Don't You Forget About Me

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An athlete, a princess, a brain, a criminal, a basket case…

Cara Dunham is definitely one of them. But stuck in her small hometown, with no prospects of escape, she’s struggling to find her thing. Her life is more book club than Breakfast Club and there is no Judd Nelson in sight!

So when Cara is invited to a school reunion she knows this is her chance to channel her inner Molly Ringwald and grab her John Hughes moment, once and for all. Because her teenage love, Daniel Rose will be there, the coolest boy at school and the one that got away.

But transforming into an 80’s icon isn’t easy and Cara enlists the help of her oldest friend, Stubbs, to teach her all she needs to know about being cool and quirky – a la Ringwald.

Except Stubbs thinks she’s perfect, just as she is and takes it upon himself to show Cara that her life might not be ‘movie perfect’, but there is always another take to get things right. And maybe the hero she’s dreamed of has been under her nose the whole time…

From the author of the hilarious Five Go Glamping comes your perfect summer read


Chapter One

 

Saturday 14 May 2016[HN1] 

8.47 a.m.[HN2] 

The Battered
Sausage Revelation

I assumed it was going to be another humdrum day in the shop,
so you can’t imagine how thrilling it was for me for to find the battered
sausage in the video rentals returns box.

I hoped we’d at least have one or two customers, something to
keep me occupied and interrupt the troubling, monotonous thoughts in my head
such as “What am I doing with my life?” and “How the hell did I end up back
here?” and “Is it still okay to fancy Tom Cruise?”

I still checked the returns box every day even though it had
been weeks since anyone had borrowed anything. No one [HN3] really
borrowed films any
more
[HN4] ,
but sometimes there would be returned DVDs, which someone had borrowed months
ago. Occasionally letters were delivered there by mistake or there was the odd
bit of litter, but this was the first and only time I had found a battered
sausage. It had been delivered in a polystyrene carton and fully wrapped in
paper. I peeled back the layers and there it sat, sprinkled with salt over the
now greying batter. It was a bit like opening a present and I could barely
contain my excitement.

Olivia blew in from the street, pushing the door open with her
backside while she wrestled with her umbrella.

“Look at this, Liv, a battered sausage. Fully wrapped. Jumbo
sized. Isn’t it brilliant?” I said.

Liv inspected the tray. “Euw. You’re not going to eat it, are
you? How gross.” She recoiled, her blond curls still bouncing even when she
stopped. She frowned and her eyes narrowed so much and for so long that I
wondered if her mascara had stuck together.

“No, I’m not going to eat it. It was in the returns bin. Where
do you think it came from?” I said.

“Erm…the chip shop? Maybe?”

I nodded. “Well, yeah, obviously, I know that, but who would
have posted it through the door?” I was sad that Liv wasn’t as excited as me.

Olivia shrugged, shook her brolly and headed to the kitchen
leaving me alone to ponder the mystery with the cast of The Breakfast Club.

“Any thoughts on this one?” I said, addressing the giant
cardboard promotional cut-out. I showed the battered sausage to Molly Ringwald.

“Stop talking to the Breakfast Club,” shouted Liv, over the
boiling kettle.

“I’m not,” I mumbled, turning away from the cardboard cut-out,
which had seen better days. I took the mystery fast food package to the bin on
the other side of the shop. I paused at the Cocktail
poster to see what Tom Cruise thought but before I could ask him, Liv was returning
from the kitchen with our coffees. “And don’t even think about talking to Tom
Cruise. We’ve talked about this.”

“Fine,” I said. Liv didn’t approve of me talking to the
promotional posters. But now that we didn’t have any customers at all I found
myself doing it more and more. This was the first week since I’d been back that
we’d had absolutely no customers whatsoever. The only thing that had kept the
shop going for as long as it had was no one seemed to pay any attention to our
little Worcestershire town.

Cable television arrived here ten years after everywhere else
so the shop had trundled along quite nicely. The only time anyone had ever
heard of Broad Hampton was when a newspaper revealed we had officially the
worst broadband in the country. The town wasn’t close enough to the city to be
a suburb and not far enough away to be considered rural and had been pretty
much overlooked by everyone for years. We kept the “worst broadband” label for
a good few years, which meant no one was able to stream films so the shop kept
its customers. But eventually, broadband arrived and the customers had been
dwindling ever since. We hadn’t even had anyone buy anything out of the fifty-pence
VHS bargain bucket recently, and as far as we could tell, no one had even
stolen anything.

At nine o’clock, I turned the sign on the door around to open,
and pulled the bargain basket outside onto the street. Looking around the Broad
Hampton High Street, which hardly seemed to have changed at all in the last ten
years or so, I again reminded myself this was only meant to be temporary.

“I think it’s okay to fancy him in Cocktail still, and maybe in Mission
Impossible
, but you can’t fancy him when he’s doing a red carpet or on Graham
Norton or whatever. What I mean is, you can’t fancy actual Tom Cruise, but you
can fancy the characters he plays,” said Liv when I came back in.

I nodded in agreement although I preferred Judd Nelson anyway. He
was more my more type.

I took a long look at Judd as Liv settled herself at the desk
with her laptop out, ready to stream whichever box set she was currently
addicted to from Netflix. Liv said it was the best thing she’d ever watched and
we should get the box set for the shop. I’d rolled my eyes at that and I could
tell by the look Judd was giving me that he thought the same.

After a little bit of dusting to clear a few cobwebs from Molly
Ringwald’s head and then tidying the already tidy covers and drinking more tea,
it was almost ten a.m. Right on cue Weird Roger with the greasy hair and the
shopping trolley showed up. He pushed open the front door of the shop and
shouted “Have you got Free Willy 2?”
like he did every day before making his hur hur hur sound. I was pretty sure he’d
been doing that every day since the film came out – or at least as long as I’d
been here, which apart from a gap of a few years where I attempted, and failed,
to do something interesting, was a very long time.

At eleven a.m. the phone rang and Liv answered and said, “No.
No such film.” She hung up. When I asked her what they wanted, she explained
someone had asked for “Shaw Hawk’s Red Temptation” and said if they couldn’t
even be bothered to find out what things were called, they didn’t deserve to
watch films in the first place.

Neither me nor Liv could understand why the owner continued to keep
the shop open. We thought it was because he had so many other small businesses
he had perhaps forgotten it was there. We also speculated that it was some kind
of “front”, but while he continued to pay our wages we decided it was best not
to mention it to him, and if he wasn’t concerned that the shop wasn’t making
any money, then neither should we be.

I slumped over the counter and pressed the side of my face
against the cool surface.

“I’m fed up, Liv. We’re going to have to get other jobs. This
can’t go on much longer.”

“I think we both will.” Liv shook her head.

“It is so boring in here. When I was in Cardiff—”

“Stop right there,” said Liv.

“What?” [HN5] I
lifted my head up from the counter.

“Is this another story about how when you worked at the hotel
in Cardiff and everything was brilliant and much better than here?”

“No,” I said.

“You sure?” she asked sternly.

“Well, maybe.” I sighed. Obviously things didn’t go that
spectacularly for me otherwise I wouldn’t have ended up back here, but I had
loved simply not being here, where no one knew me and I could start again.

“Anyway,” said Liv. “It’s cool working here.”

“No, Liv, it is most definitely not cool, not cool at all. It
might have been cool when I was a Saturday girl fifteen years ago; in fact, it
may very well be the coolest thing I have done, but it is not cool being thirty
and having a glorified Saturday job.”

I loved it here when I started. It was like working in Empire
Records but with films instead of music. There were ten staff and the shop was
busy all the time. It was the first place and the first time in my life I felt
I could be myself, instead of trying to stay under the radar like I did at
school. I loved it. The customers were excited to get the latest releases and I
got to talk about films all the time. There’s a joyous moment when you talk
about “that bit” in a particular film and the experience is shared, like you
and the other person are sharing in the magical movie moment. But now it was
about as glamorous as working in Open All
Hours
. It was depressing. How had all these years passed and I was still
here?

“I miss it, Liv, how it was. I miss how people loved films.”

“People still love films, Cara.”

“I miss talking about them. I miss talking about the little
moments of magic. The bits that make you go ‘ahh’ or the surprising bits, the
twists that no one saw coming and the happy endings that everyone did see
coming, but still loved them anyway.”

“People still talk about them. I’m talking about what I’m
watching now.” Liv turned her laptop round to show me she was two-screening
with her box set and Twitter.

“It’s not the same, Liv. When I first worked here people were
so excited to come and get the latest releases, it was like handing them little
parcels of magic.”

“You’ll have to look for another job, then.”

“Yeah,” I said. “I will. Again.”

I folded my arms. I hadn’t planned to stay in Boring Hampton as
long as this anyway. It was just a little breathing space while I gathered my
thoughts.

When I left here, I decided I would never come back and live in
this town, which no one noticed and where no one noticed me. My distinctly
average school grades meant I couldn’t go to university, so I took a job as an
assistant in events management at a hotel chain in Cardiff, but realised that I
was about as good at managing events as I was at managing myself.

I imagined I would be organising glitzy events like weddings
and proms where magical things would happen like at the end of a John Hughes
movie. I’d be creating little magical moments for others, moments so
spectacular, the guests would be astounded by it all. Instead I found myself organising
corporate events and product launches. It was all PowerPoint presentations in
beige boardrooms and ordering croissants for breakfast meetings whilst making sure
the urns of tea were hot.

When I did get an opportunity to plan a wedding or special
event, I was so stressed by wanting to create the perfect occasion that I
crumbled. The pressure got to me and I couldn’t stand being the centre of
attention with everyone looking to me to make decisions. When the hotel chain
was bought out, they brought in new staff, leaving me without a job at all.

“You could work in another video shop,” said Liv. It wasn’t
exactly my career plan of choice.

“I don’t think there are any, Liv.”

I could tell by the look Anthony Michael Hall was giving me
that I was right. He was The Brain after all.

Liv went back to her Netflix and the battered sausage was the
only truly memorable moment of the day.

We only had one customer and he wasn’t really a customer at all;
it was sneery Derek from the bookshop who made a visit now and again to show us
how clever he was.

“Ladies,” he said, doffing an imaginary cap. He really shouldn’t
have done that because it drew attention to his strange woman’s haircut. He
looked at the display of covers on show, pinched the brow of his nose, rubbed
his forehead and muttered the words “dumbing down” a lot.

Occasionally he would ask for some film no one had ever heard
of, but usually he just ranted about Hollywood and how it was making us all
stupid. He behaved like an old man even though he was only in his thirties. He
could have been good-looking if he wasn’t always pulling a face because popular
culture offended him so much. Everything seemed to make him so cross. Liv said
it was because he was so brainy and read so many books that there was no room
left in his head for fun. Most of the time, he was fine, I suppose, but a lot
of the time I wanted to throw a brick at his head. Like just then when he
picked up the cover of Dirty Dancing
and said, “Vacuous, my dear. It is all so…vacuous.”

“It’s better than Free
Willy
,” I muttered under my breath, which raised a giggle from Olivia.

“No wonder you have no customers with this dross,” he said as
he left. He flicked his university scarf over his shoulder. I could tell Molly
Ringwald did not like Derek at all. I didn’t go into his dusty old shop telling
him all his books were boring.

Liv folded her arms and scowled at him as he left. “What was he
on about this time?”

“Dumbing down,” I said.

“Again? You’d think he’d give it a rest.” Liv launched into an
impression of him and started doing a funny voice, repeating all the things he
normally said.

“Liv,” I said. “Do you reckon Derek
put the battered sausage in the returns box?”

“Why would he do that?” she said.

“Because he’s a weirdo?”

“Yeah, maybe. I wonder if we’ll get
another one tomorrow?”

“That would be exciting,” I said and
I meant it.

Just before home time, the pirate DVD
lady stuck her head round the door, shouting, “Blu-ray, new release.”

“We’re fine, thanks,” I said, waving
her away.

“You sure? All the latest films?” She
grinned and shook her carrier bag at us.

“Quite sure,” I said and she left.

I
picked up three John Hughes films and I called my friend Verity to say I was
too knackered to go for a drink in the social club with her. I rang up my film
rentals in the till and paid for them, so it looked at least like we’d had one
paying customer that day, and then I had a revelation. The battered sausage had
been the only interesting thing that had happened in the shop in months. It was
certainly the most exciting thing that had happened in my life that day –
possibly all week – and if this was the most exciting thing that had happened
in my life all week, I was going to have to do something about it. I’d had a
battered sausage revelation.


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Liz Tipping

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