For six years I’ve been the chief caregiver to a champagne-swigging, prosperous but preposterous, fashion and fad-obsessed Aunty who is incapable of performing any domestic tasks. Of course I’ve been the ever-virtuous, high-minded, intellectual, virginal niece who assumes the moral high ground and provides the voice of reason.
I have been the sole carer to the real life Edina Monsoon. A woman who subcribes to every trend that arises, a self proclaimed Buddhist and a feng shui enthusiast who aspires to move in the highest circles of creativity, fashion and celebrity. A woman who cannot allow a drink to pass her lips unless it costs more than a months rent and most importantly a woman who is only happy when all eyes are on her.
It wasn’t until I was old enough to drink that I met your alter ego, ‘Edina’. I might have spent the first eighteen years of my life getting on your nerves but the day you realised I was no longer a little brat I became your partner in crime, champagne pourer and ashtray cleaner all rolled into one.
In the years that followed I have learned so much from you: I never leave a party until they throw me out and it’s never over if there’s still some vodka lurking. Sunrises mean it might be time for bed and you can never have enough ‘fatboy breakfasts’. Most importantly a ‘hair of the dog’ is always preferable to a hang over and cider cures everything.
We survived the night you went missing…
I spoke to Jane at 7pm; they were waiting for you to turn up at a gourmet dinner. At 9pm you still hadn’t arrived so after many unanswered calls I drove to your house. I panicked when I noticed the car in your drive, as you NEVER walk anywhere. I went into the house (I learned to have my own key after previous similar emergencies) and your dog was crazily jumping around – Of course to me this was an indication that his much-loved Mummy was dead upstairs. I walked slowly upstairs, partly because my legs were made of jelly, and entered rooms one by one. I checked the bathrooms and eventually convinced myself that I would not find your dead body.
A wooden puppet in the kitchen fell and both feet snapped – Of course, this was proof that someone was trying to tell me that you were laying somewhere in a ditch with two broken legs. I called the local taxi firm, searched the garden, checked the car and at one point I even touched the TV screen to see if it was hot (in my next life I will be a detective). I tried to call your mobile again and it was ringing in the house … Realising you are a woman who never walks, never misses the opportunity of meeting friends and never leaves anywhere without your mobile glued to your ear, I was ready to hyperventilate.
After an hour I got a call to say that you had been spotted at a local hotel. Of course my ‘Saffy’ instincts were on overdrive by now, I wanted to call you, scream and shout and tell you to come home immediately because you were grounded for a month.
I eventually spoke to you and discovered that you were at the tail end of a boozy lunch. I hung up when you started singing down the phone to me. Another disaster diverted!
We survived your bad behaviour…
You are Edina and I am Saffron – I’m sure ‘Absolutely Fabulous’ is the script of our life. The mother of Bollinger Bubbles and the owner of a car called Gertie… Like Edina Monsoon you can never get out of a car without falling and champagne tends to go in your handbag well before lipstick.
Remember when you were living the high-life in London and about once a month you’d decide to come and take over our town? Now most people would arrive home for the weekend with a suitcase full of dirty clothes for their mother, presents for their lovely niece and nephew and a nice little something for their sister… You were different. You’d arrive with a suitcase full of champagne and four of your friends and then spend the weekend crashed out at Gran’s – Until I was twelve I always thought you were sick – I now know you were constantly hung over!
My brother and I were naive to your ways and our 8 and 9-year-old selves would cycle round to the house, excited in anticipation at being able to do something for our super cool Aunt. You would present us with a shopping list that I now understand to have all the ingredients of a ‘fatboy breakfast’ and we would rush off to the shop to get it with the new, shiny 50p piece we were allowed for our trouble.
You took my Dad to the pub whilst Mum begged you not to. A few hours later you’d return and Dad would spend the next three hours hugging the toilet bowl whilst Mum spent her time telling him he was pathetic and that you are the devil. Of course you would take no notice and go back to Gran’s for your afternoon kip.
You would get a rude awakening later in the day with Mum hammering on your bedroom door, whilst you woke from your champagne induced coma. Mum would be screaming because people had started knocking at the door as you had spent the afternoon in the pub inviting strangers to our house for a BBQ!
Those were the best BBQ’s ever. Mum would be crying in the kitchen, Dad would be in bed sleeping it off and you would be chatting to people in the garden over a BBQ that you’d persuaded them to cook because the important job of entertaining could not cross-over with being a chef too!
We survived a cyclone…
We had been told to expect rain but as the temperature was fast approaching 50 we were stupidly looking forward to it… then it rained and rained and rained. Within hours the electricity went, phone lines died, trees were uprooted, windows rattled and everywhere was flooding. Everyone was panicking – except you.
Two hours into the storm you decided to open a bottle of champagne because, “if you died you would be devastated if it had been left behind”. By the time you finished the first bottle rainwater was dripping through the ceilings on both floors. When you opened the second bottle I used the first bottle to catch the drips as all pots and pans were already strategically placed… this was your way of helping.
Six hours in and I had a routine. I was storm trooper number one and storm trooper number two was Bolly. I opened the roof terrace with Bolly running along behind and managed to catch him before the wind swept him away. Once he was on his lead we started sweeping excess water from the roof, then the upstairs balconies and lastly the ones downstairs in an attempt to stop the flooding inside – we did this non-stop for the next six hours.
At one point Bolly and I passed you sprawled out on the sofa, you handed me another empty bottle and said, “be a doll and get me another”, I said, “you know that the house is flooding?” and you replied “Yep, if it gets any worse I’m checking into a hotel…”
Eighteen hours of roof and balcony sweeping in 50 degrees were coming to an end and you were snuggled up on the sofa complaining that you needed the air conditioning to work. Bolly and I looked like drowned rats and every towel, bed sheet and pan was dotted around the house when you turned to me and said, “Do you think it’s stopping now coz I’m running out of champagne?”
I persuaded you to come to the roof terrace to see the state of everything and as the roof door opened you saw that roads and pavements had lifted, the sea was crashing over everything and the streets were covered in people’s garden furniture… and then you said, “Oh, the weather’s stunning. If I’d have known the temperature was this nice I would have come out here hours ago.”
We survived many screams for help…
One night I received a call and you sounded close to having a heart attack:
You: Hurry, there’s a monster in my bathroom
Me: A monster?
You: YESSSS, I’ve piff-paffed it and shut the door – Get here QUICK
I arrived to find you with your feet up watching TV and you sent me straight upstairs to face the ‘beast’. Half an hour later I had located a small, scared Gecko that was swimming in the remnants of every spray can you could get your hands on. Once I had apologised to the poor little thing for the fact that you had drowned it in piff-paff, I came back downstairs to tell you the monster situation was over.
You: That took ages; I was really worried the monster had got you
Me: Then why didn’t you check to see if I was okay?
You: Because Steve called and I was catching up on the gossip
We also survived…
• The day you begged me to fix the dishwasher, as you, “just couldn’t face having to wash another dish”. Thirty seconds later I had re-clipped the part that had fallen off and put away the four “bloody useless” manuals you had thrown across the room
• The day you called me to insist I had given Bolly OCD… You explained that you had looked up his behaviour on the Internet and it was called canine compulsive disorder – CCD
• The day I chased you around a hotel at 3am trying to persuade you to return the buggy you had stolen and was driving at full speed across the freshly cut lawns
• The day I persuaded the Police that all was okay after they launched a full scale search to find my ‘missing’ Aunt who was eventually located in a bar drinking champagne with “some really cool people”
• The days I had to explain to the family that you were not really that drunk after your insistence whilst drinking to phone everyone and tell them that you love them. Like the evening you insisted on phoning Mum in Scotland (from Dubai) to let her hear Rod Stewart singing ‘Maggie May’… the entire way through
• The day I had to call your friends to say that your pre-dinner drinks had to be cancelled because you had started partying 24 hours earlier and had finished every bottle
• The days I had to make excuses on your behalf to the employers of your friends who have banned their staff from associating with you after 8pm in the evening
You are absolutely fabulous and I hope that your move to Scotland brings you everything that you’ve ever wished for. If nothing else I know the owners of the local ‘offy’s’ are rubbing their hands together with glee! You may be getting VERY old but you still have an amazing knack of making me (and everyone else) feel a million times older!
Over and above everything else I am proud to be your niece. The best decision I ever made was to stalk you so much that eventually you caved and let me move to the other side of the world with you. For as long as I can remember I have worshipped the ground you walk on, everyone thinks you are amazing and I’m lucky enough to have your genes!
May the only pain in your life be champagne.
I love you catrillions. I’ll miss you,