The Wadhams: In Hot Water!

We’re delighted to bring you the continuing adventures of Life & The Wadhams, featuring the younger members of the family. Not yet met the Wadhams? Read the background on My Weekly’s best-loved family, then come back and enjoy the next generation’s adventures as Mike and Polly Wadham’s elder grandson, Alex Clark settles into a new life with wife Natalie and toddler son William in the flat above the antique shop his grandfather used to own. They’ve now bought the flat and shop, converting it to a hairdressing and beauty salon run by Natalie.

As usual on a weekday morning, all was hustle and bustle at 19a Grove Crescent, as Natalie Clark expertly spooned cereal into little William’s mouth with one hand, while checking her phone with the other.

“Just two appointments for me at the salon this morning.” She beamed at Alex as he prepared their son’s small backpack for nursery, with spare outfit, nappies and his beloved toy bunny, Floppy. “Then I’m off to the care home to see to the old folk’s hair.

“Keisha just texted to say she’ll be along there to visit her granny, so we’re going to have coffee and cake at that new café that’s opened before picking up the kids from nursery. It will be great to catch up.”

“Sounds good,” Alex said. “We’ll have to have a night out with Keisha and Robbie soon.”

“I’ll try to fix a date,” Natalie agreed. “Right, wee man, have you had enough? Let’s get you into your coat, then Daddy will drop you off at Gran’s before nursery.”

“Ooby!” William crowed.

“Yes, you’ll see Ruby,” his mum agreed. “Have fun, sweetheart. See you tonight, Alex.”

She bestowed a loving kiss on the cheeks of the two men in her life as they left, then turned to her own preparations for the day ahead.

At No 23 Elderslie Terrace, Alex was surprised to see not just his mum, but his grandma Polly and his younger sister Jennifer all gathered together in the sitting-room.

“What are you doing here?” he asked Jennifer as he dropped William down on to the floor to make a beeline for his three-year-old auntie and partner-in-crime, Ruby. “Shouldn’t you be mopping brows and emptying bedpans somewhere?”

The student nurse playfully swiped at her brother’s head.

“I’ve got a day off from my ward placement, so I thought I’d make myself useful here. I’m dropping Grandpa at his day centre and then taking Grandma to that new aqua-aerobics class at the sports centre.”

“It sounds such fun!” Polly beamed. “I haven’t been in the water for ages. I’m looking forward to the exercise, and to meeting new people.”

“It will be good for you, Mum.” Pinky nodded. “You look after Dad so well, but you deserve some me-time, too. And now that Dad’s settled into going along to the day centre, you can do it with a happy heart.”

“Don’t you fancy it?” Alex asked.

“Me?” Pinky snorted. “This is the first day off I’ve had since Christmas! Once I’ve dropped William and Ruby at nursery, my me-time today will consist of a long luxurious soak in the bath, followed by a leisurely lunch for one listening to that new podcast about how women in their 50s should learn to say no!”

“Bit late for that, with four kids,” Alex said cheekily, ducking out of the door and heading off for work before his mother could flick him with the tea-towel she’d been wielding. He, too, was looking forward to his day, working companionably alongside his dad in the family garage. He wondered what challenges it would bring…

Pinky had just waved off Jennifer, Polly and Mike when her phone rang.

It wasn’t good news.

“I’m afraid we’re having to cancel all sessions today,” the nursery receptionist explained. “Four staff have called in sick, and another three are still self-isolating.”

Pinky closed her eyes and sighed. Would this pesky pandemic ever stop ruining folks’ plans? She knew that, unlike many, she was lucky that her family had avoided serious illness, or worse, but still, this was annoying.

Oh well, time to make a Plan B.

“Now, you watch Hey Duggee, and be good while Mummy does the dishes,” she ordered Ruby, settling her daughter on her beanbag and William in the playpen as she switched on CBeebies. “Then if the rain stops, we’ll go the park.”

“PARK!” William screamed.

Park? From the kitchen, Tyson the terrier’s ears pricked up and he began a volley of joyful barking that made Pinky clasp her hands to her own ears.

The household’s two cats, Molly and Milly, joined in the medley with yowls of their own.

Pinky’s day was not off to a peaceful start, and it was not going to get any calmer as she discovered when she returned from the kitchen, dishes done, to a suspiciously quiet sitting-room, where Ruby was leaning over the playpen, engaged in some mischief.

At her mother’s entrance, she moved away guiltily – leaving Pinky exposed to the full horror of her grinning grandson, chocolate drooling down either side of his mouth, smeared all over his top and trousers, and even around the net of the playpen.

Ruby wasn’t much better. Her clothes had avoided the worst of her illicit feast but there was chocolate on her hands and hair, and tell-tale prints on the coffee table, TV screen and even the sofa.

Where on earth – ? Pinky breathed in dismay before her eyes lighted on the near empty box of fancy chocolates she’d received for Christmas and opened just the night before. She’d forgotten all about it sitting on the unit, within Ruby’s greedy grasp.

Someone – or two someones – at No. 23 were about to get a soak in a luxurious bath, but it wasn’t going to be Pinky Clark!

At the salon, Natalie’s morning was not going to plan either, with the discovery that the hot water wasn’t working properly, just as her first client of the day was waiting to have the dye rinsed from her hair!

“You’ll need to come back and fix it,” she wailed down the phone to Alex.

“I have to finish off this service,” Alex said. “The customer’s picking the car up in an hour. Have you checked the boiler is on?”

“Of course I have!” She hoped he could hear her rolling her eyes!

“What about the pressure? It may have dropped. You can fix that easily yourself.”

By the time they’d established that the pressure had indeed dropped on the boiler, and Alex had talked Natalie and her assistant Iris through the complicated procedure of raising it, Natalie was running 40 minutes late.

Fortunately, the client was delighted with her blonder-than-usual look – which couldn’t be said of Natalie’s next customer. She had tried to dye her own hair over the Christmas holidays and was now looking to Natalie to fix the resultant straw-like orange mess.

Even with Iris’s help, the process of restoring her tresses to a shiny brunette took an hour longer than it should. With a sigh, Natalie asked Iris to phone the care home to explain she’d be later than planned while she phoned Keisha to cancel their planned coffee.

“Can you pick up William along with Kayla?” she asked. “I’m going to be running so late.”

“Haven’t you heard? Nursery’s off – too many Covid cases among the staff.” Keisha said.

Natalie looked at her phone properly to see a text message from her mother-in-law explaining William would be at hers all day. She breathed a sigh of relief as she turned back to her work. Pinky surely wouldn’t mind if she was late picking him up from there.

But Pinky wasn’t her calm, peaceful self when Natalie finally arrived at the door of No. 23! Nor was William dressed in the clothes she’d sent him out in that morning, nor even his spare outfit from his nursery bag. Instead he wore what suspiciously looked like an outgrown outfit of Ruby’s, dungarees and a T-shirt decorated in pink unicorns!

“Don’t ask!” Pinky rolled her eyes before proceeding to explain anyway, that having fed her younger nephew so much chocolate he’d actually been sick, Ruby had led herself and him into further mischief by finding the biggest, muddiest puddle in the park, divesting herself and him of their coats and rolling in it, along with Tyson!

“I’ve done nothing but run baths all day!” Pinky exclaimed. “And not one for myself!”

“Poor Mum! I got back from my outing with Gran to find her trying to wrestle Tyson into the bathtub.” Jennifer grinned. “We’d just got out of hot water, too, hadn’t we, Gran?”

Polly laughed. “So much for my tranquil morning at aqua-aerobics. It was all going so well, too, until the instructor broke us up into circles to do some synchronised exercises.”

“She promised a prize for the best circle.” Jennifer choked on her giggles. “And got me to say which one was best. Unfortunately, the other three circles didn’t agree with my decision – said I was showing favouritism choosing the one my gran was in!

“They started shouting at me, then at each other, and then they started splashing each other with water. Then one of them actually grabbed a pool noodle and began hitting another one with it!

“The lifeguards had to step in to restore calm. Who knew a bunch of old ladies could be so violent?”

“Meanwhile, I got out the pool and dressed as quickly as I could and we made a quick getaway,” Polly finished the story.

By that time, even Pinky and Natalie were laughing, their troubled day forgotten in the thrill of Polly’s adventures.

“So you won’t be going back?” Natalie asked.

“You’re joking!” Jennifer exclaimed. “I’m getting time off again to take Grandma back next week. I might even get in the pool myself, too, next time. Why should the oldies have all the fun?”

“Fun?” Mike Wadham wandered into the kitchen, attracted by the sound of his womenfolk’s cheerful laughter. Mild dementia hadn’t fully robbed him of his memory. “I had fun today. They had carrot cake at the centre. And Bert forgot to eat his bit, so I got two slices.”

He ambled out again, to more peals of laughter.

“Well, at least someone’s day went to plan,” Pinky chortled. “But let me tell you, I’ll be glad to get back to work tomorrow. A class of six-year-olds has to be easier to deal with than Ruby and William were today! Right, I’m off for my bath now!”

“Mum!” Fourteen-year-old Matty burst in through the kitchen door, clutching a muddy football to his even muddier chest. “Football practice was ace today. I scored three goals! But I need a shower right now. Hope there’s some hot water!”

Join us next month for more adventures with the Wadhams clan.