Home > Rachel's Holiday (Walsh Family #2)(8)

Rachel's Holiday (Walsh Family #2)(8)
Marian Keyes

‘Pop stars go there,’ I interrupted, playing my trump card.

That stopped her in her tracks.

‘Who?’ she demanded.

I named a couple of names and she was visibly impressed.

‘Really?’

‘Yes.’

‘How do you know?’

‘I read about them in the papers.’

‘How come I never heard about it?’

‘Helen, you don’t read the papers.’

‘Don’t I? No, I suppose I don’t, what would I want to read them for?’

‘To find out about pop stars going to the Cloisters?’ I said archly. I was rewarded with a sour look from Helen.

‘Shut up, you smart arse,’ she said. ‘You won’t think you’re so great when you’re bouncing around in your padded cell wearing one of those lovely jackets with the long sleeves.’

‘I won’t be in a padded cell,’ I said smugly. ‘And I will be hobnobbing with celebrities.’

‘Do pop stars really go there?’ Her excitement was starting to show, no matter how hard she tried to hide it.

‘Yes,’ I promised her.

‘Really?’ she asked again.

‘Really.’

‘Really, really?’

‘Really, really.’

There was a little pause.

‘Janey.’ She sounded impressed.

‘Here, finish this.’ She thrust the remains of the Cor-netto at me.

‘No thanks,’ I said. The thought of food made me feel sick.

‘I’m not asking you to take it,’ said Helen. ‘I’m telling you. I’m sick of Cornettos and no matter how many times I tell Dad to get Magnums at the freezer centre, he always comes back with bloody Cornettos. Except for the one time and what does he bring back? Mint Magnums. I ask you, mint…’

‘I don’t want it.’ I pushed the offending Cornetto away.

‘Well, on your head be it.’ Helen shrugged and put it on my bedside table where it proceeded to melt all over the place. I tore my thoughts back to happier things.

‘So, Helen, when I’m best friends with the likes of Madonna,’ I said airily, ‘you’ll be…’

‘Be realistic, Rachel,’ she interrupted. ‘Although I suppose that’s one of the reasons you’re going to the bin in the first place, because you can’t be realistic…’

‘What are you talking about?’ It was my turn to interrupt.

‘Well,’ she said, with a pitying smile, ‘they’re hardly going to put the famous people in with rest of you, are they? They have to protect their privacy. Otherwise the likes of you would go to the papers as soon as you’re out and sell their story. Sex in my cocaine hell and all that.’

She was right. I was disappointed, but not too disappointed. After all I’d probably see them at mealtimes and on social occasions. Maybe they had dances.

‘And of course they’re bound to have much nicer bedrooms and nicer food,’ said Helen, making me feel worse. ‘Which you won’t be getting because Dad’s much too stingy. You’ll be in the economy rooms while the celebrities will be living it up in the deluxe wing.’

I felt a burst of rage at my tightfisted father. How dare he not pay the extra for me to be in with the celebrities !

‘And there’s no point asking him to cough up.’ Helen read my thoughts. ‘He says we’re poor now, because of you, and we can’t get real crisps anymore, just yellow-pack ones.’

I felt very depressed. I lay in silence. So, highly unusually, did Helen.

‘All the same,’ she finally said, ‘you’re bound to bump into them at some stage. You know, in the corridors and in the grounds and such places. You might even get to be friends with some of them.’

Suddenly I felt joyous and hopeful. If Helen was convinced, then it had to be true.

4

I’d been on nodding terms with Luke Costello long before the night I ended up in bed with him. He was Irish and I was Irish and, although I didn’t know it at the time, we lived about four blocks away from each other.

I used to see him around because we went to the same bars. Irish bars, but not the type of Irish ghetto bar where you sing ‘A Nation Once Again’ and ‘Spancil Hill’ and cry and collect money for The Cause. These bars were different. They were actually fashionable, in the same way that brasseries were a few years back. They were called tongue-in-cheek, Irishy things like Tadgh’s Boghole and Slawn Che. Apparently an Irish pop star owned one of them, although I’m not sure which bar it was. Or which pop star, either, for that matter.

Being Irish in New York has a perennial cachet, but while I lived there it was actually groovy.

Anyway, Brigit and I used to ‘hang out’ (we emulated the vernacular, but always with a snigger) in these places and see Luke and his friends and have a good laugh at them.

Not because Brigit and I were unkind, but really, you’d want to have seen them. None of them would have looked out of place in any of the rock bands that were fashionable in the early seventies. The type that played huge stadiums and drove Ferraris into swimming pools and were photographed with a string of interchangeable skinny blonde girls.

Luke and the boys were all about the same height, around six foot, and had regulation-issue longish, curlyish hair. At the time long hair on a man was only OK if it was all the same length, middle-parted and lank. Nul points for layered, curly and shiny.

In the time we knew them, not once did any of them appear with this month’s cut. Whether it was short, brushed forward and bleached white. Or the crewcut to end all crewcuts. Or a shaved head with sideburns almost joined under the chin. Or whatever.

And their clothes were as old-fashioned as their hair. Denim, denim and more denim, and an occasional splash of leather. With the emphasis on tight, if you follow me. On a good day, you could tell which of them had been circumcised.

They were completely immune to the fashion of the outside world. Tommy Hilfiger suits, Stussy hats, Phat-pharm jackets, Diesel satchels, Adidas skateboard shoes or Timberlands – I don’t think these boys even knew such things existed. Anyone worth their sartorial salt would. The only thing I can say in their defence is that none of them had a suede fringey jacket. At least I never saw any of them wearing one.

Luke and his pals were too anachronistic-looking for our taste. We called them ‘Real Men’, but with heavy irony.

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