Lesley's Bedtime Question

I ask, you answer, I fall asleep

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How do you mend a broken heart?

I think a cockapoo might be the answer.

It’s been sixteen months since that horrible night when we lost Steven.

It’s been quite a tough time for everyone. I think it’s fair to say that we relive the accident every day, and although we don’t always talk about it, it’s there in idle thoughts and sometimes my kids’ nightmares.

I’ve felt like the worst mother on earth for having caused the accident and I’ve cursed myself again and again. 

But it happened and we have to move on. If I caused it, I should sort it.

I miss Steve most when I’m alone, working. That’s when it used to be just me and him, with me typing and him snoring under the desk. As Edith Wharton said, ‘my little dog, a heartbeat at my feet’.

Just recently, I spent any days I did have alone thinking about whether another dog could help us. Pretty quickly, I realised the time was never going to be right for this. If I waited for everyone to be ‘over’ Steve it was almost certainly not going to happen. And I didn’t want my children’s memories of childhood pets to be about blood on a roadside and raw grief.

The moment presented itself. A friend of a friend of a friend had a change in circumstances - probably not fair to go into here - and was forced to make the decision that Beau, an 11 month old cockapoo was going to have to find another family to give him the love and attention he needed and deserved.

It had to be done. I almost had to force myself to knock on that door - I knew there was no walking away once I did. But it was the right thing to do. I knew that when I brought him home and I heard shouts of laughter from the garden just like the old days.

We could not ask for a better boy. He has settled in immediately, and the children love him. It’s not plain sailing - both kids are extremely nervous about him running free and he will only be able to do that when we are far from any possibility of traffic. But Beau is already exceptionally obedient, has great recall and far less wired energy than Steve. A good combination for us.

We love the fact that Beau’s mum was a blue roan cocker, just like Stevie. It fits.

We still see that night, we still talk about it. We hear the sound of Steve being hit and we relive the aftermath. But when we turn the other way, there is a new friend to make us smile and I’m so overwhelmed that my children are brave enough to give him a chance.

He belongs with us.

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Scarlett fae River City. Now, SHE goes to the van in her slippers.

This is what I wish would come back into fashion. Mincing out for doorstep refreshments of a hot summer’s evening. The good old days when you could trundle out to the front in your baffies with an empty ginger bottle - and this wasn’t for the recycling bin but for THE VAN for a few refunded pence towards your feast. You’d get a single nugget or an oyster, loads of raspberry (the only choice of sauce) and a bottle of Irn Bru.

I think this is where my love of purses come from. I loved looking at the queue of mums, all talking, all with their slippers on (or Dr Scholls if they were hep) with purses tucked under their arms. I’ve got a huge Mulberry monstrosity now, and God, I feel like a right proper woman when I get that out. Like I have earned my mammy stripes.

My favourite ever blooper on Family Fortunes:

Les Dennis: “Name something you’d keep beside you watching telly of an evening”

Wee Glaswegian wummin: “Purse for the van, Les?”

You lot are just fixated by fashion and style. I’m not, cos owing to the above, I don’t fit into much.

@MatTheHat Mullets, because mine circa 1984 was totally awesome

@grooming_guru in a word ruffs

@hesterbrowne bustles. Or crinolines. Either would do. (I introduced Hester to Grooming Guru, don’t worry)

@m2comms Child-bearing hips & hairy legs. If only, I’d be the Rosie Huntington Whitely of buxom/bristly

@lucymccarry Cabanas, Texans, Lord Toffinghams, Tudor Pickled Onion BURP! GEE’S YUR GINGER BOA’LS AND AHL PURE GET YES SOME AT RA VANNN!

@suellewellyn the codpiece :) Have you ever hear of the phrase ‘in the privacy of your own bedroom’? There are no fashion police there.

Love it. Tune in again tonight for another Lesley’s Bedtime Question!

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Goodbye, SteveDog

Well, it’s been a strange couple of days here. Not many Bedtime Questions other than WHY?

I’ve finished eating a banana and just left the skin hanging in my hand as I’ve read the paper. No danger of a jumping puppy launching himself at it.

I’ve sorted laundry and it’s been left where it landed. No spaniel nest pulled and kicked together for an afternoon snooze.

And I’ve talked to my children about death, God, the soul, cremation, the national speed limit, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and fate.

On Saturday, I decided that I wanted to take SteveDog and the kids (11 and 7) away for an adventure. We’d just get up and go to a hotel in the country. Their dad was still on a trip abroad and the Sunday was going to be Mother’s Day and our 12th wedding anniversary. I was damned if I was going to be a lone parent trapped at home in East London looking at a pile of ironing and doing the weekly shop.

We booked, making sure dogs were welcome. “He’s only 8 months old, but he’s well behaved,” I said. “We’ll keep him off the furniture and make sure he doesn’t chew anything.” I had my fingers sort of crossed, knowing he’d at least pee on something or try to eat a mini kettle instead.

So we went, and we had a wonderful day. We walked in the grounds of a country park and stately home. Steve was in raptures, sniffing for rabbits, making friends with other dogs and swimming in the river. He was just so active and happy. The tail never stopped wagging.

At the cafe, the lady serving came out with something strange and prophetic. She looked at Steve and said, ‘You know they say labradors are born half-trained but cockers die half-trained?’. It turned out she had both at home and knew from experience how eccentric and unpredictable spaniels can be. ‘You’ve won the battle if he just stays near you,’ she said, and I assured her Steve always kept me within sight when he was on the runaround in the park. We were close.

Back at the hotel, he slept in his big cosy bed in the boot of the car while we had dinner. We checked on him every five minutes to make sure he wasn’t crying for us. He was sparko.

I actually had to wake him when we’d finished to take him for a last walk on the huge village green before we went to our room for the night.

Then fate intervened.

The kids ran on. I let Steve off his lead. He sprinted ahead of them. From the corner of my eye I saw a car coming the other way and realised the road bisected the green just over our line of sight. But too late.

There was a scream and some shouting and a noise I will never forget. The thud of our dog being struck by the car.

And I don’t remember how I got to the edge of that green. I can’t understand how the driver was there before me though the car was parked far down the hill. He was in his 60s. Did he run? Or had I frozen?

He was kneeling on the road with his hand on Steve’s flank, just looking at me with a look of utter devastation on his face. And before I could even think about Steve I was concerned for him. The first thing I could say was ‘this is not your fault, it’s not, it’s not’. It really wasn’t.

The children were pacing around, crying, howling as I just tried to do something but did a weird wavy hand thing and knelt beside him. What could I do? He was still. Asleep.

'He's gone, hasn't he?' sobbed the man. And for some reason I didn't realise until he'd said that, didn't notice that beneath Steve's perfect wee body there was a huge gloopy patch of blood spreading on the tarmac.

His friends appeared from the car, took the children aside.

A lady came from a house overlooking the green to ask if there was anything she could do. She went back to the car with my daughter to collect our coats as by now we were all shaking and in shock. The sun had gone down and there was a sudden frost in the air.

The two men had to do something to feel better. They moved Steven from the road to the grass verge. In the 40 minutes we’d been there only one other car had passed by. A quiet village green.

We exchanged numbers. I asked ‘what’s your name?’ and I dreaded he was going to say ‘Steve’. Having a dog with a person’s name is, sorry, was a bit of a weird one. But he was Paul. We’ve texted since and I am still completely shattered to have changed that man’s life with the simple unhooking of a dog lead. I can see where Ian McEwan got his ideas. Mad events bring people together in mad ways. I won’t be texting again cos that would be weird and a bit Ioan Gruff-whatsit.

My sister lives about six miles from the scene of the spaniel disaster and she and my brother in law answered my garbled call and came to rescue us. I have never been so glad to see them and feel them take over.

They had a blanket and I wrapped my boy up and put him in the back of the car. We went back to her house, took stock for a moment and then took Steve to the vet and woke the practice nurse up, paid £53 by Visa debit and told her I would like my dog back in a plain casket, ashes style. He’s going in our garden and we’re planting a cherry tree for him. We like pink trees in this house.

My son and I gave him a last gentle snout rub and a goodbye then went home for a sleepless, unhappy night, the three of us wrapped up in a single bed, swapping regrets.

My daughter is sure she knows what’s happening now. Steven Walberswick Johnston Jones is in dog heaven with Sandy, my first dog. Then there’s Ollie, our beloved golden cocker who died the week of my wedding. He’s there with a smorgasbord he’s nicked out someone’s fridge when they were on the toilet or answering the door. Jaspar, another beautiful spaniel who belonged to friends and passed away only a few weeks ago will be there, having just rolled in fox shite. There will be lots of Schmakos, ear tickles and a fresh, juicy pair of Uggs for everyone to chew on.

I approve.

Goodbye, Steven 14.7.10 - 2.4.11 Love you very much.


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I am having some very difficult conversations with my son at the moment. As I tweeted last night, he just comes out with queries like ‘Mum…. how do prostitutes find their customers?’.

He wasn’t asking in a giggly, pervy way, he was genuinely interested how the business was conducted. So I did what I always do with every question from ‘how many holes do girls have’ to ‘is my pizza ready?’. I blinded him with science. Then I gave him the argument for legalisation, a travelogue of my meanderings through  the red light district In Amsterdam and chucked in a rant about the Ipswich murders for good measure. Then I realised he was on the laptop and had headphones in.

 I spent a great part of my working life on teen magazines, talking to readers about sex education, changing bodies and how they couldn’t chat to their own parents about all these things without retching. So I  don’t get embarrassed talking about sex stuff. But I can understand why some parents don’t do it till their kids come home pregnant or with thundering clap.

My mum and dad didn’t talk to me about sex. My older sister didn’t even mention it. I found out everything from books and magazines, starting when I was about eight and read a feature in Woman’s Own my mum had left on the side of the bath. Through a haze of Matey I remember gawping at “How to tell your children about the Birds and Bees”, with only ONE THOUGHT.



So what about you?
"Mum told me that a blow job was when someone you love blows gently in your ear, went to my very streetwise school the next day…" tweets the grossly misinformed @CarrieCardiff. “and proudly exclaimed that I knew what a BJ was, my classmates killed themselves laughing & then told me the truth - I was 10”

@shopkeeperswife had a very intriguing source of sex info. “Adrian Mole!” she says. “And then about 5 years later my dad gave me a book, bless him!!”

"Taylor the ‘rebel boy’ in Year 2 saying sex was rubbing your bits together and he’d done it with his cousin," tweets @louisejones_x who lives in Brentwood. This was an early pilot episode of The Only Way is Essex. Maybe.

" I do recall being horrified by my mum telling me casally, whilst ironing, that babies come out of your vagina and not your bum," splutters @nowmagfoodie. Dear God, that could seriously mess with your head. I bet you get the boak when you hear an ironing board going up?

@LizzieCoulter: “from The Body Book by Claire Rayner. Such fond memories that I’ve tracked down a copy for my own children.” Good call. I *hearted* La Rayner. RIP.

@gillybobs73 tells me, “Mum sat me down with a lovely book (which I have now used with my big boy) and pointed to the relevant paragraph!” Great.

(But I REALLY hope this ‘big boy’ is not her other half.)

See you tonight, pals for more BEDTIME QUESTIONS! @lesleyjones

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How did this happen?

My dad is 70 this summer and I just can’t get my head around it. It seems like just a moment ago he dropped me on my head doing the Lambada at his 50th. (That’s concussion for you.)

I have a son who’s not out of primary school but talks like Dizzee Rascal and says “NAAAAAAACE” when Nigella Lawson comes on telly. This makes me feel like an OAP. But then I have a midlife crisis every time I’m called to do womanly things like paying car tax or boil-washing vomit out of a duvet cover. I expect my mother to bustle in at any moment and do it properly while I get on with taping the Top 20 or something. Because I am too YOUNG for all this.

I am 42.

So what about you?

"Not recognising anyone apart from Take That at the Brit Awards," tweets @meemalee with her finger on the pulse of over 30’s everywhere, mystified why pop stars keep their anoraks on indoors and SHOUT. Yes, agrees @goodshoeday. “The Brit awards and someone remebering 1995 as a teen.” (I’d be happy to remember 1995 as anything. That was a big ‘social’ year for me.)

Over in @pinny40's world, things are getting serious.  “I've started clicking my fingers when I dance!?!?!? I don't even know I'm doing it… help me!” You're not clicking them, dear. That's the sound of your arthritic knees.

An oppo for manufacturers here from @melliebuse. “When, in the shower, I scream “Why can’t they write the word Shampoo in BIG LETTERS?” cos I’ve just washed hair in anusol.” Now there’s a tweeter who doesn’t know which way is up.

"Bending to tie my laces and wondering what else I can do while I’m down there," admits multitasking @almacdse1

@soul_of_twit has climbed out of the mosh pit of life and is keeping a mature head on her shoulders. “My excitement at the full reveal of the Hay Literature & Green Man Festival line ups. Used to be Glastonbury and Bestival.”

"Going drinking with a 24 year old at the weekend and remembering that I’d changed his nappy," pipes a mature @amnotfunny. Whoah. Out DRINKING? You’ve sill got it, girlfriend.

But the definitive multi-tweet list comes from @hestherbrowne, who has obviously been giving the onset of old age a lot of thought (before she loses her faculties.)” Seeing ‘period drama’ on tv & loudly noting incorrect details. Considering ‘throat cream’. Going ‘ahh’ when drinking tea,” she states. “Also, liking mince pies. Saying ‘I don’t understand’. Making phone calls after 7pm. Caring about fuel economy (the worst).”

It’s all downhill from here. Let’s all get skateboards.

Tune in tonight, tweeters, for another Bedtime Question!

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Bit late posting this, but not been in a romantic mood. *stares hard at Builder and gnashes wallies*

SO unromantic, in fact, I will simply list responses in case you are curious.

» Tracey_Cormack Tracey Cormack @   @lesleyjones My 23rd birthday. Boyf had 23 presents & a code I’d to work out before I got to open them. Presents. Dinner. Dancing. #sapfest
 » louisejones_x Louise Jones @ @lesleyjones Getting married in the school playground. I was 11. It was the start of our new life together, blissfully happy.
 » ZoeBrough Zoe Brough @   @lesleyjones Laying still, holding hands in the Port Douglas hotel; crying, naked, covered in aloe vera with 100 degree Australian sunburn.    » madamding Mrs M @   @lesleyjones I don’t think it’s happened yet.
 » soul_of_twit Library Lady @   @lesleyjones NON-STOP ROMANCE IN THIS HOUSE.
 » lavins Sarah Lavin @   @lesleyjones Looking at his shoes when he walked into my flat. ,
 »  » HumphreysHere David Humphreys @   @lesleyjones Shagging in the dunes when I was on leave from the front back in 1942.
 » almacdSE1 Alasdair   @lesleyjones when my ex girlfriend Paula showed me the man in the moon in a field at night in Stirling *sniffs*
 » magicfairysb Sarah Brewster   @lesleyjones apart from wedding day. Taking my hub to Paris for our 1st wedding anniversary! x

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Brucie Bogtrotter fills his face in Matilda

No one ever quotes Marie Antionette correctly. She actually said “Let them eat cake… there are some Mini Cheddars in the cupboard I’ll trough instead.”

Some of us are never going to do the cake thing properly because our love of savouries is all consuming. I wasn’t brought up to do cake. Shortbread (millionaire’s or pov’s), tablet, maybe. A slice of fruit loaf with butter on it. Presbyterian puddings. But fancy cake that you have to bake? Or get some poor woman in City Bakeries to construct a box for? Nope.

Then @carriecardiff twiptpiced her Courgette and Lime Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting and Pistachio and suddenly, I got a cake fixation. I have to make this. HAVE TO. (If you do too, the recipe is here http://www.rivercottage.net/recipes/courgette-and-lime-cake

Yes, it’s one of his. Big up the Hugh Fearnely-Whotsit! As Carrie says, it’s a “piece of piss” to make. And it counts towards your five a day. Win-win.

So what about you?

"Tarta Bailey’s, served at Cafe Alfalfa, Seville, 1996," tweets @siriolg, which sounds like it might count towards my other five a day. (Alcoholic bevs.)

"Carrot, but ONLY if there’s a little icing carrot on top," says @louisejones_x Indeed, a tiny fake vegetable gives any slab of fat and frosting a stamp of healthiness, I find.

@soul_of_twit drowns in her own slevvers, groaning “Cake. ALL cake. I love cake.”

My Words With Friends nemesis @ecarboni tweets from Philadelphia with her selection of fancy buns. “I must say my favorite cake is my grandmother’s recipe- Italian cream cake. Butter pound cake is awesome too.” She’s sent me the recipes, pals. AMAZE. When I can work out how to covert cups and quarts to handfuls and sloshes, I shall also be making them.

But wait, just when I think I’m a total cake convert, something comes along to send me scuttling back to the Frazzles multipack.

"Random," admits @nicolaridings,  “but Green Festival Gateaux from Morrisons. Sponge cake with custard and fresh cream filling encased in green marzipan.”

 NICOLA. Marzipan is wrong. This is a WART in a box. I think I’ve been cured.


Tune in tonight for another Bedtime Question @lesleyjones

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"That," tweets @Almacdse1 “is a ridiculous question.”

Maybe so, but I don’t think I have ever owned a normal pet in my life. They’re all bloody nuts, animals, aren’t they? No wonder Barbara Woodhouse used to blow up their nostrils to say hello - she she was actually giving them skunk blowbacks in an attempt at sedation.

Me and my coccyx know from bitter experience (Porky the pony, Dumbreck Riding School, 1979) that if an animal wants to do something, it damn well WILL. You can only hope it’s ‘balance a yogurt pot on each paw whilst splayed on a pouffe’ (see famed wonderdog Cindy, above) rather than ‘maul a toddler.’

My spaniel, Steve, is very eccentric a the moment as he is crashing around in a ‘cone of shame’ after a chop at the vets. But he will never top Ollie Jones, my first cocker, who used to help himself from the fridge when I left him alone for more than five minutes. It was a habit that started with the odd Mini Babybell in his basket and graduated to a full-on Boxing Day crocodile death roll on the kitchen floor with a 14lb turkey. That’s when Builder (my husband) wept and welded a lock on the fridge.

So what about you?

"My rabbit," says @Tracey_Cormack. “She’s 6 & stays in flat with me. She looks out the window for me coming home every night.” And here she is, peeking out the bottom of the window. HOW CUTE? And her name is SARAH JESSICA RABBIT»>

No fairground goldfish or Heinz 57 for @melliebuse. If memory serves, she grew up in very exotic climes, which may be why her zany pal was “A parrot robbed from a nest. Was meant to die peacefully in our garage. She lived, barked like a dog but never flew.” I like.

I’m well jealous of @katythecurious. “The family pig, Rusty who ran with the horses and yelped in terror when they bit her ankles.” I bloody love pigs, me. Still trying to work out how a horse could bite a pig’s ankles. Whilst running. Or was Rusty on a spit at the time? (Ok, just saying.)

And finally, @ElsieAnderton admits her wee friend was “A Christmas nit. Collected on Christmas Eve from daughter’s head & kept in bug catcher”. Lice are for life, Elsie, not just for Christmas. *scratch*

Night pals, follow me on twitter and answer tomorrow’s Bedtime Question! @lesleyjones

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"I met moustachio’d swim hunk David Wilkie," says @michlan, who goes first. “He talked to me at our sports day.” This IS David Wilkie, Scottish swimmer. But unfortunately, it’s NOT @michlan. I don’t think. Just pretend, ok? POSED BY MODELS hahahha


If you are halfway lucky in life, primary school will be your first realisation that the world can be a cruel place.

The lumps in the playtime milk, scraped knees splashed with Dettol and supply teachers with PMT and no idea who’s who… the boys blanking you to gawp at Carole Smillie sunbathing in her garden just over the fence. (Ok, just my school then.)

I really wouldn’t want to go back. But sometimes, a special moment can give you a beam of school nostalgia for those days in a grey uniform and tight hair bobbles. For me, it’s the memory of the Boys v Girls general knowledge quiz on my last day at Simshill Primary School, Glasgow.

The quiz was a weekly event and the girls always got gubbed. But on this occasion, I won it for the lassies. A dead heat, with bell clanging on our last ever Primary lesson, the answer to ‘Who wrote War and Peace?’ came from nowhere. “COUNT LEON VON TOLSTOY!!” I screeched, bunchies wobbling, and with no clue what brain bowel this nugget had plopped from. I was still on a high at my Highers!

So what about you?

@HenceHemmo “I raised loads of money for Guide Dogs for the Blind and got to present it and meet a guide dog!” But don’t wonder at Hemmo’s precocious altruism just yet, pals, there was another tweet. “But I had only done it because I thought the harness meant you were allowed to RIDE the guide dog.” Dear God. (That contributor was last seen heading to the gynaecologist in jodhpurs.)

Trying not to gloat over her early adoption of Scandic minimalism, @sophie_irving reveals her air-punch of Primary was “Winning an easter egg competition with a plain boiled egg.” Crackin.

The youth of today (ok, yesterday) have NO respect. “Sticking my finger in a strawberry tart during a royal visit to stop the Duchess of Kent getting it,” beams @elsieanderton. (This shot shows the moment The Duch has just heard through her security earpiece that the kid’s being taken out and flogged.)

@shequeen defies all the laws of hymen physics here, namely “Being Mary in the Nativity TWO YEARS IN A ROW!” *swaggers*

There’s a lot of theatrical crowing around.

"My nan was caretaker," tweets @nicolaridings. “She retired & 10 mates & I wore countrydance outfits & sang Starmaker from Fame to her.” BOGGLE ME SIDEWAYS!

"Playing a set of legs in a giant caterpillar that went to the shops to buy a cabbage… for a tv program called Watch," tweets keen Stanislavsky student, @Pinny40. It’s not confirmed that she lived in a bag of Florette for a week first to prepare for the role.

Tune in again tomorrow! Another Bedtime Question to set you pondering! @lesleyjones

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My innocent childhood fantasies have never left me. I would still kill to make a cup of tea in the back of a moving caravan or have a bath on a plane, Imperial Leather-style.

But the one experience I’ve craved more than any is to be trapped in a department store. What I would not give to wander gormless out the ladies’ at 6.01pm and realise that I’d been locked, alone, inside. Whoooooaaah.

In my own tiny mind, I am still 7 or 8 and in Arnotts, Argyle Street, Glasgow. Sweetie counters on the ground floor would be my first stop. Then I’d prance around in a selection of bridesmaid’s dresses, press every button on every telly, try on a few Miss Mary of Sweden foundation garments and have a wee coorie into (ie mess up) every single bed displaying the new-fangled “continental quilts.”

What would you do? Beds seem to have a certain attraction. Before you could say ‘shop soiled Yves Delorme bolster sham’ this lot would be bouncing the way through the Craftmatic adjustables.

"Snuggle up in the bed dept and be grateful for uninterupted sleep," says @Ieucel, who I suspect has a rampant partner or many small children. Suppose one begets the other.

@audreygillan raises the bar with the quality of her snooze experience. “Would you not go up to lingerie and get new, really really dear silk knickers & cami & a cashmere goony, then do aw the beds?” she ponders, Glaswegianly. Simple answer: “aye.”

@HelenSparkles would “go to sleep in the window”. (Hopefully not Amsterdam-style, dear.) But she’s also to be found “trying out all the different Nespresso flavours.”  Novel.

"For their own sake," says @Almacdse1 "they’d better hope the pic’n’mix section has additional security." JUST what we need. Dentists and LighterLife counsellors could do this voluntarily in their time off, Al.

@siriolg takes us on a cinematic journey with her bedtime wish. “Hope for a zombie invasion so that I could recreate Dawn of the Dead”. Oh.

None of your Harrods and Selfridges for @lucymccarry who, like myself, is a TK Maxx mentalist and has an overnight itinerary for her discount wonderland. She would “eat a’ ra Jelly Bellys, douse ma sen in Weleda night ‘creme’ and get intae CK jamas (men’s, unsold).” What, no testing of the yoga dumbells?

And if the tone could be lowered further, @humphreyshere pledges he’d, “Play dress up and sleep with four of the mannequins.” Yeah, hands off those bridesmaid’s frocks, but.

Tune in tonight, pals, for another Lesley’s Bedtime Question @lesleyjones