‘So you’ve kept contact with Donna all of this time? Have to say we didn’t manage to place you from before.’
’20 years is a long time.’
‘No offence but you couldn’t forget Donna’ Sam continued.
Rosie and Tanya glanced at each other.
They were starting to figure out that he never had.
‘We were there for her when she had Sophie.’ Tanya watched them narrowly, gauging their reaction. They all looked uncomfortable, as they might.
‘I got the impression Donna’s mum wouldn’t have been pleased’ said Sam, trying to sound casual.
‘Oh yes. Donna’s mum.’
Rosie swigged the bottle contemplatively.
‘What a miserable old bat.’
‘She was such a bitch’ confirmed Tanya.
‘Thought we were a bad influence.’
‘Wonder why she thought that?’ Muttered Sam to the others. They unanimously agreed. Donna’s best friends were hellions at the best of times.
‘She called Tanya a slut. Kept telling her off for loose morals.’
They were all thinking it.
‘What did she call you?’ Bill asked Rosie.
‘A number of things. Irresponsible. I left a candle unattended, didn’t burn down the kitchen as she predicted. Lazy. I tried to do that thing in Mary Poppins where she slid down the bannister. Apparently I was too lazy to just walk down the stairs. Too loud.’
The dads laughed at the idea of these two ever being quiet.
‘She was never happy with anything. Ssssssh! Your footsteps are too loud. Ssssssh! Must you sit like a boy? Ssssssh! What do you think you sound like? If you must laugh, do it like a lady.’
‘She thought she was the Queen or something’ said Tanya, draining her drink and refilling her glass. ‘She accused Rosie of breaking the handle of her precious cabinet.’
‘Donna did it but she didn’t dare tell her. It just came off in my hand. I superglued it back on under her watchful eye. Thought I was trying to steal something. “Don’t you even think about looking at my china again!”’ She mimicked. ‘I was 15, lady, what the hell would I want with your two bits of china?’
‘How did she put up with you?’ Asked Harry curiously.
‘How did we put up with her is the question.’
‘Well we didn’t last long after that. She kept telling Tanya her skirt was too short and to pull it down.’
Bill grinned, knowing what kind of joke they were likely to make out of that.
‘So you mentioned the effect of Tanya’s short skirt to the boys and threw in something about touching her china’ he slyly suggested.
Rosie clinked glasses with him. ‘That was pretty much how it went.’
The dynamos hooted with laughter at the memory.
‘She threw us out after that. Banned us from the flat’ said Tanya.
‘No big deal’ shrugged Rosie. ‘We found other places to meet. Like “homework club.”
‘Behind the bike shed and in the park’ translated Tanya. ‘Other people’s back gardens. Packet of cigs and a bottle of cider to share. Mixed company. That kind of thing.’
‘She sounds like quite a character’ Harry said.
‘Be thankful you never met her’ Tanya said to him. The men looked relieved.
‘She disowned Donna when she ended up pregnant. Told her if something like that happened she wouldn’t be welcome home’ added Rosie, closely watching their reactions. It did the trick. Each one of them looked shocked and then ashamed.
‘Does she still live there?’ Ventured Harry timidly.
‘She died a couple of years ago. Good riddance. She treated Donna like a child.’
Each of the dads considered Donna and how she felt about it in light of this new information. She’d never told them anything about her home life. They felt guilty. A troop of drunken youngsters came dancing past, shouting for them to join them. The dads made a quick escape.
‘We’ll talk to you later’ Harry assured them before they got swept up into the party once more. Alone, the ladies considered the information they had given and how it would affect the men. They belatedly realised they’d spoken too much.
‘She would kill us if she knew we mentioned Sophie.’
‘Yeh, better not do that anymore. We’re supposed to be distracting them.’ Rosie topped up the glasses.
‘Fishing it is then.’
‘What will you be doing instead? Nothing risky I hope.’
‘I’ll decide tomorrow.’
Rosie thought that if Tanya declined giving a lap dance or demanded having one from any of them, she must have sun stroke.