What's Up With Jody Barton?

Sometimes life throws you a massive curveball . . .

Me and my sister are twins. She's Jolene and I'm Jody. We've both got brown hair, we're both left-handed and we both have these weirdly long little toes which make us look like long-toed mutants. But apart from that, I'd say we're fairly different.

Well, actually, we're a lot different . . .

It's hard enough being one half of the world's least identical twins, without both of you falling for the same guy. Jolene's turned flirting into a fine art, but Jody? Not so much. And as if a twinny love triangle wasn't messy enough . . . there's something nobody knows about Jody Barton. Something BIG. Told with the trademark warmth and laugh-out-loud humour of the much-loved LOTTIE BIGGS books, this is a book that will make you think, with a gobsmacking twist you won't believe.

Buy the book: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/0330523023/ ref=s9_simh_gw_p14_d0_g14_i1?pf_rd_m=A3P5ROKL5A1OLE pf_rd_s=center-2&pf_rd_r=1C13P3WRJ3GT9K5156AS&pf_rd_

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6. And it burns, burns, burns

Jim morrison is my favourite ever singer. i may have mentioned this before. he was also a poet. he was born on the eighth of December 1943 and his life was pretty normal and un-amazing until 1965 when he made friends with a massively talented keyboard player called Ray manzarek. together they formed the rock band, the Doors. shortly afterwards, Jim and Ray found a drummer called John Densmore and a guitarist called Robby krieger and then their band was complete. From this point onwards, Jim’s life stopped being un-amazing.

 

in 1967,the Doors released their first album and a single called ‘light my Fire’. it went all the way up the american charts to number one.this song is totally and utterly brilliant and i often lie on my bed and listen to it on repeat. Over the next four years, the Doors released five more albums and had a total of seven top-twenty singles. i often lie on my bed and listen to all of these songs too. Jim had it all. Good looks.an amazing voice.and a genius way with words.But, somewhere along the way, he lost total control of his life and then, on the 3rd of July 1971, he very tragically died.

 

he was twenty-seven years old.

 

Jolene can’t stand the Doors, but, to be fair to her, their music is not everybody’s cup of tea. it’s for people who have a much more rare and sophisticated taste.

 

eleven months before Jim’s death, in another part of america altogether, a little baby boy was born. he was called River Jude Phoenix and he is my favourite ever film star. i may have mentioned this before as well. his birthday was the twenty-third of august 1970 and he began acting when he was only ten years old. the first film he ever starred in was a sci-fi fantasy called Explorers and River played the part of a science whizz-kid called Wolfgang müller. River was so completely brilliant that he won a Youth in Film award for an exceptional Performance by an actor in a supporting Role. even though River was fifteen years old at the time, you’d have serious difficulty believing it because, in this film, he still only looks about ten.

 

his next films were released a year later in 1986 and they were called Stand by Me and Mosquito Coast. he won awards for his brilliant acting in both of these too. even though River was sixteen years old when he appeared in them,you’d still find it massively hard to believe because, in both these films, he actually only looks about eleven. Or perhaps eleven and a half. he definitely doesn’t look sixteen.

 

i like these early River Phoenix films but they’re not my favourites.

 

in 1988, River played the part of Danny Pope in Running on Empty. he was nominated for an academy award and a Golden Globe award, but somehow he didn’t win either of them. he totally should have done, though, because his performance was utterly mesmerizing. But in the end it doesn’t really matter whether he won any stupid poncey awards or not because this film will always be my favourite. i’ve got it on DVD and i reckon i must have watched it at least twenty times. and the reason why it’s so mesmerizing is that River was eighteen years old when he starred in it and – instead of looking ten or eleven or even eleven and a half – he looks totally and utterly amazing from start to finish.

 

When i watch him, i want to hold my head in my hands and cry.

 

and it doesn’t get any easier because River just goes on looking totally and utterly amazing in every single second of every single film he appears in.there are seven more of them.and i’ve got them all on DVD and i reckon i’ve watched every one of them at least twenty times.

 

Jolene reckons i’m obsessed. But then again she’s got a picture of Justin Bieber on her wall so i try not to be bothered by what she thinks.

and it’s really hard not to be fascinated by River Phoenix because he had absolutely everything going for him. he really did. But then one day, in 1993, he walked into a nightclub called the Viper Room and he never came out of it alive.

 

he was just twenty-three years old.

 

i think it’s fair to say that, like Jim morrison, River somehow lost control too.

 

it happens. in all sorts of ways.

 

and every time i’m in the cafe i hear people singing songs about it. like adele who can’t control the fact that she’s in love with somebody who no longer loves her back. and Dolly Parton who can’t control whether a beautiful woman called Jolene is going to steal her man away from her or not.and then there’s that song that my dad is always singing – the one by the spooky old cowboy Johnny cash.in it,Johnny sings about how he has fallen into a ring of fire and how he can’t stop himself from burning up.and,personally,i don’t think we’re meant to interpret Johnny’s words literally because he’s not actually singing about being barbecued alive or anything. it’s much more symbolic than that. the ring of fire represents some colossally painful experience that Johnny is having. and, as much as he wants to get himself out of that colossally painful experience, he can’t. in fact, the flames around him just keep on getting higher and higher and there’s absolutely nothing he can do about it.and the most tragic thing of all is that Johnny cash makes it very clear exactly what that colossally painful experience is.

it’s love.

 

Because sometimes love can be a very painful thing.

 

and i think i’ve always been well aware of this – so i really should have kept my mind fixed firmly on formulas and fractions. Because when i’m solving maths problems it makes me feel like i’ve got everything fully under control.

 

But i didn’t.i let my mind wander and i fell in love.and this time it wasn’t with an impossible unreachable face on a poster or on a television screen. it was with liam mackie. and, to be honest, it felt pretty much as if i’d fallen head first into a burning ring of fire.

 

Because i honestly never wanted to fall in love with him. in fact, i did everything i could to stop it from happening. But however much cold water i poured over my feelings it wasn’t enough. those flames just kept on getting higher and higher. and i definitely never meant to mess things up between liam and my sister. i honestly didn’t. and i swear to God that i didn’t ever intend to be all on my own with him inside my bedroom.

 

it just happened.

 

and it happened like this.

 

it was the following sunday. i’d just lived through five more colossally confusing days and Jolene and liam had been going out together for almost a week.

 

except that, technically, i don’t even know if they had been. Because not a lot of going out was going on. mostly they just stayed in the cafe and got on my nerves.

and, although i wasn’t exactly standing behind the counter and studying their every move, it was easy enough to spot that their ‘dates’ pretty much followed this pattern.

 

1. liam rocks up at the cafe at around 5 p.m.

 

 

2. Jolene instantly starts pouting poutrageously.

 

 

3. liam kisses her lightly on the cheek just as if he’s a French person in a foreign film.

 

 

4. liam smiles and says hello to me and then talks in a charming manner to my mum as she makes him a strawberry and banana smoothie – with yogurt.

 

 

5. Jolene asks liam if he wants to go clubbing/to the cinema/to the park/to Brent cross shopping centre with her.

 

 

6. liam says no because he’s got family visiting him/ he’s grounded/he has loads of coursework to do/ he’s all out of cash.

 

 

7. Jolene looks disappointed.

 

 

8. liam kisses her full on the lips.

 

 

9. Jolene looks very pleased with herself.

 

 

10. they sit down together and share a deeply romantic plate of turkey twizzlers and oven chips and lean across the table every now and again to kiss a bit more.

 

 

11. after a while, liam stands up, smiles at me and says bye, and then smiles at my mum and says bye to her too.

 

 

12. my mum tells liam he’s a sweetheart and that he must call around again.

 

 

13. liam gets embarrassed and goes all twitchy.

 

 

14. liam goes home.

 

 

15. Jolene strops about with a face like a pickled egg and then disappears up the stairs to her bedroom.

 

 

this exact same routine happened tuesday, Wednesday, thursday and Friday.

 

Now, i’m no expert on these matters but this, to me, doesn’t sound like the right pattern on which to build a successful relationship. in fact, i’m not at all sure that there is a right pattern. Don’t get me wrong – patterns are incredibly useful and necessary at places like Dollis hill tube station or Willesden Green bus terminal or heathrow airport but we can’t rely on them all the flipping time.

 

Because sometimes a bit of random behaviour is simply a symptom of being crazy in love.

 

(Beyoncé knowles would totally understand what i’m trying to say.)

 

and whilst Jolene was acting weirdly enough and dippily enough to suggest that she possibly might have been in love i don’t think that liam was at all. Not even slightly. he just seemed to be going through the motions and following the flowchart.

 

and then, on saturday, he finally took her out. But it wasn’t to go clubbing or to the cinema or to the park or Brent cross shopping centre or to anywhere she actually wanted to go – it was to loftus Road to watch Queens Park Rangers play Norwich city. and the worst thing of all was that spurs were playing at home against manchester United at the exact same time and, even though my dad had offered her his spare season ticket, Jolene had to put on her stripy socks and pretend to be a QPR fan.

 

‘You know what, Jody,’ she said, just before liam came to call for her.‘i’ve got to laugh about this or else i’d cry an entire flipping river.’

 

and if you think my twin sister was stretching a point and totally incapable of crying quite this much i can tell you, for sure, that she wasn’t. she can cry an entire flipping river.and i know because i was right on the verge of seeing it happen.

 

it all kicked off the next day. sunday. Jolene was doing a shift in the cafe and i had the day off. But i was down in the cafe anyway. it was raining outside and i didn’t really have anything else to do. i wasn’t working though – i was eating a fried-egg sandwich and reading a book called No one Here Gets Out Alive. it’s about the life of Jim morrison. and for once the cafe was pretty busy. Round one table, a group of workmen were chatting away together in some totally foreign language and tucking into champion chunky Breakfasts with extra side orders of chips. Behind the counter, my dad was frying bacon and pouring cups of tea and looking chuffed.at another table,Whispering Bob harris was eating apple pie and custard and looking the opposite of chuffed. i don’t know why. But he mostly looks like that, to be honest, so nobody was paying much attention to him.the two old ladies,Vee and Doreen, were back again for matching BOGOF chicken dinners, and Natalie snell and latasha Joy were drinking cherry colas and giggling together in the furthest corner from me. i stayed out of their way because i don’t like them.they stayed out of my way because they don’t like me back.

 

and then the cafe door opened and liam walked in. he saw me sitting all on my own and waved. Unfortunately, it was at the exact same moment that i stuck my tongue out to stop some runny egg yolk dribbling down my chin.

 

liam grinned, pointed to his chin and said, ‘You missed a bit.’

 

i felt my face turn burning red hot but, with a massive effort of self-control,i kept my cool anyway and said,‘Yeah, course i have!’and then i just put my head down and went right on reading.

 

liam said,‘Nah, Jody.You seriously have, this time.You wanna wipe it off cos it makes you look like a three-year­old.’

 

my fingers flew up to my chin and made contact with sticky egg yolk.

 

‘thanks,’ i mumbled, and rubbed it off. i swear to God, i’m going to stop eating fried-egg sandwiches. No wonder Natalie snell and latasha Joy never even talk to me.

 

liam laughed and said, ‘mind you, you are only three, aren’t you? Until the end of the month and then you’ll be four. Jolene told me about your weird birthday.’

 

i glared into my book and said,‘Did she? that’s nice.’

i wanted to kill her.

 

liam laughed again and said, ‘i actually think it’s pretty cool.it makes you really special.’and then he said,‘Where’s your mum?’

 

‘she’s off today,’i said.‘my dad’s here instead.’

 

liam’s face clouded over. ‘Pity. i like her smoothies the best.’and then he looked over to where Jolene was and said, ‘Yeah, yeah, i’m coming over to see you now, ain’t i?’ and then he walked off.

 

i sat and stared at page forty-three of my book. i wasn’t reading it though. i was thinking about what he’d just said. it makes you really special.

 

i couldn’t get those words out of my head.

 

and then a voice said, ‘hey, Jody, do you wanna come down to the library with me and play on my PsP? i’ve got some well good new games loaded on to it.’

 

i looked up. chatty chong was standing by my table and

 

smiling down at me. he had his big bag with him.

 

From the furthest corner of the cafe, Natalie snell and latasha Joy started giggling quite a lot louder.

 

‘Oh,i dunno,’i said.‘i really want to read my book.’

 

as excuses go, it was a pretty lame one. i don’t blame chatty chong for being offended.

 

chatty chong’s eyebrows rose.‘What’s up?’

 

‘Nothing,’ i said.

 

chatty looked at the floor. and then he looked at me again and said, ‘something’s up. i ain’t hardly spoke to you all week, yeah?’

 

my fingers fidgeted with the edges of my pages. i sort of smiled at him and sort of didn’t smile and said,‘Well, you hardly talk to me all that much anyway.You hardly talk to anyone.that’s why everyone calls you chatty chong!’

 

chatty chong’s eyebrows edged up some more. he looked a bit bothered. ‘Yeah, but i just talk to the people i want to, don’t i?’ and then he stopped looking bothered and looked a bit hopeful and said,‘i’ve got this amazing new maths game you should have a go at. it’s called indiana Jones and the homogenous system of equations.’

 

and all of a sudden something snapped in my head. Before i could stop myself, i said, ‘Do i look like i want to play a stupid gay game?’

 

chatty chong said,‘huh?’

 

From the furthest corner of the cafe, latasha Joy – who thinks she’s it just because she’s got hulking great big bazookas – called out, ‘is that a private conversation about maths you’re having or can anyone join in?’

 

From the counter, i heard liam laugh and say, ‘Rock and Roll!’

 

and i know it’s totally tight of me and completely and utterly unforgivably crap but i just wanted chatty chong to go right away. anywhere. Just so long as it wasn’t near me.

 

‘For God’s sake, chung chong,’ i said. ‘You’re such a geek, do you know that?’

 

chatty chong looked at me in shock. i’d like to think it was because someone had used his actual proper name for once, but i know that this isn’t the case.the reason why he was shocked and appalled was because i’d just been blatantly very nasty. i’m not proud of it.

 

he said,‘thanks.’and then he picked up his big bag and walked out of the cafe.

 

Natalie snell and latasha Joy laughed and turned their attention back to their cherry colas. liam mackie called out, ‘Just say it how it is, Jody!’

 

i picked up my book and lifted it up so that it was hiding my face. i wasn’t reading it though. i was thinking about chatty chong and how upset he’d looked. Because of the stupid, nasty, crappy thing that I had said.

 

it’s impossible to read a book in circumstances like that. i really don’t recommend that you try it yourself.

 

liam said,‘is that a book about Jim morrison?’ and then he came and sat down at my table.

 

Jolene wailed,‘liam, stay here and talk to me.’

liam laughed and said,‘i wanna talk to Jody.You should be working anyway!’

 

and then my dad laughed too and shouted, ‘Well said, young man.’ after that, he prodded his bacon with a fish-slice and started singing, ‘and it burns . . . burns . . . burns ...’

 

i continued to stare at my book. But then, after a second, i peeped over the top of it and saw that Jolene was buttering bread at the counter and giving me full-on evils.For a second, i felt a bit bad about her too and then i remembered that she told liam i was technically only three and stopped feeling bad. i narrowed my eyes and gave her full-on evils back.

 

liam said,‘i love Jim morrison. he was the lizard king!’

 

i smiled. and then i lowered my book and said, ‘Rock and Roll!’

 

liam smiled back at me and it was the brightest, most perfect smile i’ve ever seen. he leaned forward across the table towards me.What’s your favourite track?’

 

‘“light my Fire”,’ i said. i didn’t even hesitate.

 

liam’s eyes grew rounder.‘mine too,’he said.‘although i really love that song “touch me” as well. it’s immense.’

 

i closed my book and put it on the table.‘i’ve got every album the Doors ever made,’ i said. ‘except for the ones they did after Jim died. i can’t be bothered with those.’

 

liam nodded in agreement.‘Wow,i’m seriously impressed!’ and then he said,‘i’ve only got their Greatest Hits.’

 

i almost stopped breathing. liam mackie was seriously impressed.With me.

 

liam said,‘can we go and listen to them?’

 

i stared at him. my brain was having difficulty processing what my ears had just heard. Finally i said,‘What, now?’

 

liam shrugged. ‘Why not? Jolene’s got to work anyway. and it’s busy down here. i’m just in the way.’

 

‘Ok then,’ i said. Just like that. Ok then.

 

liam stood up and called over to Jolene, ‘i’m going upstairs for a bit with Jody.We’re going to listen to the Doors.’

 

Jolene slapped butter on to a slice of bread and said,‘how nice for you both!’

 

my dad said, ‘chill out a bit, loopy lou. sulky sue’ll look after him. and i’ve got a lovely load of onions for you to chop up in a minute.’ and then he laughed again and went back to singing the ‘Ring of Fire’ song.

 

Jolene said, ‘lucky lucky me!’

 

in the furthest corner of the cafe,Natalie snell and latasha Joy started giggling again. Natalie snell called out, ‘can we come up too?’

 

‘No,’ i said. Jolene glared at them. i was really glad she wasn’t glaring at me for once.

 

and then,just like i was watching myself act in a very weird film,i saw myself walking up the stairs to our maisonette and liam mackie was one step behind me. except that what made it even weirder was that it was actually happening.

 

and the next thing i knew we were sitting on my bed and listening to the Doors.‘touch me’ was playing.

‘Wow! i love your room,’ said liam. ‘You’ve got really cool posters. Jolene has got Justin Bieber on her wall.’

 

‘i know,’ i said.

 

‘i’m not sure about your prime-number chart though,’ said liam.

 

I like it,’ i said.

 

liam smiled. ‘Fair enough.’ and then he pointed to one of my many pictures of River Phoenix and said,‘Who’s the dude with the cool hair?’

 

‘River Phoenix,’i said.‘he was an actor. But he died.’

 

liam put his head on one side to look at him better. ‘he was a good-looking geezer,right enough.’and then he grinned and said,‘Do you think he looks a bit like me?’

 

i forced out a laugh.‘You reckon?’and then i went quiet because i didn’t really know what else to say for the best.

 

liam stood up and walked over to the window. For a moment he was still, just looking out over Willesden, and then he leaned forward and pressed his face up against the glass. ‘Wow,’ he said again, ‘you can see the Wembley arch from here.’

 

‘i know,’ i said.

 

‘it looks like the big loop on a massive roller coaster or something.’

 

i smiled.i’d never thought of it that way.‘i think it looks like the handle on a giant’s shopping basket,’ i said.

 

liam laughed. and then he said, ‘i don’t really like shopping.’

 

‘me neither,’i said.‘Well, not much anyway.’

For a moment we both went quiet and then liam said, ‘there’s a Doors tribute band playing in kilburn in a couple of weeks. a group of us are going.You can tag along if you like.’

 

‘i don’t know,’i said.‘maybe.’

 

‘they’re good,’said liam.‘i’ve seen them before.they’re called the Replacement Doors. i’ll leave you my number. Give me a bell if you fancy it.’

 

he picked up a pencil from my desk, scribbled his phone number on to a corner of my maths project and then tore it off and handed it to me. i folded it very carefully and put it in the pocket of my jeans. i didn’t even care that i’d have to draw that entire page of isosceles triangles all over again.

 

liam sat back down on my bed. and then he closed his eyes and began to sing along with the track that was playing.

 

i hung my head and looked at my hi-tops.

 

Next to me, liam went on gently singing. ‘c’mon and touch me, bay-beeeeee . . . . cos you know that i am not afraaaaaiiiid.’ he had a really nice voice.

 

even though i was trying very hard not to, i turned my head and looked at him. i couldn’t stop myself. and then i breathed out a big silent sigh. he had a really nice face too. But i think i’ve mentioned that before. a really seriously very beautiful face. i’d actually say it looked like the face of someone i’d been waiting my entire life to meet.

 

Just looking at him made me want to hold my head in my hands and cry.

 

liam sang,‘c’mon, c’mon . . . .touch me, bay-beeeee.’

i felt my heart thump inside my body.the sound of my own blood pumping past my ears was so incredibly loud that i don’t think i could even hear the music any more. and then, without stopping to think about what i was doing, i did a seriously uncontrolled and random thing.

 

i leaned forward, brought my lips right up to liam’s lips and kissed him.

 

Just like that.

 

and, just like that, liam’s eyes flicked open and the next thing i knew there was a burning, burning, burning ring of fire all around my right eye.

 

liam mackie had hit me in the face.

 

then he pushed me away from him, leapt up from my bed and said . . .

 

‘What the hell was that? You gay piece of shit.’

 

For a second or two, i didn’t move. i couldn’t. i was completely frozen. i just lay there, sprawled across my bed with my hand held against my throbbing eye. and then i blinked back a horrified tear and whispered, ‘i’m sorry. i’m really ever so sorry. i wasn’t thinking.’

 

and i wasn’t, was i? Because why on earth did i think that liam mackie might actually kiss me back?

 

Me.

 

stupid, boring, maths-loving Jody Barton.

 

Jody John christopher Barton.

 

To be continued . . . extract only

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