Family Business Part 21
How to get mum and dad speaking again – for the sake of Family Business? In Part 21, it’s a three line whip for Herb’s launch.
Date: 20 March
Subject: dad & Mass
It was good to speak last night – finally! I know mum’s super-clingy and you can’t always talk … so I’m back on the old email in the hope that you can tap away in full sight without giving too much away. Things haven’t changed much here. Dad’s still in denial, I reckon. He’s still staying at Oak Farm but eating at the Buck & Fart; he tried coming the hopeless old dear with me but I just gave him the menu to the Berko Tandoori and shut the door in his face. It isn’t as if I have any desire to play the dutiful daughter right now – and in any case Massimo’s here, so that would be super awkward. I can’t put him through it. Nor me, come to think of it.
Massimo still hasn’t got over the shock. He’s furious with dad and since dad turfed him out and ripped up the meal ticket, there’s no reason for him to suck it up anymore. Naturally he’s resorted to adolescent Neanderthal mode ie drinking too much, playing Call of Duty on the play station and raiding the fridge at all hours. Maurice follows him round, hovering up the evidence and rather sweetly they’ve become inseparable. Massimo takes him to bed with him, bless his snuffly little heart.
As you’d predict, work is extremely awkward at the moment and we’ve got an impending crisis. I’d forgotten that next weekend is the local launch of Herb’s campaign for Edge’s Outdoor Furniture. How are we going to pull off a press launch when the family’s in melt down? I’m sure the all-singing all-dancing Edge family cock up must’ve been witnessed by someone who knows enough to make trouble with the local press. I’m really worried that if we can’t get mum back here, putting on a brave face, people will think “there’s trouble a’t’ mill” and infer problems in the business.
Keep me posted,
Date: 20 March
Subject: Herb’s Launch
We’re one step ahead of you here. Carla and Lorenzo came over earlier today on a mission to persuade mum to come back for Saturday’s launch. Actually, now she’s getting used to the idea that dad is a philandering cheese ball, mum’s been getting angrier and angrier and it’s put a bit of fire in her belly. She can’t bear the idea that she’s holed up here, leaving the old bugger to potter around at home as if it’s business as usual. And you’re right; the old Staveley bush telegraph’s been busy. Everyone’s been in touch with flowers, booze and sympathy. Flashy Frank popped over while Pearl was booked in for a colonic (surely all that gin just evaporates – so what’s the point?). He wasted no time in reviving his suit, crafty old geezer. Lovely Silvio from Italy’s even been on the phone, offering me and mum his apartment in Capri if mum needs to get away for a bit. Daisy sent a cake. Herb sent a bouquet so large that the local girl had to borrow her boyfriend’s horsebox to deliver it and Dick (who’d heard an eye witness account from Poppy) rang to offer to get dad chucked out of the golf club if that was what mum wanted.
But back to big brother’s visit. I’ve never seen Carla so focused – I guess this is her one chance to show everyone she’s more than an expensive hanger-on. There was no way she was going to leave without mum’s agreement to show up. She got Herb on the phone to charm mum and then produced her ace: she reminded mum about Lorenzo’s affair with that RHS girl 15 years ago – saying a) that if she could forgive Lorenzo for playing around when the twins were little, mum ought to be able to do the same, for the sake of the family and b) she’s recommend that mum insist dad has a vasectomy as a condition of her taking him back, as she did with Lor. Well that clinched it. Especially when Carla said she’d made Lorenzo deliver and assemble a van-load of metal garden furniture right after the op. Poor old boy didn’t dare complain – just humped aluminium tables around all afternoon. Mum was almost chipper when they left, so I guess it’s all systems go for Saturday. I’ll let you know when she’s planning to come – might well need to nip round to warn dad – or at least get the house in a fit state.
Date: Fri night
Rose, my old dear
I went to see dad and he’s agreed to do EVERYTHING and ANYTHING to placate mum. I think this is mainly due to the massive investment – more of that later – than any real contrition on his part. So, the word is, he’ll behave (and he’s even promised to send Petra packing). Tell mum, won’t you?
Lordy, I’m mightily relieved. We’ve all invested so much in this bonkers cinema ad that I couldn’t bear it if it was destroyed by dad’s carnal stupidity. Carla’s gone overboard and while we’ve been distracted this week, she’s been a girl on a mission – and you know how she likes to spend, spend, spend. Think of a swanky new product launch at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, with a couple of minor royals, Alan Titchmarsh, the Beeb and a clutch of vaguely familiar VIPS and you’ll have some idea of what she’s been aiming for. Since the ad’s going to run at the Rex Cinema, she’s talked them into putting on High Society (apparently, it’s Herb’s favourite, the camp old dear, and it does have that fab fifties garden furniture round the pool, I guess). She’s also putting on a drinks reception at the bar downstairs for the local women in business group, the chamber of commerce, lady mayor and local journos. Herb pulled in a favour and has got a Channel 5 to send a film crew (part of a documentary on him that they’re doing – a sort of poor man’s “Who Do You Think You Are?” called “Herb’s Roots & Cultivation” (geddit?). The whole thing’s costing heaps since Herb’s insisted on using the chef from Flora’s place and you know how pricey their outside catering can be. Cherish the Chilterns mag will be there too – covering mum of course as she glides effortlessly about her charmed day to day existence. Little do they know (I hope!).
If you don’t mind, I’ll come over to fetch mum myself. You mentioned I might be able to pick up a cantilever parasol in caramel, so I could kill two birds, and get that at the same time. I think it will be good for mum and me to have a chance to discuss all this over the journey without nosey relatives flapping their ears.
Let’s speak to fix the timings,
Date: Friday – late
Subject: Can’t sleep and the Sky Box’s frozen!!!
Hey there Laura
Hope the journey back was ok – I think mum’s in a better place, but I’d like your take on things too. I’ll be thinking about you all tomorrow and don’t expect you’ll have a chance to get back to me till after – so do let me know how the launch goes, won’t you? As a little morale booster, you can tell everyone that Nick is wildly jealous of your 21st century marketing campaign. I don’t think anyone’s ever put a British aluminium garden table on the big screen before! He might sneer publically but he’s been taking meetings all week with SEO companies and lifestyle marketers. Basically, anyone who can promise to turn a bit of common or garden outdoor furniture into this year’s must have product. Idiot! As we know only too well, one boring old rattan sofa set is very much like any other boring old rattan lounge set. It all comes down to price in the end.
So while I agree with you that this is a huge waste of Edge’s funds, it has at least put the wind up my competitive shark-like husband J
Good luck, break a leg (but not off a patio chair!) and all that,
Date: Sat 22 March
Subject: Herb Day
Your comment about Nick’s Garden Furniture Envy really cheered everyone up! The family all send hugsJ. Did you get any flowers from dad? He said he was going to organize a bouquet to thank you for looking after mum so well…
I delivered mum back to Oak Farm safe in the knowledge that dad had had Daisy in to give the place the once over. He was contrite – had cooked supper (well, ordered in from the Buck & Fart so I guess technically his grandson, Ant, did most of the work) and made an all round huge effort. He’d rung mum on the way and told her he hadn’t seen Petra but that he’d got Clive Kettler to deliver a lawyer’s letter agreeing to acknowledge Leaf; pay child support and make a generous settlement on him when he reaches 18 – so long as Petra agrees formally to leave England and return to Croatia.
It was quite funny actually. I think dad thought mum would just roll over – he wasn’t expecting her to come out with her own conditions. I think the vasectomy idea came as a bit of a shock but with the profits of six months sales of metal garden furniture at stake, to say nothing of family harmony, he had to suck it up!
I think once mum’s got Petra’s bags packed and she’s left the country, she’ll just put this down to another of dad’s awful indiscretions. Makes you think doesn’t it? How much of this has she put up with over the years …?
But you wanted to know about the launch …
Carla and Herb had clearly been planning their outfits for months – and had gone for crumpled linen and sun-kissed locks. They’d both been to the hairdresser for a few high-lights, to Atelier for spray tans and I swear they’d got a bit of body glitter going on too. If anything, Herb looked more ridiculous than Carla (after all, we’re used to seeing her pimped to the nines). Imagine the cast of TOWIE stumbling into Berkhamstead High Street and you’ll get the picture. Suffice to say, they looked suitably exotic, though not exactly the family the Matriarch of Middle England is supposed to have. Country Living and faded Brora jumpers it wasn’t! And if either of them got within a metre of an Aga, they’d melt. However, they did exude a certain something which seemed to work wonders on the assembled burghers of Berko. Our Lady Mayor was suitably impressed – and clearly dead chuffed to get Herb’s autograph. Remember Jemima Pools-Duckford from school (the fat girl with that ENORMOUS white cob?), it’s her mum – or could actually have been the cob in a frock and hat come to think of it…
Mum went for a bit of Hollywood mystery with enormous dark glasses and I’m pretty sure she was wearing a wig! Do you know anything about that? In any case, her hair looked impressively coiffured. Mum was really enjoying having the magazine people follow her around in front of all her old cronies. One in the eye for all those gossipy old trouts from the Women in Business group. Everyone seemed to be taken in. They were all so busy guzzling the free booze and taking sneaky selfies with Herb to bother to speculate about mum and dad.
Talking of whom, dad was quite an asset. He was dapper, charming but careful not to thrust himself into the foreground. I even heard him telling some journo that this was his dear talented daughter-in-law’s project and he was immensely proud of her!
Lorenzo was waddling round puffed out like a farmer who’s pig has just won Best in Show; Ant was adorable – spending time with all the old dears and flirting ever so slightly with the TV film crew; Maria on the other hand, was dressed as if she was going on a hen night in Hemel – whipping ridiculous hair extensions around in a dangerous style and trying to get her face in front of the camera at all times. Chip off the old block, that one.
All in all, it wasn’t a total disaster after all – though of course if all this hadn’t blown up, and we’d actually got Petra along as was originally intended, just imagine how much more impact the thing would have had.
But I haven’t told you about the actual cinema ad, have I? It’s completely ridiculous so it fits in quite nicely with the seventies style ad for the local curry house and Frank’s used cars! I can’t imagine it will do any good for sales for garden furniture, but Frank reckons it still pulls in the punters for him, so I may yet be proved wrong….
Date: Sun 23rd March
Subject: NZ here we come!!
Glad for you that it worked out ok. Don’t suppose dad actually meant that stuff about Carla – he’s not going to keep her on in the business, is he?
Anyhow, I don’t have time for this old stuff now. We’re off! 3 whole weeks in New Zealand starts tomorrow – wish me luck. I’m not sure I can face Nick and the boys alone for all that time. It’s always hard readjusting to having them back from boarding school and the step-mother thing gets harder not easier with time. Do keep me entertained with all the family frolics, won’t you?
Missing you already,