Get Your Laughing Tackle Around this
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.