blog tour, books, lifestyle

12 Days of Clink Street: One? – Jennifer L. Cahill

It’s London in the mid-noughties before Facebook, iPhones and ubiquitous wifi, and One? follows the highs and lows of a group of twenty-somethings living in leafy SW4.

Zara has just moved to London for her first real job and struggles to find her feet in a big city with no instruction manual.

Penelope works night and day in an investment bank with little or no time for love. At 28 she is positively ancient as far as her mother is concerned and the pressure is on for her to settle down as the big 3-0 is looming.

Charlie spends night and day with his band who are constantly teetering on the verge of greatness.

Richard has relocated to London from his castle in Scotland in search of the one, and Alyx is barely in one place long enough to hold down a relationship let alone think about the future.

 

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With a sigh, Miss Miller adjusted her horn-rimmed spectacles to survey her classroom of five-year-olds. The heat was really getting to her, mixed up with the sporadic hot flashes, it was becoming unbearable. A small bead of perspiration made its way slowly down the middle of her back. Her polyester, pointed collar shirt was growing clammy from the heat. Miss Miller stood up and gazed down at the children who were fidgeting and terribly restless. Her hands were clammy, and suddenly, without warning, she dropped her wooden blackboard duster onto the desk. The loud thud broke the silence, and a little cloud of chalk dust puffed up from where it had landed. The sunshine was streaming in through the windows, and the children watched… mesmerised, as the chalk dust particles danced on the sunbeam. They were convinced that the fairies were busy at work in their classroom that sunny June afternoon. This was quite enough to unsettle the class of five-year-olds especially so near to going home time. The children started giggling and wriggling around in their seats. Miss Miller gave them a stern look and settled herself behind her desk on the oak rostrum. She decided that it was Alyx’s turn to share his homework with the class. ‘Alyx,’ she said, as she peered over her glasses.
Alyx didn’t flinch; he was far, far away… gazing at the fairies on the sunbeam…‘Alyx! Alyx! Wake up! Come along now, we are waiting…’ Miss Miller snapped. Alyx nearly jumped out of his little skin! He began to stammer.‘What? Em, ok,’ Alyx stuttered as he struggled to his feet from behind his tiny little desk. ‘… when I grow up, I wish I were, no, I wish I would be a Beatle!’ Alyx breathed a small sigh of relief, he was happy that he had remembered the words in English.Miss Miller went puce, as the whole class started laughing. Alyx stood there defiantly. Alyx hated talking in front of the whole class; he was used to speaking French in school….not English! He would only be in this school for a few weeks while his mother was on location for a film in London, he didn’t understand these English people at all! He was constantly in trouble!Miss Miller was livid! All she needed was the most minor disruption to set the class of five-year-olds off, today of all days. It was easily 30C outside and there was no escaping the heat. Miss Miller struggled to regain composure.‘Don’t be silly Alyx, you can’t be a beetle, you are a little boy… why would you want to be an insect?!’ Miss Miller snapped.‘No, Miss, not an insect… I want to be like one of the Beatles!’ Alyx went bright red, and started staring down at his feet, while he shuffled from one tiny little foot to the other.‘The rock group?! Alyx really! Everyone else in the class has prepared their homework, sit down and come and speak to me at the end of class!’ Miss Miller was still puce as she said this, she took a deep breath to regain composure. She had no time for these ungrounded “celebrity” fantasies…Meanwhile the whole class had erupted into fits of giggles. Alyx slumped back into his tiny little chair, feeling very sorry for himself indeed. Life is tough when you are five and grownups keep trying to break your dreams.Miss Miller looked down at her list again, completely exasperated. Who should she ask next, who would be a “safe bet”?‘Next? Who is next?’ Miss Miller spoke sternly to silence the laughing five-year-olds. ‘Yes, Penelope?’‘Miss? Miss? May I go next?’ Penelope’s little hand shot straight up the minute Miss Miller had said ‘Next?’ She was dying to tell the teacher her ambition.‘Well, yes dear, if you really want to, I don’t see why not….’ Miss Miller sighed as she sat back in her chair.Penelope stood up in front of her desk, her little hands clasped tightly behind her back.‘When I grow up, I want to be a beautiful princess, and I want to live in a castle…’ Penelope beamed at Miss Miller, waiting for the praise that she was so used to. The teacher usually said things like ‘Excellent, Penelope’ and ‘Good girl’ to her. Sadly Penelope did not expect the reaction that was heading her way.With a sigh, Miss Miller adjusted her horn-rimmed spectacles to survey her classroom of five-year-olds. The heat was really getting to her, mixed up with the sporadic hot flashes, it was becoming unbearable. A small bead of perspiration made its way slowly down the middle of her back. Her polyester, pointed collar shirt was growing clammy from the heat. Miss Miller stood up and gazed down at the children who were fidgeting and terribly restless. Her hands were clammy, and suddenly, without warning, she dropped her wooden blackboard duster onto the desk. The loud thud broke the silence, and a little cloud of chalk dust puffed up from where it had landed. The sunshine was streaming in through the windows, and the children watched… mesmerised, as the chalk dust particles danced on the sunbeam. They were convinced that the fairies were busy at work in their classroom that sunny June afternoon. This was quite enough to unsettle the class of five-year-olds especially so near to going home time. The children started giggling and wriggling around in their seats. Miss Miller gave them a stern look and settled herself behind her desk on the oak rostrum. She decided that it was Alyx’s turn to share his homework with the class. ‘Alyx,’ she said, as she peered over her glasses.

Alyx didn’t flinch; he was far, far away… gazing at the fairies on the sunbeam…

‘Alyx! Alyx! Wake up! Come along now, we are waiting…’ Miss Miller snapped. Alyx nearly jumped out of his little skin! He began to stammer.

‘What? Em, ok,’ Alyx stuttered as he struggled to his feet from behind his tiny little desk. ‘… when I grow up, I wish I were, no, I wish I would be a Beatle!’ Alyx breathed a small sigh of relief, he was happy that he had remembered the words in English.

Miss Miller went puce, as the whole class started laughing. Alyx stood there defiantly. Alyx hated talking in front of the whole class; he was used to speaking French in school….not English! He would only be in this school for a few weeks while his mother was on location for a film in London, he didn’t understand these English people at all! He was constantly in trouble!

Miss Miller was livid! All she needed was the most minor disruption to set the class of five-year-olds off, today of all days. It was easily 30C outside and there was no escaping the heat. Miss Miller struggled to regain composure.

‘Don’t be silly Alyx, you can’t be a beetle, you are a little boy… why would you want to be an insect?!’ Miss Miller snapped.

‘No, Miss, not an insect… I want to be like one of the Beatles!’ Alyx went bright red, and started staring down at his feet, while he shuffled from one tiny little foot to the other.

‘The rock group?! Alyx really! Everyone else in the class has prepared their homework, sit down and come and speak to me at the end of class!’ Miss Miller was still puce as she said this, she took a deep breath to regain composure. She had no time for these ungrounded “celebrity” fantasies…

Meanwhile the whole class had erupted into fits of giggles. Alyx slumped back into his tiny little chair, feeling very sorry for himself indeed. Life is tough when you are five and grownups keep trying to break your dreams.

Miss Miller looked down at her list again, completely exasperated. Who should she ask next, who would be a “safe bet”?

‘Next? Who is next?’ Miss Miller spoke sternly to silence the laughing five-year-olds. ‘Yes, Penelope?’

‘Miss? Miss? May I go next?’ Penelope’s little hand shot straight up the minute Miss Miller had said ‘Next?’ She was dying to tell the teacher her ambition.

‘Well, yes dear, if you really want to, I don’t see why not….’ Miss Miller sighed as she sat back in her chair.

Penelope stood up in front of her desk, her little hands clasped tightly behind her back.

‘When I grow up, I want to be a beautiful princess, and I want to live in a castle…’ Penelope beamed at Miss Miller, waiting for the praise that she was so used to. The teacher usually said things like ‘Excellent, Penelope’ and ‘Good girl’ to her. Sadly Penelope did not expect the reaction that was heading her way.

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