Saturday, 24 July 2010

Unexpected Generosity, and its Unfortunate Consequences.

At the risk of sounding even more like Victor Meldrew than I usually do, I don't believe it! The perfect end to a perfect day, I don't think. Honestly, why do the rich have all the luck?

I left it far too late to pack last night, so am tired and grumpy when I wake up after only a few hours' sleep. If Max and I didn't have to spend all our money on this stupid hotel room for David and Susie's renewal of their wedding vows, we could have had a bloody mini-break or something, and that might have renewed our relationship. We couldn't even afford to book a room with breakfast thrown in, and Connie and Josh are furious that they will have to share our family room. I'm not any keener on the idea than they are. Bang goes any chance of marital relations. No pun intended.

The journey to the Midlands is bloody awful too. Gone are the days when we could distract the kids with nursery rhyme tapes, or by playing I-Spy. No, now we have to listen to Josh's horrendous Screamo music, in an attempt to drown out the constant bickering between him and Connie. When we finally drive up to the restored priory, it looks like an episode of Footballer's Wives on the forecourt, and a press pack is crowded round a couple whose weekly dentistry bill is probably more than my yearly salary. Josh informs me that the groom plays for a premiership team, and that his new bride is a "Z-list celebrity."

I'm feeling very Z-list myself, and am so humiliated when we have to sneak through the crowd, while trying to hide the Tescos carrier bag containing our breakfast supplies.

"You could've at least gone to Waitrose," I say to Max, but he's too busy gawking at an Aston Martin that has just pulled up.

Things don't improve when we get to our room. I've just finished stashing the milk and orange juice in the mini-bar, and hiding the Tupperware container of cereal at the back of the wardrobe, when David phones from his room.

"I've booked a table for 8:00pm in the restaurant downstairs," he says. "We're all meeting there, as everyone should have arrived by then."

Oh God. I gesture frantically at Max, who is staring out of the window at the Aston Martin and doesn't notice.

"Um, David - can I call you back in a minute?" I say. "I've just got out of the shower."

Max, to his credit, realises the seriousness of the situation immediately, once I explain. He's uncharacteristically decisive.

"Phone him back and tell him Connie and Josh are fussy eaters," he says. "Say we've promised them a takeaway and we'll join everyone for drinks after they've finished their meal."

So at 7:30pm, we are still hunting for a takeaway in an unknown town miles from the rural idyll of the priory. In fact, we'd still be searching now, if it wasn't for one of Josh's more useful iPhone apps which finds us the nearest fish and chip shop. We gobble down pale, sweaty chips - with the added luxury of fishcakes for the kids - and then race back to the hotel, where Max and I try to make Primark look convincingly like Prada. I doubt it works, plus I'm sure I still smell of vinegar when we finally make it downstairs and into the restaurant.

All the other guests are already well-oiled. They've wiped out four courses and are still eating pudding. There are empty wine bottles everywhere, and I have a sudden panic that, at the end of the evening, Max and I will get caught up in that nightmare scenario where the richest person in the room - who has inevitably eaten and drunk the most - decides it would be a good idea to "split the bill," and won't remember that we haven't even eaten anything.

Max seems to be enjoying himself despite this, and is attracting rather too much attention from the wife of David's business partner. She looks rather like a horse clad in Boden. Admittedly, her husband is a chinless wonder, and I'd turn him down despite his millions, but I still think she's going too far when she tries to sit on Max's lap. Maybe she thinks he's a "bit of rough." Not rough enough, in my opinion, as he doesn't throw her off, but just puts up with it, looking bemused but also a bit flattered.

I get my own back by paying close attention to a gorgeous man on my left, who resembles the Milk Tray Man, but with the benefit of conversational skills. I have no idea what he does for a living beyond "working in the City," but I must be holding my end up pretty well as, during a lull in the general conversation, he says in a rather carrying voice,

"God, Molly. You are so articulate. What d'you do for a living?"

Quick as a flash, David's in there.

"She one of those socialists, Miles. Never grew out of it. Takes pride in abject failure."

I will not rise to it. I will not. Who needs enemies with friends like David? Has he forgotten that we used to share a flat, back in the days when he was also broke?

"Aren't you going to call me a fascist, Mol, and defend what you believe in?" Honestly, he never gives up.

"After the week I've had, I have no idea what I believe in," I say, but luckily he's asking for the bill and isn't listening to me. I breathe a sigh of relief, but as usual, nothing good lasts for long.

David delivers the coup de grace. As all the rich kids start scrabbling for their platinum cards, he says,

"Don't worry, this one's on me, guys."

I cannot believe it. I can't. David has never picked up a tab in a restaurant in all the years I've known him - and my family ate chips in the car because we couldn't afford to join them all for dinner! I didn't even get a bloody fishcake. David is right: my life really is a walking bloody disaster.

Max just keeps repeating, "This one's on me, guys," all the way back to our room. The only good thing is that Connie and Josh seem to have bonded over the general uselessness of their parents, and so there is no bickering as we all get ready for bed - but I think I'd feel better if there was. Sometimes silence can be far louder than words.


  1. Aw, I just want to give you a big hug! I too occasionally frequent such illustrious circles and feel like a pauper... I'm laughing and empathising at the same time x

  2. Thank you - all hugs appreciated tonight. T'was ghastly, truly ghastly. And there's more of the same to come in the morning ;-)