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Posh and Prejudice
By Grace Dent
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Format:ebook (Digital original) $7.99
This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around December 1, 2009. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.
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Chav: (n.): 1. A word that makes most Brits think of hoodies, hip hop, bling, and trouble. (It ain’t a good fing, bruv.)
At the end of the school year, 16-year-old Shiraz Bailey Wood isn’t expecting incredible grades. But when her test results come in, she’s astonished to discover that not only did she pass them all, but that she’s also actually clever! Emboldened by an invite to higher-level classes, Shiraz decides she can’t waste her brain power frying eggs for minimum wage at the greasy spoon Mr. Yolk. So even in spite of her Mum’s objections that it ain’t her place, Shiraz enrolls in Superchav Academy’s “Center of Excellence” to get even brainier.
Setting forth into the heady field of academia and hanging out with other boffin types seems like just the ticket to avoid getting stuck living like a chav forever in crappy Goodmayes Essex. Smooth-talking lads with whopping allowances tempt her-but Shiraz has to figure out: are these posh types really any better? Or maybe being a chav might not be all that bad-as long as it stands for Charming, Hilarious, Articulate, and Vibrant.
Copyright © 2009 by Grace Dent
All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the publisher.
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Poppy is a imprint of Little, Brown and Company.
The Poppy name and logo are trademarks of Hachette Book Group, Inc.
First eBook Edition: December 2009
First published in Great Britain in 2007 by Hodder Children's Books, a division of Hachette Children's Books
The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.
TUESDAY 19TH AUGUST
I am the master of my own destiny.
Well, that's what Ms. Bracket, my English teacher last year, always says.
"Shiraz Bailey Wood," she says. "The sky is the limit for a bright spark like you! You could be anything you want. Like an astronaut! Or a lion tamer! Or the Prime Minister! The only thing stopping you is yourself!"
She used to jar my head sometimes she did. She was proper obsessed about us passing our GCSEs. Ms. Bracket isn't bothered about all that "Superchav Academy" stuff. That's what a lot of snobby newspaper reporters used to call my old school Mayflower Academy, you see. And I'll say it again for the billionth time…
WE WEREN'T ALL CHAVS, RIGHT!?
(Jury's out on Uma Brunton-Fletcher, though.)
Ms. Bracket isn't prejudiced and stigmatizing toward young people like most grown-ups are. Saying that, she doesn't take any of our crap either. Like when I told her me and Carrie didn't need no English GCSEs 'cos we were starting a world-famous singing duo called Half Rice/Half Chips.
"Fair enough, Shiraz," Ms. Bracket says. "But in the event that you don't become the next Beyoncé Knowles you'll need to get a job to feed and clothe yourself! SO DO YOUR HOMEWORK!"
In the end even I had to admit that passing my GCSEs was a better plan if I didn't want to end up flogging the homeless paper Street News outside Food Lion. If you've ever seen that YouTube clip of me and Carrie on ITV2's Million Dollar Talent Show you'll know why. Oh my days, that was well shameful.
Ten pounds flaming ninety-two pence we spent on those matching red leg warmers and devil horns, then we only get one verse into "Maneater" by Nelly Furtado and this snotty-looking judge in trousers so tight you could see the outline of his trousersnake tells me I'm singing like someone strangling a donkey.
Yeah, BARE JOKES, bruv. Jog on.
Not like I cared though. I just laughed in his face. He was like thirty-three years old or something. A proper antique. It's not my fault if he couldn't appreciate me being an individual.
Oh well, that's break over. Better get back to work.
2:15PM—I don't regret nothing in my life. Nothing. I'm always moving forward, me. I'm keeping it real. It's just sometimes, when I'm standing here behind this pan, frying an egg, and I'm proper sweaty and some bloke with a hairy bum cleavage is at the counter moaning on going, "Ugggh, you've made my yolk hard. I wanted it runny. I like my eggs runny!"… Well, it's times like that when I remember Mayflower Academy. I think about what a laugh Year Eleven was with Carrie and Luther and Chantalle and Uma and Kezia.
Y'know there was a bit last year when I even started planning to go to Sixth Form. And I ain't exactly a Sixth Formery type of girl if you know what I mean.
But I never thought I'd wind up here at Mr. Yolk on Goodmayes High Street making Set Breakfast C two hundred times a day for geezers with bigger baps than me.
This was NOT in Shiraz Bailey Wood's life plan.
"EAT LIKE A PRINCE FOR £2!!" That's the "mission statement" at Mr. Yolk. It's written in BIG CAPITAL LETTERS across the front of my T-shirt. I know I look totally butterz in it, but my boyfriend, Wesley Barrington Bains II, says I look hot.
"Wifey," Wesley says. "You could put on anything and you'd look buff, innit."
Wesley reckons I've got it proper cushy working at Mr. Yolk 'cos:
1) It's just down the road from my mother's house, and
2) I get free dinner every day and they do steak and kidney pot pies, and
3) He can pop in and see me on the way to his plumbing NVQ and get his egg roll.
Wesley don't like his egg runny. Wesley likes his egg yolk quite hard and he likes the ketchup just on the egg white NOT the yolk, with a sprinkle of black pepper on the yolk. The first dozen times I made Wesley's egg I got it wrong, but now I make Wesley's egg just perfect he reckons. That's my biggest achievement all August.
I'm dreading picking up my GCSE results next week. I tried my best and everything. I knew that Jane Eyre book backward by May! I used to go to sleep at night and dream about Mr. Rochester on his horse, clip-clopping through Romford and scooping me up outside Time and Envy nightclub and taking me away from Essex.
I tried my total best in that exam, honest.
It wouldn't be the first time my best wasn't good enough.
WEDNESDAY 20TH AUGUST
Oh my gosh, today at Mr. Yolk was proper DULL. OK. I tell a lie, there was one exciting bit at about 3 o'clock when we totally ran out of one-quid coins and Mario (Mr. Yolk himself—Goodmayes's biggest celebrity) let me get the bus to the bank in Ilford Mall and get some.
So I take one of my detours round by Greggs the bakers and I spot Kezia Marshall and we both buy a gingerbread man in the shape of Bart Simpson. Then we sit on the wall outside Claire's Accessories chatting about Kezia's bump. Last year everyone thought Kezia was pregnant by Luther—then it turned out to be a false alarm. Then it didn't. Kezia really was pregnant by Luther. Even my mum was shocked at that.
Kezia's bump is well big now. She looks like one of them Teletubbies with her red hair and orange hoodie and big belly. Like LaLa or Tinky Winky, me and Carrie couldn't decide. Kezia kept pulling down the front of her trackie pants and making me feel the bump kicking. Kezia didn't mind which passersby saw the bump and pretty much all the rest of her downstairs bits too. (Safe to say, red is Kezia's natural hair color.) I didn't feel like my gingerbread man much after that. I worry about Kezia a bit. Kezia says Luther ain't calling her much no more like he used to. Kezia says all their mums and dads are trying to sort something out. Poor Kez.
I asked about baby names and Kezia says she likes Usher for a boy or Latanoyatiqua for a girl. Then she's going to double-barrel the surnames. Latanoyatiqua Marshall-Dinsdale! Oh my days—by the time the poor kid's got that spelled in finger paints at school the day will be over.
I went back to Mr. Yolk and Mario was all up in my face giving it. "Where you been? I give you ten minutes!" So I said I had menstrual pain in my womb and had been in Boots looking at the ladies intimate problem counter, then Mario pushed away his beans on toast and made a face like "Too much information" and got back on the phone to his bookie.
See, even the exciting bits at work ain't that exciting. Only fifty more years and I can retire.
8PM—My mother—Mrs. Diane Wood—says work ain't meant to be exciting. Mum reckons the important thing is that I'm bringing home some cash and earning my keep. This ALONE should be exciting enough for me, Mum reckons. Yeah, she is barking mad. I love my mother 'cos like you have to don't you, but she is a proper mental sometimes when she says stuff like this.
I said to her, "Mother, have you ever cleaned out a deep fat fryer and had your bum cheek pinched by an eighty-six-year-old customer with missing bottom teeth for £3.50 an hour?!! It AIN'T EXCITING, right?"
"Oh, Shiraz. Give it a rest. Real life ain't never exciting." My mother sighed. She was half-staring at Emmerdale, where some vet had his arm up a cow's bumhole. "REAL LIFE AIN'T NEVER EXCITING!" my mum said again. "That's why I pay for this bleeding Sky+ satellite TV subscription!"
I gave her £50 out of my wages toward my keep and she rolled it up and stuck it in her pocket. Then she rubbed Penny, our obese Staffy, and said, "Woohoo Pennywenny! More Russell Stover Chocolates for you and me. Ooh, we like those coffee truffle ones, don't we?!"
She'd better be joking.
I went to my room and put cotton balls in my ears to drown out the noise and carried on with this book I'm reading called Pride and Prejudice by a bird called Jane Austen. Ms. Bracket said I would like it and I do. It's proper old. It's about this woman called Elizabeth who fancies this well-minted proper buff bloke called Darcy who is sexy but up himself. I can't stand lads like that.
10PM—Carrie just texted. Carrie's going to schlep over tomorrow and do me some false nails. Carrie says she's going to use some stronger glue this time. Carrie says she's still a bit freaked out about the last time she did them. One of them fell off at work when I was making the tuna mayo and Mario had to give some old geezer the Heimlich maneuver when it got jammed in his windpipe. That was definitely exciting. Just, like, not in a good way.
THURSDAY 21ST AUGUST
This house is driving me MAD. You never get a minute of peace unless you actually get into your bed then pull the duvet over your head and shut your eyes and even then my gigantic little brother Murphy will be poking the duvet saying, "'Ere Shizza, the toaster's got all black smoke coming out of it. Is it meant to do that?" Or my mother will be in my room going, "Ooh, lying down are we? All right for some! It's your turn to pick up the dog turds in the back garden. I'll get you the shovel!"
34 Thundersley Road is always proper hectic. Especially when me and my mum and my dad and Murphy and my big sister Cava-Sue and her bloke Lewis and my bloke Wesley are all in at the same time. Nan comes round a lot too. And sometimes she brings her mate Clement from bingo.
Dad says he's thinking of installing a ticket system on the loo door like at the ShopRite deli counter so he stands a chance of taking a dump. We all laughed our heads off when he said that 'cept Mum who told him to stop being so filthy. My dad don't say much but when he does he is bare jokes.
There was a bit last year where our Cava-Sue got well rinsed out with Thundersley Road and was proper sick of sharing a bedroom with me and sick of our bunkbeds and sick of Mum bending her ear about her looking all emo and sick of Goodmayes altogether so she did a runner to London. But me and Mum really missed her so I got us all on the TV show Fast-Track Family Feud and got her back.
Yeah, good idea, Shiz.
I didn't know two months later she'd move her flipping boyfriend in here too!
"Lewis's mother Vera is moving to Benidorm!" Cava-Sue says last February. "She's setting up an English lesbian mock-Tudor theme pub called the Fistwell Inn and making my Lewis homeless! She says Lewis can fend for himself! Can you belieeeeeve it? He's only nineteen! What's he going to dooooo??!"
No sooner had Cava-Sue begun hinting loudly that she was moving out again to be with Lewis than the floppy-haired emo git had moved his collection of thrift shop shirts, ties, and nose rings into our house.
I was turfed out of the room me and Cava-Sue used to share. Then Mum dispatched Dad off to Home Depot to buy some plasterboard and Murphy's room was halved in two with plasterboard and me and Murph both got half a room each. I still ain't seen the funny side and I don't care who knows it.
"I don't know what's wrong with your mush!" Cava-Sue said tonight when we were making food. "You always used to jar my bloody head in that bottom bunk about not having your own space!"
This made me proper angry. "Yeah, fair play, Cava-Sue," I said to her. "But now I'm living in a three-by-four square plasterboard space with no bleeding windows! There's geezers in that Abu Ghraib terrorist compound who see more daylight than I do! I ain't happy!"
"Oh, you're so bleeding dramatic! It's not forever! Me and Lewis are going traveling soon, remember!" Cava-Sue sighed, poking a Linda McCartney vegetarian sausage with a spatula.
"DRAMATIC!?" I shouted. "Maybe if your bed was separated from Murphy's by a two-inch-thick piece of posh cardboard and you could hear him grunting his bleeding way through Nuts magazine you'd feel bleeding DRAMATIC too!"
That well shut her up.
10PM—My best friend Carrie just came round and did my and Cava-Sue's nails. She did mine hot pink with acrylic tips and did Cava-Sue's dark purple. Carrie says I look well pretty with mine all long and that I'm looking proper womanly nowadays. Carrie says no wonder Wesley Barrington Bains II talks about marrying me one day. Carrie says I'm proper lucky to have found true love and know someone will love me forever. I suppose I am.
Carrie says she's well bored hanging about the house with her mother, Maria, and she wishes she had a job too. I said I'd ask Mr. Yolk if he needed anyone to help fry eggs.
"'Ere don't be daft, Shiz," Carrie said. "Once the GCSE results are out next week we'll be going back to Sixth Form, right?!" Bless her. We are so NOT going to Sixth Form. She is proper delusional.
All I remember about the English Writing to Argue, Explain, or Advise GCSE Paper is spending three hours trying to convince folk—over a load of different exercises—that the theme parks of Florida were a steaming good place to go on holiday.
I mean, fair enough, I know I did better than Kezia Marshall 'cos when I looked over at Kezia fifteen minutes into Paper One, I swear she was coloring in a doodle she'd done of a stroller. But I don't think I did brilliant. The whole thing was a proper stress-out and the faster I wrote the more I began to get proper mixed-up and think bleeding hell I don't know if I'm putting apostrophes in the right place or using commas right or nothing. And all I seemed to keep saying was that dolphins were well good fun to swim with and by the time the bell went off I'd begun to think that I weren't even spelling the word dolphin right and I could feel my throat and my eyes beginning to hurt like I wanted to cry. But I didn't cry 'cos I never ever cry in front of no one at school and I weren't bloody going to start then.
Carrie said that in her exam paper she didn't even argue that Florida was that good or nothing 'cos she went once with Barney and Maria in Year Eight and it wasn't no way as good as Dominican and the only thing she remembers was that there was tons of mosquitos at Wacky Water World and one of them bit her on the lady garden.
I said, "'Ere, Carrie, you never wrote that in the exam did you?" and Carrie says, "Yeah, course I did, Shizza. I was keeping it real."
We are DOOMED.
FRIDAY 22ND AUGUST
So I got home from work tonight and gave my hair a lather-rinse-repeat-wash to get out all the smell of fry grease and I began ironing it straight and putting on some blusher and finding my charm bracelet when my mum shouts, "Wooooo-hoooo, Shiraz, LOVER BOY is here!" So I go look out of Cava-Sue's bedroom window and Wesley is outside parking up his banana-yellow Golf.
He gets out of the car and he's got on his black Kappa trackie pants and his navy Hackett sweatshirt and his pink Hackett shirt underneath and his hair's got styling wax in it like he always does when it's the weekend and he's proper making an effort. I watch him lock up the Golf, turn to walk away, then turn around and check it out for a bit, then walk back to it and examine a mark on the hood. Wesley loves his car.
My stomach still feels a bit funny when I see Wesley. Not as much as it used to when I first ever met him, but I still reckon he's buff and all that in his own way. He's a well lovely person too. And it's not like everyone can go out with someone proper choong like Ashton Kutcher can they?
Everyone in my house loves Wesley. The minute he walks in our house my mother—who can be a right old puffadder—is up making him a cup of tea and my dad is asking him what he reckons about the new West Ham soccer trade and my brother is trying to get him to play Decapitation Nation on PS2 and even Cava-Sue takes her clonking great clown's feet off the sofa and lets him park his bum.
"'Ere, Wesley, you couldn't have a look at our khazi could you?!" my mum was shouting through from the kitchen as I came downstairs. "It ain't filling right up when you flush!"
"Mother! Wesley don't wanna look at our khazi!" I said, looking around for my other hoop earring.
"Oh, I don't mind, innit," Wesley said smiling. "I got some tools in the trunk too if need be."
"In the trunk, Wesley!?" shouted Mum. "You don't wanna be carrying those tools round with you in yer trunk! They'll get stolen round 'ere."
"Well he never knows when he'll need them, Mum," I said, trying not to sound narky. "He never knows when we might have a bloody toilet emergency." Wesley laughed and started to go upstairs.
"'Ere, Wesley love, do you want a sandwich?" shouted Mum. "I got a can of corned beef opened here for the dog."
"Nah, Mrs. W!" shouted Wesley. "I'm taking Shiraz for some nosh before we go to the AMC Loews, innit."
"Oooh! Out for a meal!?" gasped my mum. "Very posh. 'Ere, you've got a good one there, Shiraz! I never got taken for no food when I was courting, did I, Brian? You never bought me a meal."
"You'd never have shut up long enough to eat it," muttered my dad from behind his Daily Star.
"What's that?" shouted my mother.
"I said, I was so in love I never felt like eating," said my dad.
After half an hour of Wesley crouching in our bathroom with his head in the toilet tank we finally left.
Me and Wesley went to Shanghai Shanghai in Romford Plaza for the All You Can Eat buffet, then we went to see TurboChase Terror II starring The Rock and Carmen Electra. The movie was about some geezer who had stolen a diamond but he didn't know he'd stolen it until he was being chased by The Rock and was being propositioned by Carmen Electra who spent the whole of the film lying about on car hoods wearing tops that didn't fit her. I didn't really want to watch TurboChase Terror II, but Wesley was proper keen. I wanted to watch this film called The Magician's Maze that I saw a thing about on telly the other night. It's about these kids who are left to run the world after a big nuclear war. Proper creepy it looked. But Wesley saw on the poster that it had subtitles and he was like no way.
"Aw, Shiz, I just wanna watch something. I don't wanna read too, innit," he said, when we were choosing our buffet. "I don't wanna feel like I'm back at school."
"Oh… S'alright," I said. "I ain't bothered." I tried to pull my face like I wasn't bothered but Wesley could see I was a bit so he paid the extra two quid a head so I could eat stuff from the duck section.
Like I say, he's well lovely like that, is my Wesley.
MONDAY 25TH AUGUST
Today was PROPER WEIRD.
On Mondays Mario always gets obsessed with bleaching the teacups. Don't flaming ask me why. He seems to think it's well important that the clientele always get a proper sparkling white teacup, when obviously BACK IN THE REAL WORLD it totally isn't. Half the geezers who come in Mr. Yolk for Set Breakfast C wouldn't give a monkey's if you served them tea in one of my Nan's old fluffy slippers with a corn bandage that fell off in the toe. They ain't fussy. But I don't argue with Mr. Yolk as to be honest it's quite nice having a bit of time out back faffing about with my yellow rubber gloves on, listening to KISS 100.
So anyway, it's 10AM and I'm at the sink up to my elbows in Clorox when Mario comes in and he goes, "Hey Shirelle, your little friend is here to see you." So I'm like, "Which one?" And he goes "One with all pink mouth and surprise face," so I know right away he means Carrie 'cos Mario has never understood what's going on with Carrie's eyebrows, which she plucks into proper thin arches these days.
Carrie has been really experimenting with her look ever since she got this book for Christmas called Butterz to Babe in Thirty Days! by this girl called Tabitha Tennant from Dagenham who got kicked out of Big Brother for cheating but now runs a beauty academy in Covent Garden in London. Tabitha is Carrie's heroine. Tabitha is the woman who started off the "cupid-bow" lips trend this summer where you paint your lipstick on in hot pink in dramatic arches like a doll. Carrie does that a lot at the moment.
- On Sale
- Dec 1, 2009
- Page Count
- 224 pages
- Little, Brown Books for Young Readers