Josh The Joker
He’d teased me relentlessly as a child, and pigs would fly before I’d go
on a date with him now!
YES, and pigs might fly,” I muttered under my breath. This was my contemptuous response to the request made by Mr McArthur that Josh Deacon partner me in a science experiment. “Pigs might fly” was one of Granny Agatha’s favourite quotes. And mine, too. It described so accurately the impossibility of a situation.
And Josh Deacon was an impossible situation.
I’d loathed Josh with every fibre of my eleven-year-old being since he’d reached forward from the desk behind mine and untied the bobbles holding my waist-long hair in its neat plaits. This resulted in my hair gradually unravelling itself in the inter-school rounders match that followed.
I could have forgiven him that – just. But the outcome of the rounders match lay with me. My hair, in a particularly vicious gust of wind, f inally came free in all its glory, blew itself across my eyes and blinded me. I missed the ball completely.
He’d apologised afterwards but my disappointment knew no bounds. I’d felt such a fool. I knew any kind of forgiveness was totally beyond me.
“I absolutely despise you, Josh Deacon,” I’d hissed. “I’ll never forgive you.”
In my fury I’d thumped him – hard. Of course he’d literally ended up the injured party. I’d ended up in detention.
And now Mr McArthur had instructed me to partner Josh in this experiment.
“I’m sorry, Mr McArthur,” I said now in my sweetest tones, “but would it be all right for me to partner Sally?”
Fortunately Mac was one who liked the quiet life and concurred immediately. Sending Josh Deacon a searing look that would have put a Bunsen burner to shame, I went to sit next to Sally.
After that things went from bad to worse. Josh passed his Eleven Plus with flying colours, as did I, and we found ourselves frequently thrown together in senior school. At every opportunity he went out of his way to put me in a bad light.
The Artful Dodger would have had nothing on Josh Deacon. My dinner money would disappear, only to reappear in my pocket at lunchtime when I’d been frantically searching for it all morning.
All the way through school the same sort of thing would happen. My books or my pen would go missing, literally in front of my eyes, then mysteriously appear again.
Or he’d pass on a message that one of the teachers wanted to see me in a particular place. He made it sound so genuine I’d end up waiting for ages until it dawned on me he’d done it again.
He was very clever, always waiting a while between pranks to lull me into a false sense of security.
It didn’t help that Josh was very popular. He was small for his age, but he was always cheerful and smiling and was surrounded by an entourage of devoted followers. I was the one always looking like thunder because, yet again, I’d been the butt of one of his practical jokes.
Even more stupidly, seething with rage and hurt, I would accuse him. Of course, everyone knew it was Josh, but his devotees wouldn’t hear a word against him.
As I would have died rather than tell my parents or any of the teachers, I pretended I didn’t care, using my temper to mask the hurt.