Leg It (Chapter Nineteen)

From the day Kev returned to school my life was made a living hell. I was spat on, punched, kicked and generally abused at every turn. Tomma and the rest of the gang eventually returned and when they were at full strength they were formidable.

“You can keep away from me as well.” I was disappointed at Elvis’ response.

“Come on, Elvis. You’re my best mate.”

“Was your best mate. You soon abandoned me when you thought you were part of Davison’s gang. Look where it got you. If I start mixing with you again I’m going to end up getting it. It’s hassle I could do without.” 

I sloped off to the canteen, wondering if I could make a plate of chips last the whole lunchtime. At least there was some sort of protection in the canteen. 

When I eventually left the restaurant, Elvis was waiting for me.

“Look, I still stand by what I said earlier, but there’s something I think you should know.” He had been in one of the cubicles in the toilets and had heard Kev and his mates talking. “They’re waiting for you after school. You need to go home a different way.”

“I’ll have to walk miles if I’m going to avoid them.” 

The only other route home was by walking around the top of Marley Pots estate. Something I wasn’t particularly keen on.

“It’s the only way if you want to avoid a kicking,” said Elvis, “and if they find out it was me who told you, I’ll be the one getting the kicking.” 

He was right. “Unless I set off early.”

“How are you going to get out of school early? It’s Geography last lesson, there’s no way Dunny will let you out.”

“Can’t do anything about it if I’m not there,” I said.

“What do you mean?”

“See you later mate. I’m away home.”

“You can’t what about registration?” 

He had a point. I went to registration and as soon as it was over I headed for the front gate and walked out. Nobody saw me. Nobody was expecting it. I felt an overwhelming sense of relief sweep over me.


I didn’t know what to do with the rest of my day. I hadn’t felt this relaxed in ages. I went home and played snooker, equalling my record break of thirty. I then went upstairs and had a wank, it would be rude not to. I played my Depeche Mode tapes at full blast and generally enjoyed myself. This was definitely the way forward. For the next fortnight, I did the same every day. I went in for registration and then walked straight out of the gate, only returning for afternoon registration. Elvis and Bumper soon joined me. It hadn’t taken Kev long to work out who had tipped me off and he administered a sound to beating to Elvis. 

Elvis saw the benefits of my new-found freedom, but Bumper wasn’t sure why he was there. He just said that the idea of playing snooker and listening to tapes appealed to him.

We played games on the computer. They were normally banned in my house; the computer was an educational tool, but Elvis’ parents were a little more liberal. He had stacks.

Like all good things, it had to come to an end. A letter to my parents soon put a stop to it.


“Straighten your tie.” 

My mam tried to strangle me with my neckpiece then reinforced the side parting she had combed into my hair that morning. Taking a tissue from her pocket, she spat on it and wiped an imaginary mark from my face.

“For Christ’s sake, Mam. I’m fifteen, I can manage to wash myself.” 

“You should try and act your age sometimes. And don’t take the Lord’s name in vain. No wonder you’re in so much trouble with an attitude like that. I don’t know where we went wrong with you.” 

I was tempted to tell her, when I saw Bumper forcing back a grin at the other side of the entrance hall.

“I don’t know what you’re smirking at,” said his mother.

“I don’t smirk. Stunts your growth apparently.” 

This was too much for Elvis who burst out laughing. Mrs Morris hit him so hard that his glasses flew across the floor.

The humour kept our minds off what was coming; we were all due in Gutteridge’s office to get our punishment. We had been bunking off for about three weeks now thinking that nobody had seen us. The funny thing was that the teachers had watched us from the staff room window as we walked out of the gate. They hadn’t bothered to say anything at the time as they were probably thinking we would set a trend that would take the likes of Kevin Davison out of their lessons giving them an easy ride. When they realised that we were never going to be trend setters they pulled us in. I’m not sure how they explained to Gutteridge that they had quite happily watched pupils walk out of the school and not done anything about it. I would love to have seen them try and explain it to my mam, but I was never going to get the chance.


There was an uneasy tension in the entrance hall. The three mothers eyeing each other with suspicion, not speaking. Eventually my mam broke the silence.

“If you’re looking for who’s to blame in all this, look no further than this one here.” 

I felt it a little unfair to lay the blame solely on Elvis or Bumper; I thought it was even more unfair when I realised that she meant me. Usually in these sorts of situations the mothers argue amongst themselves about who was the bad influence on their children. In this case my mam left Elvis and Bumper’s mothers in no doubt that I was the ringleader and I would be suitably punished. They seemed happy enough with this. 

My mam had obviously been on the phone earlier to agree my punishment with Gutteridge. As soon as I set foot in his office, he dished it out. I was to be on report for my remaining time at school. After each lesson I had to get the relevant teacher to fill in a report about how I had behaved in class, turning up was a good start. They also had to comment on my homework and anything else they saw fit. I was then to present it to the deputy head at the end of each day where he would review it and then sign it and keep it on my file. It was going to be a nightmare for me. Not only did I need to turn up for each lesson, I also had to do homework. Add this to the grounding I was going to get and the daily beatings from Kevin Davison and it was quite a punishment.

“We’d like you to sign this,” Gutteridge shoved a sheet of A4 paper in front of me.

“What is it?”

“Just do as you are told and sign it.” My mam had no time for questions. 

I glanced at the head of the paper. It was a behavioural contract. I’m not sure if this was Gutteridge’s invention or whether it was common practice in most schools. Basically, I was signing this form to say that I agreed to abide by all school rules, attend school when expected to do so and most important of all, treat teachers with the respect they deserve. It was a joke, but I had no choice. The paper was worthless, so I had nothing to lose.

“Where do I sign?” 

I signed the paper and Mr Gutteridge called through for his secretary to photocopy it. We waited in silence for her to return. My mam thanked Mr Gutteridge as we left and assured him of my future good behaviour. I wasn’t so sure.


Elvis and Bumper got away with being on report for two weeks and they were grounded for the same period. I soon came to realise that it took quite a while for the teachers to fill in the report after each lesson and it took even longer for us to wait for Mr Swinbank after school. This meant less time for Davison and his gang to wreak revenge on us. Lunchtime, however, was always a problem and there was no way we could avoid them all day. 

Football hooliganism was becoming the big thing now and Kev and his mates wanted to be part of it. Every Monday morning was awash with tales of beatings handed out on a Saturday. Whether they were an active part of it or eager onlookers was unsure, but it guaranteed them an audience. They had moved up a level now and if any of the stories were true, which I’m sure some of them were, they were now capable of levels of unbelievable violence against complete strangers; a worrying development.

“When we got to Middlesbrough Station they were all waiting for us.” 

Kev had a crowd around his desk and they were lapping up every word. While Elvis and I were disgusted by his stories we were still as interested as everybody else and listened from a distance.

“It all kicked off and we were right in the middle of it. I took a couple of them out and then I saw Tomma go down.” 

Tomma was sitting beside him proudly sporting a painful looking black eye.

“I waded into them with my Stanley,” said Kev, “nearly took some cunt’s ear off.” 

Claire walked away from his desk in disgust. “You’re an animal.”

“They soon fucked off after that. We walked down to Ayresome Park and nobody touched us. They knew who we were, and they were scared shitless.” He then went into his pocket and produced a red handled Stanley knife. “Look, it’s still got the blood on it.” 

Everybody was in awe of him. I turned away and spoke to Elvis. We tried to ignore him, but he seemed to get louder. 

“Look how sharp it is.” 

Everybody laughed, except Claire who screamed at him. 

“Pack it in, Kev. You’re not funny.” 

I turned around to see what was happening and realised he was right behind me. I didn’t hear him come up behind me and hadn’t felt a thing as he had sliced straight through my blazer with his knife. It was indeed as sharp as he had said. Not only had it sliced through my blazer, it had also gone through my jumper. Another centimetre and I would have been sporting a twelve-inch gash across my back. As it was, I now needed to think of an excuse to tell my mam as to why my uniform was ruined.


Over the next few days it began to dawn on me exactly how far behind I had become. Years of not doing any homework and not paying attention in class, coupled with my weeks of bunking off had left me with absolutely no idea what any of the teachers were talking about. 

I had been moved into the bottom stream for most subjects, but was still, inexplicably, in the top stream for English. English Language would be a doddle; you just made it up as you went along. English Literature, on the other hand was a completely different matter; they at least expected you to have read the books you were being tested on.


“I’ll never be able to read all the books in time.” I was in the computer room with Bumper and Elvis. “If I get the Penguin Passbooks for each one at least I will be in with a fighting chance.”

“But why do you need to raise the money? Can’t you ask your parents?”

“What, and risk telling them that I haven’t got a clue what the first line is in Macbeth? I don’t think so. I tried to get my pocket money backdated. It was stopped months ago. My mam said that it served me right for lying.”

“When shall we three meet again?” said Bumper.


“In thunder, lightning, or in rain?”

“What are you on about, Bumper?” I said. “We’re not going anywhere.”

“It’s the first line in Macbeth, you know, the three witches?”

“You worry me sometimes.”

“You worry me. The exam is in a few weeks and you have no idea about Macbeth, Chaucer or anything else.”

“Let me worry about that. Are you going to help me?”

“It seems like a good idea, but what if we get caught?”

“We won’t. None of the teachers know the first thing about computers. They’ll never realise.”

“Let’s give it a go, we’ve got nothing to lose.”


We approached David Stoker who was tapping away on his keyboard at the corner of the room. 

“Alright, Pete?”

“Fine, mate. How’s the programming going?”

“Nightmare. I haven’t got a clue what I’m doing, and it counts for twenty percent of the final mark. I’ve got no chance. How about you?”

“Did mine ages ago. In fact, it’s a bit of a hobby of mine, I do it in my spare time. I could help you out if you wanted,” I said.

“What, coaching?”

“Sort of. Have a look at this.” I placed a disk in the drive and ran the program. It was no effort for me to produce, but the bright colours impressed David. “What do you think?”

“It’s great, but wouldn’t that be cheating?”

“Not really. I’ve written down how it all works, in case anybody questions you. Like you said, it’s like I’ve been coaching you.”

“I’m not sure. What’s in it for you?”

“Three pounds if you have it. But if you don’t want it, I’ll not be offended. I can sell it elsewhere.” 

I closed the program and went to remove the disk.

“No, you’re okay, just leave it there.” He fished into his pocket and handed me three pound coins. “You sure it will work?”

“Of course it will. You have my money back guarantee.” 

Pleased with our first sale we sought out our next customer. Tony Evans had never quite forgiven me for beating him into second place in the end of year exams at St Christopher’s. Throughout his time at St Pat’s he had been top of the class in everything, except computers. Elvis was always the star of the show and I’m sure I would have been up there with him if I had bothered to apply myself.

“How dare you?” Tony was furious.


“How dare you suggest that you are more qualified to program a computer than me? I should report you right now.” 

He was upset at the accusation.

“We weren’t trying to offend anyone, just trying to help,” said Elvis. “We know you’re going to be top in the theory, we thought you’d like to be top in programming as well.”

“I will be top and without your help. Now if you don’t go away, I’m going straight to the headmaster.” 

Dejected, we left the room. 

“Who else can we try?” I asked Elvis.

“No one.”

“What do you mean no one?”

“That’s it. There are only four people in the whole school who are taking the exam and two of them are us. Everyone else was crap at computers.”

“Why didn’t you tell me this earlier? I’m never going to get the money now.”

“What are you going to do then? How will you afford the books?” 

“There’s only one thing I can do.”

Bumper and Elvis looked at each other.

“No way,” they said in unison.


The next chapter will be released soon. If you can’t wait, Leg It is available on Kindle, Paperback and Hardback.

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