Josh The Joker

The People's Friend Special - - UPBEAT STORY -

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.

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