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.
Tyson Wadham laid his head between his front paws and sighed heavily. He knew he was in the doghouse!
“What are we going to do with you?” Pinky Clark exclaimed. “You can’t come to Center Parcs with us now, that’s for sure. I’m not risking that long drive with you possibly being sick again – but who’s going to look after you while we’re away?
“And don’t look at me with those pathetic big eyes. It’s your own fault for being so greedy – and thieving!”
“A whole chocolate egg – who’d have thought he’d manage to scoff the lot?” Her husband Jim appeared, a large holdall in each hand. “Good job we spotted the foil, and got him to the vet, or who knows what might have happened?
“Anyway, good news! I’ve got hold of Alex and he and Natalie are happy to take him while we’re away. He’s coming over for him now.”
The little Jack Russell’s ears pricked up. If he couldn’t be with his beloved master, Matty, then Matty’s older brother Alex was the next best thing. Tyson almost wagged his tail then gave up on the effort. He still felt decidedly queasy.
In a clamour of farewells and banging doors, Jim and Pinky with their two younger children departed, Matty bemoaning the fact that they had to leave Tyson behind.
Red-headed Ruby couldn’t care less – at not quite four, her life still revolved around herself. She’d spotted her mum packing her swimming costume, supervised her father lifting her little bicycle on to the roof-rack, and clocked the bag of sweet treats stowed in the boot. She knew good times lay ahead.
“Thank so much for taking Tyson, darling,” Pinky said as she kissed her elder son goodbye. “I couldn’t ask Grandma Polly to look after him as well as the cats and your grandad – you will keep an eye on them, too, won’t you? Jennifer will be looking in, too.”
“No problem, Mum,” Alex replied. “Off you go and have a good time. I’ll make sure everything here runs smoothly – and that this one doesn’t get his mouth round any more chocolate!
“Come on, Tyson, time to go – William’s waiting to see you.”
William! This time Tyson did manage a tail wag. The youngest member of his pack might play roughshod around him, but he loved him nearly as much as he loved Matty.
Early Saturday morning, Tyson woke up, stretched, yawned and gave himself a good shake. What was different?
Oh yes, he was at Alex and Natalie’s flat – and was that William he could hear garbling through the door to his bedroom. Tyson gave a small woof to alert his people that morning was here – but not too loudly. He was feeling one hundred per cent now, but he hadn’t forgotten his disgrace, and didn’t want to risk another scolding.
Alex appeared, scratching his beard and yawning – really, there wasn’t much to pick and choose between dogs and humans in the morning, Tyson thought – and soon the flat was a hive of activity as Alex simultaneously fed himself and William breakfast while Natalie got dressed for work.
When she’d departed to the salon downstairs, Alex looked down at the little dog, curled around William’s highchair in the hope of forbidden scraps.
“Well, we’re in charge now, Tyson. What are we going to do today?”
“Park!” William banged his spoon loudly on the highchair.
“Not a bad idea,” Alex concurred. “But first we’ll have to get some shopping. I’ve promised Mum a lovely tea tonight, so we’ll do that first.”
It was at the supermarket that things started to go wrong! Having picked up all the ingredients he needed for his signature sausage and sweet potato casserole – which Tyson was very much looking forward to sampling – Alex returned to where he’d left the little dog tied up, to find him the centre of attention.
A small group of children were gathered around him – and one little girl was holding out what looked suspiciously like a square of chocolate.
“No!” Alex yelled, battering through them with William’s pushchair to snatch the chocolate from the girl’s hand before Tyson could scoff it. The girl took one look at the loud, bearded giant towering over her and burst into tears.
Tyson meanwhile looked at him with reproachful eyes – didn’t Alex know he’d learned his lesson? He wouldn’t have taken the chocolate… though maybe one small square wouldn’t have hurt…
By this time the child’s mother was on the scene, berating Alex soundly as he red-facedly tried to explain why he’d acted the way he did.
Finally convinced that he’d meant her child no harm, but not in the least bit mollified, she tossed her head and turned towards the shop, leaving Alex to gather up Tyson, William and his dignity before heading home to drop the shopping off.
“Right!” he said, whistling as they set off again – Alex was never down for long – “it’s time to hit the park.”
With green space to run around, ducks to chase and a toddler to shepherd into submission, Tyson was in his element at the park, but they hadn’t been there more than ten minutes when a sudden cloudburst put paid to their fun and they had to make a dash for home.
While Alex was wondering what to tackle first – the damp toddler, the soaking dog or the muddy floor – William suddenly screamed.
“Floppy! Where’s Floppy?”
“He’ll still be in your buggy,” Alex said. “Go and get him.”
“Not there!” William’s bottom lip trembled and behind his eyes, the heavens threatened to open again.
Alex sighed. If his son’s beloved toy rabbit was missing, he’d be inconsolable.
It was – and he was. Trying to think above his son’s screams and Tyson’s sympathetic whines, Alex considered.
Floppy had definitely been in the park with them – he’d had to push him on the swing next to William’s. Had they left him there? He was going to have to go back.
“Right,” he said, to console himself more than anything else. “We’ll dry off, have some lunch then head back to the park.”
Alex turned his attention to a quick and easy lunch but just as the scrambled eggs were at setting point, his mobile flashed up Grandma Polly’s number. He couldn’t ignore it.
“Oh, Alex, I’m so sorry, I know it’s your day off, but could you possibly come over? Your grandpa has cut his hand and I can’t get it to stop bleeding. It’s made him quite agitated, and he won’t stay still long enough for me to bandage it.”
“I’ll be right over,” Alex promised, reaching for his and William’s jackets and ready to flee the flat before he noticed Tyson dancing around the cooker.
The eggs! Hastily he turned off the gas, and threw the pan into the sink – he’d have to deal with that later – and snatched up the car keys.
“Come on, Tyson. Time to go again.”
“There we are. Good as new.” Polly Wadham taped up the bandage on her husband Mike’s finger, and gave him a tender kiss. “Now don’t go trying to open the cats’ canned food again unless I’m there.”
Alex had succeeded in distracting his grandpa’s attention with the story of his day so far, and the older man was chuckling away as he remembered far-off days and escapades with his own small children and the family’s mad mutt, Wormsey.
“It’s so good for him to reminisce like that,” Polly whispered to Alex in the kitchen as he helped her make a soothing cup of tea for them all.
At her feet, the two cats Milly and Molly were finally diving into their dinner. And so, to Alex’s horror, was William! A yip from Tyson alerted him to the fact that the toddler was preparing to move a succulent chunky piece of chicken liver from the bowl to his mouth.
“William! No!” He scooped him off the floor, causing another outcry from his small son.
“Sorry, Grandma, he hasn’t had his lunch yet. And we’ve lost F-L-O-P-P-Y somewhere in the park, so he’s already upset. We’ll have to go and look for him soon or there will be no peace at bedtime.”
“I’ll make some lunch for you all now,” Polly said. “Then you can get off. It was good of you to come round so quickly, Alex. You’re a good boy.”
Alex grinned. He was twenty-six, but he knew his grandma would always see him as a boy.
Alex pulled up the car outside the park, thankful it had at least stopped raining, and for the second time that day headed purposefully towards the swings, William kicking his legs in his pushchair, Tyson running on ahead.
After nearly falling into disgrace again this morning outside the supermarket, the little dog was determined to redeem himself. He’d sniff out Floppy if it took him all afternoon!
In the end, it took the best part of an hour before he found the toy rabbit lying in a muddy puddle almost hidden by a dripping bush, and bounded back with it in his mouth to his masters.
Uncaring of the toy’s bedraggled sogginess, William snatched it from him and pulled it to his heart.
Alex sighed. That jacket would have to go in the washing now, along with Floppy. And he still had the floor to clean, the scrambled egg pan to scrub and the sausage casserole to prepare before Natalie got home from a hard day’s work.
“You know, Tyson,” he ruminated, as he set to on the scrambled egg pan with scouring pads and elbow grease, “I’ve always fancied myself as the man of the house, the patriarch as it were, looking after my wife and family.
“Three kids at least – and a dog like you.” Tyson thumped his tail.
“I’ll tell you something in secret. I was a bit disappointed when Natalie said she wanted to wait at least another year before we try for another baby. I know it makes sense, with her just opening the salon. Plus, we really don’t have room here. Still it would have been nice…
“But after today I’ll just be glad when Natalie gets home to help with William, Mum and Dad get home to help with Grandma and Grandpa, and we get you home before you can get into any more trouble.”
Tyson’s face fell. Hadn’t he been a help today? Hadn’t he stopped William eating the cats’ food? Found Floppy? Saved the flat from going on fire?
“Mind you, I don’t know what I would have done without you today,” Alex conceded. “You’re a good boy, really, aren’t you? Just like me, according to Gran. And I think I’ll stay that way while and when I can. Being a grown-up is too much like hard work.”
Tyson’s tail wagged nineteen to the dozen. Being a dog could be hard work, too, but it was always rewarding – especially when there was some sausage casserole to look forward to!
Join us next month for more adventures from the Wadhams clan.
Find lively book reviews and more from Karen at www.karensbookbag.co.uk
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