Get Your Laugh­ing Tackle Around this

The Victoria Standard - - Food / Calendar - GE­ORGE SMITH

The sum­mer hol­i­days were over. As I got ready to re­turn to school, I swore that I would never work for my fa­ther again. When I got back to school, ev­ery­one was ask­ing each other about their hol­i­days, and if any­one had done any­thing, or been any­where ex­cit­ing or un­usual. ”Noth­ing much hap­pened to me.” “Went to the beach a lot.” “Dad crashed the car.” “Any­one hurt?” “No.” “My sis­ter gave can­dyfloss to the baby and made it sick!” “Oh, what a mess!” “Mum was fu­ri­ous!” “Did you watch Star Trek?” I wanted to say some­thing in­ter­est­ing, so I told them, “The girls in the fac­tory were wear­ing short skirts, and my fa­ther tried to gas me to death!”

There was an im­me­di­ate si­lence, and John, who only ever spoke when in­quir­ing if any­one had seen his glasses, asked, “How short?”

“How did your fa­ther try to gas you?” asked Viny #1.

“He put me in a tank with a tin of paint that gave off poi­sonous fumes and I had to paint the walls.” “Was there wa­ter in it?” “Oh, shut up, Four-eyes!” “I barely lived to tell the tale. It took days to re­cover. I was walk­ing like I was drunk for ages.” “Gosh!” said Viny #2. “Which fac­tory was it?” “It made women’s stock­ings,” I said. The gen­eral agree­ment was that I had had a great sum­mer. I be­came the hero of the day un­til sup­per­time, when we all filed into the re­fec­tory and waited in si­lence for Barry the cook to push the ter­rines of food into the hot cup­board. When what­ever dis­agree­able con­coc­tion was ready to be served, we would say a prayer and the head­mas­ter would make the an­nounce­ments.

“I have some­thing won­der­fully ex­cit­ing to tell you all!”

“He’s leav­ing,” whis­pered Bob.

“A film com­pany was here dur­ing the hol­i­days, mak­ing a movie.” The head­mas­ter beamed at us. “And guess what? We are all go­ing to see the clip from the movie that has the school in it af­ter sup­per.”

“It must be a hor­ror film,” some­one be­hind me sug­gested.

Af­ter sup­per, the ta­bles were stacked to one side and the chairs were set in neat rows fac­ing the stage. The games mas­ter, who was a wizard with the pro­jec­tor, called for ut­ter si­lence while he threaded the film from the reel through the wheels, be­hind the lens and onto the sec­ond reel. The lights dimmed and the pic­ture hit the screen.

The film flick­ered and stopped. We were con­vinced that Noah had used this very pro­jec­tor to en­ter­tain the an­i­mals on the Ark. The film started again.

“Look that’s the li­brary, and that’s old Par­sons’ room.”

“Did you see that? They were Par­sons’ socks hang­ing on his dresser.”

Feet de­scended the stone stairs into the base­ment. Wa­ter dripped, and a rat scur­ried, its tiny feet pit­ter-pat­ter­ing on the gran­ite slabs. There were rats ev­ery­where. Rats be­hind the bucket in the corner, rats on the shelf above the door, and rats in the box be­side the wash­ing ma­chine. “I hope they got rid of the rats!” “Of course they did. What do you think we had for sup­per?” was whis­pered un­der Pritchard’s breath.

“Sir, did they catch all the rats?” Foureyes asked.

“Of course they did. They were on strings, and they had a rat wran­gler.” “What’s a rat wran­gler, Sir?” “Some­one who looks af­ter rats.” By lights out, we were con­vinced that it would have been im­pos­si­ble for all the rats to have been re­moved from the base­ment.

“One could have eaten through its string.” “It might come up here.” “I’ve heard that they eat peo­ple!” The next morn­ing, with ev­ery­one at break­fast, we de­cided to send both Viny #1 and #2 into the base­ment.

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