The 'Eagle' is published
This morning when the alarm went off at 6.25 am I woke up a published author.
Did I wake up with a metaphor on my mind? With ink-stained fingers or the appalling dress sense normally associated with writers? No. I've always allegedly had 'questionable' dress-sense. ;)
I woke up as normal, had a couple of cups of tea and then drove through the dreadful wind and rain to the day job. Here, I was instantly embroiled in a passionate debate about how we as a school can manage our limited resources and do the best for our students. I was on 'duty' and had a full days teaching ahead. No time to relish my literary achievement.
Then at 11.10am we led our Year Ten classes (that's fourth years, for all of you who are still in the 1980's) into the gym for their 'controlled assessment.'
Samantha O---, one of my 'liveliest' young ladies shoved a red envelope into my hand.
'Open it, Miss,' she whispered as the exam was about to start.
I waited until they were settled and then picked up the envelope.
'To Kazza: Miss Charlton' it read. It was a congratulations card - but not only from Sam. She had gone to trouble of getting at least half the class to sign it. I was really moved - and was very conscious that the little darlings were not concentrating on their exam - but were watching my reaction instead.
In that one lovely gesture the kids had shown why so many of us come into teaching in the first place - and why we stay. If a group of noisy but talented, frustrating but loveable, group of 14/15 year old teenagers can appreciate what today meant to me, then there is still plenty of hope for the young people of today. It is a privilege to be working with them. I will treasure that card for the rest of my life.
But the excitement was not over yet...
Of course, I was early. Very early. But I was so proud. They say that everyone wants their fifteen minutes of fame - and this was mine. I parked my car at Sainsburys and walked the BBC building across the road, thinking: 'this is it girl, you've made it.'
I was met by a lovely receptionist, whose name I sadly cannot remember. She organised a cup of coffee for me, put me at ease and let me phone my mum and dad in Nottinghamshire on a BBC phone..
'I'm phoning from the BBC in Middlesbrough.'
'We know that, Karen.'
'Chris has already phoned us and told us about the interview. Your Dad and I sitting next to his computer waiting to hear it, right now.'
Slightly taken aback by this smooth organisation, so unusal for my family. I began to stammer: 'OK. I guess I'll have to phone you later and tell you all about it?'
'Yes, that'll be good. Your Dad and I have got our fingers crossed for you, darling.'
Then I was shown into a tiny blue room, with a desk and a microphone. I was told to sit down, put the earphone on - not to touch anything - and to wait.
At about 4.33pm there was a beeping in my ear.
Suddenly, I could hear the BBC Newcastle announcers discussing the latest sporting news and the atrocious weather conditions in Northumberland and Scotland.
The next second a voice in my ear said: 'Hello, Karen. Are you there?'
'Yes,' I said. 'Can you hear me?'
'We can hear you loud and clear. A couple more minutes and then we will be interviewing you, OK.'
'OK,' I said. In the next few minutes I crossed both sets of fingers, blew my nose and tried to slow my breathing.
Meanwhile, the jungle drums had been beating as far away as Leeds. My sister Debby, the family accountant, had just finished a meeting with clients when her secretary came running with a message:
'Quick! Tune into BBC iplayer. Your sister is about to be interviewed on BBC Radio Newcastle about her book!'
Apparently, all accountancy practises ceased in Leeds for the next fifteen minutes as various colleagues crowded into Deb's office to listen to me on the radio.
Meanwhile, back in my tiny room, I stared at the blank blue wall in front of me and tried to remain calm...
Suddenly, Jon Harle was introducing 'Catching the Eagle' and the story behind it. He did it really well. I was thoroughly enjoying listening to him - and it took me by surprise when he welcomed me and asked the first question. Th next fifteen minutes flew by. It was all over before I knew it. I never had chance to mention the Northumberland Book Launch at Kirkley Hall on January 8th - or the Waterstones signings.
But I'm still deliriously happy. I'm launched. The 'Eagle' is soaring. I am such a lucky, lucky woman... :)
The interview can be heard here. It is about half way through the programme: