Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Riptide // latent hipster confessions

Today we have a confession and a LesMisBook story. Pull up a chair.

Starting Sparks is a link-up hosted by Ashley @ [insert title here] and me @ you know where. We give you a prompt, you write a thing, we all read the thing and everyone has a wonderful time.

Ashley and I take turns to pick the prompts. For July, I picked the (seemingly innocuous):

Ha. Hahaha.

Turns out it's only blimming Riptide lyrics!

Thank you to Lauren and Patrick who pointed this out to me. I am very ashamed. You see ... confession. I am a music hipster.

I do not mean that I wear big square glasses* or have a Starbucks obsession. I do mean that if you don't have at least three pre-2000 musical loves, I will probably judge you. I do mean that if I hear the song being played by a busker on a shopping street, I probably hate it. I do mean that I get really annoyed when I see lyrics or quotations on Pinterest not credited to their originator, and the person clearly does not know they are Pinning words from The Smiths or Fitzgerald (it happens all the time with those two in particular).
*I actually do wear big square glasses but only in the house. To the world I'm a contact lens gal.

I swear I spend half my Pinterest life seeings unwitting Smiths pins and muttering “Morrissey wrote that, you fool!" So I was very humiliated to be that person.



I'd been considering doing Edmund (you know, from the most recent story I posted?) for the prompt, but a) he's not actually scared of starting conversations, he just tends not to do so, and b) he is ten million billion miles away from everything Riptide connotes and represents. Once I knew where the words were from, I could not equate them with him. So instead, my thoughts took a very different turn -- they returned, as they so often have done these days, to LesMisBook.

If you've not encountered Nina and JBH yet, I suggest you read this story for context.

Also, for the record, I actually think Riptide is quite a nice song. I do not hate it like Nina does; in fact, I like it! Really! I just don't like the fact I can't walk up Buchanan Street (shopping street in Glasgow) without hearing it played.


Rehearsals: a gruelling process in which we sing off key, miss our cues and bump into each other because we don’t know the choreography.

“I swear,” Mrs Mosely said, “this is the last musical I’m ever doing! You’ll be the death of me! Oh, not like that, Jonathan—”

The Thénadiers, my onstage parents, are fortunately a decent pair; talking to them gave me some respite from Verity Locke’s prancing and Jonathan bloody Holcroft’s showing off. I attempted to make conversation with Jean Valjean, whose name is Adam, but he is cripplingly shy – the boy no one noticed for ten years until suddenly we realised he could sing. Since then he’s been a strange and peripheral paradox: singer, actor, lead role, and yet in real life a shell-bound hermit crab, blinking and stammering through conversation. I gave him up as a bad job.

We seemed to spend a lot of time doing very little. The chorus sprawled around the assembly hall, checking make-up in pocket mirrors, taking selfies and wishing Snapchat could alleviate our boredom. Onstage, Valjean and Javert sang their Confrontation for the fourth time.

“Valjean! At last, we see each other plain—”

“Stop, stop!” Mrs Mosely threw her hands in the air. “Could you try to be a bit less camp? Please?”

Javert bristled and the crowd sniggered. It is true he seems to think he’s Elvis Presley. They started the song again, but six bars in our teacher stopped them. “Oh, all just go and have some lunch!” she said.

I left the hall with Ibrahim and Tracey, the Thénadiers, but peeled off when we got outside. I like them, but I also like walking streets by myself. Having friends and enjoying solitude are not mutually exclusive, whatever my mother has to say on the topic. 

Through the pleasantly cool air I bore down on a sandwich shop. I was starving. I wanted a massive BLT. Also a doughnut. I walked fast, coat collar turned up. I did not look at the people I passed. Food was my primary mission, but I was also walking off the stuffy hall, the repeated piano notes. The proximity of Jonathan bloody Holcroft. Beth is not in the show, thank goodness. Through the blustery streets I was walking her off, too, trying to shake myself loose from the last time we’d spoken. Her words – her terrible, extraordinary, almost incredible words – had dogged my footsteps for three days. I was trying to outpace them.

As I returned to school, tearing my sandwich apart in great bites, I had a vision of Jonathan appearing beside me – from a side street, maybe, or because he’d walked fast, run, even, to catch up with me. “All right, Nina?” he’d say, or maybe “Éponine!”, and we would fall into step. I frowned. That was the kind of unwelcome thought I needed to quash. For three days he’d filled my head, but not in the normal way; instead, silhouetted against what Beth had said.

I heard he only likes white girls.

The desire for it not to be true was consuming me.

I threw my sandwich wrapper in a bin with unnecessary force. Why was it thoughts of him that were running riot through my head? Because your ex-best friend said an awful thing to you, and you hope no one else – for example Jonathan – shares her small-minded bigotry.

Was that the only reason?

A tiny part of me was almost glad, now, for a concrete reason to hate Beth; I’d been fighting, for months, my growing shadowy dislike of my best friend, and now I needed battle no longer. The rest of me was disgusted by that part, disgusted by my whole self, because how could I be thinking, now, of boys? Racism, bigotry, British Indians like my father spat at in the street, and I was glad to have been a victim? Glad, because it meant I could cut ties with an erstwhile friend? And all over a boy?

I heard he only likes white girls.

If it were true – could it be true? – I should not care. What would a magazine, or a Disney princess, or a feminist role model tell me? You are beautiful. You are a wonderful young woman. Anyone who can’t see that is a waste of time.

I should not care, but I knew that I would. I knew that I did. And that was why, half-consciously, I sought him with such pathetic desperation – the need to be affirmed, acknowledged, to know he wasn’t like Beth. Logically, I knew she was spewing utter rubbish, taking the cheapest of shots at me. But it didn’t stop the words needling under my skin. I heard he only likes white girls.

I finished my doughnut as I re-entered the school and nearly flattened Verity Locke. She took a deliberate step back, straightening a skirt far more flattering than school uniform has any right to be. Her eyes ran over my face and half a smirk twitched her lips. Self-consciously I wiped my mouth. On my hand a smear of caramel. Excellent.

At least you got it off before Jonathan saw you.

Shut up.

In the hall he was sitting on the steps of the stage, strumming a guitar. Something surged through me: partly contempt, because who the hell did he think he was, with his ridiculous fringe and his bloody guitar? Being able to play three chords, I wanted to tell him, doesn’t make you God’s gift to women. But twining through that flash of annoyance was my own treacherous pulse, the irrepressible teen girl’s yen for a good-looking boy with a guitar. He’s not even that good-looking, I reminded myself.

I didn’t find myself very convincing.

He started to sing. “I was scared of dentists and the dark …”

My derision spiked. I couldn’t think of the song’s name, but I knew its type: crooning, eyes half shut as Jonathan bloody Holcroft’s were, the kind of synthetic faux-soulful sham of a track beloved by teenage boy buskers everywhere.

“I was scared of pretty girls and starting conversations …”

As if. Half a dozen pretty girls had flocked around him, and he didn’t look worried in the slightest. They swarmed closer, bees to this acoustic-strumming honeypot, and I could see the smile lurking beneath his skin. He soaked the attention up like sunrays as he kept singing. Unwittingly I crossed my arms.

“Lady, running down to the riptide,
Taken away by the dark side,
I wanna be your left-hand man.”

My eyes rolled of their own accord. Of course it was bloody Riptide. What else would he choose, sitting there like a picture off an album cover? If it weren’t for the school uniform, he could’ve been a glossy feature in a tween girls’ magazine. I glared at him, though he wasn’t looking at me.

“I love you when you’re singing that song and
I got a lump in my throat cause
You’re gonna sing the words wrong …”

Behind him Ibrahim and Tracey came in holding chip boxes. Ibrahim’s eyes flicked from me to Jonathan bloody Holcroft and back. He raised one eyebrow. Tracey was trying not to laugh. I smiled at them, glad of allies.

“Lady, running down to the riptide—”

“All right, guys!” Mrs Mosely’s strident voice carried before her. She’s shorter than me, always wrapped in a paraphernalia of scarfs, with huge glasses and flyaway hair that give her the look of a skinny, startled and slightly unkempt owl.

“Jonathan, put that down!” He grinned at his groupies, as if to say, I’m an artist silenced by the establishment, what can I do?, and laid the guitar on the step.

“All right,” our teacher said, “Marius and Éponine onstage, snap snap!”

He dominated the stage, as he did everything and everywhere, with easy grace. He was still humming.

I heard he only likes white girls.

I glared at him.

He smiled back. “I love you,” he sang softly, “when you’re singing that song—”

“Why’d you have to pick bloody Riptide?” I said, ignoring the roaring of my heart. Mrs Mosely had got distracted by a chorus member and we stood there, gazing down on the rest of the cast.

“Great song!” said Jonathan bloody Holcroft.

“Terrible song,” I corrected him. “If I had a quid for every time I heard some idiot busker singing it … you’re not bloody Ed Sheeran!”

Light was winking in his blue eyes, playing around his face, his lips, his high cheekbones, as if even the sun itself couldn’t get enough of him. “Who’d want to bloody Ed Sheeran?” he said. “He’s a nice guy!”

I scowled at him, though I couldn’t stop a corner of my mouth slipping upwards. He grinned, seeing he’d got me.

I shook my head. “You may as well pick bloody Wonderwall.”

His mouth twitched. He was laughing at me without actually laughed. Infuriating. “Yeah, all right,” he said, and I found I couldn’t break his gaze. His face split into a full smile and he said, “Nina bloody Seth.”


If you'd like to link up with Starting Sparks, click here -- there is still time! I hope you've all had a fabulous July. I know I've been horribly absent from the blogosphere these last two weeks, but that's because I have been absent ... my last few posts have been scheduled, and as you read this I am finishing up the second of two Christian summer camps. I will be home soon. Until then. 

July 6, 2015 :: Carrie Shryock:
[source] // Carrie Shyrock


  1. Perfection! These two, they are absolutely hilarious.

    1. Thank you! You are too kind <3

  2. Awesome! I love where you're going with this. The best part was that when JBH starts singing Riptide, that very song came on the radio! XD

  3. I love the irony of Valjean's timidity and the Thenadiers' decency. That sort of thing really does happen in theatre, though.

    Nina's thoughts are so interesting. Although they're stormy, there is a certain honesty to them that I like.

    1. I look forward to exploring their characters further. Nina's thoughts are more angsty than I anticipated, but I am loving her. Thank you for kind words, Blue <3

  4. Whoa, I only realise that this story has an Indian-British protagonist. AYYY!!! And set in England so I can enjoy lovely British colloquialisms despite being Irish. I loved it, I did.

    "I hear he only likes white girls." That must've felt like a punch to the stomach!

    Get ready to judge me in 5, 4, 3, 2....

    I don't have at least 3 pre-2000 musical loves. Heck, I don't even have one! xDDD

    Then again, I do prefer music from non-Western countries (except Christian music). Wait, that doesn't have anything to do with pre-2000 musical loves.

    1. It does! And it is! (Though I'm yet to work out where ... somewhere in the Midlands? Ha I HAVE NO IDEA.) But I'm so glad you liked it! I am judging you a little bit. Get the Beatles on!

    2. Um... another confession. I don't really like The Beatles... at all xD I just feel that they sound a little... weird?


      I do agree that they are much better than most Western Pop musicians today.

    3. WHAT. THEY ARE THE BEST. They are the fathers of all pop musicians today! They must be adulated for that at least!

      ((I love them can you tell))

  5. *settles in for more JBH*
    *comes across my name*
    THIS IS THE ONE WITH MY NAME/CAMEO THINGIE! YAY! :DDD I'm delighted! And with this Tracey trying not to laugh, that is actually what I'd be doing too. I laugh at everything. XD (Funny thing is, I sometimes wonder if it would be fun to be in musical theater, providing I could a) act, and b) sing. LOL. And now I want her box of British chips/North American fries.)

    Nina's a firebrand, she is. Wonderful girl. ^_^ I love being inside her head!

    Oh, and your description of Mrs. Mosley with all her scarves and owl-ness was perfect!

    1. THIS IS YOUR CAMEO! Hahaha I already like this Tracey a lot. I wouldn't mind a box of chips myself at this point ....

      I'm so glad you like her! I love her lots <333

      Thanks! :D

  6. Okay, so this is good! Yep. I rather like this one. It's quite amusing though. Nina's feigned indifference. She seems angry with him for playing that song, but she's really angry at herself for liking him against her better judgement. XD And then there's Beth, whom we should throw into Mordor and-- Oh, did I say that?

    Ahem, I like how Nina doesn't want to give up her friendship with Beth just because of a boy. But at the same time, her friend is. . . uh, not being a friend. She's either changed or showing her true colors or something. Best friends do not put each other down because of their ethnicity. That's just stupid. That's so sad though. That people do that and do it to their supposed friends. I see why Nina's world is crashing around her. An annoying crush is one thing, but friend abandonment? That's insane.

    That last line though! O_O PERFECT! Oh, gosh. So is Nina like, JBH's female version of a JBH? Am I making any kind of sense?

    PS So I kinda really like Adam. "Ashley, I KNEW you were going to say that!" *shrugs* The quiet ones and I always get thrown together because we're both quiet so we're the only ones who will hang around each other without the pressure of, "Hey, you have to be normal and talk to me." We just exist in companionable silences.

  7. I am glad! We should definitely throw Beth into Mordor, though ... I mean, GOSH. What even?!

    YOU'RE MAKING SO MUCH SENSE. I guess he's making fun of her for saying bloody so much -- which she says A LOT around him because he makes her really defensive/scathing. So he's showing that he knows her, knows that the reason she's so flustered/sassy with him is because she likes him. He totally knows. So I suppose he is subverting the JBHness ... I feel I am now not making sense. But yeah. They see each other in the same way, I guess. Sort of.


    PS I KNEW YOU WERE GOING TO SAY THAT AND I NAMED HIM ADAM FOR YOU, BECAUSE I KNOW YOU LOVE PARRISH. It's like a kinda secondhand cameo for you?? XD I'm hoping we get to know Adam a bit. (I sort of want to ship him and Verity ... but of course, I'm also accidentally shipping Tracey and Ibrahim, and we can't just pair the entire cast off in neat little couples. YES WE CAN, my silly brain tells me. Be quiet, brain. Let's focus on Nina/JBH for now ...!)

  8. Yes, that makes sense! (We are continually affirming that we understand each other. Maybe we should just assume we're on the same wavelength. XD I mean, Jem? Peril? O_O) They think of each other similarly. Because he likes her too, but he doesn't want to like her because. . . I don't know. I know Nina doesn't want to like JBH because he's the kind of person she's normally annoyed with. So is she the kind of person he is normally annoyed with? I'm guessing yes? BUT surely, JBH of all people would have appreciation for sass which Nina has to the max. Or maybe he just thinks he doesn't like sassy girls. . .


    PS AAAHH! DID YOU REALLY?! That's so awesome! You have no idea how big I grinned. That makes my day, no, my whole week. Whenever I'm feeling down this week, I'll think about Adam and how you did a cameo of him for me. :D Thank you! (Why can't you pair off the cast in ships? It's contemporary. That's what contemporaries do. Right? Ahem, but of course, Nina/JBH first ;) Seriously though, they are adorable sassmasters when they interact! )

    1. (Haha, you are right. I think about Jem / Peril so often O.o) At this point, I don't think JBH minds liking Nina. He's probably slower to cotton onto the fact that he does, in fact, like her, than she is to liking him. At this juncture I think he's just testing her to see how much of a reaction he can get from her; she's not like the other girls who throw themselves at him (ie Beth), so to him she presents an interesting challenge ... It's when they become better friends that he's going to not WANT to like her, because by that point he'll feel she knows him too well and he can no longer throw up the whole Confident Carefree JBH Shield he uses on most girls. So he won't want to have anything with her because he'll feel too vulnerable. But right now he's happy to flirt with her.

      *hemhem* ((I've forgotten why we're even doing this now but it's amusing me)) *hem*

      PS I'm so glad! Really, that makes me so happy XD (They are adorable sassmasters, though! This comment thread is making me want to write them again. But, you know, SitC ...)

  9. Yes, of course! That's probably why he likes her; she doesn't throw herself at him. :P And of course, he's never been with a girl who truly knows him, so that would make him nervous. *nods*

    *cough* (I've the faintest. Perhaps it's allergies?)

    PS (Oh, sorry. Am I continuing this distracting comment thread. Eh, oops. But GO SitC!! Whoo!)

    1. She is different the common herd, bless her little heart. ~pats Nina on the head~ ((though tbh if I patted her on the head she'd probably bite me ...))

      *atishoo* (seems likely)

      (You're a terrible influence! GO SITC except I'm afraid I may soon lose the plot #yikes)


Thanks for commenting! :)