Last Friday morning before school, I noticed that Lottie (my 7 year old) had nits. Oh arse. It was too late to drag a nit comb through her long hair so I would have to de-nit her after school. She seemed unfazed by the crawling critters and she only had (ahem) a few anyway! I had a sneaking suspicion that Lottie *may* have given me one or two as well.
“When is a nit not a nit?” Lottie asked me cryptically.
“I don’t know? When is a nit not a nit?” when I’ve nuked it with (trademark) Nittaway?
“When it’s a gnat!!” beyond hilario if you are seven! Sorry if you are not. Seven that is.
I pulled her untamed locks up into a tight bun and hoped she wouldn’t inadvertently spread nit-joy amongst her friends that day or worse – keep scratching in a really obvious nitty way. I didn’t want any barbed teachery comments over the bulbous marrows and tins of baked beans at the upcoming Harvest Festival next week! Where was the bloody nit comb anyway? I scratched my own head like a dim cartoon character…….hmmm itchy.
After school drop off I made a big cup of coffee and made my five second commute to my new writing shed. I was pretty much all moved in and had cleared up after Ryan (my needy electrician) who had left me with power in the shed but also all out of my favourite Costan Rican Coffee which he consumed in vast quantities. He had also left *builder’s dust* everywhere as well as several erroneous drill bits mislaid on the floor. All of which were stepped on by me or my passing tweenagers Toby and Lottie who never seem to wear their bastard slippers. I had spent the past few days fannying around in my writing shed – doing the nice bits like putting up photos of
Ross Poldark the children and Ted (husband) and the like. Of course it had been necessary to buy new stationary and shiny up-to date office wares for my desk and I still wanted a cosy rug for the floor and a compact blow heater for when the weather turned! I also required a daylight table lamp so that I could pretend that living in England wasn’t dark and ****king awful after Halloween and before Easter. Except of course for Christmas, everyone loves Christmas*.
Shameless re-use of last week’s imagery!
I plonked myself down and slurped on my coffee absent mindedly scratching behind my left ear. The air felt cold, there was condensation pooling at the bottom of the window and it was decidedly un-bloody-cosy! Ted had built the shed in a shady part of the garden so that we didn’t waste the sunny area where the children played. I couldn’t be creative like this I decided diva-ishly and hand hugging my coffee. It was quite obvious that I needed to go shopping again. So I texted Anna (local best friend) to see if she wanted to come with me to buy
extra crap I didn’t actually need and a portable heater for my writing shed.
She texted back no, she was busy. Something wasn’t right. Anna, as you’ll know if you have read my previous posts has had lots of trouble with her ‘maritals’. Her husband Ben had moved out just before the summer into a rented flat above the village stores and Post Office. On the plus side he was never without a stamp and envelopes or a packet of Happy Shopper Bourbons biscuits. Anna had started to accept that Ben had left the marriage, she was beginning to deal with it but intuition told me to abandon my steaming coffee and cold shed and go and check on her. I walked over to her cottage and let myself in through her kitchen door – creepy thing you learn to do when you live in a small village community -unsavoury but everyone does it. The kitchen was empty but just at that moment Anna walked in wearing a dressing gown over a tracksuit with her dog Binky at her heels.
“Holy crap, you scared me to death,” she shrieked. Binky also yapped noisily at my unwarranted intrusion.
“Sorry,” I said. I could see by her face and her demeanour that something was seriously up. Ok perhaps I should have texted that I was coming round, after all this wasn’t an episode of the Archers ahem this was real life…..
Anna slumped down into the wing back chair next to her Aga.
“Put the kettle on would you,” she said heavily as if the words were difficult to expel from her body. I could tell she had been crying.
I turned to put the kettle on and locate her teabags. There were a number of glass teabag jars, oh sh*t which one was the builders? I found myself scratching my head. Hmmm itchy. Particularly behind the ears.
“Apparently Ben has been having an affair for the last 18 months,” Anna said faintly, almost inaudibly above the sound of the kettle.
WTF. I spun around theatrically. She was rubbing her forehead with her thumb and forefinger rhythmically, as if to smooth out the creases of her thoughts.
“Are you sure?” I asked cautiously. Ever the optimist slash resolute dumbass non believer of very bad news.
“Sure…” the word came out like a sinister whisper.
A flurry of angry expletives filled my brain and threatened to leap out of my mouth but I held them back and waited for Anna to elaborate. She bent her head. Silence.
“Sod the bloody tea, we’re getting the hell out of dodge,” I announced surprising myself with the kind of spontaneity I didn’t usually employ.
“I’m not going anywhere,” squeaked Anna visibly recoiling into the chair.
“And get out of that rancid dressing gown…..find some sunglasses, ” I added decisively and bossily – as I reached into my handbag for my car keys and jangled them at her menacingly. Perhaps there was a crappy old bridge somewhere in Devon that I could drive us both off?
Anna looked to me like she needed air. I also suddenly wanted to go somewhere I could breathe. It felt like the the walls of her cottage were falling in on us. I wanted to get us away from the cloying village, away from the pristine gardens, the twitchy curtains in the quaint cottages, the windy lanes and the blackberries clinging to the hedgerows and the old church which the PFA stalwarts were preparing for the school harvest festival. Away from the all encompassing suffocating village. It was a flight or fight reaction and I was fleeing on both our parts. Plus we might be able to stop in at Lunnery Mills on the outskirts of Stockton Abbott to get a portable heater! And Boots to get some Nittaway (sh*te product that you feel you should use but doesn’t kill nits and smells like your Nan’s favoured talcum powder from 1983).
The day was turning into one of those very warm autumnal anomalies, after an early frost it was as if summer had flounced back on stage like a diva for an encore. Our village wasn’t that far from the coast so I pointed my clunky old Mini in that direction. Anna sat mute beside me in the car dressed in just her tracksuit, at least she’d jettisoned the skanky dressing gown. Small wins. She was shivering even though the warmth of the sun was so hot I wanted to switch on the air con. I accepted that Anna needed to be silent as we drove so I put on Sea Breeze Crap Coastal FM Radio One of course. We finally parked up on the seafront at Teignmouth. I bought us take-away coffees and we wondered onto the pier almost accidentally. A selection of slot machines and other amusements rattled and broke into tactless tinny tunes. It felt end of season dead. Outside, at the end of the pier, everything was also shut down and the view out to sea was unbroken apart from a lone motorboat. The sun was surprisingly and blisteringly hot. We found an empty bench to sit on which was remarkably free of seagull sh*t and fish’n’chip wrappings. No one else was about except a middle aged couple who were feeling very smug about the glorious weather they were having on their *out of season* holiday. I actually have no idea if they were feeling smug at all…I just totally made that bit up. No disrespect to that couple from the East Midlands.
I gave Anna a sideways look which she ostensibly ignored.
“I’ve got all day…..well until school pick up at least….no presh, ” I told her stubbornly. More silence ensued. I waited and slurped on my coffee.
“It was Holly from the pub,” whispered Anna, “they’ve been seeing each other since our 12th wedding anniversary,” I tried to compute the information.
“Holly?” I gasped, “the barmaid?….from the pub?…..Holly?” I caught on quick me! “Sh..she’s only 18 isn’t she?” I stammered.
“She’s 22 actually, and can you stop scratching your head like a flea infested tramp!” Anna sighed as I finished rummaging about in my hair.
“I’ll never drink in that pub again!” I sneered blinking back tears. Perhaps that was a bit rash!
“It’s ok….” Anna gave a hollow chuckle, “….she’s leaving the village. She’s going to Uni and Ben says it’s over anyway.”
“He says he’s sorry,” Anna spoke hoarsely.
“Sorry?” I repeated incredulously like a complete half wit.
“Are you just going to repeat everything I say like a complete half wit?” Anna asked.
“Probably,” I admitted trying to absorb the shock of it all. We sat in silence and then I pulled myself together. “And how do you feel about that?” I asked evenly, my voice measured. Like I was acting the part of a therapist – my Equity Card wouldn’t be arriving anytime soon.
“I hate him…I love him….I hate that I love him…I hate that I hate him,” she sobbed and the tears came. And came.
We continued to sit on the bench for ages in a quiet snivelling snotty silence. I put an arm around Anna’s shoulders and our heads touched. There’s something about being by the sea that makes you reflective and floods all the senses.
“You do realise you’ve probably got nits now,” I admitted.
“Some bloody friend you are!” she replied but she didn’t pull away.
GNASH I hate u I love u (ft Olivia O’Brien) This is a great song and sums up how Anna was feeling. After the first bit the song does contain all *the swears* so not suitable for small ears and if you’re at work Julie in Accounts might think it’s a bit much too….
As you were!
More from the village next week.
*disclaimer – some people in actual fact find Xmas to be a total arse.
Very chuffed indeed to be a featured blogger on this week’s #FridayFrolics! A very big YAY!