Welcome to The Diary of Roxy Collins – The Serious Relationship Series.
Every Thursday you can read Roxy’s diary entries.
They record the emotional highs and lows of her new serious relationship with Marcus, the man of her dreams. He lives on the posh side of town, drives a flash car and doesn’t mind her wild kids or the wobbly bits on her hips and thighs. Has Roxy finally found true love?
How will their new relationship survive when Roxy enters the TV talent show ‘Search For a Star?
“Mam,” whines Toby, “I wanted a trampoline birthday party.”
I exhale loudly and take out the oven tray of sausage rolls. “We talked about this, Toby. I can’t afford a trampoline party, so I have given you the next best thing.”
Money is tight. Rob has stopped paying me maintenance for Harry and Toby because his barmaid girlfriend is pregnant and Jon, Matilda’s Dad, has gone to Croatia for a month, without giving me any money.
I hate relying on my ex’s payments, but my wages are tiny, all the kids have birthdays coming up and Brian, my landlord, has increased my rent.
Matilda snorts with laughter behind me. “A family birthday party at home for Toby.”
Toby groans. “I didn’t want a party with ALL my family.”
Harry thumps his brother. “Weirdo.”
I whirl round with my tray of sausage rolls. “Toby, we are even going to play some party games. Stop moaning.”
Matilda grins. “Musical chairs with Great Aunt Vera. So many LOLs. You do know she always wins.”
“Will Marcus come round?” Toby’s question makes me flinch.
There’s been no word from Marcus since he broke up with me at the restaurant last week.
I place the sausage rolls onto a wire cooling tray. “Probably not, Toby, but your Dad is coming.”
Toby chucks something across the table. “I don’t want another pet fish. None of Dad’s fish make Christmas.”
I let out a sigh and pray Rob has not got Toby another rough-looking fish. Last year’s fish was floating on top of the bowl within a week.
Matilda comes to stand next to me and tries to snatch one of the sausage pies. I bat her hand away.
“So, when do the live TV shows start?” she asks, resting her head against the cupboard.
I look away.
“Mam?” Matilda shakes my arm.
She knows I turned down Hugo Rocco but she doesn’t know I pulled out of the live shows, hours before Marcus dumped me.
“Mam, answer me!” My teenage daughter scowls at me. “I hope you haven’t done anything stupid.”
I stuff a sausage roll into my mouth.
She waits for me to gulp it back.
There’s no escape from her piercing stare.
“I pulled out.”
Matilda lets out a scream. “WHAT?”
“I sent an email to the TV company, I thought it would help my relationship with Marcus.”
She puts her face in her hands. “Never stop chasing your dreams for a man, even I know that!”
Words fail me so I gobble down another sausage roll.
Matilda removes her hands and looks at me. “Email them now. Tell them you got carried away and made a silly mistake!”
I shake my head. “Hugo Rocco will lead me astray.”
Matilda nods and points a manicured pink finger nail at me. “We need to get out of this rented hell hole, Mam. I love Brian to bits but this house is falling apart. You need to get off with Hugo Rocco and move us all onto his fancy yacht. I want you to know I am okay with that.”
I roll my eyes at her. “Matilda, I am not getting off with Hugo Rocco just so that we can move onto his yacht. Anyway, I think he must have been drunk or something when he wrote me those messages. Have you seen the latest French model he’s rumoured to be dating?”
My mind recalls the stick insect like model pictured strutting her stuff down the model runway at some fashion show in Milan.
“Mam, he likes you because you have proper bumps and curves, plus you walk like a girl boss in heels.” Matilda gives me a wink.
I can’t help but laugh. “A girl boss? I don’t think I have ever been called that!”
Toby is tugging on my arm. “Mam, the family are here. Malcolm says our family make him feel nervous.”
I ruffle Toby’s hair. “Don’t listen to Malcolm.”
Harry leads in Uncle Bob, Cousin Mags, my mother and Aunty Florence into the lounge. Vince, cousin Mags’s on / off fiancé is wheeling in Great Aunt Vera.
Mystic Clive’s tweet this morning comes back into my mind. My favourite astrologer had tweeted, ‘Gemini – keep an eye on an elderly relative today!’
Great Aunt Vera is looking a bit pale and is frantically waving her walking stick at me.
Maybe Mystic Clive is trying to tell me something about Great Aunt Vera’s health?
I rush over to my Great Aunt with Mystic Clive’s tweet in my head.
“You look a bit peaky, are you not feeling yourself, Great Aunt Vera?” I ask, bending down to stroke her hand.
Even though she’s an old battle-axe at times, enjoys speaking her mind and is constantly meddling in everyone’s affairs, I am very fond of Great Aunt Vera.
She gives me an odd look. “Roxy, I am not at the pearly gates yet if that’s what you are thinking. Now, get up and bring me my gravy boat of Gin and a cigar.”
Uncle Bob, her son leans over and places a hand on her shoulder. “The doctor said you were to lay off the Gin and cigars, Mum.”
Great Aunt Vera snaps her head round to glare at Bob. “I am ninety years old, do you really think I am going to listen to some doctor, who looks about twelve, telling me to stop enjoying myself?”
Matilda pushes me out-of-the-way and hands Great Aunt Vera my white china gravy boat filled with Gordon’s Gin, a glass and a cigar.
“Thank you, Matilda, you know how to make an old lady very happy. Vince can push me outside in a sec so I can smoke my cigar.” Great Aunt Vera nods at Vince, who grimaces.
“Happy birthday, Toby!” My mother, Uncle Bob and Aunty Florence all shout in unison. Toby stands up and takes a bow.
Great Aunt Vera tips up the gravy boat and fills her glass with Gin. “Happy birthday Toby. Now, tell me, Matilda, has your mother started dating Hugo Rocco yet?”
After taking a brief look at me Matilda turns back to Great Aunt Vera. “She dumped him for Marcus and pulled out of the live TV shows.”
All the family gasp and Uncle Bob grabs a paper napkin to dab his sweaty forehead.
Great Aunt Vera stares at me with angry dark eyes. “Carry on Matilda.”
I nervously shift my weight from red stiletto to red stiletto.
“Marcus finished with her last week.”
My cousin Mags lets out a blood curdling scream, my mother turns away and Great Aunt Vera, without taking her attention off me, drains her glass of Gin.
An uncomfortable silence descends upon the room.
Great Aunt Vera speaks first after handing her empty glass to Harry and raising a walking stick at me. “Let me get this straight, Roxy. You ditched the rich celebrity and your TV career for this ex boss of yours and then he dumped you?”
“Yes,” I croak.
“Had you been on the wine again, Roxy?”
I shake my head. “I thought stopping the TV shows would make our relationship work. Marcus didn’t like me spending so much time away from him and he got jealous.”
Great Aunt Vera glares at me. “Why are you giving up on your dreams for a man? Look at what happened to your mother, didn’t you learn anything from her?”
We all glance at my mother who squirms on the sofa.
“What do you mean, Vera?” My mother casually laughs and scratches her neck.
“Lynn, you could have been a successful tropical dancer if you had not listened to Mick.” Great Aunt Vera gives my mother a knowing nod.
I let out an inner groan.
“Is there any need to bring up my time at the Blue Lagoon Private Members bar, Vera?” My mother’s voice is now tinged with irritation.
Great Aunt Vera smiles. “Calm down Lynn. I am just trying to make a point. You let Mick talk you out of chasing your dreams. If you had carried on impressing the punters at the Blue Lagoon, this family could have gone places!”
Toby shakes my arm. “What’s a tropical dancer? Malcolm thinks it’s best I ask you.”
Great Aunt Vera turns to Toby. “A special kind of dancer, Toby. When she was younger Nana Lynn was quite a dancer.”
Harry scratches his head. “Did you dance abroad, Nana, somewhere tropical?”
I dive into save my mother. “She danced to tropical music, Harry.”
Toby tugs on my blouse. “Malcolm says you are keeping something from us. He thinks there is more to this Blue Lagoon Private Members Club.”
I bat his hand away. “Malcolm needs to keep his imaginary nose out of our business.”
Great Aunt Vera bangs her walking stick. “Now, let’s get back to the current family problem.”
She prods Matilda with her stick. “How do we put this situation with your mother right?”
Matilda shrugs. “We could try emailing the TV company.”
Great Aunt Vera clicks her fingers and Harry quickly passes over her black handbag. We all watch her take out her phone. “Matilda, you sort the email, I will do the rest.”
“But you don’t know my email password…” I say, trying to grab Matilda as she heads for my laptop.
“Roxy, your teenage daughter knows you better than you know yourself,” says Great Aunt Vera, tapping something into her phone.
A knock at the front door makes us all jump.
“This better not be anymore family,” moans Toby. “So far, this birthday party of mine has been rubbish.”
Great Aunt Vera exhales loudly and pours herself another Gin. “I am gasping for my cigar.”
Harry opens to the door to Rob, my ex. He proudly walks in carrying a goldfish in a bowl full of slopping water. “Here you are, son,” he says to Toby, “happy birthday!”
Toby pulls a face and runs off with the fish into the kitchen. Rob, sensing he has an audience, turns round to find all my family staring at him.
He jumps when he spots Great Aunt Vera in her wheelchair.
“Robert,” she croaks. “What a lovely surprise!”
A look of fear spreads across Rob’s face. Stifling a loud groaning sound from his beer belly he races for the front door.
For some unknown reason Rob has always been terrified Great Aunt Vera. He claims she gives him nightmares, to me she’s just a sweet old woman.
I rush after him. “Rob, I could do with my child maintenance payment.”
He slips past me, out of the door and into the night.
“He’ll change his tune when you are with the rich celebrity, Roxy,” croaks Great Aunt Vera.
I let out a long stream of air and try to remain calm.
“Vincent!” barks Great Aunt Vera, prodding him with her walking stick. “Cigar time.”
“I win!” cries Great Aunt Vera, lifting her playing cards into the air.
“I saw you cheating!” shouts Toby, jumping up from the table. “You were looking at my cards.”
Great Aunt Vera glares at Toby. “Don’t speak to your elders like that, young man.”
We all watch Great Aunt Vera take the prize winnings put up by Uncle Bob.
“She’s such a girl boss!” Matilda is gazing at Great Aunt Vera. “She never loses.”
We are all playing musical chairs. There’s only Great Aunt Vera and I left in the game.
Uncle Bob has stopped the music and I am trying to get to the last chair, but Vince, who is pushing Great Aunt Vera in her wheelchair, is gaining on me. A walking stick takes out my legs and sends me flying onto the sofa, along with the plastic chair. Vince pulls Great Aunt Vera to a stop in the remaining spot. “I win!” shrieks Great Aunt Vera, holding aloft her walking stick.
The family watch as I pick myself up from the sofa.
“Great Aunt Vera always wins!” groans Toby.
Matilda lets out a sigh. “She’s very inspirational.”
Mystic Clive was right about keeping an eye on Great Aunt Vera.
The family have left, the kids are in bed and I am busy picking up the litter in the lounge.
A knock at the door makes me look up. I go to the door and open it to find a dishevelled and unshaven Marcus, holding a present.
“Hi,” he says, managing a weak smile. “I wanted to give Toby this.”
I stand aside and gesture for him to come in. He shakes his head. “Will you give it to him for me?”
We stand and stare at each other for what feels like an eternity.
He steps closer to me and places a strand of red hair behind my ear. “I have missed you, Roxy.”
My heart performs a series of flips. “Oh Marcus,” I whisper.
He hangs his head. “I’m sorry for what happened in the restaurant. Just needed to get my head sorted out.”
“It’s okay,” I croak, fighting back an army of tears.
Marcus lifts his head. “I have never felt like this before, about anyone. You drive me crazy, I can’t eat, I can’t sleep and I can’t stop thinking about you.
I rest my head on his shoulder and breathe in the reassuring smell of his spicy cologne. “So why did you walk away from me?”
He strokes my hair. “Please believe me, I am in new relationship territory here. No woman has ever made me feel like this. I don’t think I have ever been jealous of any girlfriend. It’s not my style. Roxy, I feel like a mad man.”
I grip onto his shoulder and he nestles his face in my hair.
A noise behind me makes us both jump. Matilda is at the door, holding my laptop. “OMG Mam,” she shrieks, “you are back in the live shows. My email and Great Aunt Vera’s tweets worked!”
“What?” I gasp.
“The producer says you are back in the show. Isn’t that fab, Mam? You can get off with Hugo Rocco….”. She stops and catches sight of who is stood by me on the doorstep. “Oh…hello, Marcus.”
“Goodbye, Roxy.” Marcus turns and walks off into the night.
There will be more Roxy next week!