The ChippingCamdenVajazzling Collective


The women all noticed Jacqui’s smile. It was the kind of smile that made them nod inside and wink to each other like they were saying “we know what this is about and we know the men don’t even see it.” Like those random Facebook updates – colours, numbers, things that seem to make no sense but are answers to questions slipped under virtual desks between groups of virtual female friends. Questions like “what colour bra are you wearing? Post it and don’t tell any men what it means.”

In short, they all knew that Jacqui had started having more and better orgasms than she had been a couple of weeks ago but they had no idea as to the why and the how.

That would have to wait several more weeks till business trips and a child recovering from chicken pox and tickets going on sale for a talk by Ian McEwan on a book he might be writing that brought together the twin zeitgeists of banking and landfill coincided to plant Jacquie between Caroline and Samantha in the bookstore coffee shop.

Smiles and winks and eyebrows sped in Mexican standoffs and if Mexican standoffs can produce crossfire, Jacqui was caught in it until she ran out of grasshopper pie to chew to avoid talking and came out with it.

“I’ve started going to see this girl. I say girl but she must be twenty five.” And other qualifiers that stand in in such circumstances for um and er and general dithering.

“Girl!” said Caroline, blinking hard and rummaging tea round the inside of her mouth whilst she processed the word.

“Girl?” asked Samantha, leaning in for more.

“No, not like that.”

No dithering. The kind of thick silence that categorically places a prohibition on dithering.


They both leaned in together.

“It’s like a beauty treatment.”


“She waxes me. Down there.”

Closer. They’d heard about that. Rather, they’d read about it. In magazines their husbands thought only had features on handbags and curtains and the latest colours from Farrow and Ball. It was another of those things they all knew they all did but this was the first time they’d actually heard anyone say,

“A full Brazilian.”

The word was still plumping cushions and making itself at home when Jacqui continued,

“And then she sticks these little rhinestones on. In patterns. Tasteful patterns. Like William Morris patterns.”

A different silence this time. The kind of silence brains make when a new guest is taking up residence and they can’t decide whether the company is welcome or not.

Eventually Samantha chipped in, “What was the girl’s name?”

“So,” said Sveta.

“So,” said Samantha. “How does this work?”

“You tell me what you want, I do what you want,” said Sveta.

Another of those pauses. How to describe what she wanted. To have a full wax in her most intimate parts and be bejewelled with abstractly-arranged fake gemstones? To have David look at her the way he had done twenty years earlier. Had he actually looked at her like that? Was that just a lie she told herself to justify two decades of routine? The smile. That’s what she wanted. And whatever it meant.

“I’d like what you did for Jacqui.”

“Ah.” Sveta’s face opened into a smile and her body became expansive and loose. “Men, eh? Pussy this and pussy that but offer them a real cunt and they don’t want to know.”

Samantha felt herself blush instinctively. But behind the instinct a part of her was nodding along inside.

“So we open our box of tricks.”

This time the three looks that hovered over the three skinny lattes had a decidedly different dynamic. The question between Samantha and Jacqui had become tacit complicity.

Caroline looked between them. There’s something about shared secrets that builds envy quicker than a workforce on double time. And those smiles. The implications. Caroline could feel herself start to ache and twitch at the possibilities they implied. Thirty years of hurdles, the struts and joists of propriety she had been building since puberty, the clothes that enabled her to nestle snugly in any of Chipping Camden’s social strata, all of a sudden had become a fence keeping her out of where she wanted to be.

“Jacqui and Samantha.” Her first words.

“Ah,” said Sveta effusively. “I know exactly how to help you. Men. They want pussy. But they don’t want your pussy. They don’t want the cunt lying there in front of them. Throbbing for them. Wet for them. Hungry for them. They want the pussy they see on DVD. Nice clean shaved pussy. The cunt they see on internet, isn’t it?”

Three steaming double espressos gave up their heat and their smell to the bookshop air. Heat and scent. The three looks that passed around and around the table also spoke of heat and scent.

And so did the words.

Samantha and Caroline heard the news two days later. The night before Jacqui’s husband Bill had complained of chest pains. He had woken in the night, screaming, and minutes later he was dead. The three of them sat, holding each others’ hands, in a different kind of silence again. A sad but comfortable silence. Nothing needed saying because when you had what they had everything flowed without words.

It was like fate had decided their new solidarity should run its fullest course, Caroline thought as she watched her husband’s coffin lowered into the grave a month later, two weeks after they’d watched David go up in flames.

“I need coffee,” said Samantha.

“I need an orgasm,” said Caroline.

“Me too,” said Jacqui.

“Now that you mention it,” said Samantha.

They sat in black in the bookstore sipping Americanos with their eyes closed and their thoughts elsewhere.

Sveta pulled her Fiat 500 up outside the bookstore and watched the ladies through the window. She was all packed-up and it was time to move on. She had everything she needed right there with her. Everything she needed to give ladies anywhere exactly what they were looking for. Waxes and strips and ointments and glues and tubs filled with a whole spectrum of rhinestones. And the smaller pot in the glovebox. The one full of gemstones with the slow release membrane and the gel inside that was poisonous when regularly ingested orally.

By Dan Holloway


5 responses to this post.

  1. If I say, I nearly died, please don’t misconstrue it!
    Wonderful and the punchline….superb!


  2. Thank you – I had a ball writing it – much more dark humour than I normally do (felt like I had Roald Dahl oozing through me) – but with some serious points too, I hope, about male obsession with “cleanliness” and the photoshopped image


  3. I found this delightful. I didn’t know what ‘vajazzle’ was when I started reading – assumed it was some posh/trendy tea. Ha! Every line I enjoyed, except the last line. I would personally prefer it left to my imagination what was in the little pot that could kill the vajazzled hubbies.


  4. yeah, I hate making it obvious. I know it’s patronising to readers. I hummed and hahed for ages over it – should’ve had the courage of my convictions


  5. when I heard the title I just smiled. I knew it’d be a cracker and it is.

    The ending wasnt obvious to me as it is, but I am famously a bit dense.


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