The Wadhams: Celebrations All Round

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 family life with wife Natalie and toddler son William in their flat above Pretty Polly’s, the hairdressing and beauty salon which Natalie runs. Now they’re expecting twins, the flat is too small for them – but Natalie’s gran, Julia, has come up with a solution and they have bought a house together with a modern granny annex attached.

Keisha had pulled out all the stops for her friend Natalie Clark’s baby shower.

Pink and white balloons hung from all four corners of her pretty sitting-room, well out of the way of both her three-year-old daughter Kayla and her madcap Golden Labrador, Honey. Pink and white streamers festooned the pictures and lights, and on a table in the corner a fountain-like centrepiece cascaded silver, pink and white ribbons onto the surface below.

If no-one had been apprised that Natalie was having two girls, they would certainly guess now, the guest-of-honour thought, as she kissed her friend on both cheeks and thanked her warmly for hosting the party.

“Oh, you have to have a baby shower!” Kezia exclaimed. “You missed out on so much during lockdown – I bet you didn’t have one for William.”

“No,” Natalie agreed. “We were thrown right into lockdown not long after I found out I was pregnant. What a shock! We’d just got back from the Far East – in the nick of time, as it turned out.”

“Shame he wasn’t born in Vietnam,” Kezia grinned. “He would have had dual citizenship.”

“I think his father would have had to be Vietnamese,” Natalie said. “And no one looking at him would believe that for a minute, with his red hair and his blue eyes. He certainly got Alex’s family’s genes.”

“Just like Kayla’s got mine.” Kezia grinned. She leaned down to ruffle her daughter’s curly dark hair before sending her off with a hug to join her dad. Blond-haired, blue-eyed Robbie bore no resemblance to his dark-skinned, dark-haired daughter, but there was no mistaking their bond as he swept her up in his arms, bestowed a kiss on his wife, and left to spend the evening with Alex and William, Kezia’s partner-in-crime.

Alex’s very little sister Ruby would be there, too, while the Wadhams’ womenfolk attended the party, so the two men were in for a lively time!

Natalie swept her arms around the room.

“This is so lovely, Kezia,” she enthused. “I never expected anything like it. But are you sure it wasn’t too much for you, what with, you know …” Natalie studied her friend keenly, and Kezia laughed.

“I know what you’re thinking, but honestly, I’m not upset at all. When it happens, it happens – meanwhile, I’ve got enough to do with Kezia and Honey around.”

The Labrador barked at the sound of her name, then barked again more loudly as the doorbell rang, and the guests began to arrive.

Natalie’s mother-in-law Pinky was first, with her own mother Polly, while Natalie’s mum Carol was not far behind.

Next to arrive were friends Suzi and Rhiannon, then Jennifer, Alex’s sister appeared, with Amanda the Wadhams’ young next-door neighbour. At just thirteen, she was thrilled to be included in such a grown-up party – though the sight of all the pink and white did not win her approval!

“Natalie, I know you’re having girls, but you don’t have to dress them in pink, you know,” she said reprovingly. “There are lots of lovely gender neutral clothes out there for boys and girls – I hope you’re not going to quash their individuality and their chance to explore their own identities.”

Natalie and Kezia exchanged a grin. They’d been treated to Amanda’s diatribes on gender stereotyping many a time by now. The teenager had been shocked to see Kayla clutching a Barbie doll one day – but also mightily relieved when neither Alex nor Natalie objected to William demanding to play with it.

“The balloons are nothing to do with me.” Natalie cheerfully ratted on her friend, but Kezia refused to be shamed.

“Well, once Alex had let the cat out the bag, it seemed a shame not to make the most of the opportunity. All white would have been boring.”

“Oh, Alex never can keep a secret,” Natalie said.

Amanda looked around the room. “Is your granny Julia not coming?”

“No,” Natalie said, “I did ask her, but she looked at me as if she’d rather poke pins in her eyes. In her day, she says, young women stayed at home in the latter days of their pregnancy. They didn’t go gadding about, and they had certainly stopped working by the time they were ‘showing’ as she so coyly put it.”

“You’d think she was a hundred years old, not eighty. Grandma Polly is older than her, but she looks and acts at least twenty years younger.”

Polly looked up from the comfy chair she’d settled in.

“I’m just grateful she didn’t want to come, and offered to sit with Grandpa Mike instead. He really has brought out her softer side.

“She’s right, though, about what it was like in our day. I gave up work when I was married, and although I soon got a part-time job, I had to give up again when I was pregnant.

“And the clothes we had to wear.” She shuddered. “I can only describe them as tents – and mostly gingham ones at that.”

The younger women roared with laughter at the thought of stylish, petite, white-haired Polly in a gingham tent.

“It was better by our time, wasn’t it, Carol?” Pinky said. “We could carry on working – and go back to work when the baby was born. The clothes still weren’t wonderful. Though I remember I thought I looked the bees’ knees in a pair of floral maternity dungarees when I was pregnant with Alex.”

“They still tended to be all big collars and floaty sleeves,” Carol agreed. “They were meant to distract from the bump, but we all just ended up looking like Princess Diana clones.”

Natalie smiled and smoothed down the light Lycra skirt of the blue dress she’d bought for tonight. Perfectly fitted, it hugged her curves and bump – a bigger bump than she’d had with William, but then, there were two of them in there.

“I’m stopping work at the end of next week,” she said. “I’d have liked to go on longer, but the babies are due in around six weeks, and I am getting really tired.”

“And they’ll probably come early,” Suzi put in. “I just hope they don’t stop you coming to our wedding.”

She and fiancé Kev were planning a pull-out-all-the-stops wedding in the middle of June.

“Who is taking over for you at the salon?” Kezia’s sister June asked.

“Iris is going to manage it,” Natalie replied. “And her sister Evie is coming to work with her. She hadn’t been getting on with the salon owner at her old place, so she was happy to make the change. She won’t be able to bring her clients with her of course, but I’m sure some will make their way to us eventually.

“The salon is sorted – it’s the flat that is the problem. We’re moving out in two weeks’ time, and we still haven’t found a buyer. I don’t know what we’re going to do. Gran has been very generous helping us to buy the new house –”

“With granny extension for her, don’t forget,” Kezia butted in. She didn’t think her friend should feel beholden to Julia Jameson in any way. As far as she was concerned, Natalie and Alex were doing the grim old lady a favour, not the other way around.

“Talking of Iris, she should be here by now, shouldn’t she?”

As if on cue, the doorbell rang again, and there were Iris and Evie, full of apologies for their late arrival.

“We had a bit of a fight with our brother for the bathroom,” Iris explained. “Then when he finally got out, our little sister nipped in!”

“That house ain’t big enough for all of us,” Evie quipped, and turned to Natalie with an eager expression on her face. “So, we’ve been talking about it…”

“… and if you and Alex agree, we would love to move in above the salon,” Iris finished. “We can’t afford to buy it, of course, but we’d pay you the going rent. It would make sense for me to be living above the salon while I’m running it, and it would give you a breathing space until you find a buyer.”

“Iris, that would be marvellous!” Natalie exclaimed. “Alex and I have spoken about renting it out, but we didn’t want to have to deal with strangers. But you and Evie would be ideal tenants – and you could live there as long as you like.”

“Sorted!” Iris grinned. “Mum will be relieved, too. She’s always on at us to get out and get her own place. She’s even been hinting I should move in with Gareth – and we’ve only been going out together three months.”

“This calls for the bubbly to be opened!” Kezia yelled. “I’ve got Nozecco for you,” she added to Natalie.

Soon the party was in full swing, as gifts were presented to the happy mum-to-be, and games played. Kezia had asked everyone to send their own baby photos in advance, and there was much hilarity as they tried to guess who each one was.

“You’ll know me,” Polly said. “I’m the only one in black-and-white.”

“And I’m the only one in a dress with frilly matching knickers!” Pinky laughed. “But it didn’t stop me growing up to train as a mechanic, Amanda,” she added. “So I don’t think you’ll have to worry about the babies being pigeon-holed. We all find what suits us in the end.”

“Do you have names for the babies yet?” June asked. “Or is it a secret?”

Natalie smiled. “Oh, I’ve given up on secrets where these babies are concerned. The first one out is going to be Lyra, but we’re not sure about baby two. The trouble is, all the baby names I like begin with L – like Lucy and Laurel and Lily, but I’d like them to have different initials. It will be less confusing for them as they grow up.

“So maybe you could all have a think about a name that goes with Lyra, while I go and get myself more Nozecco.”

She wandered into the kitchen, to find Kezia already there, surreptitiously replenishing her own glass – from the Nozecco bottle.

“I thought you were drinking fizz?” Natalie commented innocently.

“Oops! Caught!” Kezia grinned wickedly. “I didn’t want you to think I was stealing your thunder tonight, so I didn’t say anything earlier but I’m in the pudding club again finally, too.”

She clamped her hand over her friend’s mouth as Natalie let out a squeal of excitement.

“Keep it quiet for now. June knows, but I haven’t told anyone else here. This is your night, remember.”

“Not a chance!” Natalie rushed back into the sitting-room. “Everyone, you’ll need to think up some boys’ names, too. Kezia and Robbie are expecting again!”

As the room erupted into cheers and laughter, she could hear Amanda plaintively saying. “There are plenty neutral-gender names, too, you know. Like Aspen, or Harper, or River…”

River? Natalie liked it. She would have to think about that one.

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

Like serials? Look out for Tell It To Stella in our bumper issues of the weekly magazine. Big name author Louise Jensen pens the gentle tales of a village hairdresser helping to untangle her clients’ lives.

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