The Wadhams: Fright Night

A pumpkin with Halloween sweets inside Illustration: Shutterstock

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. Now living in a house with attached annexe for Natalie’s grandmother Julia, they’ve just welcomed twin daughters Lyra and Lottie into their family.


Alex Clark swirled his long black coat theatrically, and his wife Natalie obligingly screamed in mock terror. Their little son William, dressed in his favourite Spiderman outfit, rolled on the floor, laughing so hard he was in danger of waking up his four-month-old sisters, who slept peacefully upstairs in their parents’ bedroom, oblivious to the fact that this was Halloween, and that they were about to be abandoned by the menfolk of the family.

“Trick or treat! Trick or treat!” William shouted in glee. “We’re going trick or treating!”

Natalie grinned at her husband. “If this is what he’s like now, imagine how he’ll be after an evening of sugary treats. You’re in charge of bed and bath, don’t forget. I’m having a night off.”

Alex grinned a vampirish grin – the effect slightly marred by the fact that his long red beard hid most of it – and waggled a painted dark vampire eyebrow.

“We’ll be back by eight at the latest,” he said. “Right, William, let’s go. First stop, Gaga Julia – let’s hope she’s got the Haribos in!”

At Alex’s parents’ home, No. 23 Elderslie Terrace, the mood was equally buoyant. His five-year-old sister Ruby – a very late and unexpected addition to the family, who now could not imagine life without her – was bouncing around in her black cat outfit while her teenage brother Matty tried to put the finishing touches to his own wizard’s costume.

“Don’t know why I agreed to this,” he grumbled.

“Because you’re a lovely son and brother.” His mum Pinky bestowed a kiss on his forehead as she flitted by to collect her coat from the hall cupboard. “Remember Ruby has school tomorrow, so please don’t keep her out too late – Dad and I will be back from Jonathan and Anne’s about eleven.”

“No worries,” Matty said in his newly-deep voice. “We’re just going round to Seb and Paul’s to pick up Amanda and Jake, then we’ll go to a couple of the neighbours.”

“Amanda’s bein’ a witch an’ Jake is a pumpkin,” Ruby told her mother, before remembering she was in cat mode and switching to a meow.

Pinky laughed. “I’m sure he’ll look very cute.” Now that they’d started school Ruby and Jake were becoming as close friends as Matty and Amanda. She blessed the day Paul and Seb had moved in next door with their adopted family. They were wonderful neighbours.

“We’ll swing upstairs to Grandma and Grandpa’s when we get back,” Matty went on.

Pinky frowned slightly.

“Grandpa’s been a bit tired today,” she said. “Maybe you should go there first, so that they can get off to bed. Anyway, Dad and I are off now.” She bent to kiss Ruby. “Have a lovely time – and don’t eat too many sweets!”

Ruby giggled and meowed innocently. Wasn’t too many sweets the whole point of trick and treating?

Polly Wadham was delighted to see her grandchildren and her neighbours’ children all dressed up for Halloween. She hoped they would cheer Mike up a little.

He’d been out of sorts all day, more forgetful than usual, and unable to settle down to his usual favourite TV shows. He seemed very tired, too, and in fact had just woken when the trick-and-treaters appeared at the door.

He looked at them bemusedly, but fondly. Strange how they were dressed, but he supposed that was young folk nowadays. Their fashions got more and more outlandish.

Polly produced a bowl of sweets and the children dug in – Matty and Amanda, too. If they had to take their siblings trick or treating, they might as well get something out of it, they reasoned.

They waved goodbye, and Polly and Mike returned to their armchairs.

Bake Off will be on soon,” Polly told her husband. He smiled happily – he didn’t care what was on telly as long as Polly was beside him.

At Gaga Julia’s, William was waiting eagerly for his treat – but Julia was made of stronger stuff than Polly and expected something in return.

“Where your grandad Eric lives, in Scotland, you have to earn your Halloween treat,” she informed the little boy. “Your auntie Ailsa and uncle Connor call it guising, and when they were little, they would sing a song or tell a joke before they got their sweets.”

William considered this thoughtfully.

“Okay,” he said, before launching into a rendition of Let It Go from Frozen that had Julia itching to put her hands over her ears. Alex grinned – his wife’s grandmother had asked for that!

Fortunately, William ran out of steam after one verse, and Julia proffered the treats bowl she had prepared. William grabbed a handful of mini-bars, and she added a satsuma and an apple.

“They also do ‘dooking for apples’ up there,” she said.

“Robbie and Keisha are doing that,” Alex said, referring to his and Natalie’s close friends. “We’re going over there now to join in.”

They waved goodbye to Julia and set off for their friends, where they received an excited welcome from their little daughter, four-year-old Kayla.

“I’m a fairy!” She bounced up and down with glee. “And Daddy is a spaceman.”

“And I’m a beached whale!” Keisha laughed, stroking her seven-month bump. “Come on in and help us bob for apples.”

“No blood on offer?” Alex swirled his coat and bared his fangs as he stepped forward, causing Kayla to notice just how he was dressed. She backed away in alarm – falling backwards straight into the basin of water that held half a dozen rosy red apples!

Luckily it was lukewarm, and after her initial shock, Kayla’s tears turned to giggles while Alex hastily apologised and removed his fake fangs.

While Keisha dried her daughter off, William insisted on doing his “guising” with an off-key rendition of We Don’t Talk About Bruno. Then the two children bobbed for apples. William insisted his father join in and by the time they’d finished his beard was almost as wet as Kayla’s fairy wings.

He gratefully accepted a towel from Robbie, rubbed at his face, then rounded up his little son.

“Come on. Time to visit Grandpa Mike and Grandma Polly.”

“Don’t forget your treat,” Keisha said, popping a few mini packets of jelly sweets and lollies into his pumpkin basket.

Grateful as he was, something was puzzling William. “Why does no-one want a trick?” he asked. “I can do great tricks. Look, I can stand on my head.” He turned himself upside down, but as his hands never left the floor, the adults had to pretend to be impressed – which they did very convincingly.

“Let’s hope he stays so innocent,” Keisha whispered to Alex. “I prefer that kind of trick to eggs thrown at my door.”

Alex nodded. “Pity we don’t copy the Scots rather than the Americans,” he said. “Guising is much more civilised.”

Mindful of his grandparents’ age and in particular his grandpa’s frailty, Alex practised some joke telling with William on their way to the old folks’ granny flat at Elderslie Terrace, hoping to spare their ears from his son’s singing!

As Matty and Ruby were not yet back, he was about let himself in to his parents’ house with his key, when the door opened and Polly appeared.

“Oh!” she screamed, and staggered backwards in genuine shock.

“Grandma!” Alex caught her arm to steady her. “It’s me, Alex. And William. What’s wrong?”

“Oh, Alex.” She folded herself into his strong arms. “I’m sorry. I thought you must be the ambulance men. Your grandad has taken a bad turn, and I’ve been waiting for them to arrive.”

All thoughts of trick and treating, or even guising, were gone. Alex bundled William into Seb and Paul’s where Matty and Ruby had just arrived back, asking Matty to call their parents and to let Natalie know what was going on. Then he bounded back next door just in time to meet the ambulance, and to console and comfort his grandma as his poorly-looking grandpa was taken off to hospital, sirens blaring.

It was midnight before Alex got home, to find an anxious Natalie sitting up waiting for him. Sighing, he gathered her into his arms.

“Grandpa has had another stroke,” he said. “They’re keeping him in hospital, of course, but Grandma has gone home with Mum and Dad. Did someone drop William back here?”

“Yes, Paul brought him back not long after Matty phoned,” Natalie whispered. “He’s sound asleep now. Oh, Alex, is Mike going to be OK?”

“We won’t know until they’ve done all their tests,” Alex said.

“And what about Polly? Is she OK?”

Alex nodded, thinking of his beloved grandma. After her initial shock, she’d rallied all her strength and courage to sit with her husband, listen to the doctors and even reassure Alex that it was not his fault that he’d given her a fright.

She was so brave and strong – and so must he and all the family be, if they were to face this challenge together.

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

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