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About the author:
A fan of Girls, Guinness, Rugby, Girls, Nightclubs and Dayclubs if there is such a thing, Luke Mallory’s modus operandi is to make the most out of life. If he can make a few others smile and laugh at the same time, then it’s all the better!
What inspired you to write your book?
Basically it’s a composite of my love life, and some of those who are closer to me. I reckon a lot of people have gone through something similar..!
Here is a short sample from the book:
My name is John Singleton – an unfortunate name if ever there was one, I admit. However, I have always done my best to defy my name and not be, well, single. I was a fresh-faced, fair-haired lad of just six years of age when I first told a girl that I loved her. I was the youngest of four brothers (still am, come to think of it) and I had overheard them declare their undying love for their girlfriends, so it felt correct that I should do the same. Unfortunately, no girls in the first grade agreed with this notion – especially not Emma Antonelli, who was the object of my affection. In a land of pasty-faced, freckle-faced children like me, she was a tanned senorita. A doll. An exotic import from Italy. The Ferrari of the first grade! The prettiest thing I had ever seen. One day, as we played chasing at lunchtime, I passed her a note on which was scribbled the immortal line:
‘I LOVE U’
Proud of my imperfect punctuation and with a beating heart, I watched Emma read it in the playground. Her dark eyes grew wide and my expectation swelled. But there was no trace of a smile. Just fear, disgust and then laughter as she showed it to her friends. Then my friends. And just about anyone else who was nearby. Perhaps she didn’t like my handwriting? Either way, the children pointed and laughed at me and, for a few minutes, it was a miserable time in my life. But I didn’t cry. I was too much of a big boy for that…though I did stomp away and kick a football very hard – something I didn’t know I could do so well. My hopes were dashed and for the next few years, I was destined to be girl-less.
‘I hate girls,’ all my guy friends complained in those early years. ‘They’re icky.’ To be one of the gang, I nodded my head in agreement. But secretly I thought the opposite. I love girls! Emma Antonelli, meanwhile, never spoke to me again. She grew up, became a model and, if nothing else, confirmed my good taste. Rejected, I concentrated on other things that kids do and continued kicking footballs as hard as possible. I played the piano, too, and by ten, I was mastering some fancy pieces by Mozart, Chopin, Satie and the rest of them. When my piano teacher wasn’t listening, I loved banging out Beetles classics.
I, John Singleton of London, England, kissed a girl when I was twelve years old. In fact, I quickly made a habit of it. Her name was Catherine and she lived a block north of me. Each morning, I used to see her walking past my house to school. Not my school – by then, I was in an all-boys institution. Lucky me. Catherine was tall and skinny. Always wore a red cardigan over a white blouse, I remember. Her black hair was tied in a ponytail – its colour matched her black skirt. Her pale skin matched her white leggings. I thought she was beautiful. She had such an erect and proud walk – it was most unlike anything I had ever seen. She was, I think, the first girl that I looked at beyond her face. There was a body, too!
One day in summer, I was cycling my bicycle near her house when someone suddenly shouted:
I turned to see Catherine standing there. Her brown eyes staring. Her hands covering her mouth – as if she couldn’t believe she had uttered my name. I hit the brakes and almost went over my handlebars. I had no idea that she knew my name. I hopped off the bicycle and, across the street, noticed two other girls running away. Laughing. Obviously Catherine’s friends.
Before the thought gained a foothold, Catherine grabbed my wrist and led both boy and bicycle down a quiet lane beside her home.
‘You’re the boy who plays the piano, aren’t you?’ she asked.
Dumbstruck, I merely nodded.
She smiled nervously and clutched the handlebars of my bike. ‘I always listen to you. Your mother leaves the window open and I can hear you play. You play ever so lovely.’
‘The Beetles…’ I said presumptuously.
‘No. The soft music…’
She looked up to the heavens in search of inspiration. ‘Yes, you play everything so nicely. Sometimes I sit on the street outside and just listen.’ She shrugged her shoulders as if to indicate her speech was done.
I nodded again. My eyes were wide. My mouth open. I probably looked petrified. In hindsight, she did too.
She searched the ground. ‘Would…you like to kiss me?’ she asked with a voice as fragile as crystal.
Given my shyness up until that moment, she probably didn’t expect me to lunge straight in and kiss her smack on the lips. But that’s exactly what I did. Both of us had our mouths firmly closed and out eyes firmly open. Staring point blank at each other.
I broke away and let my mouth fall open again – shocked by what had just taken place. So was she. Though no longer at point blank distance, we seemed to stand there staring at each other, digesting what had just taken place. But then something magical happened: Catherine smiled. And I smiled.
‘Do it again!’ she whispered.
I did it again. This time was no different from the first and I could see her eyes roll up to heaven again, deep in thought. She broke away.
‘In the movies, they always close their eyes,’ she explained, and then she let her eyelids fall – a Jennifer Connelly in the making. She looked like a princess, I remember thinking.
I closed my eyes, too, and I blindly moved in. It was then I became aware of her perfume. If the colour pink had a scent, this sweet perfume was surely it. I felt my lips touch hers. That kiss – our third – was the kiss that I measured all others against thereafter. It was soft, tender and lingering. It felt pure. It was indescribable.
That night, when I lay down to sleep, I was elated. In the morning, Catherine’s sweet perfume adorned my pillow. I hugged it and inhaled the scent – something I would do over and over again that day. Though my eyes were closed in thought, it felt like they had been truly opened for the first time…
Luckily, I got to practice my kissing technique with Catherine all that summer. When I told her I loved her, it was greeted with a huge smile, twinkling eyes, the tightest hug I had ever felt and a momentous, ‘I love you too!’ It was love in its most innocent state. For Catherine’s birthday, I learned a new piano piece: ‘Je Te Veux’ by Erik Satie. I was so proud to invite her to my house and sit her down on a lonely chair while I began to play the romantic waltz at our upright piano. As my fingers tickled the ivories, the joyous music filled the room and my heart. I was on cloud nine and I didn’t make a single mistake. As I hit the final happy note, I looked at Catherine and smiled.
‘Happy Birthday–’ I started to say, but I was cut short.
To my utter astonishment, Catherine broke down into floods of tears. Then she ran to me and wrapped her limbs around my neck and sobbed uncontrollably. She was shaking.
‘That’s the nicest thing anyone has…’ she managed to say before the tears flowed again.
She wouldn’t let go of me, even as I walked her home later that evening. As the sun began to set, I watched as she finally skipped away into her house, turning at the last moment.
‘I love you, John!’ she called out, her voice echoing about the street. With a final smile – a vision etched into my mind – the door closed.
Suddenly Catherine was gone. Not just for that evening but for ever. Her family moved away and until this day, I don’t know where they went. According to the neighbours, her father had rented their home and the lease had come to an end. There was no warning – just that emotional birthday. There were no letters exchanged and, as the years passed, I knew if I met her walking down the street, I probably wouldn’t even recognise her – something I’ve always regretted. It was such a sad feeling. Yet, Catherine, as she was then, would be in my thoughts for the rest of my life. I hoped I featured somewhere in hers.
The following September when I returned to school, I didn’t mention Catherine to any of my friends. The lads wouldn’t have appreciated Catherine’s twinkling eyes or pink perfume. Or Satie and ‘Je Te Veux,’ which, I would later find out, meant ‘I Want You.’ We were tough guys. Well, children, actually. But, whatever about it, I had attained a new confidence which I would take into all arenas. Suddenly I was a great soccer player. Suddenly I was a singer. A maths whiz. A budding scientist. My confidence knew no bounds and I wanted to try everything. Catherine had done that. But she was gone and, hiding away in my bedroom, I shed a few tears. I wasn’t so interested in the piano after that…