11.12 a.m. I am supposed to be getting a shower, but instead I am stood outside Matilda’s bedroom door listening to her squealing with laughter.
Her new sixth form boyfriend, Adam, came round early this morning allegedly to help her with some maths homework.
When I think back to my own school days maths never sounded this fun.
Matilda and Adam have only being dating each other for about a week so I don’t know why I am feeling anxious. I am sure I don’t have anything to worry about them being alone together in her bedroom. Teenage relationships take time to get going nowadays – don’t they?
I am going to carry on clinging onto the fact that something good will come out of this private maths tutoring. Adam could perform a miracle and turn Matilda, into a maths genius. I hope he realises that he does have his work cut out, as she’s currently in the bottom set in maths and likely to be re-sitting her exams.
“OMG Adam – please do that again!” cries Matilda, making my heart stop beating. I press my ear to the door. I must keep the belief that Adam’s method for working out fractions excites her. Say to myself “they are doing fractions, not having sex!”
I am interrupted by Toby who staggers out of his bedroom. “What are you doing Mam?” he asks, before letting out a huge yawn and rubbing his sleepy eyes.
“Shhhhh,” I say, placing my finger on my lips.
Matilda shrieks with laughter and I feel the blood drain away from my face.
“Sounds like she’s having fun Mam,” exclaims Toby, making me wince.
11.16 a.m. Peel off my clothes and survey the grotty state of bathroom. The dilapidated shower unit against the wall has seen better days. The bath is sporting a few cracks and the toilet looks like it’s pre-war.
Matilda has switched on her loud dance music and pulsating beat is making the house shake. Repeat to myself hundred times that I can trust Matilda.
I am entering the shower clutching my new can of Exotic Shower Foam Burst. When I bought it in the supermarket a woman nudged me to say that it had taken her to new heights of showering pleasure. I have never been so excited about having a shower.
Switch on jet of hot water and shake can vigorously. I have squirted the soft white foam onto my body and I am now imagining myself relaxing on a faraway tropical island. As opposed to taking a shower in a tired old house and worrying about Matilda’s approach to maths homework.
Matilda has cranked up the volume on her music and I am busy trying to ignore the disturbing rattling sound coming from the shower unit.
Oh my goodness there is a horrible creaking sound coming from the shower unit.
“HELP!” I cry out. The music is drowning out my voice.
The tall glass panels surrounding me are falling in on me! Help – I am going to end my days naked and covered in exotic shower foam.
Gasp – the shower panels have magically formed a weird triangular-shaped glass shower prison.
I have turned off the shower and I am staring in horror at my new home.
11.19 a.m. I am naked, covered in white foam patches of Exotic Shower Foam and trapped beneath some heavy shower panels.
The towel rail is on the other side of the bathroom so there is no hope of reaching a towel.
On closer inspection I see that there are no towels on the towel rail. They are all in my laundry basket downstairs.
I am just considering shaking myself dry, once I break free. The problem is that these glass panels look so big and cumbersome. I dare not move them.
Gasp! Matilda’s music has stopped. I need to get help. “GET BRIAN!” I scream to Toby, who I know is now standing outside the bathroom door playing on his games console. He’s unlike my other children, he likes me.
“GET BRIAN!” I am hollering a second time, in case Toby didn’t hear me.
Brian is my landlord and my emotional rock in life. I think everyone needs someone like Brian.
I call on Brian for just about any problem in my life; house repairs, removing spiders from the bath, removing drunken ex partners from my door step, locating Matilda after one of her teenage strops and ferrying me to the supermarket.
Brian will always help me. I must admit that he does so, whilst muttering under his breath about why he ever agreed to let me rent his late mother’s house and why he can’t be left alone in peace, but I ignore him. I don’t think he knew what he was taking on when I turned up to rent his property with one sullen teenage daughter, two young boys, a suitcase stuffed full of clothes, a shaggy dog, two failed relationships behind me, no money and a broken heart.
“MAM what’s wrong?” screams Toby.
“GET BRIAN NOW!” I am yelling so loudly my throat hurts.
The music starts again. I don’t understand why Matilda has to play it so loud.
Reassure myself with ridiculous and naïve idea that Matilda and her new sixth form boyfriend are memorizing maths formulas to popular dance tunes.
11.20 a.m. I am just going to assess my current predicament:
Brian, my rock, is going to come and free me from my shower unit disaster. Let me just think about this.
- Brian, retired, in his late 60s, a shy man, who goes to church regularly, has led a sheltered life and has recently had a heart pacemaker fitted.
- Me, in my thirties, stark naked with my womanly wares on show, I have stretch marks, wobbly bits and I have been a stranger to hair removal cream for the last few weeks. I also possess an interesting tattoo, which I would rather not discuss, stood in his late mother’s collapsed shower unit.
That heart pacemaker of Brian’s could be put to the test after he has set me free.
11.21 a.m. I have just had an amazing idea. I am reaching up to grab two purple flannels tied around the shower head and I am now bending down to remove the plastic shower mat.
Carefully I am placing a flannel over each 42D cup breast and then wrapping the bath mat around my waist. That should do it….just! Brian’s heart pacemaker is safe.
The music has stopped and I can hear a commotion outside the bathroom door. My kids are now arguing over who should go get Brian. Matilda is shouting at Toby and Harry, who has emerged from his bedroom. Whilst they argue I try to stop shivering.
Someone is sent clattering down the stairs. Most probably Toby. Matilda slams her bedroom door shut and cranks up her music. Obviously desperate to get back to her maths.
11.23 a.m. Stand naked in shower prison with strategically placed flannels on breasts and wrapped in a plastic shower mat. Think about Toby knocking on Brian’s blue door. As I have had to call upon Brian, to rescue me on numerous occasions, and the kids always fill me in about what happens when they go to fetch Brian I can almost picture the scene down the road.
Toby knocks on the front door and waits for someone to answer it.
Brian appears looking tired and scratching his bald head.
On seeing Toby standing on the doorstop Brian groans loudly and shuts the door on him.
Over the years my kids have learnt to ignore Brian’s initial refusal to help me when I am in the middle of a crisis. Toby knocks for a second time.
- Patricia, Brian’s wife opens the door wearing a complicated floral apron. She says “I am sorry Toby but Brian is unavailable.”
- She smiles sweetly and closes the door on Toby. Over the years my kids have learnt to also ignore Patricia. I think persistence is a valuable life skill for the young.
- Toby knocks for a third time.
- Brian screams through the window “whaaaaat does she want now?”
- Toby finds his voice and shouts through the letterbox “Mam’s stuck in the bathroom.”
- Some bad words from Brian will be heard through the window. Toby assures me he never listens to them.
- Brian emerges wearing his old beige jacket and limps up the street with Toby trotting after him. I still feel bad for his limp. Reversing is not one of my personal strengths and he did take his life into his own hands when he let me borrow his car.
11.26 a.m. The music has stopped. I can hear Brian’s voice can be heard on my landing.
“Roxy are you ok?” he shouts, through the bathroom door.
“Help Brian!” I scream with chattering teeth. .
Through the glass shower panels I watch the door open and Brian limp in.
“Oh Roxy what have you done to my shower?” he shouts at the havoc that greets his eyes
“Your shower collapsed on me!” I exclaim from deep inside my prison.
“Are you ok?” he asks, starting lift off the glass panels to free me.
“Oh Brian thank you for rescuing me,” I gush, fighting back tears.
A warm glow is shooting through me as I think about Brian, my hero. Yes his late mother’s house is falling apart and in certain parts of the house its like going back in time, but the kids and I can live with that.
I must thank God every night from now on for giving me my children and my rock – Brian.
Euphoria is engulfing me as Brian gives me my freedom. I don’t have to spend any longer in my glass prison, wearing two flannels over my boobs and a shower mat around my waist. I am being set free!
The final panel has been removed and I am making a tearful dash for freedom.
“Brian my hero! Come and give me a hug!” I cry, holding out my arms for him to give me a hug.
He has a horrified look on his face first and I can hear Matilda’s voice in the bathroom doorway “OMG that’s gross, Mam’s naked and coming onto Brian!”
11.27 a.m. In my rush to hug Brian I lost my two strategically placed purple flannels and the plastic shower mat.
Brian – my rock has just seen a whole new side to me.
To add further pain to my situation there are no towels.