Welcome to The Diary of Roxy Collins – The Serious Relationship Series.
This serialised story (out every Thursday) is about Roxy Collins and the entries from her diary.
You can read about her emotional highs and lows, her motherhood challenges and her new serious relationship with Marcus, the man of her dreams.
Marcus lives on the posh side of town, he drives a flash car, is solvent and doesn’t mind her three spirited (polite term for nightmare) kids or the wobbly bits on her hips and thighs.
Can Roxy make this relationship work?
“We are a close family,” I explain to Marcus, placing a bowl of pasta in front of him. “Uncle Rick’s funeral will be a big event in the Collins’s family calendar.”
“Oh,” said Marcus, staring blankly at my latest culinary creation; cheesy pasta. Judging by his expression he expected more than cheesy pasta. As I have been culinary challenged since birth sprinkling cheese on boiled pasta shells is as much as I can manage. I don’t know what his problem is, my kids have been raised on this classic dish and there’s nothing wrong with them.
As he prods one of the pasta shells with his fork I carry on. “Family means a lot to me. We watch out for each other all the time, there’s no bad feelings and there’s nothing I wouldn’t do for my family,” I gush, beaming at each of my three children.
Last night I read a dating article on Facebook, which encouraged lots of family related conversations in the early stages of a relationship. According to this article its important for your date to see how much you enjoy your family.
On Thursday the kids and I have to attend the funeral of Uncle Rick, a relative who sadly died last week. I am hoping Uncle Rick’s funeral will demonstrate to Marcus how much family means to me. I love Facebook as its full of useful tips and life hacks.
“Uncle Rick – do I know him?” queries Matilda, looking up from her phone.
I take a swig of wine and glare at her. “You know Uncle Rick, Matilda, he used to come to Nana Lynn’s (my mother) Christmas dinners.”
After chucking a pasta missile at Toby, Harry shifts about in his chair and scratches his ear. “Yea I remember him coming to Nana Lynn’s house.”
A look of relief spreads across my face. “Do you have any nice memories of dear old Uncle Rick?”
Harry playfully punches Toby’s arm. “His dog had fleas and we all got flea bites.”
Matilda grunts. “Please tell me Uncle Rick wasn’t that weirdo relative with the manky looking dog on a dirty bit of string?”
Harry nods. “He was the one who used a lot of swear words.”
I let out a nervous laugh. “Oh come on, there must be something else you remember?”
Why do my kids have to focus on Uncle Rick’s faults? In my head I am trying to make contact telepathically with my son. What Marcus needs to hear right now is an idyllic memory of Uncle Rick playing a board game with one of the kids or teaching them how to fish or something. I can’t remember any of that happening but one of them could surprise me.
“He drank Nana Lynn’s wine and tried to kiss cousin Pete’s girlfriend,” shouts Harry, flinging more pasta at Toby.
I let out an inner groan. Toby flicks a piece of pasta at Harry, who ducks as it flies past, hitting Marcus on the cheek. In shock I rise quickly and race round to Marcus with a tea towel. “I’m so sorry,” I gush, dabbing his cheek.
A smile spreads across his rugged face. “It’s ok Roxy, I’m not injured,” he says, with a chuckle.
I give Toby and Harry an angry mother stare, before returning to my seat.
“Listen,” says Marcus, reaching across the table to lay his warm hand on mine. “I’d like to come on Thursday.”
Air gets trapped in my throat. Marcus wants to come to Uncle Rick’s funeral. Words fail me.
“It will be a good chance to meet your family,” says Marcus, giving my hand a stroke.
Matilda shakes her head in bewilderment. “Are you being serious? You actually want to go meet Mam’s family?”
I stop eating my plate of beetroot and lettuce to glare at my teenage daughter. “What’s wrong with my family?” I ask.
She flicks out her long brown hair, “Nana Lynn has been trying to divorce Grandpa Larry for years, Great Aunt Vera is nuts and your cousin Mags is a man-eater.”
“MATILDA!” I snap. “Nana Lynn loves Grandpa Larry very much…”
Harry lets out a snort of laughter. “Not when she caught him kissing that hairdresser woman in the shed.”
I glare at Harry as an awkward silence descends upon the table.
“My cousin Mags is not a man-eater,” I explain, desperately trying to defend my family. “She’s happily engaged to Vince.”
Matilda chokes on her juice. “Mam, she was on the pull the other night and ended up with some Greek bloke in a hotel.”
Marcus removes his hand from mine. This is a worrying sign.
“Kids, haven’t you got some homework to be doing?” I ask, trying to put an end to family time. I think Marcus has seen quite enough of my family tonight.
Matilda lets out a yawn. “Matt’s coming round in a minute. We are going to be practicing some cheerleading moves in……” Her voice fades away as she notices everyone is looking at her. “My bedroom.”
“You don’t have to come to Uncle Rick’s funeral,” I say, as Marcus and I cuddle up on the sofa.
He pulls me closer to him. I can feel his warm breath on my neck. “I want to support you Roxy, now stop talking and kiss me.”
My bathroom scales are broken. I have not put on THAT much weight in the space of a week! Seriously my scales are having a laugh.
For goodness sake I am on the beetroot, lettuce, and Pinot Grigio diet. I have not eaten anything except beetroot and lettuce for days so you would expect the weight to have fallen off me. In my head I should look like a stick.
I did worry about my Pinot Grigio intake increasing but the girl on Facebook who told me about her amazing diet explained her wine intake went up BUT she still lost weight.
Pinot Grigio is an essential part to this new diet. Eating nothing but beetroot and lettuce is a miserable way to lose weight. Wine keeps you smiling.
I reach for my phone. It is time to log onto Facebook and vent some of my dieting frustrations.
Before I can start a new post I catch sight of Orange Lorna’s latest tan photo. Her plump leg has been thrust in front of the camera. It is a weird yellowish colour to me and not the #justreturnedfromsomewhereexotic look she’s raving about. In the comments some concerned soul has misread her post and advised her to get her liver checked.
Useful Kim is claiming she has lost nearly a stone on her new herbal diet tablets, which she’s now selling on her new website. Apparently they are easy to swallow and make you go to the toilet a lot. She does look good in her photo.
I am starting to dislike Facebook.
I have decided not to post anything but instead concentrate my efforts on squeezing myself into my black funeral dress.
Marcus and I have entered the nursing home to collect Great Aunt Vera.
I stop Marcus. “Great Aunt Vera can be…”
He wraps his arm around my shoulders. “Hey, don’t worry, I’m good with little old women,” he says with a wink. “She’s probably grieving about Uncle Rick.”
I grimace and look away.
Great Aunt Vera is sat in her wheelchair in the hallway clutching her handbag and a collection of walking sticks.
‘She looks really sweet,’ says Marcus, quietly, as we walk towards her.
I take a deep breath and glance over my shoulder to make sure the kids are not misbehaving by the door. To my relief they are all stood staring at Matilda’s phone.
Great Aunt Vera raises her walking stick. She points it at Marcus. “Goodness me Roxy, how have you managed to date him!”
I can feel my cheeks reddening.
“Ailsa!” cries Great Aunt Vera, craning her neck back into the day room. “Come and see this hottie our Roxy is courting.”
“Nice car Mark,” purrs Great Aunt Vera, from the front passenger seat. I can see her stroking the red leather car seats.
Marcus clears his throat. “Its Marcus, not Mark.”
“I will have a car like this when I finish my exams and marry someone rich,” announces Matilda, before thumping Harry on the arm. Harry yelps and starts hitting Toby.
“Can everyone stop fighting?” I hiss.
Great Aunt Vera checks her watch. “Put your foot down Mark, Roxy’s kids are a nightmare!”
We are at Uncle Rick’s wake which is being held in the back room of Uncle Rick’s favourite pub.
Marcus comes to stand by me, clutching his plate of buffet food. “This has been quite an experience,” he says, under his breath.
I cast him a nervous smile, before stuffing a pork pie into my mouth. Uncle Rick wouldn’t have wanted me to eat miserable food at his funeral.
When I get back I am going to write a strongly worded email to the company who sold me those scales.
“Hello Roxy,” says a familiar voice. I turn to see Jon, my ex and Matilda’s father. “Come to pay my respects. Rick had a great sense of humour.”
Jon’s partner Paul offers his hand towards Marcus. “Nice to meet you, I’m Paul and this is my other half, Jon.”
Marcus shakes Paul and Jon’s hand.
I gesture towards Matilda engrossed in a conversation with the young barman. “Does she know you are here?”
Jon raises his eyebrows. “She told me to go away as she was busy.”
I grimace and stuff another pork pie into my mouth. My daughter is standing far too close to the young barman, making eyes at him and playing with her hair. For goodness sake today is supposed to be about saying farewell to a much loved relative.
Just reassuring myself. Matilda has a boyfriend called Matt and a lovely teenage relationship, which she assures me has not yet reached the sex stage. “We’re just very close friends, Mam,” she told me last night as they both staggered out of her bedroom, red faced and dishevelled. Perhaps Matilda is just being friendly with the barman.
Jon and Paul make their excuses and leave the wake.
“So what’s that story with you and Jon?” asks Marcus.
I reach for another pork pie. “We were childhood sweethearts and I got pregnant during college. He came out just before Matilda was born. If I am honest there were signs he wasn’t…you know….straight when we were dating.”
Marcus raises his eyebrows.
“I ignored all the signs. Then he went on a lads holiday and met Paul in a car park at the back of a Spanish nightclub. Its amazing who you can meet on holiday in the early hours…in a car park. Jon told me it was love at first sight with Paul.”
Marcus quickly changes the subject. “Great Aunt Vera is interesting,” he says. I turn to see Great Aunt Vera pointing a walking stick at what looks like a pile of fur and bones in the corner. I take a second glance and see that its Uncle Rick’s old dog. Is that thing still alive?
“Roxy,” cries Great Aunt Vera. “Rick’s dog needs a home.”
I smile and turn away quickly.
“What’s the matter?” asks Marcus, giving me a concerned look.
“There is no way I am being saddled with a flea ridden old dog,” I mumble.
“Roxy will take the dog,” says Great Aunt Vera to someone.
I spin round. “Look I can’t take him, my landlord has said no pets.”
Toby tugs at my arm. “Brian let me have Bob the Rat.”
Marcus raises his eyebrows at me.
“Rick would have wanted someone in the family to look after his dog,” says Great Aunt Vera, pointing her walking stick at me.
“Can’t my mother have him?” I do recall my mother getting soppy over dogs in the street when we were kids.
Great Aunt Vera shakes her head and points with her walking stick towards the buffet table. “Lynn has enough on her plate with your father, Roxy.” I look over to see my father making a young pretty waitress laugh.
To my horror Great Aunt Vera taps her wineglass. From her wheelchair she shouts, “can I have your attention, as you know poor old Rick’s dog needs a home and I have just asked our Roxy to make an old dog very happy.”
Everyone stops talking and looks in my direction. Silence descends upon the pub. Marcus is staring at me. The words from that Facebook article about relationships appear in my mind. I must show him how important family is to me.
“Ok…I will take one for the family and have the dog,” I sigh.
A huge cheer erupts and everyone raises their glasses.
We all watch as the barman walks the old dog towards us. It takes one look at me and flops onto the floor.
“It’s called Frank,” explains Great Aunt Vera. “Stupid name for an animal if you ask me.”
Marcus wipes his mouth with a napkin and loops his hand around my waist. “I hope you are not going to spend all your free time with Frank now?”
The barman hands me the dirty string lead and smiles.
There is a deafening squeal. I let out an inner groan as my beautiful and wild cousin, Mags, throws her arms around me. “Roxy,” she cries. “Sorry I couldn’t talk to you in the church or the crem.”
I pull away and try to breathe through the thick cloud of her expensive perfume. “Its ok Mags.”
If I am honest I am thankful we haven’t had a chance to speak to Mags. It’s not that I don’t love my cousin, I do, it’s just she’s a tall willowy blonde with a golden tan, large sea blue eyes and a collection of Facebook photos, showing her lounging by her hot tub, in a selection of tiny thong bikinis, laughing into the camera with her pretty symmetrical face.
Why do only beautiful people get given symmetrical faces? The rest of us poor souls have to put up with wonky facial features.
Marcus’s face is symmetrical.
“Aren’t you going to introduce me?” Mags purrs, staring at Marcus.
I quickly look around for Vince, Mags’s fiance. “Where’s Vince?” I ask.
Mags let out a little sigh. “We’ve split up.”
I gasp. Matilda was right.
Mags nods. “I need some time to myself.” Her eyes flick to Marcus. He shifts awkwardly by my side.
“This is Marcus,” I mumble, noticing how her miniscule navy shirt dress hugs her tiny frame and her bare legs are slim and tanned.
“Nice to meet you,” Mags whispers.
Marcus clears his throat. “Nice to meet you too.”
Mags leans in to give me an air kiss. “I better go Roxy, I am such a busy bee these days.”
We both watch her totter away.
Marcus, Frank and I are at the bar. He’s buying me a gin and tonic as he thinks I am a little quiet. Since Mags left us I have been swamped with negative thoughts. She looks like someone who Marcus should date. He shouldn’t be dating a dumpy red-head, who is spilling out of her cheap black dress, which I might add feels like it’s two sizes too small for her, has the name of her line manager Martin, tattooed onto her right shoulder and is now the proud owner of a flea infested old dog called Frank.
“Are you going to tell me what’s on your mind?” he asks, pulling me to him.
I shake my head and then I am rudely interrupted by Great Aunt Vera.
“Roxy, I see you have entered a singing competition,” she croaks, pointing her walking stick at me. “I saw it on Twitter.”
Marcus is now staring in surprise at Great Aunt Vera.
She places the walking stick beside her and delves into her handbag. A toothless smile spreads across her face, as she slides out a mobile phone. “Mark, did you know the elderly generation have taken to Twitter?”
Marcus dabs at his forehead with his blue silk handkerchief.
A huge crash makes everyone gasp. I look over to see Harry and Toby fighting over a collapsed buffet table. Food has been flung everywhere and I can feel a hundred pair of eyes on me.
As two tear stained boys stomp upstairs to their room I stand on the doorstep and stare into Marcus’s piercing blue eyes. He cups my face with his warm hands and kisses me gently on the lips.
“Thank you for letting me to come to say farewell to Uncle Rick,” he whispers, after pulling back for air.
“Sorry you had to witness my kids wrecking the place,” I whisper.
A smile spreads across his handsome face. “I can’t believe you have grounded them both until they are twenty-one.”
I try can feel my cheeks heating up. The memory of screaming at Harry and Toby in front of my entire family comes rushing back to me.
“You didn’t have to come,” I mumble, before he kisses me again.
Stroking my hair he smiles at me. “It was a pleasure. Your family is really welcoming. I can’t believe your cousin Mags has already sent me a Facebook friend request and I have had a tweet from Great Aunt Vera.”
This is the last time I will ever follow advice from an article I read on Facebook.
There will be more from Roxy next week.
If you need to catch up on previous episodes – please click here.