Just reading over the first two lines of this installment, I've realised that there's a bit of Penelope Cruz' Maria Elena in Ellen! (Although I could just be saying that because I'm in the middle of writing something about VCB.) But seriously, both are nutters in love!
“It’s the friends you call up at 4.a.m that matter.” – Marlene Dietrich
“So, you tried to strangle him?” Rosa asks after we’ve found two seats together on the train.
“Yeah… I’m not a very stable person.”
“Well, I know that, but still!” She seems to find it heavily amusing. Now that the moment’s passed I can see how it could seem funny – attempting to kill someone for making a seemingly harmless joke. It’s hilarious.
And also kind of upsetting. Because, you know, today went quite well. Apart from the correcting vocabulary thing, I’d gotten on pretty well with Robbie, and was just about starting to admit to myself of his virtues, and then he joked that I hadn’t done anything. I should have just let it go. I really should have. It was a joke.
“Enough about that then,” I say hastily. “Let’s talk about you. And your film.”
“Oh yeah,” Rosa dismisses, “We’re getting into the final 5. Dewey came up to us and said.”
“What?!” That’s so rude! They said they wouldn’t be making decisions until tonight. If Rosa’s group have one of the slots, that only leaves 4 others left for our script to make.
“Yeah, because we finished early, and he said our pictures were well-drawn-”
“Did he even read the script?” I interrupt, abruptly forgetting about Robbie for the moment.
“No, I don’t think so,” she says cautiously. “Why?”
I may as well tell her. “Our script’s like 12 pages. Our pictures are just plain crap.” (This is actually a lie – James has a cute stick person style and Robbie draws with commendable detail, but it pays to have the enemy think you’re in the deep end) “I was kind of relying on the length of our script to make the impression.”
“It will,” Rosa says, “I mean, 12 pages! They’d feel guilty if they didn’t give the prize to the group that slaved for 12 pages!”
“That’s pretty much what Robbie said,” I admit. Oops, cardinal sin committed – mentioning potential crush in front of Rosa, love doctor to everyone but herself.
“Robbie!” she squeals. “Ellen! You lurve him!”
Oh please no. This is on a train. This is just embarrassing. Please, no. “Rosa,” I hiss. “I will attack you too, if I really have to.”
She smiles, unperturbed. “You two today!” I saw you talking to him, and he was listening as if, I dunno, as if you were saying the most important stuff in the world.”
Wait. Really? Was Robbie paying extra attention to me today? I certainly hope so, but I didn’t notice anything. “If he did, which he didn’t, it’s because he wants to win this competition as much as I do.”
“Look! Another thing you have in common!” she chirps. I bit my lower lip with disbelief; her performance would actually be hilarious if it didn't involve me.
“Can we, like, talk about something else?” The only thing that interests Rosa more than the me/Robbie thing, “I cannot believe Julian used the L-word.”
“I know!” she squeals, but this time the squeals are significantly more put on. “It’s so cute-”
“Rosa,” I say, “You don’t have to pretend around me.”
“What?” she demands, looking as if she doesn’t have a clue. So, so, cut out for GCSE Drama. Finally she just gives in. “Yes, okay, the answer to your question is yes, I was jealous when I heard, I was jealous as hell. I was stupid to think he’d ever pick me over Clare. I mean, look at her-”
Is Rosa trying to fish for compliments about her looks? “You’re really pretty!” I say earnestly. This is very unlike me, at school, I don’t remember a single compliment I paid my friends during the whole school year. And at this film school I was dishing them out to people like the Oscars dish out them out to shitty films like Lost in Translation – a couple for Rosa, a few to Clare, a few less to Robbie…
“I’m not,” she says miserably. “I hate my nose.” She turns to me. “You’ve got a really good nose. And teeth-”
Woah, talk about ironic. I have never had any part of my complimented in my entire life. And Rosa’s laying them on by the dozen! Though I mustn’t get too flattered, she is currently depressed.
“Look,” I say firmly, “I think that, yes, Julian does probably like Clare more than any girl at Film School. But I don’t think he loves her. Nor do I think that I likes you less than her because he feels you’re less pretty.”
“Why then?” she asks.
“Well… no offence, but you’ve got to admit, you’re always kind of hyper around him, and that could sort of put him off. I don’t know. You should try and be yourself more.”
Rosa ponders over this for the remaining 2 minutes I stay on the train and as I wave goodbye walking home, I wonder how much of a hypocrite I was by giving that piece of advice. Was I myself when I told Robbie my music taste? Well, I’d say very, considering how I didn’t hold back, causing him to brand me a Gweb Stefani fan. And same with films. Which is odd, as I am definitely the most pretentious person I’ve ever met in my entire life. But what about when I attack him? Is that me? Is that the monster inside me? Eh. Questions too deep…
“I always like to know everything about my new friends, and notihng about the old ones” – Oscar Wilde
“Who wants the last Aqua Drop?”
“Me!” Rosa sticks out her hand.
I hover it above her hand, then pop it in my mouth. “Serves you right for abandoning me,” I say, giggling.
“I couldn’t leave Clare!”
“So you left me instead?” I say, acting wounded.
“Hello? I’m a person!” Ellen says, from beside me, placing a cough sweet in her mouth.
“Oh sorry,” I smile winningly and pass my yellow box to her. “You can use this for your new guitar pick box.”
Yesterday on MSN, she had told me that her “Bunging brother” had “stuck his fat bung of a hand in her bunging box and broken it.” And then, apparently, she’d cried about it, and has a sore throat and cold as a result of crying(?) “No need for tears now.”
Ellen seems completely speechless.
“Wow, Ellen, this must be the longest you’ve gone without talking!” Helen calls to her, smirking. Ellen ignores her.
“Thank you so much!” she says, giving me a hug. I’m starting to feel humble, it was just a leftover sweet box, after all. “Yellow!” she exclaims. “That’s an even nicer colour than green!”
“Hey!” Rosa says. “I gave you the green box.”
“And my brother enjoys it very much,” she says, sticking her tongue out. “Though I’m surprised he eaten it yet, the fat pig.”
“Ellen!” we all scold simultaneously. She manages a group wallop as the lights go out and the film begins.
The film we’d just watched was called Dirty Pretty Things. It was very emotional and strong, and dealt with some quite grown up material. During the surgery scenes Clare and Rosa had hugged each other and averted their eyes, and most of the girls had turned away during that violent and downright draining sex scene, whilst, surprise, surprise, the boys had their eyes glued to the screen.
During which, one of the irritating boys behind us (one of them had said that Scar from The Lion King was the ultimate femme fatale, such wit) had laughed and said loudly, shouting, “He popped her cherry! He popped her cherry!” and Ellen, in a fit of indignation, threw her yellow guitar pick box at him. After that she had to go back there and get it back.
None of us were properly paying attention during the discussion, because we all knew that straight after, the five groups that wrote the best scripts would get picked. And though were all saying, “I’m not gonna get it, you deserve to win” to each other, this really was looking after number one. Everybody wants to be winner.
"We are advertised by our loving friends" – William Shakespeare
“Do you think it would have mattered if he had murdered his wife?” Ian asks us, despite the fact that most people tend to fall asleep during the discussions.
I look at Julian to see what he thinks. He just shrugs. Bradley’s no use; he’s actually snoring on my shoulder. I suppose it doesn’t really matter, as in the film, we saw everything he went through, and we connected and felt for him, so he almost made up for it all, but I didn’t want to say this; my sentences are usually much more sophisticatedly phrased.
“I don’t think it does, because throughout the film, you see his journey, and the bunging sacrifices he’s made, all his trials and tribulations, et al, and I would say he’s completely redeemed his shady past. I don’t think it matters at all.”
Guess who said that.
Ian and Suraj are currently showering Ellen with accolades on her “profound understanding of the film,” but I could easily have said that. I mean, she just said what I was thinking, except dressed up a bit.
I risk a look at her smug face, but she’s not looking in my direction, instead looking down at some yellow box in her hand. God. Her and her boxes.
There are a few more questions, all of which I try to think up intelligent answers to, but between Ellen and this other girl, no-one can actually get a word in edgeways. Ellen’s comments are affected, said with a sort throat, but heartfelt, and the other girl, Christ, she can ramble on about crap.
“Christ, she can ramble on about crap,” Julian mutters in my ear. I smirk, and turn around to get a view of this motivational speaker.
She’s sitting directly in front of Ellen, and next to Julian’s future girlfriend. “Do you know her?” I ask.
“Yeah,” he says, not turning around. “Yeah, she fancies me.”
“So modest!” I complain, giving him a shove.
“Robbie, just watch the way she acts around me.”
“But still-” I turn around to get another look at her, but this time Ellen catches my eye. She raises an eyebrow in confusion, which merges into one of her notorious pleased eye-rolls. Oh God. She thinks I was looking at her. No! I wasn't!
Hastily, I turn around and sit back in my seat. “She thinks I’m watching her.”
“Nah… Ellen saw me looking in their direction and I think she thinks I was checking her out.”
“Which you weren’t doing, of course?” There’s something in Julian’s tone which makes me want to get up and punch him (though we all know who’d win that fight.)
I turn to him, staring. “What?”
But I don’t have time to get a lesson in self-deprecation, because Suraj shushes us all to announce the final 5.
“Now, the five which have made it will have to each give a presentation, talking about character archetypes, the hero’s journey, subversive elements, genre and narrative. Is that clear?”
He’s met with a groan and one idiot shouting out, “What’s subversive?”
That is just infuriating. We had a talk about this just yesterday after Ma Vie en Rose, and they’ve forgotten already? Some people just don’t deserve to be awarded with cinema. Luckily, Ellen feels the same way, because I hear a throaty voice shout, “Pay attention at talks, cretin!” and everyone laughs at the brainless bastard, who, let’s faced it, deserved that.
“Anyway,” Suraj continues, “For all of those who do know the terms I’ve just used, I’d like to see a presentation. The best team picked will be greatly affected by the presentations.” He retreats off the centre and Dewey walks in, holding a stack of paper.
“Robbie Bale’s group,” he says, squinting at the script. Christ, my name’s not that difficult.
There’s a loud gasp from behind me and everyone starts laughing again. My, my, Ellen does have a penchant for humouring the audience, doesn’t she? Anyway, I don’t see why it was such a surprise, my pictures weren’t that bad. And obviously the script was OK too. I suppose.
“People like that snoreathon Lost in Translation because all the famous film magazines do.” - A film critic/mathematician/teenage brat
I pull the plastic wallet out of Robbie’s hand. “Thanks.”
The first thing I notice about the script is that it’s typed out like those film scripts: like this. It feels like an authentic film script, except for at the top of the page, where there’s a header with four people’s names on.
“Why did the bitch put James’ name first and hers last if she wants credit for writing it?” I ask.
“I think it’s alphabetical by last name,” Robbie says, shrugging.
“But if only she wrote it, why does it have all your names on it?” It doesn’t match her character.
“I think… I dunno…” Robbie trails off when the very person we were discussing approaches us.
“Who said you could read it?” she says to me, giving me the once over with cold condescension.
I look at Robbie. He was exactly right about her.
Snatching the papers from my hand, she turns to Robbie and says, “Thank you,” and walks off.
“What. A. Bitch,” I say.
Robbie gives me a slight shove. “She’s not that bad… she’s just a bit misunderstood.”
“I thought you hated her?”
“I do, but she can do all of the rapping in Feel Good inc.”
“And that makes her a better person?”
Robbie shrugs and walks off, leaving me to feel damn annoyed that the person I was criticising, just for Robbie’s sake has gone and won his favour. What a waste of time.
“Life is unfair” – rule of life
After getting our sandwiches, James took a copy of the script and starting reading it out loud. Ellen kept going, “Ugh, don’t, it’s so bad,” but it would have been slightly more believable if she wasn’t grinning proudly while saying that.
I was glad that we’d got into the final 5, sort of. It meant having to bear some irritating people at full strength. And that was often a fate worse than losing, but the extra time with Robbie somewhat sweetened the deal.
After I wolfed down my breakfast I tapped on the Annoying One’s back. “We have to prepare the presentation now.”
She forces a smile and forces a piece of paper in my hand. “I think you’ll find that’s all in order.”
I don’t bother staring down at it. “It’s good,” I comment. “Anyway, we should probably ask what Robbie thinks.” I wait, then add, “But I really don’t want to.”
“Me neither.” No looking up.
“So mean!” I say instinctively.
This gets her making eye contact. “Helen! You’re the Bunging one who said you didn’t want to in the first place!”
“Well no-one’ll go now anyway, now that you’ve said you don’t want to.”
“But you said you didn’t want to in the first place! Damn!” She looks me up and down, furious, and then sighs. “Whatever. I’ll show him. Happy?”
“All this arguing over Robbie!” Clare jokes.
“He’s a bastard, okay?” Ellen asserts, “Okay?”
“I didn’t say he wasn’t.”
“Good. Good. Because I’ll have you know, he bitched about me.” We all exchange hushed smirked, who can honestly be surprised?
“You know that weird kid who plays the trumpet and follows Robbie and Julian around like a lost puppy? Yesterday, he told Stephanie that he was looking for me, and guess what he referred to me as?”
“A bitch?” Clare guesses.
“No, a Chinese brat that didn’t know when to stop talking. I mean, I think Robbie’s been making his opinions quite well heard.”
“Yeah, but why is it such a big deal? You say much ruder stuff about him,” Clare says, making a good point.
“Yes, but.” And, realising that she didn’t have anything more to say (finally), she turns on her heels and walks into the garden.
She comes back twenty minutes later muttering "Robbie is a bunging wanker" under her breath. So that went well.
“The boss doesn’t have to give you a reason. That’s one of the wonderful things about being the boss” – The Shop Around the Corner
“I’m just gonna go to the toilet,” Katie sez 2 me and John, + dizapeeeeers offfff, leafing a gap in the wow of sits between John and me.?.
“Can the groups presenting come and sit at the front now? With your groups.” Dewey sez.
i luk @ John. “u preseng?” He nids. “Ohri, we mei as whll stei ere we r.”
And dat was dat we dould ave done if that posh bitc dat shouting during the discussion Dirty Pretty Things today hadn’t come along. In an instance, she had sat down in Katie’s space.
“Someone’s sitting there,” I tell her, trying to be civil. She gives me the evils.
“Is she doing a presentation?” she asks in a stuck-up voice.
“I… don’t know…”
“Well then.” With that, she takes a book out of her bag and starts reading it. I sigh, but there’s nothing I can do.
Al uf a su’den a sho boy app4hes her. “er sll I sit?” he sez, lookin from John to me and back again. She joins in, eyeing the pair of us, sizing us out. I fn da wul rude.
Finally, she clicks her fingers at John. “Get up.”
He gives her evils for the rudeness. “I’m not letting anyone order me about. I’m sitting here.”
“You’re not any more, are you? Get up or I’ll make you get up.”
John sits there for a while, looking pissed off. Then he gets up. “Didn’t like sitting next to that bitch anyway,” he mutters to me as he storms off. I’m left alone, watching her and James. What else are they gonna do?
“How much of a plebeian can you get” she aks.
“As much as that,” the surt 1 sez/ I now she s bitch abot me & jo
I thought that was the end of it, but a minute later another boy came along. He is taller the one sitting next to her now, and I can see that he’s got his eye on my seat.
“Can I have your seat?” he says.
I point to the seat on the other side of the short boy. “That one’s empty.”
“No, but I want to sit here.”
“Look, piss off!”
He leans towards me. It’s only because he’s standing and I’m sitting, but he looks really frightening. I get up, but also give him really bad evils. Then I storm off and try to find the rest of my group. And that was how we lost our seats to some really rude people. Dey woz wel rude
“Home. When I’m with you, I feel at home.” – Garden State
I was quite proud that we had fought off those philistines. The memory of the look on that boy’s face when I had used the word “pleb” and the fact that this was meant to be a course for Gifted and Talented students brought me great amusement. I chuckled quietly.
“What?” Robbie demands, facing me with a rather frightening look of sincerity on his face.
“Just… how we kicked those idiot’s arses… it was damn funny.”
Robbie’s expression loosens. “Yeah. That was a good 3 seconds,” he grins.
Hang on. Did I just see him smile? I mean, properly, grin?! I think so. I return the sentiment.
“What’re you reading?”
I show him. Mystic River. Films.
“How can you read right now?”
I shrug. “Loosens my nerves, I guess.”
Robbie lets out a hollow laugh. “Ellen, we’re giving a presentation, not, negotiating for world peace or something.” Must he always be mocking me! Huh? I do have Bunging feelings!
“Always with the vilification,” I mutter.
“What?” Robbie asks in that scary angry voice.
I could just let it go and say “nothing,” but today is the last day and if I don’t smooth out the edges with him, I know I never will. “You just seem to enjoy making me feel bad, because you’re quite good at it,” I say, in a small voice.
“Hang on, Ellen, if I’ve ever done anything harsh to you it was because you did something to me first. You’re always questioning me, poking fun at me, and when I do it-”
That’s not untrue, but what about with Julian in the queue yesterday? I hadn’t provoked him then. I’d just been admiring his sublime Animé shaped nose. And out of nowhere, he ganged up on me!
I don’t say this, though, instead I slump in my seat and finger the raised cover of Mystic River.
“… Unless I have?” Robbie says, watching my expressions carefully.
“Well. What about yesterday? You took the piss out of me, and it was totally uncalled for.”
“Ellen, I told you, that was a joke! I actually meant it as a compliment, in a tortuous way, it was my way of saying thank you for writing the script.”
“Not then. Before we went into watch Ma Vie, when Julian was having a go at me for not waiting for Clare, and you joined in.” I quickly stare into my lap; it all seems so petty now, Robbie probably doesn’t even remember it.
“I wasn’t being mean to you.”
“Yes you were. You were taking the piss.”
“I was taking the piss out of Julian.”
I stare at him in utter disbelief. “What?!”
“It was him I was taking the piss out of, I thought you’d be able to see that.’
“Um.” I most certainly hadn’t. As usual, I had jumped to conclusions, but unusually, this time my conclusions were wrong. “I didn’t.”
“Yeah, I could tell from the tone of voice that you called me a twat in,” Robbie says, looking resentful.
“I’m - ” I’m about to say sorry, but then I remember of the other thing. “And you’ve been bitching about me,” I whine. “Bradley even bitches about me. No doubt he got that from you.”
“What’s he been saying?” Robbie asks, grinning sadistically. I glare at him.
“And, what was that at lunch? I came to show you the presentation, and you bloody ignored me! How do you think that made me feel?” But Robbie doesn’t even look like he’s listening.
“You told Julian to punch me.”
“You Bunging make really hurtfully facetious comments, just to irk.”
“I think we get it. I’ve upset you, you’ve attacked me, we’re even. Okay?” Robbie disregards what I have to say with such aloofness that I could attack him again.
“No! Listen to me – I want respect!” I must admit, this isn’t me at my most flattering.
“Respect has to be earnt, Ellen. And you can’t earn respect by bitching all the time and throwing your weight around a bit when you don’t get what you want.”
Talk about ruthless. That hurt, that hurt a damn lot. It hurts enough for me to shut up for all of 30 seconds, my head bent into my lap, fiddling with my plectrums out of their yellow box.
“I thought that box was green yesterday?” Robbie says, his voice much milder than usual.
“Yeah,” I say shortly, “It was.”
“Why did you change it, then?”
It is then that I realise Robbie has always been misunderstood. When he was taking the Ma out of his friend, I thought he was trying to hurt my feelings. And now, I’d thought he was actually interested in the colour. But I’m sure he made those last two comments for two reasons – his idea of an apology, and to show that he pays me attention, which shows that well, maybe, my like for him may be requited. Perhaps. I wouldn’t be too upset if it weren’t true.
“Robbie, plectrum cases are not my idea of a titillating topic of conversation. If you want to apologise, I’d think you much more of a man if you just came out with it.”
“Are you going to say sorry for the shit you’ve done to me?” he returns, frowning.
“I haven’t done any shit to you,” I lie primly.
“Well, me neither.”
I refuse to accept defeat and turn to face him. But before I can come up with a remotely caustic comment, he says dreamily, “Have you ever thought of how Gorillaz promote Lolitas and that?”
“They do not,” I defend, glaring.
“But they do. I mean Noodle is like what, 10? And she’s doing 2D, who’s like, in his twenties.”
“Look it up on the internet if you don’t believe me,” Robbie dares.
I roll my eyes. “Look, I give in, okay? You win, you win.” It could very well be true actually, for Gorillaz aren’t exactly the refinement epitomized. “But I do object to you refer to what they get up to as doing.”
“Oh, there are many other synonyms for that rather interesting verb,” Robbie says, eyes flashing in a frighteningly bawdy manner. Boys who talk dirty are just not an aphrodisiac. I shudder.
“Can we please talk about films now?”
Robbie gasps in mock shock. “Ellen… wants to talk to me?” he asks, milking every second.
“I just thought a fellow Shawshank fan would want to discuss cinema with someone who knows their stuff,” I assert, regretting it by the second.
“Fine. That’s fine.” He stops to think. “Well, I also like films like… hmm… well… I do like Star Wars, but I know you don’t.”
“How do you know that?” I demand. I don’t remember telling him this.
“I remember on the first day, there was this kid with a really posh voice who kept using that voice during Star Wars. And they sat in front of me,” Robbie says, smiling slightly.
“I do have a posh voice, thank you!” I grin.
“That wasn’t a compliment.”
“That’s okay, I’ll take it as one. Oh, and you have a posh voice too, it’s like your best quality.” I mutter, “It’s like your only good quality,” but loud enough for him to hear and grind his teeth in a cute manner in indignation.
“So rude.” I just shrug, so he asks, “Apart from watching Shaw, listening to Gorillaz, playing the violin and using your posh voice, is there anything else you like to do?”
“You might wanna play more carefully around the jokes,” I warn. “Remember your neck.” Robbie quickly feels his neck for injuries. “But in answer to your question, I also enjoy reading, writing, shopping, SuDo-Ku, watching The Simpsons and bitching about people, most of all, Bung , Shed, Scarlett Johansson, and oh, er, you.”
“So rude,” Robbie repeats, smiling for the umpteenth time now. He must like me.
“What about you?”
“I like Art. Erm… you know Dali? Monet?” I nod. “That sort of stuff.”
“So, what, do you go to Art galleries and stuff?” I ask, not entirely taken aback by his cultivation.
“I do indeed.”
“That’s very good.”
“I know.” He frowns, as if trying to think of something to say. “Who is this Bung that you so oft reference? Did you dump him, or were you the one that was chucked?”
After laughing for about 10 minutes, I sit back up to inform him of the facts. “Bung is a girl,” I explain, “She’s in year 12 at my school. She’s pisses me off.”
“Why, did she disrespect you?” he smirks.
“No, she got the highest Maths GCSE in the whole of England. And everyone keeps bringing that up, as if they expect me to match it. And I know I fucking won’t.”
I expected Robbie to say “so?” but his eyes meet mine in a world of judgement. “Ah,” he says, “Fair enough.”
It’s the closest, I realise, to anyone understanding me. Ever.