Back in October, I ran The Huge Coco Pinchard Giveaway. Thank you to everyone who entered, especially those who used the ‘Ask Ethel A Question’ option on the Rafflecopter widget.
I finally managed to track Coco down, and give her a selection of the best questions. She emailed me back yesterday with the transcript of her interview with Ethel.
Robert Bryndza x
Monday 30th December 16.31
Dear Robert Bryndza,
I finally got Ethel to answer those questions for you. We met yesterday in The Stage Door Cafe behind the Broadway Theatre in Catford. It was full of bohemian types sheltering from the rain outside, which was pouring down the glass plate window. Ethel turned up with her friend Irene who’d brought along a tape recorder.
‘Is it alright love if I tape the interview?’ said Irene. She had an air of Fagin about her with her long winter coat and fingerless gloves… Although Fagin never wore an X-Factor branded bobble hat. Ethel was dressed in her ‘new best’. One of the more glamorous old ladies at their nursing home died last week, and Ethel made it her mission to ‘follow her boxes’ and find out which charity shop all her clothes ended up in. She’s now got an endless supply of black high heels, little black dresses and those funeral hats with the black lace veil which half covers the face. She kept the veil on for the whole interview. Even sipping her tea through it.
The interview wasn’t taped in the end, because none of us could get the cellophane off the cassette Irene had brought. So, here are the answers, as best as I can remember them.
COCO: Right the first question is from Wendy, she asks, What hairdresser to you use?
ETHEL: We ave a mobile girl who comes round to our Nursing Home. She’s nice. The old boys like ‘er too.
COCO: Is she pretty?
ETHEL: Ooh no! Poor thing. Beaten by the ugly stick at birth, she was.
IRENE: More like fell out of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down!
(I thought it was a bit rich coming from Irene who makes Nanny McPhee look like a beauty queen.)
ETHEL: The old boys like ‘er cos she don’t mind doing some extras…
IRENE: They slip her a few quid, everyone’s happy.
COCO: That doesn’t sound very appropriate, sounds illegal.
ETHEL: Not those kind of extras. Ear and nose hair. She don’t mind trimming that too. Long nose hair during cold and flu season aint pretty.
(At this point I lost all interest in my buttered tea cake).
COCO: OK, next question is from John, he asks Are you still looking for the right guy?
ETHEL: Gawd no! Gave up on all that years ago. My Wilf, me late ‘usband, was me one an’ only. Irene ‘ere is looking for a man tho.
IRENE: Yes. E’s gotta ave ‘is own teeth, a top of the range toupee, and a decent bus stop near where ‘e lives… And not a request stop!
ETHEL: Those bastard bus drivers always zoom right past.
COCO: Ok, another one from Paul. What do you think of the fact that a government survey has identified seven new types of class in 21st Century Britain?
ETHEL: Ave they? Well I never.
(At this point I got my laptop out and found the ‘class calculator’ on the BBC website).
COCO: So now we need to work out if we are, Elite, Established middle class, Technical middle class, New affluent workers, Traditional working class, Emergent service workers or Precariat.
IRENE: Who came up with this?
COCO: A cultural scientist.
ETHEL: Which one puts brown sauce on everything? I’m that one.
IRENE: And which says ‘tea’ instead of ‘supper’? I’m that one.
COCO: It’s much more complex now.
ETHEL: Coco says ‘supper.’
IRENE: ‘ere I think we’ve found you Ethel, ‘effluent worker’ cos you shovelled all that shit when you worked down the nick in Catford.
ETHEL: Ooh yes the amount of prisoners who went on dirty protest! I definitely worked that effluent. Never got a word of thanks neither.
IRENE: So what are you Coco?
COCO: (Sheepishly) I was Elite… but only because of the house, and that I’m friends with Chris and he’s from an Aristocratic family.
ETHEL: (rolls her eyes) Well that definitely makes us effluent.
IRENE: Effluent and proud.
COCO: It’s much more scientific, there’s questions about income, housing, friendship networks, internet habits. For example being active online could bump you up to Technical middle class.
IRENE: So if I every now and again I upload a picture of a fruitcake on Pinterest that makes me lady of the manor? Do me a favour.
ETHEL: Oh Coco, we all get bogged down in this class rubbish, we’re all people. Kids don’t know about class. I once asked Rosencrantz, when he was little, what class he thought he was in, ‘e said, ‘Mrs Johnson’s, she lets us paint!’
(I thought it best to move on, any talk of social class is always awkward.)
COCO: Ok, next question from Lorraine, what was your best sexual experience?
ETHEL: For me it was always good when it was over at least twenty minutes before The Generation Game started. Then there was still time to open the salmon and make the sandwiches.
IRENE: (Nodding in agreement) Ooh, shut that door. I love Bruce Forsyth.
ETHEL: That was Larry Grayson. Bruce is, nice to see you to see you nice!
COCO: Okay there are just a couple more. This is from Ján, Where is the best place to wear perfume?
ETHEL: On the bus.
IRENE: Yes. You never know who you’ll run into.
(By now the tea was drunk and I could see they were getting fidgety).
COCO: Ok the final question. This is from Kate, What are you most proud of?
IRENE: That fact I was born a bastard with nothing, and I’m still here. Eighty years on. I survived.
( I winced a little)
ETHEL: Coco, let’s call it what it is. Irene was born a bastard.
COCO: A little baby is born innocent, they shouldn’t be given such a title.
IRENE: Look up bastard in the dictionary. It says illegitimate child.
COCO: Which is much better than bastard. In fact, look up bastard in the dictionary and it also says, scoundrel, villain, rogue, miscreant… good-for-nothing!
(We were getting looks from the girl behind the coffee machine so I asked Ethel the same question.)
ETHEL: I’m most proud of my Danny. Now I know Coco, ‘e cheated on you, an ‘e divorced you, ‘e doesn’t have a proper job, his hair is too long. An’ I don’t like that new girl Claire he’s seeing. But big things are round the corner for him in 2013. ‘e’s a late bloomer. My pride and joy.
IRENE: Claire is she the fat one?
ETHEL: Yes. She’s a right pain when she comes over for tea. She can’t ‘ave this, can’t ‘ave that. She’s been on Weight Watchers for two years and she’s still the size of a house. I say, why do you stick with it love? She says she’s dyslexic and keeps mis counting.
COCO: I heard Weight Watchers is very good.
ETHEL: If you do it properly.
COCO: Yes, lots of celebs have done it. Jennifer Hudson lost loads on Weight Watchers. She looks beautiful.
IRENE: (Snorting) Didn’t someone shoot ‘er whole family? You think that would put you off snacking!
(They both started cackling.)
COCO: That’s not funny!
(They both laughed even louder, wiping the tears from their eyes.)
COCO: I’m serious. You two are horrible. You shouldn’t be allowed to say things like that.
ETHEL: (still laughing) Says who? We laughed, so therefore it’s funny. You gonna tell us a joke from your Elite social class? Come on, tell us a posh joke?
( I tried to think of something to come back with but they had me stumped)
ETHEL: Cos humour don’t have class, do it Coco? We all laugh at a fart, whether we’re the Queen or a pauper.
(I was really mad now.)
COCO: I wasn’t going to tell you this, but Daniel did the class calculator.
ETHEL: Did ‘e? What did ‘e come out as?
COCO: Precariat, the poorest, most deprived class who score low economically, socially and culturally.
(ETHEL stopped in her tracks. She grabbed her coat)
ETHEL: Come on Irene. We’re going to see Danny.
COCO: I thought he was your pride and joy? A late bloomer?
ETHEL: That was until I ‘eard ‘e was scum.
COCO: Not scum. Precariat.
ETHEL: Sounds like scum to me! Come on Irene. I’m gonna stick my boot up ‘is backside. I didn’t work my arse off all me life to give birth to a Precariat!
(With that they marched off to the train station to find poor Daniel and give him a class upgrade).
As usual, time spent with Ethel has left me confused, irritated and angry. Despite all of this I hear she is hugely popular with your readership. A question I will never quite understand the answer to…
Coco Pinchard x
If you would like to read more of Coco Pinchard’s adventures, you can look her up at Amazon HERE.