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MINI SHOPAHOLIC EBOOK

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The title is a bit of a play on words, because Becky Brandon nee Bloomwood has had a daughter, Minnie… and she really is a little Mini Shopaholic! She can create havoc everywhere, from Harrods to Harvey Nicks to her own christening. To cheer everyone up, Becky decides to throw a surprise birthday party on a budget, but then things become really complicated. Not my two-year-old daughter. It was all going so well.

And that Santa was a total wimp. We wrecked the sleigh, trying to get her off a reindeer.

She just knows her own mind! Exactly the same. Mum always says the right thing. He looks as though some new and alarming thought has transfixed him. This is what Christmas is all about. Mulled wine and mince pies and White Christmas on the telly. Mum and Dad are really generous. I put the books in boxes. No one ever read them, anyway. And I keep all my make-up on the dining table, which is the ideal size, in fact it could have been designed for make-up. Luke finishes wrapping a jigsaw puzzle, reaches for a Magic Drawing Easel, then looks around the room and frowns.

Although to be honest, I was a bit taken aback myself. Have some more mulled wine! I have a sudden alluring image of myself walking down the street with Minnie. Here you are. So much for marital telepathy. Maybe I should introduce the subject by stealth.

Mind you, Tarkie is Tarkie sweet, unsuspicious, usually thinking about Wagner or sheep. Which I am NOT.

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At least, nearly all the pieces. For an instant I wonder whether Luke even heard. Then he raises his head, looking totally astonished.

I think we should have a little brother or sister for Minnie. How on earth would we control two? You saw the way she behaved today. Not to mention the incident at Harvey Nichols and the fiasco at my office. I want to have two children in matching pom-pom hats. I want Minnie to have a lifelong friend and not grow up an only child. And I want our children to be close in age, not years apart. That you never want another baby? He looks exactly like someone putting off talking about something which is a sore point.

I watch in growing dismay. Since when was having a second baby a sore point? One day. Having Minnie has been … amazing. Enjoy Christmas, enjoy being the three of us. Wenceslas or Snowflake. I bet Minnie will be an angel tomorrow. He probably never wanted any children at all.

He probably resents me and Minnie. He probably wishes he was still a bachelor, zooming around in his sports car all day long. I knew it. He puts it down on the carpet and gently pulls out an old toy theatre. Where did you find that? I had one when I was a child, exactly like this. Same sets, characters, everything. No, not Puck. The other one. It was like going into a different world.

Look, all the sets are on runners. I take it back. What I need to do is have a little Mummy — Minnie chat. Explain the situation to her. Everyone knows that. She just wanted us all to see her stocking. Anyone else would have done the same. I take a sip of coffee and happily reach for a Quality Street. God, I love Christmas. I head into the hall to see her at the door of the kitchen in her Santa apron.

Novelty games or luxury gifts? Just a few things to clear up here first. Cheers, Gary. In fact I think we should do it every year. It could be a family tradition. Two, I need to finalize this agreement today. I heard her and Mum talking the other day and Janice is obviously gagging to hold another wedding. Total cow, take it from me. Suze is stunning in a black shearling coat, her long blonde hair streaming down, Tarquin is the same as ever in an ancient old Barbour, and the three children are all gangly legs and huge eyes and Fair Isle jumpers.

Happy Christmas! There are so many of them, they should issue a crib sheet. I solemnly shake it, then scoop him up in a bearhug till he giggles. Merry Christmas! Which was really tragic and everything, but there again, he was ninety-six.

Plus, they now have even more squillions of money and land and stuff than they had before. Their new house is in Hampshire, only about half an hour away from here. Well, it probably was. Well, Suze will love. Such a surprise. Does he mean tux? Is he a breeder? Is it single-breasted? I gave him a tup. An uncastrated sheep. What kind of Christmas present is that? An uncastrated sheep! Er … lovely. Sure enough, Suze is scrolling through pictures on her phone, and turns it to show me a photo of Tarkie in a tweed jacket, perched on a vintage penny-farthing.

Minnie darling, come and see your friends! My heart freezes. Oh no, oh no. How did she get hold of that? I see the whole thing as if in slow motion: Suze gasping and shrinking back, and Tarquin diving in front of her, and the ketchup landing in a massive blob on his Barbour. I wonder if Luke would take a hit of tomato ketchup for me. I might ask him later.

Ebook mini shopaholic

Just casually. And in return she sent me some photos of her and Tarkie grouse-beating, or pigeon-shooting, or whatever they were doing. Suze is so sweet and loyal, just like the Queen, she never once complains. But honestly, where would you rather be? On some freezing-cold moor, or in Selfridges with 70 per cent off? My Ally Smith limited-edition cardigan with the famous signature button. Was it on sale? Only a hundred and ten pounds.

Christmas presents and the sales are totally different. He turns and studies me for a moment — then the cardigan again. Then he frowns as though something is puzzling him. How can you say that?

And this one has flared sleeves. Sometimes I wonder how someone so unobservant can be so successful in life. At least.

He bangs it shut and heads out again. They make it on one of the farms. What else does Suze suddenly now own? Chocolate HobNobs? Ooh, that would be cool. Maybe … a box a year? I come back up to find Suze wandering around the cluttered room and picking over my stuff, like she always does.

Two whole years! Especially Minnie. Every time one of our house downloads fell through, they were secretly really glad, Mum once told me. Your poor mum will need loads of support. Maybe you can fix up some counselling! I mean, we need our own space. So come on, show me the house! What does it need doing to it? It would make such a statement. Have you got an Alexander Wang bag? You never showed me! Which I still think was a good idea. Why not?

Maybe their houses would look better if they did! The trouble is, I want my house to look like all of them. All at once.

But Luke wants to store his boring old wine there and do wine-tastings. We could do Pilates together! It would be so cool! His love of zillion-pound wine, when you could download a really nice Pinot Grigio for a tenner and spend the rest on a skirt. And one for make-up. Did Luke agree to that? This is why I should have married Suze. She understands me. I want him to want another baby. Ernie looked so adorable, and we thought how lovely it would be to give him a brother or sister, so we decided to go for it.

But I have to be brave. Really, truly honest? OK, now I instantly want to know how many times she has sex. It must be never. Or maybe all the time. I bet she and Tarkie— Anyway. What if she says yes? No children are perfect. Are you kidding? His teacher keeps calling us in.

Tarquin thinks Wagner is the only music worth listening to and he plays it to all his children, every night. But last time I visited he told me the whole story of something called the Somethingsingers and it went on for hours and I nearly seized up with boredom. How dare anyone upset Suze? And who are these morons, anyway? In fact, maybe I should come along to the meeting at the school and express my views.

You should get a nanny. Still your mum? As far as I can tell the programme never varies. God, maybe Suze is right. Maybe Minnie needs more routine. Trust me. This is the solution. A nanny! I have an image of a cross between Mary Poppins and Mrs Doubtfire, all cosy with an apron and a spoonful of sugar and lots of wise, homespun words.

The whole place will be calm and smell of baking bread. Minnie will become an angel child who sits quietly making constructive Play-Doh in a pinafore, and Luke will instantly drag me off to bed and ravish me. I mean, it would be worth it just for the ravishing. My jaw sags slightly as I scroll down. Bloody hell. They look like Elle McPherson. Our modern, trained nannies are loving, trustworthy and educated.

Mini Shopaholic

Ultimate Nannies are highly qualified in child nutrition, safety, cultural enrichment and creative play. I feel totally inadequate as I scroll through pictures of smiley girls with long shiny hair cooking vegetable risottos, bouncing balls in the garden, or dressed up in judo kit. No wonder Minnie has tantrums. Suddenly making jam tarts in the kitchen with Mum seems totally lame.

We have to hire an Ultimate Nanny, as soon as possible. The only thing is — tiny point — do I want some shiny-haired girl dancing around the place in her tight jeans and sushi-making apron? What if she and Luke really hit it off?

I hesitate for a moment, my hand hovering over the mouse-pad. Come on. I have to be mature here. I have to think of the benefits to Minnie. Plus, if the nanny is really sexy and swishy-haired, I can arrange her hours so Luke never sees her. This is the answer! Bring in the experts. Or day-care.

Or even babysitters. I mean, not every nanny can be a stalker impersonating a dead woman with the FBI on her tail, surely? I head downstairs and find Suze with Luke and Tarquin in the sitting room. Find a story, a personality, a USP, an angle.

Establish your brand values. Tarquin, on the other hand, looks like a rabbit caught in the headlights. Build an effective business team, strategize, and go from there. He shoots an agonized glance at Suze, twists his hands and clears his throat. Business manager of the entire estate, all my concerns.

Any salary. Any terms. That would be amazing. Would we live in a castle? Oh my God. We could have our own tartan! Hot pink with silver and black.

Or … or … a summer in our house in France? What about Jess and Tom? Oh my God! I hurry into the hall, followed by Suze, and there she is. As tall and thin and toned as ever, with a deep tan and cropped hair bleached by the sun, in a grey hoody over faded black jeans. We just saw Luke rushing off. Hi, Suze.

Hi, Tom! Texts are instant, Graham. The human voice. Edgier than before, unshaven and leaner round the cheeks. On her fourth finger! On her engagement finger! This is so cool. Another family wedding!

Minnie can be a bridesmaid! Tom has disappeared and Jess is bending over her rucksack, oblivious of us. Mum starts mouthing something long and elaborate above her head. Then she starts gesturing, and I get a fit of the giggles.

You must be exhausted. Trust Jess to get engaged all discreetly and not say a word. Look at my pebble ring! Welcome back! I follow Mum into the kitchen, where the children are all sitting in front of The Little Mermaid. We make the tea and cut the children some ham sandwiches, all the time whispering about the ring and when Jess and Tom are going to tell everyone. Let them tell us in their own time. As I sit down I glance out of the window and see Tarquin with Ernie in the garden.

With nonexistent rods. I knew he was talented. He should be at fish-catching school. But Tom and Jess say nothing. Then her face lights up. We all watch, mesmerized, as Jess takes the ring off, applies hand cream, then puts the ring back on, without saying a word. Nice try, Janice, I feel like saying. Good effort. Good for you, making your own. Guatemalan kids are getting asthma, making them. They said they were helping people, not giving them asthma! And what am I going to give Jess now? A great big sack.

I know how much you like them. And you can use the sack afterwards as organic recycled luggage. You really have to come to a decision, love.

OK, the truth is, we had a slight argument. Luke was totally unreasonable about Dior. And Temperley. And no way was I agreeing to Gertrude, even if it is from Shakespeare. The trouble is, the more time goes by the harder it gets. Anything to tell? Big, small … anything? Anything at all? They really are! Suze winks at me and I grin back happily.

Did they have to do it in Chile in some tiny registry office with only two witnesses and not even let us watch on Skype? We could have had a party. We could have toasted them.

They drank some local beer, apparently. No wedding dress. No flowers. No photo album. No champagne. The only single thing she got out of her wedding was a husband.

I mean, obviously the husband is the main point when you get married. That goes without saying. But still, not even a new pair of shoes? And poor old Janice! As they announced the news, her face rose and fell like a rollercoaster.

Except that a tiny tear in the corner of her eye gave her away. Janice looked so miserable, I nearly volunteered to instead. I finish doing my lipgloss and stand back to survey my reflection. I just hope Janice is more cheerful today. I smooth my outfit down and do a little twirl in front of the mirror. Minska Katinka Karenina Brodsky Brandon.

Take off that hat. Plus I might rip the feather. And does it really matter if she wears a hat? Shall we find it? Miiiiine bag! To be fair, she does have a point. The Balenciaga bag is way nicer than her own little toy bag.

But just for today. Minnie looks so gorgeous. Maybe Suze is right. Speaking of Luke, where is he? How are u doing? I text him quickly. On way back I hope? There are flower arrangements in the hall, and glasses being arranged on the hall table.

Pure silk. Such good quality. I should have known this would happen. And sake. Thanks, Noreen.

Mini Shopaholic (Kobo eBook)

What is the point of having a theme if people ignore it and set up their own totally different theme, without even telling you? Japanese-Russian fusion. New theme for today is Russian-Japanese fusion. C u later! How do I do that??? Sx Chopsticks in hair? I reply. Mum has already produced some black lacquer chopsticks and is trying to stick them into my hair. God knows what this mammoth, mega work crisis is. I take out my phone again and text him: R u nearly back??

Where r u???? A moment later a reply pings back: Doing best. L Doing best? Is he in the car or not? I feel a sudden pain under my ribs.

The caterers have finished setting up. I feel a bit dreamlike. Where is he? How can he not be here? Dear Luke, we are going to church. You are missing christening. I can tell that Mum and Dad are almost killing themselves with restraint, not laying into Luke.

But it might not happen. Becky, so sorry. Still here. Will take helicopter asap. Wait for me. L I stare at my phone in slight disbelief. All of a sudden I feel a bit cheered up. In fact, I almost forgive him for disappearing off and being so mysterious. May be a little while yet. Come on, Becky. Say no. Be a good parent. Walk away. My hand steals out and strokes the mane again. Look at its dear little face.

A toy pony might be just the spur she needs. There has to be a way in which I can simultaneously: 1. Be a good parent and 3. download the pony. And then the answer comes to me. I haul out my phone and text Luke: Luke! Have just had a really good thought. I think Minnie should get pocket money. Immediately a reply pings back: Wtf? So she can download things, of course! I start to type — then think again.

I delete the text and carefully type instead: Children need to learn about finance from early age. Read it in article. Empowers them and gives responsibility. Shut up, I type. R u mad? I stare at the phone indignantly.

Where r u anyway? Nearly time for Father Christmas!! OK, whatever. Easily enough. God, why on earth have I never thought of pocket money before? I turn to Minnie, feeling rather proud of myself. But as a special treat, you can download it for yourself out of your own pocket money.

I was dying for Luke to call me as a witness. I had my outfit ready and everything. Navy pencil skirt, white shirt with ruffle, patent courts. And then I ask you to look at the two men before you. So I did, even though the frustration nearly killed me. Now Luke exhales and pushes his hands through his hair.

This whole thing has nearly wiped Luke out. In all sorts of ways. The case is over! In fact, several times.

This house has got everything going for it. I feel a sudden burst of exhilaration. I have to go and download Livingetc, right now. His face is averted and his chin is stiff. I was in Waterstones, waiting for the call about Arcodas. The new Ruth Rendell. She was only ill for a month and then she was gone and it absolutely hit Luke for six. She brought him up, and she understood him like no one else, and the worst thing is, he hardly saw her before she died. There was nothing he could do.

But even so, I know he does. It makes sense, since she abandoned him and his dad when Luke was tiny. But he was on fairly civil terms with her when she blew it, big time. Something about Annabel. Which is fine by me. As I look up at Luke I feel a little squeeze in my heart.

The strain of this year has really hit him hard. No reason, really. Just because the shops are nicer to look at. Like the bespoke jewellers … and that shop with the silk flowers … and Enfant Cocotte, which is full of hand-made rocking horses and designer wenge cribs. My pace has slowed right down and I take a step towards the brightly lit window, full of creeping lust.

Look at all these gorgeous things. Look at the tiny rompers, and the little blankets. If we had another baby, we could get all new lovely blankets. He should understand me. The crappy old pram Minnie had is completely bust. Not that I want another baby just to get a cool pram, obviously.

But it would be an added bonus. About … us. I mean … all of us. Our family. Including Minnie. Never mind. She beams around and taps the microphone for attention. Will it be a teddy? Or a scooter? Well done, Becky! There must be loads of little girls here called Becky. They should have warned me. Throw mine away. Is Minnie your dolly, love?

No one was supposed to see that! After a few moments her face softens. She folds the paper and hands it back to me. Happy Christmas. My stomach flips over. What exactly did he hear? He did hear his name, I can tell. A wife has an unerring instinct for these things. How the hell did she get up there? After three. Oh … fuck. But the whole bloody sleigh is collapsing. All the presents are falling off the sleigh on to the fake snow.

Her eyes range meanly over me and Mum, and even Janice and Martin, who have appeared out of nowhere, both wearing festive jumpers with reindeers on and clutching Christmas Discount Shop bags. Your daughter is hereby banned from the Grotto. In total mortification, I take the handles of the buggy. We all trudge out in miserable silence, to see Dad rushing up in his waterproof jacket, his greying hair a bit dishevelled.

Have you seen Father Christmas, Minnie darling? Oh, love. And that Santa was a total wimp. We wrecked the sleigh, trying to get her off a reindeer. She just knows her own mind! Exactly the same. Mum always says the right thing. He looks as though some new and alarming thought has transfixed him. This is what Christmas is all about.

Mulled wine and mince pies and White Christmas on the telly. Mum and Dad are really generous. I put the books in boxes. No one ever read them, anyway.

And I keep all my make-up on the dining table, which is the ideal size, in fact it could have been designed for make-up. Luke finishes wrapping a jigsaw puzzle, reaches for a Magic Drawing Easel, then looks around the room and frowns.

Although to be honest, I was a bit taken aback myself. Have some more mulled wine! I have a sudden alluring image of myself walking down the street with Minnie. Here you are. So much for marital telepathy. Maybe I should introduce the subject by stealth. Mind you, Tarkie is Tarkie sweet, unsuspicious, usually thinking about Wagner or sheep.

Which I am NOT. At least, nearly all the pieces. For an instant I wonder whether Luke even heard. Then he raises his head, looking totally astonished.

I think we should have a little brother or sister for Minnie. How on earth would we control two? You saw the way she behaved today. Not to mention the incident at Harvey Nichols and the fiasco at my office.

I want to have two children in matching pom-pom hats. I want Minnie to have a lifelong friend and not grow up an only child. And I want our children to be close in age, not years apart. That you never want another baby? He looks exactly like someone putting off talking about something which is a sore point. I watch in growing dismay. Since when was having a second baby a sore point?

One day. Having Minnie has been … amazing. Enjoy Christmas, enjoy being the three of us. Wenceslas or Snowflake. I bet Minnie will be an angel tomorrow.

He probably never wanted any children at all. He probably resents me and Minnie. He probably wishes he was still a bachelor, zooming around in his sports car all day long. I knew it. He puts it down on the carpet and gently pulls out an old toy theatre. Where did you find that? I had one when I was a child, exactly like this. Same sets, characters, everything. No, not Puck. The other one. It was like going into a different world.

Look, all the sets are on runners. I take it back. What I need to do is have a little Mummy — Minnie chat. Explain the situation to her. Everyone knows that. She just wanted us all to see her stocking.

Anyone else would have done the same. I take a sip of coffee and happily reach for a Quality Street. God, I love Christmas.

I head into the hall to see her at the door of the kitchen in her Santa apron. Novelty games or luxury gifts? Just a few things to clear up here first. Cheers, Gary.

Ebook mini shopaholic

In fact I think we should do it every year. It could be a family tradition. Two, I need to finalize this agreement today. I heard her and Mum talking the other day and Janice is obviously gagging to hold another wedding. Total cow, take it from me. Suze is stunning in a black shearling coat, her long blonde hair streaming down, Tarquin is the same as ever in an ancient old Barbour, and the three children are all gangly legs and huge eyes and Fair Isle jumpers.

Happy Christmas! There are so many of them, they should issue a crib sheet. I solemnly shake it, then scoop him up in a bearhug till he giggles. Merry Christmas! Which was really tragic and everything, but there again, he was ninety-six. Plus, they now have even more squillions of money and land and stuff than they had before. Their new house is in Hampshire, only about half an hour away from here. Well, it probably was. Well, Suze will love.

Such a surprise. Does he mean tux? Is he a breeder?