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Although Christmas is almost over here in the green and pleasant land, it will take me the rest of the week to catch up with all the West Enders Christmas activities – and then New Year’s Eve is upon us! For now, let’s go back a week or so and join some of the West Enders at the university Christmas party. And maybe we’ll finally find out what happened between Erika and Sutton – are they a couple still or not?
Don’t miss the next episode when we’ll catch up with the West Enders’ Christmas celebrations.
It’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.
She’s surrounded by her sisters…
Another tiny Panenka has entered the world…
Even Kevin seems happy and content. He’s even accepted Olly as one of the family at last.
She 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.
And best of all, her children are happy and thriving in the new beach cottage. Just look at them… Wait a minute!
“Gretchen! Stop feeding your hot dog to Honey!”
Down 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.
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.”
“Well, it is just family,” says Corbin, trying to wield his normal charm. “You must be referring to Jazz. She IS family now.”
“What do you mean, she’s family? Have you two gone and got married without telling us!” Emma is incredulous.
“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?”
Emma 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.
Emma rushes upstairs and says a prayer. “Please, Lord, grant me patience. Grant me a peaceful heart. I can’t take any more!”
Suddenly 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.
“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!”
Out 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.
“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.”
“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.”
Roberta gasps. “Oh, THAT picture,” is all she can say.
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!
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.
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.
“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.
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!
All Nick sees is a beautiful, petite woman who isn’t taller than he is. “Those eyes!” he thinks.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
Over at the counter, Sasha is eager to try one of Zayn’s doughnuts.
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.”
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.
“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.”
“That is fantastic news!” says Robin.
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 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…
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.
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.
Marvin’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.
Monique 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.
“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.
Monique 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.”
“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!”
“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!”
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!
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