Hi all:

I’m sure I’ve told you I’m back in the UK (although I don’t know how long for, my life is in flux at the moment), and it seems Christmas is coming. I know I’ve told you many times I’m terrible at taking pictures, but I’m not sure you believe me yet, so I thought…I’d show you.

I was in Sheffield last week and I saw a Christmas pudding on wheels. Hey, photo opportunity!

Christmas pudding on wheels in front of Sheffield's City Hall

Christmas pudding on wheels in front of Sheffield’s City Hall

As you can see everybody decided it was the time to walk by the pudding/van. I thought I’d wait a bit…And this happened!

No so many people but blurry phot

No so many people but blurry photo

And I’m sure I was wearing glasses!

In Penistone itself (where I live) there is the tradition of having an arts & craft fair inside of St. John’s Church (parts of the church go back to Norman times, as does the town, that is listed in the Doomsday [or Domesday] Book), showcasing an art group called Hens Teeth. I always try and see what original gifts I can find there.

Hen's Teeth Art Group advert

Hens Teeth Art Group advert

I thought I’d take a picture inside of the church to show you, but again…

Inside of St John's Church during the fair

Inside of St John’s Church during the fair

Yes, a bit blurry. This time maybe it was because I wasn’t wearing the glasses. I did buy a few things. Here, the knitted angel…

Hand-knitted angel

Hand-knitted angel

I’m not a very Christmassy person but you know I’m writing a series about angels…

And as I was walking around, I thought I’d let you know that the local cinema, The Penistone Paramount (I’d mentioned it before. It’s one of the loves of my life) celebrates its 100th anniversary and they’ve painted it to celebrate.

The Penistone Paramount. 100 years old. Looking Good!

The Penistone Paramount. 100 years old. Looking Good!

As you know I’ve told you (only a few times) that I was taking part in NaNoWriMo. The idea is to write a novel of at least 50000 words (the draft of a novel) in a month. And guess what! I won! (The draft ended up being over 60000 and I had a bit of time spare).

I won!

I won!

I’d love to share some of what I wrote, but it was book 3 of my Angelic Business series (that for the time being I’m calling Pink, Angel or Demon?) but I thought it would be difficult not to give too much of the other books away or to follow it without knowing much about the other two. Instead, as I had shared chapter 1 of the first one, I thought I’d share Chapter 2. I hope that’s OK.

As you’ll remember, the novel is called (if I don’t change my mind) Pink Matters.

Chapter 2. The Meeting (Part 1)

I wasn’t much of a dreamer or a romantic…All right, sure, I like romantic stories and one can’t help but dream, but I didn’t really believe in them or put any stock or faith in any of those things ever happening to me. I didn’t expect the perfect guy to just turn up, snatch me and take me to paradise. (For one I was pretty convinced that we would not have the same opinion on what paradise might consist of.) Even in fairy tales such things only happened to princesses and the like. Normal, run of the mill girls like me were hardly the protagonists of those kind of stories. Of course feminism and an increase in social and diversity awareness had broadened the subject and modern stories were a bit more “equal” and “fair”. But if I had to put my hand in my heart I still preferred the old-fashioned ones.

Due to my realistic (rather than pessimistic) view of life, I was not expecting the perfect candidate to my pretend boyfriend to just turn up. If this had been one of those stories, not only would he have turned up and be perfect, but he’d have fallen in love with me and eventually I’d have realised that the pretence had become reality. I know, you’ve also read that story. And watched the movie. So have I. Still…

A new boy did come to school. He wasn’t handsome in any typical way, but he had “something”. Dark hair, grey eyes, tall, strong features…Not standard pretty/cute boy (Zac Effron style), but rather the brooding, attractive in a no-nonsense kind of way guy (maybe Robert Pattinson, although I don’t really like him that much, but hey, I can see why many others do). And he had a lot of style. Leather jacket, always dressed in black, and seemed surrounded by a slight air of mystery…possibly even menace and danger.

As usual the popular girls took the initiative to try and get as much information as possible from him. They tried their best, including batting their eyelashes, unbuttoning the top of their uniforms, laughing at his non-jokes…But he seemed tight-lipped and resistive.

Lorna, Sylvia and I overheard Chloe (the head cheerleader, you know the type, blonde, tall, blue eyes, toned and well proportioned…) talking to her best friend Zoe (similar type but dark haired) after spending some time with the stranger:

“What do you think it’s up with him? He’ll only answer in monosyllabic. And he says his name is “G”. “G”? What kind of a name is “G”?”

“Don’t get upset…He’s probably gay.”

“I need to know. I’ll ask Scott to talk to him after training this afternoon. Blokes sometimes can be shy with girls they don’t know.”

Chloe had been going out with Scott for a few months, whilst Zoe was dating Chris. I doubted this G guy was particularly shy though. He had a very intense gaze and a knowing smile. Sylvia said:

“I think he’s looking at us.”

Our first reaction in those cases always was to look around us because guys didn’t look at us. But there wasn’t anybody else around. Yes, he seemed to be looking at us.

“I think you’re right” Lorna said.

“I wonder why” I added.

The three of us worked at the library for a while. By the time we left, football practice had finished. We were all intrigued about G, but none of the popular girls were around and it seemed unlikely we’d get any information that day. I accompanied Sylvia and Lorna to the bus stop and walked home. When I was halfway, Seth came by in his old and battered car. His father had promised him a new one if he did well and got into a good college, so he’d been working fairly hard for his usual standard.

“Hey Pink! Come over! I’ll give you a ride.”

I climbed on by his side. He had been playing very loud music but lowered the volume.

“How was practice?”

“Same old, same old. If coach doesn’t get some new ideas we’re never going to beat anybody this year.”

“I thought you’d said you had a strong team.” I didn’t really pay much attention to his football patter, but every so often something stuck.

“Yeah, but we could do with a couple more guys…maybe a strong defence…a kicker…”

“Well, it’s unlikely you’ll get new players this late in the season, isn’t it?”

“Tony thought that new guy…G he goes by, might be a player, although he doesn’t seem strong enough to be a defence but…you never know what talents people might hide, but no. He told the coach he’s not interested in football. It seems he likes to run…and, you won’t believe this “gymnastics”! Isn’t it the weirdest thing?”

I’d always liked gymnastics…Not to practice…I could work hard but had neither style nor much sense of equilibrium, but I loved to watch gymnastics. One of the few sports I had any time for.

“What’s wrong with gymnastics? You need to be pretty fit and strong…”

“Sure, a bit girly though, don’t you think? Scott was telling me Chloe had been trying to talk to him… “talk”, you know? You know what I mean…”

“Flirt and show him her bra, you mean…”

He laughed and made a claw-like gesture.

“Grhhhhhh! Bitchy, bitchy! You’re too serious. But I guess that’s what I mean…And he’d just ignored her. Well, not ignored her, but just answered yes or no…There must be something wrong with him if Chloe can’t get him going.”

“Maybe he likes a different type of girl…”

“Really? What bloke doesn’t like Chloe? One might not like her as a person, but she’s a babe. Who do you think would be more his type then? You, maybe?” And he laughed. And kept laughing…My determination to get my own back grew stronger than before.

As soon as he dropped me home and I got to my room I went online with Lorna and Sylvia. They were both at Lorna’s house. I told them what I’d found out.

“Honest, Pink, Seth is an absolute idiot!” Lorna growled. “Maybe you should just send him to hell.”

“He wouldn’t understand what it was all about and I wouldn’t get much satisfaction from it. No, I’m more determined than before to carry on with the plan.”

“It would serve him right if you went out with that G guy” Sylvia said.

“Yes, I was thinking the same, but he’s such an unknown quantity. Nobody seems to know anything at all about him, not even where he’s come from. He might be a nasty piece of work for all we know. And also, I doubt that he’s interested.”

“Well, the few bits of info we have about him are encouraging” Lorna summarised. “He doesn’t like football, so he’s unlikely to hang out with Seth and his bunch. He likes gymnastics and you like that sport, so you should have something to talk about. And he seems impervious to the charms of Chloe and her band of pretty girls…”

“And don’t forget he was looking at us” Sylvia added.

“I’m not sure about what that means. He might think we’re weird or something…We’ll have to see what happens in the next few days and if anything at all develops…” I said.

“It would be quite a thing if you managed to go out with him…he’s completely new in the market and not from these areas…as objective and fresh a guy as you’ll ever find around here.” Lorna said.

“We’ll see.”

For the next week or so G was the centre of attention although he didn’t seem to return the interest and appeared to be trying to become invisible most of the time. However he had a way of appearing wherever Lorna, Sylvia and I were, even when he wasn’t attending the same class.

“I’m telling you he’s looking at us!” Sylvia said for the millionth time.

“Yes, but which one of us is he looking at?” Lorna asked.

I was a bit bored having the same conversation at least once every day, when not several times a day. This time we’d just come out of the library and he was on the pavement on the other side of the street, leaning on the wall, seemingly looking at us.

“Who knows?” Sylvia replied once more.

I’d had enough. It wasn’t really that difficult.

“If you really want to know it’s quite simple. OK, Sylvia, come with me. Lorna, you stay there.”

I grabbed Sylvia’s arm and dragged her with me to the window of the shop at the corner of the street. No, G wasn’t looking at Lorna; his gaze had followed us.

“Now, you stay here.”

I left Sylvia by the shop and I crossed to the side of the street where G was standing. Now there was no possible doubt. Difficult as it might have been to believe, he was looking at me. Both Sylvia and Lorna joined me, very excited, but trying to keep their voices low (although I didn’t think they were succeeding). At least I could be grateful because they were not jumping up and down. We weren’t particularly bouncy girls.

“Oh my God! He’s definitely looking at you.!” Sylvia said, trying not to squeal.

“Yes, yes, he is. That’s it. He’s the guy for your plan!” Lorna concluded.

“What are you going to do?” Sylvia asked.

“Get out of here first.”

This time we went to my house and chatted for ages. Sylvia and Lorna suggested all kind of hare-brained schemes and plans to get G’s attention. Or “channel” his attention, as it seemed that for unknown reasons I already had his attention.  All their suggestions involved a fair amount of flirting and taking up roles that I didn’t feel particularly familiar with, like the damsel in distress or the adoring fan. I wasn’t sure what strategy I’d try, but, yes, it seemed worth trying to get him to go out with me. And I was quite curious about him and his interest in me. What was that all about?

How to go about it was another question. Not my area of expertise, boys, you see? Although I was determined, assignments, studying, and similar pressing matters put it all on hold and pushed it to the back of my mind. I kept putting it off, trying to find a good moment to act, and ignoring Sylvia and Lorna’s “advice” (pressure, to be honest).

One Saturday about a month after G’s appearance, Lorna, Sylvia and I had arranged to meet at the Atlantis (the local independent bookstore). I was a bit early and went in to have a look at the second hand books. I was looking at a beautiful illustrated copy of The Great Gatsby when somebody touched my shoulder. I turned around, and there he was, G.

“Hi.”

“Hi.”

OK, neither one of us was going to win a contest for originality or get recorded in a book compiling famous conversation opening lines.

“I’ve been wondering when I’d have a chance to catch you by yourself. You always seem to be with your friends…Lorna and Sylvia, isn’t it?”

“Yes. We…we’d noticed you were looking at us.”

“You mean at you. Interesting way of scientifically testing it. Although I expected after that you might follow through and approach me, but you didn’t” he said.

“Well, I didn’t know what it meant, but we were just wondering and I was bored of speculation…I wasn’t expecting you were looking at me.”

“Were you hoping I was looking at you at least?”

“No.”

Don’t say I didn’t warn you. I’ve already told you I’m not good with boys and I can’t flirt to save my life, so there.

“Oh, all right.”

“I don’t mean…Sorry, I’m no good at these things…”

“What things?”

“You know, flirting and all that…Relationships with guys aren’t my strong point.”

“I wouldn’t worry too much about that…Let’s start again. Hi Pink, I’m G. I assume Pink isn’t your real name. What’s your real name?”

“Petra”.

“Where does the name come from?”

“I’ve always liked Pink. And I don’t like my real name, so…”

“No, I meant your real name.”

“My father was an amateur archaeologist when he was younger and he really liked Petra.”

“I guess it could have been worse.”

“Like what Abu Simbel or the hanging gardens of Babylon?”

He laughed. Short but full-hearted laughter. Then he smiled. He had the weirdest and more mysterious smile I’d seen, all inclusive (men and women). Imagine the Mona Lisa, but in young man. Knowing, complicit and secretive all at the same time…

“And you? What does G stand for?”

At that moment Lorna and Sylvia turned up and stopped on their tracks when they saw me talking to G.

“We’ll carry on with the conversation at some other point. Maybe in a couple of days during Lake Day. By the little church on the North shore. After lunch.”

“Why are you so sure it will be in a couple of days?”

“I know things…”

He left. Lake Day was a St Mary’s School Tradition. The Headmistress, Mrs Langston, studied at Mount Holyoke and loved their Mountain Day, particularly the idea that suddenly, with no notice, the whole school would take to the buses and go on an excursion and have a day out. As there were no mountains or even hills deserving of the name close to St Mary’s, but there was Lake Swallow, she instituted Lake Day instead. The exact date when it would take place was a well-guarded secret, surrounded by speculation, so I had no idea how G would know, if he was right, when it would be.

Sylvia and Lorna interrogated me for ages about my encounter with G, but I had little to tell them.

“Do you think he really knows when Lake Day will be?” Sylvia asked.

“He seemed very confident, but how could he know? He hasn’t been here for two minutes and doesn’t know the teaching staff…as far as we know. Why should they tell him?”

“Maybe his family are very rich and they’ve made an important donation…” Lorna suggested.

“I’m sure if anybody had made a huge donation we’d had heard about it, it would have been published in the local newspaper and advertised everywhere. And I’m sure any donors would have more important things they’d want to know than when is the next Lake Day” I said. We shouldn’t get carried away with our theories, because otherwise G would end up not only being James Dean, but also Rockefeller. His reference to the little church was correct, but that only meant he must have visited the lake at some point and it was a fairly popular spot in that area. Nothing terribly mysterious about that.

Eventually I managed to get the girls off the subject of G onto other matters. Although I have to admit I waited with curiosity to see if he was right and Lake Day would really be in two days’ time. That was not the only reason for my curiosity, of course. I also wanted to see what he’d tell me next time we met. He’d appeared very determined, but I had no idea what his goals or intentions might be.

If I was pretending to be cool I’d say that two days later I had already forgotten G’s predictions and went to school with no expectations whatsoever. The truth is that I was quite excited that day, and Sylvia and Lorna hadn’t stopped talking about that in the intervening period. So when after 5 minutes or so of the first class the bells rang and Lake Day was announced we all got really agitated.

“But he’s not here!” Sylvia said. “He should have been in class with us, but he wasn’t.”

“Oh well, I guess if he really knew there wasn’t going to be a class he must have found something else better to do than come on an excursion” I said, pretending not to care.

“But he arranged to meet you!” Lorna said.

“I’ll survive”.

Still, I could not resist and left Sylvia and Lorna after lunch and walked around the shore of the lake to the little church. And there he was. G was all dressed in black, as usual, wearing a black leather jacket, standing by the side of what looked to me like a rather large motorbike for his age. Triumph? Black, shiny, impressive is as good as I can do to describe it. Motorbikes are again not one of my specialist subjects.

“Wow! Is that yours?”

“Yes.”

“Nice! A little bit Hells Angels, isn’t it?”

His reply was an even weirder smile than usual. What on earth was up with him?

“So, you were right. About Lake Day, I mean. How did you know?”

“I told you I know things…”

“OK. So you’re being mysterious…fine. You asked me about my name, the other day, but never replied about yours. What does G stand for?”

“Nothing…I just…decided to leave my old lifestyle behind and take up a new name. I go now by G.”

“Like Ali?”

“Very funny. I’ve heard it before.”

“At least it’s not the G point. And yes, I’m sure you’ve heard that one too.”

“It could be G force.”

“Yes…but it’s not a religious thing, like Malcolm X?”

“No. Nothing at all to do with religion.”

Not sure why, but I didn’t believe him, and he seemed to have become quite tense when I mentioned religion, but it was probably too soon to go probing. It was slightly bizarre as guys these days didn’t seem to be bothered about religion one way or another and it would be unlikely that its mere mention would have any effect…Maybe that had something to do with his reference to his old lifestyle. Maybe he had been in a sect or something…Or maybe I should stop making things up. He was just being discreet and not offering much personal information about himself, but that was fair enough. We’d known each other for all of five minutes, but these days everybody friended everybody and published intimate details of their lives at the drop of a hat, so his attitude was quite old-fashioned, although I found it refreshing. When people went around advertising the last little detail about themselves that could only mean that there was nothing worth knowing about them. Still, I couldn’t help but keep asking questions, even if less intimate.

“Why do you always wear black?”

“I got tired of white.”

His smile again. He was quite puzzling. I had no idea what he was talking about, but somehow I felt I wouldn’t get much further with that line of questioning.

“Can we talk now or do you have any more questions before we can proceed?” he asked me, still smiling.

“Just one more. Why me? You aren’t from here and I assume you don’t know anybody local” I looked at him and he shook his head in the negative “so, why me? It can’t be my looks, that’s for sure. Not a great beauty. Run of the mill.” I wasn’t being modest. I am not very tall, brown short hair and brown eyes (little green), plump…

“That was part of the attraction” smile again.

“Girls like Chloe have tried and talk to you with no results, and as far as I’ve been told they’re irresistible to guys your age.”

“That’s an unfair generalisation. Not all of us have the same taste.”

“Really? Are you weird then? Are you attracted to people who aren’t attractive?”

“Oh, no, I’m not going to fall for that. I’m not as stupid as your friend Seth. I know you’re angry at him because of the way he patronises you and treats you as if you were a charity case, worse than something at the bottom of his shoe. I didn’t say you weren’t attractive. You said that.”

Now he’d gone too far. Right or not, that was no way of talking about a friend of mine. And, how on Earth would he presume to know how I felt?

“Listen, Mr G or whatever your name is, leave my friends out of this. I don’t know who you think you are or what you think you know, but that does not give you right to make comments and criticise people I know and like. Have a nice life.”

I turned around and started walking as fast as I could back to the rest of the group. This had been a mistake. Go out with him! Not in a thousand years.

He must have run because he was again by my side.

“Don’t get mad. Come on, I know you’d been thinking about getting your own back on the type of comments he makes about you by going out with a suitable candidate. And I know you and your friends had been thinking about me for the role.”

I must have looked really shocked because he added:

“Don’t worry, your friends haven’t told me and nobody else knows about it.”

“And if I ask you how you know you’re going to tell me that you know things…”

He nodded and smiled.

“You’re so full of it…I don’t really care how you know or even what you know. You can keep all your knowledge and your secrets to yourself.  Life is too short for this, if you ask me. I’m sure you can find another equally non-attractive girl for whatever you were thinking about. Good luck with it.”

No bloke was worth putting up with all that in my opinion. He could stuff it. I set off even faster than before. And I had no intention of stopping or being stopped.

This time he came after me motorised and skidded on the gravel to a stop a few metres in front of me.

“I’m volunteering to play the part with Seth. I’m happy to be your official date. I know you don’t really want a relationship. That’s fine with me. I don’t want one either. I feel like you that too much time is invested in relationships with the opposite sex at our age. But I also understand that you find Seth’s attitude annoying and you’re right. Plenty of guys would be happy to be your boyfriends if you really wanted one.”

“Now flattery…Don’t we learn quickly?” I replied trying to be ironic.

“Come on, Pink. I’m not from here. As you’ve said some of the girls that are rated as the prettiest and most desirable by all guys have approached me with no success. You’d score a big hit if you managed where they’d failed. And I’m not high maintenance. I’ll play my part in public well. You don’t need to worry.”

“Why are you so insistent? What’s in it for you?”

“Oh, don’t worry. I have no dark designs. I’ve already told you that I’m not interested in relationships…any kind of relationships…”

When somebody says don’t worry twice in a row, one should definitely worry. I had no ready reply and I just looked at him. I don’t know what my expression must have been like, because he blushed and quickly added:

“I know Chloe and Zoe and all those girls were wondering…But they’re just too convinced they’re irresistible. I’m not gay. I just have other priorities at this point in time. But that will remain between you and me. Everybody else will believe we’re an item. We’ll be convincing.”

I didn’t say anything. Was he gay, was he straight, or was he just not-interested? Did I really care about any of that? Yes, he was right. If I turned up at school hanging of his arm and officially his girlfriend people would stop and pay attention. And Seth’s opinion of me would receive a well-deserved shake. But what did he want in return? Why was he so reluctant to tell me?

“That’s all very well and good, and don’t worry, I’m not interested in your sexuality. You can keep that to yourself. You were right about my attitude towards relationships. But you still haven’t told me what made you approach me in the first place. And don’t tell me you’re just a Good Samaritan helping girls in need. What’s this all about?”

He gave me one of his fixed stares, no smile this time. After what felt like hours he finally said:

“I think we might be able to work together.”

“Work? Do you mean classwork? An assignment?”

“Not exactly.”

 

Thank you all for reading, and you know what to do, like, comment, share and…you can still CLICK the link to the post with the first chapter or click elsewhere in the page (links to books, other blogs….)!