Love and Chalkdust
“This is a brilliant portrayal of the life of just about any school. It has some serious messages about the nature of education, without ever becoming preachy. The characters are well-observed, and the dialogue is well written. It would make a great TV drama.” (Derek Gillard on Love and Chalkdust)
A glimpse inside:
Terry shoved the papers and files, any old how, into his bag. He’d got better, no question, but some days he was still a mess. One day he’d be organised, everything would have a place, and maybe he’d buy one of those black attache cases, rectangular leather replacing saggy canvas. One day. When he had a permanent job, some kind of future. For the moment, improvisation would have to do. Vamp until ready.
“Can I talk to you, sir?”
Emma Sheargold, anxious innocent face, and rich brown hair that just demanded to be stroked. Any time, my dear, any time. What must it feel like to have this effect on him, on any bloke?
“What is it, Emma?”
“This video, sir. I don’t like it.”
You and me both. The whole thing stinks. But I have to have a job, and keeping Rod Spencer happy is a possible route.
“What’s the problem?”
He could think of several. It was a lousy script, which didn’t require proper acting, for a start. If he were Emma’s dad, he’d disapprove; if he were Emma, well...
“Why me, sir?”
“I don’t get you.”
She was embarrassed. She braced herself, stood tall, drew breath and repeated the question. “Why did you ask me, to do the video?”“You’re very good. You’re confident, you’re keen – and I knew you could do it.”
“And that’s all?”
“Yeah.” Apart from, you’re a joy to work with, sexy to look at, and a strong recommendation to every warm-blooded male under eighty. But he didn’t think he’d say that bit.
“Oh, sorry. I’ll come back.” With a clatter, Linda Jones announced herself, and started to retreat.
“It’s all right. come in.”
“I can do you later.”
“No. Do me now. We’re just finishing - aren’t we?”
Emma nodded, bit her lip, and picked up her bag. “Ey, yes. Sorry. Thanks, sir.”
Linda watched her go. “Nice kid, that.”
“One of the best.”
And now the ground was clear, she swung into her routine, straightening chairs, putting up the ones that had been left, talking as she worked. “Some of them, treat you like dirt. So full of themselves they don’t think we exist. Mind you, teenagers. Must be hard.”
“You’re right there.” He sat at his desk, watching her work, reviewing his own adolescence.
that period of gloom and confusion, the cloud of unspecified dread which had loomed even more heavily over him then than it did now. Some things got better. “How’re you keeping, then?”