The Not So Secret Emails Of Coco Pinchard

By: Robert Bryndza

December 2008

Thursday 25th December 20:01

TO: [email protected]

Dear Chris,

Merry Christmas? Mine isn’t. The in-laws arrived last night. Meryl and Tony biked down to London from Milton Keynes on their new Tandem. They had to sit in the airing cupboard with the heating up for a good hour, thawing out. Rather cancels out their boast that they are carbon neutral! Rosencrantz picked up his Nan Ethel from her Nursing Home, and she began with the usual, “this might be my last Christmas,” before inviting herself for Christmas next year, and Easter, and Mother’s Day…

Daniel was working late (the curtain didn’t come down on his Pantomime till eleven) so to inject a little Christmas cheer in to the house, Rosencrantz, Ethel, Meryl, and myself decorated the tree in the living room. Tony spent an age constructing logs and newspaper in the fireplace, which at the touch of a match sprung into a roaring crackling fire. He excused himself when the decorating became competitive. We were divided into two camps style-wise. Ethel and Meryl favoured an all silver display of baubles, whereas I wanted my usual array of multi-coloured baubles, tinsel, and the cross-eyed cotton wool bearded Father Christmas Rosencrantz made from bog rolls as a child. It was an exhausting series of compromises with no one wanting to spark a row so early. They are here for a week. I wish I had the guts to say, “back off bitches!” However, I didn’t so we decorated one side of the tree silver and the other multi-coloured; with an agreement it would be rotated daily. Rosencrantz sensibly joined Tony outside in the garden and helped him oil the Tandem.

Christmas Day seemed to begin with promise. I had been worried about having to cook lunch, but I had a surprising saviour in the shape of our new Sky Plus box and HD Television. If it were not for them, I would have had much more criticism over my choice to serve individual Birds Eye turkey dinners.

Thankfully, the hubbub surrounding the sixty-two inch flat screen, and being able to pause the Carol Service from Kings College, even though it was broadcast live, drowned out the ping of the microwave.

Ethel was further diverted when Rosencrantz told her we had bought them using the advance for the publication of my novel, Chasing Diana Spencer. She couldn’t believe I had been paid for “that rubbish.” Still, it all covered up, quite nicely, the fact that I can’t cook.

My presents were as follows

Marlboro Lights. I don’t know what was sadder, that my son bought me four hundred fags for Christmas, or the fact I asked for them.

A pair of SPANX, which are giant stomach flattening, arse-reducing, thigh-squashing mega knickers. I got quite excited. I’ve heard great things about them from Mr. Gok Wan. Then Ethel explained where she’d ‘acquired’ my present; from a friend at her Nursing Home whose overweight Daughter had just died in a car crash. “She don’t need ‘em now,” she said.

Three pairs of thick black tights/can of Wasp killer, taped together as a set.

“They’re for your varicose veins,” said Meryl in a stage whisper over the airborne wrapping paper.

I presume she meant the tights.

An iPhone. I will come back to this in a minute.

Your gift, The Complete Sopranos Box Set was wonderful, thank you. I told Rosencrantz I would now be able to join in with all the people raving on about how gritty and dark it is.

“Mother, we’ve like, moved on,” he said rolling his eyes. “It’s all about The Wire now.”

Chanel No. 5 from Marika. I still can’t reach Marika to wish her a Merry Christmas. Can you? Phone lines must be down. Slovakia is in the grip of a massive blizzard.

Meryl and Tony gave Rosencrantz, The Dangerous Book For Boys. Which is lazy gift giving if you ask me. It’s point-of-sale in almost every supermarket thus required no effort on their part. Ethel took one look at it and said,

“E’s nineteen years old! It’s not trees e’s gonna be going up,” before handing over her gift, a Durex Vibrations Fun Pack. Meryl looked horrified.

“Well, e’s a good looking gay lad!” said Ethel. “My present will keep ‘im safer than your present!” She had a point.

Tony blushed violently and said he’d fetch more Bucks Fizz.

I gave everyone signed copies of Chasing Diana Spencer, since they’ve been too tight to actually buy it. M + T put on a good show of over-excitement. Ethel just dropped hers in her handbag without a glance at what I’d written inside. She was more interested in the book M + T had bought her, the number-one best seller Window Box Winemaking.

“Did you know, ‘er and Coco ‘ave the same lit-ral agent?” said Ethel pointing to the overly grand cover picture of its author, Regina Battenberg.

“Ooh we love Regina Battenberg,” said Meryl.

“She was a scream on Jonathan Ross last week,” said Tony. “Really gave him a run for his money.”

“Have you met her Coco?” asked Meryl in an awed tone.

I said we had been in the same branch of Waterstones for our book signings.

“’Er queue must have been out the door, compared to yours,” said Ethel with a glint in her eye.