Chapter 15

(i) QM2

Well I’m so excited, I’ve done something positive to get over my trauma – I’ve booked a cruise on the QM2 for the two of us. We’ve a cabin with a balcony and we’re going for almost two weeks visiting Madeira, the Canaries and Lisbon, getting back just in time to sort out Christmas. I’ll be able to dress up every night and Tim will have to wear a DJ some nights and a jacket and tie on the other nights. And they give ballroom dancing lessons so even though I already know how to dance, I learnt at school, I’m going to insist we do those. Tim’s a good mover and I love having a bop with him but he’s never done a waltz or quickstep. I can just imagine us gracefully sweeping around the floor.   I tried to persuade Tim to buy a new suit for the holiday but he says he likes the one he’s got and Dad bought him a DJ and dress shirt last Christmas. I haven’t told Tim yet but I did go into M & S and get him a couple of new shirts. I’m planning to pack them with my stuff and hang them up with his clothes when we’re in our cabin to surprise him. We’re taking the train down to Southampton from Crewe and Mum has agreed to move in and look after the kids while we’re away. Booking this cruise has really done the trick – before I could think of nothing else but the rape, now I’m able to forget about it most of the time.

We’re back home now and I’m furiously trying to get everything sorted for Christmas. Fortunately I sent off all the cards before our cruise. Wow was that some holiday! Amazing food, lovely service – beds made every day with a little chocolate on each pillow – cabaret every evening. And we both loved Madeira. The dancing lessons weren’t as good as I’d hoped. Firstly there were too many people on the dance floor so we had to stand out and watch half the time. Then they did a different dance step each day so even if Tim started to get the hang of say the waltz one day because he’d be learning the cha-cha the next he’d get confused. Basically he didn’t really learn much although I did make him practice the waltz and the quickstep on our own so at least he had an idea of two dances. We didn’t really join in the evening dances though as all those on the floor looked so accomplished and Tim said he would feel uncomfortable dancing on the floor with them. I said I’d try to see if there was a class locally that we could join but that will definitely have to wait until after Christmas.

On the whole Tim enjoyed the experience. To start with he worried about whether they were coping at the nursery but he was bowled over by the ship, the décor, the lifeboats, the glass outside lift and soon relaxed.  Although he said he would never have servants he didn’t seem to mind being waited on hand and foot and whilst he grumbles at home if he has to wear a shirt and tie he seemed to love the formality of the evenings aboard. I can’t see it but maybe he’ll be a changed man after the experience.

(ii) Tim gets drunk

It’s Craig’s Christmas do again and Sophie has insisted I go and has agreed to help out with the sales at the nursery.  I had hoped to get out of it but I felt obliged to go and said to myself that I’d do my best to enjoy it.  At least there’d be good food and drink and plenty of both and there was likely to be some form of male only entertainment too.

The food was exceptional although I declined to have pate de foie gras or steak tartare as I won’t eat that pate on principle – it’s cruel to force feed the geese – and I won’t eat raw meat for health reasons.  I had avocado and prawns and Dover sole instead and probably more of the delicious wine and port than was good for me.  After the meal we decamped to a nearby nightclub, owned by one of Craig’s friends for even more drinks.  I had tried to restrict my drinking but somewhere along the line I’d lost count and was beginning to feel drunk and headachy.  The club was quite dark and I felt socially exhausted and depressed after talking to men I had little in common with so I sat down and was beginning to feel sleepy.  We’d been very busy at work with the Christmas trade and the kids had been over excited about Christmas so I was quite tired.  It was too early to leave politely and anyway there was promise of female entertainment but we seemed to wait ages.  Craig could be quite attentive at times and he came and sat beside me and asked me how things were going. Then there was a flurry of excitement and two figures arrived, a girl and a man, both dressed in Edwardian costume.  We all gathered round and the girl started reciting poetry while the man looked on adoringly.  He then started to touch her suggestively but the girl kept her recital going and pushed him away.  The man became increasingly sexual and the recital increasingly fractured until finally he grabbed her from behind running his hands over her breasts and groin area before ripping her dress off.  The girl made a pretence of trying to free herself but the result was that first her bra then her thong are removed.  Then the table turned and the girl started attacking the man, trying to grab his genitals and ripping his clothes off.  It was quite weird to watch as we knew it was an act but it was distressing and erotic at the same time.  When he too was naked it turned out that it wasn’t a man, it was another lovely girl.  They did a bit of pretend lesbianism, rubbing baby oil over each others’s bodies and doing kissing each others mouths and fannys.  Then they were gone as suddenly as they had appeared.  

I’d found the whole performance very erotic and was in quite a turned on state so when the girls re-appeared dressed in very revealing outfits and came into the crowd I couldn’t help myself and made a beeline for the one who’d played the man who I thought the more attractive.  

“Hi,” I said. “I enjoyed your show.  “I really thought you were a man and… wow look at you.”

“Youse slike vat you zee?”  She said as she grasped my hand and nestled up to me.

“You like more,” she said gazing up at me.

Then I twigged – she was available.  At that exact moment Craig appeared and grabbed my arm.

“There’s something I want you to see,” he said pulling harder.  I disengaged myself from the girl apologising and followed him towards a dark corner of the place.

“What the fuck do you think you’re doing with that whore?”  He said angrily.  “You’re married to my sister.  You don’t mess about with tarts.  OK?”

“Listen, Craig, I just got carried away in the heat of the moment; attractive girl and all that.  I’d only just twigged that she was a prostitute touting for business.  I had no intention of anything.”

I noticed then that the girl had moved on to one of the other lads as had the other girl.  I was still turned on and had some regrets it wasn’t me with her.

“Don’t you ever even think of screwing anyone else, eh?”

“Listen Craig, sex with her never even entered my head.  I don’t know what I was thinking.  I’m not used to meeting prostitutes so I’m a bit naive in that direction.  But I don’t think you are in any position to lecture me on the subject if any of the stuff you’ve been boasting about is true.”

“OK I know I’m no paragon of virtue but I’m not married to Sophie.  You are and I look out for her.  Get it.”

I’d had enough.  I didn’t like Craig or any of his friends.  I’d only turned up because he was family.  So I just walked out without another word to any of them.  I was angry with myself as well as Craig.  I shouldn’t have got carried away like that.  I’m not used to dealing with women coming on to me.  I find it a real turn on and I can’t control myself like I should.  I’ve never been unfaithful but I’m not sure that I wouldn’t be in certain circumstances, especially if I’d had a lot to drink.  I did find that girl very attractive and I’m quite shocked that a pretty young girl like that sells herself for money.  Of course I know girls do and I’ve seen attractive girls on porn sites but not in the flesh before and I do find it difficultly to comprehend.

I had quite a successful Christmas at the nursery, selling out of Christmas trees, mistletoe and poinsettia late on Christmas Eve.  I was quite concerned about leaving the nursery for our pre-Christmas cruise but the staff handled things fine.  Stanley came over to assist with the sales and apparently did very well.  He said he’d enjoying staying with Betty and Derek, who were looking after the children for us and they reported back saying they’d had a great time and Stanley had taught them a number of new games. 

Now I’ve got to start thinking about the Spring and stocking up.  Wendy’s been busy and I’ve got to go and collect some stock shortly.

(iii) Sophie’s Christmas and New Year

Working out what to do on Christmas Day has been a nightmare. Tim’s parents invited us over and I think that’s what Tim would like to do but there would too many of us staying for us to be comfortable. Then there’s my Mum who does so much for us and I couldn’t bear to think of her on her own and Craig and Jacqui are hopeless. In the end I thought it best for us to host it so I’ve invited Mum and Craig and Jacqui so there’ll be 7 of us in all as Dad and Tracey are away as usual. Although it’s a challenge I’m quite looking forward to doing it as at least I can do it my way.

We’re going to Wales the day after Boxing Day and we’ll stay over one or two nights.  Stanley will be there with his new girlfriend, Vicky, but we’ll only see Teresa and Jock at our New Year Party.

Well it’s the New Year now and of course I’m hungover from last night. We hosted a party for our friends and some family, Craig and Jaqui and my Mum and Tim’s older sister Teresa and her husband Jock. I had caterers do the food as I’d had quite enough of cooking doing the Christmas lunch (although if I’m honest Tim did most of it – I’m not the world’s greatest cook). After we’d eaten Tim reminded me that Jock was a really good guitarist so we had a singsong – I thought anything would be better than another evening of charades. Tim was surprised I’d not been to any parties where Jock was the main entertainment.  Group singing was not something I’d have thought of and I wasn’t sure what my friends would think but the whole evening, what I can remember about it, was a great success. Jock arrived with a load of song sheets he’d printed out and handed them round so we could all read the words and he’d chosen really good songs that almost everyone knew the tune to. So we all sang our hearts out until we were hoarse and then someone, I can’t remember who, assumed the role of DJ and put on music for us to dance to.  Just before midnight the caterers brought round glasses of champagne to go with Auld Lang Sang with Jools Holland on the TV. Unfortunately I wasn’t there for that bit as I threw up a little earlier and felt so awful I went to bed. New Year’s resolution – count my drinks and never ever have more than 3 or 4, maximum 5 on special occasions. I seem to remember saying that to myself quite recently.

The kids were great next morning. They waited until after nine then brought us both breakfast in bed. Although it was quite disgusting – the tea was cold and too milky, the egg hard boiled and the toast burnt – I was touched by their thoughtfulness. I also thought I ought to give them some cooking lessons – another New Year resolution.

(iv) Camping in France

We’re on our summer holiday in France with the kids in a 3-bedroom static caravan having driven here just a week ago. We went under the Channel on a Eurotunnel train, which was brilliant, driving on it in Folkestone and arriving in Calais half an hour earlier than we’d set off because of the time difference. I didn’t want to risk a ferry as Di suffers from car sickness and I didn’t want to risk her on the sea crossing.   We managed to do the journey in just one day as the children slept much of the way.

The campsite we’re staying at is just across the river from a lovely French town called Saumur.   I was thrilled when I saw the caravan which is like a little house, all self-contained with cooker, fridge, shower and TV.  I hadn’t really believed Tim or the brochures and only agreed to come here under sufferance, mainly because the children were so keen as this is how their friends holiday.  The campsite is well organised and the children roam freely around it without me worrying.  There’s a great swimming pool attached to the site where the kids spend much of their days and they do food here but it’s fairly basic. The kids are happy with it but Tim thinks the pizza is awful and doesn’t like chips and says he’d rather cook.

We asked Mum to come with us and I feel a bit guilty because we’ve left her in babysitting several evenings already while we stroll over the bridge to a lovely friendly restaurant we’ve found. We have been there, all five of us once, but the children didn’t behave very well – I think they got bored – so we haven’t been back as a family.   The lady who runs it keeps asking after the children so perhaps we’ll give it another go.  As an alternative Tim has said I can take Mum there one evening and he’ll stay with the kids to make up for leaving Mum so much. We’ve also left her in the daytime once while we visited the Chateau and the winery.   They do a lovely sparkling wine and we bought 6 bottles and have started having one each evening as an aperitif.  Mum says she enjoys being with the children, she says that’s what grandmothers are for but neither of us wants to exploit her.  As for me, my tan has come on well, I’ve enjoyed the books I brought with me and it’s nice to spend quality time with Mum.  All in all I’m amazed after all I said about camping what a great time we’re having.  There are loads of other children on the site and it’s so safe we feel we can just let the children go and play for hours on end leaving me to sunbathe.  Mum has been good and with Tim has done all the domestic chores. I have enjoyed being pampered as that’s what used to happen on holiday in my previous life, before husband and children.  

Tim and I haven’t got on as well as I’d hoped, especially since we’re on holiday. He wants me to enjoy myself, which is why he’s not allowed me to do any housework, but he’s not very good at self sacrifice and I think he’s bored which he shouldn’t be as this is the kind of holiday he wanted. He reads a lot and spends a few hours each day with the children by the pool. While he’s on duty I’ve been able to take Mum over to the shops and I managed to persuade her to buy a new swimming costume and a couple of summer dresses and I even took her to the hairdressers. She looks years younger with her new hairstyle and new clothes. If only she’d get herself a new man!  One of the reasons I don’t think Tim is happy is because I won’t let him have his way with me. The soundproofing in the van isn’t very good and I won’t pander to him with my Mum so close. Tim suggested we might do it in the public showers but again I didn’t fancy it. I did give him hand relief there a couple of days ago but that didn’t seem to improve his mood any and I didn’t enjoy it as I felt uneasy in case he made too much noise.

We’re on our way home now with Tim’s driving and Mum in the back with the children. We’ve just had a stop at McDonalds to keep the kids happy. Tim was awful about this, sulking because it’s ‘against his principles’ to frequent McDonalds.  Apparently their food is addictive and contributes hugely to obesity and, because they need so much meat, they are responsible for the destruction of the Amazon rainforest, which has become grazing for the beef cattle and for global warming because of all the methane the beef cattle discharge. I did manage to persuade him to have a burger – I could tell he was hungry – but he wouldn’t allow the children to have Cokes which meant I daren’t have one either.  I do wonder about him. He seems to be growing more eccentric, more and more extreme in his beliefs, and because of this we seem to be growing further and further apart. He scoffs at me reading the Daily Mail and Hello magazine, saying he hates the Mail’s biased reports – scaremongering propaganda is what he calls it – and despises the celebrity culture celebrated in Hello magazine. I enjoy reading about what the stars are up to, the way they seem to have to have a new relationship every few years and cheat on each other along the way.  It’s entertaining and reading about them makes me feel glad I’ve got my feet on the ground.  I’m certainly not going to stop just because he thinks I should. 

It’s been a good holiday. The children have really enjoyed it and now they’re like fish in the water, having spent all that time in the pool.  Mum’s enjoyed it, I think and it’s been a lot better for me than I thought it would be plus I’m looking forward to showing off my tan.