Joey Bites the Bullet, reposted. Prequel to Madge Finds Out
Select messages from
# through # FAQ

The CBB -> St Mildred's House

#1: Joey Bites the Bullet, reposted. Prequel to Madge Finds Out Author: Cryst PostPosted: Sat Apr 29, 2006 8:30 pm
All your lovely and funny comments and suggestions were lost in the great hack, but this wasn't archived, and I didn't bother reposting on the temporary board, so here it is!

Joey Bites the Bullet


Len was perched on the end of Joey’s bed, watching her fold a sprigged cotton nightdress and place it into her trim little tan leather overnight case.

“Why are you going on your own, Mamma? Shouldn’t Papa be with you? We would be perfectly all right here for a couple of days with Anna and Rösli to look after us, and we’d all feel much happier if you weren’t alone.”

Picking up her toilet bag and checking the contents, Joey sighed. “Oh don’t talk such piffle, my lamb. I’ll be perfectly fine – it’ll do me good to get away from the lot of you and enjoy some peace and quiet for a change.”

“But what are you going to do on your own for two days? What have you got planned?” her eldest daughter persisted.

“Oh, Len, for heaven’s sake,” Joey was starting to get exasperated, “I’ll be able to do just whatever I fancy at the time. It’ll be OK, I promise. Now run along and check on the twins for me, would you? Then it’s your bedtime, so you’d better round the others up and get on with it, hadn’t you?”

Len got to her feet reluctantly and left her mother to her packing, turning round to see her placing a couple of clean handkerchiefs into the case. As soon as the door closed behind her, Jo stopped packing and sat down on the bed with her head in her hands. “Oh, how I hate all this lying and deceit”, she thought, “but there’s no help for it – this just has to be done. Now that I’ve got this far I’m not putting it off again.”

There was a knock on the door and she looked up as Jack entered. “Nearly finished, darling?” he enquired. “Anything I can help with?”

“Oh bless you Jack, but no, I’m nearly done here. I just need to change the trim on my hat so that it’ll match the lime green dress I’m going to wear tomorrow, and pop the pink trim into the case for the day after, then I’ll be all set.”

“Well, you look all in, old thing,” he replied. “It’s hot milk and an early night for you. I’ll see to the tribe and get them all safely tucked up. What time’s your train in the morning? Nine fifteen, wasn’t it? I’ll run you to the station. Now, are you absolutely sure you want to go on your own? You know I can quite easily come with you if you like. Or why not take one of the girls to keep you company?”

“What a tribe of worriers you are,” she replied, “I’ll be fine, and that’s the last I want to hear on the subject. Now, I want to get this finished – so shoo.” She turned him round and pushed him towards the door.

Chuckling affectionately at his wife’s treatment of him, Jack obediently left the room and went down to the kitchen to prepare her bedtime glass of warm milk.


“Ruey, sit down at once, or you’ll have the boat over.”

The excited girl ignored Joey’s anxious shout and continued to wave enthusiastically at her father, who had just come into view on the shore.

“Ruey”, Joey repeated urgently, as the boat rocked violently. “Grab her, Roger and get her to sit down.”

Roger lurched forwards just as Ruey made another energetic gesture, and the little boat gave one enormous heave and flipped right over, depositing all its passengers into the cold deep waters of the Tiernsee. Joey could hear voices calling her as she sank slowly down into the murky depths, the rocking motion continuing as she tried desperately to swim for the surface. Normally a strong swimmer, on this occasion she was completely unable to move her limbs, and her panic mounted. A long, cold, clammy tendril of weed wrapped itself round her arm and dragged her further downwards. “Joey, Joey,” the voices continued to shout and she felt herself pitching violently from side to side. She opened her mouth to scream.

Her eyes opened, and through a fog she saw Jack standing anxiously above her, shaking her gently and calling her name. Her head felt heavy and sore, she was experiencing waves of nausea and having trouble focusing, but she gradually came to, realising that she was safe in her bed in Die Blumen and had been in the grip of a nightmare. With a thousand hammers thundering behind her eyes, she pulled herself up to a sitting position.

“Steady, old thing,” said Jack. “It’s time to get up, if you want to have breakfast before we toddle off to the station. I’ve brought you a cup of coffee to get you going.”

She took the cup and sipped gratefully. “I feel ghastly, Jack. Most mornings I’m fine – up with the lark and raring to go, but a couple of times a month I have to struggle to wake up, and feel as if I’ve been my head’s been through the mangle. I haven’t experienced it for a good few months, though, and was hoping it had stopped. What’s wrong with me, Jack?”

“I shouldn’t worry about it, sweetheart, we all feel like that some days. I’ll bring you a couple of aspirins.” Jack smiled at her reassuringly, and stroked her forehead, but as he turned to leave his face changed. She had been very difficult to wake up today and for a few minutes he had been very fearful. What’s more, she was starting to notice; he would have to be more careful in future.


Joey threw her overnight case onto the overhead rack and collapsed into her seat. After her slow start earlier in the morning it had been touch and go, but Jack had driven like fury, and she’d made it onto the platform at Spärtz just as the train was about to leave. There was a moment when she’d been terrified that she’d have to run for it, but the guard spotted her and delayed blowing his whistle long enough for her to reach the train door at a brisk walking pace.

Mercifully, her head had now cleared, and she was ready for the day ahead. She checked her handbag to ascertain that the slip of paper with the address and phone number was still there. Jack had given her a generous cash allowance to indulge herself in the shops, and she had the cheque book too, so she was all set. She settled back to gaze out of the window as the train sped towards Innsbruck.

On arrival she made straight for her hotel, entered through the grand revolving doors, and rang the bell at Reception. “Guten Morgen” she said confidently to the young lady in pretty traditional Tyrolean dress who appeared from the office. “I’m Mrs Maynard, and I have a room and dinner reservation for tonight.”

“Good morning Frau Maynard, your room is ready. Here is your key. Hans!” She summoned the porter who took the case and led Joey to a sunny and spacious room on the first floor, with a view of the river. She looked round. “This’ll do very nicely,” she said to herself. “I’ll unpack, phone up to make sure the appointment is still on for tomorrow, and then I’m off to the shops. Tomorrow will bring what it may, but today I’m going to enjoy myself.”

Half an hour later she was strolling down the main shopping street, cool and smart in her lime green summer dress with her faithful old floppy hat trimmed to match. It felt good to revisit her old haunts in the city, although it had been heavily bombed in the war and huge areas had been rebuilt and so were almost unrecognisable.

She had heard that a popular British chain of stores had recently opened one its first overseas branches in the city, and as she always stocked up on their underwear whenever she returned to England, she was keen to find it. As she turned a corner, she spotted the familiar sign down an intersecting street and made straight for the door. She noticed an excellent selection of dainty little summer frocks and knitwear as she went in, also eying up the children’s clothing department and the food hall. “I’ll save them for later,” she thought, “basics first, and then I’ll have a good browse.” She made determinedly for the lingerie department.

It was then that she noticed the sign.

Please Queue Here

About 10 women were standing in a line by the entrance to the changing cubicles, some clutching items they had selected from the shelves, some empty handed, all looking slightly embarrassed and apprehensive.

“Hmm, I wonder,” she thought. “It is, after all, a very personal sort of thing to discuss with a stranger, but since the twins were born I haven’t really got anything that fits very well in that department, and I never quite know what size to go for. It’s always been a bit ‘hit and miss’ in the past.” She pondered for a short while, looked in despair at the confusing array of items on display, and bravely decided to take the plunge. She self-consciously joined the end of the queue, behind a middle-aged woman and a red-faced young girl, evidently a mother and daughter out shopping for the teenager’s first bra.


One of the cubicles had become free and an assistant had whisked off the young girl, by now blushing bright scarlet and quaking with terror. Joey realised, trembling, that it would be her turn next. She gulped, closed her eyes and took three deep breathes in an effort to calm herself. When she opened them again one of the assistants was bearing down on her, a pretty but brassy young woman with perfect make up, long red fingernails, and looking very trim and business-like in the smart store uniform. “Come along m’dear. Let’s get you seen to.” With that, she led Joey through into a cubicle, followed her in and drew the curtain. “Right then, whip your frock off, and let’s see what we’re dealing with. Need a hand with that zip?” She spun Joey round and unzipped the dress. Just then a bell rang. “That’ll be number four wanting to try a larger cup size. You just get yourself ready, and I’ll be back in a tick.”

Joey slipped out of her dress and hung it up on the peg provided. There were mirrors on three sides and myriad visions of her, alternating from her front to her back, stretched endlessly in all directions. “Heavens above! I look completely ridiculous! Perhaps I’d better take off my hat,” she thought and did so, placing it on the hook above the matching dress. For what seemed like an age, but was in fact just a couple of minutes, nothing happened, and Joey was contemplating getting dressed again and making a dash for freedom when the assistant returned.

“Right,” she said, brandishing her tape measure. “I’ll measure you in your own bra first. Let’s have a look. Good gracious, that old one doesn’t do much for you, does it? Wherever did you find it? I trust we can do better than that. It’s very loose! Have you lost weight recently? Ah yes, of course, you’ve just had a baby, haven’t you? Fancy me not noticing those stretch marks sooner! Bottle feeding, I take it? Well that makes things a little easier for us today, but you know it really is a mistake, unless of course you want these to sag.”

Poor Joey was far too embarrassed to reply to the stream of questions, even passing up an ideal opportunity to crow about the length of her family and the number of multiple births she’d had. She submitted in silence to the expert movements of the assistant passing the tape measure around and below the bust. “Hmm, we’ll try a 40A first, I think. Or perhaps a 38B? Slip that old bra off and let’s take a look. What sort of thing were you looking for anyway?”

Joey fumbled with the catch at the back, mumbling “Oh, er… you know, um… something plain, white, comfortable … ” The assistant spun her round again, undid the fastening with a practised flick, and slipped the straps down over Joey’s arms, walking round and standing in front of her and running her eyes up and down her body.

“Oh dear, we’re talking fairly major support here, I think,” said the young lady, in a matter-of-fact voice. “We’re going to need wires and padding if we’re to get much of a result. They sort of flop round the sides, yours, don’t they, as well as drooping? So we’ll need something with firm support under the arms too. You weren’t thinking hour-glass were you?” Joey shook her head, mutely. “Just as well – it’s really difficult when there isn’t a defined waist, and there’s quite a bit of loose flesh underneath the bust, just here.” She indicated the area in question by pinching a roll of flesh between the talons of her thumb and first finger. “Still, I’ve seen worse. We might just manage to get a cleavage out of them, I suppose. You wait here and I’ll go and see what I can find you.” With that, she breezed out, closing the curtain behind her.

For a moment Joey stood, frozen to the spot. Then the infinity of sagging flesh surrounding her spurred her into action, and she grabbed her dress from the hook and held it in front of herself. She lowered herself onto the stool in the corner feeling totally helpless, massively embarrassed, and overwhelmingly vulnerable. No-one had ever seen her naked breasts before, not even herself. But she could see no way out other than to go through with the rest of what promised to be an ever more humiliating experience.

Fighting back the tears, Joey settled herself into a seat at a table right at the back of the little coffee house, with her back to the door. She put the bags down on the chair next to her and glanced at the menu, without really looking at it. She knew what she needed – this was one of those times when only chocolate would do. The waitress arrived and Joey ordered a Kaffee with cream and a large slice of Sachertorte with Schlagobers. She sat brooding, head in her hands, until they arrived and accepted her chosen restoratives with mumbled thanks.

As she had anticipated, the bra fitting experience had gone from bad to worse, with the assistant producing bra after bra for her to try before they had whittled it down to a selection of four - three white, one black - sporting a variety of straps, padding, underwiring, lace and various other tricks of the trade. At that stage she’d declared she would take them all, the assistant insisting that she left the store wearing one of them. She shuddered, remembering some of the blunt comments that had been directed at her by the plain-spoken young woman. “Has anyone ever shown you how to put one on? No? Well lean forward, and let the breasts fall into the cup, then pull each one up and towards you before you straighten up. That’s right, you’re starting to get the hang of it now!”

At that point in her recollections, Joey’s effervescent sense of humour and naturally sunny disposition kicked in, and she started giggling. She looked down in wonderment at the two perfect pyramids straining the lime green fabric of her dress. The elderly couple at the next table glanced across in surprise as she broke out into a laugh, tears streaming down her face. “Oh my giddy Aunt,” she thought “I wonder what Jack will say. Well, at least I’ll have something to tell Madge in my next letter!”


“Hello, old chap, how are you? Tribe OK?”, chirped Jack as Jem answered the phone.

“Jack, it’s lovely to hear from you. Yes, we are all thriving here, though I’ll be glad when they all go back to school. Yours?”

“I know the feeling!” Jack chuckled, “Joey’s landed us with even more kids by assuming control of three who were abandoned in a chalet up the pass by their mad Professor of a father. She’s gone off to Innsbruck for a couple of days on a solo shopping trip and I’m minding the fort. But that’s not why I’m phoning. Just wanted to warn you that I had the devil’s own job waking Joey up this morning, and she had the grandfather of all hangovers when she did come round. I’m sure I just put the usual tot in, so perhaps it was just a freak reaction, but I’m worried she may cotton on. Or she may mention it to Madge, and between them they could put two and two together.”

“Thanks for the warning, Jack. They haven’t twigged in all this time, but we shouldn’t get complacent. Oh, that’s Madge coming in now, I’d better dash or she’ll wonder who was on the phone and what you wanted. I’ll phone you later. Bye.”


Anna was having a bad day.

Knowing how much Herr Doktor was missing Frau Joey, she had decided to cheer him up by cooking his favourite meal of roast turkey with all the trimmings. She’d had a succulent little turkey delivered and spent the morning preparing vegetables and peeling potatoes, with only minimal help from the triplets and Ruey. The turkey went into the oven in good time, and was starting to cook nicely, but then she’d been thwarted in the execution of her usual cooking technique by the absence of a very important kitchen implement. She’d turned all the cupboards and drawers out, and thoroughly interrogated the boys to see if one of them had taken it, not believing their heated denials. In the end, though, it was nowhere to be found, and she’d had to manage without, producing a meal which was, nonetheless, almost to her usual high standard. The extended family assembled eagerly. She placed the turkey in front of Jack for carving, and the jug of gravy onto the table beside it. “I hope you will enjoy it, Herr Doktor,” she nodded to Jack. She glared pointedly at the side of the table where the three Maynard boys were sitting, “But it will be their fault if you find the breast meat dry and the gravy a little greasy. They should leave my kitchen things where they belong.”

It was as well that she didn’t look at Jack as she stormed out of the room - the blood had drained from his face. “My God”, he thought “where did I leave the damn thing?”


The woman stood at the end of the street, checking her map against a piece of paper she was holding in her hand. She was tall and shapeless (apart from a well defined bust), and wearing a summery pink frock, dark glasses and a green and red patterned headscarf. She seemed to have abnormally large ears – it was almost as if the scarf was concealing a large pair of headphones. The checked her watch anxiously. The walk had taken longer than she had anticipated and she was only just going to make it. She nodded and walked quickly down the street.

About halfway down the street she stopped, checked the house number of a large, well kept Victorian mansion, read the brass plate by the door, nodded, looked around to make sure that she was not being observed, walked up the steps and rang the doorbell. She entered into a well furnished waiting room with a small reception counter in the corner. “Good morning”, she said “I am Mrs Brown and I have an appointment with Doctor Schmidt.”

“Please go straight through” the receptionist replied, indicating the door across the corridor. “The doctor is expecting you.”

Swallowing her nerves she went in.

Dr Schmidt was a well upholstered, good-looking man in his early fifties. “Ah, good morning Mrs Brown”. He checked his notes. “Ah yes, problems with coughing, sneezing, running, lifting heavy items and so on. I’ll need to do a physical examination. Shall we start with that and get it over and done with?”

Joey nodded apprehensively.

“I’ll just ask the nurse into the room to act as chaperone.” He opened the door, and beckoned in a tall woman of about Joey’s own age, perhaps a few years younger, smartly dressed in a crisp white nurse’s uniform. Her long fair hair was pulled back severely into a knot at her neck, a style that did little to improve her square, rather homely face. Pulling back the curtain of a small cubicle in the corner of the room, she gave a slight start of recognition when she saw Joey, but recovered her composure quickly, maintaining an impassive, professional face. When she spoke, her English was excellent, but had a pronounced, flat, German accent. “Please slip off your stockings and lower undergarments, J… I mean …Mrs Brown, and just raise the skirt of your dress and lay down on the couch.”

Joey felt more than a little embarrassed – after all no-one had ever seen that part of her body before, not even herself. (Although, thinking about it, she supposed that the medical staff might have caught a glimpse or two while her children were being born.) She did as she was bid, and the nurse stood watching as Dr Schmidt examined her. “This may feel a little uncomfortable.” he said. “Ah yes, I can see what the problem is. Slight prolapse here. Do you know how to contract your pelvic floor.” Seeing her look of blank bewilderment he continued “No? Start by pursing your lips as if you are sucking from a sour lemon through a straw. Now tense the muscles in your lower tummy as if you were using the toilet and stopping the flow of urine half way through.” She did her best to comply with this surprising request, but the Doctor said “I’m getting no more than a flicker. Try again please?” She did. “Hmm,” he said soberly. “Please get dressed, and we will discuss this.”

He left the cubicle, drawing the curtain behind him. Joey sat up, getting a good glimpse of the nurse’s face for the first time. She felt sure she had seen her somewhere before, but could not quite place the face.


Sitting across from the Doctor, Joey felt distinctly more relaxed now that the examination was over. The nurse tidied up the cubicle in readiness for the next patient and then, nodding at Dr Schmidt, she left the room. He finished making some notes on the sheet in front of him, then looked up and addressed Joey.

“Mrs Brown, your problems are caused by weak pelvic floor muscles.” He brought out a diagram indicating the position of the muscles in question and explaining that these were sometimes damaged or loosened by childbirth. Joey looked confused, and said nothing.

We rate the strength of these muscles on a scale of one to five, and yours are currently registering as ‘one – feeble’. How many pregnancies have you had?” Joey, blushing furiously, replied in a subdued voice, “Seven”. He nodded. “Ah, with seven children it is to be expected.”

Joey was about to correct him, but on this occasion her desire for anonymity overcame her pride over her multiple, multiple births.

“Surgery is possible, but not recommended unless things become more problematic. In your case I suggest a programme of exercises and other measures for the next year, and then perhaps we can set up another appointment to see how you are getting on?”

Joey nodded.

“Good. Firstly is your relationship with your husband such that you can enlist his support? There are some exercises that can be done as part of your marital relations, if you get my meaning?”

Joey looked mystified, and said nothing.

“During sexual intercourse?”

“I’m sorry I don’t understand.”

“While you and your husband are in bed, enjoying a physical relationship?”

Still no flicker of understanding from Joey.

Now with a note of desperation, “Mrs Brown, you do understand how women become pregnant?”

Joey blushed again. “Oh yes, of course, Doctor. A man and a woman utter sacred vows in front of Our Lord, and then, about a year later, the first baby is born.” Suddenly regaining her composure and assertiveness, she added “And I’d rather you didn’t use the ‘P’ word, if you don’t mind. In our circles we call it ‘being busy’.”

Doctor Schmidt felt the need to tread carefully. “And does anything else need to happen for the woman to become preg… er… busy?”

“Well, there has to be a wedding ring, of course. She has to change her surname. Relatives and friends have to be present. They sign a register. The newly married couple have to set up a home together. Preferably with servants, though that part does seem to be optional. What else? Ah yes, I see what you are getting at,” said Joey and added (arguing from effect to cause), “the woman has to give up work, of course. How silly of me to forget that.”

“Mrs Brown, I must be blunt here. You seem to be ignorant of the facts of life, yet you are a well educated woman, married with seven children. It is clear that you are still sexually active, as I saw traces of semen when I examined you.”

“Seamen?” repeated Joey, confused. “You mean sailors?”

Dr Schmidt sighed. “Perhaps you are too shy to discuss these matters, or maybe you are truly ignorant? I have come across denial and innocence before, but usually only in much younger women. All I can do, I think, is give you some reading matter to take away. Perhaps you should read it with your husband to develop a shared vocabulary that will help you to discuss the physical side of your marriage.” He smiled kindly, and Joey, bewildered and a little afraid, returned his smile with a hesitant, wan one.

“Now, as to the treatments for your distressing condition. I will give you leaflets to explain all these things in detail. You remember the pelvic floor tightening exercise that I asked you to do earlier? You will need to do ten of these, twenty times a day at least. Just fit them in as you go about your normal day to day activities. You should give up coffee, tea, chocolate and alcohol. Drink plenty of water. A glass a day of cranberry juice. Try to limit the number of times you visit the toilet, to train your bladder to hold more.”

“Give up chocolate and coffee?” Joey was stunned.

“Ah yes, the caffeine in them makes the problem worse. Give them up and you will experience an improvement almost immediately.”

“Here is another treatment for you to try. I find it works very well for teachers, but you too may find it useful. See – this is a cone with a range of weights that fit inside it. You should insert the cone into your vagina and hold it there for some twenty minutes. Perhaps each morning while you are getting dressed and showering? Start without any weights and build it up over a period of time as your muscles get stronger.”

“Into my what?” Joey interrupted, her head reeling.

The despairing Dr Schmidt referred her once again to the diagram in the leaflet before them. “It will take a little practice, Mrs Brown, but with perseverance, all will become easier.”


With considerable relief Joey shook hands with Dr Schmidt, thanked him, agreed that she would phone up for an appointment in about a year’s time, gathered up the little pile of reading matter and equipment he had supplied, and exited into the waiting room. She was in shock - able to take in very little of what she had heard. She felt an urgent need to get out into the fresh air, to put as much distance between her and Dr Schmidt as she possibly could. It just remained for her to hand over a large sum in cash to the Receptionist, pay a quick visit to the little room under the stairs to spend a penny, retie her headscarf, and put her sunglasses back on. She was completely focussed on making her escape. She opened the front door a crack, and peeped out to make sure that no-one who would recognise her was on the street.

She was out!

She had been so intent on her getaway that she heard, but did not register, a snippet of conversation behind her as she left. Dr Schmidt’s next patient had reached the examination stage and he popped his head round the door to summon the nurse to act as chaperone. “Whenever you’re ready, Thekla.”

Joey walked briskly down the street, turned onto the main road and paused. Secure in the knowledge that she had not been seen, she took off her headscarf and dark glasses and heaved a long sigh of relief. It had seemed like very a long morning so far but it was in fact still only half past ten. “What I need,” she thought, “is coffee and chocolate”. She made for the little café on the other side of the street, sat down and ordered. The coffee arrived – she took her first sip and the first forkful of the rich, dark, velvety smooth chocolate cake. Slowly, her mind started to work again.

“Oh my giddy aunt” she remembered suddenly. “I’m supposed to give up coffee! Oh! And chocolate!” Tears sprang to her eyes. It was too much. “I know. I’ll start tomorrow,” she promised herself.

Her mind, by now, was whirling - replaying the events of the morning at top speed, seeking to make sense of them. The confusing vocabulary and new concepts introduced by Dr Schmidt. The cone with weights. Cranberry juice, whatever that was - possibly something American? The lemon and the straw. The sailors. The discomfort and embarrassment of the examination. The eyes of the nurse watching her as she lay on the couch. The nurse. Thekla. THEKLA!!

After all that trouble to remain anonymous, who worse to witness her shame?

Joey sobbed quietly.


Gradually, as the coffee and chocolate cake worked their magic, Joey started to recover. She was nowhere near her normal cheerful self, but at least she felt able to face life again. She looked at her watch. She had enough time for some more shopping and a browse around the old town before she needed to return to the hotel to collect her luggage and head for the railway station. She resolved to speak with Jack about it all. After all, Doctor Schmidt had said that hers was a common problem for women after childbirth, and Jack was a medical man. Why had she not had the courage to ask for his advice sooner? He would probably be able to shed some light on that confusing bit about the facts of life too. Yes. If anyone could enlighten her about those sailors, and help her find her angina, it was Jack. The more she thought about it, the more sure she was that he would be able to explain it all. She just had to find the right time and words to bring the subject up. She paid the bill and, with a determined tilt to her chin and a brave little smile, she set off for the shops.

In a little linen store she bought handkerchiefs for the triplets and some more nappies for the second twins. A little second-hand bookshop yielded a couple of adventure stories by the boys’ favourite author. She wandered on down the street looking in the shop windows for suitable presents for the children she had left in Madge’s care, and came across a chic little hairdresser’s salon. A sign in the window said


She stopped, and hovered in the doorway. She had noticed some split ends in her long, thick, glossy, jet black mane recently. Trimming the ends would make her life much easier. But she had never been in a hairdresser’s salon before, and after the experiences of the past two days she was, to say the least, wary. “Oh, I might as well give it a try,” she thought “how bad can it be?”

She pushed open the door and went inside.


“Ooooh hello, now here’s a challenge – don’t worry, dearie, we’ll have you looking normal in no time flat. Now what’s it to be? A perm? Nice pageboy or a bob perhaps? Hmm quite nice hair really, but a few auburn highlights would bring it up a treat.”

Michel, salon owner and chief stylist, was a small extrovert man, with outrageously blond hair in an unusually long, spiky style. As he spoke he walked round and round Joey, poking at the plaited coils around her ears, and assessing the texture of her hair.

“Oh. Good day. I was wondering if you could fit me in to trim the ends of my hair.”

“No other appointments for an hour or so, ducky, so we can do whatever you want. Let’s get it washed first, then we can discuss what style you want.”

“I wasn’t thinking of changing the style, actually. I’d just like an inch off the bottom to tidy up the split ends. It’s not due for a wash this week, so that won’t be necessary either.” Joey’s manner was dignified, formal, and assertive.

Michel was disappointed. Quite apart from the financial implications of her decision, he was a true artist, and this pretty woman with an outdated and, frankly, ridiculous hairstyle was an affront to his profession.

“Oh we always wash, madam,” he said. “it makes it easier to cut. Let’s get that done, anyway, then we can discuss it further.” He clicked his fingers to summon the quiet young woman assistant who had been hovering in the background. She led Joey round to a row of basins, and with some misgivings Joey began to remove the numerous hairpins required to keep the long, thick plaits in place. She released the hair from its plaits and submitted to rather energetic shampooing and towelling, followed by painful combing out of the tangles.

Michel, meanwhile, had equipped himself with a pile of magazines to show Joey a variety of styles and colouring techniques that could considerably change her image. He sat her down and talked her through some options. Joey felt herself softening to the idea of a change, but could not bring herself to take the plunge.

“That has given me considerable food for thought, and I wonder if I may take some of these away to think about it further, and make another appointment when I’ve settled things in my mind?”

“Yes, of course, but why wait? You could walk out of here a different woman.”

Joey was tempted, but stuck to her guns. “Thank you so much for your advice, but on this occasion I really would rather just have a trim.”

Michel sighed. He knew when he’d met his match. This was a stubborn woman, with very little self confidence as far as her physical appearance was concerned, who was clinging tenaciously to the security of her familiar hairstyle. The best he could do was to get her seriously thinking about a restyle and perhaps advise her on a different way to put her long hair up in the meantime.

“Very well madam. I think we’ll need to have you standing up for this. Good gracious, it reaches almost to your knees. How much would you like me to trim? About two foot? That will still leave enough to plait and coil.”

“I was thinking about an inch?”

They settled on about six inches, and Michel expertly trimmed her hair into a shallow curve and also ran the scissors up her hair to remove split ends. He suggested several different ways for her to put her hair back up, and they tried them, but in the end Joey insisted on plaiting and coiling as usual. As she left, she felt pleased not to have been railroaded, but she was also experiencing a slight sense of disappointment. A missed opportunity perhaps? A very strong seed had been planted in her mind, and she felt that Michel was a man that she could trust. She had the phone number of the salon, and a pile of magazines to look through. She would see.


The triplets and Ruey were there to meet Joey when she alighted from the little mountain train that had brought her up from Spartz. The triplets each grabbed a few of her carrier bags, and Ruey took her overnight bag, leaving Joey nothing to carry but her handbag. They were gabbling away nineteen to the dozen and Joey could hardly get a word in edgeways. “Where’s Papa?” Joey asked. “Keeping an eye on the babies, Mamma,” replied Len, “No, don’t worry, they’ve been fine. They’re just a bit of a handful for Rösli and Anna while they are cooking supper.”

They soon arrived back at Die Blumen, and Joey distributed the various packages, to the great delight of all. Jack came up and pecked her on the cheek, saying how glad he was to see her. Then he stopped, and took a long, hard look at her, as she went round greeting the various children. He was puzzled. He couldn’t put his finger on it, but there was something different about her, and he was reacting to her as he never had before. He pondered, but came to a conclusion surprisingly quickly. He urgently needed to discuss this with Jem. But how could he get a private phone conversation with him now? It would soon be supper time. There were children everywhere, and Joey was regaling everyone with tales of her shopping expedition. On the spur of the moment, he decided on a course of action.

“Joey,” he said, “now that you’re back I just need to pop up to the San. There’s a patient I promised I’d keep an eye on for them, and I’ll just go and take a look at her. You don’t mind me missing supper do you? I’ll get a bite at the San. I won’t be very late.”

Joey nodded. “Of course, dearest, if they need you, off you go.”


“I’m sorry, old man. I’m not going on with this any more.” Jack was in the little office at the San and had finally got through to Jem, on the pretext of needed to speak to him urgently about a medical case. The latter was safely installed in his study at home with the door shut. Jack continued, “I missed her dreadfully while she was away in Innsbruck and I tell you she’s come back different. There’s something about her. I couldn’t tell you what, but I can’t think of her as an innocent young girl any longer. Something about the way she’s carrying herself, maybe? I don’t know what it is, but I tell you the old todger definitely sprang into life when I clapped eyes on her this afternoon. Dammit, Jem, she’s a woman. She’s my wife. This farce has to stop.”

“But Jack”, replied his brother in law and partner in crime, “How can we change course now?”

“I’m going to tell her. I want a normal marriage. I’ve had enough of all this nonsense with milk doctored with shots of vodka and creeping about at the dead of night with that bloody turkey baster. I’ve lost the damn thing anyway. Lord knows where it’s going to turn up.”

“But Jack, if you tell Joey, she will tell Madge. How can you even think of it? How can you destroy their illusions and their belief in marriage, defile their innocence? They are innocent young girls. They have no knowledge of lust, carnal desires and the rest of the whole distasteful business, and that’s how it must stay.”

“I’m sorry Jem, I’m going to find the right time and do it gently, but Joey will be told. I’ll try to swear her to secrecy as far as Madge is concerned, but that will rather depend on how she reacts. Look here, old chap, if you’d grasped the nettle on your honeymoon we wouldn’t both be in this fix now. I’ve gone along with it, but I can no longer think of her as child and patient – she is woman, pure woman.”


With a thankful sigh, Joey curled up on the settee. The last of the children had been packed off to bed, and all was quiet. With Jack up at the San she had some time to herself for once. She reached into her capacious handbag and brought out the reading material and other bits and pieces she had collected from her visit to Dr Schmidt. She set aside the little box containing the vaginal cone with its little set of weights, and the rather curious looking device that would enable her to measure the strength of her pelvic floor muscles on a scale of 1 to 5. She flicked through the leaflets – “Exercises for the Pelvic Floor Muscles for Men and Women”, “Just can’t wait?”, “Leaking Urine”, “Training your Bladder” and so on, and spread them all out on the settee to come back to them in more detail. She opened the package of pads, and read the leaflet that explained how to use them and where she could buy further supplies by mail order. “Ah”, she thought with some satisfaction “that should be much more comfortable than using Jack’s old handkerchiefs - and all that rigmarole of washing them in secret will be unnecessary too.”

Then she turned to a little hardback book with plain green boards and gilt lettering, “The Married Woman’s Handbook”. She was just opening it up and settling down for a good long read when she heard a noise from upstairs. “Oh no, it’s one of the twins – sounds like Phil”, she said to herself, dashing upstairs to see to the child before she woke the others up.

Phil was teething - sporting livid red cheeks, dribbling furiously, and crying uncontrollably by the time she got there. Mercifully however, the others slept on oblivious to the noise. (Joey’s babies had a talent for sleeping through any amount of noise.) Joey took her into the Day Nursery and tried every trick she knew to sooth the poor child, but to no avail. Eventually, tired out, Phil dropped off into a fitful sleep and Joey was able to put her back into her cot.

“Well, that’s finished me off for the night – straight to bed I fancy.” With that, Joey made straight for her bedroom and performed her nightly ablutions in short order, hearing Jack return just as she was finishing off the 1000 brush strokes she gave her hair each night to keep it glossy.

Jack meanwhile walked into the lounge and poured himself a large whisky. Sitting down on the settee he noticed the leaflets and various other articles strewn around. “Good Lord”, he thought “What’s all this? The old girl’s got hold of some strange stuff. I had no idea she was suffering from stress incontinence – why ever did the silly mare not mention it?” He picked up the little hardback, and prepared to leaf through it idly, expecting it to contain recipes for rhubarb and ginger jam, instructions for turning sheets ends to middle, the correct form of address for a Bishop, and so on. He opened it at a page of rather explicit diagrams, and sat bolt upright, choking as a mouthful of whisky went down the wrong way. “Time for that little chat, I fear,” he said to himself, and made his way upstairs.

Joey knelt by her bed and said her prayers, then slid between the cool, crisp sheets, thankful to be there after a long and trying day. She stretched and wriggled her toes down to the end of her bed, and was surprised to find them come up against something cold and hard. She manoeuvred it up out of the sheets in her hand and sat bolt upright, staring at it in astonishment. “Anna’s turkey baster? Whatever is that doing at the bottom of my bed?”

At that moment, Jack came into the room, brandishing the little book.

“I’ve just found this. What’s going on? We need to talk,” they said simultaneously.

And a discussion did indeed follow.


It had been long and hard.

Joey had reacted to Jack’s revelations with a roller coaster of emotions – bewilderment and confusion, anger, curiosity, a sense of loss, admiration at the lengths Jack and Jem had gone to to protect her and Madge’s innocence, but an intense feeling of betrayal about the prolonged conspiracy and deception. She had cried and ranted in equal measure, but now her emotions were subsiding, leaving her feeling drained, but with questions still unanswered. They were sitting up together in bed, leaning against pillows propped up on the headboard, Jack’s arm around her.

Jack felt intense relief to have this dreadful weight off his shoulders at last. Joey had taken the news better than he could have hoped, although he was not sure that she had completely taken in the details. In particular, she had learn about basic facts of life at the same time as hearing about the surreptitious method of artificial insemination that Jack and Jem had used to ensure that she and Madge had the family they so strongly desired. He was not sure that she had fully grasped the difference between the turkey baster method and normal marital relations. Also, he had been careful to explain the joys of a physical relationship, but wondered if perhaps he had over-egged the pudding in this respect, as Joey had reacted with extreme interest and an almost childish eagerness.

“Gracious, it’s 3 o’clock in the morning,” said Jack, “let’s get some sleep and we can discuss this again tomorrow.” Joey agreed and they lay down together, Joey snuggling into his shoulder, entwining her legs with his, already closer than they had ever been before.

“Just wait till I get Madge on the phone tomorrow,” she said, “boy will she be surprised to hear about all this!”

“No, no darling,” replied Jack, reaching down and kissing the top of her head tenderly. “You must let Jem tell her in his own good time.”

“If you say so, Jack,” murmured Joey, though most disappointed.

They settled down again. Jack was drifting off to sleep, but Joey’s mind was still racing, processing the information in her own way.

“The trips will be fascinated when I tell them tomorrow. I’m sure they have no idea how a turkey baster is used to make babies.”

“Why don’t we spend some time planning how and what we will tell the children?” replied Jack, horrified. “Sex education is a delicate thing, and some parts of what we’ve discussed should be kept between us as man and wife. Promise you won’t mention anything to anyone until we’ve agreed just how to handle this?”

“Oh all right then, but it seems such a shame not to be able to share such good news. After all, they will be so thrilled to learn about being able to have organisms.”

“It’s important, darling. Remember this is all new to you and you need to be on firm ground before discussing it with others. You need to read the book first, don’t you?”

“Yes Jack, you’re right of course, I’ll be very careful what I say.”

They settled down again.

A few minutes later, just as Jack was nodding off, “Jack?”

“Yes, Joey?”

“Did you wash it?”

“Oh yes, darling, sterilised it in fact. Before and after.”

“Well that’s a relief. At least I can reassure Anna on that point.”

“No Joey, remember, you are not going to discuss any of this with anyone for the time being?”

Joey agreed, and once more they settled down, and this time Jack fell asleep at once.

“Jack?” She shook him slightly to wake him up.

“Yes Joey?”

“Do you have to sterilise your, er, you know?”

“No, just washed is good enough for that.”

“That’s good. I was just wondering if the boiling water would hurt it.”

They settled down again, and this time Joey too was almost asleep when another question occurred to her.

“Jack?” She poked him in the ribs.

“Yes, Joey?” Jack dragged himself awake with considerable difficulty.

“When will we do it?”

“Do what, dearest?”

“That thing, you know, with my angina and your peanuts.”

“Oh, not for a while, Joeykins. You don’t leap straight in at the deep end. I rather fancy we’ll build up to it slowly over a few weeks.” He smiled to himself and hugged her tight. “In fact, I’m rather looking forward to it.”

“Oh, so am I” she replied with a sleepy little sigh.

#2:  Author: LizzieLocation: A little village on the Essex/Suffolk border PostPosted: Sun Apr 30, 2006 9:24 am
Thanks Cryst, I can't wait for more updates on Madge. Will she meet a hot doctor in the Tyrol? (Well of course she will, the question is, will she know him and will she decide to run off with him?) Will Jem be forced to admit that he might have made a mistake? Will David feature LARGELY?

oh please, please, please....

#3:  Author: KateLocation: Ireland PostPosted: Mon May 01, 2006 4:32 pm
*joins in the pleading*

#4:  Author: JoolsLocation: Sadly Broke PostPosted: Thu May 04, 2006 7:02 pm
Really enjoyed this Cryst. Thank yoy

#5:  Author: alicatLocation: Wiltshire PostPosted: Fri May 26, 2006 11:16 am
thanks so much for the funniest thing I've read in ages, it had cheered up a horrid wet morning with very boring work to do soooo much I can now face going to tesco!

The CBB -> St Mildred's House

output generated using printer-friendly topic mod. All times are GMT + 1 Hour

Page 1 of 1

Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2005 phpBB Group