Despite always professing to love tennis, we never can seem to pull Judith (mummy) away from chatting up friends at Wimbledon and this year was no different. Having commandeered the best table at the Sipsmith Bar, and already holding court… what was the use of trying? As it turns out, exactly no use whatsoever, but I did try…
‘Oh is that your Jennifer?’ I overheard, and immediately retraced my steps for a swift exit. Sipsmith’s Strawberry Smash had replaced Pimm’s as this year’s favourite and the additional gin was clearly having an effect. Conversations were slightly louder and nobody was shy about the topic du jour: Boris! I had wanted to take Judith to see my client here at Wimbledon but she knew where to find us if/when she was so inclined.
‘Did you find her?’ Daddy asked. I just rolled my eyes and kept walking. We were going to have to walk all the way up and around to get back to the suites. Evian (the VIP Suite) was my client and we had been recertified carbon neutral for the second year running. I was quite eager to get there but we’d have to pass up about half a dozen G&T’s before that.
‘Stop here?’ I asked Daddy at about the fourth Sipsmith Goose, and he agreed. This year, ‘eco-conscious fashion’ had been my bright idea but I was wearing something new and didn’t want to pull a Boris and just say whatever suited me. I chose a Lemon Drizzle G&T and Daddy tried the Sipspresso while all around us—the buzz of Carrie and Boris.
‘Are you sad to see him go?’ I asked.
‘Sad??.’ Daddy replied. ‘I’m a Tory if I need remind you but the minute he hooked up with that woman he stopped being a conservative’.
‘Carrie, you mean?’
‘Of course Carrie! Saboteur-in-chief, Carrie, but her departure is a loss for YOU I am sure! You’ve never had someone pouring green into the Prime Minister’s ear twenty-four hours a day. It was almost the environmental movement’s own Cambridge Five.’
‘Daddy! It wasn’t as bad as all that.’
‘No, you’re right. In her case the Americans never caught on, and perhaps those two can move in with the Sussexes, where they can luxuriate in 18,000 square feet of air-cooled comfort and think up ways to make the little man suffer.’
‘Point, taken.’ I said. I didn’t dare defend this as my own California abode had been uninhabited by me since Los Angeles had become unlivable. I always had my own issues with Carrie, who had been trying to push-in since the beginning of time. Lack of talent or skill had never held her back. Not even the time she submitted a photo of herself in a failed attempt to become ‘the sexiest girl next door’ as a ‘High Street Honey’. Years later she used the European data protection law to de-list certain searches relating to her name. But according to her then-boyfriend, ‘she’d always been an attention-seeker’ and ‘It certainly wasn’t a cardigan and pearls. They were relatively explicit photos e.g. bikini and also topless ones.’
For my part, I wanted her not to bring shame to the green movement as a whole, which proved too tall an order. She was ruthless, and no wonder she was being compared to Elena Ceaușescu. There was #partygate, #nannygate, Cash For Cushions, and while everyone focused on things like the £840-a-roll gold wallpaper, £200,000 furnishings, and a £538 gold iPad (bought with public funds), I am still holding onto Carrie’s paid six-months working as maternity cover as Sajid Javid’s adviser. Everyone forgets about this.
Daddy signalled me to be quiet to hear the nearby chatter… they were discussing Carrie’s ‘unprecedented influence’ adding that her 'unelected and unaccountable role in government is not only unconstitutional but dangerous to British democracy'.
It’s certainly much worse than lying about the birthday party that was clearly not ‘just wine and cheese’, but I think that’s the thing Britain cannot forgive. Violating the rules in the very room where the rules are made, is how Boris’ lies became the top story, and how we got to #CarrieAntoinette.
We walked the rest of the distance to the VIP Suite and I introduced my father to the president of Evian who immediately thrust a can of our new Sparkling Evian into his hand. ‘Goodness, thank you’, he replied. I knew he wanted to ask is that what suffices for a handshake these days, and I signalled my silent thanks for his not saying anything.
‘Aluminium…excellent choice’. Daddy said, indicating the can.
‘Do you know recycling, Mr. Kennedy?' Etienne asked. Oh god. Please, no! PLEASE do not say the words ‘scientist’ or ‘geophysical engineer’ or ‘petroleum’...
‘Well I do, actually,’ he began, ‘our Jennifer just keeps us on our toes in that regard… all of England actually, but I needn’t tell you that’. WHEW!
‘Is there a Mrs…’
‘INDEED!’ I interrupted. ‘And I cannot tell you how proud she is of our Carbon Trust recertification… so really, bravo us!’ I said, passing it off with a nervous giggle. I then took credit for our eco-wardrobe push as well, which prompted a question about my own dress. UGH!
‘This old thing? I said, and immediately put the focus back on Daddy—‘If I might… my father has been wearing this blazer to Wimbledon since as far back as I can remember, and isn’t that just enough on the Kennedy family history!’ I exclaimed, beaming from ear to ear and leading Daddy away.
Etienne, however, followed: ‘Jenny…’ he said grabbing my arm just a little too firmly, ‘YOU are presenting the Evian prize in place of Carrie Johnson!’ His voice cracked, ‘promise me you're wearing something sustainable!’
‘I promise!’ I said, still feeling the heat of his too-strong grip on my arm. But he just stood there sweating in his poly-blend jacket I knew he’d bought in hopes of its looking retro.
‘Listen!’, I said, lowering my voice and shaking his hand off. ‘I’ve had just about enough of that Mata Hari. And don’t look so shocked, you should be glad this whole #johnsongate blew up before she became the public face of Evian. And for the record, YES ,this dress is arguably new. I bought it well before Covid and have had no place to wear it until now. It is, however, custom-made—yes CUSTOM MADE just for me, right here in jolly old England. But at the very least no ten-year-old Chinese girl went blind hand-smocking the top. So call it what you will but I will stack my deeds, and my clothes, side-by-side with those of Miss Shack-up Symonds, turned terror in chief, any day of the week!’
He was silent and shocked. Another fool mesmerised by the not-so-High Street Honey.
Just then I heard the unmistakable lilt of Judith’s voice. ‘Oh good. Here’s my mother.’ I said motioning. ‘If you’ve any concerns… boy will she sort you out.’