Major Problem and I visited the Royal Greenwich and I took this along the Prime Meridian. The Major insisted on standing on this side as he believes that the original meridian (which is 6 feet from this line) is the correct one. I did point out that lasers now track its accuracy, but he got very angry and used the words “In my day…”.
Major Problem is available for weddings, and keynote presentations… but I wouldn’t recommend it.
I’ve had this idea bubbling away for a little while – but for whatever reason just couldn’t seem to get round to writing it. If there was a origin idea to the story, it’s what Cassie’s dad says – you never know quite how things will work out and the dreams and plans we have can often change within a heartbeat. Enjoy!
Cassie closed the notebook. It was Friday evening and she had just completed the last of the homework that Mrs Nickway had set for the weekend. Cassie was sure that the closer it got to the holidays, the easier the homework seemed to be getting. Was it that Mrs Nickway was as eager to start the summer holidays as her pupils – or was she just expecting that the attention spans would reduce? Either way, it didn’t matter – the weekend could start now. Cassie reached into her bedside drawer and pulled out a battered notebook. This looked different to the school notebooks – this one had hearts and other doodles over it. It was dog-eared, crumpled and creased. This was a book that had lived in a million places without ever leaving the bedroom. She opened the notebook and it fell easily to a picture… of him. Cassie felt the first of the butterflies leave whatever part it had been resting on, to take flight once more around her stomach. Gary… As she breathed out, her mind wandered to the upcoming school prom and how Gary would hold her and they would slow dance until only the moonlight reflected off the mirror ball – everyone else would have been ushered to leave by Mrs Nickway to leave just Gary and her and as Mrs Nickway left that school gym she would have turned, smiled and then headed for home and Mr Nickway. It would be so dreamy so…
“HA HA! CASSIE’S GOT A BOYFRIEND! SHE’S IN LURVE!!! LEMME SEE!!”
“GIVE ME THAT BACK! GIVE ME… OR I WILL HURT YOU!”
Charlie had snuck in and once more snatched the secret journal off the desk. He held it aloft, the paper fluttering and protesting this rough treatment – again. Charlie went to run away with it, but through earlier incidents Cassie had already (and unconsciously) started to arrange things in the room to make Charlie’s exit as difficult as possible – and quickly she was upon his arm. As his older sister, Cassie also knew that Charlie had a weaker left arm and seized it with both hands. As she started to twist, Charlie’s face changed from happy, mischievous laughter to pain and eventually realised that he would have to lose the book to make the pain stop. He threw it across the room – Cassie let go immediately and Charlie, now free of his imprisonment, ran from the room.
“MUM!! MUUUUMMM!!! CASSIE’S JUST HURT ME!!”
Cassie ran to the book – there were a few more pages creased, there was a little tear on an older page, but everything seemed to be OK and Gary’s picture was still there. She closed the book and put it away – it would be safe in the drawer. As she closed the drawer, she heard the doorbell ring. She heard her mother go to the door, and then quiet voices. The door didn’t close, but soft footsteps up the stairs and the gentle knock on the door made Cassie curious. It was her mother.
“Cassie – there’s a young man on the doorstep. He says he’s Gary and that you know him… from school….”
Cassie only just heard those last few words – her heart had leapt so far into her mouth that the sound of it beating drowned out the many, many butterflies that had now taken flight. She rushed out the room, almost fell down the stairs and then into the door… and there he was…
Cassie’s mother followed quickly behind – managing to intercept the troublesome Charlie before he could cause any embarrassment that wouldn’t already be there. She smiled to herself, remembering when she was Cassie’s age. She also remembered how… better put the kettle on.
Outside, a nervous Gary shuffled his feet, looked at his shoes and really displayed a side that no-one would have ever expected him to ever have – that of a nervous young boy. Cassie looked at Gary expectantly.
“Cassie” croaked Gary “I don’t know how I’m supposed to do this. The… err… the school prom is coming up and … err… I was wondering… err…”
Cassie nearly jumped the gun, hugged Gary and shouted “YES! YES!” (Actually, in her head, that’s exactly what she was doing), but she just looked at Gary…
“… I … err… could you help me ask Rebecca? I really like her and….”
Gary said something else – but the world had fallen. Cassie could hear the butterflies now resting again, but laughing at her all the same. Cassie felt herself take a long, deep breath. She then very calmly sat down with Gary and between them she built up his courage to go and ask Rebecca himself. She didn’t want to be there for so many reasons. Gary thanked her and left. Cassie remained sat on the step long after he had left.
Cassie’s mum came out, sat by Cassie with her cup of tea. The two of them sat for ages, with nothing being said. After a while, Cassie stood up. “Thanks mum” she said, and went to her room.
The day of the prom arrived, and no-one had asked Cassie to go. Rebecca had phoned up and squealed the good news and Cassie had listened; Gary hadn’t mentioned how Cassie had helped and she didn’t want to spoil that story. But it was the prom, and so she made herself look pretty. Her dad took pictures (and even offered to be her plus one if she wanted), her mum looked pleased and Charlie’s sole input was to tell her that “she looked like a girl”. Cassie sensed that her parents felt sorry for her, not having a date for that evening, but they didn’t say anything. Her dad offered to drive her.
The journey was quiet, until about five minutes in, when her dad spoke. He said it quietly, but clearly. “I never took anyone to my prom you know”.
Cassie looked at her dad. Hadn’t they always said that they had got together at the school prom?
“It’s not for the want of trying – just that every girl I wanted to go to the prom with always wanted to go with the guys from the football team; even the last reserve had a better rating than I did.”
“But… you, mum…?”
“Oh, we met at the prom, that’s true – but there’s a whole story there! You see, I had decided that I would go anyway. Myself and a couple of the other boys from the AV Club – the ‘Geek squad’ you might call us – decided we had nothing to really lose and who knew what the evening might hold. When we got there, my friends were immediately pulled to one side to help sort out the lights, projectors etc. – we were always popular when they needed technical skills – and I just stood in the corner and watched. Your mother was on the dance floor, swaying with … Guy Bleeker, that’s the guy… when suddenly he turns and she breaks away and runs off in tears. Well, with all the music, the pretty dresses and I was caught up with how pretty it all was and suddenly the prettiest girl is in tears, running away and Guy’s just standing there with a huge grin. Well, I felt I couldn’t do anything but go after her. None of the teachers and chaperones seemed to notice anything. I found her just outside, sat on the concrete steps, tears streaming down her face, her dress slightly dirtied by the mud that it had skimmed through. I just sat down with her and asked ‘what’s up?’”
“What happened next?” asked Cassie, her eyes sparkling with the film of tears that were welling up. She could imagine that gym hall, the lights, the geeky boys in the corner… and her dad being the white knight she knew him to be.
“Well”, smiled dad, “we talked. We must have started to talk about him, then about the school, then… well, I have no idea what we talked about at all – not just because it has been a few years because I couldn’t remember that night what we talked about. What I do remember is old Mr Trenchard coming out and telling us off – apparently we’d missed the crowing of the King and Queen of the prom, and your mother had won that, but because they couldn’t find her they awarded it to another couple. Guy was apparently really, really annoyed!”
“The point is, Cassie, that you never really know how things will work out – and quite often they rarely work out as you hope they will. Sometimes they do work out, but in a really weird and wonderful way. If Gary and Rebecca work out then great, if not, then hey, who knows. But don’t be afraid to go and look. Just enjoy yourself.”
The car pulled to a halt just outside the gym. Cassie looked at her father and gave him a huge hug. “Thanks dad” she said.
“Just have fun” he smiled. “I’ll be back around 11.”
Cassie walked into the hall. Although the lights were a little more dim than usual, the hall was lit and there were no corners that anyone could sneak off to. So Cassie could see the group in the corner and recognised them from the computer room. She walked over and listened into the conversation.
“So I don’t think there was a better Doctor Who than Ecclestone”
“Are you mad? Tennant was by far the better…”
Cassie chipped in “But surely if it hadn’t been for Rose, Tennant’s Doctor wouldn’t have been so rounded?”
The group turned and looked at her. First, it was a GIRL, second… well, second it was GIRL talking to THEM!
Barney, standing to one side, looked at her curiously. “Okay”, he said, “but surely Rose helped shaped Ecclestone’s character?”
The rest of the evening went by in a blur of conversation. When the main lights came up and the teachers started to shuffle people out of the hall, Cassie suddenly realised – the group was just Barney and her.
“Where are the others?” she asked.
“I guess they got bored” said Barney. “I reckon your dad’s outside – do you think I could get a lift?”
Cassie smiled. “I’m sure he will be pleased to take you. But don’t mention Star Wars – he’s more of a Star Trek person.”
“Brick Lane? You want the number 78 from here, but good luck trying to find it”
Yes, there is a Brick Lane in London… and you will need the 78 towards Shoreditch. It’s a little off the track from Aldgate, but it is the place to go for a decent curry – if you like that sort of thing. There’s also a lot of vintage shops in the area too…