Guess who I have on my blog today? Only the brilliant Robert Bryndza, just in time for Christmas too. What’s more I have an extract from his Christmas novella, Coco Pinchard’s Must-Have Toy Story. Also at the end of this post is news of Rob’s fab Christmas competition. Wonderful prizes, so don’t miss it.
I love Robert’s books. They are so funny and this one is no exception.
So, curl up in front of the fire with a hot chocolate – or something stronger! I know that’s what I’m going to do, and enjoy a slice of hilarious Christmas nostalgia with Coco Pinchard and the must-have toy of Christmas past…
So, over to Rob…
It’s December 1992, and children are going CRAZY for the Tracy Island Toy – almost as crazy as the parents! Christmas day is fast approaching and Coco is desperately trying to track one down for her four-year-old son Rosencrantz.
Throw into the mix a horrible boss, a lazy husband, and the prospect of her in-laws arriving for the festivities, and Coco wishes she could cancel Christmas and sail off to a desert island somewhere – preferably with the gorgeous-yet-unattainable Tom from work.
But retail therapy is at hand! Coco’s faithful friends Chris and Marika rally round, and even her mother-in-law Ethel tries to help in her own eccentric way.
From dodgy dealings in a motorway lay-by, to extreme shopping in Hamley’s with a Sylvanian Families fanatic, to having a go at the Blue Peter make-your-own Tracy Island, Coco tries everything in the hope that Rosencrantz will open his must-have toy on Christmas morning.
Coco Pinchard’s Must-Have Toy Story is a hilarious feel-good comedy, which asks the question – how far would you go to get your child this year’s must-have Christmas toy?
If you are new to the best selling Coco Pinchard series, fear not, Coco Pinchard’s Must-Have Toy Story can also be enjoyed as a stand-alone Christmas treat – and it has zero calories!
Monday 14th December
I arrived home just after five, exhausted. It was dark and cold, and light was glowing softly against the closed curtains of the living room. When I opened the front door I could hear the end of Newsround. I put my bag down in the hall and poked my head around the living room door. Rosencrantz was sitting atop his favourite beanbag, his tiny legs poking out with his Thunderbirds slippers on.
‘Mummy, Mummy, Mummy!’ he shouted, leaping up and grabbing at my legs. He’d left a tiny imprint in the beanbag, like the well in a cake mix where you break the egg. I lifted him up and he kissed my cheeks and gave me a hug.
“How was school?” I asked.
“Today I ate all my dinner, even though it was a bit cold… and Melanie Jones was told off for filling up the toilet with loo roll… and we had the rehearsals for the Nativity play. Joseph can’t remember his lines.”
“But you know all yours?”
“Of course I know all my lines, Mummy,” he said seriously.
“And you’ve got your brilliant song. Did you sing it for everyone?”
“No, Mummy. I only made that up to make you and Daddy laugh. I have to stick to the script. Even if I only have to bring the Frankincense,” he said, rolling his little eyes as if his talents were being squandered as a mere Wise Man.
“You are going to be the best, wisest Wise Man,” I said.
“It’s going to be a big production,” he added, like a seasoned pro. “Mrs Masters is lending her four Dulux dogs for the manger scene. They’ve just had their hair cut so they look a bit like camels.”
“It sounds… interesting,” I said.
We looked up as Blue Peter started on the television.
“Mummy! They’re making a Tracy Island on Blue Peter! Am I going to get Tracy Island for Christmas?”
Bugger, bugger, bollocks, I thought.
“You posted your letter to Father Christmas?” I asked.
He nodded furiously. “I licked the stamp and everything!”
“Then of course you’re going to get Tracy Island for Christmas.” You’re a rotten lying mother, said a voice in my head.
Rosencrantz did a little jiggle of happiness then climbed back into his dent in the beanbag. On the TV in the corner of the living room, Anthea Turner was dressed in her fluffy Blue Peter jumper and listing all the bits you needed to make a Tracy Island at home. I stood by the door and watched Rosencrantz’s happy little face for a moment, then went through to the kitchen.
Daniel was sitting at the kitchen table. He looked up and gave me a grin. His mother was standing by the sink in her flowery housecoat.
“Hello Ethel, I didn’t know you were coming over, again?” I said, trying to keep my voice light.
“Didn’t know I ‘ad to make an appointment?” she said. She picked up the teapot, swilled it round and tipped cold tealeaves down the sink.
“Course you don’t, Ethel. You just seem to be in town a lot lately,” I said, kissing Daniel on top of his head.
“Mum came up to town to get her ears syringed,” he explained.
“Was it a success? Has it improved your eavesdropping skills?” I asked.
“Thought I’d pop in see my favourite boys… An’ you, love, of course,” said Ethel.
We gave each other an insincere smile. I pulled the kitchen door shut and fished The Sun out of my bag.
“We need to talk. Have you seen the paper?” I said, smoothing it out on the kitchen table.
“I know. Poor Princess Diane, splitting up with that Charles,” said Ethel, spooning fresh tealeaves into the pot. “She won’t leave the Royal Family and come out alive.”
Why is Ethel the only person in the world who calls her Princess Diane?
“Who’d want to hurt Princess Diana?” I asked.
“She gave the Queen an Anus Horribilis,” explained Ethel.
“It’s Annus Horribilis,” I corrected.
“Well, whatever it is, it sounds painful,” said Ethel. “That Diane should watch ‘er back, tha’s all I’m saying.”
The kettle clicked off and she poured hot water into the pot. I resisted the urge to press the Diana/Diane debate.
“Anyway, I’m not talking about Diana. Look!” I said.
I opened the newspaper and flicked through to the page about Tracy Island. Ethel came over to the table and she and Daniel both peered at the article in silence. Ethel’s lips moved as she read.
“Blimey,” said Daniel, sitting back and reaching for a cigarette.
“Coco, iss only a week or so till Christmas! What ‘ave you bin doing for the past two months?” exclaimed Ethel.
“I’ve been at work! You’ve spent the past two months on the bus up here and back to Catford. You could have jumped off at Hamley’s, Ethel,” I retorted.
“I’ve been up and down to the ‘ospital with all sorts, Coco. I’ve got a bad back, bad hips…”
“And there’s all that earwax,” I said.
“Okay you two,” said Daniel. “Let’s go outside and have a cigarette.”
“The door’s shut, Danny, the smoke won’t reach little Rosencrantz,” said Ethel.
“No. We smoke outside, Ethel,” I said.
We grabbed our coats and reconvened on the terrace. The moon was now up and the lawn had frozen and was glistening in the moonlight.
“Maybe we can persuade Rosencrantz to like another toy. What about Action Man?” suggested Daniel.
“We could make a Tracy Island? They were just on Blue Peter, using toilet rolls and margarine tubs,” I began.
“You can’t give ‘im something made up of all the old shit you’d throw away!’ said Ethel. She had a point.
There was a knock on the door and Rosencrantz pressed his nose against the glass.
“Everybody, I just thought up a funny Thunderbirds joke!” he shrilled.
We stubbed out our cigarettes and came back inside, relishing the warmth from the kitchen.
“Go on, tell us yer joke, love,” said Ethel.
Rosencrantz took a deep breath.
“Why is Parker called Parker?”
“I don’t know, why is Parker called Parker?” I asked.
“Cos he’s a good parker!” Rosencrantz cried, grinning with his little row of milk teeth. Ethel and I laughed.
“Oooh! Tha’s funny!” she said, scooping him up for a cuddle.
Only Daniel remained confused.
“Who’s Parker?” he asked.
“Oh Daddy, you’re a ding-dong dilly noodle,” said Rosencrantz. “Don’t you know anything? Parker is Lady Penelope’s chauffeur in Thunderbirds!”
Rosencrantz jumped down from Ethel’s arms and started to swan round the kitchen, doing a rather brilliant Lady Penelope voice and jigging gently as if he were suspended from strings.
“Parker, we appear to have intruders. I think they are going to take my jewels,” he said. “Yes, M’lady, but h’I fink we might be unable to stop ‘em,” he said, switching to an equally good impression of Parker. “EVERYONE! I can’t wait for Christmas Day! Thunderbirds are go, go, GO!” he shouted and ran round the kitchen and back through to the living room.
Ethel looked at me and raised an eyebrow.
“Right I’ve gotta be orf,” she said picking up her bag. She saw my despondent face. “Don’t worry Coco, love, we’ll sort something out.”
“Yeah Cokes, there’s still a few shopping days to go till Christmas,” added Daniel.
To carry on reading you can download your copy from Amazon here;
Amazon USA http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B013J05F5M
I’m also running a competition to win some Christmas goodies. The giveaway will be one prize consisting of;
A signed dedicated paperback copy of Coco Pinchard’s Must-Have Toy Story
A £20/$20 Amazon voucher
A limited edition A Very Coco Christmas mug, filled with Marks and Spencer’s chocolate Brussel Sprouts
A signed dedicated paperback copy of A Very Coco Christmas
Head on over to my Facebook author page to enter! https://www.facebook.com/bryndzarobert/