Friday, November 30, 2007

Blueberry Massacre

Usually, on waking, I find myself crushed on either side by Ivy and Alistair. Ivy migrates into our bed at some point during the night, even though I’ve repeatedly told her not to. Today was an unusual morning, in that I felt only Ivy’s small warm body pressed against me. She was murmuring in her sleep, her head pressed against my shoulder.

Rolling away from her, I registered the dent Alistair’s head had made on the pillow. A sharp burst of fury reared up inside me at the thought of him, then flickered and died.

As I got up and headed towards the bathroom, my hangover felt blurry. I padded down the hall, hands outstretched, as if walking through a snow flurry. After taking a long shower, I dressed and went downstairs.

I went into the kitchen and kissed Ivy, who was, amazingly, already wearing her school uniform. Constanza, in a low cut top featuring a diamante-encrusted lion’s head, was sizzling waffles in a griddle which I had no recollection of owning. Her skin looked as fresh and dewy as a rose petal, which was truly incredible, seeing as she’d spent all night dancing at a sweaty club. Or had she?

As Alistair dashed into the kitchen, I looked him over objectively. His broad shoulders really filled out his well-tailored navy suit, making him look powerful, sexy even. What was going on? Was that? Could it be? Yes, something was definitely stirring in my nether regions. A languid stirring, like a dozing cat rearranging itself on a windowsill, but still, a sign, maybe, that our marriage wasn’t quite dead yet.

Ivy shrieked, “Daddy!” before running over and hooking herself onto one of his feet, a habit she’d developed as a one year old, and which she was now a good twenty pounds too heavy for.

“Ah, Constanza!” Alistair hobbled over to where she stood at the stove, dragging Ivy along with him. “I really owe you one, big time.”

Looking up from putting waffles on plates and smothering them in blueberry sauce, she said, “I am happy to help out.” Then, as Alistair gave her a dopey grin, she slowly dipped her finger into the batter and licked off the pale goo. Cripes, Tanya was right. The woman really did have an oral fixation.

“Ivy, why you not get off your Dad’s foot?” said Constanza.

“No I won’t,” Ivy said. “I don’t have to do what she says, do I Daddy?”

Alistair wasn’t listening, he was too busy ogling Constanza’s behind, as she carried the plates over to the table.

“I can’t stand her,” Ivy whined, still shackled to Alistair’s foot. “She took the TV out of my room. And she says I have to get up and be dressed by seven. I feel like I’m living in a prism.”

“Don’t you mean prison?” Alistair said distractedly.

“No I don’t. I mean prism.”

“Don’t be a silly, Ivy,” said a smiling Constanza, evidently not noticing that Ivy had rapidly dismounted Alistair’s foot and thrown herself in her path. I couldn’t help but smile as I watched her trip over Ivy, giving a high pitched scream as she tumbled to the ground. After the waffles had stopped flying and the plates had stopped shattering, Alistair was left looking down at the blueberry splotches on his white shirt.

Once Constanza had dragged Ivy upstairs, both of them splattered with blue clumps, I went up to Alistair, who was dabbing at his shirt with a dishcloth.

“You know I waited all bloody evening for you, don’t you?” I said, trying to keep calm.

He looked up at me blankly.

“The anniversary dinner I cooked for you last night? I left a message on your voice-mail and with your PA. Ring any bells?”

“Not really. I was too busy working from a client’s office to check my voice-mail, and Joanna didn’t pass on any message.”

“Or maybe you told her not to bother you if your wife called.”

“You’re being paranoid.”

“I don’t think so.” I couldn’t really see any other explanation for his PA not passing on the message. “By the way, what do you owe Constanza for?”

“Oh, she walked in on me this morning while I was in the laundry room. I was trying to iron a shirt and making a pig’s ear of it. She offered to iron it, that’s all.”

“And you let her?”

“What was I meant to do, wake you up and ask you to do it?” He threw the dishcloth into the sink and walked over to the wall mirror. Taking a tie from his jacket pocket, he started to knot it over the blueberry-splattered shirt.

Despite the fact that something about Constanza ironing his shirt was riling me, I also felt guilty. I usually did his shirts myself. I actually find ironing quite therapeutic. But what with one thing and another, like spending too much time fantasizing about Irish hunks and not enough time fantasizing about bleach, I had recently gotten behind on the laundry.

“By the way, what time did you come in last night?” I said, narrowing my eyes at him.

“Two or three. I don’t really remember.” When he turned to face me, his eyes were blazing. “Honestly,” he hissed. “You wanted the fancy frigging house and the best school for Ivy and the exclusive gym membership you don’t use, and the holidays in Mustique. It doesn’t all appear out of thin air you know. I work. In a damn good job. And when the shit hits the fan, I’ve got to be there to unstick it from the fan.” He raked his fingers through his hair, so that it stuck up all over the place.

A cleaned-up Ivy had appeared at his elbow. “Daddy, you said a bad word.”

We both ignored her.

“I work too.”

He laughed. “Yeah, okay you work. Then let’s get a flipping cleaner in to do the laundry. We can well afford it.”

Constanza came up behind Ivy, handed her a Hello Kitty backpack and silently led her into the hall.

As soon as the door had closed, I let rip. “I’ll do my own washing, thank you very much. We had that cleaner, remember, and she buggered up my silk underwear, because she couldn’t be bothered to hand wash it.” I shook my head and shuddered. “I mean, how could she? Putting my silks in the machine, on a hot wash! And it could just as easily happen again.”

He barged passed me, saying, “Excuse me if I don’t have time to discuss your underwear,” and stormed out.

I hoped he had a clean shirt to change into at the office. But he probably didn’t. Because I’d got behind with washing his shirts.

He was heading off to the office wearing a badly stained shirt.

Why that fact should have made me feel impossibly depressed, I really don’t know. But it did.

Flipping heck, I’m so stressed out I could scream. I really need some pampering, any ideas?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

It's called the Ten-Year Itch apparently!

This afternoon, Tanya buzzed me up to her Crouch End apartment, which was on the first floor of an apartment block that looked like a giant fifties style toaster. Due to the fact that Crouch End is nowhere near a tube, and therefore highly inconvenient to live in, she’d managed to buy her apartment on the cheap, and had since spent a great deal of money furnishing it with fashionable yet dreadful objects.

As she opened the door to her apartment, she handed me a glass of red wine. She’d squished her ample curves into a shiny green dress, and looked like an about to explode balloon animal.

“I can’t wait to hear about your date with Mr Haemorrhoid,” she said, leading me across the grubby looking hall carpet. “And don’t spare me any of the juicy details.”

I followed, sipping at the wine and trying to ignore my neck, which was sore from a hard day’s rubbernecking. I had a sinking feeling that telling her that I’d gawped at his blind a dozen times today was hardly the kind of juicy detail she had in mind.

“You know, your hall carpet could really use a steam clean,” I said, desperately trying to change the subject.

“Sod my carpet,” she said, pulling me into her living room, which had a metallic theme. There were overpriced ‘pictures’ on the wall, made up of sheets of metal with bullet holes shot through them, as well as lots of standing lamps which had been fashioned from twisted metal. “You promised you’d ask him out.”

“I did.”

“And?”

“And he said he was busy. Said he had to work late,” I said, sitting down beside her on the rock hard sofa.

She leaned forward and drummed her fingernails on her bright orange phone, which sat on the coffee table beside a bottle of wine.

“Right. That’s it.” She grabbed the receiver and started to dial.

“Who are you calling?”

“Who do you think?”

Panic fluttered up inside me. “You can’t. You wouldn’t. In any case, you don’t have his number.”

“Oh yes I do. I looked it up in Yellow Pages earlier, because I had a feeling I’d be needing it tonight.”

I stared at her, frozen to my seat.

“Oh hello, is that Mr Hem … I mean, Mr O’Riordan … It is? … No, you don’t know me, but you do know a friend of mine.”

Was I just going to sit here, letting Tanya humiliate the crap out of me?

I most certainly was not.

Jumping up, I pulled the phone plug from the socket.

“What did you do that for?” she said, banging down the receiver. “Well, well, well, your Mr Haemorrhoid does have a rather sexy voice, it’s just a pity I was so rudely interrupted.”

“Can we stop calling him that,” I snapped.

“Why?”

“Well, Mr Haemorrhoid is hardly a name with romantic associations, now is it? It sounds more like the name of some crazy cartoon character, some grinning haemorrhoid running about on legs. Maybe calling him that is what’s jinxing this whole project.”

Tanya picked up the bottle of wine and poured herself a glass. “Maybe calling him Mr Haemorrhoid isn’t the problem. Maybe you’re just a really bad flirt. I’m beginning to wonder if you actually want to have an affair. Just say if you don’t. I’ve tried to be a good friend, patiently encouraging you, but I’ve just about had all I can take.”

I looked at her, flabbergasted. “Of course I do. So what if I’m not the sexual predator you are? So what if I haven’t tried to stuff my tongue down his throat? What am I even doing, running after some guy who patently isn’t interested? This was all your idea, remember? You’re the one who pushed me into this.” That wasn’t strictly true. Wasn’t true at all, in fact, but I felt like I had to take my frustration out on someone. “How about I forget all about him?”

I waited for her to say, No! Are you mad? But instead she just narrowed her eyes and said, “Fine.”

“Fine.”

We glared at each other.

“What am I sitting on?” I said, jumping up and peeling a sticky wand from my skirt.

“My Very Berry lip gloss!” She yanked it out of my hand. “Thanks. I’ve been looking for that all week.”

It was at moments like this that I wondered how a self proclaimed slob and one of the cleanest people within the M25 ever became best friends.

We first met, five years ago, at the Bobbi Brown makeup counter in Selfridges. Ivy was six months old and whining in her stroller, and I was just reaching out for the Red Riot tester lipstick, when an unkempt blonde intercepted me and grabbed it for herself. I watched, horrified, as she smeared it on her lips, before handing it back to me.

Did she have any idea what kind of danger using a tester directly on your lips could cause? Cold sores were only the start. Not to mention glandular fever. One simply couldn’t risk it, I thought, as I tried it out on the back of my hand.

“No, no,” said the blonde, grabbing the lipstick. “No point testing it there, because the skin tone is totally different to that on your face. I mean, you wouldn’t test a vibrator on the back of your hand, so why a lipstick?”

At that time I was a vibrator virgin. It was a few years before Alistair, in an attempt to rev up our sex life, came home from work one day, wearing a stupid grin and clutching a bag of electronic sex toys. Once we’d got into bed and he’d assembled his plastic friends on the pillow, I couldn’t help but notice one small omission: he’d forgotten to buy batteries. And while he was busy transferring batteries from Ivy’s talking toys to his sex toys, I drifted off. Subsequent attempts at electronically induced orgasms weren’t much less sleep inducing.

Anyway, there I was, wondering exactly where one did test a vibrator, when the blonde clamped my chin in her hand. As the germy lipstick touched my lips, I tried to worm my way out of her grasp, but she was surprisingly strong.

“Do you mind?” I said, finally wrenching my face away. While I scrabbled about in my handbag, looking for an antibacterial wipe to wipe the germs off with, the blonde screeched, “You little brat! Let go!”

Whipping round, I found her having a tug of war with Ivy, who had the hem of Tanya’s red wrap-around skirt in her fat little fists.

“I am so sorry about this,” I gushed, while I attempted to prize open Ivy’s hands.

Everyone was looking at me. I was sure they all thought I was a bad mother. Well, they were spot on. I was a bad mother. My daughter had accosted a stranger in a store. My face burned with shame.

“Come on now, Ivy. Let go,” I said firmly, just as Ivy gave a sharp yank. I watched, horrified, as the skirt unravelled, leaving the woman staring down at her landing strip of blonde pubic hair, which was covered by a translucent thong. Unable to take in the full horror of what had just happened, I found myself gawping at her crotch.

“I’m so sorry about this,” I said, jerking my head up to catch a bemused expression in her eyes. “I’ll get the skirt dry cleaned, of course.”

“Well, thanks for the offer, but I don’t think they’d let me on the bus wearing just these knickers, do you?”

“Um, I suppose not,” I said, picking the skirt up off the floor, where Ivy had tossed it.

Two teenage boys wolf-whistled as they went past, and she flashed them a grin.

“But you can buy me a BLT at the coffee shop. I’m famished. I’m Tanya Putschnik by the way.”

I shook her hand, trying not to look down at her voluptuous thighs, which she seemed in no great hurry to cover up. There was way too much untoned flesh on display for me to handle. I’m not a Rubenesque woman, far from it, and Tanya, who revelled in her roundness, her womanliness, and didn’t give a hoot about the wolf whistles she was attracting, well, to be honest, I found her absolutely terrifying. But since my Dad, Bill, had brought me up to mind my manners, I gave a tense little smile and said, “Scarlett Staines. And I’d love to buy you a BLT. It’s the least I can do.”

So she put on her skirt and off we went to the coffee shop.

When she’d finished stirring two packets of sugar into her hot chocolate, Tanya told me about her last boyfriend.

“Graham was absolutely perfect, for a while,” she said, taking a huge bite from her BLT. “But then he went off sex, which was really weird because he’d always been such an animal in bed. Eventually he confessed he’d got chlamidya. Said he’d caught it from a toilet seat, would you believe?” She darted out her tongue to catch some ketchup that was dribbling down her chin.

“Poor guy. Personally, I avoid public toilets if I can, but if I must use them, I hover. He’s all right now, I hope?”

She rolled her eyes skywards. “What are you like? A toilet seat, indeed. I soon wrung it out of him. He’d had a shag on top of some coats at a party, hadn’t he?”

“Good God,” I said, appalled.

“Obviously, after that, he had to go. He’d broken one of the most basic rules of any relationship.”

“You mean, by being unfaithful?”

She looked at me like I was crazy. “No, I mean, the one about, if you’re going to sleep around, use a condom.”

She screamed with laughter, and before I knew what was happening, I was guffawing away too.

Since giving birth to Ivy, I’d entered a twilight world of sleepless nights and incessant wailing (mostly mine). With a jolt, I realized this was my first bit of fun I’d had in months.

“Listen to me rattling on,” she said. “What about you? What with the sprog and all, I bet you don’t get out much.”

I shrugged.

“Hey, you know what? We should go out one evening. When was the last time you had a good night out on the tiles?”

“Pretty often actually.”

“You do surprise me.”

“Except for the going out bit. On Saturday nights you can usually find me on my knees, cleaning the kitchen tiles or the bathroom tiles, or ….”

“I get the picture. You need help. Urgent help.”

After that, I occasionally accompanied her out for drinks at trendy watering holes, but I’d never go on with her to a party or club, however much she begged. Before midnight I’d always slink home, drawn back by an overwhelming impulse to vacuum my carpets, to give my cutlery one last loving rub before bed.

Tanya mocked this behaviour, but learned to tolerate it. As for me, I loved the fact that you always knew where you were with her. She had no time for children, and didn’t try and disguise the fact. On the few times she’d seen Ivy, she’d showered her with lipsticks and nail varnishes, before pointedly ignoring her, which of course, made Ivy think she was deeply cool and a person to be worshipped.

“Here, have some of these,” she was saying now, rooting in her handbag and thrusting a cluster of candy bars, wrapped in pink foil, into my hands. “I’ve got tons.”

“Are you crazy?” I said. “You know I don’t touch candy.”

“No need to have a breakdown. They’re the new lip glosses from Blissout.”

“Oh, well, then thanks, you’re an angel,” I said, stuffing the lip glosses into my Marc Jacobs bag. Even though she’s a beauty PR and gets freebies all the time, free makeup still gives me a childish kick.

Although a beauty PR sounds glamorous, it actually isn’t. It’s mainly trying to get your clients’ makeup into fashion magazines as test products or getting them featured in fashion shoots and listed in the credits, as in ‘the model is wearing Blissout lip gloss in Sugercane.’ But now she’s set her sights on higher things. At a drinks party where she imbibed one too many cocktails, she made a rash boast to her hip UK client, Blissout Cosmetics, that she could get Sachiko Fiorelli, the LA based supermodel, to be the face of their new Fondantdew range of tinted moisturizers. You probably know who I mean, Sachiko’s gay and famous for being famous. She’s Japanese/Italian, and looks like a cross between Angelina Jolie and Lucy Liu. You know the one. Anyhow, if Tanya does manage to pull off this deal (unlikely, as she’s having no luck getting through to Sachiko’s minions so far) she’ll be the recipient of a hefty commission.

“So,” I said. “How’s it going in the great hunt for Sachiko Fiorelli?”

“It’s almost a done deal.”

“Really?”

“Oh yeah. Yesterday I left a very charming message on her booker’s assistant’s assistant’s voice-mail.”

“What did he say when he rang you back?” I asked, leaning forward expectantly.

“Well, he hasn’t actually called yet, but I know he will.”

“I’ll keep my fingers crossed.”

“No need,” she said airily.

I loved Tanya’s childish optimism, but I had a feeling she was never going to get within air kissing distance of Sachiko.

“So, how’s it working out with Constanza?”

“Oh fine, fine. Ivy played up for the first few days, but Constanza kind of ignores her, doesn’t raise her voice like I do, and actually, yes, despite the fact that her taste in makeup leaves a lot to be desired, I think this might just work out.” I refilled my wine glass. “You know Alistair fancies her?”

“Really? And how’d you figure that one out?”

“He admitted it, would you believe? Well, what he actually said was that he didn’t think she was vulgar, which amounts to the same thing.”

“You think? Aren’t you being a bit suspicious? I mean, just because you’ve got your mind in the gutter these days, doesn’t mean Alistair does too.”

“I know exactly where his mind is. Fixated on Constanza’s tits.”

“How’d you work that one out?”

“I know it sounds ridiculous, but honestly, you should have seen them yesterday. I was coming into the kitchen, when I found them staring at each other like bison in heat. Well, he was, anyway. She has this long fringe that hangs in her eyes, so you can’t always tell what she’s looking at, but they were standing close together, and she was fiddling with a crucifix around her neck. He was absolutely mesmerized by her breasts, which were swelling out of a low cut top. And they were whispering about something. They didn’t notice me at all. And then, I couldn’t believe it.”

“What?”

“Well, she picked up the crucifix and popped it in her mouth.”

Tanya raised her eyebrows.

“I couldn’t face seeing any more, so I stomped over. Alistair smiled and said something about how he was just informing her about Catholic churches in the area. I don’t know. What do you think? Am I overreacting? Maybe he really was just trying to make her feel welcome.”

Tanya took a sip of wine and rolled it around her mouth. “You really want my opinion?”

“Of course.”

“Well, if it were me, I’d nip this whole thing in the bud, fire her before you find out that her oral fixation extends to more fleshy things.”

I looked at her blankly.

“You know, hard fleshy things that are full of seeds.”

“Cucumbers?”

“Exactly. I’m worried that Constanza’s going to eat you out of cucumbers.”

“Oh.” I blushed, as I finally got her drift. “Well, that’s a chore I really wouldn’t mind her taking over. Maybe I should put it in her employment contract?”

“You don’t really mean that, do you? I mean, look, I’ve got the morals of an alley cat, but even I wouldn’t want my husband having an affair right under my nose, and neither would you.”

“I suppose not.”

“You’re just going through the ten-year itch. Once you finally kick this thing into gear with Connor, you’ll be a much happier girl.”

“Shouldn’t that be the seven-year itch?”

“I don’t know, I read in some women’s mag that it’s actually much more likely to happen around the ten year mark.”

“That’s crap, like so much of the stuff they put in those glossies. Promise me you’ll never take one of those articles about ‘Fifteen Ways to Spice up your Sex Life’ seriously.”

“Why’d you say that?”

“Because you can’t force your sex life to be exciting and spontaneous. Look, I’ve done all the role-playing and surprising your husband when he comes home from work wearing just an apron, and let me tell you, it just felt like I was in a bedroom farce.”

“Poor you. Can’t say I know what you mean though. Once sex gets stale I just jump ship. But I always reckoned that you could train a man to be a good lover, sort of like obedience training for dogs?”

I shook my head. “Think about it. Even if I try really hard and learn, say, Spanish, everyone will know from my accent that I’m actually English, and Spanish speakers will allow me my little grammatical idiosyncrasies and smile indulgently, or just walk away because they can’t understand me. That’s like it is with Alistair now. He does his best. He tries, he really tries, to stimulate me to ecstasy, but it just feels like he’s speaking a foreign language. Badly.”

“Hmm. This is all very confusing.”

“It isn’t really. Either you have a natural flair for languages or you don’t.”

“You think Connor might have a natural flair?”

“I’m pretty damn sure he speaks fluent German, Spanish and Arabic. Metaphorically speaking, of course.”

She shrugged. “Since you’re obviously never going to find out, I think you just have to face the fact that sex is a bore for you married people. It’s the price you pay for having a bloody gorgeous house and holidays in exotic locations.”

“You’re probably right. Anyway, look at the time, I’ve got to go home and cook for Alistair.”

“You’re joking?”

“No, I said I’d cook him dinner at eight-thirty.”

“Why?”

“It’s our anniversary. He usually expects a slap up meal. And since I left a message with his PA and on his voice-mail earlier on, it looks like I’m going to have to follow through.”

“Sounds very romantic.”

“Might be actually, anniversaries usually get Alistair all misty eyed. Who knows, maybe a little candlelight might even get this marriage back on track?”

I left Tanya laughing uproariously at this suggestion.

Once I’d purchased steaks and an array of hugely fattening ingredients from Sainsbury’s, and had everything laid out before me in the kitchen, the prospect of actually cooking left me feeling utterly exhausted. The only way to get through this, I figured, was to pretend I was cooking for Connor. Luckily, the strategy worked. Soon I was energized, frenziedly slicing up potatoes and dousing them with garlic, white wine and cream, when Ivy came in, sniffed the air and said, “Mummy, what are you doing?”

“Cooking, of course.” Her confusion was understandable. Although the kitchen had all the accoutrements of the gourmet, the sparkling copper pans hanging from the ceiling, and the ropes of garlic and strings of chillies, the truth was that I hardly ever cooked. Since Alistair was rarely home for dinner, I usually just rustled up something for myself and Ivy from the freezer.

Bending down, I kissed the top of her head and told her to hurry up to bed.

And then, when everything was in the oven and I was happily ensconced in a fantasy in which Connor was smothering me in whipped cream, the phone rang.

“Hello mein Liebling.” My mother. Nearly forty-five years of living in the English speaking world and she still sounded like she’d arrived from Berlin this morning. “Why you never call me? I am worrying about you so much. I never see my granddaughter. She is growing up so fast. And the photos you send me over the e-mail, you are still so beautiful, still looking like Scarlett O’Hara.” My mother, on looking at my red scrunched up face at birth, had declared me the spitting image of the character from Gone with the Wind, and decided to name me after her. “But you are so thin, Liebling, too thin!”

I balanced the phone under my chin while I separated eggs for the béarnaise sauce. “Hello Mum, how nice to hear from you,” I said, thanking God once again that she lived four thousand miles away and could no longer pop in unannounced, as she’d had a habit of doing while she still lived in England. She’d been bored and lonely since my Dad died when I was ten years old. It had been something of a relief when, after falling for a karate teacher called Johnny five years ago, she’d run away with him to Miami.

“I’m fine Mum, really I am,” I said, pulling the potatoes au gratin out of the oven and sprinkling Parmesan on top. I reached for the bottle of Pouilly on the kitchen counter and glugged it straight from the bottle.

“I have sent you a parcel with knackwurst and some jars of sauerkraut. When you were a girl, oh how you loved my sauerkraut.”

“Great,” I said. What I was really thinking was that I wished I had the guts to tell her how much I’d always loathed sauerkraut. “I’ll look out for the parcel. I can’t talk now, Alistair’s dinner is burning in the oven.”

Actually the dinner looked absolutely perfect, but it was nearly eight-thirty and I still had to get changed.

I set the dining room table with candles and long stemmed arum lilies, and dressed myself in a dusky rose Christian Lacroix top with spaghetti straps and a frothy girly skirt. As I sat at the table, drinking wine, I began to feel deeply sensual and wanton. What with all my fantasizing about Connor, I was relaxed and erotically charged. If Alistair and I made love tonight, I was certain it would be a turning point in our marriage.

But by half past nine, both the meal and the prospect of an evening of sexual abandon were ruined. I looked up from where I was scraping the burnt dinner into the bin, to see Constanza shimmy into the kitchen in a hot pink dress and glittery heels.

“You cook for Alistair? He no come home?” she said, fiddling with her crucifix.

“Men!” I said inanely, forcing a smile. “Off out somewhere?”

“I go to the night club.”

When I’d interviewed her, despite the fact she’d worn a trashy outfit, she’d been subdued and unlike the other candidates, had made no demands. The other girls had reeled off a long list of requests, from what make of car they wanted me to supply, to whether they could repaint their room red, to whether it was okay to keep pet rats. After those disasters, Constanza only had to say, “I no drive. I no want to paint room,” and she was in. She’d seemed so refreshingly simple.

Constanza put the crucifix in her mouth for a moment and bit on it, like she wanted to say something else, but didn’t dare. Easing the glistening object out from between her lips, she gave me an enigmatic smile, before turning on her heel. As I watched her bottom wobbling about in its tight sheath of pink, I began to wonder whether she was really as uncomplicated as I had first thought. Could she possibly be plotting to sleep with Alistair? Like, maybe, even tonight? Tanya had suggested getting rid of her, but if I fired her now, according to her contract, I’d have to pay her six months wages. In any case, what evidence did I have?

And what about Alistair? Was he capable of screwing the nanny? I realized I hadn’t a clue, because I no longer had any idea what went on in his head. Had I ever?

I tried to remember the last time we’d talked, laughed, relaxed in each other’s company, but I couldn’t. Instead, my memory leapt back seven years, to happier times, when we’d rented a big apartment in Primrose Hill, which had brimmed with laughter and parties and people. And Alistair had been at the centre of it all, dispensing drinks with a smile. Handsome, quietly charming Alistair.

But it hadn’t been enough for me, had it? I’d pushed for the house in Islington, filled with fancy antiques. He’d taken a more senior management consultancy job to pay for it all, with longer hours. Soon the laughter and guests had dwindled away, until the present, when spending time together had become a very rare occurrence indeed.

Now Alistair was a stranger.

A stranger who slept in my bed and made love to me and paid money into our joint account.

I’m starting to get anxious…do you think Alistair is capable of screwing the nanny?

Also, does anyone else sometimes feel like their husband has become a stranger to them? It’s a scary feeling isn’t it. I just wonder if it will pass.


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Is Alistair Up To No Good?

Today, Mr Haemorrhoid popped his head into my office. He was all hot and flustered. What was it now? Not Curly Mackaw again, surely?

“I really need to talk to you,” he said.

Well, that was a good start. Maybe I’d been too hasty in writing him off. Maybe he was just incredibly backward about coming forward.

As I jumped up and walked round to the front of my desk, I noticed that he was looking particularly delectable today, in a charcoal suit and pale pink shirt. His mauve tie made the intense blue of his eyes pop. The colour of forget-me-nots, I thought dreamily, as he cocked his head to one side and said, “Have you ever had a problem with people eating your product?”

What?

What the hell kind of chat up line was that?

I kept my smile glued to my face. I wasn’t beaten yet. According to Tanya, any conversation could be turned into a flirting opportunity, as long as you made sure you were displaying your body in the most seductive way possible. And since my legs were bare and I was wearing a short white skirt, what could be simpler than giving another of Tanya’s top tips, the Sharon Stone, a whirl?

So, giving him my sexiest look, I swung myself up onto the desk and started crossing and uncrossing my newly fake tanned legs, à la Basic Instinct. But I needn’t have bothered. Maybe I didn’t look enough like Sharon Stone, or maybe it was simply the fact that I was wearing panties. In any case, he seemed far more interested in the drooping spider plant behind me.

“Well, have you?”

I rolled my eyes. “Yes of course. They use Flowerette in old people’s homes all the time. And, as you can imagine, some of the old ‘uns are a bit gaga and mistake them for bread rolls.” I laughed. Uncrossed my legs. His glance hovered over my bare knees. I thought I detected his eyes flickering with lust, but it may just have been the strip lighting, which had been playing up lately. “Flowerette responded a few years ago by changing the formula of their products. Now they’re completely non-toxic. So, who’s been eating Villorex?”

“Only some moron who got stomach ulcers because of it, and is threatening to sue. I mean, how hard can it be to follow the instructions on the packet? They clearly state, ‘apply only to the affected area.’ I mean, Jesus, have you ever heard anything so ridiculous?”

He started to pace the room, clearly preoccupied with the nutter who’d eaten haemorrhoid cream. Fine, I thought, feeling just a tad pissed off. If he wasn’t in the mood for flirting, I’d allow myself a little fun at his expense instead.

“Well, there was that case in the US where a woman kept spreading contraceptive jelly on her toast.”

“What happened?” He stopped pacing and took a step towards me. “Did she fall ill?”

“No, she fell pregnant.”

“Oh God.” Connor’s face had suddenly turned pale beige. “Don’t tell me, she got millions in compensation?”

I waited a moment, allowing the full satisfaction of the situation to sink in.

“Of course she didn’t. It’s an urban myth. Because even in the US, you can’t sue because you’re simply too dumb to understand the instructions.”

He looked hopeful. “But even if it doesn’t get to court, what if this guy goes to the papers?”

“Send him a case of cream as a sweetener to get him not to blab. But make sure you put big stickers on each tube saying ‘Only for use on the bottom.’ No, that’s too obscure, he’ll smear it on the soles of his feet. Put, ‘Only to be used on the haemorrhoid.’ There you go, case closed. You owe me one, buster.”

And then, I almost tumbled off my desk in shock, because he was right up near me, smelling of citrusy aftershave and leaning in towards me.

Finally. Finally he had read the signals. He was going to kiss me and make love to me on my desk. He’d take me roughly, thoroughly, like no man ever had before.

Or maybe he’d just kiss me on the cheek and make me whimper with disappointment.

“Sorry, are you in pain?” he said, giving a slight smile.

Suddenly I knew. I knew he knew I was gagging for him. And that smile showed that he knew I knew he knew.

“What?” I said, looking at his mouth, which had now stretched out into a smug bastard smile.

“Only you started to moan,” he said, pretending to be perplexed.

“Right. No. I mean yes. Yes.” I nodded. “I have toothache.”

“You should get that seen to.”

“I certainly will.”

And then, whatever erotic charge had hummed between us for a moment was broken, as he took a step back. “Thanks for your advice. You always manage to put things in perspective.”

As he started to walk away, a voice screamed, “Don’t go!” inside my head, while he slipped away, out the door, leaving me wildly turned on and slumped on my desk.

There was no doubt about it. Mr Haemorrhoid was going to be a very tough nut to crack.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Just Do It!

Today, I drove to work, my stomach knotted up with nerves. I’d decided I was going to ask Mr Haemorrhoid out. But what if he turned me down? What then?

The screeching of shock jock Curly Mackaw on the radio interrupted my train of thought. Curly, who was in the middle of judging a Whose Got the Biggest Haemorrhoid? competition, could be funny, albeit in a rather crude way, but I had an additional reason to tune in. The show was sponsored by Villorex, allowing me a tenuous, rather pathetic connection with Mr Haemorrhoid on my morning commute.

“We’ve got contestant number six here, bent over, and oh sweet Jesus, I think I’m going to lose my breakfast,” squealed Curly. “Good God! It’s as big as a golf ball. You say you’ve had it three years? Well, let me tell you, Pete Johnson, you are a very strong contender to win five thousand pounds and a lifetime’s supply of Villorex haemorrhoid cream.”

Wiping the dreadful vision of the golf ball sized haemorrhoid from my mind, I replaced it with the much more edifying image of Mr Haemorrhoid. No, he wouldn’t turn me down, I told myself firmly. Now it would simply be a matter of days before he kissed me, before he wrapped me in those big, strong arms and told me he’d been in love with me from the very first moment he clapped eyes on me …

The car behind beeped. Snapping out of my reverie, I noticed I’d been sitting at a green light, deep in contemplation. Get a grip, I told myself, nosing my pale blue SUV into the flow of traffic. Now Curly was screaming about a haemorrhoid that looked like Yoda. And there was more screaming awaiting me when I got to work. I was in the tiny kitchen, making myself a cup of coffee, when Mr Haemorrhoid, all six foot three, dark hair, piercing blue eyes and panty-melting Irish accent, wedged himself in beside me and started ranting.

“Did you hear it, that haemorrhoid competition on The Curly Mackaw Show?”

“Yeah, I did,” I said, inhaling him hungrily. His scent, citrusy aftershave mixed with the fresh sweat that shimmered at his temples, made me long to grab his tie and just reel him in, inch by inch, until we were face to face, mouth to mouth.

Connor was looking at me expectantly, clearly waiting for me to continue, so I said, “Great brand recognition for Villorex, wouldn’t you say?”

“No I would not.” He loosened his tie a fraction. It was the middle of flipping August, and while the rest of the office was in polo shirts and chinos, he was roasting, all done up like a turkey in foil that’s just been pulled from the oven. “Haemorrhoids are not a joke. Those poor contestants. They should have seen a doctor years ago. Villorex can’t save them now. When I did that sponsorship deal for Curly’s show, there was no mention of a contest. This is so not the kind of publicity I need for Villorex.”

I spooned instant coffee into two mugs. God it was exciting, to be standing next to someone who was so passionate, so ready to blow. It was getting very steamy in here, and the steam definitely wasn’t coming from the kettle, as I had flicked off the switch, preferring to stir the coffee granules into hot but not boiling water, as it saved me burning my mouth. I poured water into the mugs and looked at him coquettishly.

“You seem like you need to relax.”

He snorted. “Fat chance of that. I could brain that Curly Mackaw, I really could.”

I gave him my most alluring smile and said softly, “How about a quick one, after work?” Then, realizing what I’d said, I swiftly added, “I mean, a drink.”

“Look Scarlett, I’d love to, but I’m going to be working late doing damage limitation on this Curly thing.” He picked up his coffee and wandered off.

“Of course. I understand,” I said to his retreating back. Like hell I did. What in God’s name was so wrong with me that I was playing second fiddle to a haemorrhoid competition?

I stormed into my office and slammed my coffee onto my desk.

Fine, I thought. From now on I would no longer expend my energies flirting with a man who was clearly disinterested.

Mr Haemorrhoid was history.


*************************************
Grrr.... Mr Haemmorhoid playing it cool just fuels my fire and makes me want him all the more, even though rationally I know I’m going to get burned…don’t you think?

Monday, November 19, 2007

Should I have it off with Mr Haemorrhoid?

“So, Scarlett,” Tanya yelled, over the thud thud of the music at Fork, one of the hippest and most deafening bistros in Soho. “Are you having an affair with Mr Haemorrhoid yet?”

Snapping a breadstick in half, she threw me a withering glance.

For one wild, desperate moment, I was tempted to pretend I hadn’t heard the question, but one look at the way she was gnashing at her breadstick told me I’d worn her patience paper thin, and that I owed her an answer.

“Well, are you?” she said, spraying crumbs all over the sleeve of my jacket.

Tanya had been encouraging me to take the plunge with Mr Haemorrhoid for ages, and I couldn’t help feeling, in some perverse way, that by failing to snag him, I’d somehow let her down. After all, she’d put so much effort into the project, offered so many tips on office seduction. Like advising me to ‘accidentally’ spill a glass of water down my shirt, the view of my bra apparently rendering me immediately irresistible to Mr Haemorrhoid. She’d also demonstrated exactly how to suck on a pen while you were in a meeting, in a seductive yet screamingly sensual way, which, she claimed, would have any man eating out of your hand.

The reason Mr Haemorrhoid was not responding to her master plan remained something of a mystery. Against my better nature, I’d followed her advice, sucking pens, soaking my shirt and engaging in other acts of total idiocy. And while I was pretty sure Mr Haemorrhoid had been quite intrigued by my shenanigans—he’d stared at my wet chest with keen interest, for example—the net result was that he had not invited me to a hotel for a lunch hour’s worth of frantic sex. In fact, I’m ashamed to admit that not one licentious conversation has ever taken place between us. Go figure.

I brushed the crumbs slowly from my sleeve, stalling for time. Taking a sip of chilled Chablis, I tried to make light of the situation.

“It’s actually quite difficult to have an affair, when the object of your affections hasn’t even asked you out yet.”

Tanya rolled her big blue eyes. “How long is it since he’s been working at Zanorax? Eighteen months? This isn’t the nineteen fifties, you know. You can ask him out.”

I circled my finger round the rim of my glass. “I don’t know. I can’t get up the courage somehow. Besides, I’m beginning to think he’s got something that’s pretty rare these days.”

“What? You mean syphilis?” Tanya said, screwing up her face in concern.

“No, worse than that. Morals.”

Tanya tutted disapprovingly. She placed her hand reassuringly on my arm. “So you’re married. You have a kid. So what? You’re just suggesting a roll in the hay, not haring off to Vegas for an Elvis wedding. I think you need this. It’ll perk you up no end.” She leaned back in her chair, her expression suddenly stern. “Just ask him. And if you don’t, I’ll do it for you.”

*******************************

His real name wasn’t Mr Haemorrhoid, of course. But when I first mentioned I had a crush on Connor O’Riordan, Tanya had said that the most essential rule of conducting an affair was not to call your object of desire by his real name. It was imperative, she insisted, that we come up with a code name, so that when he and I did become embroiled in a scorching fling, Tanya and I would be free to discuss it in public, without worrying that any of my colleagues might be earwigging.

I thought it a brilliant idea. A code name. How illicit. How secretive! Because Connor was dark and Irish, I suggested Colin Farrell. I reckoned that anyone I knew who overheard me talking about making passionate love to Colin Farrell would tune out, as soon as they twigged that I was just another lonely woman with a delusional fantasy life, but Tanya vetoed the idea, claiming Mr Haemorrhoid as the obvious choice. Since Connor was in charge of the Villorex haemorrhoid cream account, her logic was impeccable, and I ended up grudgingly acquiescing. Now that the code name had stuck, I was no nearer to having an affair, but the lunch with Tanya had given me the kick up the backside I sorely needed.

Now, back at Zanorax’s Covent Garden offices, feeling somewhat floaty after too much wine, I decided I didn’t much fancy finding out if Tanya would come through with her threat to ask out Mr Haemorrhoid on my behalf. So instead, buoyed by an alcohol induced confidence, I hurried down the corridor in the direction of his office, determined to get this affair started, once and for all. I was a predator on the prowl, I told myself, as my hand grasped his doorknob, and there was no way I was going away empty handed.

I took a deep breath and turned the knob.

On entering his orderly grey and white office, and finding it utterly devoid of Mr Haemorrhoid, I wilted like a bouquet left out in the sun. His PA popped out of her office next door and informed me perkily that he was at a meeting at Villorex’s headquarters for the rest of the afternoon. Slinking back to my office, I started to doubt myself. Might I indeed have misread the entire situation? Had he, as I’d continued to believe, had he really been in lust with me, all those times I’d caught him staring at me in the kitchen where we made coffee? Or was he just one of those people who need glasses but are too vain to admit it?

No, I told myself firmly. There was a spark, I was practically sure of it. And besides, we had so much in common, it was destined to work out.

Yes indeed, on paper, Mr Haemorrhoid and I were perfection personified. As healthcare PR professionals, we shared a God given talent that enabled us to talk frankly about bodily functions, while earning six figure salaries in the process. Believe me, I didn’t get to the top of the PR game by being fainthearted. I have a proven track record of taking below the belt brands, including cystitis cream and personal lubricants, and making them household names. I had taken my current client, Flowerette incontinence pants, to the position of most popular adult diaper in Europe. So why was I so scared of asking the simple question that would get me where I wanted to be, below Connor’s belt? That was the nature of erotic obsession, I figured. It was exhilarating and terrifying all at the same time. I trembled with anticipation.

Tomorrow I would make my move.

If I didn’t, well, the fact was that any day now I would lose it, would corner him in his office, push him against the wall and crush my five foot four body against his big manly one.

“I have to have you,” I’d whisper breathlessly, as I started to unbutton my blouse.

The trill of the phone broke through my fantasy.

“Hello, Mrs Staines, it is Constanza.” Constanza was our new Chilean nanny. She had the unenviable task of taming my somewhat spoiled five year old, Ivy. “It is Ivy. She do pee pee on the floor.”

“Look, for the last time, call me Scarlett. Can we talk about this later? I’m a bit busy right now,” I said, still deeply immersed in my seduction of Mr Haemorrhoid. I would undress him slowly. How? Would I have to stand on a chair to remove his jacket? Was the height difference going to be a problem, once we got down to it?

Constanza was still going on. Should she use bleach on the hall carpet to remove the stain?

Usually I get all worked up about germs of any kind entering my house, but since urine is sterile, I figured there was no need to rush home in a blind panic. In any case, I’d been interrupted in the middle of a sexual fantasy, and was anxious to get back to it. “No, leave it,” I said. “I’ll deal with it when I get home.”

Unfortunately, once I’d put down the phone, my fantasy had fragmented, and there was nothing for it but to start working. Through my window, if I craned my neck violently to the right, I could see into Mr Haemorrhoid’s office. But there was very little point in risking permanent injury by wrenching my neck out of shape today, because he wasn’t there.

Miserably, I turned on my computer and started writing a press release about the Ultraguard, the new super absorbent incontinence pants Flowerette were launching in a few months time, which would be no thicker than a slice of bread, with the absorbency of a whole loaf.

I worked my keyboard with the professionalism of a concert pianist, emotive phrases running from my fingers. It was what I did. It was effortless. When the press release worked its way into articles in a host of magazines targeted at the incontinence prone, such as Fit Seniors, Mid-Life Monthly and Golden Years Digest, thousands of middle aged women would hit the roads, driven by a passion, a passion I had imbedded in their hearts, recklessly braving fog, flood or ice to fulfil that passion in their nearest pharmacy. All I could hope was that I wouldn’t inadvertently cause any road accidents.

Softness is our strength, I typed. Comfort without compromise. Can be worn under the tightest leather trousers without a hint of VPL (I knew that most fifty-five year old woman didn’t wear skin-tight trousers, but as I had learnt in this game, flattery got you everywhere). There’ll be a confidence in your step, the moment you slip on the Flowerette Ultraguard. Why wait? Let the magic begin.

My fingers hesitated on the keyboard for a moment, as a hopeless feeling swamped me, coupled with a longing, for the absent Connor. When would the magic begin for me? I wondered.

Tomorrow, I told myself, a smile slowly spreading across my face. Tomorrow the magic would begin.

If I could only grit my teeth and get through tonight.

***********************************

The first thing I did when I got home to our Georgian terraced house in Islington, was to start scrubbing at Ivy’s pee stain with soapy water. Honestly, that Constanza! When I’d said don’t put bleach on it, I hadn’t meant don’t put water on it. The white carpet now had a dried in stain on it the colour of orange juice. I was almost in tears. My whole life revolved around pee. And the irony was that while I talked about it at work, it was in a purely abstract sense. I didn’t have to see it. Didn’t have to smell it. God, was this what my life was reduced to? Me, Scarlett Staines, mega-PR woman, cleaning up child’s pee.

I was still trying to rub away the stain, with little effect, when the two of them returned from the park. Constanza strutted in wearing white stilettos. She looked like a sex bomb from an eighties pop video, all heavy blusher and dark teased hair. She’d only been with us ten days and already looked at home, serenely poised, and giving off a subtle glow of contentment, as if looking after Ivy were an utter joy (which, in my opinion, it was not).

Ivy ran up to me, curly blonde hair bobbing, and crouched down beside the stain.

“Are you very mad at me?” she said, sticking her lower lip out in a manipulative little pout.

“Not angry, just confused,” I said, wishing Constanza would clear off and give us some privacy. “I mean, the toilet is just across the hall. I’m sure you didn’t mean to do it.”

“I did. I wanted to see what it smelt like.”

“Oh, I see,” I said, relieved. “It was for scientific purposes.”

Ivy nodded enthusiastically.

“And what did it smell of?” I said.

“Wee wees,” Ivy sang, in a squeaky, highly irritating voice, while she jumped and twirled about. “It smelt like wee wees, silly. Smelly, smelly wee wees.”

“All right,” I said. “That’s enough.”

As Ivy continued her stupid little chant, I pressed my fingernails, which were crying out for a manicure, into the dark blonde roots of my hair, which badly needed highlights, while I silently counted to ten to prevent myself from screaming.

Later that evening, as I lay beneath Alistair’s naked flailing body, I made a mental note to go on the Internet and order a product that got rid of pee stains without damaging the fibres of extremely expensive woollen carpets.

“From now on, things are going to be different,” Alistair moaned, in his posh authoritative, as he pounded away. “Because now that you’ve got yourself a nanny, you’ll be able to really relax. Maybe even stop thinking about cleaning fluids during sex so much.”

Before we got the nanny, I’d run myself ragged, ferrying Ivy to and fro from daycare. But now that she’d started school and we had Constanza to take away much of the stress of child care, Alistair seemed to expect me to transform into a nymphomaniac, or at the very least a woman who didn’t look permanently pissed off. In reality, having Constanza around hadn’t changed things all that much. I was still tense and exhausted. If Alistair really cared about my perilous mental state, he’d purchase me two hours of passionate sex with Mr Haemorrhoid. Not that Mr Haemorrhoid could be bought, of course, which was what I loved about him, but it was a tempting thought nevertheless.

More than anything, I longed for a sense of newness, a sense of unpredictability during sex. Right now, Alistair was about a minute away from orgasm, I could tell because he was working a tendril of my hair around his finger, which he always did when he was close. As my mind scuttled back to cleaning, and whether Ivy’s Lego bricks might possibly be due for a good soaking in bleach, I had to concede that I was no less predictable myself. Alistair had once mistakenly asked me what I thought about during sex. I’d admitted it was places around the house I still had to clean and did I have enough bleach left to do so. He’d looked a bit crestfallen. Men, they were never satisfied. Suppose I’d said I always thought about Brad Pitt, which I don’t actually, because he looks a bit too much like a monkey for my liking. But suppose I’d said that? What then, huh? Actually, I think he would have preferred it.

“Stop … thinking … about … bleach,” Alistair panted between thrusts.

“Was not,” I said, guiltily banishing all thoughts of bleach from my mind.

“Sure you were,” he said breathlessly.

“Well, I‘m not now,” I whispered, biting his shoulder and giving a pretty good impression of being in the throes of orgasm.

“I knew Constanza was a good idea,” he gasped. Then his face froze and his eyelids drooped, a sure fire sign he was seconds from reaching ecstasy. Sure enough, he came, letting out a drawn out moan as he ejaculated inside me, into the condom I insisted he wore even though I had an IUD. I loved Ivy and all that, but there was absolutely no way I was having another one.

Flopping back on the bed and panting softly as he regained his breath, he raked through his hair, which was sticking sweatily in tufts to his forehead. I propped myself up on my elbow and studied him. His hazel eyes, with their thick lashes, were his most striking feature, and were now marred by a slight bagginess that was beginning to form beneath them. The skin around his jowls, too, was looser than it had once been. He was softening and thickening, but what did I expect, he was almost forty. His aging didn’t detract from the fact that he was, to all intents and purposes, still handsome. I suppose I had grown used to his handsomeness, and grown tired of it, like one gets tired of a new handbag, however exquisite. When you first purchase it, you can’t stop your heart from pounding, as you run your fingertips lightly over the soft leather, as you draw the virgin strap over your shoulder. But with time, the allure fades. The allure hadn’t faded yet, though, on my new midnight blue Marc Jacobs handbag. I couldn’t keep my fingers from constantly fiddling with its shiny buckles and zippers. To be honest, I could hardly bear to be parted from the damned thing. I think you pretty much know your sex life has hit the skids when you’d prefer to fondle a handbag over your husband.

“Don’t know why you make me wear these bloody things,” he said, rolling away from me and starting to fiddle with his bits. I stared at his back, which was as anonymously symmetrical as that of a shop window mannequin, and didn’t seem to have anything to do with me. I didn’t have to look. I knew every hair, every hollow and ridge of muscle, every bulge of fat intimately. Maybe intimately wasn’t the right word. I no longer cherished each mole, every hollow and dip, yet I had memorized his body, like I had memorized my route to work, through years of repeated exposure.

I ran my hand down his back, suddenly desperate to find a thread of connection between us. As my fingers rested on the soft wedge of flesh around his middle, I felt a spark, of what? Of anger maybe, at all the nights I’d spent in top notch restaurants, bored to tears by his business associates. The wedge had come about because Alistair fancied himself as something of a gourmet, always searching out the finest restaurants with the freshest, most unusual ingredients. It was just so pointless, as far as I was concerned. Food was just fuel after all, and once I’d consumed the eighteen hundred calories I allotted myself per day, I just told my complaining stomach that food was no longer on the agenda.

Alistair slipped off the condom and threw it on the floor, turned round and stuck his tongue in my ear. You would have thought that after ten years of marriage he might have figured out I hated him doing that.

As he slurped in my ear, my thoughts turned to Constanza. She seemed pretty efficient, but had I, after all, made the right decision in employing her? I turned my head away, disengaging his tongue from my ear. I needed reassurance on this one.

“Do you think Constanza might be a bit too vulgar? I mean, can a person who wears sparkly eye shadow and bright pink lipstick—not to mention those tight little skirts she can hardly walk in—really be a good role model for Ivy?”

“I don’t think she’s vulgar,” he murmured, before proceeding to suck on the side of my neck. The last thing I needed was a love bite. It was far too warm to wear a turtleneck and … Shit. His cock was hardening against my stomach. I was too exhausted to fake another orgasm, but I would, for the sake of Alistair’s ego, the poor clueless sod.

As I reached down and took his now rock hard erection in my hand, I began to wonder whether the vision of Constanza I’d just imbedded in his imagination, tight skirts and all, had stimulated its remarkable recovery.

“Oh God Alistair, you like her, don’t you?” I said, as the revelation hit me. “Getting a huge crush on the nanny. It’s the oldest cliché in the book.” I started to laugh. A big warm laugh that snaked its way out of me and left me giddy.

Alistair didn’t reply. He just reached for my breast and started caressing it in that soft sensuous manner that drives me insane. Couldn’t he just grab me for once, instead of pussyfooting around? And then anxiety closed in. As his urgent lips met mine and he pulled on a condom, I tried not to think about the other condom, which at this moment was spewing its contents (chockablock with bacteria) all over my mushroom coloured carpet.

As he started fiddling about between my legs, I geared myself up for another stellar acting performance.

Question to anyone out there: Aaah, what do you think I should do? Should I just ask Mr Haemorrhoid out or what?

Also, what about Constanza, should I sack her? Do you think she’s after Alistair, or that he’s after her? Oh why do I overanalyze so much? Your advice would be much appreciated.