Saturday, May 30, 2009

Kissed by a Rose by Marc Nobbs

Adam’s lectures began two days later. He sat at the back of a small lecture theatre, empty seats on either side of him, and readied his note pad.

“Anyone sitting here?” A striking dark haired girl gestured towards the seat on Adam’s right.

He shook his head. “No. No one.”

“Do you mind?”

“Not at all.”

She sat on Adam’s left. “Thanks. I’m sorry for being so forward, but I don’t know anyone here and you look sort of friendly. I’m Kim. Kim Gaiman”

She offered her hand, which Adam shook. “Adam Smith. Nice to meet you.”


They watched the room slowly fill as the top of the hour approached. Adam guessed that there were between sixty and seventy students in the room. He knew they would all be taking variations of the English Literature degree. Some, like him, would be adding The Classics, others would choose American or European Literature. The lecturer arrived right on time. She put a big black briefcase on the desk at the front of the room, took out some papers and stood in front of them, ready to begin.

“Good morning. I’m Dr. Hilary Banks. Welcome to the English depar—”

There was a knock on the door and someone pushed it open. Dr Banks turned to look. A whispered murmur swept around the room as the person entered.

“I… Erm… I’m sorry,” said the newcomer. She looked terrified. “I… I couldn’t find the room.”

“That’s understandable. I got lost on my first day too,” Dr. Banks replied with a kindly smile. “It’s Miss Goodman, isn’t it?”

She nodded. “Chloe.”

“Okay, Chloe. Well, if you’d like to take a seat, I was just about to start.”

Chloe sat on the end of the front row and quickly took pens and a notepad out of her bag.

“How tragic for Little Miss Movie Star,” Kim whispered to Adam. “I’ll bet she didn’t get lost. I bet the chauffeur got stuck in traffic. Either that or she wanted to make a grand entrance. ‘Go around the block again will you, James!’” Kim laughed at her own joke and, although he didn’t find it particularly funny, Adam smiled and chuckled politely.

Dr. Banks walked up the stairs at the side of the theatre and handed out bundles of papers to the person sitting on the end of each row, instructing them to pass the papers along until everyone had a bundle. “Right then, let’s get started,” said Dr. Banks, when she had returned to the lectern. “In your bundles you will find a timetable of lectures and seminars for this year’s modules. Obviously, your first task following this lecture will be to draw up an individual timetable based on the modules you have chosen. You’ll also find a reading list for each module. You should already have had this and hopefully have already purchased most of the books you’ll need. If you haven’t then there is an excellent second hand bookshop on campus that is usually well stocked. You can get them there.”

Kim leaned towards Adam and whispered, “Like Miss Movie Star will need second hand books. She’s probably got hold of mint condition first editions of each one.”

Dr. Banks was still talking. “There is also a list of seminar and tutorial groups. Seminar groups are usually six or eight students and never more than ten. Tutorials are three or four and never more than five. While seminars are timetabled, compulsory and linked to a module, tutorials are not timetabled or module linked. However, they are still compulsory. You’ll need to co-ordinate with the others in your tutor group and your tutor to set a time for your meetings.”

Adam flipped through the bundle of papers to see which group he was in. “Hey,” Kim said, “we’re in the same tutorial group. Cool, huh? I’ll know someone. Oh, Miss Movie Star is in our group too. Damn!”

Adam grunted. He was staring with disbelief at the paper. There was his name, in black and white, right below Chloe Goodman’s. Dr Banks continued with her lecture, talking about the structure of the course. At the end, she indicated that all those students she would be tutoring should wait behind. When the rest of the students had left the room, she called her charges to the front. “I’ve got six tutor groups this year, which is quite a workload on top of everything else, so I’d like to meet every other week if that’s okay with everyone.” She looked around the room but there were on objections. “Good. This way I can see three groups per week, which should make things easier to fit in. Let’s see when I’m free...”

Neither Adam, Chloe nor Kim indicated a preference for the three time slots that Dr. Banks offered and ended up with a session on Friday morning. Their first meeting would be in three weeks. Dr. Banks asked Chloe to wait behind for a chat while the remaining students trooped out of the room.

“I wonder what that’s about,” Adam asked.

“Banks is probably giving her a telling off for turning up late. You know the sort of thing—just ‘cause you’re famous it doesn’t mean you can flout the rules.”

“I guess so.”

“Say, do you want to go get something to eat?” she asked. “I’m starved. We could go to the canteen in the Student’s Union.”

Over lunch, Adam agreed to meet up with Kim and her flatmates for drinks that afternoon. His flatmates agreed to go along too when he suggested it. They met up in the Student’s Union bar, which was much quieter than the first time Adam had visited.

“Oh, thank God!” said Kim.

“What’s up?” asked Eddie.

“Little Miss Movie Star isn’t here.”

“You mean Goodman?”

“Yeah. I can’t stand her. Attention grabbing little slut. Did Adam tell you that we’ve have been landed with her in our tutor group?”

Eddie looked at Adam with shock. “Jesus! You’re tutoring with Goodman. You never said.”

“Haven’t had a chance, have I? I only found out today. Besides, it’s not really a big deal. Is it?”

“Yes!” said Eddie and Cassie together.

“Oh, come on. I know she’s a decent actress and stuff, but it’s not like she’s anyone really important.”

“Decent actress?” said Kim. “Are you serious? Have you seen Don’t Say Goodbye?”

“That’s not very fair,” said Cassie. “I know it was a terrible film, but I thought she did really well given the script she had to work with. Anyway, she proved what she could do in To Eternity and Back. I think she’s brilliant. I’d love to meet her—Adam, are you going to invite her over the flat for coffee sometime?”

“Not if you’re going to fawn over her, no.”

“I promise not to.”


“I wouldn’t bother,” said Kim. “She won’t go.”

“I still don’t know what she’s doing at university. I mean, she must be taking time off from making movies and that’s got be costing her a fortune,” said Eddie.

“I suppose you get to a point where you have so much money that making more of it becomes less important,” said Adam.

“I have a theory,” said Kim. “I think I know why she’s here.”

“Come then,” said Eddie. “Spill.”

“Well, she’s a method actor, isn’t she?” Kim looked around the table as if that explained everything.

“Yeah, and…?” said Eddie.

“It’s what they do, isn’t it? They go and experience what it’s like to be the character they are going to play so that they can empathise and emote. She’s probably landed a role as a student in some shitty film and needs to pretend to be a real student for a while so that she can play it.”

“Don’t be silly,” said Cassie, “Actors don’t do things like that.”

“Method actors do. You know Sam Bradwell, the American? Well, apparently, when he had to play a chef, he went to work in a professional kitchen for a fortnight to see what it was like. And when Michelle Adams made Escape from Ghetto High, she went to work at an inner-city school in New York first.”

“That’s bullshit. All the kids would have recognised her,” said Eddie.

“No, they didn’t. She went in disguise. The movie people made her a prosthetic mask and stuff.”

“There is another theory,” said Adam.

“And what’s that?” said Cassie.

“She’s on my course, yeah? English Lit and the Classics. My theory is that she came across the Classics through her acting, fell in love with them and actually wants to study them.”

“Nah,” said Eddie, “Nobody in their right mind would want to study that crap. I prefer Kim’s theory.”

“That’s because it’s right,” said Kim. “I’ll bet it’s what Goodman is doing. In fact, I’ll bet any money that within a couple of weeks she’ll have found herself a nice, normal boyfriend. Then she’ll boff him for a couple of months and dump him just before she’s due to start making the movie.”

“Well, if she’s only after a good humping, I hope she picks me,” said Eddie. “That’ll be something to tell the grandkids, that will.”

“I can see it now,” said Adam. “You’ll be sitting in your rocking chair on the patio, with a woollen blanket wrapped around your legs, saying, ‘No, really kids, I did. I humped Chloe Goodman.’ I can imagine their reply as well.”

A few drinks in the afternoon turned into a night on the town. Cassie had heard that it was student night in one of Westmouth’s most fashionable nightclubs. As they walked into town, Kim and Cassie led the way while Eddie and Adam straggled at the back.

“Kim’s a bit of all right,” Eddie said. “Great legs and fantastic tits. I’d love to get my hands on those puppies.”

Adam gave Eddie a sideways look. “You’re a filthy perv, you know.”

Eddie grinned and nodded. “I know.”

Adam grinned. “Yeah, she is nice. We had a good chat this lunchtime. It’ll be great to have someone to go to lectures with.”

“She doesn’t think much of our resident movie star though.”

Adam chuckled. “I suspect it’s a touch of the green-eyed monster. Kim could probably pass for a Chloe look-alike if she wanted to. She’s probably wondering what Chloe did to deserve the fame and fortune instead of her.”

“Probably. Tell you what, though. I’d love to be a fly on the wall when the two of them meet in your first tutorial. You couldn’t film it on your phone, could you?”

“I reckon they might notice, but I’ll give you a blow by blow afterwards.”

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