Queen Bee Mummy got a shock this morning when Mac and I turned up on her doorstep with Dawn and Jonathan. You see, Dawn, baby Alice and Jonathan had been invited for a play date – we had just been added on at the last minute. Ballast if you will. Dawn rang me at ten past ten, panic in her voice, and instructed me to meet her outside Ayres at half past “We’re going to Queen Bee Mummy’s for coffee” she said.
At half past ten, as instructed Mac and I were outside Ayres, eyeing up the goodies like a couple of waifs when Dawn screeched to a halt, chucked me a £20 note and told me to “buy cake”. This I can do with the best of them and came out, five minutes later with a gleaming, glossy, gorgeous strawberry gateau. “Thank God you were free, I couldn’t face this on my own and, after not letting the boys go to her Halloween party I felt I should turn up for this, you know, just to show willing” Dawn said as we slid towards the leafy park-side properties. Miffed that I was a) a last minute thought and b) available for this lunacy I kept quiet until we were on the doorstep.
For a change, Queen Bee Mummy opened her door herself. The look on her face said it all. I clearly was less than a last minute thought, I wasn’t even being thought about. “Oh, hello. Joanna.” She said, holding out her hand and shaking mine limply. The shame. Shunned by Queen Bee Mummy. Not that I want to be one of her harpies but…..even so. No-one likes being snubbed do they? It got worse.
Apart from Dawn there were five other mummies present: Career Mummy (who can now pick and choose her hours because “such is the success of my company since I floated it”), Actress Mummy (who claims to being on speaking terms with the entire cast of everything from Eastenders to Doc Martin), Vegetarian Mummy (who is constantly haranguing the school to provide a meat free school lunch every day), Nurse Mummy (who is great friends – nudge nudge - with Queen Bee Mummy’s consultant husband – if Gossip Mummy is to be believed anyway) and American Mommy (who arrived from the States in the summer with her banker husband). The Elite Squad. The A Team.
Dawn, married to a barrister “struggling, but a barrister all the same” was clearly part of the In Crowd. Baby Alice was being handed round the group whilst the older children ran amok in the (landscaped) gardens with Malinka the au pair screeching at them in her mother tongue. I perched uncomfortably on the edge of a WHITE sofa as the interrogation began.
Career Mummy: “What does your husband do?”
Actress Mummy: “Do you work?”
Vegetarian Mummy: “Where do you live?”
Nurse Mummy: “Is it you that has the black Focus?”
American Mommy: “Do you use the entire Philosophy range or just the lipglosses?”
Queen Bee Mummy: “How is Mac getting on with his Maths? Any improvement?”
I answered them all as best as I could and turned to Dawn who had yet to ask a question. She was looking mortified.
Coffee was served by a white aproned staff member which took the heat off me a bit. “Naughty but nice!” Queen Bee Mummy twinkled as Dawn’s gateau, a platter of cheese straws and a huge bowl of fruit was added to the ginormous coffee table. There was then a huge fuss because American Mommy could only drink decaff – “two months to go, Samuel is convinced I’ll have a Christmas birth!” – and there was none in the house. She sat stroking her bump and agreed that a plum and pomegranate herbal tea would be “just peachy”. Queen Bee Mummy looked furious and promised she’d hang “Ocado out to dry for this”.
“Help yourselves ladies” she went on as she did what I assumed were some yoga breathing exercises to calm herself down. The ladies dug in, Career Mummy took two cheese straws and made a huge noise about “not eating anything more until dinner!”. I grabbed a sprig of grapes because they were the closest thing to me and actually looked rather yummy.
“Very healthy Joanna!” Vegetarian Mummy boomed approvingly. Queen Bee Mummy edged the cheese straws closer to me. “Go on, have one of these!” she urged. Actress Mummy looked stressed “There’s no knife to cut the cake, that’s why she’s not having any!”. Queen Bee Mummy shot to her feet and screamed “Angela, the knife! You haven’t given me a knife!”. “Don’t worry honey, we’ll get you a knife” American Mommy said soothingly, stroking my arm and looking a little bit wild about the eyes.
“But….I don’t want any cake” I said, bewildered and catching Dawn’s eye. She now looked more than mortified. Of course. Looking round at the Elite Squad I realised why.
Queen Bee Mummy actually disappeared when she turned sideways, Career Mummy was five foot nothing and just as skinny, Actress Mummy looked as if she’d snap if she moved too quickly, Vegetarian Mummy was being held together by beanshoots, Nurse Mummy looked anorexic and the biggest thing about American Mommy was her bump and even that didn’t look seven months old. Dawn, bless her, can eat like several horses yet still wears size 12 jeans.
Now. I wouldn’t (couldn’t) call myself Kate Moss but (and here I’ve checked with several people before writing this post) I couldn’t be classed as a dead ringer for Dawn French either. Yes, I’m carrying a little, ahem, extra weight and yes, my jeans do tend to restrict my blood supply when I first put them on but and leave their imprint on my body when I take them off but……my practice nurse is happy and, before 11.15am today, so was I.
Angela, in the mean time had bought out the knife, sliced into the gateau and was waving a plateful under my nose as if it were a bottle of smelling salts and I’d fainted. I was still clutching my grapes and feeling a bit hot around the eyes. “Stupid girl!” Queen Bee Mummy hissed at her domestic help and urged me to dig in, grabbing the plate and shoving it at me. Half of me wanted to ram the entire slice of cake into my mush and give them all what they wanted – the other half of me wanted to storm out, vowing never to darken these doors again and hissing “a curse upon ye skinny wenches!” as I went.
I did part of the latter – Dawn, the children and I made a hasty exit, Dawn nearly in tears and apologising over and over again. As we sped away, I caught sight of the Elite Squad gathered on the doorstep, Queen Bee Mummy still holding the plate of gateau.
Shame. I could do with a slice of it right about now!