The West Enders: Episode Twenty-Three, Season One Finale

IMG_3979It’s the August bank holiday weekend, and the Panenka-Puppe family are enjoying the sunshine and a barbecue. Amid the fun and chatter, Steffi stops for a minute to think about how happy she is. She can’t remember when she felt so contented.

IMG_3980She’s surrounded by her sisters…

IMG_3984Another tiny Panenka has entered the world…

IMG_3982Even Kevin seems happy and content. He’s even accepted Olly as one of the family at last.

IMG_3977She knows he worries about Alistair, who keeps to himself almost all of the time. She hopes that he’ll find some new friends when school starts again in September.

SG209217And best of all, her children are happy and thriving in the new beach cottage. Just look at them… Wait a minute!

IMG_4018“Gretchen! Stop feeding your hot dog to Honey!”

SG209225Down the road, their neighbours, the Ekpo-Holmes family are also having a barbecue. Marvin is grilling up a storm. Everyone loves his barbecued ribs. Unfortunately, a little drama is about to unfold in the kitchen.

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Emma is speaking to Corbin.

“Corbin, I thought I told you that today was family only. We’ve had so much partying over the summer, I thought it would be nice if we just spent some time together today.”

IMG_4040“Well, it is just family,” says Corbin, trying to wield his normal charm. “You must be referring to Jazz. She IS family now.”

IMG_4041“What do you mean, she’s family? Have you two gone and got married without telling us!” Emma is incredulous.

IMG_4042“No, of course not. It’s just that she’s living here now.”

Emma is almost speechless. “What?”

“Her student accommodation was getting really expensive and since I’m living at home now to save money, I told her to move in too. She’s been here for about a month. Haven’t you noticed?”

SG209221Emma has had enough. This is the last straw. She completely loses it.

“How dare you move your girlfriend into our house, Marvin’s house, my house, without our permission or even telling us! I’m fed up with your complete disrespect for me, Corbin Holmes. I am not running a B&B or a hotel service!”

“I’m sorry, Emma,” Corbin stammers. “I hope you’re not going to make her leave. She doesn’t have anywhere to go.”

“No, I won’t make her leave! Now get out of my sight before I explode!”

Corbin has never seen Emma so angry.

IMG_3761Emma rushes upstairs and says a prayer. “Please, Lord, grant me patience. Grant me a peaceful heart. I can’t take any more!”

IMG_3900Suddenly Marvin appears.

“Emma, darling, I’m so sorry. I didn’t know. I thought I was seeing more of Jazmin lately. She and Corbin always seem to be eating their breakfast together when I get home from work but I didn’t realise that she was living here.”

Marvin has a morning talk show at the local television station and is up and out the door before anybody in the house. He gets home in the early afternoon, around the time Corbin and Jazmin are getting out of bed.

SG209231“It’s okay, Marvin. I’m calm now. It’s just that we bought this house thinking we’d have a little more time together and we’re bursting at the seams with our relatives. I can’t turn them away.”

“I know, darling,” says Marvin. “Maybe we need to go out on a date!”

“There is one thing you could do, Marvin, that would mean the world to me.”

“Anything, sweetheart. What is it?”

“Kick Aunt Lavinia out of our bedroom!”

“Anything for you, love,” says Marvin. “Although I expect to hear a lot of whinging!”

SG209226Out in the garden, Roberta, Erika, Aunt Lavinia, and Jazmin are enjoying the barbecue. Although they heard the row in the kitchen, Jazmin seems completely unfazed and sips her margarita as if she hasn’t got a care in the world. Suddenly Erika, who is looking at her phone, lets out a loud gasp.

“Why are you staring at that phone, Erika?” asks Lavinia grumpily. “This is a family meal, you shouldn’t be looking at that thing.”

“What’s wrong?” asks Roberta, seeing the look of shock on Erika’s face.

“Someone’s tagged some pictures of Sutton on Facebook!” says Erika angrily.

“Let’s see,” says Roberta calmly.

SG209227“Oh, come on, Erika, it’s just a selfie with a couple of women in the pub. Sutton practically lives in that place. Don’t get your knickers in a twist over nothing.”

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“Not that picture,” Erika barks. “The one before it. And it isn’t just two women in the pub, it’s that tart Merida MacDonald he used to crawl all over, according to Blessing.”

SG209229Roberta gasps. “Oh, THAT picture,” is all she can say.

IMG_3969Uh oh.

That’s it for Season 1 of the West Enders. We’ll be back in September for Season 2. Don’t miss the drama, the fun, and the dolls!

The West Enders: Episode Twenty-Two, Not the Sharpest Tool in the Shed

SG209192It’s Saturday afternoon, and Tommy has invited Mira to meet him at the pub for an aperitif. To Mira’s annoyance, Lilli is there as well. Tommy buys some drinks and when Lilli excuses herself to go to the ladies room, Mira decides to confront him.

“I see you decided to bring Lilli along again,” she says drily.

“I didn’t bring her along,” says Tommy. “She just came along.”

“What do you mean, ‘she just came along,'” asks Mira in surprise. “It sounds as if she was at your house. Or didn’t you come from home?” One of Mira’s biggest annoyances with her relationship with Tommy, is that if they are ever alone, it’s always at her place. She’s never been to his house.

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Tommy stares at Mira in astonishment. “Yes, I came from home. So what? Why are you interrogating me, this way, Mira? You actually sound jealous. It’s not becoming.”

Mira ignores his last comment. “Working on a Saturday?”

“No, we weren’t working.”

“What are you saying to me, Tommy? You make it sound as if Lilli lives there or something.”

“Of course, she doesn’t live there! She’s just staying with me until she gets her own place.”

“What? Lilli is staying at your house?”

“Well, of course she is. Where did you think she was staying?”

“And just how long has this been going on?”

“Since she arrived. I don’t understand what’s wrong with you, Mira.”

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Mira takes a long drink of her glass of wine as Lilli joins them. “Looking as smug as ever,” Mira thinks. “Oh, this is not becoming. What am doing in this relationship? I don’t want to be part of a bloody harem!”

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To make a bad situation worse, the three are joined by another beautiful woman, who Mira recognises as one of the back-up singers for the Ladies in Black.

“Tommy, darling,” she coos, “How fabulous to see you!  Have you heard the news? I’m leaving the Ladies and going back to modelling. Barbie is opening her own fashion house, hired designers, models, everything. But I’m still really interested in pursuing a solo music career as we discussed earlier. I hope you’ll keep that in mind.”

“Of course I never forget you, angel,” says Tommy. Mira is feeling more and more annoyed. She tries to compose her thoughts, feeling guilty that someone who teaches yoga and meditation should become so agitated so quickly.

“Let me introduce you to Mira,” says Tommy. “She owns the local yoga studio. Of course, you know Lilli.”

SG209199Salynda turns to face Mira. “So nice to meet you, Mira,” she says. “I love yoga! I’ll have to try one of your classes sometime.”

“I’m sure we’d love to have you,” answers Mira politely. She hasn’t missed the fact that Tommy has not introduced her as his girlfriend.

SG209194Salynda turns back to Tommy and asks, “Why don’t we get together some time for dinner and talk over what’s required to launch a solo career?” she says. “You can come round to my place. I’m a fabulous cook and I’ll bet you’re missing some good Chinese home cooking.”

This is all Mira can take.

SG209201“Right, well, nice to see everyone. I’m heading down to the yoga studio to check up on the young people. They’re up to something down there.” She puts her drink on the bar and hurries out.

The pub sits on a hill and the yoga studio occupies the lower floor. There is an entrance to the pub on the street at the top of the hill and one to the yoga studio at the bottom. There is also a staircase from the pub to the studio but it’s usually locked. This connection makes the yoga studio perfect for Kevin to rent when he has a big event on, although Mira is very strict about not allowing alcohol downstairs.

SG209189Once down the stairs, Mira tries to compose herself. Yuki is teaching Rikki how to be a DJ. Zayn, who, unbeknownst to Yuki, would do anything for her, has promised to have some dance nights for the teens and tweens in the café when the new academic year starts. As a Muslim, he doesn’t drink alcohol, so he’s happy to host alcohol free events.

“How’s everything going?” asks Mira with false cheerfulness.

“Great!” says Ryan, who is there with Momoko. “Rikki’s going to be a fine DJ.”

SG209190“She certainly is,” adds Yuki from across the room. “And look, she’s got a following already!”

Back upstairs in the pub, more interesting conversations are happening.

SG209203Marilyn Baker has arrived, another one of the backup singers for the Ladies in Black. She’s also an aspiring actress and latches on to Liam Hemingway, who has come in as usual. He’s a regular.

“Oh, you’re Liam Hemingway,” Marilyn gasps. “I’ve seen all your films! I’m Marilyn. I’m an actress myself, although at the moment I’m not working other than singing. I’m one of the Ladies in Black.”

SG209205“All my films? I’m very impressed, Marilyn,” says Liam, eyeing her speculatively. He’s thinking something very different, however, first noticing her very low cut sundress. Is it possible that a woman is actually hitting on him instead of the other way around for a change? He can hardly believe his luck.

Behind him, Sutton, who has spent the entire afternoon in the pub chatting up a beautiful newcomer, is overjoyed to see someone he hasn’t seen in ages.

SG209207“Merida! You haven’t come here in so long! Too long. I’m so glad to see you. We didn’t really part friends and I’m really sorry about that.”

“I see you’ve met my friend Ariadne,” replies Merida drily. She’s not sure it was a good idea to come here. Ariadne Kostopoulos is an old friend from her modelling days and has arrived to join Barbie’s new fashion venture. Merida has been showing her around the village and as the George is the only pub around, it’s a natural spot in which to meet.

“Merida’s told me all about you, Sutton,” says Ariadne coyly. She’s a bit of a troublemaker and finds Sutton both attractive and somewhat silly in his transparency. And he’s also had just a wee bit too much to drink.

SG209211After another drink, Ariadne announces, “Time for a selfie!”

As they move into position, Sutton is overcome at being so close to Merida again. “Why is she so gorgeous?” he thinks somewhat drunkenly. “And her hair smells so good.”

SG209212“Perfect!” announces Ariadne. “Now I’m going to send you a friend request on Facebook so I can tag you in this photo. Then you can download it! Isn’t it good?”

IMG_3970“Wow, great shot, Ariadne!” says Sutton, not thinking about the ramifications of a picture of himself and Merida appearing on Facebook. He’s been dating Erika Holmes since the barbecue last May and she isn’t very likely to enjoy seeing a photo of him with Merida. She’s heard about his flirtation with Merida from Blessing. Sutton also doesn’t realise that Ariadne snapped another picture of him just before she took this one, and she’s not going to tell him.

Oh, Sutton, you’re really not the sharpest tool in the shed!

What’s Erika going to say? And what about Tommy and Mira? Is there any hope for this relationship? Stay tuned for the next episode!

The West Enders: Episode Twenty-One, When Sparks Fly

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Bonnie and her field crew have returned to the Biology Department lab after a successful fossil hunting trip to the coast. Professor Uhura, the Head of Department, stops in to see how they have done, along with Jamal, who has also returned from his summer field research trip. Bonnie has taken Lottie Lamb-Cuthbertson along after Lottie won a school essay competition on palaeontology. Bonnie’s new PhD student, Zoë Adamson, has also come along, as has Monique Holmes. She’s started her new job as preparator and technician in the lab.

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Professor Uhura listens intently as Bonnie describes the field season, but behind her, Jamal seems unable to focus on anything that she is saying. Instead, he is gazing at Monique, whom he hasn’t seen in ages.

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“It’s so nice to see you, Monique. How did you enjoy your first field season?” he asks.

“I loved it,” Monique responds, her heart thumping. “It was wonderful.” As she and Jamal gaze into each other’s eyes, she wonders how she could ever have been jealous of Roberta.

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Elsewhere in the village, sparks are also igniting. Lottie’s family are out for a stroll en route to pick her up at the university when they bump into Esmée and Layla, who have stopped to chat with Francie Roberts, Barbie’s cousin, who is walking her dog. Lara, as the village GP, knows everyone in the village but Esmée isn’t sure that Nick has met Francie so she introduces them to each other.

“Francie, this is Nick Lamb, the guy I was telling you about. He’s the new lecturer at the university, with a joint appointment in Biology and the School of Veterinary Science. Nick, Francie is a huge animal lover and does a lot of charity work for animal shelters and at the university as well.”

Esmée doesn’t mention that Francie is a wealthy heiress and socialite who has endowed the School of Veterinary Science with millions. She is trying to do a bit of matchmaking and doesn’t want Nick to be intimidated. As if anything could intimidate our Nick!

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All Nick sees is a beautiful, petite woman who isn’t taller than he is. “Those eyes!” he thinks.

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“I’m so glad to meet you!” he says. “What’s your dog’s name?”

“Bingo,” says Francie. “I guess it’s not very original.”

“No, Bingo is a fabulous name!” says Nick. “You must come by and see our new research facility in the Biology Department. Well, I only get a little space there but I’ve got a new PhD student who will be studying the development of cognition in puppies. The puppies are really cute. I bet you would enjoy seeing them.”

Ah, Nick, what could attract a woman more than puppies? Unless it’s kittens, of course.

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In the meantime, Nick’s new PhD student, Jessica Taylor, is in the café, meeting some of the other new PhD students. Naomi Kiyembe will be working with Professor Uhura, and Deangelo, whom we have already met, will be working with Jamal.

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Elsewhere in the café, Jamal’s sister Chrisandra is having coffee and chatting with one of the new employees in the Centre for Sport, which she directs.

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Gabriella Rossi is the new gymnastics coach. She was the European champion for several years as a teenager but is eager to move on with her life professionally. She’s happy to have come to the UK from Italy before Brexit is finalised. With her infectious smile and bubbly personality, it’s impossible not to like her.

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Over at the counter, Sasha is eager to try one of Zayn’s doughnuts.

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At the other end of the counter, Sam and Midge are astonished to run into Sam’s brother, Jamie.

“Good grief, Jamie, I can’t believe it!” Sam exclaims. “What on earth are you doing here? We had hoped to see you at the wedding.”

“Yeah, I’m really sorry I couldn’t make it. My girlfriend, Liu Liu, and I were out of the country at a fashion week. Liu Liu was showing some of her designs and we just couldn’t make it. And uh, this must be Midge? And now you’re Jewish? It’s a bit much to take in.”

“Yes, I am. And yes, this is my gorgeous Midge. And you are soon to be an uncle, Jamie. What do you think of that?”

“Fantastic, of course, man.”

“But you haven’t told us what you’re doing here!” Sam continues.

“Well, it seems that Barbie Roberts is starting a new venture, her own fashion house, and she’s hired Liu Liu to design for her. So here we are.”

“You’ve got to come around and see us as soon as we get settled. We’re house hunting at the moment.”

“Of course, Sam, really looking forward to getting to know your new family.”

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Elsewhere in the university, Luna and Marcelo have come in to check out the Dolls’ new equipment and bump into a very cosy Robin and Gwenhwyfar.

“I’m so glad to see the rhythm section is getting on well,” laughs Luna.

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“We have really exciting news for you,” she continues. “Marcelo has got us a regular weekend gig at the pub. We’ll be downstairs in the yoga studio and Mira won’t allow any drinks there, but it will be the dance floor and our performance space.”

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“That is fantastic news!” says Robin.

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Elsewhere, there is more good news for the musicians. Nicole is showing Pierre the new studio that she has rented with Cho and Jake.

“It’s perfect,” she explains, “Jake is doing a lot of writing and he can work here in the early part of the day and Cho and I can take turns rehearsing and giving lessons.”

“It is perfect,” Pierre agrees. “Congratulations, darling!”

INTERLUDE: I was so frustrated trying to take photographs in my dark downstairs bookcase that I gave up trying to fix them and started playing with them in Photoshop instead. I decided to try “posterising” them to give them a different feel. I uploaded them and then decided I didn’t like them but here are a few that I think were okay.

My husband, patient always, and always inundated with my doll activities, has promised that if I will sort out the boxes from my retirement two years ago, now scattered all over the house, he will give up his office space and let me have a doll room. In my defence, it took him five years to go through all his when he retired! But a doll room would be heavenly – I could set up proper lighting among other things.

By the way, I can’t even begin to say how much I love these new “Black Dolls Matter” tee shirts I bought on Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/blackdollsmatter?ref=l2-shopheader-name

Stay tuned for the next episode!