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!

 

 

The West Enders: Episode Twenty, a Day on the Beach

IMG_3711It’s a warm summer day and quite a few of the West Enders have headed to the beach to relax…

IMG_3715Or catch up on gossip…

IMG_3732… or both!

SG209135“Steven, mate,” says Ken in surprise. “I haven’t seen you for ages. Where have you been? What’s up with your hair – growing it out I see.”

“Yeah, I’ve got a music video to do coming up in Jamaica and I have to have a kind of ‘island’ look. I think they’re giving me a weave and I need some hair to get it going. Who knows, if I like it, maybe I’ll keep it.”

“You mean if the ladies like it,” laughs Ken. “I know what you’re like. Who’s your agent these days? You seem to be getting a lot of work.”

“Tommy Lu. He’s doing a good job for me.”

SG209137Barbie and Audrey’s conversation isn’t quite as cheerful.

“What’s wrong, pet?” asks Barbie. “You okay?”

“Not really,” Audrey sighs. “It’s Marcelo.”

“Oh, no, he’s not cheating on you, is he?” asks Barbie anxiously. Marcelo has quite the reputation.

“Not that I know of. He just seems bored with me. And I don’t know why I put up with it. He’s a nobody, a has been model, who manages a nobody rock band. I mean, c’mon, I’m a star! He should grateful I even look at him.” Audrey looks angry now.

“Well, dump him,” says Barbie. “You deserve the best.”

IMG_3729As they talk, they pass Jake, who is working as a lifeguard, his normal summer holiday job. Jake is shocked to look up and see Jenny has approached him. He hasn’t seen her since the May Bank Holiday. “Jenny!” he exclaims in surprise. “I didn’t expect to see you here.”

 

SG209138“Hi, Jake,” says Jenny shyly. “I haven’t seen you in ages, so I thought I’d come and see how you’re doing.”

“I’m doing great, thanks, and you?” Jake asks but his tone is puzzled and polite rather than the warmth Jenny is hoping to hear.

“I thought maybe we should talk,” she continues, “Before school starts again, I mean. So it isn’t awkward…”

SG209140Jake looks away. “I’m not going back to school, Jenny.”

“What! What do you mean?”

“Sixth form is for university prep and I’m not going to university. My family isn’t wealthy and I don’t want to borrow the £9000 I’d need for tuition, plus have to find a way to eat and support myself. And what would I do with a degree? Sandra says I’ve got enough talent to make it as a musician and she’s going to help me learn music theory and work on my song writing…”

“Sandra?” asks Jenny, puzzled.

SG209141“Sandra, the pianist from the Ladies in Black. We met when we played at the music festival together, back in May – the day you broke up with me.”

Suddenly Jenny hears a voice say, “Hi, you must be Jenny.” A beautiful woman, an ADULT woman, is sitting at their feet and speaking to her.

SG209146The woman stands up and puts her hand on Jake’s shoulder in a gesture of possession. “Jake’s told me all about you,” she adds. “I don’t think you realise just how talented he is and how important it is that he develop his passion… for music.”

Jenny is dumbstruck. Next to this beautiful woman, she feels like a little girl. Without speaking, she turns around and walks away.

SG209145“I won’t let them see me cry, I won’t let them see me cry…” she thinks as she walks.

Don’t miss the next episode as we catch up with the rest of the summer adventures of the West Enders.

Interlude: Where are the West Enders?

Dear Doll Lovers and Followers –

I haven’t posted in ages. I had hoped to finish up Midge’s wedding as a sort of season finale for the West Enders, but instead, I’ve left the story dangling. I had to go to Germany for a couple of weeks as part of my other scientist persona and I have a number of PhD students with looming deadlines that are keeping me pretty much completely occupied at the moment. As a result, I’ve had no time for my doll obsession except to add new dolls, rebody old dolls, and work a little bit on the beach house. I’m afraid I’m going to have to leave the West Enders until the next season starts in the autumn. Here’s a few photos from my phone shots so you can see what I’ve been doing.

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Noa has a new body and a haircut.

IMG_3584Sam has a new brother! Meet Jamie, a wonderful OOAK doll from Euphoria Dolls on Etsy.

IMG_3591Jamal’s twin sisters, Chrisandra and Michelle, have new M2M bodies so we may be seeing more of them.

IMG_3594I’m still tinkering with the beach house. That’s Kevin’s brother Alistair downstairs and Katie with yet another M2M body. I’ve been doing a lot of swapping.

IMG_3607Katie loves being able to pose! She has the new Pink Top M2M’s body, which is much darker than the original. Bonnie is in the background with the original body.

IMG_3596I’ve covered Deangelo’s plastic hair with flocking (and his tee shirt, alas).

IMG_3600Marvin has new flocked hair and some jazzy facial hair. I’ve ordered a new Steven – wait until you see his hair!

IMG_3619This stunning Greek beauty has arrived – Ariadne Kostopoulos is her name.

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Sitting here with Charlotte is Hanna Haywood, another yogi. I bought her to rebody Katie and her skin tone has changed completely from the original blue top M2M doll. I was gobsmacked when she arrived. Charlotte has her old body – look at the difference. The new pink top M2M dolls also have much darker bodies than the originals. Buyer beware! Since nobody else needing a body had Hanna’s skin tone, I decided to keep her.

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Rikki is learning how to be a DJ. The younger dolls should have a party when the new season begins.

IMG_3576And most of the dolls are doing what they do best – partying! I hope everyone is having a great summer and I’ll post more new arrivals next month. The West Enders will resume for Season Two in the autumn.

The West Enders: Episode Nineteen, Midge and Sam get Married

The big day has finally arrived! Midge and Sam’s wedding day is here. Midge’s aunt Noa has come all the way from Israel, since Midge’s parents died some years before.  Midge is grateful but doesn’t want to hurt her since she remembers that she promised Sasha that she would be Midge’s only attendant. Midge broaches the subject with Sasha cautiously.

SG209103“Sweetheart, remember when I promised that you would be the only person with me today, to lead me to the huppah?”

“Yes, Midge,” says Sasha. “But now that Aunt Noa is here, shouldn’t she come too?”

“Oh, Sasha, you are an angel!” exclaims Midge in surprise.

“I love Aunt Noa a lot,” says Sasha. “She reminds me of Mama.”

“That’s because they were sisters,” says Midge.

“I’m really happy she’s here,” Sasha says. “Now I’ll never be lonely again.”

Midge doesn’t know how to respond. She doesn’t know how long Noa is staying so she lets it go for the moment.

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The ceremony begins. Sam can’t believe how beautiful Midge looks.

SG209095The blessings are said, the wine is sipped…

SG209096And then, the part Sasha likes the best…

SG209098Mazel tov!

SG209099After the ceremony, the newlyweds have a few minutes alone together. Midge is the first to speak.

“Darling, I have something to tell you, a surprise I have been keeping for a little while. Think of it as my wedding gift to you.”

“What is it, Midge?” Sam asks eagerly.

“I’m going to have a baby. I’m pregnant.”

SG209100Sam picks Midge up and swings her around in his excitement. “Oh, Midge, I am so happy!”

SG209101A perfect day for the happy couple.

SG209119A wedding reception is the perfect place to meet old and new friends. Steffi is happy to see that Esmée is there with Layla. She’s always glad to have someone to talk to and it gives Evi a playmate so that Steffi can relax just a little. Kevin has headed off to the bar and said he will get her a drink. Their gift to Midge and Sam is an open bar and Kevin’s  younger brother Alistair is the bartender. He’s just recently arrived from Germany.

SG209113Skipper is happy to see newcomer Ruruko is here with her older sister Cho.

SG209115Cho, Yuki’s older sister, and Claire were best friends at university. Cho moved back to Japan after she graduated and they haven’t seen each other in person in years, although they have kept in close touch via social media and Skype. They are thrilled to be together again.

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Amy and Ivana sip martinis and admire each other’s headgear. But who is Kevin chatting to? Has he forgotten Steffi’s drink?

SG209122He has indeed. He’s had a pint for himself and never thought of Steffi at all. Noa Greenbaum, Midge’s aunt, is acting as hostess. Kevin has always loved an athletic woman, which is how he originally fell in love with Steffi. Four children later, Steffi no longer attracts him. Never mind that he is far from fit himself, especially since opening the pub. Noa is probably ten years older than he is, but Kevin thinks she is the hottest thing he’s seen in ages. Those tight muscular arms! He can only imagine what she looks like under that dress. He gives her the glass of wine meant for Steffi, who is completely forgotten. But behind him, Ivana has noticed and tucked that scene into her brain. The Panenka sisters can’t stand Kevin. SG209127

Don’t miss the next episode!

The West Enders: Episode Eighteen, Spring Bank Holiday, Part II – the Aftermath

 

SG208731The party is over; the eligible bachelors have all departed, each thinking what a charming family of beautiful women they’ve just visited. Corbin is busy talking up Deangelo to Dasia.

“Oh, he’s a great guy, Dasia, and really smart. He’s about to start his PhD with Jamal Jones in the autumn. Besides being smart, he’s just a really nice guy – and he seemed to really like you!”

“He seems very nice,” agrees Dasia.

“I’ve never seen him at the pub,” adds Blessing. “That’s always a good recommendation. Come to think of it, I’ve never seen Jamal there either.”

“Oh my God, Jamal!” laughs Corbin. “Did you see Monique’s face? Who knew Robbi was going to try and steal her date!”

“I don’t think it’s very funny,” says Blessing. “And I doubt Monique did either.”

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Blessing is right, and as she speaks, fireworks are erupting downstairs.

“Roberta, I cannot believe or forgive what you did to me tonight,” shouts Monique. “I would never ever in a million years flirt with a date you brought home. I would never treat you that way. You two have always hated me and would do any spiteful horrible thing to hurt me.”

“Whoa” says Erika. “Leave me out of this!”

“Who’s a nasty jealous cow?” sneers Roberta. “As if I would try to steal a man who studies bugs for a living! He’s all yours. Little does he know what a praying mantis you are!”

“I can’t believe you even know what one is!”

“You’ve always thought you were better than us, Miss Smarty Pants, but I happen to be as well educated as you are. Always Daddy’s little princess, with her straight As…”

Ouch. This doesn’t look as if it’s going to end well or soon…

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In the meantime, Emma and Marvin are giving Lavinia and Grace a tour of the house.

“We shared the house with several families at first,” Emma explains. “It’s owned by Barbie Roberts, like everything else in town, but as our population has grown, we’ve all become overcrowded. One family has moved out already and everyone is in the market for houses. We’ve made an offer on this one, and essentially, we’re now the only ones living in it.”

“Hmmm,” says Lavinia. “Whose room is this?”

“This was Barbie and Ken’s, and often a guest room…” Emma starts to say, but Lavinia interrupts.

“Great, it will be perfect for me, then. I’ll tell Corbin to bring up my suitcases.”

Emma frowns but remembers her manners. She and Marvin had planned on moving into this room but Lavinia is a guest. “Of course, Lavinia, while you’re here you’re welcome to stay in this room.”

SG208724“Emma, darling! Didn’t Marvin tell you? I’m not leaving – this is my new home. I’ve come to live with you two.  London is impossible – it’s so expensive and now that dear Mr. Devine has left this world, I just can’t bear to stay there.” Lavinia suppresses a tiny sob, but not inaudibly. “And here Grace can go to school with Viviane. She’s already made herself at home upstairs.”

SG208726Emma and Marvin are speechless. Emma is trying to keep her face composed while Marvin wonders what Emma is going to say to him when they are alone.

SG208721Emma isn’t the only one to get a shock this weekend. The Panenka-Puppe family have moved into their new house, a cosy beach cottage. Kevin returns from work at the pub and finds Steffi outside with her sisters enjoying the nice weather. Recently sister number six, Claire, has turned up with her son, just a tiny infant.

“Ah, ladies,” says Kevin, “Don’t you love the new house? So much less crowded now, Steffi, don’t you think? But I have a bit of news. We’re going to be joined by a new family member. My brother Alistair has run into a bit of trouble at school and is going to join us to do his last year of Sixth Form here. He can give me a hand at the pub as well – he’s eighteen.”

“Oh, sweetheart, that’s nice,” Steffi responds. “It will be a bit crowded, though, with Claire and her baby moving in with us as well. And of course, Bonnie, Ivana, Katie, and Olly will be coming and going too.”

Kevin too has a moment of speechlessness. “Doesn’t Claire wish to return to the father of her child?” he finally asks, trying to think of the right way to phrase it.

“God, no,” Claire interjects. “He’s a monster.”

“I’m so happy to have Claire here! Look at little Paul, he’s just six weeks old! It will be so nice to have someone home with me and the children. I won’t be so lonely anymore.”

“And her dog?”

“And her dog.”

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Kevin doesn’t know what to say. All he can do is raise his hands in despair and go into the new house, now spoiled forever by the addition of more Panenkas!!!

Stay tuned for the next episode. Nick’s job interview is coming up and the wedding of the year will soon be here!

The West Enders: Episode Seventeen, Spring Bank Holiday, Part I

SG208700The long awaited second May bank holiday has arrived and with it, the Ekpo-Holmes family’s barbecue party. Marvin has been grilling up a storm and is really proud of his burgers, hot dogs, steak, and pork ribs. He’s happy as can be.  Family members he hasn’t seen in ages have turned up; his aunt Lavinia, recently widowed, her daughter Grace, and Emma’s sister Dasia are all on hand. He’s just a little bit nervous that he hasn’t actually told Emma that Aunt Lavinia and Grace are here to stay…

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Erika is also happy and carefree. Sutton has turned up early enough for them to grab a semi-private seat away from the picnic table – and the embarrassment of having to chat with Monique.

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Corbin’s friend Deangelo is quite smitten with Emma’s sister Dasia. He’s doing his best not to stare down her dress but she is extremely curvaceous, wearing a very revealing outfit, and he is struggling manfully to keep his eyes on her face, as lovely as it is.

SG208698Marvin’s aunt Lavinia is also quite curvaceous and is also wearing a very revealing outfit. Steven, however, doesn’t even try to keep his eyes from straying and Lavinia doesn’t seem to mind.

SG208706Monique is not happy. She is not just unhappy, she’s steaming and fuming and close to exploding. She’s been waiting for this moment for weeks, inviting Jamal to the party in hopes to kindle a romance. She’s so impressed with his knowledge, manners, and his sexy good looks, she’s been dreaming about this moment and hoping that by the end of the party, he will have invited her to to be his date to Midge and Sam’s wedding. She’s dressed carefully, wearing a clingy dress in a colour she knows flatters her complexion and hair. But what has happened? She and Jamal have grabbed some food, sat down, and then suddenly, out of nowhere, Roberta has plopped down next to him. She’s had several drinks and is tipsy, giggly and flirtatious and she immediately begins to talk to Jamal as if he is her date. In the meantime, the blue haired bimbo and Corbin have sat down next to Monique and she is beginning to feel herself trapped in a nightmare instead of a romantic dream.

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“Oh, c’mon, Jamal, you don’t really study BUGS do you,” giggles Roberta. “What do you call it, ent, ant, ento…”

“Entomology,” says Jamal calmly. “It’s fascinating, Roberta. Do you realise that insects have the world’s largest biomass? Nobody even knows how many species there are. And I get to go to some really amazing places for fieldwork – South America, the South Pacific…”

“Oh, Jamal, I think you’re the only man in the world who can make bugs sounds exciting!” coos Roberta.

SG208716Monique thinks, “I can’t listen to this any longer. I’m going to explode. Worse yet, I’m going to burst into tears. I have to pull myself together. Deep breaths. Deep deep breaths. Think of yoga. Yes.”

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“Hey, sweetie, what are you doing standing here so pensively on your own?” Emma asks Blessing, who has strolled to the edge of the deck and is gazing over the garden.

“You look pretty pensive yourself, Emma,” Blessing responds, “Everything okay?”

“I asked first!”

“I’m fine,” says Blessing. “Nothing is wrong. You know, working in the pub makes it hard to socialise with people sometimes. It’s as if I can’t ever let go and feel as if I’m not at work. What’s up with you?”

“Nothing really,” says Emma. “I just feel unneeded. Everyone has found someone on their own. You know how I love matchmaking. I wish I could find someone nice for you, Blessing. I had so hoped you and Steven… but look at Lavinia, all over him!”

SG208715“Oh my goodness, Emma Ekpo!” says Blessing in disbelief. “You have no idea how thrilled I am to see Lavinia swooping down on Steven, like a golden eagle on a bunny. I love it! I could never be in a relationship with Steven Obi! The man spends every spare hour drinking at the George. Do you really that’s what I want in a man? No way!”

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Suddenly Marvin joins them.

“Darling, you are the most fabulous hostess in the world! What a great party! Everyone is having so much fun and it’s all due to you. I would never have thought of this on my own. I just want to give you a hug because you make me so proud to be your man!”

With that, we’ll leave the party and close for now. Don’t miss the next episode when the fallout from all the new arrivals really hits the fan!

INTERLUDE: I know I said that I was going to post an episode about Nick’s job interview next, but a number of things have come up in my big universe that mean I have to move things around. I haven’t forgotten him, however! And the wedding will be coming up soon!

The West Enders: Episode Sixteen, the Bank Holiday Music Festival

The first May bank holiday brings beautiful weather and a music festival at the university. Luna and the Dolls are backing up the Ladies in Black, who will have a special guest; none other than our own Nicole Bernstein! The crowd begins to gather in the university gardens outside the Student Union, where the concert will be held.

SG208669Marcelo and Audrey arrive early. As the Dolls manager, Marcelo wants to make sure everything is set up and ready to go.

SG208680The crowd begins to gather. There are some new faces here, whom we will get to know better in the autumn when the university term begins. For now, pay attention to the handsome lad in the middle, Corbin’s friend Deangelo Davis. We’ll be seeing more of him at the next bank holiday, when Emma hosts her match making barbecue party.

SG208677Another important new face is this man, Jamal Jones. His sister Michelle is one of the Ladies in Black, and he has brought his other sister, her twin Chrisandra, to see the concert. Jamal is a Senior Lecturer in Biology at the university and was recently seen having coffee with Monique and Bonnie on the day Monique came to discuss the technician job.

IMG_2860.jpgMonique was quite impressed with him – quite the different man from Sutton! She’s planning on inviting him to the barbecue and Emma can do her matchmaking elsewhere.

SG208673Yuki has come along with Corbin and Jazmin and Corbin’s pal Zayn. Zayn is quite taken with Yuki. To her horror, however, she sees Pierre standing directly behind her, alone. Then she remembers that Nicole is the guest star. She tries not to look as perturbed as she feels. At least there’s no sign of Nick – that would be unbearable.

SG208684Mira has come with Tommy and is also feeling a bit perturbed. He has brought along his “personal assistant,” Lilli Akana, who we saw with him in the pub. Mira is starting to wonder about her relationship with Tommy. They’ve been together for almost six months and the romance seems to be completely stalled. They go out, they chat, but no sparks fly, no passion builds, nothing. And what man brings his PA on a date? Tommy claims that as he is in the music management business, this is work as well as play and he trusts Lilli’s musical judgement. Mira is not impressed.

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Inside, the Ladies in Black use the coffee shop as their backstage area while Luna and the  Dolls perform.

SG208639The Dolls are rocking down the house, as usual. But there are some surprises in store for their fans.

SG208641Jake is on piano…

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And Dexter is on guitar! And he’s wearing Jake’s guitar necklace. When Luna introduces the band, it’s the first thing Jenny notices from the audience and she is not happy. That’s the necklace she gave Jake for Christmas!

SG208644Dexter has been replaced by a new bass player, whom Luna introduces as Gwenhwyfar Hughes. Robin is still on the drums and he and Luna are the only two who aren’t a surprise. The fans don’t mind, though – the addition of the piano is fantastic and Dexter is a fabulous guitarist. Gwen and Robin are also great together and the Dolls have never sounded better.

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During the break, it’s the Doll’s turn to gather in the “backstage” coffee shop. Suddenly, Jenny and Kurhn burst in. Kurhn is looking very distraught and Jenny – she doesn’t even say hello!

“Why is Dexter wearing that necklace?” she demands.

SG208656“Whoa, Jenny, what’s going on here?” Jake responds. “I gave it to him. It’s a guitar. He’s the guitarist. I’m the piano player. It looks good on him.”

“You can have it back,” Dexter says. “I didn’t realise there was an issue.”

“There isn’t an issue,” Jake says.

SG208657“That’s it, Jake Blake! I’ve had enough!” Jenny shouts. ” We’re through. I gave you that because I cared about YOU, and you don’t care enough about me to even keep it! You never spend any time with me anymore, you’re always rehearsing, or hanging around with Dexter. You treat me like dirt, and I’m not going to take it any more!” With that, Jenny bursts into tears and runs out of the shop.

SG208659Kurhn doesn’t know what to do. Obviously she wants to run after her best friend and comfort her, but her voice teacher is about to perform! She’s hoping that Nicole will put in a good word for her so that she too can some day sing as a guest with the Ladies in Black. Finally, it’s too much for her, and she mumbles, “I need to see this performance,” and heads out the door as well.

SG208660“I want to catch this too,” says Luna, and heads out after Kurhn.

SG208662“So, Jakey boy, trouble with the lass, eh?” says Robin, laughing. “Not to worry, kid, it’s not every woman who can be with a musician. It takes a special sort, someone who’s happy to be in the audience and dance, or another musician. Or just somebody with a passion of their own.”

SG208665“How about your bass player, Robby,” says Gwen playfully. “Is she good enough for a lad like you?”

“Way too good for the likes o’ me, Gwen,” laughs Robin. He and Gwenhwyfar seem to have hit it off from day one.

SG208661“Wow, Jake, I’m really sorry,” says Dexter.

“It’s not your fault, Dex. I suppose I have neglected Jenny. It just seemed logical for you to have the necklace. It looks great on you and I want you to keep it. Maybe Robin’s right – Kurhn has her own musical career to think about so she doesn’t care about you rehearsing. I’m not sure what to do about Jenny. I do care for her – a lot.”

“I know you do,” Dexter replies. “Why not let it rest for now, mate, and see what happens.”

SG208646The Ladies in Black are fabulous as always.

SG208648Sandra has replaced Jake at the piano.

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“And now,” announces Amy. “I’m sure many of you are familiar with the amazing duet between Luciano Pavarotti and James Brown doing ‘It’s a Man’s World.’ Well, today I have a chance to do my own version, with the one and only Nicole Bernstein!”

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Amy and Nicole are incredible! The crowd loves it and among them, Pierre’s heart swells with love for this amazing woman. He feels like the luckiest many in the world. Kurhn too is beside herself with joy – her teacher! She’s the luckiest girl in the world.

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After the concert, the crowd leaves in high spirits.

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Among the last to go are Steven and Sutton.

“What did you think of our old friends’ performance?” says Steven. “They never come round to the George anymore. Sandra has never responded to a phone call or a text since Valentine’s Day. Seeing her makes me care not at all – she’s lost weight and she’s way too thin for me. I like a woman with some meat on her bones. Your old friend Merida looked as juicy as ever, though.”

Sutton doesn’t know what to say. Merida looked better than he’s ever seen her. Confident, sexy, oozing sensuality. Erika Holmes has invited him to a family barbecue on the next bank holiday and he’s really torn. Monique will be there, of course, and how embarrassing will that be? He really likes Erika and her sweet girl next door air – but Merida! He’s not going to think about her. That possibility is over, forever. Time to move on.

Stay tuned to the next episode! Before we find out what happens at the barbecue, we need to look in on Nick, who has passed his PhD viva with flying colours and now has a job interview at the university coming up.

The West Enders: Episode Fifteen, Easter

SG208633It is Easter Sunday, sunrise, and Midge and Sam are surprised to be awakened by Sasha’s voice calling, “Midge! Midge!”

“What on earth is it, Sasha? What’s wrong?” Midge immediately sits up to find out what is going on.

“I want to hunt Easter eggs with Lottie,” replies Sasha.

“Sasha, you’re joking? That’s why you woke us up? You know you can’t hunt Easter eggs. I doubt that Lottie and her family are even awake at this hour! We’re Jewish – we don’t celebrate Easter.”

To Midge’s astonishment, Sasha begins to cry. “I want to hunt Easter eggs!”

“Sasha, this is ridiculous. Lottie doesn’t celebrate Passover and you don’t celebrate Easter. Lottie didn’t get to go to a Seder and ask questions and be very important, the way you were.”

“I don’t care!” shouts Sasha.

Sam is awake by now. “Sasha, stop it, this is silly,” he interjects.

“YOU AREN’T MY GUARDIAN! YOU DON’T TELL ME WHAT TO DO!” Sasha shouts.

“Okay, Sasha,” says Midge. “That’s enough now. You’re being extremely naughty, as you know, and I don’t know what to say. I want you to come upstairs to the nursery with me right now. We’re going to sort this out.”

SG208635Once upstairs, Midge asks Sasha why she is behaving so badly. Sasha is sullen and refuses to answer. But Midge is a clever and insightful woman, and decides that this is not the right approach. So she tells Sasha she is going to tell her a story.

“There was once a little girl whose parents died when she was very young. It made her sad and lonely. But she had an older sister and that sister agreed to be her guardian. Then she wasn’t alone any more and she was happy because she and her sister loved each other very much. Then one day, something went wrong. A man came along who loved her sister too. Her sister began to spend a lot of time with this man. Too much time. The little girl was scared. What if her sister forgot all about her? Would she be all alone again? But she didn’t know that this man loved her too, very much. And he wanted to look after her and keep her safe forever. So these people made a family and the little girl was happy again.”

Sasha burst into tears and threw herself into Midge’s arms.

SG208637“Sasha, don’t you know how much I love you?” says Midge. “I’ll never leave you alone – we will always be together as a family. Sam loves you too. And you know that he will be your guardian too when we are married and are a family together. Plus, I have been keeping a special surprise from you, but now it’s time to tell you.”

“What is it?” asks Sasha eagerly.

“You are to be my bridesmaid, my maid of honour at the wedding. I will have no other bridesmaids. You aren’t going to be a flower girl, you’re going to be super special. I have saved a special dress for you. It belonged to our mother and I believe it will fit you perfectly. I’ve saved it just for you.”

Sasha hugs Midge and holds tight. All thoughts of Easter eggs are forgotten.

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Later in the morning Easter eggs become the centre of attention again. Lara, Josh and their daughters, Lottie and Alexandra, are ready for an Easter egg hunt in the garden. Uncle Nick has joined them as has Lara’s friend Esmée and her daughter Layla. The Easter bunny has been and brought an Easter basket which Lottie carries. The children are ecstatic at the eggs they have found and there are biscuits and chocolate bunnies to eat, along with plates of fruit; grapes, clementine sections and watermelon slices. Lara will never serve just chocolate without allowing the girls to choose fruit too if they wish. SG208632After church, attended by Steffi, her children, and Skipper, the Puppe-Panenka family gathers in the front room. Katie has brought her new boyfriend Olly home to meet her sisters. Ivana and Bonnie are there as well, and the sixth sister, Claire, is due any moment. Kevin is feeling extremely grumpy. He can’t stand Steffi’s sisters; a bunch of cackling hens is how he feels about them. And this boyfriend with his bizarre hair! Where on earth did that useless bimbo Katie dig him up? He wishes he hadn’t taken the day off. Now the supreme bimbo of the universe, that twit Claire, will soon be here too. He wishes he were anywhere else. He is so glad that the sisters are rarely around and is horrified to hear that Ivana, Katie, and Claire are hoping to “stay at home” now. He’s completely outnumbered by stupid females except for the completely useless Olly and little Uwe, sitting on his knee. Ugh.

SG208629Downstairs in the kitchen, Marvin is slightly less grumpy, although equally surrounded by women. Corbin is there, but announces that he is off to the Uni to see Luna and the Dolls in concert; his friends are expecting him.

“You aren’t planning on eating Easter dinner with your family?” asks Emma frostily.

“No, sorry, Em, Jazz is waiting for me,” says Corbin and makes his escape.  Marvin is on his own.

SG208630Marvin’s cousins have all turned up. Monique’s two younger sisters, Roberta and Erika, are there. Monique is the eldest; Erika, Roberta, and Corbin are her half siblings. Her father remarried after her own mother died and she has an uneasy relationship with her half sisters. Corbin is the youngest of the siblings and doesn’t bother her much but Erika and Roberta have a certain sibling rivalry with both her and each other. They have just finished their degree programmes and have new jobs, as does Monique. They all share their news with Emma and Blessing.

“I have a new job,” says Monique. “I’m leaving the Medical Centre and I’m going to train as a palaeontology technician with Bonnie Panenka. I’m really excited. She does palaeohistology and my skills will come in handy, as well as my training in dental restoration. I’ll be working on fossils now! And, best of all, Roberta is taking over my job with Esmée and Lara as nurse-technician!”

“Thank you so much for recommending me,” says Roberta.

Emma is very excited to have all these single women around. She’s just sure they need to find bachelors and she’s the one to do it. She can’t start with her match-making until making a little jibe at Monique, however.

“What a shame you couldn’t join us for church this morning, Monique,” she says. “Blessing, Roberta, and Erika joined me and Viviane. The sermon was inspiring and the music and choir were fabulous.”

” Well, you wouldn’t have this nice Easter dinner waiting for you if I had, would you, Emma?” Monique retorts. Emma is silenced, but only briefly.

“I’ve had a text off my sister Dasia,” says Emma. “She’s about to graduate from Emory University in the USA. I don’t know when she’ll be home, but I must organise a party – maybe the second May bank holiday. I need to invite some eligible bachelors for you young ladies. Let’s see – there’s Sutton Matthews and Steven Obi…”

“The two biggest bar-flies in town,” says Blessing.

“Don’t invite Sutton for me,” says Monique. “I’ve met someone else I want to invite.”

“No, invite him for me,” says Erika, glaring at Monique. “I know you went out with him. He told me. Just because you don’t want him doesn’t mean nobody does.”

“Yes, Erika,” says Blessing, “I saw him chatting you up at the pub last week.”

Emma is gobsmacked. What is going on? Sutton and Erika? Monique with a man she found on her own? Stay tuned!

The West Enders: Episode Fourteen, “Why is this night different from all other nights?”

SG208613It’s the first night of Passover and Sam is attending his first Seder. Because he wants to understand everything in depth, he has brought a Haggadah written with commentary by Lord Jonathan Sacks, the former Chief Rabbi of the Commonwealth and one of England’s most prominent Orthodox Jewish scholars, even though he and Midge are members of a Reform synagogue.  The actual Haggadah for the night is aimed at families so that Sasha can understand the significance of the occasion. She is thrilled to get to ask the question, “Why is this night different from all other nights?” Midge has invited Nicole and told her that Pierre is also welcome, but she arrives on her own.

SG208614Midge has worked ceaselessly all weekend and everyone agrees that her homemade matzoh ball soup is wonderful.

“I hope Pierre knows that he was welcome to join us,” she says to Nicole.

“Pierre is not into religion at all,” Nicole responds. “It doesn’t bother me, and I’m really happy to be here myself. Thank you so much for inviting me. It’s not like he and I are going to be married, like you and Sam. And Sam, I’m so impressed that you have converted and are taking this all so seriously. You’re a real mensch!”

“Thanks,” says Sam. “It’s a completely new experience for me, a feeling of belonging to something bigger than I am. My parents weren’t religious and I grew up without any kind of religious training. I’m really happy to have found this family and this feeling – and of course, I’m the luckiest man in the world to have found Midge.” He and Midge smile at each other, completely in love.

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One of the biggest treats of the night is having Nicole sing in Hebrew. She really does have an amazing voice.

SG208619At the end of the evening, when Nicole has left and Sasha has gone to bed, Midge and Sam retire to the bedroom. “You have made me the happiest man in the world,” says Sam. “Only one thing could make me happier.”

“What’s that?” asks Midge.

“Let’s have a child. Let’s have a baby. I want an even bigger family. I love you so much, Midge. I want to have a child with you.”

With that, we shall leave them and wish Pesach Sameach to everyone celebrating tonight – but stay tuned for the next episode! We’ll see how the other dolls celebrate Easter.

Finally a huge shout out to Nora from Double N Minis on Etsy (https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/DoubleNminis?ref=l2-shopheader-name&section_id=20160795) for creating the wonderful 1:6 scale food for the Seder. She normally works in 1:12 scale but created this custom order for me and it is amazing!

 

Mark Your Calendars: World Doll Day Toy Drive

What a fabulous idea! I will have some dolls in need of a new home but am not sure how to donate them except via the large donation I’m making to charity when I finish my general clear out.

Confessions of a Doll Collectors Daughter

It’s that time again! World Doll Day is Saturday, June 10th, 2017. Started by Mildred Seeley in 1986, the day is one of celebration for doll collectors. World Doll Day began with a letter, which is copied below. (Keep reading for information on our first ever World Doll Day Toy Drive!)

World Doll Day Logo

So, you have not heard of World Doll Day? This is not surprising as of an hour ago, I hadn’t conceived the idea. To make it happen. I need cooperation of every doll collector, every magazine editor, doll newsletter, doll shop, library, doll maker, mother, grand­mother, father, grandfather, and all the stray aunts and uncles. The first World Doll Day is the Second Saturday of June 1986. Give a doll to a grownup, child in the family or just a friend. If you don’t have a child to give a doll to – find one…

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