5.45 P.M. I am getting ready to go to my office party, which is being held at a local hotel. Normally I would be struggling to contain my excitement at the prospect of a good hotel buffet, a disco and a karaoke booth. Tonight I am miserable and a little grumpy.
Matilda is doing my make-up at the kitchen table and her best friend Lou is filming us. They are using my makeover as the subject for Matilda’s latest YouTube video.
Lou is holding the camera in one hand and eating a King size Mars Bar in the other.
I don’t know why I agreed to this, I guess I have been weakened by Dan.
Matilda has turned to the camera and is talking to her followers:
“Hi there Till Fans!” she squeals, giving them a little wave.
“I have a treat for you beauty babes out there. Today I am going to be showing you how can knock 5 years (minimum people!) off your face using a fab new makeup technique!”
She turns to me and gives me a sugary smile. “For this special tutorial I needed to find someone with old skin so that I can show how much impact this technique can have!”
“Less of the old!” I mumble.
“So let me introduce my Mam to all you Till fans….isn’t she sweet?” Matilda squeals, smiling at the camera whilst giving me a hug.
I try to force out a smile at the camera.
“Mam’s off out tonight so she’s asked me to transform her so she can pull a nice rich fella?” says Matilda, dabbing at some palette with a brush.
“Do we have to mention my love life?” I whisper as my daughter starts to pat my face with a sponge.
My phone bleeps. Its Dan’s 35th of the day text apologising for last weekend.
I look down at my phone.
He is upset that things ended badly for us and I was forced to shove a cream cake in Clara’s face.
A fat tear rolls down my cheek, as this text is quickly followed by his 36th of the days which says that he cannot stop thinking about me, he is having trouble sleeping, eating and going to the gym.
“Errr Till your Mam’s weeping!” says Lou from behind the video camera.
Matilda takes one look at me and groans. She turns to the camera. “Mam’s a bit emoc – she had to split with a fella last week because he was all over another woman!”
“Love this family link up” Lou mumbles..
“Once the fellas see what I am going to do to your eyes and brows you will be inundated with offers!” exclaims Matilda.
I try to forget about Dan as Matilda layers on the makeup and gives her fans a running commentary.
“Ok – what do you think?’ asks Matilda giving me a mirror. “I have given you some amazeballs cheekbones and your eyes are BOSS!”
“OMG your Mam looks ACE!” says Lou.
I stare at my new sculptured eyebrows, smoky eyes, high cheekbones and plump pink glossy lips.
‘Its…um.. different Matilda’ I mumble, wondering whether my own office will recognise me.
Matilda turns to the camera and points to me “check out my transformed new Mam! She definitely looks under forty now!”
“I am thirty-six!” I screech.
“Are you really?” asks Lou.
“You look stunning!” says Matilda, packing away her makeup. ‘Its not easy transforming someone at your age’.
“Can we stop the recording now?” I say rising from the chair.
“Hang on!” says Lou, whispering something to Matilda.
They both frown at my dress.
“Mam what are you wearing?'” she says, pointing at my dress and shaking her head in disapproval. “It looks like something from a museum!”
I catch sight of my sensible flowery calf length dress.
“I know!” I say, slumping back down on the chair. ‘ I don’t feel like having a good time!”
Matilda turns to the camera. “Till fans – you know I will never let my love life impact my fashion choices!”
“Please can we stop this now?” I urge.
“There is no way I am letting my Mam here go out in that outfit!” Matilda barks. “She might be old but she can dress like a Till babe!”
“This is a great video!” says Lou still holding up the camera.
“You need to show the world that you are over that loser!’ barks Matilda with fiery eyes and a look of determination.
I shrug my shoulders.
Matilda talks to the camera. “Ok Till fans I am going to take Mam here upstairs and transform her! Back soon!”
I am marched upstairs and ordered to change into something more exciting. In my daughter’s book this means figure hugging, short and covered in sequins.
As I get to the top of the stairs Matilda shouts “no karaoke Mam!”
“What?” I shriek. Singing is one of my favourite pastimes.
“Listen to me Mam, no karaoke and definitely no Cher!” says Matilda.
“Matilda you know I love Cher”I say, feeling hurt that my own daughter has banned me from singing my music idol’s songs.
“Her songs bring you nothing but trouble!” warns Matilda.
“What about Bonnie Tyler?” I ask with desperation in my voice. “Can I sing Bonnie’s hits?”
“What happened last year Mam?” asks Matilda, folding her arms and shaking her head at me.
“I snogged Marcus over a photocopier!” I snap.
“What had you been singing beforehand?” asks Matilda.
I let out a howl of frustration.
“SAY IT!” barks Matilda.
“I had sung Bonnie’s pop classic ‘I need a hero!” I mumble.
“Exactly – now squeeze into this dress Mam!” orders Matilda.
“I can hardly breathe!” I gasp.
“Think of the fellas! OMG you look amazing!”
6.34 p.m. I am being paraded in front of the camera for Matilda to do her wrap up.
“Hi there Till Fans!” she squeals. “I know you have all been dying to see my Mam’s transformation”
“How do you know they have been dying to see this?” I ask Lou, standing off camera.
“A lot of tweets!” says Lou.
“Oh no Matilda hasn’t tweeted this has she?” I groan.
“Your video has already been Tweeted, pinned and posted” says Lou.
“Here is my Mam!” shouts Matilda, gesturing for me to come into view.
I walk in front of the camera.
“Doesn’t she look amazing?” speeches Matilda.
“She looks sic!” shouts Lou, making some bizarre hand movement.
“Till Fans I can read your minds – you are now thinking I am a #miracleworker!” screeches Matilda.
Lou whispers something to Matilda.
“Ok Till Fans – the question I am posing for you on Snapchat is – is my Mam hot or not?”
I groan and curse Dan.
7.02 P.M. Great Aunt Vera is on the phone to my son, Harry about his latest football trophy. I love the way Great Aunt Vera keeps a keen interest in my little family.
“MAM’ shouts Harry. “Great Aunt Vera says that you mustn’t sing or drink wine tonight!”
7.05 P.M. Brian, my 67-year-old land lord and emotional rock in life, is driving me to the office Christmas party. He is giving me one of his lectures.
“Roxy, listen to me. Don’t drink too much wine, don’t get emotional and whatever you do please don’t go near that singing machine!”
“I think you are being spoil sports!” I snap, looking out of the car window.
“It’s like you become someone else!” explains Brian.
“I enjoy myself you mean!” I say, as the hotel comes into view.
7.10 P.M. I am tottering into the hotel lobby wearing gigantic heels and minuscule dress.
“Hi everyone!” I cry out.
Silence descends the lobby as my office stare with big eyes and open mouths at my dress and makeup.
I let out a giggle and grab a champagne flute from a passing waiter.
As I bring it to buy lips I catch sight of Marcus, my senior manager. He holds my gaze for a little longer than necessary and then scans my outfit.
I must say he looks hot tonight with his fitted black suit and crisp white shirt. Must not think about photocopiers.
This champagne has already gone to my head as I feel a bit tingly. Better have another!
8.34 P.M. I am fighting the urge to sing.
Drink more wine and talk nonsense to work colleagues.
No one else sings like me. This is torture.
I am going to drown my sorrows, drink more wine, dance and pester DJ to put Cher on.
10.05 P.M. Consider my options of not singing tonight.
1. There could be a record producer staying at the hotel. This karaoke booth could be the platform that launches my glittering singing career.
2. Life is too short.
3. I may look back in years to come and regret not singing.
4. My family are tone deaf!
I think I will order another cocktail. There is someone hogging the bar area. I am just going to push past them and get myself a drink. “Excuse me barman – can I have a sex on the beach please!”
“Hello Roxy!” says a familiar voice.
“Oh Marcus!” I say, jumping in fright. I can’t believe I have just shoved Marcus out of the way.
“Are you having a nice time?” he asks, giving me an awkward look.
“I am struggling to make a decision!” I announce, taking my cocktail from the barman.
“Let me help!” says Marcus patting the stool next to him.
“Did you hear me sing last year?” I ask him.
He raises his eyebrows at me. “How can I forget you singing?” he replies.
“I really want to sing but my family say that I shouldn’t do it as I always get into trouble after Karaoke!” I say, sipping on my straw.
“Erm…welll…” says Marcus, shifting about on his stool.
I look away, feeling my cheeks start to heat up. Maybe I should slow down on the booze?
Cher is calling me.
11.14 P.M. I have taken over the karaoke booth and I am belting out my favourite Cher hit ‘Love and Understanding’.
I have transformed into a red-headed, younger version of Cher.
It is a topical Cher number for me. All I can think about is my failed relationship with Dan.
Maybe there should have been more love and understanding between us?
Maybe I was quick to finish it?
Maybe I should have been more understanding?
It’s like Cher is trying to tell me something.
I am mid-song and have broken down into flood of tears.
I still manage to finish the song. This, I feel, is what sets me apart from other amateur singers. I always finish a song!
Nick from Accounts appears. Apparently it is his turn. He tries to take the microphone away from me.
I drunkenly snatch it back and switch on Cher’s hit ‘If I could turn back time’.
People around me have their hands over their ears. My voice sounds amazing. If I auditioned for X Factor they would put me straight through to the finals.
I am putting all my heart and soul into the song now.
Yes! Out comes the female pop star in me. I am making some elaborate hand movements, shaking my head a lot and closing my eyes whilst singing my heart out.
If only Dan and I could turn back time?
Cher is doing it again – sending me messages through her hit records.
11.21 P.M. I am refusing to let my work colleagues have a go of the karaoke.
I have just switched on Cher’s ‘Believe’ number and I am doing a great job.
Tears are rolling down my cheeks. I have to believe in Dan! Yes!
This, I feel, sets me apart from other amateur singers, I can multi-task – cry and sing at the same time.
The song has ended and so has my singing marathon. Some strong arms help me out of the karaoke booth and steady me as my legs have gone wobbly.
I look up and see that its Marcus.
“Are you ok Roxy?” he asks.
“I am fine!” I slur. I push him out of the way and reach in my clutch bag for my phone.
“Do you want me to call you a taxi?” asks Marcus.
“I have to call Dan!” I slur, trying to press Dan’s number.
“Oh” says Marcus.
“He hurt me!” I say.
“I would never hurt you!” mumbles Marcus, holding my gaze again.
“I think I love him though!” I slur.
Marcus looks hurt. I don’t understand. He nods, giving me a serious expression and walks away.
“Dan!” I shout into my phone.
“You’re talking to me!” exclaims a happy sounding Dan.
“I have to tell you that there is not enough love and understanding in the world and that I believe in us!” I announce.
“I believe in us too!” says Dan.
“I want to see you with no kids and no best friends!” I say.
“Oh Roxy that would be amazing – yes! Just like Greece!” he replies.
I hiccup loudly. “We should get together soon!” I say.
“I really like you Roxy!” confesses Dan, sending a rush of excitement up my spine.
After telling Dan all the things I want to do to him once I get him alone I stagger back to the karaoke booth.
I grab hold of a shocked Nick from Accounts, who is chatting up some girl and select Meat Loaf and Cher’s ‘Dead Ringer For Love’.
“What are you doing?” asks Nick, as the girl gives me a filthy look from hauling her potential date into the karaoke booth.
“You are Meat Loaf and I am Cher – now sing!” I command.
Nick and I are rocking our duet.
I don’t think Meat Loaf looked as terrified as Nick currently does.
Whilst singing I catch sight of Marcus who takes one look at me and leaves the hotel.
12.08 a.m. Brian is helping me up my garden path. I can hardly walk. He is muttering to himself. ‘Cher has a lot to answer for!”