[u]This story is mine. Please don’t steal it.[/u]
and the first of chapter two is
In the spoiler thingy is an offensive answer to the joke. All you need to know for the plot is that it is utterly inappropriate.
This chunk is, once again, barely on topic at all, but the following part is decisively on topic, so grin and bare it.
The Gerrard and Pugh parents were not speaking at all when they arrived back at the chalet. All but Mrs Gerrard were thoroughly red in the face: the afternoon sun over the mountains had finally become unbearable on the terminal steps of the walk from the slopes and the first day’s skiing was already taking its toll. Mrs Gerrard seemed not to have exerted herself whatsoever; the angles of her face were still lit with a perfect golden glow that she was lucky – or dedicated – enough to maintain all the year round. However, she only seemed not to have expended too great an effort and so she remained silent as the others for fear that she might pant were she to begin to talk.
Minutes later, however, and the four were sitting around the dinner table cutting three very large and one quite pathetic slices from the lemon drizzle cake that sat on the table. “We’re lucky there’s any left at all,” began Mrs Pugh, “The boys clearly haven’t been at this yet.”
“Tea?” offered Mr Gerrard, lifting the pot he had just filled, “I could hardly imagine having two boys, quite alone three.” he continued, “Thomas is practically able to eat us out of house and… Oh, Poppy! Hello dear, a nice first day’s skiing?.. no…” but he broke off again as he watched his daughter scurry straight for the stairs, dripping a trail across the tiles behind her.
Unperturbed at having been so thoroughly ignored, Mr Gerrard continued to pour cups of tea and talk about the Wilkinson family, mutual friends who had recently celebrated the birth of their ninth son.
“Nine! I can hardly begin to conceive of the school fees,” exclaimed Mrs Gerrard.
“Or the fighting,” added Mrs Pugh, not cynically, but with the air of one who knew precisely what she was talking about.
Downstairs William sidled up to his older brother and impishly hissed into his ear, “Did you see the way her pants went see-through in the water?”
Jack pushed him away, making a pretence of distaste, but chuckled to himself. A little young, but Poppy was a pretty girl.
Poppy undressed in the bathroom, hanging her wet underwear over the shower curtain rail. She found the water in the shower to be very suddenly hot and correspondingly abruptly, glacially cold. A little fiddling adjusted the temperature to bearable and then to pleasant and Poppy picked up her shower gel from the chromed soap tray. She sniffed hard at the warming ginger and eucalyptus scent that rose from her body and was caught in the steam. She relaxed into the tingling on her skin. As she washed her hair, filling the room with the competing honeyed fragrance of hyacinth blossoms, Poppy allowed herself to forget the day. It had, after all, not been so bad: almost all her suffering had thus far been private.
And so Poppy allowed the water to run over her in that soothing and cleansing way that metamorphasises a necessary cleansing process into a purifying ritual that rid her of all traces of urine, chlorine and worry. Presently, Poppy’s ruminations were broken off, however, by a solid knock on the pinewood door. It sounded hollow in the clinically tiled bathroom. Poppy turned down the water and leant around the shower curtain into the mist to demand, “Who is it?”
“I’m going to town, Pops. We need to get you a new swimsuit if you’re going to be in that Jacuzzi,” said her mother, “you’re underwear is hardly suitable and there’s a sauna here you may wish to use as well you know.”
“Tomorrow, mummy!” Poppy suggested, “I just got in the shower.”
“You’ve been in there a good half an hour, darling!”
“Mummy!” forced Poppy, a little more shrilly, and Mrs Gerrard did not argue any further.
“Okay sweetie, but hurry out soon as there shan’t be enough hot water for anyone else. I’ll just give your room a quick tidy before I go, Thomas’ things are everywhere already. You really will have to try to make him pick up…”
But Poppy was no longer listening and she didn’t bother to reply; her mother could do as she pleased, so long as she pleased likewise. But then,
“Oh wait, mummy!” shouted Poppy. She remembered her wet leggings.
“Yes dear? Come on, the shops shall only be open so long…”
Poppy put the plug in the bath so that the water began to collect and she picked her way to unlock the door.
“Come in, mummy. I have to tell you something.”
Poppy sat up in the bath and her mother came in waving steam out of her face and not just a little bit worried that her hair should become frizzy in the humidity. Cautiously, though not timidly, –as if she were familiar with the situation, Poppy explained how she had been unable to make it to a sufficiently hygienic loo during the day. Mrs Gerrard’s impassive physiognomy didn’t waver for an instant and she told Poppy that her leggings could be put in the laundry with Thomas’ sheets tomorrow morning. “I’m sure this won’t happen again, Poppy-ducks, will it?” and then after a pause, she continued, “I’m sorry you had such a horrible day. You’ll just have to learn to ask the instructor, okay sweetheart?”
Poppy sunk back into the water, gently shaking her head.
Dinner had been proceeding as really a most civilised affair, rather to the relief of Mrs Pugh, who had felt that her worry about the behaviour of her boys was less paranoia than a genuine concern, born of an infelicitous basis in the most solid and candid fact. Mr Gerrard had left the table but once, to ask Thomas very quietly to lower the volume of the television, or be sent directly to bed. Mr Pugh had twice to remind Dominic that not everyone wished to listen to the sound of whatever useless game it was that he was playing, but in general, there was very little to be complained about.
Lauren collected the dishes from the starter – a frankly excellent red mullet salad – and in the gap that proceeded to separate this delicious dish from what would turn out to be a quite distinctly average Cassoulet de Carcassonne Mrs Pugh sought the attention of everyone at the table. “Whilst I remember, children, I would certainly rather that no one went in that Jacuzzi in the afternoons until at least one of us adults is home. I’m well aware that you all can swim, but none of you speak the French or know the first aid that you would need to convince me that you were all safe to swim unattended, so don’t even try.”
Jack sighed and asked, “What id a member of the chalet staff’s in?”
“Well, I’m not sure that it’s really fair to place that burden on them, Jack.”
“Well I think that this is eminently sensible,” began Mrs Gerrard, “Thomas, darling, can you hear me?”
“You are never to go in that Jacuzzi without one of us watching, okay darling?”
“Thomas, answer your mother,” said Mr Gerrard after a moment’s pause and a questioning glance from his wife.
“Yes dad… Yes mum” groaned Thomas, a little irked at having been interrupted from his televisual entertainments no fewer than four times already this evening.
“What about me, mummy,” asked Poppy most mellifluously.
“Well, I should say you’re old enough…” began Mrs Gerrard.
“Honey…” cautioned her husband.
“What? I should say,” she turned back towards her daughter, leaving Mr Gerrard murmuring something into his wine glass, “that you’re quite old enough, Poppy, to go in unattended, but you must promise me to be careful.”
Mr Gerrard sighed, returning his glass to the table and looking at Mr Pugh apologetically. Jack and William looked outraged and Mrs Pugh and the otherwise affable Mr Pugh positively glowered at Mrs Gerrard, who seemed entirely oblivious to the daggers being stared at her from across the table.
“Thank you, mummy,” said Poppy and Mr Pugh looked as if he were about to spit.
“Well boys,” began Mrs Pugh, having regained immediate control of her temper, “I’m not very happy with you swimming without someone in the chalet Will, and I can’t let you two in and not Dom, so you’re just going to have to wait a little. If Poppy wishes to go in by herself that has nothing to do with me, though by herself I hardly think it could be safe at all.”
Poppy smiled a little to herself; the balance was evening out between her and the older Pugh boys, but the mood at the table had utterly frozen.
“I have a joke to tell,” initiated Mr Gerrard.
After a few moments of silence, his wife blurted out – having finally become conscious of the change in ambience within the room – “Oh do let’s here it darling. Quickly.”
“Well then, the other day, funny thing happened. First thing in the morning there was a tap on the door. It’s a funny sense of humour our plumber has…”
The atmosphere hardly lightened, but William said, “I have one,” causing Mrs Pugh to begin anxiously tapping her fork on the table and her face to display a quite incredible rubescence. “What’s the definition of suspicious?”
“Well, I don’t know. What is the definition of suspicious,” said Mr Gerrard, making it wholly unclear who was humouring whom.
“A nun… doing press-ups, in a cucumber field,” burst forth William, before roaring with laughter, convulsing as if suffering the most severe of seizures. Lauren poked her head around the door, not wishing to bring the cassoulet through at an inopportune moment.
Before Mrs Pugh even had time to admonish her son Thomas shouted, “I don’t get it,” and the ensuing silence lasted long enough for William to recover himself and splutter,
“Why… Why does… Why does Noddy, wear a bell on his hat?”
Mr Pugh stood straight up and apoplectically pointed to the stairs, “Bed, Wiliam, now.”
As William laughed his way from the table with not a shred of remorse or regret, Mrs Gerrard turned to Mr Pugh and asked, “Why does Noddy wear a bell on his hat, Jonathan?”
“Because, Elisabeth, if you must know, Noddy wears a bell on his hat because he’s a cunt.” surrendered Mr Pugh, “Because he’s a complete cunt.”
Mrs Gerrard looked down at her empty place setting with a smile creeping across her lips. Lauren swanned into the room brandishing an enormous cassoulet dish. No one spoke. [/align]