Two

My best mate Lisa's face was a picture, she just sat there staring at me, bug eyed and incredulous like one of those loopy looking puppets they have on baby's telly, I should know I watch enough.

"I'd don't believe it Tee, you're winding me up." she was holding her cup of tea mid air as though time had stood still and I suppose in a way it had.

"I mean, weren't there any signs? Didn't you see this coming?" Now she was interrogating me, me? The innocent party here.

I shook my head and drew on another Marlboro Light for emotional oxygen.

"Of course I bleeding didn't, don't you think if even had an inkling my old man was playing away I would have done something about it?"

This was fighting talk now and Lisa knew not to cross me.

"Yeah I know darling but I mean...blokes just don't up and leave their families like that." She clicked her fingers for a dramatic effect but as she could never ever manage to make that cricket like noise you're supposed to do - the gesture came across as empty, just like me.

"Had he ever mentioned this Maxine before?

Again I shook my head, words didn't come easy anymore.

"Madeline, her name's Madeline." I managed.

"Madeline?" Lisa repeated, her lip curling in that snidey fashion she's so good at. "Ergh, sounds like a right old slapper."

"Apparently she was his first love, when they were at school."

"Oh perlease.....at school, hello Pete, time to grow up here, " suddenly Lisa had transformed into a guest on an American talk show complete with a rather unsuccessful undulating head and shoulder movement that made her look like she was trying to catch a butterfly.

"Let's be honest luv, if he ain't seen her in over twenty years she couldn't have been that special."

Maybe not, but he was with her, surely that said something. I'd read about things like this in those magazines I got addicted to when I was working at the dentists, couldn't help myself, I found articles entitled - MY BROTHER'S DEAD BUT HIS HEART STILL BEATS INSIDE MY NEXT DOOR NEIGHBOURS CHEST! Absolutely compelling and I still talk about Ė MY GRANNY GREW AN EXTRA BIG TOE ON THE BACK OF HER NECK! Pete hated them, said they were down-market and besides all the stories were made up, had to be - and what's more anyone who believed them must be a quote - Idiot.

But I believed them, especially the ones about couples getting engaged during the war then going missing only to turn up sixty years later declaring undying love for one another, see it can happen, there is such a thing as romance.

I tried to rationalize what had happened, why my husband had felt the need to escape the family home and set himself up with another woman. He was probably just having a mid life crisis, like men do, itís very common; they can't accept that they're not lads any more, they can't kick a ball around in the mud on Saturday without collapsing on the grass and nearly having a seizure. They can't go down the pub and get bladdered and not wake up the next day feeling like an elephants slept on their head the night before. They can't pull pretty young birds in itsy bitsy midriff scarf tops and wearing jeans cut so low you can see their pubic bone poking over the top, they can't face the fact they're getting old. So they go off looking for someone or something to make them feel young again. I suppose I should be grateful he didn't run off with a girl young enough to be his daughter at least Madeline was the same age as me.

"Have you told the girls?" asked Lisa

I nodded; once more the power of speech had deserted me.

"Oh no, they must hate him."

I shrugged.

"Well I just told them he'd had to go away for awhile, I want to wait a bit, you know in case it's all a big mistake."

Lisa put her tea down hard on the table with a bang, liquid slurped out of the mug and all over my local newspaper- turning the attention grabbing headline PENSIONER CAGED IN OWN BATHROOM FOR 14 HOURS. Into a spongy mess.

"Have you even spoken to him in person Tee?"

"No, his mobile's still switched off."

"Oh for god sake, this is bloody stupid, what about his parents, do they know what their darling son's been up to?"

"They're in Spain, please Lees, I think it's best to just wait, see what happens....

But Lisa interrupted.

"We know whatís happened Tina. Peteís done a runner and is shacked up with some silly tart in flaming Preston. Tina, you've got rights, for all you know he might move his tramp out to the Costa Del Sol , set themselves up in a villa, maybe he's been planning it for years, you said yourself he wanted to go out there."

I was numb, it was true, and suddenly I felt as though my body had come away from my skeleton, I was in bits and pieces and nothing made sense anymore.

"Oh Shit, look at the time,Ē Lisa sprang to her feet. ď I've got a lesson, you call me anytime now, obviously I'll be switching off my phone when I'm at work but I'll pop in later alright"?

She gave me one of her big Ďmake it better hugsí and left. Lisa worked as a driving instructor, Pete used to laugh at that.

"A woman teaching someone how to drive, what next, a male midwife? Mind you - he soon stopped laughing when my waters broke and we got up the hospital and was greeted by Michael, six foot 2 and resembling a Chippendale.

"OOOh hello love, you look ready to drop, let me guess from here to Maternity.Ē

The girls were at school and Joe was watching baby telly in the front room, I knew I had to do something but I kept thinking as long as I ignored the situation it would all go back to normal, of course life ain't like that and at my age, I should have known better.

Then the phone rang, I knew it was him before I picked up the receiver, in fact I was so confident I answered with - "Pete?"

I could tell he'd been crying, he mumbled sorry a couple of times and said he'd put a grand in my account and asked after the kids like everything was normal.

"How could you do this to us?" was all I could manage.

Then he became defensive.

"Oh come on Tee, it can hardly come as a surprise."

What the hell did he mean by that? Of course it was a bloody surprise, my husband of 22 years has just left me for another woman and I'm supposed to say, oh yeah, I thought that might happen some day, duh.
Our whole marriage was condensed into a single flash moment and my mind worked overtime seeking out clues that I'd missed.

Then it hit me, he just didn't fancy me no more. I'd gone and had another baby and now I was just mum, always tired, never wanted to go anywhere with him, just slobbed about in track suit bottoms, my libido had taken an extended leave and I was middle aged. Hell, it's bad enough when a bloke of 24 doesn't fancy you but when someone your own age thinks you're over the hill - well that's it isn't it, it's over.

He promised to call later on and speak to the girls himself, that's the very least he could do, but I just hung up on him, I didn't want to hear his voice, not now, not when I knew he loved another woman.

I went into Joe and pulled his fat little body onto my lap; he just sat there not a care in the world other than would his fish fingers be much longer. We sat there together, him chuckling away at the antics of some funny purple creatures called boobahs while I bled wet salty tears onto his scalp.

I'm alone I thought, no one will ever want me again, I'm alone.

You see all of those glamorous older women in glossy magazines; they can afford cosmetic surgery and personal stylists, so when their relationships break up they just find someone else. But Iím not Demi Moore, never have been Ė even when I was younger and people used to say, ďOh Tina, you donít half remind me of that Demi Moore.Ē But that was then, when I had a head full of lovely long brown hair and I had time to go to the gym and I thought about sexÖ..well, a lot.
So this is what itís going to be like, me lying here all alone in my great big married persons bed, but I wasn't alone, when I tried to sleep, there he was again, shaking his head, the disapproval so evident.

That was terrible, just awful, you don't look like a Pop Idol and you don't sound like one, sorry, but you're wasting the judges time, the audiences time and especially your own. Would I vote for you? No.

I wrenched myself awake and burst out of the nightmare, my heart pounding in my chest. Trust me, everyone else has anxiety dreams about broken teeth and chewing gum, but not me, Oh no, I have to dream about TVs Mr Nasty.






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Comments by other Members



Tim Darwin at 23:36 on 27 November 2003  Report this post
Yippee, I get to be the first to comment! This is terrific stuff, really zips along with the authentic voice of Tina, completely pulls me along in her wake and into the story.

Lots and lots of real nuggets here, too (one of a number of favourites: "I went into Joe and pulled his fat little body onto my lap; he just sat there not a care in the world other than would his fish fingers be much longer. We sat there together, him chuckling away at the antics of some funny purple creatures called boobahs while I bled wet salty tears onto his scalp").

I have complete belief in Tina as a living breathing character, and I care about her problems and wonder what she is going to choose to do about them. And that, I think, is what matters.

Go, go, Julie, this is a delight!

Best

Tim


<Added>

P.S. I'm a little worried, though, because I am also starting to believe in little purple creatures called boobahs. Are they the ones that love one another very much, or the ones that get that boobahish feeling?

Jubbly at 06:36 on 28 November 2003  Report this post
Thanks for your uplifting comments Tim and I'm thrilled you are the first to make them. I care about Tina a lot more now too even though I'm not completely sure what's going to happen to her, she seems to be leading me a merry dance.

Cheers

Julie

Nell at 08:48 on 28 November 2003  Report this post
Hi Julie,

Yes, great stuff, lots of good things in there and Tina's voice coming across nicely now.

A few typos for you:

'...babies telly...' (babies' telly)
'Hey can't except that...' (accept)
'...elephants...' (elephant's)

Maybe you need a semi-colon after '...a girl young enough to be his daughter...'

'We no what's happened Tina...'
'...and is shacked with...' (shacked up with?)
'...confidant...' (confident)
'judges time' 'audiences time' (missing apostrophies)

Looking forward to reading on, best, Nell.

Account Closed at 08:55 on 28 November 2003  Report this post
Hi Jubbly,
Just re-read this one and find Tee is growing on me too. The line:
I'm alone I thought, no one will ever want me again, I'm alone.
is very meaningful and maybe you could play on it a bit more. A lot of humour in this one. I loved the idea of her best friend being a driving instructor. Iím not sure if the ridiculous headlines from Take a break arenít a bit distracting Ėplus do we need to know the name of the magazine? Likewise the Islington gazette. They are funny asides but (and this is only to get you thinking Ė take or leave) do you want this to be a comic novel ? Does the humour detract from the seriousness of the situation? (Iím not sure if thatís good English but I hope you understand) I will need more convincing as to why Pete went off with this woman but I imagine that will unfold with the story. Also, Iím intrigued as to how we will arrive on the Pop Idol stage!
Hope this is useful.
Keep going
Elspeth
Ps typo:
We no whatís happened



Jubbly at 13:03 on 28 November 2003  Report this post
Thanks Nell and Elspeth they are very useful comments. I'm appalled at my grammar sometimes, I rush everything so much then it comes back to haunt me. It's turning into a comic novel but I think my natural miserable nature should counteract that. I don't know why the Pop Idol images are so important but they just keep pushing through. So I'll with the flow for now, I think they were the starting point that's all, probably jack them in eventually.

Thanks very much, off now to do some corrections or perhaps I should just be writing a hundred lines, like 'I will do better English', or no.

Best

Julie

Anna Reynolds at 16:16 on 06 January 2004  Report this post
Julie, I've just caught up with this- glad you're sticking with Tina, she's maturing like cheese or something ripe. The Pop Idol motif feels like one that could be really rich- a kind of nightmare for our times, being publicly judged, it's such a potent image given how sudden the leaving has been. I'm interested now in how much Tina is going to start to unravel the past and see what she's maybe chosen not to see before, and in which direction she pulls. A good comment made earlier about the balance of comic and tragic- there are moments where you pull very sharply away from the painful to an Alan bennett-esque, Victoria Wood-ish aside, and while these are funny and lovely in their own right, maybe you need sometimes to stay with those difficult moments, or think really hard about where the gags come in? just a thought. Fun, moving, pacey, more please.

Jubbly at 20:17 on 06 January 2004  Report this post
Thanks Anna, I've written four chapters of this now and am thinking of entering it in Lit Idol. I'll post ch three soon and I'll definitely work on intergrating the tragic/comic mask.

Best

Julie

Ralph at 09:35 on 22 January 2004  Report this post
Julie

This is really cracking writing; it's pacy, it's honest and it's utterly compelling to read.

I think you've achieved a very difficult thing here - speaking through a character who the reader finds it easy to associate with and to criticise objectively at the same time. And there's some classic lines as well: I loved the "emotional oxygen" thing - I think I'm going to write that on stickers and paste them over the government health warnings on my tobacco pouches ;-D

You doubled my empathy with Tina over the Demi Moore line as well. I highlighted it at first, thinking "Demi Moore wasn't around 20 odd years ago..." and then I realised that she was. Oh God...

I'm off to buy a pair of slippers!
Keep writing, and thanks for the pure joy of reading this

Big huggs

Ralph

Jubbly at 11:16 on 22 January 2004  Report this post
Thanks so much Ralph. I've just entered it in a comp and realised to make the word limited I cut all the Demi Moore stuff, damn it, oh well. I've just quit smoking and am now enjoying boxes of emotional chocolate.

Cheers Julie


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