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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2. Twintuition

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. also, we’ve both got hazel eyes which change colour depending on what we’re wearing and we both get these funny dents in our cheeks when we laugh. But apart from that i’d say we’re fairly different.

 

Well, actually, we’re a lot different.

 

in fact, we’re so totally and utterly and entirely different that we weren’t even born on the same day. That’s how different we are.

 

Jolene was born a few minutes before midnight at the end of one day and i flumped out fourteen minutes later at the start of the next. and straight away, before the ink had even dried on my birth certificate, i learned the importance of turning up to things on time. and now i’m never late. Not to school. Not to the cafe. Not to anything. Because, sometimes, rocking up fourteen minutes late can be a massively big deal.and it can also mean that you miss out on certain things.

 

like birthdays.

 

i’ve only properly genuinely had four birthdays in my entire life – and i’m sixteen years old. my fourteen-minutes­faster twin has had all sixteen of hers.the other week, my parents took us out to the london Dungeon and then on to Pizza shack to celebrate the fact that Jolene was officially sixteen and i was officially four. But when all the stuff in this story was happening she was still fifteen and i was still three.

 

confused?

 

so are most people. But, actually, it’s quite simple. Jolene was born on the twenty-eighth of February and i was born, fourteen minutes later, at 12:08am on the morning of the twenty-ninth.

 

Which means i was born on a leap day.

 

Which means i am officially what is known as a leapling!

 

Now being a twin isn’t such a massively unusual thing. the last i heard, the probability was about 1 in 32. this means that there should roughly be one twin in almost every class in my school.

 

But being a leapling like me is unusual.You won’t find one of us in every classroom.You won’t even find one of us in every school. Because the likelihood of being born on the twenty-ninth of February is only 1 in 1,461.and,even though that’s nowhere near as random as finding out that you’ve got the exact same phone number – except for one single digit – as your maths-project partner, it’s still pretty damn rare, i reckon. and when you think about it i’m probably the rarest leapling of the lot. Because, if you did a survey to find out how many leaplings have a twin born on a totally different day, i bet you anything you like that the answer would be one. me. mrs hamood once told me i was a mathematical curiosity. i went red when she said this. i was pleased though.

 

But, maths compliments aside, being a leapling mostly sucks. seventy-five per cent of the time, i’m forced to share Jolene’s birthday on the twenty-eighth and although she is usually very cool about this, we both know that it’s her special day much more than it is mine.take when we were ten, for instance. my mum and dad had a big party for us in the cafe and we were allowed to choose a film for all our friends to watch. i wanted to see Ice Age 2 – The Meltdown and Jolene wanted to see Pirates of the Caribbean – Dead Man’s Chest.We ended up with my choice because Jolene got nasty and said,‘Whose birthday actually is it, anyway?’

 

my dad overheard her and said, ‘Right, that’s it. You’re watching Ice Age 2.’

 

But i didn’t actually enjoy a single second of that film. i was too busy feeling guilty for gate-crashing Jolene’s party.

 

and then there are the conversations like the one i had once with chatty chong. he asked me when i was sixteen

 

and i said,‘end of February.’

 

and he said,‘What day?’

 

and i said,‘the twenty-ninth.’

 

and chatty said,‘No way, yeah?’

 

and i said,‘Way yeah!’

 

and chatty whistled in total amazement and said, ‘so you’re actually only three,innit!’and then he went all quiet and looked a bit freaked out.

 

so, anyway, Jolene and i are totally different. But, to be honest, most twins are. even the ones who look like they’ve been photocopied. check them out closely and you’ll see what i’m saying.there’s always one who’s fractionally taller, slightly smarter and a bit better-looking than the other.

 

i’d love to say that in our case, that person is me. But i can’t. it wouldn’t be fair.

 

and i can’t say it’s Jolene either. Because that wouldn’t be fair either.

 

the truth is that it’s pointless going down that route. We’re polar opposites. if i was explaining all this to chatty chong or to mrs hamood, i’d just draw a diagram of a very big circle and place me and Jolene at either end of its diameter.

 

But most people don’t think in maths diagrams so i’ll try to explain myself a bit more clearly in words. here goes . . . Jolene is a complete jabber-jaws and i’m fairly quiet. Jolene is always late to things and i’m always on time. Jolene loves twirls and curls and i like my hair poker straight.

 

Jolene does our geography, Re and German homework and i do our art, music and maths. (We take our own individual chances on all the other stuff.)

 

Jolene walks stupidly slowly and i walk stupidly fast.

 

so really we’re about as twinny as pork and peas. But that doesn’t mean that we don’t get along because we definitely do. and, even though we wind each other up and call each other names and steal each other’s stuff and eat each other’s easter eggs, i really love my twin sister. and she loves me too. i know this for a fact because most of the time i’ve got a pretty good idea of what’s going on inside her head. i suppose it’s called my twintuition.Whenever she’s happy or sad or excited or bored i usually know about it before she even tells me.For some weird reason though,this twintuition only ever travels in one direction. i’m really good at guessing what’s going on in Jolene’s head but she’s hopeless at working out what’s going on in mine. i think she knows it’s usually just stuff connected with my maths Gcse and she’s stopped taking much of an interest.

 

even so, we’re pretty close. how could we not be? she’s my fourteen-minutes-faster sister and we’ve been laughing our heads off over private jokes and hanging around together since before we were even born. But i’ve got to admit that, every now and again, there are the odd moments when i catch myself thinking about how much easier it might be if i wasn’t one half of twins. i don’t think this often. Just on random occasions. and one of those random occasions was that freaky moment in the cafe when we both fell madly in love with the exact same boy.

 

me and Jolene live in a maisonette above a cafe.the cafe is called chunky’s Diner and the owner – chunky Barton – just happens to be our dad.When i’m not at school or in my bedroom or hanging out at Brent cross shopping centre, i’m almost always helping my dad by doing a bit of washing-up or wiping a few tables or pressing a few buttons on the microwave. Usually, Jolene is there helping out too. and, in return, he gives us a big fat wodge of cash

 

and it’s a really top deal because i don’t mind the work. i don’t even mind that my dad makes us wear hideous bright orange t-shirts and matching aprons which have got Ask Me About our ChAMpion Chunky breAkfAst printed on them. it’s still way better than delivering leaflets or holding a big sign with an arrow on it that says Golf sAle. and, to be honest, there isn’t actually ever that much to do because we’ve only got about ten regular customers and they never come in all at once. Occasionally, some random boring person will walk in and ask for a sausage roll or a bacon sandwich and then my dad will get very excited and say,

 

‘New customer?’

 

and the random boring person usually smiles and nods and mumbles something about just passing by or being lost and my dad smiles back and says,‘Do me a favour, pal. if you like what we do here, tell everyone. and, if you don’t like what we do, tell my wife.’

 

and then they both laugh as if my dad has just said something seriously witty – even though he quite blatantly hasn’t.

 

and a little while later my dad turns to Jolene and me and says,‘i bet you anything in the world that our new customer rode all the way here on the chunky Bus.’and then he winks – just like he’s the wisest person in the whole of Willesden – and starts happily singing as he fries his onions.and the song he’s always singing goes like this: ‘and it burns ...burns . . . burns . . . the ring of fire.’ it’s an ancient song by a spooky old american cowboy called Johnny cash. my dad is a massive country music fan. my mum is too.they’ve put framed pictures of country music superstars all over the walls of our cafe. me and Jolene can’t stand any of it.

 

the chunky Bus is a private joke. What my dad is actually referring to is the number 98 which runs between holborn and Willesden Green. it travels right through the heart of london and then it heads up past marble arch and on through maida Vale and straight through kilburn and it keeps on going in a north-west direction until it eventually reaches a bus stop directly outside our cafe on Willesden high Road.and this is where everyone always gets off.and sometimes one or two of them will come into our cafe.after that, the number 98 carries on for just another hundred metres or so as far as the Willesden bus depot and, once it’s there, it turns right round and heads straight back to the West end. my dad reckons this is specifically so it can scoop up another load of tourists who can’t wait to swap the fancy restaurants and the glazzamatazz of central london for a genuine champion chunky Breakfast in chunky’s Diner. my dad is a seriously funny man sometimes.

 

and then there’s my mum. she can be quite funny too when she wants to be. her name is angie Barton. like me and Jolene, she has brown hair and hazel eyes and she’s actually still really attractive even though she’s forty, wears a lot of leopard-print and fiddles with her hair far too much. Whenever she comes up to our school for open evenings,she easily out-glams all the other mums.they all look like iggy Pop compared to her. i have to say, though, that sometimes her sense of humour is a bit random.i’ll give you an example: if it had been entirely up to her, our cafe would now be called angie’s tasty Baps.Whichever way you look at it, this is even worse than naming it chunky’s Diner. luckily, it was a family decision and the rest of us ganged together and overruled her on this occasion.

 

But that’s my mum. she’s always been a loaded gun when it comes to naming things. she was the one who dished out the names for me and Jolene, and she nearly turned that into a disaster too.

 

‘i wanted to give you names that reflect my love of music,’ she’s said to us a million times.

 

‘Fine,’ Jolene has snapped – a million times – back at her. ‘so why couldn’t you have called me Britney or kylie or mariah or Fergie? any of those would have been cool. But why the heck Jolene? i’m the only Jolene in my entire school. it makes me feel like a freak.’

 

that’s another difference between Jolene and me. she’s a total drama queen. i’m totally not.

 

and,without fail,my mum always says,‘Fergie? Why on earth would i name you after that strumpet, the Duchess of York? she’s brought nothing but shame upon the good name of our royal family.’ and then she starts fiddling furiously with one of her honey-coloured hair extensions and says, ‘You know full well why i called you Jolene! it’s the title of my most favourite song ever. and it’s a beautiful song and Jolene is a beautiful name so stop breaking my heart, you ungrateful little hussy, and thank your lucky stars i didn’t call you Backwoods Barbie.’

 

this is my mum’s idea of a private joke. Unfortunately it’s such a private joke that she’s the only one of us who actually gets it.

so i reckon that’s why i wasn’t in any hurry to be born and hung on inside for those extra fourteen minutes. i was just giving my mum plenty of time to change her mind. ‘i’m glad you didn’t call me that,’i always say.‘i’d have been a total joke.’

 

But my mum just carries on looking at me with this weird faraway look on her face and says, ‘it’s a shame, Jody. i’d absolutely set my heart on calling you Dolly. Jolene and Dolly. my very own country music twincesses. i had it all planned out and nothing was going to change my mind. But then you popped out and it was immediately clear that you definitely weren’t a Dolly!

 

so, anyway, she eventually decided to call me Jody – for no better reason than that it worked well in a pair with Jolene. and, even though it’s not what I’d have chosen, i’m cool with it.after hearing that horror story, who wouldn’t be? so we all live up above chunky’s Diner. mum, Dad, Jolene and me.Personally,i love it.my bedroom is at the very top of the house and i can look down on all the cars and vans and double-decker buses, and if i press my face right up against the glass of my window i can even see the big white arch of Wembley peeping up over the rooftops. i don’t like football but i like Wembley. and i like that arch. i don’t know why, but it makes me happy whenever i see it. maybe because it looks like a big weird rainbow hanging over north-west london. Or like the handle on a giant’s shopping basket.

 

and, even though it definitely isn’t the poshest place in the world,i like Willesden high Road too.it’s got practically everything i need. like a library and a supermarket and a cake shop and a tube station. it’s also got a lot of other stuff i don’t need. like sixteen hairdressers and four tanning salons and a really random shop that sells nothing but old front doors and fireplaces. But at least that means that there’s always plenty happening on our street.and there are always plenty of weird and way-out people walking around on the other side of our big cafe window. i swear to God i saw Justin Bieber once. and Nelson mandela. and lady Gaga. she was wrapped up in a tartan blanket and riding along on a mobility scooter.

 

i read on the internet that 7,172,091 people live in london. that’s more than seven million people. they all wander down Willesden high Road at some point. somebody interesting was bound to push open our cafe door sooner or later. and one rainy sunday afternoon in February somebody interesting did.

 

 

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