Bonnie and her field crew have returned to the Biology Department lab after a successful fossil hunting trip to the coast. Professor Uhura, the Head of Department, stops in to see how they have done, along with Jamal, who has also returned from his summer field research trip. Bonnie has taken Lottie Lamb-Cuthbertson along after Lottie won a school essay competition on palaeontology. Bonnie’s new PhD student, Zoë Adamson, has also come along, as has Monique Holmes. She’s started her new job as preparator and technician in the lab.
Professor Uhura listens intently as Bonnie describes the field season, but behind her, Jamal seems unable to focus on anything that she is saying. Instead, he is gazing at Monique, whom he hasn’t seen in ages.
“It’s so nice to see you, Monique. How did you enjoy your first field season?” he asks.
“I loved it,” Monique responds, her heart thumping. “It was wonderful.” As she and Jamal gaze into each other’s eyes, she wonders how she could ever have been jealous of Roberta.
Elsewhere in the village, sparks are also igniting. Lottie’s family are out for a stroll en route to pick her up at the university when they bump into Esmée and Layla, who have stopped to chat with Francie Roberts, Barbie’s cousin, who is walking her dog. Lara, as the village GP, knows everyone in the village but Esmée isn’t sure that Nick has met Francie so she introduces them to each other.
“Francie, this is Nick Lamb, the guy I was telling you about. He’s the new lecturer at the university, with a joint appointment in Biology and the School of Veterinary Science. Nick, Francie is a huge animal lover and does a lot of charity work for animal shelters and at the university as well.”
Esmée doesn’t mention that Francie is a wealthy heiress and socialite who has endowed the School of Veterinary Science with millions. She is trying to do a bit of matchmaking and doesn’t want Nick to be intimidated. As if anything could intimidate our Nick!
All Nick sees is a beautiful, petite woman who isn’t taller than he is. “Those eyes!” he thinks.
“I’m so glad to meet you!” he says. “What’s your dog’s name?”
“Bingo,” says Francie. “I guess it’s not very original.”
“No, Bingo is a fabulous name!” says Nick. “You must come by and see our new research facility in the Biology Department. Well, I only get a little space there but I’ve got a new PhD student who will be studying the development of cognition in puppies. The puppies are really cute. I bet you would enjoy seeing them.”
Ah, Nick, what could attract a woman more than puppies? Unless it’s kittens, of course.
In the meantime, Nick’s new PhD student, Jessica Taylor, is in the café, meeting some of the other new PhD students. Naomi Kiyembe will be working with Professor Uhura, and Deangelo, whom we have already met, will be working with Jamal.
Elsewhere in the café, Jamal’s sister Chrisandra is having coffee and chatting with one of the new employees in the Centre for Sport, which she directs.
Gabriella Rossi is the new gymnastics coach. She was the European champion for several years as a teenager but is eager to move on with her life professionally. She’s happy to have come to the UK from Italy before Brexit is finalised. With her infectious smile and bubbly personality, it’s impossible not to like her.
Over at the counter, Sasha is eager to try one of Zayn’s doughnuts.
At the other end of the counter, Sam and Midge are astonished to run into Sam’s brother, Jamie.
“Good grief, Jamie, I can’t believe it!” Sam exclaims. “What on earth are you doing here? We had hoped to see you at the wedding.”
“Yeah, I’m really sorry I couldn’t make it. My girlfriend, Liu Liu, and I were out of the country at a fashion week. Liu Liu was showing some of her designs and we just couldn’t make it. And uh, this must be Midge? And now you’re Jewish? It’s a bit much to take in.”
“Yes, I am. And yes, this is my gorgeous Midge. And you are soon to be an uncle, Jamie. What do you think of that?”
“Fantastic, of course, man.”
“But you haven’t told us what you’re doing here!” Sam continues.
“Well, it seems that Barbie Roberts is starting a new venture, her own fashion house, and she’s hired Liu Liu to design for her. So here we are.”
“You’ve got to come around and see us as soon as we get settled. We’re house hunting at the moment.”
“Of course, Sam, really looking forward to getting to know your new family.”
Elsewhere in the university, Luna and Marcelo have come in to check out the Dolls’ new equipment and bump into a very cosy Robin and Gwenhwyfar.
“I’m so glad to see the rhythm section is getting on well,” laughs Luna.
“We have really exciting news for you,” she continues. “Marcelo has got us a regular weekend gig at the pub. We’ll be downstairs in the yoga studio and Mira won’t allow any drinks there, but it will be the dance floor and our performance space.”
“That is fantastic news!” says Robin.
Elsewhere, there is more good news for the musicians. Nicole is showing Pierre the new studio that she has rented with Cho and Jake.
“It’s perfect,” she explains, “Jake is doing a lot of writing and he can work here in the early part of the day and Cho and I can take turns rehearsing and giving lessons.”
“It is perfect,” Pierre agrees. “Congratulations, darling!”
INTERLUDE: I was so frustrated trying to take photographs in my dark downstairs bookcase that I gave up trying to fix them and started playing with them in Photoshop instead. I decided to try “posterising” them to give them a different feel. I uploaded them and then decided I didn’t like them but here are a few that I think were okay.
My husband, patient always, and always inundated with my doll activities, has promised that if I will sort out the boxes from my retirement two years ago, now scattered all over the house, he will give up his office space and let me have a doll room. In my defence, it took him five years to go through all his when he retired! But a doll room would be heavenly – I could set up proper lighting among other things.
By the way, I can’t even begin to say how much I love these new “Black Dolls Matter” tee shirts I bought on Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/blackdollsmatter?ref=l2-shopheader-name
Stay tuned for the next episode!