Friday, 21 October 2011

Chapter Fourteen

Ringing her parents to let her know they wouldn't have to put the house up for her bail was a strange hybrid of Monty Python and The Good Life:

"Hi mum, it's me."

"Oh hello Natasha, we thought you were in prison."

"No, I was just in Essex"

"What were you doing in Essex?"

"I was watching the world's ex fattest man lock his evil sister in a basement and forcefeed her cakes."

"Oh. Well we've been in the garden today, but we might go for a walk on the beach later."

It was also easy nipping the "Free Natasha" movement in the bud, online buzz was used to being quelled by the truth. It happened every week in the hope that Noel Edmunds was dead.

Finally, after three cups of tea and having a bottle of Lidl's cheapest brandy wrestled from her sticky hands, came the hard part, she phoned Sarah. She hadn't wanted to. She'd sulked, stamped her feet and threatened to take the campaign website down, but Kat and Gladys wouldn't budge. She'd been wrong and she had to face up to it.

Being wrong had never upset Natasha. You didn't go through life being Natasha without constantly having your fuck ups pointed out to you, but it still stung. Her fingers shook as she dialled her sister's number, imagining the smug iPhone vibration, the ringer was probably set especially to the Benny Hill theme tune just for her, maybe a photo of a turd came up. She imagined Sarah in a shiny venue giggling with a gaggle of supermodels, a brief interruption whilst shopping for cushions.

But somehow surprisingly Sarah's voice rang with something she took a few moments to identify as concern. Natasha nearly spat the tea across the room.

"I'm so proud of you!" gushed her sister. "Forgive me for saying this but I never really thought you had it in you. You were forever making plans and breaking them, I always found it so frustrating because you are so clever and so motivated. It got on my nerves that you found it so hard to act. But I was wrong. You've really pulled out the stops, you were even arrested for your beliefs. That's something I could never do."

"Do you mean that?" squeaked Natasha.

"Of course I do. I think you're amazing sis. That's why I just wanted to help you out - I thought that if you were inside then you'd need someone to be your eyes and ears outside, to keep the campaign going in your name. To fight for you and what you believe in. I kind of hoped it might bring us together. Like Nelly wearing plasters on his face, only cooler."

Natasha found herself wiping away a snivel. Was it true? Had her younger sister always been gunning to be her wing woman? But what about the dog killer thing?

"I want to heal our friendship" pleaded Sarah. "Getting engaged has put so much in perspective for me. I want us to be like real sisters, not two assholes who secretly despise each other."

"Oh hell!" exclaimed Natasha, "I need your help Sarah, are you free?"

"Hell yeah!" screamed an excitable Sarah. "And I'm going to bring you a present!"


It was odd forgiving Sarah, Natasha had never really considered that she'd end up being friends with the sister she had always seen as her enemy. But now it started to make sense, they'd always been consumed with mutual jealousy because they were very alike.

And as her sister arrived in an well organised heap on her front step to a massive hug and a few cheeky nips of lidl's cheapest brandy (once Kat wasn't looking), ushering the "present" in front of her, all rippling muscles and chocolate eyes.

"This is Kieron" winked Sarah. "He's my gym instructor and he's been dying to meet you. He's also a fantastic cook."

Natasha came alive a little more inside as Kieron kissed her hand before introducing himself politely to Kat, who put him to work piping icing.

Sarah was onboard she was able to use her PR skills to the best effect, knowing the best journalists to call about the rally, constructing releases and using her contacts to set up the event quickly, cheaply and easily. It was like watching a whirlwind in action and finally Natasha was able to sit back and look at her little sister with awe, safe in the knowledge that it was mutual.

And so they prepared for a celebration of life, love and cake. They had asked three bands to play, as well as numerous and newly liberated speakers from the celeb and fashion world.

Sarah excitedly explained that from the first mumblings on the internet the cake movement had exploded into the East London scene - with cakes being distributed in the best pubs and clubs. Several of the coolest bands had taken to pelting cake at their fans, whilst one of the presenters of T4 had taken to eating cake during interviews with movie stars and proudly displaying her stomach as it grew rounded with buttery love.

"And it's all because of you Natasha" gushed Sarah as she threw down her mobile phone having sold pictures of Tess Daley nibbling tentatively on a cheese straw to the Daily Mirror.

The party was going to be the best that Shoreditch had ever seen, and Natasha was going to address several hundred excitable sugar heads. For once everything seemed to be perfect. Just perfect.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Chapter Thirteen

It wasn't fair. She wanted to slam her fists into a nice squishy wall and weep like a five year old whose toys have been commandeered by a younger, cuter, more evil child. She wanted to weep and sulk and amass an army to slay her enemies.

The sugar comedown had shortened her nerves and something unpleasant bubbled in her gut as the train deliberately ploughed through every shitey pointless village in Essex. The train was mocking her. Every ticket barrier, every slow moving tourist, every tree, bird and gulp of fresh air that lined the endless road between the world's ex fattest man and home was mocking her. They'd probably been paid generously to do so by the harpy who was hijacking her accidental political tour de force.

It made sense though. Sarah had always done this - from scalping her Cindys to reading out her River Phoenix death poetry to taping over the best bits of The Sound of Music and pretending it was all just a misunderstanding.

It was typical, and tragic. After all the hard work Natasha had put in, everything she'd done to create a movement and then publicise it - all to be wrestled from her by the evil arms of Sarah. To become nothing but another trend. Another Shoreditch, asymmetrical hair, display of assholery. She wanted to change her view on gun control, or at least breath into a paper bag for a while.

After an eternity on a train and a minor outburst at a young Japanese couple having their picture taken outside Finsbury Park tube station Natasha burst into her house with fingers crossed that it was high noon, ready to do what a woman had to do. She was ready to to rip her sister's 50's quiff from her shiny little head, stab her in the face with her own hand crafted pin badges and shove a farmers market cucumber where the sun didn't shine.

And of course it was all in the name of the cause. Whatever that might be. Sibling shit aside, the cause needed Natasha to lead it, it needed someone battered, bruised, whose dream it had always been. It definitely didn't want to be led by someone who, as sure as eggs were eggs, would throw the cause aside like last night's kebab as soon as something shinier came along.

She threw open the front door and stomped through the hall into the kitchen. Gladys and Kat were sat at the table in the kitchen drinking tea, or possibly gin from teacups.

"Where is she" growled Natasha. Fists forming into little balls of granite.

Kat looked up and beamed, she had mascara stains below her eyes. "You're alive!" she screamed as she leaped up and grabbed Natasha in a sweaty embrace, smelling like someone who'd been awake for a long time.

Had Sarah spread death rumours as well? Maybe they'd thought she'd been sent so Siberia.

"Of course I'm alive! Why, what did she tell you?"

"Who?" asked Kat.

"You know who. My bitch of a sister."

Gladys affixed her best narked out granny face.

"Why the hell haven't you called? I've had SABTY's solicitors trying to track you down in prison. We've been threatening god knows who. There was talk of calling in Wogan and the Archbishop of Canterbury to demand your release."

Natasha hadn't expected them to be mad at her. She'd expected them to either be Stepford Sarahs or up for doing some trendy wendy clobbering. Kat looked genuinely sad and Gladys was annoyed. That wasn't in the script.

"I'm sorry" she squeaked. "I thought you'd been co-opted."

Gladys and Kat shared a sarcastic look. Apparently they weren't ripe for co-opting today.

"But what about the event tomorrow? That's got something to do with Sarah right?" Natasha was squeaking now. She detected an eye roll. She needed more cake. She definitely needed more cake. Sugar…..levels…..dropping…….

"She was here" said Gladys.

Eureka! And they'd told her she was mad. This place stunk of Sarah, the whole sorry plan stunk to high heaven of that jumped up, skinny, popular…..

"And so were loads of people. Sarah, Pete, your parents."

Her parents? Natasha's parents hadn't ventured towards London since The Blitz. Surely there was ….

"They all came round. They'd heard about the campaign through the papers, through Twitter. They wanted to help. And when you didn't come home….."

Kat interjected, her face like a freshly kicked puppy:

"We thought it was what you would have wanted us to do. So Sarah found a venue and we organised the demo."

"She was really proud of you. She kept beaming and telling everyone that you were her big sister."

Natasha's stomach contracted like she'd eaten a bag of superglue. This was why they didn't sell humble pie in Macdonalds.

"We did it for you Natasha". Kat's eyes were wet with tears.

Holy crapola. Natasha ran over to the biscuit tin on the side in the kitchen, picked up a handful of custard crèmes and crammed them into her gob. Crumbs spilled out of her mouth and down her dirty clothes, the chomping noises drowned out the thinly veiled disgust on her friends' faces. The swallowing motion blocked out the feeling of complete and total humiliation at having made such a twat of herself. The biscuits hit her innards with the lovely smacky feeling of a problem well avoided.

Only she hadn't avoided. They were still stood there. And she had a lot of apologising to do.