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Breakdown

Published August 14, 2016 by Naomi Rettig

I’m aware of someone looming over me. I feel the weight of their shadow hover across my chest. I hear the someone swallow, a natural reflex, but alarmingly sinister as I hide behind the dark of my eyelids. I try to steady my breathing. Whoever, whatever, lurks, seems to be in no hurry to attack. The presence sits on the end of my bed. I don’t know what is going to surrender first, my heart or my bladder.

I launch open my eyes. Judd Nelson is perched on the bed by my feet. In navy blue pajamas. Sexy navy blue pajamas. He smiles. I don’t smile back, this is a dream, there is no other logical explanation. I study his face closely, I’ve never had such a high definition dream before, every wrinkle, every handsome, gorgeous wrinkle…

‘Hello.’ He smiles again.

I am mesmerized by his eyes, his deep dark brown eyes like pools of delicious chocolate…

‘Oh, this isn’t a dream.’ Judd interrupts my thoughts again.

I play along with my dream. ‘I’m struggling with this being reality.’

‘It isn’t reality.’

I sit more upright in my bed. ‘Hallucination?’

‘Nope.’ He shakes his head. ‘Nervous breakdown.’

‘I’m having a nervous breakdown?’

‘Yes.’

I smooth down the duvet covering my lap. ‘I feel quite calm for someone having a nervous breakdown.’

‘That’s because you’re in your breakdown assessment zone. Or BAZ.’

‘Are you sure this isn’t a dream?’

‘You’re definitely having a breakdown.’ He smiles again. ‘Your physical body has gone into a coma, only your mind is functioning.’

I survey my body and my surroundings. Everything is clearer and in more detail than a dream, but I can’t feel the duvet as I’m touching it.

‘You can’t feel anything physically,’ says Judd, ‘but you can feel emotions.’

‘So what happens now? We stay here in my bedroom until my body repairs itself? You are staying with me aren’t you?’

‘I’m staying for as long as you want, you created me here. And it’s not your body that needs repairing it’s your mind.’

‘How do I do that?’

‘You just need some time out, to refocus your mind, it’s a very powerful tool and can correct itself. If you want it to.’ He stares intently at me.

‘Well of course I want it to,’ his gaze is melting my internal organs, I can’t feel this physically but I know it’s happening, ‘although being trapped in my bedroom forever with you is quite tempting.’

He laughs. Loudly.

‘Oh, obviously not for you then.’ I know I’m blushing. ‘Are you even allowed your own opinion? I mean if I’ve created you shouldn’t you agree with me?’

‘I’m here as your voice of reason, subconsciously you’ve created me that way. And I didn’t laugh at the thought of being with you for eternity, that would give me the greatest pleasure.’

I don’t even care if he’s saying that because I’m making him say it. My internal organs are continuing to melt. I think I just lost a kidney.

‘I laughed because we’re not trapped in your bedroom.’ He stands and pushes his arm through the wall. It just glides through and back, like a plane through a cloud. ‘We can be anywhere you imagine. Just concentrate and focus.’

‘Concentrate and focus?’

He stands by the side of my bed. ‘Yep. Try it. Where do you want us to be?’

‘A beach.’

‘Great. Now think about the beach you want us to be at. Is it deserted or are there other people there? What season is it, hot or cold? You won’t be able to feel the temperature but it will affect the look.’

I start to imagine. My pink carpet subtly undulates. The carpet fibers change into sand, the palest beige sand, almost white. ‘Oh wow.’ The walls of my bedroom slowly dissolve revealing a beautiful blue skyline meeting an equally majestic turquoise sea that I can hear gently lapping close by. My bed morphs beneath me and I’m reclining on a padded wooden sun lounger with an identical one next to me. ‘This is amazing.’ I see a figure in the sea. ‘Is that Jenson Ackles waving at me?’

‘It is if you want it to be.’ Judd is still stood next to me. ‘Can I suggest you imagine me into beach wear, these pajamas are a bit warm.’ He winks at me.

I concentrate and imagine him to be wearing a pair of shorts and a kitsch Hawaiian shirt, bright pink and yellow. He is instantly transformed. I will save the speedo look for later.

He looks down at himself. ‘That’s better.’ He gestures to me.

I glance at my Minion pajamas, hardly suitable for this beach. I imagine a black swimming costume with a pretty floral sarong wrapped around me. I am instantly wearing this. I rearrange to sarong over my legs.

‘You look a bit self-conscious.’ Judd sits on the spare lounger. ‘I should point out that you can imagine yourself to be any shape that you want, and alter yourself in any way if it makes you feel better.’

‘Really?’

‘Yep.’ He shrugs.

I imagine myself thinner. I watch as my body neatly deflates to a smaller size, but stays taut and reveals nicely defined muscles. ‘Oh wow!’ I convert my black swimsuit into a gold bikini. I inflate my breasts a little. And a little more. ‘Is this what heaven feels like?’

‘Yes,’ Judd stops looking at my chest and makes eye contact with me, ‘I mean I don’t know, I’ve not been there.’

‘It must be. I am in heaven right now.’ I lie back on the lounger.

‘You are feeling happy? Content? Relaxed?’

‘Yes, yes, and yes. And we can stay here for as long as I want?’

‘Yes. Well…’

I sit back up. ‘What’s the well for?’

‘Well the longer you are not mentally connected with your physical body, I’m not sure how easy it will be to go back.’

‘I’m on a beach with you, Judd Nelson, why would I want to go back?’

‘For all that you have in your real life.’

‘Let me think about that. I’m a waitress in a dingy bar surviving day to day on tips, I’ve been single forever as I don’t trust anyone, I have no family that I speak to, and my social life consists of playing online scrabble with strangers and posting photos of food on Instagram. It kind of seems like a no brainer. What am I going to miss out on if I stay here?’

‘Food. You can create whatever food you want here but you can’t taste it. You can give us cocktails here but you can’t drink them.’

‘I can live without that.’

‘Ok, Smells. You can’t smell flowers, coffee, the sea.’

‘So, I also can’t smell nasty smells. Not a problem.’

‘Touch. You can’t feel physical touch here.’ He touches my arm, his fingers caressing my skin. ‘See.’

‘Yes, exactly, I can see you touching my arm, that makes me feel emotions, and that’s enough for me.’

‘For the rest of your life? No touching, tasting or smelling?’

‘I can see and I can hear and I can go anywhere I want and imagine anything I want. That is enough for me. This is the reality I want now.’

‘Shall I flick the switch then?’

‘What switch?’

‘There’s a switch that will cut off your mind from your body permanently, you will remain physically catatonic in hospital but exist permanently here.’

‘But won’t the hospital switch life support off?’

‘No, they will still detect brain activity so keep your body plugged in.’

‘Ok then, let’s do it.’

‘You sure?’

‘Never been surer.’ I settle back down on the lounger. ‘Flick that switch, let’s get this adventure started with a bang!’

Judd clicks his fingers. ‘Done.’

A cascade of pretty firework explosions fills the sky, but silently as I don’t like the loud noises that accompany them. A Caribbean steel band plays in the distance. I jump up to dance. My toes fall off.

‘What the…?’

Judd looks at my feet casually. ‘Ah, you’d forgotten your imagination can be a bit of a prat sometimes.’ He smiles. ‘Put them back on then.’

I look down at my feet stumps and scattered toes. I imagine them back on. My toes wriggle through the sand and back into place.

Judd stands up and moves in close to me. He wraps his arms around me, I can’t feel them but it feels good. ‘Can I kiss you?’

‘Of course.’

Melt. There goes my spleen.

 

 

 

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Emmerdead

Published May 22, 2016 by Naomi Rettig

Emmerdead.

When characters in the soap Emmerdale die they disappear from our screens, but secretly they have the choice of moving on to the afterlife or moving into Emmerdead which is a replica of the village, but just full of dead characters going about their daily lives. Residents in Emmerdale are unaware of the Emmerdead village, they might not be so scared of dying if they did, but Emmerdead residents regularly watch Emmerdale on their TV’s to keep an eye on any loved ones left in village. Or to just be nosey. Current residents in Emmerdead are:

 

The Dingles live at the traditional Dingle dwelling, Wishing Well Cottage. Head of the household is Shadrach, still drinking and avoiding soap, of the washing kind. His daughter Gennie is with him. She is a mobile hairdresser, zipping around the countryside on a pink scooter. Shadrach’s nephews Butch and Ben farm pigs to sell to the village butchers. The brothers constantly vie with each other to get Gennie’s attention. She keeps pointing out they’re cousins but they say that doesn’t matter as they didn’t grow up together. Alice Dingle watches over Sam and their son Samson in Emmerdale via the TV, she approved of Rachel but wishes Sam would stop mooning over Megan. Alice rears chickens and sells the eggs.

 

Pollard’s Barn is inhabited by two of Eric’s wives, Val and Elizabeth, and Dave Glover. Val and Elizabeth both constantly argue over who Eric will choose when he gets there. Dave hopes Eric will choose to go straight to the afterlife as he is currently Val’s toy-boy and won’t be giving her up without a fight. Val has a massage studio set up at the barn, ‘Valerie’s Heavenly Bodies’, and works as a masseuse alongside Dave. They regularly practice on each other. Elizabeth is a seamstress, making and repairing clothes. She is very disapproving of Val and Dave.

 

Butler’s Farm is home to one of the Sugden families. Joe runs the farm here with his wife Kate. Kates children Rachel and Mark Hughes help on the farm. Pete Whiteley also lives here and works on the farm. Kate felt guilty for killing him so employed him. Pete is now back in a relationship with Rachel, although enjoys flirting with Kate in private, taking advantage of her guilt.

 

Holdgate farm is home to the Tate’s. Frank and his two sons Chris Tate and Liam Hammond living under the same roof leads to a lot of tension at times. Liam is finally starting to bond with his estranged dad but Chris is very territorial in the son department. They own the factory next door and run a brewery from there. Their top selling beers are ‘Emmerdale Elite’, ‘Franks Feisty First’ and ‘The Knobbly Nob’. Liam gets his hair cut more than he needs to as he has a crush on Gennie Dingle. Chris wants Gennie to go out with him just so he can get one up on his half-brother.

 

Home Farm is back in the hands of the King’s. Tom King and Rosemary King rule the roost with Tom’s sons Matthew and Carl running the estate. Tom has forgiven Carl for killing him but favours Matthew at all times. Carl is now married to DCI Grace Barraclough and she lives there too. She clashes quite a lot with Rosemary. Frank Tate flirts with Rosemary King at every opportunity he gets, sometimes she flirts back.

 

Seth and Meg Armstrong live at Tall Trees cottage and Archie Brooks is their lodger. Archie is the gamekeeper at Home Farm, Seth often accompanies him to escape from Meg’s nagging at home. Smokey the dog is always by Seth’s side. When not tagging along with Archie at Home Farm Seth can be found in the pub.

 

Donald De Souza lives in The Mill. He is the village vicar now after finding God. He has forgiven Matthew King for withholding his heart pills when he was having a heart attack and then subsequently died. Donald’s church services are regularly busy, there are a lot of people looking for redemption in Emmerdead.

 

David’s Shop doesn’t exist here in Emmerdead, instead it is ‘Woods & Windsor’, shop and post office. The post office side is run by Vic Windsor; the shop is run by Terry Woods. Viv Hope works in both sides alongside each of her husbands. Donna Windsor works in the post office with her dad, and Dawn Woods works in the shop with her dad. They all live together next door in Farrers Barn. Viv spends alternative nights with Terry and Vic, this works well most of the time but does cause some friction between the two husbands.

 

Viv’s first husband Reg Dawson lives in Keepers Cottage. He doesn’t live with her like the others but watches from a distance and is quite reclusive. He tries to avoid bumping into Shirley Turner around the village as he feels guilty for shooting her.

 

Tenants cottage is occupied by Robbie Lawson. He watches over his mum Megan and baby sister Eliza on Emmerdale via his TV. He is the village postman and there is a fledgling romance between him and Donna, which started in the village Post Office. Donna watches Emmerdale with Robbie so she can check on her daughter April.

 

Cameron Murray lives at Jacobs Fold. He runs the garage, called ‘Murray’s Motors’ here. He offers free servicing for anyone he has murdered. Gennie brings her scooter here and Carl King brings all the Home farm vehicles in. Alex Moss chose to go straight to the afterlife so Cameron is saved a little extra work there, but he is still kept very busy.

 

Pear tree cottage is not Beuaty and Bernice here, but a butchers. It’s owned by Brian Addyman and his daughter Katie Sugden. They live above it but Katie is fed up smelling like raw meat so is trying to persuade the Kings to have a stables back at Home farm so she can work there. She also has the hots for matthew King and quite fancies living at Home farm too.

 

Dale View is home to Nick Henshall. He is still a policeman, partnered with DCI Grace Barraclough. He is still smitten with Katie Sugden but she does her best to ignore him here. He buys a lot of meat. Every day.

 

Connelton View is the home and practice of the village doctor Adam Forsythe. Even though he’s technically not a doctor as he was using his fathers’ certification to practice in Emmerdale, the villagers here don’t seem to mind. They just keep an eye on the fire extinguisher when being examined.

 

Graham Clark lives at Victoria Cottage. He is devastated that Rachel Hughes is in a relationship with Pete Whiteley, but she obviously doesn’t want anything to do with Graham as he murdered her. Graham no longer teaches; he is the delivery driver for the Tate’s brewery.

 

The Café is ‘Wyldes Wine Cellar’ here in Emmerdead. Owned and run by Mark Wylde who lives above it. During the day it is a wine shop and by evening it is a wine bar.

 

Brook Cottage has a reputation as a party house. Parties happen quite regularly and quite loudly. The residents are Linda Fowler, Luke McAllister, and Paul Marsden. All four work at the Tate’s brewery and have a habit of smuggling booze home with them. Linda disapproves of her brother Dave’s relationship with Val and tries to get him to party with ‘the younger crowd’ whenever she can. Luke has a crush on Linda but she has a crush on Paul. Paul just likes to party.

 

The veterinary surgery is run by Max King. He lives next door in Smithy Cottage with Mia Macey, they are madly and sickeningly in love. They bonded over their shared experience of being killed in car accidents. Mia is receptionist at the vet’s. They have a pet cat called Maurice and regularly go for Sunday lunch at Home Farm with Max’s family.

 

Mulberry Cottage has Jackson Walsh and Hilary Potts living in it. Hilary is Jackson’s personal assistant and they have a lot of fun and adventures together. Currently they are learning French.

 

The Grange is a B&B here too in Emmerdead. It is run by Tess Harris and Ruby Haswell. They also share a room, Tess discovered she was bi-sexual after meeting and falling in love with Ruby. They are very romantic and leave each other poems and messages around the B&B. When Ruby cooks breakfast for Tess and the guests she cuts the toast into heart shapes and fries eggs in heart shapes too.

 

Alan Turner is the landlord of The Woolpack. His son Terrence does all the heavy manual work while his granddaughter Tricia Dingle is everyone’s favourite barmaid. Alan’s wife Shirley also works behind the bar, as does his girlfriend Shelley Williams. This causes some tension. They all live in the pub but Shirley shares Alans bed, not Shelley. Shelley and Alan have a purely platonic relationship now. Reg Dawson is banned from the pub as he killed Shirley and Alan hasn’t forgiven him, but Dr. Adam Forsythe isn’t banned, even though he killed Terrence, as Alan thinks that wasn’t such a bad thing to do considering Terrence had sexually abused his sister Steph.

 

Edna is back in Woodbine Cottage, reunited with Batley the dog. When she arrived in Emmerdead she found Len Reynolds living in the cottage with his daughter-in-law Angie Reynolds. She agreed to move in with them but on a strict understanding that her and Len would be just friends. Len thinks this will change. Angie works in Wylde’s Wine Cellar and there is a great deal of sexual tension between her and her boss Mark Wylde.

 

Henry Wilks’ old house Inglebrook is occupied once again by Henry Wilks. Henry spends most of his time in The Woolpack though. He has a soft spot for new resident Edna and that is causing tension between him and Len.

 

Tug Ghyll Cottage is home to Peggy Skillbeck and her twins Sam and Sally. She is a regular visitor to both her brothers Jack and Joe’s farms, having a secret crush on Jack’s employee John Barton. Also living with Peggy and the twins is Sharon Crossthwaite. She was Peggy’s mum Annie’s cousin. Even though she is only seventeen years old she is Emmerdead’s longest residing villager, being the first murder victim over in Emmerdale back in 1973. She is the housekeeper at Home Farm and babysitter for Peggy. Peggy cleans at the brewery.

 

The Malt Shovel is featured in Emmerdead and is run by Gordon Livesy. It is not a popular pub but Gordon thinks he can turn things around. His main customer is Reg Dawson, Reg hasn’t told Gordon he is banned from The Woolpack. Other regular customers include Cameron Murray and Graham Clarke. Terrence Turner prefers to drink here than in his own family pub The Woolpack. Illegal gambling and after hours drinking occurs regularly.

 

The original Emmerdale farm is a working farm here in Emmerdead and is the other Sugden farm, in slightly healthy competition with Joe Sugden at Butlers farm. Joes brother Jack runs Emmerdale Farm. His two wives Pat and Sarah live with him, but neither share his bed as he can’t choose between them. His son Jackie Merrick, also Pat’s son, lives with them and works on the farm. Jacks granddad Sam Pearson lives there and so does Jacks father-in-law Leonard Kempinski. Leonard is waiting for his lovely Annie to join him. The two men are grumpy and cantankerous, think Statler and Waldorf from The Muppets, but enjoy each other’s company and misbehave quite a lot. John Barton works for Jack, and lives there too. John is having a secret affair with Sarah Sugden and often shares her bed at night. If Jack were to find out it would probably make his mind up about which wife to choose!

DeadEnders

Published May 20, 2016 by Naomi Rettig

DeadEnders

When characters die in Eastenders they disappear from our screens, but, unseen by us the viewer, they actually have the choice of moving to the Dead End. It’s a complete replica of the Eastenders set but just inhabited by deceased characters. Their day to day lives carry on in this separate ectoplasmic soap opera. While the characters in Eastenders are unaware of this alternative Square, the characters of DeadEnders regularly watch Eastenders on their televisions; to keep an eye on their loved ones, take bets on who will be joining them next, and enjoy catching up on all the gossip. Here are the current residents of DeadEnders:

Number 1 Albert Square is still three separate dwellings, not the converted house that Kim and Vincent currently live in. 1a is a doctors’ surgery where Dr. May Wright practices as she is no longer struck off. She lives in 1c, with Eddie Royal, who likes being kept on his toes by the unhinged GP. Eddie runs the local bookmakers. He likes a gamble.

The 1b flat is occupied by Ethel Skinner and her little Willie, the pug. She is now married to Reg Cox. Reg was never seen animated in Eastenders as he was the body found in the opening episode, so he jumped at the opportunity to set up residence here. Now Ethel has a Willie and Cox keeping her company. Snigger.

In flat 3a you’ll find Jase Dyer, constantly watching over his son Jay in Eastenders via his TV. He is the local builder and handyman and has been single ever since being here.

Flat 3b homes Johnny Allen and Andy Hunter. Even though Johnny murdered Andy they have decided that keeping enemies closer is the best practice here. They’ve even gone into business together running ‘The Barbed Whip’, a members only gentleman’s club ‘up west’.

Flat 3c, currently occupied by Stacey and Martin in Eastenders, is the home of Steve Owen, Saskia Duncan and Steve’s mum Barbara. Saskia waited here for Steve, and feeling guilty for killing her, he moved in with her. He was surprised to find his mum already living with Saskia and wishes she would move out and on to the afterlife. Barbara Owen enjoys tormenting her son too much though. Steve now works at a funeral directors and regularly volunteers for overtime.

Number 5 (being turned into flats by Jack in Eastenders) houses Jim and Reenie Branning, reunited after many years. Reenie gets jealous when she finds Jim watching Dot on Eastenders. Their son Derek Branning, and grandsons Bradley Branning and Billie Jackson live with them. Derek is a taxi driver. Bradley is a teacher and Billie works on the market on a butchers’ stall. Wellard the dog is there too; he likes to hang out by Billie’s stall.

Numbers 18-20 are a B&B run by Owen Turner and Trina Johnson. They hooked up together after bonding over both being victims of Lucas Johnson. Their reputation and grisly deaths puts punters off staying at the B&B though so their only current residents are evil Harry Slater and the equally despicable Trevor Morgan. Both unemployed and both thinking they are victims.

Number 23 (currently flats, Shirley and Buster live in one) is a house here. Charlie and Viv Slater have reunited, along with Charlie’s sister Vi Slater. It’s a house full of tension, the two women are constantly clashing, and with Harry and Trevor on the square too there are quite a lot of fisticuffs.

Number 25 (Dot, Jack, Amy and Abi live here in Eastenders) is occupied by Cottons. Three generations. Charlie, Nick and Ashley. Think Steptoe and Son. And Son. There is always a dodgy deal going on here.

Number 27 (Ronnie and Sharon’s home in Eastenders) is a happy home. Nana Moon, Danny Moon and Michael Moon live here. Michael has mellowed a lot after dying, and him and Danny are Estate Agents. They are always competing for both sales and women. In a fun, light hearted way. Nana Moon dotes on the boys and always has tea on the table ready for them.

Flat 29a is home to Arthur ‘Fatboy’ Chubb. He is a full time DJ and events coordinator and has a string of beautiful women turning up on his doorstep.

His neighbour in flat 29b is Dennis Rickman. He works as a barman and has an equal amount of gorgeous ladies toing and froing from the flat. Dennis and Fatboy go on regular nights out together when not working.

Number 31 (where Sonia, Tina and Rebecca live in Eastenders) is home to Lou Beale, her son Pete Beale and her great granddaughter Lucy Beale. Pete is in his element back on his fruit and veg stall, where Lucy also helps out. Lou still gives advice to everyone even when they don’t want it.

Number 41 is quite empty now in Eastenders with just Masood living there, but here in DeadEnders it’s a lively house with Pat and Frank Butcher, and Frank’s mum Mo Butcher. Frank and Pat run their car lot on the square while Mo supervises everything. Much to Pat’s annoyance.

Flat 43a is inhabited by Cindy Beale. Her daughter Lucy wanted to live there with her but Cindy runs an escort agency from home so insisted Lucy live with her Grandad and Great Grandma across the road. Mum and daughter are still getting to know each other and are enjoying bonding again with regular trips up west, lunch and shopping.

Flat 43b is always full of the sound of George Michael. Heather Trott lives here and, strangely, gets on very well with her neighbour Cindy. This unlikely duo often pop into each other’s flats for drinks and chit chat. Heather works in the café for the Fowlers. She likes to make her George Michael special, which is just cheese on toast with ‘wham’ written across it in tomato sauce.

The third flat in a trio of girly flats, 43c, is occupied by Laura Beale. She is envious of Cindy and Heathers friendship and is always trying to tag along with them. She is the cleaner at The Queen Vic. She is always pestering Pete Beale to let her work on the stall with him.

Number 45 (where Ian Beale lives in Eastenders) is occupied here by the original tenants Pauline and Arthur Fowler. Their son Mark and his wife Gill live with them. They own the café. Pauline, Mark and Gill work there, along with Heather. Arthur grows veg for Pete’s stall on his allotment.

The Queen Vic (number 46) has Peggy Mitchell back behind the bar. Archie Mitchell was waiting for her and runs the pub with her but she still keeps her eye on Frank Butcher. Jamie Mitchell lives there too; he is a mechanic and runs the garage. Peggy’s daughter in law Tiffany Mitchell lives with them too, she is a barmaid there and also runs her own mobile beauty business. Tiffany has an on/off relationship with Dennis Rickman who is a barman there.

Flat 47a is occupied by Stan Carter. Stan had an epiphany after dying and moving here, he now regularly attends church and is often quoting from the bible. He regular gives sermons in the gardens in the square. Usually to an audience of zero.

His neighbours in Flat 47b are his ex-son-in-law Kevin Wicks and his grandson Jimbo Wicks. Kevin was delighted to find his son Jimbo waiting for him. Kevin runs a hardware stall in the market and Jimbo helps out when he can. Kevin is not having much luck with the ladies, despite trying hard.

Number 89 George Street (Billy Mitchell currently lives there in Eastenders) is home to Ronnie Mitchell’s daughter Danielle Jones and Ronnie’s baby son James Branning. Danielle looks after her half-brother as if he is her own. Archie keeps asking for them to move into the Vic with him but Danielle can’t forgive him for putting her up for adoption when she was a baby. She does some child minding from home. She has a crush on Billie Jackson.

Number 91 George Street is home to Barry and Roy Evans. Father and son run a solar panel company called ‘Evans Above’. Roy is still in love with Pat Butcher. Barry and Heather Trott keep having one night stands together. Heather would like a more permanent relationship but Barry keeps thinking someone better will come along, not realizing the gem that Heather is.

Number 53a Turpin Road is the flat above the undertakers where the Coker’s live in Eastenders. Here in DeadEnders Paul and Audrey Trueman live above a florist. Audrey runs the shop and does the flower arranging while her son Paul does the deliveries, and skives in the pub and the bookies. He fancies Cindy Beale.

Number 55 Victoria Road (where Phil Mitchell, Jay, Ben and Louise live in Eastenders) is the home of Den and Angie Watts. They run a dating agency together, ‘Watts Love’. Occasionally sleeping with their clients behind each other’s backs. Roly the dog is with them. He is depressed.

Lesser Known Disappointing Book Sequels

Published November 22, 2015 by Naomi Rettig

1. The Portrait of a Lady – The Selfie of a Ladette
2. Cold Mountain – Chilly Hill
3. Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café – Baked Red Peppers at the Hum Go Tearoom
4. Three Men in a Boat – Five Men in a Canoe
5. The Thirty Nine Steps – The Forty Steps
6. Brave New World – Cowardly Old World
7. The Quiet American – The Noisy Canadian
8. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie – The Retirement of Miss Jean Brodie
9. Catch 22 – Catch 23
10. Far From The Madding Crowd – In the Midst of a Quiet Gathering
11. P.S. I Love You – P.P.S. Divorce Papers are in the Post
12. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe – The Lion, the Witch, and the Sideboard
13. The Very Hungry Caterpillar – The Full Up Butterfly
14. The Grapes of Wrath – The Sultanas of Anger
15. Life of Pi – Death of Quiche
16. Lord of the Rings – Lord of the Bangles
17. Little Women – Bigger Women
18. Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy – Hitchhikers Guide to the Toblerone
19. Wuthering Heights – Wuthering Lows
20. The Da Vinci code – The Pollock Code
21. The Picture of Dorian Gray – The Snapchat of Dorian Gray
22. Lord of the Flies – Duke of the Spiders
23. Fahrenheit 451 – Celsius 15
24. Trainspotting – Buswatching
25. Of Mice and Men – Of Gerbils and Girls
26. The Lovely Bones – The Quite Nice Veins
27. Middlemarch – Endstroll
28. Catcher in the Rye – Tosser in the Wheat
29. The Firm – The Wobbly
30. Watership Down – Fireboat Up
31. Breakfast at Tiffany’s – Lunch at Bianca’s
32. Great Expectations – Mild Assumptions
33. The Secret Life of Bees – The Exhibitionist Life of Wasps
34. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil – Midday in the Allotment of Shallots and Chives
35. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time – The Mundane Appearance of the Cat in the Day Time
36. Lonesome Dove – Popular Pigeon
37. In Cold Blood – In Warm Saliva
38. And Then There Were None – And Then There Were a Few More Found
39. A Walk to Remember – A Jog to Forget
40. Eat, Pray, Love – Starve, Swear, Loathe
41. It – That
42. The Virgin Suicides – The Loose Women Murders
43. Heart of Darkness – Liver of Light
44. Oliver Twist – Oliver Jive
45. Flowers in the Attic – Potpourri in the Basement
46. David Copperfield – David Silvermeadow
47. Shogun – Hideknife
48. A Room With a View – A Back Bedroom With No Windows
49. The Neverending Story – The End of the Story
50. Girl with a Pearl Earring – Woman with a Pearl Necklace
51. The Velveteen Rabbit – The Velcro Hedgehog
52. I, Robot – You, Human
53. The Secret – The Well Known Fact
54. A Streetcar Named Desire – A Pushbike Named Passion
55. Roots – Split Ends
56. The House of Spirits – The Apartment of Soft Drinks
57. The Cider House Rules – The Gin Shed Anarchy
58. The Green Mile – The Purple Kilometre
59. Never let me Go – F**k Off
60. Howl’s Moving Castle – Howl’s Static Caravan

Terry, Maude and Me – The Right Funeral

Published June 23, 2015 by Naomi Rettig

INT. TAXI. DAY.

TERRY, MAUDE AND CHARLEY ARE SAT ON THE BACKSEAT OF A TAXI, CHARLEY IS IN THE MIDDLE. THEY ARE ALL DRESSED IN BLACK, CHARLEY IS IN A TROUSER SUIT, PLAIN BLOUSE, FLAT SHOES AND FUR HAT, MAUDE IS IN A TIGHT PENCIL SKIRT SUIT, FRILLY BLOUSE, STILETTOS AND TINY PILL BOX HAT WITH VEIL, TERRY IS IN A SUIT, TUXEDO T-SHIRT AND CONVERSE TRAINERS WITH MESSY HAIR.

TERRY
We’re going to be late, going back to change your hat was foolish.

MAUDE
Darling a French navy hat with a black suit is foolish. Charley made the right decision.

TERRY
It looked ok.

MAUDE
Looked ok? We don’t want Charley to go out looking just ok.

CHARLEY
I am here.

TAXI DRIVER LOOKS IN REAR VIEW MIRROR, SEEING ONLY CHARLEY SAT THERE.

TAXI DRIVER
What’s that love?

CHARLEY
Oh, nothing. Sorry, thinking aloud.

TAXI DRIVER LOOKS BACK TO ROAD AND CARRIES ON WITH HIS DRIVING.

MAUDE
Remember to talk to us telepathically poppet. People get funny when you talk out loud to us. We’re your voices in your head and no one else’s.

CHARLEY
(Audible thought) I know, I know. But my lips forget sometimes.

TERRY
You could have just not worn the hat, I don’t think people do hats at funerals anymore.

MAUDE
I don’t think we need to take fashion advice from someone wearing a tuxedo t-shirt to a funeral.

TERRY
I feel I’ve made quite an effort, I could be sat here in pyjamas.

CHARLEY
(Audible thought) You both look very smart. Thank you Terry for not wearing your pyjamas. Maude, thank you for being a part of the hat brigade. And I like my hat, I think it makes me look Russian.

TERRY
It doesn’t. You look ridiculous.

MAUDE
Don’t be mean.

TERRY
OK, you don’t look ridiculous if you are trying to capture the ‘I’m wearing a dead cat on my head’ look. If that’s what you were trying to achieve you have succeeded marvellously.

MAUDE
That’s not any better.

CHARLEY
(Audible thought) It’s OK Maude, Terry’s entitled to his opinion.

TERRY
I’m surprised Pablo hasn’t hidden some vodka in your Russian cat hat to liven up today, funerals can be so dull.

MAUDE
Is Pablo going to be with us today?

CHARLEY
(Audible thought) No. I’ve told him it’s a serious day today not a party day.

MAUDE
Sorry Charley, this isn’t a nice day for you.

CHARLEY
(Audible thought) Its ok, I didn’t really know my great aunt did I. I just thought it would be a shame if no family turned up. I don’t know any of her friends if she had any or if they’ll turn up.

MAUDE
Well at least you’ll have us with you for moral support. You’re not on your own poppet.

TERRY
Technically Maude she is physically on her own.

CHARLEY
(Audible thought) Thank you both for your unwavering support.

TERRY
Sarcasm alert.

CHARLEY
(Audible thought) No, I really don’t know how I would get through my days without your positivity and sunshiny smile Terry.

TERRY
You are definitely being sarcastic aren’t you?

CHARLEY
(Audible thought) Yes.

THE TAXI PULLS UP IN FRONT OF CHURCH GATES.

CHARLEY
(Audible thought) This is it.

TERRY, MAUDE AND CHARLEY CLIMB OUT OF THE TAXI, CHARLEY PAYS THE TAXI DRIVER AND HE DRIVES OFF.

EXT. OUTSIDE CHURCH. DAY.

TERRY
I thought St Stephens was the church by the river?

MAUDE
No, no, this is St Stephens, look (indicates sign). There’s a lot of people going in, she must have had more friends than you thought Charley.

CHARLEY
(Audible thought) Blimey, I thought I might be the only one here.

TERRY, MAUDE AND CHARLEY WALK UP THE PATH TO THE CHURCH ENTRANCE, PEOPLE ARE GOING IN AND A VICAR IS AT THE CHURCH DOOR.

TERRY
It’s probably all the staff and other residents of her care home filling it up, a day trip out and a buffet brings out the vultures.

MAUDE
Terry!

TERRY
What? It’s true. The mere whiff of a sausage on a stick and the Zimmer frames speed up. I’ve witnessed a fight over who has the last cheese and pineapple on a stick previously. Carnage.

CHARLEY
(Audible thought) Let’s try and avoid carnage today please. And yes Terry, that’s aimed more at you than Maude.

MAUDE
(Smiling smugly) Ooh look, a lady vicar, how lovely and modern.

TERRY
Is she a vicar or a vicaress?

TERRY, MAUDE AND CHARLEY STOP WHEN THEY REACH THE VICAR AT THE DOOR.

VICAR
Hello there!

CHARLEY
Hello, I’m Charley. Charley Watson

VICAR
Yes, hello.

CHARLEY
I’m here for my great aunt Doris’s funeral?

VICAR
Oh! Wonderful! Well, not wonderful that it’s your great aunts funeral but wonderful that you are here. I didn’t realise she had any family.

CHARLEY
Ah yes, I hadn’t seen her since I was little but when I heard that she had died, well, I thought I’d better come and see her off.

TERRY
Come and see her off? She’s not going on a cruise.

CHARLEY
I mean come and say goodbye.

VICAR
Wonderful, she should be any moment, there’s a traffic hold up on the ring road, go on in and sit down. (SHE TURNS TO INSIDE THE DOOR) John. (JOHN POPS OUT OF THE DOORWAY) John is anyone sat on the front row?

JOHN
Just Mrs Parsons.

VICAR
Wonderful. Show Charley here to the front row seating please.

CHARLEY
Thank you.

TERRY, MAUDE AND CHARLEY FOLLOW JOHN INTO THE CHURCH.

INT. CHURCH. DAY.

THE PEWS ARE FULL OF ELDERLY PEOPLE AND A FEW CARERS. CHARLEY, MAUDE AND TERRY WALK SLOWLY DOWN THE AISLE BEHIND JOHN.

MAUDE
Crikey she’s a bit jolly for a funeral, imagine what she’s like at a wedding!

TERRY
Like a grandma on crystal meth.
MAUDE GLARES AT TERRY.
Front row seats, do we get popcorn or choc ices?

CHARLEY
(Audible thought) Behave, people don’t eat during funerals.

TERRY, MAUDE AND CHARLEY REACH THE FRONT PEW, JOHN INDICATES TO IT THEN EXITS BACK UP THE AISLE. MRS PARSONS IS SAT IN THE FRONT PEW SWATHED IN PINK CRIMPLENE EATING A BAG OF JELLY BABIES.

TERRY
Someone didn’t get the memo.

MRS PARSONS BITES THE HEAD OFF A JELLY BABY AND CHEWS IT OPEN-MOUTHED WHILE STARING AT CHARLEY.

TERRY
I didn’t know your great aunt knew Barbara Cartland.

CHARLEY, TERRY AND MAUDE SQUEEZE PAST MRS PARSONS AND SIT DOWN. CHARLEY SMILES AT MRS PARSONS. MRS PARSONS CONTINUES CHEWING JELLY BABIES OPEN MOUTHED.

MAUDE
(LOOKING AROUND) Fascinating. It’s like a museum of fashion over the decades.

TERRY
With the amount of polyester and hairspray in here we could go up at any moment. It’s a good job it’s not a cremation, one loose ember from a furnace and whoosh. Especially Barbara sat next to you. I wonder how flammable jelly babies are.

CHARLEY
(Audible thought) Stop it. Have a look at the programme and keep quiet. (SHE PICKS UP THE PAMPHLET ON THE PEW)

TERRY
It’s not a programme, we’re not at the theatre. Unfortunately. We could be watching A Comedy of Errors, that’s on at The Sherman Theatre.

CHARLEY IS FROWNING AT THE OPEN PAMPHLET IN HER HANDS.

MAUDE
What’s wrong Charley?

CHARLEY
(Audible thought) This biography, it doesn’t seem right, I don’t know any of these facts about her life. (SHE TURNS TO THE BACK PAGE WHERE THERE IS A PHOTO) Sweet Jesus.

TERRY
(LOOKING AROUND) Where?

MAUDE
Not the most flattering photo is it poppet. Bad camera angle. And a chunky neck like that shouldn’t wear a choker.

CHARLEY
(Audible thought) No, it’s not the photo that’s wrong. That’s not Doris.

MAUDE
Yes, (POINTS TO NAME BELOW PHOTO) Doris Wilson.

CHARLEY
(Audible thought) My great aunt was Doris Watson.

MAUDE
Are you sure?

CHARLEY
(Audible thought) Yes I’m sure!

TERRY
This is priceless.

MAUDE
Did she marry again? Change her name?

CHARLEY
(Audible thought) No, she never got married, she was always Doris Watson. And that’s not her.

MAUDE
Oh. Well that’s good, you won’t have inherited this ladies shocking genetic aging. Your neck isn’t fated to end up like this.

CHARLEY
(Audible thought) No it’s not good, we’re in the wrong funeral.

TERRY
I can confirm that this is not good. We could be watching a Comedy of Errors but instead we are in a Comedy of Errors.

CHARLEY
(Audible thought) I’m failing to see the comedy myself.

MAUDE
Its ok poppet, we’ll leave now and you can explain to the vicar on the way out.

CHARLEY
(Audible thought) Ok.

TERRY
(STANDS UP AND STEPS INTO AISLE) Do we have a plan B?

MAUDE
Why?

TERRY
The wrong Doris’s coffin is coming down the aisle. And I don’t want to sound rude but there isn’t any room for you to squeeze past it Charley.

CHARLEY
(Audible thought) No! What am I going to do?

MAUDE
Go along with it.

CHARLEY
(Audible thought) What?

TERRY
Disaster alert.

MAUDE
Well if your Doris is being buried at eleven at the St Stephens by the river you’ll never make it in time so just pretend this is her and leave straight after.

COFFIN IS WHEELED PAST WITH A SQUEAKY WHEEL BY JOHN AND PLACED IN FRONT OF THE CONGREGATION FOLLOWED BY THE VICAR.

CHARLEY
Oh god

TERRY
Ditto that.

VICAR
We are gathered here today to say goodbye to our friend Doris, a lively member of our community who touched the hearts of all she met. We have her great niece Charley with us today and I was wondering if she would be kind enough to come up here and say a few words for us. (SHE LOOKS ACROSS TO CHARLEY AND SMILES)

CHARLEY
(Audible thought) No, no, no. This can’t be happening to me. Please make it stop.

MAUDE
Bluff it. You’ll be fine. We’re here with you poppet.

VICAR
Charley?

TERRY
Would you like me to come up with you?

CHARLEY
(Audible thought) I want you to beam me out of here.

TERRY
Now you know I can’t do that. Your mind is amazing, obviously because I’m in it, but it’s not that advanced. Yet.

CHARLEY
(Audible thought) Then yes, stand up there with me please.

CHARLEY AND TERRY GO AND STAND AT THE PULPIT, GUIDED BY THE VICAR.

TERRY
What a hideous bunch they look from up here. Your hat looks really nice in comparison.

CHARLEY
Oh dear lord. Oh dear lord thank you for sharing Doris with us. She was a kind and loving lady who taught me how to…

TERRY
Knit.

CHARLEY
Knit (LOOKS QUICKLY AT TERRY)
(Audible thought) Knit?
and she liked…

TERRY
Jam.

CHARLEY
Jam. (RAISES HER EYEBROW AT TERRY) (Audible thought) you are not helping me. (out loud) Strawberry was her favourite.

TERRY
Ooh I was thinking apricot.

CHARLEY
And she enjoyed travelling.

TERRY
That’s good.

CHARLEY
She entertained me with many a tale of her circus travels when she was young.

TERRY
That’s not so good. I think you’ve lost the audience now. We were alright with knitting and jam but the circus has blown it.

CHARLEY
(Audible thought) Oh no, what now?

TERRY
Put your head in your hands and pretend to cry. Maude does it all the time when she doesn’t want me to talk to her, it’s highly effective.

(CHARLEY PUTS HER FACE IN HER HANDS)

CHARLEY
(Audible thought) No tears, I can’t cry.

TERRY
Think of something really sad. Like your Aunt Doris the other side of town being buried on her own because you’re here cheating on her with dodgy Doris Wilson, jam eater, knitter and circus freak.

CHARLEY STARTS SOBBING.

EXT. CHURCHYARD. DAY.

CHARLIE, TERRY AND MAUDE ARE STOOD AT THE SIDE OF THE CHURCH, THEY HAVE MOVED AWAY FROM DORIS’S OPEN GRAVE, PEOPLE ARE SHUFFLING AWAY AND SOME OLD PEOPLE ARE GIVING HER DIRTY LOOKS.

CHARLEY
(Audible thought) I’m so embarrassed.

MAUDE
It’s ok. It could have been worse.

TERRY
Not much it couldn’t. It was bad. It was like watching a car crash. Someone should have recorded it for internet humiliation. If a younger demographic was here that would have happened.

MAUDE
Why don’t we make a move poppet? We could call by to the other St Stephens, see the real grave and say goodbye properly.

CHARLEY
(Audible thought) Yes, that’s a good idea.

A MAN WALKS TOWARDS THEM, PETE, SMILING. HE IS WEARING A BLACK SUIT, WHITE SHIRT AND BLACK TIE.

PETE
Hello.

CHARLEY
Oh, hello

PETE
I’m Pete.

MAUDE
He’s gorgeous!

CHARLEY
Charley.

PETE
I know, saw the eulogy.

CHARLEY
Oh yes, not my finest moment.

TERRY
Understatement.

PETE
I was surprised to see you.

TERRY
If this is going to be a cheesy chat up line I may vomit.

CHARLEY
Really?

PETE
Yes, I’m Doris’s nephew.

TERRY
Uh oh.

CHARLEY
The vicar said there was no family here?

PETE
I crept in below the radar, we weren’t a close family so I just wanted to blend in.

CHARLEY
That was my plan.

PETE
(LAUGHS) Didn’t work well.

CHARLEY
I know. I need to plan my plans a little better.

PETE
I don’t recall you in our family tree.

TERRY
Now you’re stuck. Tell him you’re from the circus branch of the family. Bearded lady.

MAUDE
No, just be honest, it’s the best policy.

CHARLEY
Ah, that’s because I’m not. There was a mix up. I’m at the wrong funeral. It snowballed. It’s a long story.

PETE
Then how about telling me over dinner tonight?

TERRY
Oh god it was a chat up manoeuvre. I may still vomit.

CHARLEY
Oh, um..

MAUDE
Say yes!

TERRY
Be like Zammo in Grange Hill, just say no.

CHARLEY
OK, yes I’d love to go to dinner with you.

TERRY
Too keen. You’ve just made yourself look desperate.

MAUDE
Ignore Mr Grumpy Pants. That’s the correct reply.

PETE
Great. 7pm? Where shall I pick you up from?

TERRY
Serial killer alert. Don’t give him your home address.

CHARLEY
7pm is good, name a restaurant and I’ll meet you there.

PETE
A modern independent woman.

TERRY
No, a sensible one who wants to stay alive.

PETE
Do you know The Acorn?

MAUDE
Swish!

TERRY
Pretentious.

CHARLEY
Yes, that’s good, it’s a date. Well it’s not a date. It’s just a meal out. With a new friend. New acquaintance. Maybe.

TERRY
You’re blowing it, stop talking.

CHARLEY
I’m going to stop talking now.

TERRY
You said that out loud.

CHARLEY
(Audible thought) I know. I meant to.

PETE
Ok, I’ll see you at seven tonight, my cousin that’s not my cousin.

PETE WALKS OFF SMILING.

TERRY
Oh that’s creepy, tell me that’s not creepy.

CHARLEY
(LOOKING BEHIND TERRY AND MAUDE IN PANIC)
Oh quick we have to go now.

MAUDE
Why?

PABLO DRESSED IN CUBAN PARTY GEAR AND HOLDING MARACAS IS SALSA DANCING ACROSS THE GRAVEYARD TOWARDS THEM.

PABLO
Yoo hoo.

TERRY AND MAUDE TURN TO SEE HIM.

TERRY
I thought you’d banished him today?

CHARLEY
I did, he’s got over excited and forgotten.

PABLO SUDDENLY DISAPPEARS INTO DORIS’S GRAVE THEN POPS BACK UP STILL SMILING.

PABLO
I’m ok, I think I may have dented my maracas though.

TERRY
Leg it.

CHARLEY, TERRY AND MAUDE WALK FAST THEN RUN FROM THE GRAVEYARD WITH PABLO DANCING AFTER THEM.

(END OF EPISODE)

Valentine’s Day for Singles

Published February 9, 2015 by Naomi Rettig

It’s that annoying time of the year again when shop windows fill with a sea of red love hearts and loved up smug couples flaunt their sickly sweet soulmate status, while feeling sorry for singletons and their miserable lonely existences. Yes, I’m not a fan of the over commercialised event of Valentine’s Day.
I don’t like the fact that florists, hotels and restaurants hike up their prices for this day – I know they are in business and need to make money but I still find it distasteful. I don’t like the assumption that it’s just this one day of the year that you show the person that you love you care – you don’t need a special day to do this. I don’t like couples who send vomit inducing messages on social media for all to see –tell each other privately, why do you need to tell everyone/show off about it.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am surprisingly an eternal romantic even though I’ve been single for many years now. I’m more in love with the idea of being in love than actually being in love though. It’s exciting to imagine that my soulmate is out there somewhere and that fate will guide us together in some mysterious circumstance, our eyes will meet and we will instantly know we are destined to be together for eternity. But in reality I know the chances of this happening are a slither of slim. I manage to hide this hope of ‘my soulmate is out there’ at the back of my brain, filed away with ‘someone will invent calorie free chocolate’ and ‘if I mentally promise to donate half to charity I will win the lottery jackpot’.
Maybe that’s why I don’t like Valentine’s Day too, a reminder of another year sailed by without bumping into said soulmate (and another year without calorie free chocolate and a lottery win). So when I see the sea of red and pink hearts surging up the high street I have to remind myself how good it is to be single to stop myself sinking in the suffocating waves of organised romance.
There are wonderful advantages to being single. Your legs are warmer in winter as there is no need to shave them, although when you shave for summer dresses it will appear that you’ve massacred Chewbacca in your bath tub. You can watch whatever television you like and when you like, no having to put up with silly sports channels or being tutted at when watching hours of soap operas. There are no tedious in-laws to dutifully visit or partner’s friends that you have to tolerate when you would really like to smack them across the face with a wet haddock. You can starfish in bed at night, fidget away and keep all the duvet to yourself, not to mention the bliss of a quiet night’s sleep with no snoring or heaving breathing next to you that leaves you contemplating first degree murder. You can also have lovely lazy days where you don’t have to bother brushing your hair and applying your face and you can feel happy lounging around in the nude without constantly holding your tummy in. Also you will have healthier intestines too as there is no need to hold wind in, extra beneficial being a vegetarian.
I unfortunately can’t banish Valentine’s Day so instead I will celebrate with the current soulmate in my life – me. I will treat myself to some lovely gifts perfect for me (Erica Spindler’s new thriller book, the Fawlty Towers scripts and Monty Python’s Holy Grail script) and spoil myself with a luxurious candlelit bath after work while sipping non-alcoholic pina colada (my tipple of choice) before watching a Judd Nelson movie (getting to spend the evening with the most handsome man on the planet) and enjoying a Marks & Spencer meal for one.
I suppose I have fallen into the consumer trap of this day. And that little seed of hope will be waiting for flowers from a secret admirer to be delivered in work and an array of admirer’s cards waiting on my doormat on return from work. They won’t, and I shall be momentarily disappointed before reminding myself that I’m spending the evening with someone that loves me unconditionally and forever. Me. So if you are single on Valentine’s Day: love yourself, be kind to yourself and remind yourself how special you are, too special to share in fact!

Ode to You

Published January 20, 2015 by Naomi Rettig

You’re stuck in my brain and I can’t set you free,
You’re having a strange effect on me.
I want to swim with you in lemon jelly,
Cuddle nude while watching the telly.
Write your name on my book in permanent ink,
Fly high through clouds of candyfloss pink.
Words tangle like spaghetti when I try to talk,
My mouth feeling like crumbling chalk.
Your smile thrown my way starts my tummy to spin,
Head all giddy like I’ve been on gin.
If I held your hand once I might just explode,
Leaving my bits all over the road.
You have no idea what you do to me,
If you felt the same I’d scream ‘yippee’!