Maura stood at the marble work surface, gripping the handle of the knife, trying to keep her shoulders relaxed. If Sophie didn’t stop talking soon, one of them was going to be scraping the other’s brains out of that luscious shag-pile carpet.

‘Of course, I want little Benjamin to be in the best possible school, but I’d hate to think that doing so would perpetuate social inequality’, she continued.

Fucking sociologists, Maura thought to herself, as she fought the urge to stick the blade in her sister’s self-indulgent, smug face rather than the chilli pepper. And if she didn’t dice the chilli pepper, the salsa would be sub-optimal, and who would want that?

‘Thanks soooo much for helping’ Sophie simpered. ‘I simply couldn’t have coped with all these guests on my own. I can’t believe that Trevor invited them all. I told him you and the girls were coming, and I wanted some time to catch up with you three, not compare babies with these golf wives’.

‘oh you love it’, Maura snapped. ‘How could you possibly expect me to believe that you didn’t invite all these mini-twinsets here with their CEO twat husbands and their little fucking Ruperts and Julians if it wasn’t to show off, again?!’

A small gasp from the doorway, and Maura turned to see Ella, her seven year old, clinging to the door-frame, mud on her knee and tears on her eyes.

‘Julian told me I was stupid for having keptchup on my keen-waw. Mummy, what’s keen-waw and why are you shouting at auntie Sophie?’

‘Oh sweetheart I'm sorry! You know how sometimes you and Suzie fight when you're tired? That's all it is’

I thought you didn't believe in lying to your children?’ snapped Sophie. She turned to Ella. ‘Honey. It's not quite like that. It's more like when you have a toy which you got given for being a really good girl and Suzie thinks you're just showing it off to make her broken Barbie look even worse, when it's her own fault the leg fell off anyway!’

‘you BITCH’, shouted Maura, throwing herself across the work surface and bowling Sophie over. ‘How DARE you say that to me! You didn’t EARN all this, you just spread your legs to the richest twat who’d have you. Everyone knows he’s shagging his secretary anyway’

The bundle of arm and legs which was the two siblings spiralled and rolled across the floor, knocking over the bin, the kitchen stool, poor Ella, and the bowl of water put down for Sophie’s Chihuahua, Rapunzel. What a stupid name for an almost hairless dog anyway, thought Maura as the tepid slobbery water splashed over the pair of them. She dragged herself free from the tussle, hauling herself up and calling Ella over.

‘Come of sweetheart, we’re leaving. Suzie? SUZIE! Car, both of you’

The battered old VW pulled out of the driveway, tyres squealing, almost but not quite drowning out the yelp as Rapunzel slipped beneath the threadbare rubber and Sophie’s accompanying howl.