Family Business Part 20: It’s the Mother of all Showdowns in Family Business Part 20 – not the sort of Mother’s Day surprise I’d welcome…..
Date: Mother’s Day
Subject: Afternoon Tea
Crikey! I simply DO NOT know where to start. Suffice to say that Mother’s Day will never mean quite the same again. I would have rung you earlier but I knew you’d be busy with Mama Paul and this CAN’T WAIT …
So, we’re all there – at Staveley enjoying a fancy three-tiered cake stand of an Afternoon Tea having bagged the best two extending garden tables outside, when there’s a bit of rumpus in the salon. Suddenly, Petra sweeps out onto the terrace looking rather magnificent in the highest heels you’ve ever seen, swishing her glossy locks this way and that à la Kate Middleton, and dragging the latest bugaboo behind her, complete with grumpy Leaf chuntering within. Massimo clearly thought she was there for him, and leapt up for a fond embrace. She practically knocked him flying and plonked down in Carla’s seat (Carla having whipped off to the ladies at this point, where I suspect she was busy phoning Herb). Mum didn’t bat an eyelid (To be fair, we all thought it was just a bit of foreign eccentricity) and called over the waitress to get another cup of tea as if it was an everyday occurrence to have your Mother’s Day treat interrupted by a random super model.
Dad nearly choked on his cream puff, and with hindsight, that should have alerted me to what was to come. Massimo kept trying to grab Petra’s hand or pat her knee as if she was always intended to be there. When Carla got back to our group, there weren’t any spare chairs, so Lorenzo had to relinquish his, and resorted to squatting dangerously nearby. Poor thing – I think he crouched down gallantly and then found his knees wouldn’t allow him to get back up again. He looked like a sumo wrestler!
Anyhow, there was a bit of stilted conversation, while Nick, the boys, Charlie and Maria gawped at Petra and took a few surreptitious selfies for twitter( #hangingwithasupermodel). Then Petra dropped her bombshell. In her words, she thought she’d come to our family celebration since it was really “her family too”. I was busy trying to compute how Massimo could possibly be Leaf’s father so nearly missed the big reveal. And honestly, if everyone hadn’t heard it too, I’d still think something got lost in translation. Seems Petra was there to take advantage of dad’shospitality – because she was the mother of his child. Yes, I can hardly type this – Leaf is dad’s son and our half brother!!!
From dad’s reaction, it’s clearly true and it didn’t come as a surprise to him at all. Just as obviously, mum had no idea. All credit to her, she was magnificent. She picked up a strawberry gateau and squished in right in his face just as the skunk was blurting out some cliché about it all being a terrible misunderstanding. Massimo, meanwhile, looked like someone who had just found out that they’d been sleeping with their father’s mistress ie really sick. He stumbled out before any more was said. Lorenzo looked really horrified but he was more concerned that Petra had chosen such a public place for her revelation, than about poor mum. It’s always all about him, isn’t it? Darling Poppy swept up the boys and grabbed Leaf’s buggy to take them all outside. Nick and Charlie followed pretending they urgently needed to discuss some new cast aluminum outdoor furniture manufacturer. Obviously a ruse to get away sharpish – as if anyone believed for a moment that metal garden furniture would be top of their priorities in the circumstances!
Flora grabbed dad and ushered him off to clean up. By the look on her face, she’d have happily left him in his embarrassment but ever the professional, she was thinking about how the family floorshow was going down with the other guests. That left me and Lorenzo to deal with mum – and Petra (eek!). For once, Lor was quite masterful. He frog marched Petra off to the bar, leaving me to get mum out of there. She wanted to go back to the Farm – but just to pack a bag. She’s come back with me to Norfolk, figuring that if she chucked dad out, he’d only slope down the road to Petra, so it’s better to leave him stewing at home. I gave her a couple of valium and its all quiet now.
Date: 16 March
Subject: the wee hours
I have no idea what the time is. Read your message as soon as I got back from Tim’s mum’s. I could KILL DAD! It explains rather a lot thought, so I’m dreadfully afraid that this isn’t some tasteless joke.
First off, there’s dad’s sojourn in Croatia. It all makes sense now, doesn’t it? I mean, Petra is Croatian, isn’t she? The baby was tiny when she moved here, so I’m guessing dad’s absence last year might have coincided with Leaf’s birth…
It also explains why an international supermodel might choose to hole up here in this backwater. I guess that’s why she’s been keeping Massimo at arm’s length. I mean, if she’s really hell bent on getting dad to play happy families. But honestly, has she no brain? He’s a seventy-something ne’er do well. Surely she could do better?
OMG! Remember that night when dad walked her home after dinner – and didn’t get back till 4am! They really are the most morally bankrupt pair. She’s been playing Massimo and he’s been playing mum. As far as I’m concerned, this is absolutely the LAST STRAW. He’s welcome to her. I just wish they’d buzz off back to Croatia where the garden furniture is forever the sort of cheapo white plastic that sticks to your bum. No more superior cast aluminium sets from Chelsea for him!
Give mum my love & tell her I’ll call her when she’s ready to talk about it,
Love Laura xxx
Date: 17 March
Subject: our dreadful dad
Mum says thanks for the flowers. She’s finding comfort in the bottom of a glass of gin at the moment so probably best to avoid speaking to her. I do feel sorry for her, but crikey, she’s a bit of a pain to have around. Not sure how long I can stick it out with her here – she’s keeping odd hours and doesn’t want to talk about anything else which is tough on the rest of the family.
However, I reckon dad’s behaved even worse than I originally thought. Check out this theory:
Dad’s living it up in Croatia and hangs around for the birth of Leaf as if he’s all set to play happy families. Petra thinks he’s in it for the long haul, but he soon scarpers back to his nice independent grown up children when the reality of living with a baby kicks in. Let’s face it, he wasn’t even very hands on as a grandfather, so he’s emphatically not modern dad material.
Back to my theory. Petra follows him back here and takes Hollybush Cottage as a surprise. (Dad did go a bit mental when we all first heard that the Parkers had rented out to her for six months). He’s still not playing ball so Petra starts a fling with Massimo, just to make dad jealous. Everyone says she’s always all over Massimo in public. Anyhow, that seems to have the desired effect and it would appear that dad’s relationship with Petra’s back on track. (For evidence, think about that weird thing about the jewelry lady turning up with something g for Mrs Edge … and that odd conversation I had with dad last week when he turned up full of hippy-dippy follow-your-heart advice). At the time, I’d thought he meant me and Nick but when I think of it now, it’s so obvious he was only talking about himself. Why would I ever believe he could have driven all the way to Norfolk to see how I was? If it isn’t all about him, or outdoor furniture, he’s never been interested.
Looks as if Petra’s not content with being the mistress though. She obviously thought that ambushing our Mother’s Day proceedings would create maximum impact. Perhaps she was out for revenge? What if our snake of a father led her on – promised her he’d leave mum or even marry her??
You’ve got to feel a wee bit sorry for the girl. She must really care about dad – she’s left everything behind to pursue him to sleepy old Berko. And it’s no picnic bringing up a baby on your own, whoever you are.
How’s things chez toi – is Massimo bearing up?