It is the 8th of October 1980, and it’s Lisa Grant’s twenty-first birthday. She has recently been reunited with her father, Will, who lays on a party for her at her favourite restaurant in Soho, Fanny’s Bistro. The tables are hastily rearranged to accommodate two uninvited guests, Lisa’s mother, Elizabeth and her lover, Jeremy.
This is the moment Elizabeth successfully wrecks the evening.
Lisa was buzzing by the time she had drained her second glass of champagne. She said good-night to her father and Thomas, who were sharing a cab with Adele’s parents. Then headed in the direction of the dance floor when Elizabeth and Jeremy blocked her path.
‘Ah, Mother… are you both on your way out? I do hope so. Thanks, so much for the girly gift and see you sometime… never!’
‘Don’t you dare speak to your mother like that!’
Lisa’s mouth snapped open as her alcohol-fuelled brain scrambled into some sort of sobriety.
‘And just who the hell are you to tell me what to do, Jeremy Jermayne? Just because you have been shagging my mother since before I was born doesn’t give you the right to tell me what to do. Get it?’ For the second time that evening, there was complete silence at Fanny’s, and the needle on the arm of the record player turntable scratched to a halt. ‘If it is your intention to carry on screwing my mother, then just get on with it, but don’t you dare tell me what to do! Ever!’
‘Lisa! How dare you! I cannot believe I gave birth to such a rude daughter!’
‘And I cannot believe you gave birth to me at all! You’re a consummate liar, incredibly selfish and someone who doesn’t give a shit about anybody else but yourself! Maybe that’s why you and Jeremy have stuck together for so long! Two peas in the proverbial pod and all that.’
‘Lisa, I won’t let you talk to me like this!’
‘Great! Then just get out of my life, and I won’t need to talk to you at all!’
‘Fine, if you feel like that, then so be it. There is something I do need to tell you! I think there is more than just a possibility that Jeremy is your biological father!’ There were more gasps from around the restaurant, and somebody dropped a glass. ‘I realise I should have told you before but…’
‘But you just thought you’d hang on to that little gem for twenty-one years, did you, Mother? I thought that lying to me, for twelve years, about my father not wanting anything to do with me was about as low as you could go, but how wrong I was.’
‘Yes. So, as there is more than just a possibility that you are lucky to have me as a father, I would like to have more input in your life!’
‘Shut up, Jeremy!’ Lisa pushed him out of the way as she turned to eyeball her mother.
‘You know what, Mother? I don’t believe one single word that comes out of your mouth anymore. In fact, I never have, and as for you, Jeremy, I am delighted that Penny finally kicked you out. The pair of you! Dipping out of your families’ lives when it suits you. But, if you think you can ever play a happy family with me… either of you, you can go to hell! And talking of families, Mother, why do you keep yours locked in a trunk in the attic? Were you ever going to tell me about your parents, Edward Campbell and Gertrude Clemmens?’
Her mother’s expression changed from smug agitator to utter horror.
‘How do you know about them?’
‘I found them in a trunk in the attic when I was trying to find where you had hidden all twelve years’ worth of my father’s letters to me! And I’ve done a little research since then and found out my great-grandfather was gamekeeper to Viscount Rutherford!’
‘Gamekeeper?’ Jeremy looked confused. ‘You told me you were Viscount Rutherford’s granddaughter!’
‘Shut up, Jeremy! I am Viscount Rutherford’s granddaughter. Lisa has always been delusional, and now she is also disgracefully drunk. I have no idea what she’s talking about.’
‘As far as I’m concerned, I never want to see either of you again! And there is about as much chance of him being my father as there is of you ever turning into a truthful human being.’
Her mother glowered at her before lifting her arm and swinging it, slapping the palm of her hand against Lisa’s cheek.
Jack moved in, snatching Lisa out of the way. ‘Elizabeth… you really are a very nasty piece of work.’
‘That’s enough!’ All five foot of Fanny waded in between Lisa and her mother. ‘Time to go home, Lisah’s mummy! Out of mah restaurant and go find your dressing gown and slippers; there’s a good girl. Why you wud wan to sabotage your daughter’s birthday party, let alone hit her, is beyond me. Granddaughter of a bloody viscount or not, I do not allow thugs in mah restaurant. Now get out!’
‘You heard what she said.’ Jack left Lisa’s side, steering her mother and Jeremy towards the door.
‘But I haven’t finished talking to my daughter yet. Jeremy said spinning around as Lisa took a step towards him.
‘I am not your daughter, and you are not my father and you never will be! I never want to see either of you again!’
‘Are you deaf, Mr Jermayne?’ Jack asked. ‘I could have sworn that I heard Lisa say she never wanted to see either of you again!’
Jeremy pushed past Jack, striding towards Lisa. Jack tapped him on the shoulder. He stopped, spun around, and Jack hit punched him in the nose with his right fist, knocking him to the floor.
Lisa, who had been struggling to hold back the tears, puffed out her cheeks, and burst out laughing. ‘Good shot, Rocky! Great right hook.’
Jeremy was looking up at Jack, with a dazed expression on his face. A little blood trickled from his nose, dribbling onto his dress shirt. He pulled out a pristine, white, monogrammed handkerchief from his pocket and dabbed at his nose.
‘Please don’t hit me again!’ he whimpered.
‘Oh, get up, Jeremy!’ snapped Elizabeth. ‘One does not wish to stay where one is not wanted.’
One of the waiters pulled Jeremy to his feet as Fanny held her mother’s fur coat at arm’s length. ‘I’m not going to ask you again, Lisah’s mummy! Out of mah restaurant!’ Her mother draped the fur coat seductively over her shoulder and swept out the door, followed by a snivelling Jeremy.
‘Okay… who told my bloody mother about the party tonight?’ There was a short silence.
‘It was me!’ Henry walked through all the guests standing motionless on the dance floor. ‘I’m really sorry, Li, but your mother called me to ask if you had any plans for your birthday and…’
‘And you bloody told her! Henry Cahoon, what were you thinking of?’
‘I had no choice! You know how impossibly demanding the woman is. She threatened to turn up on my doorstep if I didn’t tell her.’
‘You’re such a wuss, Henry…’ Lisa snivelled.
‘Yes, how could you, ‘enry? You’re a bleedin’ dolt.’ Fanny was shaking her head.
‘I can’t believe you’ve been quite so stupid, Henry.’ Lisa took a step towards him to playfully pummel her fists against his chest, when Jack stepped in and hit him, knocking him out cold.
Charles rushed to his side and was on his knees, trying to revive him, wafting his hands in front of his face.
‘Ere, Lisah! What ‘ave you got up your sleeve for later, a bloody brawl? You got slapped, two blokes were thumped, and one’s out cold! Fanny’s is not a bleedin’ boxing ring, you know!’ Fanny was standing over the unconscious Henry with her hands on her hips. ‘This is the first time we have ever had fisticuffs at Fanny’s! It’s a good job we’re not open to the general public tonight! Mah reputation would be going down the bloody pan.’
‘I promise you, Fanny, there will be no more brawling tonight.’
‘I hope not. Alphonso, please go and get a bucket of ice and two tea towels, one for his head and one for Rocky’s fists.
Lisa took Jack’s bruised and swollen right hand in both of hers, brushing his knuckles with her lips. Jack winced, despite the lightness of her touch.
‘Ouch! I had no idea that this fist could knock anybody out…’
‘Never underestimate the strength of the Monte das Uvas wine, Jack, it always packs a punch, especially Champanhe Lisa,’ she teased, before yelling at the top of her voice, ‘what’s happened to the DJ? Or have you knocked him out as well, Rocky Wilde?’