The Wadhams: A Stretch Too Far?

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. 

“All right, ladies, left knee up, then right knee up in table-top position. Raise your head and shoulders from the ground and extend right knee out and left arm up. 

“Remember to breathe through any apparent discomfort – just think of those fab abs you’ll be displaying in your bikinis soon.” 

Pinky Clark almost groaned aloud as she straightened her leg and raised her arm, trying to remember her left from her right. What had she been thinking of, joining this class? Oh yes, her fab abs… 

Her brother Drew was getting married in August and she wanted to look her best, as she’d mentioned to her daughter-in-law Natalie at the salon last week… 

“But I think you look fabulous for your age!” Natalie’s young assistant Iris had said. 

Pinky cringed at the backhanded compliment. She’d just turned fifty-three and was already aware of middle-age encroaching, thank you very much. Especially around her tummy. 

“I don’t need to lose much weight,” she said. “It’s just that I want to tone up a little. I thought I might go along with Mum to her aqua-aerobics class.” 

She sighed. Polly Wadham loved her class, claiming it kept her supple but in truth the older woman really went for the coffee and buns with her fellow octogenarians afterwards. Pinky didn’t feel quite ready to join that company yet. 

But was she ready for this? How had she let Natalie talk her into going along with her own mum, Carol to this torture chamber where most of the women were considerably younger, considerably fitter and considerably keener than her on waving their legs around in tight-fitting Lycra? 

“My friend Paula is setting up as a Pilates instructor and I told her Mum might be interested as she wants to lose some weight. She’s quite keen, but she won’t go if you won’t go,” Natalie had said, and Pinky had felt bad. 

She didn’t know Carol well, and truth be told she didn’t particularly like her. She’d always struck her as a rather selfish, self-occupied woman, who put her own desires before that of her daughter and grandson. But she would prefer to be friends with the woman who was a fellow grandmother to little William, and so she’d agreed to sign up to the class. 

Pinky sighed and let both legs sink to the floor for a few seconds’ welcome relief before their slim, blonde and sickeningly enthusiastic instructor upped the pace again. 

“Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Suck your stomach into your back, like you’re pulling on a tight pair of jeans …” 

Carol Jameson used the breathing opportunity to let out a small moan and glanced over at Pinky Clark. 

For someone who claimed never to have done Pilates before, her daughter’s mother-in-law seemed to be managing all right, she thought resentfully. 

She had such a great figure, too, for a woman who’d had four children, the youngest just coming up for four. Natalie was Carol’s one and only, and she’d been left to bring her up alone from an early age when her selfish git of a husband went off to Scotland with his fancy piece. 

Carol had done her best, but she was glad when Natalie turned eighteen and she could start having a life of her own again. And now she’d met Harry, a whole new life of possibilities stretched in front of her. Not least their upcoming trip to the Maldives. 

She wanted to lose a bit of weight before they went, but when she’d mentioned to Natalie that she was planning to diet, her daughter had suggested this class with Pinky instead. 

“Pinky wants to look good for Alex’s uncle Drew’s wedding,” Natalie said. “She’s looking for ways to tone up. But she won’t go along to a class on her own, so I said you’d go, too.” 

Carol wanted to be a good mum. She knew she’d let Natalie down more than once, and it wasn’t much she was asking of her. Besides, she didn’t want Pinky Clark looking better than her and lording it over her… it was bad enough that she’d more or less taken over her role as Natalie’s mum. 

And so she’d agreed. 

“I wonder how your mum and Pinky are getting on at Paula’s Pilates class?” With one client settled in her chair with a coffee and a magazine, and the next yet to appear, Iris and Natalie were enjoying a few minutes’ chat as they tore up strips of foil ready for their next lady’s highlights. 

“I’m hoping they’re bonding over the breathing,” Natalie replied cheerfully. 

“Wouldn’t it have been easier just to have them over together for dinner?” 

“No, I think they’ll get on better if I’m not there,” Natalie said. “I know Pinky tries her best, but Mum is really prickly with her – I think she’s a bit jealous of how well we get on.” 

Iris shrugged. “Her problem, isn’t it?” 

“I suppose so,” Natalie agreed. “But I think it’s a shame, especially when there’s no need for it. I may have a lovely mother-in-law and a quite-nice stepmother, but…”  

“You only have one mum.” Their client looked up from her magazine to join in the conversation. 

“Exactly,” Natalie agreed. “The problem is, William has two grandmothers, and I really want them to get on. There hasn’t been much opportunity to get them together over the last two years, but now things are back to normal. We’ll be celebrating family birthdays and anniversaries all together, Alex’s family and my mum – and Harry now, too, I suppose,” she finished dubiously. 

“You’ll be able to see more of your dad and your brother and sister, too,” Iris suggested.  

“Oh Dad’s a lost cause,” Natalie laughed. “Truth be told, despite having a much younger half-brother and sister, I still consider myself an only child. Mum and I only ever had each other, and I don’t want her to feel our relationship has changed in any way. 

“I think Pinky might help her see that, if only she’ll let her.” 

The bell above the door pinged, and the pair returned to their duty of keeping their clients groomed, Pinky and Carol forgotten for the moment. 

“Bring your knees to your chest and rock from side to side. Now grab your toes with your arms on the outside and rock from side to side in happy baby pose.” 

Pinky grabbed her toes and rocked left. 

Carol grabbed her toes and rocked right. 

And the two women collided in a tangle of limbs and Lycra. 

By the time they extricated themselves, the rest of the class had disappeared, and they were laughing heartily. 

“That was absolute torture!” Pinky exclaimed. 

“I hated every minute.” Carol chuckled. “I don’t care how much you want to lose weight, Pinky, you’ll have to do this on your own.” 

“Me? I only came for you!” Pinky said. 

“And I only came because Natalie said you wouldn’t go if I didn’t come.” 

The two women stared at each other, enlightenment dawning. 

“I think we’ve been set up,” Carol said. “But why on earth …?” 

Pinky could guess. Natalie was a girl after her own heart, the type of girl who wanted everyone to get along, a girl who would never deliberately upset her mother.  

But she would never share that she’d guessed Carol was jealous of her. 

“She know we both want to lose some weight – and she is super keen to support Paula’s new Pilates class, of course. Well, we’ve given it our best shot, but really all I want now is a coffee. Fancy joining me?” 

 “Only if there’s cake.” Carol grinned mischievously. “After all that exercise I think we deserve it!” 

“Maybe we could make it a regular date,” Pinky suggested. “I’d rather meet for coffee than go through all that again. It can be our little secret…” She winked. 

Natalie would have been pleased to see her mother and mother-in-law march off arm-in-arm after their Pilates class – though she might wonder in the weeks to come why they never seemed to lose any weight. 

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

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