Rainy Day by Barry Purchese
Story version by Geffers.
(This a story version of an episode (9.12). Because of that, the dialog is either taken from the episode, or added by me for scenes that are outside of the episode. I've done my best to interpret why people say and do what they say and do in this episode).
"Better take your coat, Laura," said Mrs. Regan.
"Aren't I getting a getting a lift in then?" asked Laura, as she slipped on a headband to keep her blonde hair in place.
"Sorry, no, I've got a few errands to run. I'll be in later. The walk will do you good. You could take the bus."
"It's quite sunny. It's never worth taking the bus. Two stops, no point," said Laura.
"Up to you. Forecast said rain later, so best to be safe. Take a brolly. Why are you looking so glum? Not because I can't give you a lift?"
"No of course not! Anyway, I'm fine. No, just thinking about the meeting about the school magazine, you know, who gets to be on the editorial board. It's today."
"Yes, I know, you keep going on about it," said Mrs. Regan. "So you're worried no-one will vote for you."
Laura was horrified that her mother had read her mind so easily. "Oh no, Julia will propose me, and I'm sure I'll get someone to second me. I'll get on the board, no problems, you'll see."
* * *
A very wet and bedraggled Mrs. Regan hurriedly pulled back the glass door and thankfully entered the reception area of Grange Hill. Mrs. McClusky happened to be there.
"Ugh. Look at me, I'm soaked!"
"Typical," said Mrs. McClusky, smiling at her. "The day before we break up for the holidays and it looks like it's in for the week!"
Mrs. Regan climbed a flight of stairs, and found an anorak-clad Danny Kendall staring out into the rain.
"Danny, I didn't know you were back in school."
"Nearly weren't either," he admitted "Till the rain came down."
"Have you only just arrived?"
"How long's it been raining?"
"Five or ten minutes," said Mrs. Regan.
"Look at the state of me," said Danny, implying the answer to her question was self-evident from his appearance.
"Danny! We're not in the playground now."
Danny chose not to understand. "I know. That's the playground out there."
"I meant, you are talking to a teacher!"
"So, show some respect!"
Danny made a face, and turned away, back towards the rain. He liked watching the rain. The rain came and went when it wanted, without schedule.
"Danny! Will you look at me when I'm talking to you," said Mrs. Regan, in despair.
"I thought you'd finished."
"Did you?" replied Mrs. Regan, now seriously annoyed.
Danny looked at her, but did not reply. Why was she so touchy today?
"Well seeing as you've got this far, I suggest you continue your journey and report to your Form Tutor."
Danny turned away again. She continued to talk, but he let the words bounce off him.
"Danny, if you don't move, I'm going to get angry."
She moved close to him, now shouting out the words. "Right, that's it. You can report to Mr. Baxter instead, and tell him why I sent you."
Danny turned to face her.
"Insolence, Kendall. Deliberate, calculated insolence."
Danny moved off without a word, but downwards, rather than upwards.
"Hey! Mr. Baxter's room is that way!" Mrs. Regan pointed to the upper floors. Danny started to climb the stairs. "And I shall be checking up with him to see that you showed up."
Mrs. Regan strode away. After a moment, Danny descended again, and peered after her to make sure she had gone.
* * *
The idea of the school fanzine had been Second Former Calley Donnington's. When the school had merged with Brookdale and Rodney Bennett, its size had increased enormously. After that, there was a fire, and asbestos found, putting some of the buildings out of commission. With classes taking place in the Hall, and unlovely portakabins used rather than proper buildings, there was a general feeling that communication between staff and pupils was lacking. A school fanzine, that is, a magazine created by the pupils, seemed a good idea. Mrs. McClusky was backing the idea, with a proviso that the staff would be involved; the memories of the previous fiascos were still reasonably fresh in her mind. And with the fanzine came the idea for a new logo that could be used for not only the mag, but also, potentially as the design for the school generally. Perhaps, with a new logo, the newly merged schools could fuse properly together and leave the past behind them.
"Logo Competition - we need a new logo for our School Magazine - the best design will be in each issue, and you win a year's free subscription." So said the A4 poster which Danny Kendall removed from the notice-board. Danny Kendall would never admit openly to enthusiasm in a school project of any shape or form, but the truth was that the idea of designing a logo did appeal to him. There was a snag though, he thought, but perhaps if he were to go and see...
"Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear," said Mr. Bronson, wiping his nose. And where were we thinking of going with that?"
"To see Miss Booth," said Danny.
"No need, Kendall, she knows all about it. She is in charge of the wretched competition."
"That's why I am going to see her," explained Danny.
Mr. Bronson took a look at the poster. "Is there something in the design of the poster you object to?"
"I wanted to ask her something."
"Then you will do it at the appropriate time."
"One of the break periods. Now, much as it pains me to say this," said Mr. Bronson, and then lowered his voice by an octave before continuing: "Put it back."
"Ridiculous idea," said Mr. Bronson as Danny walked away. Nothing at all wrong with the existing school badge, he thought.
"Err, just before you rush off," said Mr. Bronson, raising his left arm, and as if he were a puppeteer controlling a marionette, Danny stopped in his tracks.
"Perhaps you would be good enough to tell me why I as your Form Tutor should have been completely unaware of your presence in school until chance threw us together in this way?" Mr. Bronson lowered his face until it was menacingly close to the boy, yet Danny remained calm and reasonable in his response. Each spoke to the other in a quick-fire manner, without the slightest pause.
"I was coming to see you later," he offered.
"Oh later," said Mr. Bronson with some sarcasm. "You have a more pressing engagement."
"Yeah. Mrs. Regan sent me to see Mr. Baxter.
"You do surprise me!" Mr. Bronson paused, thinking about it. "And so does Mrs. Regan. She ought to know by now that the only possibility of you reaching a specified destination is for someone to walk alongside you and guide you safely into harbour."
As if to illustrate the point, Mr. Bronson used his arm to firmly guide Danny towards Mr. Baxter's office, his pen pushing into the boy's back.
"Otherwise you have a tendency to veer off course, don't you, Kendall? Like a defective supermarket trolley."
From his office, Mr. Baxter too seemed to be fascinated by the heavy downpour outside his window. For a moment he stood looking at it. He sighed deeply, one fist on his hip, and turned to face Danny Kendall.
"You're a mystery to me, Kendall, you really are. I mean I'm used to kids going quiet on me when they're in trouble; but I usually get some response out of them. Even if it's only a grunt."
Danny did not grunt, or utter any other kind of response, so Mr. Baxter continued.
"But you - nothing. Sometimes less than nothing. I've never known a boy walk out of school as much as you do. I sometimes think you only come to Grange Hill to be able to turn round and go back home again."
Danny defended himself at this point: "I only do it when someone's having a go at me."
"Oh yes, of course, sorry," said Mr. Baxter with a look of mock apology.
"You never leave before you've wound up one or two of the staff, do you?"
"It's them that pick on me! I don't start it. Don't even take part in it."
"Danny, listen," said Mr. Baxter, sitting down. "Just because you won't open your mouth, it doesn't mean you're not taking part. Now, you know as well as I do that your refusal to answer, or answer respectfully, that makes your teachers so annoyed."
"Bronson don't need any encouragement," Danny protested. "He was born stroppy."
"Mr. Bronson, to you," corrected Mr. Baxter. "What about Mrs. Regan? Miss Partridge and the others? Now they're not known for losing their tempers, so why do you do it?"
"I don't do anything, I told you. It's them that start. I just want to be left alone."
Mr. Baxter admitted defeat. He looked at his watch and stood up.
"Right, I can arrange that," he said. "Here. You can have my office all to yourself, until lunch break. And then I shall return and we'll resume this conversation. And next time it will be a conversation because I want some more answers coming from you, Danny. So make yourself comfortable and think about it."
"You're leaving me here, on my own?" asked Danny incredulously.
"Hmm. Trusting soul aren't I?"
"What am I supposed to do?"
"You think about your future, son. I'll see you in an hour or so."
Mr. Baxter opened his office door and departed. Danny looked towards the window, seeing and hearing the torrent of rain outside.
"That will depend on the weather," said Danny to the empty room.
* * *
Laura Regan had a problem. When the idea of the fanzine had come about, she had favoured the school council as the way to get kids ideas heard. Then, when the magazine became a certainty, Laura wanted to become part of the editorial staff. The worry was that she might not be popular enough to have her name put forward when it came to the meeting to elect candidates for the editorial board. Having a mother on the staff, in the shape of Mrs Regan, did not always make her peers trust her.
"Who do you think I could get to second my nomination?" she asked best friend Julia Glover, as they trotted downstairs towards their next lesson.
"Nomination for what?" replied Julia, her slightly taller friend, absently.
"The editorial board of the magazine. I am going to stand as a representative, remember?"
Julia decided to wind up Laura a little. "Oh is the meeting today?"
"Don't be funny."
"I didn't realise it was today," said Julia with an innocent look.
"Julia - you're messing me about."
Julia shook her head.
"You'd better be, I'm relying on you to nominate me. Oh you must be going, tell me you are?"
"I 'spec' so. SPEC so, you get it?"
Laura looked blankly back.
"Staff Pupil Editorial Committee."
Laura laughed, her mouth wide, the top lip raised slightly, with a top deck of teeth showing, and made as if to hit her friend with her sports bag. "Julia, I'll kill you..."
They both ran off down the corridor.
Mr. Bronson dutifully knocked on the door of Mr. Baxter's office, and opened the door. He was surprised to find Danny Kendall there, feet up on the desk, absorbed in reading a large book called "Discovering Art".
"No," said Danny with a smile, happy to put Mr. Bronson right. "Danny Kendall."
"Crow, while you may, Kendall, I shall return."
"Don't bother before lunchtime," said Danny calmly. "Mr. Baxter won't be here before then."
"I can wait. And so can you." Mr. Bronson then accentuated his words: "Do Not Dare To Move From This Room. Do you understand what I am saying?"
Danny did not reply; his response was to simply turn away.
Mr. Bronson closed the door.
* * *
Elsewhere, yet another person looked gloomily out of the window of the classroom at the falling rain.
"If this keeps up, we'll be stuck in here all through lunchtime. And I fancied a kick about," said Anthony Jones.
Sprawled on a desk nearby, his svelte curly-haired girlfriend Georgina looked concerned.
"Ant, stop it. You know you've got more important things to think about than kicking a ball around a playground." He turned to look at her.
"This afternoon. Your deadline for apologizing to Bronson."
Ant's problems had started the previous day. Imelda had started a scheme of getting 20p from First Formers. Georgina was a somewhat unwilling component of Imelda's Terrorhawk gang, and that meant doing what Imelda said or facing the ghastly consequences. Annoyed that Georgina put her boyfriend Ant first, and did not actively participate in gang activities, Imelda had put Georgina into the forefront of the new idea. Georgina was given a special pair of sewing crinkly-blade scissors to cut the corners off the lower years' timetables as a pass to indicate payment of Imelda's tax. Things went well, until the needlework teacher found a First Year girl in her class was upset and wormed out of her what had happened. It was Georgina's name that the First Former had remembered as well as Imelda's.
As Georgina had fretted about being called into the Head's office, Ant had comforted her by putting his arm around her, but Mr. Bronson had intervened, misinterpreting the embrace as something inappropriate in school time. Mr. Bronson had pulled Ant to his feet, holding him closely - then, and it all happened so quickly that Ant himself was not entirely sure of the sequence of events - Ant had pushed back against the teacher's tight grip. Mr. Bronson had fallen back, his toupee almost coming adrift in the process, his dignity punctured. Ant Jones had tried to explain to Mrs. McClusky how Mr. Bronson was always picking on him, but it was no use; Ant had until the end of the following school day in order to apologise to Mr. Bronson, or face the very serious charge of assault.
"I'm not going to, so the deadline means nothing," Ant Jones said with finality.
Georgina sighed. "It does to Bridget and Baxter. As far as they're concerned, you're refusing to say sorry for no reason."
Ant turned round to face her.
"No reason? What about Bronson picking on me for no reason? I mean if he doesn't like my face, that's his problem." Ant's voice now gained a stubborn quality. " It's not my fault, and I don't see why I should have to apologise for it."
"You did shove him."
"He nearly tore my blazer," said Ant indignantly. "He wouldn't stop."
"You'll be suspended," said Georgina.
"Yeah, I know," said Ant, sighing.
Ant decided to change the topic. He climbed on the table next to Georgina.
"I was talking to a kid in the Breckfield swimming team. He says there's a party going on during the holidays. Do you fancy it?"
Georgina was not so easily deflected. "I was nearly suspended for what I did with Imelda," she said.
"Yeah, I know," said Ant thoughtfully. "Shame you weren't, could have had a really long time together away from school..."
"It's not funny, my mum and dad were furious. Yours will be too."
"I can't help that."
"Yes you can!"
Ant raised his voice, angry now at her nagging.
"Oh don't keep on. Don't you understand, I'm not going to make that apology."
Georgina got down from the table. "Then you can forget about coming round my house in the holidays. And you can sit out your suspension on your own."
"I thought you were on my side," complained Ant.
"I am," she said as she left the room.
"Sounds like it!" he called after her. Feeling very sorry for himself, Ant made a soft clicking sound with his tongue and brooded on his fate.
* * *
Cautiously, checking to see if the coast was clear, Danny left Mr. Baxter's office. Resuming his earlier, interrupted, action, he took off the logo design poster from the noticeboard and headed off to see Miss Booth in the Art Room. Outside there was a throng of kids trying to get in. Georgina Hayes was by the door.
"Seen Miss Booth?" asked Danny.
"She's in there," said Georgina, indicating the classroom. "She's right down the front though, and it's really packed."
"Why what's happening?"
"Well it's the meeting about the school magazine."
"Don't matter, I'll fight my way through."
Danny moved towards the heavily congested door.
"Um, Laura Regan's in the front," said Georgina.
"It's just that I was wondering..."
"Wondering what?" asked Danny bluntly.
"Well... You know how Ant Jones is in trouble with Bronson?"
Danny smiled broadly. "Oh yeah, donked him one, didn't he? Wish I'd seen it."
Georgina remained serious. "I just thought it might help if he had someone to speak up for him," she said hopefully.
"Laura Regan? What good's she going to do?"
"Not Laura - her mum."
"Oh. You want Laura to ask her mum to speak up for Ant?"
Georgina nodded. "I thought it would be worth a try," she said.
"Suppose it might," agreed Danny. "Grab hold of her on the way out," he suggested.
"That's what I was going to do. Only I don't know Laura that well, so I was wondering if you would... you know?"
"What, ask her for you?"
"You are in her class."
Danny didn't say anything, but resumed trying to get through the busy doorway. Georgina watched him go, none the wiser as to if Danny would do the favour she had asked of him.
Inside the classroom was very full, with people sitting at the desks, standing at the sides and at the back. Laura and Julia were at the very front, while towards the rear sat Fay Lucas and Julie Marchant. On the other side at the back were various First Formers: Calley Donnington and Ronnie Birtles sat behind Gonch Gardner and Hollo Holloway. Danny wormed his way forward, getting a very dirty look from Mrs. Regan en-route. She had not forgotten their meeting on the staircase.
"Settle down everybody, and let's get this meeting started," said Miss Booth who stood at the front with Miss Partridge.
"Well I must say Miss Partridge and I are absolutely delighted. We're assuming of course that this marvellous turnout is due to your enthusiasm for the magazine, and not because it's raining outside."
The kids groaned in response to this sleight against their motives.
"Yes, that's what we thought," said Miss Booth, not unkindly.
Miss Partridge started speaking
"Right. Well as you know, the idea of today is to try to find some student representatives to join Miss Booth and myself on the editorial committee. To be elected you need to be proposed and seconded," she said.
At the rear, Hollo said: "What does that mean?"
Ronnie Birtles leant forward: "Someone has to propose you, and someone has to second you, dunce!" she said unhelpfully.
"And what does that mean," said Hollo, none the wiser.
Sensing an injustice, Gonch spoke up, but hadn't intended to be heard by the teachers: "Who proposed them?"
"Is there a question?" said Miss Booth, hearing the First Formers.
"Yes Miss," said Ronnie, happy to get Gonch into trouble. "Luke wanted to know who proposed and seconded you!"
Gonch gulped. "Oh no Miss, um... Paul didn't know what 'proposed and seconded' meant. I was just explaining to him."
"Paul?" asked Miss Booth.
"Miss?" said Hollo.
"Did Luke explain to your satisfaction?"
"Good. Then perhaps you'd be good enough to explain to everybody what the procedure is?"
"Thanks," muttered Hollo to Gonch.
Hollo gave it his best shot. "Proposal's like marriage, Miss. Someone asks someone, and, well, if they agree, well, that's it."
Everyone in the room laughed at Hollo's reply.
"Really?" said Miss Booth. "Was that your explanation, Luke?"
"It was a joke, Miss," said Gonch. To the girls behind him, he said in a quieter voice: "You keep your big mouth shut, Birtles."
"Oh, I'm frightened," she said back to him.
"All right now," said Miss Booth smiling. "That's enough. Right now if you want to join us on the editorial committee you need to find someone to suggest you. Then you need find someone else to agree to that suggestion. For example, I suggest Luke Gardner as he's so good at explaining things in such an entertaining way. Do I have a seconder?"
"Definitely," said Miss Partridge, laughing.
"Ah, good, right. Well let's have a show of hands to support Luke Gardner, we do need a majority."
To Gonch's surprise, there was a large amount of hands raised.
"Excellent. Luke, you're our first pupil rep," announced Miss Booth. Luke looked distinctly displeased at the turn of events, while Hollo, Calley and Ronnie quietly patted him on the back approvingly.
"Any other nominations, we need about a dozen people," said Miss Partridge, writing down Gonch's name.
"Janet St. Clair, Miss", a girl suggested near the front.
"I would like to, Miss, but I'm doing the amnesty posters, and that is a lot of hard work," said Janet. The library was having an amnesty, a chance for books to be returned without questions asked, and Janet had been working on the poster design.
Janet turned towards the back. "But I would like to nominate Fay Lucas," she added.
"Fair enough, Janet," said Miss Partridge. "Is there a seconder for Fay?"
Julie Marchant immediately put up her hand. "Miss," she said, then, giggling a little, looked at Fay and quickly put out her tongue. Fay gave Julie a "really!" look, but actually she wanted to be part of the editorial committee.
"Right, can we have a vote for Fay Lucas?"
Again there was an easy majority of hands.
"Fine, well done Fay," said Miss Partridge, appending Fay's name to her list.
"Please, Miss," said Fay. "Can I suggest we have a male member of staff, as well as Miss Partridge."
"By all means, Fay," said Miss Booth. "Do you have any ideas?"
"Not really, Miss. But I suppose someone like Mr. King wouldn't be a bad idea. I mean he does know about computers and printing and stuff."
"That's a very good idea, Fay, we'll ask him," agreed Miss Partridge. Julie looked at Fay, knowingly. Trust her to choose Mr. King!
At that point, Danny Kendall moved forward a little through the room. Fay looked around, annoyed as he bumped into her.
"All right, next nomination, a younger member."
"Cally Donnington," suggested Ronnie Birtles.
"Caroline Donnington, is there a seconder?" asked Miss Partridge. "Okay, let's have a show of hands for Caroline Donnington. Good - Caroline's on the committee."
Danny neared his target - the front of the class, near to Laura and Julia.
"Look don't worry," said Julia. "You'll get it."
"What happens if someone else decides to stand?" said Laura, worriedly.
"You'll still get it," said Julia.
"No more boys?" asked Miss Booth eyeing Danny Kendall. "Come along now, how about someone from the Third Year?"
Julia made her move. "Please Miss, Laura Regan."
"Right. Any seconder?" asked Miss Booth.
Danny Kendall immediately raised his hand in support.
"Votes for Laura Regan please...." said Miss Partridge. The show of hands was gratifying to Laura. "Laura Regan is elected," said Miss Booth.
Laura turned to Danny Kendall. "Why d'you do that?"
"I think you'd be good. Not too frightened to open your mouth if something's wrong," he said.
"Someone has to," she replied.
"Listen," said Danny, getting straight to the point. "You know this argument between Ant Jones and Bronson?"
"Argument! Bronson picking on Ant more like," she said.
Danny nodded. "I'm glad you feel like that," he said. "Because there might be something you can do about it."
At the back, Mrs Regan watched Danny talking to Laura with great suspicion.
* * *
Mr. Baxter and Mr. Bronson reached the office.
"Sorry I wasn't here at break," apologised Mr. Baxter.
"Not to worry. Kendall passed on the message in his own inimitable fashion."
The two teachers went inside - the room was empty! Mr. Bronson smiled knowingly, not in the least bit surprised by Danny's absence.
"If by chance, Kendall does put in an appearance, please don't bother sending for me, I've wasted enough time. Although of course if Jones does have a last minute attack of conscious, and decides to apologise..." Mr. Bronson paused for a moment. "You know where to find me."
Mr. Bronson turned on his heel, sneezing into his handkerchief as he departed. Mr. Baxter closed the door on his office, immensely annoyed.
* * *
After the meeting had ended, Mrs. Regan helped turf out the masses, but buttonholed her daughter before she could leave.
"See, I told you," said Laura smugly.
"What a turn out," said Laura as they walked down the corridor. Julia trailed behind. It was awkward when your best friend's mother was a teacher, she thought.
"Yes, most of your friends seemed to be there," said Mrs. Regan, but then betrayed the thought uppermost in her mind. "Hardly necessary for you to count on support from Danny Kendall."
"Can't stop him if he wants to vote for me."
Her mother's observation reminded Laura of her obligations.
"I was wondering if you'd have a word with Mr. Baxter for me."
"Not about Danny Kendall!"
"No," said Laura. "Ant Jones."
Mrs. Regan stopped and faced her daughter. She sighed. Just as Laura found it difficult having a mother as a member of staff, so Mrs. Regan found it equally difficult having a daughter among the pupils.
* * *
With the classroom emptying, Danny finally was able to talk to Miss Booth about the matter that had been on his mind all day. He clutched the Logo Competition poster.
"This poster about the Logo Competition. Did that only go up today?"
"This morning. That one didn't stay up very long did it?"
"No. I brought it along to show you."
"Danny - I designed it", protested Miss Booth.
"Yeah. But it says here, entries in by the 5th. That don't make sense does it? I mean why put posters up today if the closing date for the competition was last week."
Miss Booth looked closely at the poster. Danny had got a point.
"It's a misprint. It should say the 25th."
"So it's not too late then?" Danny immediately toned down the eagerness in his voice. "Like for anyone's who's interested in this kind of stuff."
"That's right, you've got at least two weeks to work on your design," said Miss Partridge.
Danny backtracked. "Me? Get involved in something like this?"
"Thanks for pointing it out to me, I'll get round and alter them as fast as possible."
Danny proffered his marker pen. "I'll do it, Miss. I'll shoot round the school with my felt-tip and write two on all the posters."
As if to demonstrate he neatly prefixed the digit '2' to the poster in hand.
"Would you?" said Miss Booth in surprise. "Thank you very much, Danny," she said as the boy ran off.
"Well," said Miss Partridge. "Just for a moment, I thought he was going to actually enter the competition. Do you think that's possible?"
"You saw his face light up when he realised that he hadn't missed the last date for entry?"
"Yes, but Danny Kendall designing the logo for the school magazine? Can't see it myself!"
"We'll see," said Miss Booth.
"You've certainly got more faith in him than I have!"
* * *
Danny Kendall approached the noticeboard, amended poster in hand. He was waylaid by Ant Jones who called him over with a whisper: "Danny, come here."
When they were away from the corridor, in amongst the lockers, Ant said: "Been looking everywhere for you."
"What you hiding in here for? You're allowed to be in school when it's raining."
"Listen," said Ant. "I've just seen Laura. What were you doing at the 'Spec' meeting?"
"Went to see Booth if you must know," said Danny. "Though see saw me coming and frightened the life out of me."
"Well I went in just as Booth was asking kids to stand as representatives for the magazine. I thought she was going to put me forward for a minute..."
"Ooh, I wish I could have seen your face," grinned Ant.
"Yeah, well, I stuck up my hand up and voted for Laura Regan double quick," continued Danny. "Couldn't see anyone supporting me, but I weren't taking any chances..."
"So that's why you did it," said Ant. "Laura thinks you turned up 'specially to vote for her."
"Nah. It was all an accident," lied Danny. He knew Laura would most likely have not spoken to her mother about Ant unless he had been seen to support her endeavour. People often found Danny hard to understand but in fact he had some simple rules, one being that an enemy of his enemy was his friend.
"Yeah, well thanks a lot mate," said Ant.
"For getting Laura to ask her mum to speak up for me."
"Not me. Thank that Second Year girl you're always knocking about with."
"Is it? I dunno." Danny smiled. "Obviously fancies you though."
Ant looked slightly embarrassed at that. "Yeah. Cheers, anyway. And watch yourself. Bronson's about you know."
"It's you who should be worried about Bronson," said Danny, drawing on his cold, logical approach to problems. "Not me."
"You reckon?" said Ant.
"Even if Regan does get to see Baxter. Won't do any good. You either apologise to Bronson or you don't. That's all they're bothered about. And if you don't, you're the only loser."
Ant thought that was a bit rich coming from Danny. "How can you say that," he countered. "You'd never apologise to any teacher."
"Yeah, but this school's already got me marked down as a loser, so it don't matter. Make a lot of difference to you if you get suspended or expelled."
Ant thought for a moment.
"What, say sorry to Bronson?" he said. "Oh, there's no way I could get the words out."
"Why not? They're only words. You only have to say 'em. Don't have to mean 'em."
"There's no chance of that!" said Ant.
"Right," insisted Danny. "You can even make them sound as if you don't mean 'em."
"What can they do about it? I mean, you'll have done what they asked."
Ant didn't reply to that, but instead chewed over Danny's suggestion.
* * *
And still the rain came down. Mr. Baxter stood in his office looking out of the window. He wondered if they should start constructing an ark. A knock at the door sounded, disturbing his contemplation.
Mrs. Regan entered dressed in her tracksuit.
"Geoff," she said.
"Oh, hello Liz."
"You're looking a bit fraught," she said. "Pressures of high office?"
"Let's just say it's one of those days I'd rather be tucked away with you in the gym."
Mrs. Regan laughed at the double entendre. "You wouldn't care to rephrase that," she said.
"See what you mean." Mr. Baxter indicated the chair. "Sit down," he said.
Mrs. Regan took a seat.
"You know, I used to think trying to organise a class of flabby Third Years into some sort of disciplined performance on the gymnasium apparatus was a pointless exercise. A lot of hard work with very little return, know what I mean?"
"Being Deputy Head's harder?"
"Oh believe me, Liz, trying to get Roland Browning over a vaulting horse is a piece of cake by comparison."
Mrs. Regan laughed. "You sound desperate."
"Ah, don't listen to me," said Mr. Baxter. "It's probably just the weather."
Mr. Baxter sat back in his chair, intertwining his hands together.
"Although I was rather hoping that knock on the door was Anthony Jones."
Mrs. Regan leaned forward.
"You won't believe this, but I am here in lieu of Jones. My daughter, and from why I can gather, quite a few other Third Years seem to think Maurice Bronson's victimising him."
To her surprise, the Deputy Head agreed.
"They're probably right."
"Yes, I'm sure they are. So, what can we do about it?"
Mrs. Regan went over to the window, standing beside Mr. Baxter.
"We wait for Jones to apologise," said Mr. Baxter.
"That hardly seems fair!"
Mr Baxter looked at her sharply. "Yeah well life isn't, is it? You know what I mean, some people don't get along with each other. But when that's a teacher and a pupil, that's usually tough luck on the kid."
"Geoff, what are you saying?" asked Mrs. Regan.
Mr. Baxter's tone was apologetic. "I'm sorry, Liz. I've had a gutful this morning. I was prepared to really try with that boy. What happens? You show them a bit of trust - they still let you down."
Mrs. Regan was confused. "Are we still talking about Jones?"
"No, no, sorry. Kendall. He's gone AWOL - again."
"What you mean you haven't dealt with him from this morning?"
Mrs. Regan was indignant. "I wish I'd known. I'd have pretty soon dragged him back in here."
"What do you mean, have you seen him?"
"Yes! Just now at the SPEC meeting."
"Honestly, the arrogance of the boy." Mrs. Regan crossed her arms. "It is unbelievable."
What was also unbelievable was that at that very moment, Danny Kendall chose to enter Mr. Baxter's office.
"Don't you ever knock?" asked Mr. Baxter.
"Didnít realise that you'd be here," said Danny, as if that were any kind of explanation.
"And just what do you think you're doing here anyway?"
"You said lunchtime."
"Yes, I also told you to stay here." Mr. Baxter indicated the chair.
"I know, I had to get out. Don't know how you stick it in this office. I'd go nutty in a place like this."
Silently, Mr. Baxter gestured for Mrs. Regan to go.
"Has he ever seen an educational psychologist? " she asked quietly on the way out.
"Not to my knowledge," said Mr. Baxter.
"Might be an idea."
Alone with Danny, Mr. Baxter looked sternly at him.
"She thinks I'm mental, don't she. If being mental means being bored, I suppose I am."
"No son. Tell you what you do. You work hard. Pass all your exams. And you end up in a job like this. Then you'll know what being mental is!"
To Danny Kendall's great astonishment, and amusement, Mr. Baxter raised his arms, turning his hands into great monster claws, and produced a "buhuhuhuhu" sound.
"I'm joking. I think. Sit down."
Danny sat down. It was time for some straight talking, thought Mr. Baxter.
"Right then, Danny. Why do you do it?"
"Walk out of school?"
"It's against the rules for a start."
"Your rules, not ours," said Danny. "You made them."
"No I didn't. Not all of them."
"They're for your benefit, though."
"You really believe that, don't you?" said Mr. Baxter.
"'Course. What else are they for?"
"Well, they're for the benefit of all of us! They're to help the school run more smoothly."
"That's what I'm saying. You show me a rule that gives me more freedom. Running the school smoothly just means keeping the kids in order. Rules don't mean nothing to me."
Mr. Baxter thought about this statement. "So we can't touch you then."
"That's about it"
"Suspension, expulsion..." suggested Mr. Baxter.
Danny shook his head. None of those punishments represented anything that bothered him. "No," he said quietly.
"No," said Mr. Baxter. "I can see they're not much of a threat in your case."
"But look what happens to the kids that do toe the line. Do their work, obey the rules. They end up no better off than me."
"I donít think so Danny," said Mr. Baxter.
"I know so. You talk about suspension and expulsion. And that's just what's going to happen to one of the brainiest kids in my class."
"Who are we talking about, Danny?"
* * *
Elsewhere in the school, Ziggy had chalk on his mind. A letter supposedly from the Duke of 'Edinborough' Awards had arrived asking for Ziggy to collect chalk: the letter had been faked by Gonch to wind Ziggy up, and luckily for Gonch, Ziggy's spelling was no better than his own.
"Is it really worth poking around in Bronson's desk for a few bits of chalk," asked Robbie Wright as his friend Ziggy rummaged through the drawer.
"Oh, just stop your moaning, Rob. I mean it would make a change if you came up with the idea for once. It's always down to me. "
Not finding any chalk, Ziggy stood up, and looked on the rotating blackboard for any sticks that might be lurking there. "And even then I have to twist your arm to get you to help with anything. I mean all I asked you to do was to keep watch and you're still moaning."
Unfortunately, Ziggy was facing away from the door as he said this, and did not see that Mr. Bronson had entered the classroom. The teacher silently raised his finger to indicate that Robbie should stay quiet.
"Nothing!" said Ziggy, rubbing his hands to shift some of the chalk dust. " I reckon he keeps his chalk on a piece of string, that man. He wouldn't mind if I look in his cupboard, would he?" Ziggy bent down to open the book cupboard.
"OH YES HE WOULD," bellowed Mr. Bronson from the doorway.
* * *
Danny Kendall found Ant Jones in his usual haunt by the lockers.
"Thought I'd find you still mooching about in here," he said.
"Come on," Danny continued assertively, "I've put in a good word for you with Baxter."
"You've done what?"
"Come on," insisted Danny, "while he's still in a good mood."
"Where are we going?" asked Ant.
"Baxter's office. Little meeting with Mr. Bronson," said Danny.
Ant shook his head. "Nah listen, I'm not going to do it."
"It's up to you. But I don't see the point in hanging about in here."
Danny laid it on the line. "Because if you don't come with me, you might as well walk straight out of this school. Because you'll be finished at Grange Hill. Well?"
Ant Jones sighed deeply and stood up.
* * *
A knock sounded at Mr. Baxter's office.
The Deputy Head looked up to see Danny Kendall enter, closely followed by Ant Jones.
"I've come to apologise sir," said Ant, his hands behind his back. "To Mr. Bronson."
"See?" said Danny to Ant. "Tongue didn't drop out, did it?"
"Danny - isn't there something you're supposed to be getting on with?"
Danny took the hint, and departed.
* * *
Mr. Baxter sought out Mr. Bronson, finding him in his form room.
"Honestly, sir, it's true," Ziggy was saying.
"Maurice, have you got five minutes?" asked the Deputy Head.
"Ah, what a timely arrival," said Mr. Bronson. "I was considering bringing these two boys to see you, but then given the events of the morning, thus far, I had decided against it."
"Thank the Lord for that," said Mr. Baxter.
"However, since you are here, it's well worth hearing the tale they just told me."
"It's not a tale sir, it's true," protested Ziggy.
"Of course," continued Mr. Bronson with heavy sarcasm. "Why should we doubt that no less a personage than His Royal Highness, the Duke of Edinburgh, has sponsored you both to collect - wait for it - pieces of chalk."
"Oh dear," said Mr. Baxter.
"And the best is yet to come! So precious are these items to His Royal Highness, that he is coming to Grange Hill to collect them..." Mr. Bronson changed his voice to a reverential whisper: "... in person."
Ziggy was fed up with such Doubting Thomases. "He is! Look - it says so in my letter." Ziggy produced the letter from his pocket, and handed it to Mr. Bronson.
"Ah yes, the letter," said Mr. Bronson, taking the dubious item.
"Badly photocopied forgery," he pronounced, handing it to Mr. Baxter.
"No," said Ziggy, refusing to believe it.
"'Fraid so, son," said Mr. Baxter. "I think if the Duke of Edinburgh had written to you, he'd have got his title right, don't you?"
"Well, I think he'd have known how to spell 'Edinburgh'!"
Ziggy laughed. "No. He doesn't do them. Someone in the office must do them for him."
"You're not thinking son," said Mr. Baxter. "If the Duke of Edinburgh was coming to Grange Hill, don't you think there would be some announcement in Assembly? Don't you think that paint-pots and brushes would be in evidence by now?"
"He's right," agreed Robbie. "They always tart places up before they let royalty see 'em."
"Smarten was the word we were looking for, right?" corrected Mr. Baxter.
"So why didn't you say so when I told you before?" asked Ziggy.
Mr. Bronson was surprised that Mr. Baxter had knowledge of Ziggy's activities.
"You knew about this?" he asked.
"Wasn't paying much attention, to tell the truth," replied Mr. Baxter. "Besides, I didn't think you were taking it seriously, son!"
Ziggy looked so downcast that Mr. Baxter decided to bring the matter to an end.
"Sorry. Go on, get off out of it," he added. Ziggy grabbed his red sports bag and left, almost dragging Mr. Bronson's briefcase off the table on the way.
Mr. Bronson turned to Mr. Baxter as the boys left. "I might have had something to say to them myself, before you let them go," he said.
"I'm sorry, shall I call them back," asked Mr. Baxter.
The two teachers left the classroom, and Mr. Bronson sneezed into his handkerchief.
"You were a shade more lenient than I would have been," chided Mr. Bronson.
"Come on, you saw their faces," said Mr. Baxter. "Nothing you or I said could have made them more miserable."
Turning the corner, Mr. Bronson was astonished to find Danny Kendall, marker in hand, in front of the Logo Design poster.
"Kendall," he barked.
"It's all right, " said Mr. Baxter.
"He is about to deface that poster," said Mr. Bronson.
"Err, not deface - alter," corrected the Deputy Head.
The two continued to walk down the corridor.
"Oh, so you knew about this as well, did you?" said Mr. Bronson.
"Yes, err, Kendall and I have reached an understanding."
"Really," said Mr. Bronson, disgustedly.
The two men descended the front stairs. Outside, rain continued to fall.
"Though I have got someone waiting in my office who is anxious to speak to you personally," said Mr. Baxter. He paused for a moment, looking briefly out of the window. "Do you know, I do believe the sun's trying to come out?"
Danny put his felt tip pen away in his top pocket, regarded the corrected poster with satisfaction and smiled to himself. Danny moved off to find the next noticeboard.
(c) 2008 Geoff Phillips