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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3. The Meaning of Beautiful

Jolene saw him first. Of course she did. she’s fourteen minutes ahead of me in absolutely everything. she watched him jump down from the chunky Bus, flick the hair out of his eyes with a sudden sideways jerk of the head and then lean against our window and chat for a bit on his mobile phone.

 

my dad has a real issue with people doing this. For some reason, he reckons it’s bad for business. he even went through this embarrassing phase of charging outside and saying, ‘What do you think this is? a Public leaning Post?’ But then one day he made the mistake of saying it to Natalie snell and her mum. Natalie snell is the hardest girl in my school and her mum is ever harder. my dad said,‘excuse me, ladies, what do you think this is? a Public leaning Post?’

and Natalie snell’s mum looked him up and down, blew a massive bubble in her pink bubblegum and said,‘Nah,mate. From where i’m standing it looks like a Pretty lardy Porker.’

 

so my dad doesn’t tend to hassle people any more. he usually just lets them lean. he’s not happy about it though.

 

But that sunday afternoon my dad wasn’t around to get upset. he’d popped out to buy 400 turkey twizzlers from Frosty Frank. my mum wasn’t around either. she’d nipped down to the talon salon to have her nails sharpened. so neither of them saw the boy leaning against our window. and neither did they see him put his phone away, push his hands into his pockets and bump open the door of our cafe with his right shoulder.

 

Or that’s how Jolene tells it anyway. she also says it was the hottest head-turning hollywood entrance she’s ever seen in her entire life. considering that we’re in Willesden Green and nearly all our customers are over seventy,there’s probably a lot of truth in that.

 

But i wouldn’t know.i was busy scraping leftover food off plates and into the bin. as far as i was concerned, whoever walked in was just another boring random customer.

 

i heard the boring random customer say,‘strawberry and banana smoothie, please. Just fruit. No yogurt, Ok?’

 

and then i heard my sister, Jolene, say, ‘sure. have it however you want. anything else?’

 

and the BRc said,‘Nah, just the smoothie, thanks.’

 

and then i heard the sound of his strawberries and bananas being whizzed together in the blender, and a minute or so later i heard Jolene say, ‘that’ll be one seventy-five then, please.’

 

he said,‘cheers.’

 

she said,‘ta.’

 

coins clinked. the drawer of the cash register clunked. and somewhere a chair scraped against the tiles as the boring random customer pulled it away from a table and sat down.

 

Big fat deal.

 

so i carried on scraping plates, and then, when that was done, i moved over to the sink and switched my attention to the massive stack of washing-up. i should just explain that we don’t have a separate kitchen in our cafe. Our entire catering operation depends on nothing more than a grill, a microwave and a sink behind the counter. Dad says separate kitchens are unfriendly and divisive because they create a barrier between the caterer and the customer – and, anyway, we haven’t got the space for one. i should also explain that it’s always me who does the washing up. Jolene won’t do it because she reckons it wrecks her nail transfers. i don’t have any transfers on my nails so i’m not bothered.

 

i turned both taps on full and watched as a mutant blob of soapy foam began to grow inside the sink.

 

‘Jody?’

 

at first i didn’t hear.the water was sploshing into the sink with such force that my ears thought they were in Niagara.

 

‘Jody?’

 

i turned off one of the taps and looked round.and then i jumped. Jolene was right behind me. even though she’s

my twin and we’re very close, she was invading my personal body space. i took a step backwards.

 

‘i need to tell you something,’ she whispered. it was a loud whisper but it was still definitely a whisper. her hands had gone into mime overdrive and her mouth was mouthing the words way too hard. i quickly turned off the other tap and took a step forward.

 

‘What?’ i said. i was loud-whispering too. i don’t know why. a very quick glance past her shoulder told me that there was hardly anyone around to ear-jack our conversation anyway. the cafe was quieter than mrs hamood’s monday maths club. Just the random boring customer sitting in the corner, and Whispering Bob harris.

 

i must just say a quick word about Whispering Bob harris.this isn’t his real name.We don’t actually know what his real name is, because, each time my dad has tried to ask, WBh just puts his hand behind his ear and bellows, ‘speak up, son, i can’t hear you.’ Jolene asked him as well once and he said, ‘speak up, son, i can’t hear you,’ to her too. i laughed so hard that i nearly wet myself. Jolene was thoroughly offended for a while and kept asking everyone in the entire world if she looked like a bloke – but then we realized that WBh says this to absolutely everyone. he’d probably even say it to Dolly Parton given half a chance. But as he comes into our cafe every single day, we have to call him something – and, for some random reason, my dad came up with the name of Whispering Bob harris.

 

the long and the short of it is,WBh is older than God and as deaf as a doorknob.

 

so i really didn’t need to whisper.

 

But, just to be safe, i switched on our stereo and turned the volume right up as loud as it would go.the song that came blaring out was my all-time favourite.‘light my Fire.’

 

‘You’ll never guess what?’ said Jolene, half-shout, half-whisper. she had a soppy grin on her face and her cheeks had gone a bit pink. i smiled to myself.this usually means that she’s fallen in love.

 

‘You’ve fallen in love,’ i said.

 

Jolene looked shocked. and then she shook her head in amazement and said, ‘OmG! is it that obvious! how the heck can you tell?’

 

i almost laughed out loud. Jolene is always falling in love. i reckon she tells me about it at least once a fortnight. and then, just after that, she tells me she’s got a new boyfriend and then, just after that, she tells me she’s dumped him.

 

i didn’t lOl though because i’m not really the lOl type. and anyway, it’s as tight as a teabag to laugh at people when they’re spilling the beans on a sensitive personal issue. so instead i just smiled again and squeezed a load more washing-up liquid into the sink.

 

Jolene stuck her bottom lip out and said,‘What’s so funny?’

 

‘Nothing,’ i said, and blew some foam off my face.

 

‘Yes there is,’ said Jolene.‘You’re laughing at me.’

 

‘i’m not laughing at you,’ i said. ‘i’m smiling to myself. there’s a big difference.’

 

Jolene frowned. ‘Yeah, whatever . . . i’m being serious though, Jode! Don’t look now but there’s this boy sitting in the window and he’s the fittest thing i’ve ever seen in my life. i’m totally in love with him. i need to know who he is. Go over to the counter and pretend to be doing something so that you can get a proper look at him – you can see his face from there.’

 

i couldn’t be bothered.i’ve seen Jolene’s dream boyfriends before and they always look like members of Jls.

 

i picked up a dirty plate and very, very slowly i began to wash it. Out of the corner of my eye, i could see that Jolene’s face was looking as if it might pop with impatience. For some reason, this made me smile again and it also made my hands move even slower.to be fair though, that plate had a lot of dried-up egg and tomato sauce stuck to it.

 

Jolene’s face almost twitched off her head. ‘What the heck are you doing? Put the plate down and stop being such a weirdo! this is important! i need you to look at him now. Quick! he could get up and walk out of my life at any second.’

 

i dumped the plate back into the foamy water and frowned. ‘Quit calling me a weirdo!’ and then i said, ‘i’m only trying to get these dishes done. it’s what Dad pays me to do, remember?’

 

Jolene sighed and folded her arms.and then she chewed her thumbnail.and then she said,‘soz.’

 

i ignored her.

 

Jolene said,‘sozza bozza,Jody Wody.’her voice had gone a bit high and whiney.

i blew some more foam off my face and started washing up again.

 

Jolene stood there for a few more seconds, just chewing her nails. it’s a very pointless habit considering she takes so much time and trouble over them. On each nail, she happened to have a transfer of the tottenham hotspur club badge and all the tooth contact was making some of those transfers look a bit manky. Jolene is a massive spurs fan. all my family are except for me. it’s nothing personal i’ve got against spurs. i just don’t like football.

 

Jolene took her nails out of her mouth and said,‘soz and chips.’ One of her feet had begun to tap against the tiled floor.

 

‘Whatever,’ i said. and then i started counting slowly in my head. i got as far as three.

 

‘look, Jode, i’m proper sorry, yeah?’ Jolene said really quickly in a really loud whisper.‘i honestly didn’t mean to call

you a weirdo.it just came out wrong.the thing is – i’m under a lOt OF emOtiONal PRessURe right now because i do genuinely believe that the lOVe OF mY liFe is . . . right now . . . sitting in the corner of our cafe and i NeeD tO FiND OUtWhO he is.and i realize ...yeah ...that you don’t understand my mental torment because you’re only ever interested in your maths project and your weird music and stuff ...and i know you’re not remotely interested in having any kind of romantic experience until you’re at least a hundred and five . . . but i AM iNteResteD and I’M BEGGING YOU tO helP me FiND OUt WhO the BUFF BOY is. Pleeeease!’

 

she wasn’t whispering any more. she wasn’t even loud-whispering. she was just being loud. even with the Doors blaring out of our speakers, it’s a wonder her Buff Boy didn’t hear every single word.

 

‘call that an apology?’ i muttered. and then i picked up a wet tea towel and flicked it at her head. ‘more like a nonpology.’ i was quite offended actually. it probably didn’t show though because i don’t tend to get overemotional like Jolene does – but she’d hit a raw nerve all the same. so i’m fussy.so what? Jolene goes on enough random dates for both of us. in fact, she’s a serial dater.

 

Jolene shrugged. ‘Just saying.’ and then she must have remembered how desperate she was because she looped her arm through mine and started being extra nice.‘Please,Jody. Please just come away from the sink just for one second and tell me if you know him.and then I’ll finish the washing up and mop the floor and clean the loo and you can do nothing till Dad comes back.absolutely nothing at all.’

 

and even though she’d called me a weirdo and made me sound as exciting as a fridge magnet, this still seemed like a WiN.‘Ok,’ i said.‘Ok. But i’m hardly likely to know him if you don’t, am i?’ and i threw the tea towel down on the work surface and walked forward to the counter.

 

‘him over there,’ whispered Jolene, and nodded her head towards the corner. i looked over. and then i shifted a few steps sideways so that i could get an even better look.

 

and, that was when i first properly saw him and it felt just as if i was being struck by lightning.

 

Only nicer.

 

he wasn’t Jolene’s usual type at all. Not only did he look nothing like aston merrygold, Oritsé Williams, marvin humes or JB Gill, he actually looked nothing like any member of any boy band anywhere. he did remind me of someone though.

 

‘it’s River Phoenix,’ i whispered in disbelief.

 

the boy in the corner looked just like my favourite gone-but-never-forgotten film star.and Jolene was absolutely spot on. he was buff.

 

Is buff. Always will be buff.

 

and nom and peng and fit and hench and all those other words that the girls at school bandy about when they’re really just trying to say beautiful.

 

Or maybe, after all, the word beautiful means something

entirely different.

 

in fact, the more i think about it, the more complicated the word beautiful becomes.

 

so i suppose the only thing i can do is try to explain what it meant to me at that particular moment. and what it meant was pretty much this: imagine a boy with light brown hair which is messy and overgrown, but which somehow manages to look totally top class anyway. his hair falls down naturally around his face and you can see immediately that no wax or gel or ceramic-plate straighteners have touched a single strand of it ever. hat-head is just something that he doesn’t have to worry about. and his face is not too round or not too ratty or not too scowly or not too spotty – it’s just a perfect picture of mathematical symmetry.With respect to the y-axis anyway.

and then there are his clothes.they give him a style all of his own. there isn’t a trendy label or a designer logo or a bling-tastic price-tag on him. Because this boy is way too cool for fashion. he’s quite blatantly cooler than a polar bear’s toes. his coat is a moss-green parka with a big furry hood and it has a stripy irish flag sewn on to the right sleeve. On the left sleeve, in big black chunky marker pen, there’s a weird squiggle. at first you can’t tell what it is but, later, when you look again, you see it’s a hand-drawn badge for Queen’s Park Rangers Football club.

and to be honest,even if you don’t like football,you instantly start to feel yourself becoming ever so slightly interested in QPR.

 

the bottoms of this boy’s jeans are fraying where they’ve dragged on the ground, and on his feet he wears scruffy plimsolls which probably used to be white but are now a dirty grey colour. most people would look skanky in an outfit like that. But not him. Not the River Phoenix Boy.

   

even those plimsolls look great on him.

 

and i noticed all of this in the space of one single second. it was like time slowed down and my brain whizzed up to warp speed.and all the while that my eyes were drinking in these amazing details, my ears were drinking in the sound of the Doors as Jim morrison yelled, ‘come on, bay-bee, light my fi-yahhhhhh,’ through the cheap fuzzy speakers of the cafe.

 

it was almost as if River Phoenix and Jim morrison had been put on this earth specifically to add extra meaning to this one single second in my life.

 

mrs hamood often likes to tell my class that mathematics is about a lot more than simply adding a few numbers together. she reckons it’s about everything. Because not only does it help us to manage money, tell the time, bake cakes, make music and understand art – it also allows us to make sense of our entire lives.

 

But usually it’s only me and chatty chong who are listening. everyone else is either fiddling with a phone underneath their desk or using the numbers on their scientific calculators to spell out something rude. and, even though, i’ve always found that incredibly frustrating and annoying, i suddenly couldn’t care less whether the boy in the corner was the type of person who paid attention in maths lessons or not.

 

Because, in that second, i realized that mrs hamood is wrong. maths doesn’t provide the answer for everything. some things in life are completely beyond any logical

explanation. and, for one weird and totally wonderful moment, i looked at the random boy in the corner and the only thing that i understood was that i loved him.

 

and that’s when my super-confident serial-dating fourteen-minutes-faster sister nudged my arm and said,‘see that lad there? i totally intend to go out with him.’

 

and i knew i had an epic dilemma.

 

 

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