I’m quite enjoying arranging this wedding now that things are more or less sorting themselves out. Manuela the caterer has taken to biking over various bits and pieces for me to try - at this rate the buffet table will be bigger than the entire church hall. Just this morning, Manuela’s brother – the heavenly Juan – appeared with a slice of fruit cake and a slice of sponge cake. “She say, you choose, you ring her” he said as he cocked a leather-clad leg over his gleaming Kawasaki. Jane Opposite nearly fell out of her bedroom window as he roared off down the road.
Janey arrived at half ten – this girl doesn’t go to work when she doesn’t feel like it. “I told ‘em, I’ve got a wedding to plan. Posh Spice didn’t go to work every day did she?” she said as she lowered herself gingerly onto the sofa. The bride to be has had a new tattoo done. She’s already got “Darren” inscribed in Chinese on the base of her neck – done during a drunken holiday in Ibiza last summer. The “close season” as she – a trainee Footballers Wife – calls the summer. She’s now got three butterflies, the largest at the base of her spine and two smaller ones above it, as if in flight. She’s having the rest done over the course of the next month – another 12 in total. This work of art is going to be framed by her backless wedding dress. “It bloody hurts though” she winced as she leant forward to rummage in her bag.
Pam the florist is working wonders on the floral displays for the church and the reception. I took Janey to meet her last week – as I’ve mentioned before Pam is a dead ringer for a well known Dame. As Pam gestured us in through her open door (she was on the phone in the kitchen) Janey spluttered “Bloody hell, it’s Judi Dench!” and fell over onto the wood block. The sponsorship deals are trickling in (Nice Nails are doing the manicures of the wedding party for “just a tenner each” if they can hand round flyers while the happy couple are signing the register) and a decision has been reached on the outfits for the bridesmaids and page boy. Even Bea has been pacified by the way I’ve dealt with the slightly more outlandish demands from the happy couple and their mothers. Ivy wanted a hundred doves released as they said their vows and Lou, Darren’s mother, wanted Chas n Dave to play at the reception. Janey woke up one morning and decided she wanted an Egyptian themed wedding so that she could be carried into the church by Darren’s team mates dressed in loincloths. I vetoed it on the grounds that you wouldn’t have jellied eels and mini sausages at an Egyptian wedding and Darren wasn’t having “Tel and that lot” getting their hands all over his wife to be.
I saw The Dress this afternoon. It’s nice. Very simple and so un-Janey-like. No flounces and only the teeniest tiny frill around the hem. The iridescent beads will be hand sewn on by the dressmaker Amy once the final fitting has taken place. Amy, a jovial woman with pins sticking out of her mouth, warned against eating too many takeaways once the final alterations have been made. Janey wrinkled her pretty nose as she stepped out of the dress and slithered back into her jeans and vest top. “I NEVER eat takeaways – do you know how much hidden fat there is in them?” she said in horrified tones. Sensing a diatribe on how she only eats salad and fruit but never bananas, I whisked her off to pick Mac up from nursery. “Is that him?” she asked, peering into the playground. She can’t wear contact lenses and only wears her glasses when she needs to see things. I looked in the direction she was pointing and was affronted to find out she thought my son was the scruffy looking creature skulking across the playground. His jeans were falling off him, his T-shirt was ripped, his hooded jacket was minus a hood – that very same hooded jacket that I lovingly washed yesterday.
My dander was up – what the hell was my child doing looking like a reject from Glastonbury on dirty protest? His face looked grubby from here and his baby elbows were grazed and hold on………he was crying. I was out of that car faster than you could say “scruff”.
“Mummeeeeeeeeeee” he wailed once he saw me. Miss Potts, the slightly nervous classroom assistant hovered by the water cooler. “What’s going on?” I enquired darkly of her. Mac was snivelling into my neck and the poor sausage was shaking like a leaf. Apparently, some new boys joined the nursery for the new term. These new boys are a bit – as Miss Potts put it – rough and ready. Mac got himself suitably together to inform me that these big boys – twin brothers – had spent the morning and most of the new term bullying my child. It culminated today when Mac joyfully told his friend Luke during Morning Break that he was going to be bridesmaid instead of a pageboy at Janey’s wedding. The poor excited lamb got his words mixed up and was shoved into a wall as a result. Apparently, Adam – the larger of the two boys - held his hood and bounced him like a bungee.
Miss Potts was now hopping from foot to foot as I asked her if the boys were still here. She seemed incapable of telling me. Mac told me they were “there mummy” and pointed them out to me. These three year olds were HUGE. I mean, seriously huge. Not in height but in size. They looked as if they lived on chips and sweets. Adam – the gorgon on the left – and Ben mooched along scattering children in their wake. They were heading for what I could only assume was their mother. I am not in any way exaggerating when I tell you that she was tattooed, beer bellied and wearing more gold than H Samuels window. I’m no Kate Moss, I even have a tattoo, and I favour chunky silver jewellery but come on. Even Janey was sitting bug eyed in the car as she saw me stride over to Mrs Mother Of Bullies.
“Excuse me” I said as I approached, proffering my grubby and tatty-looking son as an opening gambit. She removed the cigarette from her mouth, shifted her chewing gum from one side to the other and looked me up and down. “Yeah?” she said, raising one pencil thin eyebrow that was pierced tastefully with a gold screw. As she unflexed her arm muscles, the Crystal Palace tattoo on her bicep moved sinuously. “Your children have been bullying my son” I said, nerve deserting me somewhat as the other School Gate Mummies were retreating away from me. Mrs Mother Of Bullies bounced a buggy up and down (another large child nestled within – about 10 months old and sporting gold hoops and identity bracelet). By then Adam and Ben had reached us. “Ere you two, have you been bullying this little boy?” she asked, gesturing to Mac with her lit cigarette, a large sovereign ring on her middle finger glinting in the sun. “No mum” they both said in unison and extremely sweetly. Mac was hiding behind me at this point. Mrs Mother of Bullies shrugged at me, threw her cigarette to the floor, ground it into the pavement with her Reebok’d foot and the merry little band strolled off down the road with nary a backwards glance.
I was incensed. Miss Potts had disappeared – no doubt to lie in a darkened room with smelling salts. I dusted down my son and bore him off to the car but not before lodging a complaint with the “right-on” head of the nursery who promised to “look into it Mrs Mitchell”. Janey was still bug eyed in the front seat. “Who was that?” she asked, dusting down her size 8 self and holding her stomach in self consciously. I muttered something incomprehensible and whisked off home for a nice soothing cup of tea, a hobnob and a cuddle with my son.
We passed the Family of Bullies as we drove along Nunhead Lane. They were standing outside the chip shop, both boys had a box of chicken and chips each, Mrs Bully was delving into an open bag of chips and the baby was gnawing on a battered sausage.