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Charity begins

Graham Love wins a book deal, and our heroine loses her heart

Graham Love is too good to be true. Good-looking, charming, and he dived in without a second thought on Friday when 9C were about to turn my history lesson into a bloodbath. I bought him a drink in the 13 Horseshoes to say thank you, and he told me all about his novel. How Nick Hornby and Tony Parsons had phoned to congratulate him on his publishing deal; how he'd taken a call from a production company desperate to buy the film rights, with Colin Firth lined up to play the narrator (Graham). He said he'd fancied me since Orlando Jones's party when we sat in the garden and smelled the jasmine and smoked dope.

We talked, or rather he talked, and after drinking more spritzers than I've had in one evening since I was at university, we kissed. The barman told us we'd have to leave if Graham put his hand up my blouse again, and we giggled. I wanted to get a cab to his place but Graham said he had to go because he was having a drink with his agent at the Groucho Club to celebrate the deal. "I'm entering another world, Charity!" he shouted as he left. He meant "another planet", as I was to discover.

It's Monday morning and I'm still upset. Graham didn't phone on Saturday or Sunday. But Brenda Gache, St Brian's patron saint of gossip, did. She'd heard I'd gone for a drink with Graham and just thought I ought to knowI The morning after the last parents' evening Graham was spotted in the high street with the mother of a Year 8 girl called Cherelle. Cherelle's mum has big hair and "Nosferatu nails" and wears Miss Sixty "dark and dirty" jeans.


Graham sidles into my Year 11 registration and says he hopes he's still in my good books. "Do I get a tick, Miss Casement?" I ask him about Cherelle's mum and he says it was nothing; she offered him a lift home from the parents' evening and he thought it would be rude to say no. "You know how the head's always going on about reaching out to the community."

"At 8 o'clock in the morning?" I reply without looking up. I'm not going to let him off that easily. He says he went back the next day to give Cherelle some extra tuition because she's been struggling and her mum was worried.

He tells me a funny story about how the deputy head, Nigel Horsmel, caught him photocopying his novel and he told him to piss off and take a swim in the piranha tank. I'm besotted again.

So here we are back in the 13 Horseshoes. The barman eyes us nervously but we're on our best behaviour. Graham hasn't got any West End clubs to go to this week so he says he'll cook me a Vietnamese meal - "my speciality" - back at his flat.

As the cab pulls up outside the pub, Graham's phone starts playing "Sex Bomb". He has a whispered conversation then laughs. "God, those Year 11s are keen. Asking for more homework!" I'm about to ask why his pupils know his mobile number when my phone beeps. "Who's your message from?" Graham asks. "Oh, just Brenda." "Christ, not that stalker! Make sure your pets are locked up, Charity. She's a bunny boiler, that one. Now come on, there's a Trang-bang salad waiting for you chez moi."

I get into the cab and into Graham's arms. If only I'd read Brenda's message.

Next week: A broken dream

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