After being on report for two weeks, the teacher’s attitudes began to change. I realised that whilst I was quite happy to delay my breaks as long as possible, they weren’t. They wanted to get off for a cup of coffee and a cigarette. The last thing they wanted was to waste time on someone like me who didn’t care what they thought.
They started putting standard phrases on my reports before they even checked my homework. They always said it was very good so nobody questioned them. My mother soon stopped checking my homework, assuming the teachers were doing their job. Some teachers, Mr Bramble in particular, would sign it at the beginning of the lesson. I’m not sure he even knew who I was. I decided to put this to the test. It wasn’t long before Mr Swinbank got bored with me as well. This had obviously been my mother’s idea and they were all sick of it. He decided that instead of waiting for him at the end of school I could just put the report in his pigeonhole at the end of the day. This led to an opportunity.
We had double English with Mr Bramble for the last two periods on a Thursday. I handed my report to Bumper and went home. It worked a treat. Bramble signed the form as usual, not even noticing the change in personnel and Bumper popped it into Mr Swinbank’s pigeonhole on his way home. I had an early finish and my mother was none the wiser. I wasn’t stupid enough to try it on in every lesson. I still went to the ones where I knew I would be missed but I managed to whittle it down to half days for most of the week. It wasn’t long before Bumper and Elvis joined me again.
“Who’s got my report then, Bumper? You’re meant to be getting it signed for me.”
“It’s ok. Karen Walker said she would do it for you.”
“Karen Walker? Haven’t you noticed? She’s a girl for Christ’s sake.”
“They’ll never notice,” replied Bumper.
“Never notice? She’s wearing a skirt.”
“That’s not what I meant. They never check the name on the report. They’ll just think it’s hers. Don’t worry you know I’m right.”
He potted the black and went into a three nil lead.
“Ok then. If you say so.”
I removed my tie as I started racking the balls up for another frame. He had been right, we got away with it. We were on easy street. We played plenty of snooker, nudging my highest break up to forty-five, Bumper’s was sixty. My tape collection was growing and Elvis and me, deciding that the games that he brought round were getting boring, started designing our own. We were good, even if I do say so myself and between us we became pretty proficient programmers. I was learning more by not being at school.
“Come on Elvis, we’re going to be late,” Marie was getting annoyed.
“I don’t get it,” Elvis was crouched over his computer, “all this money is in our account and it shouldn’t be there.”
“It’s an internet bank, they’re always making mistakes. It’ll not be there tomorrow.”
“But it’s a million pounds, Marie. Imagine if we just get one day’s interest, we’ll be rich.”
“Well we won’t so get your head out of the clouds and get a move on.”
Elvis took one last look at the screen, shook his head and closed down his computer.
We were doing quite well at avoiding Kevin Davison. Most days we managed to escape to my house and with his new found career as football hooligan he had become less interested in us. That was, until I fell ill.
“I don’t feel well.”
“I don’t care. You’re going to school.”
After my past performance I could understand why my mother didn’t believe me but I really was ill. I was sitting in the kitchen as my Mam was making toast under the grill. My dad must have had bacon sandwiches before he went to work this morning as the smell of fat was overpowering. I’d managed to eat my sugar puffs but was really struggling to keep them down. I belched and had to force the sick back down. Sweat was now pouring out of my forehead and I felt faint. I wanted my mother to see how ill I was but she was late for work as it was, she took no notice.
“Come on get a move on. Don’t think you can skive here all day either. I’m going to make sure Bernice up the road keeps an eye on the house. She has a spare key so she’ll be coming in to check that you’re not here.” She put her coat on and headed for the door. “Get to school. The fresh air will do you good.”
It did for a while. When I walked out of the door the breeze hit me and it immediately cooled the sweat on my forehead. I swung my bag over my shoulder and headed shakily up the street. I didn’t really care about Bernice. I was going in for registration and I was coming straight home. I’d do well to get that far.
When I got to class the usual Monday morning crowd had gathered around Kev’s desk. He was telling yet another of his now monotonous tales.
“He was on the platform at Seaburn Station. You could tell he was a cockney by the way he dressed, they have no style these southerners.” Everyone nodded in agreement as if they had a clue what he was talking about. “We had to be sure so Tomma went and asked him the time. Fucking class it was. Five thirty Guvnor he replied. Fucking Guvnor. Cockney wanker. Tomma laid the head on him and we all steamed in. Took his watch, his gold chain and his wallet. Even took his jacket, cool as fuck it was.”
“I thought you said they had no style?” Claire spoke up.
“Cockneys. You said they had no style then you said you stole his jacket because it was cool. Which one was it?”
“Fuck off, Claire. What would you know about anything?” He was riled.
“How many of you were there, ten, eleven, on to one? You’re so hard aren’t you?” A few of the girls laughed.
“He was a cockney. He deserved it.”
Kev was going red. On a normal day I would have enjoyed this exchange but I wasn’t feeling well. In fact I wasn’t feeling very well at all. I didn’t think I would even make registration.
“Well I’m really proud of you. I’m sure he’ll have rushed home to London to tell all of his friends just how hard you all are. You’re pathetic.”
Claire had won and headed back to her desk. The crowd started to disperse. A couple of lads hung back to see if Kev had any more tales but he didn’t seem to be in the mood anymore. I wasn’t doing very well and was trying to compose myself. It didn’t help when Sara Nesbitt started eating a bag of Cheesy Puffs. She was an animal. Who eats Cheesy Puffs for breakfast? The stench of artificial cheese wafted over and my stomach started churning again. What happened next was completely out of my control. Kev, obviously still pissed off at being shown up by Claire, reverted to form and decided to come and hassle me. I really wasn’t in the mood.
“Get into any fights at the weekend, Wood?” he sneered.
Please go away. I kept my head down and stared at my desk.
“Not speaking? You’d have bottled it wouldn’t you, even if it was ten on to one? You’d have shat your pants and ran away wouldn’t you?” He poked me in the side.
“Leave me alone.”
The smell was getting stronger.
“Who do you think you’re talking to?”
He pushed my head into the desk. Everything started to blur in front of my eyes. The stench of cheese stuck to my nostrils.
“Come and have a go if you want to. I’m ready.”
He shoved me again. He obviously wasn’t ready for what I had in store. Streams of vomit shot out of my mouth and covered his trousers and Nike Trainers. It stank of sugar Puffs and everyone started howling with laughter. He was going to murder me but I started to smile. Just then Mr Burns walked into the room.
“What’s happening?” he shouted, “Davison, get back to your desk”
“I can’t sir. He’s been sick on me. He did it deliberately.”
“Wood. Go outside and get some fresh air. Barry go out with him and check he’s alright. As for you Davison, err, go and clean yourself up.”
“How can I clean myself up? It stinks.”
I headed out of the door and sat on the step outside. I had to admit that I felt a lot better for it. Both Bumper and I started laughing. We were there for about five minutes when Mr Burns came out.
“You did that deliberately didn’t you, Wood?”
“Good shot wasn’t it sir?” said Bumper.
Mr Burns smiled but didn’t reply.
“Ok. You better get yourself off home to bed.”
“Can you phone my Mam and tell her? She’ll never believe me.”
“Off you go. I’m going to have to try and sort Davison out now.”
I went home and went straight to bed. Whilst I felt a lot better, I was still a little weak. I tried not to think about what Kev would do as I drifted off to sleep.
Another installment of Leg It by Alan Parkinson to follow same time next week.
If this has whetted your appetitie and you would like to buy the book for a bargain £1.99 on Kindle please click here.