Grange Hill Fan Fiction

 

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First Days

(September 1974 - four years before Series One) 

 

Carol Yates pushed the empty plate away from her and sighed deeply. 

"Oh Mum, do I really have to take Trish to school. It's miles out of my way now, and she's nearly eight." 

"It's hardly miles - it's just a couple of streets. You can't let an eight year old walk on her own either, not these days. Normally I'd take both of you, but with this part time job starting today, I can't manage it, at least not today - and not every day either. You're older now and it's time you took some responsibility. You know it's harder now that your dad and I have split up."

 Her mother busied herself at the sink, and then looked at her watch. "Oh hurry up girls, or I'll be late on my first day," she said. 

Trisha looked up from her bowl of corn flakes and scowled. "Don't want 'er to take me to school. I'm not a kid." Trisha brightened suddenly. "Your first day at Grange 'ill. I've 'eard they stick First Year's heads down the toilet." 

"Don't be nasty Trisha, you know your sister's nervous about going. I'm nervous too - my first day as well. My nerves are on edge. Anyway, eat up you slowcoach and then go and brush your teeth. Ignore her Carol you'll be absolutely fine." 

"Yeah mum, I can take care of myself," said Carol. "Come on Squirt, and I'll accompany you to your nursery school." 

Trisha put out her tongue at her older sister, and leisurely finished her breakfast. 

 

Despite her brave words, Carol was nervous as she entered the gates of her new school. She looked around from some familiar faces who might have gone to St. Mary's, her previous school, but only saw Sally Johnson, who had been hockey captain, and Emily - what was her surname? - Carol couldn't recall it. Emily had been a timid mouse of a girl, hopeless at games, who always seemed to be crying. Neither girls had she known very well.

 

"A right lot of soft mugs we've got here," said a girl by her side. She turned to find a dark-haired girl, with a round face and a smug expression. She spoke in a slow, self-amused drawl. "Easy pickings I should think. Who are you then?"

 "Carol Yates. You?" 

"Jackie Heron. You look out of place here. Are you sure you've come to the right school?"

 "Of course I'm at the right school. They said to wait out in the playground. In the letter, that is."

 "Yes. Then they'll herd us inside to assembly."

 "What did you mean about being out of place?" asked Carol. 

"You sound too posh." 

"Can't help the way I talk. You're hardly working class yourself," retorted Carol.

"I just speak properly. I grew up in Hampshire," said Jackie.

"We moved around the country a bit. We used to live in Oxford, then moved to London. My sister's a right little cockney squirt ..." 

"All right, all right, don't need the full family history. God.... This place is depressing." 

"It seems all right to me, " said Carol. A tall, well-built girl came up to them. "All right Jacks?" she said gruffly.

 "Yeah Barbara. This is Carol. She seems... okay." 

"Hello," said Carol, finding she had to crane her neck upwards to look at Barbara. 

"I thought I recognised you, but you weren't at my last school come to think." 

Barbara nodded. "Yeah. We met on the hockey field last year. We thrashed you 5:1."

 "Oh yeah, I remember you. Youíre the girl who tripped up our Maureen. She didn't play games again that year." 

Barbara laughed so loudly that Carol winced, and the ground seemed to shake. 

"So had a look at the boys yet?" asked Jackie. "Any you fancy?" 

"They're all wimps," said Barbara. "Some nice fifth formers though." 

"What about the teachers, Barb?" asked Jackie, then as an aside to Carol, added - "Barbara's got a brother in the sixth form." 

"Well there's Mitchell, Dave says he's all right. And Mrs. Munroe or Monroe or something, don't want to mess with her, and then there's Mr Rankin, who's harmless and gormless in equal measures. Garfield you want to look out for - the caretaker - mad as a hatter in a permanent bad mood. Dave says they are quite tough here - he's had the cane twice." 

The girls stood silent for a moment.  A single spot of rain landed on Carol's head and she looked up into the cloudy sky.  Around them was a cacophony of sounds as new friendships were forged, old acquaintances renewed. 

"When you said 'easy pickings', what did you mean?" asked Carol.

 Jackie Heron tut-tutted. "Follow me," she said, walking towards the end of the playground. Carol and Barbara obeyed. A small girl stood by the back wall. Jackie raised her eyebrows at Barbara, who understood the meaning of the silent communication.  Barbara took the small girl by the scruff of the neck, and pulled her behind the wall out of sight. She screamed. "Shut it," said Barbara, and the girl looked fearfully back. 

"We just want a quiet word." 

"I'll... I'll t-t-tell..." 

"Now that's not very nice," said Jackie. "We just want to be friendly, like." Barbara intensified her grip on the girl's blazer. "Anyway, who're you going to tell. With that stammer no-one will understand you. Your big brother perhaps?" 

"N-n-no. I've only got a little b-b-brother called M-M-Michael.. What d-d-do you want?" the girl asked. 

"First of all, the niceties. What's your name, little one?" interrogated Jackie. 

"S-S-Samantha... Samantha Doyle." 

"Got any money?" asked Jackie. 

"No.. nothing!" 

"You must have something for lunch, or sweets. Surely mummy gave you something? Surely you must have ten pence to give me?"

 "Ten p-p-pens? " 

"No, you thick child, not pens. Pence," butted in Barbara nastily. 

"Ten pens would be good," said Jackie thoughtfully. 

"What is it with you and pens, Jacks?" asked Barbara. 

"I just like pens... Never mind about that, it's money we're talking about girly, money."

 "I have lunch m.m.money. twenty pence." 

"Twenty pence! That's hardly nothing is it now?" 

"No... I thought, I thought, I thought..." 

"Well, stop thinking and hand it over," said Jackie in her slow, reasonable voice. Samantha produced two ten pence pieces. 

"And no telling tales on us," said Barbara in a voice thick with menace. "'cause no-one likes tell-tales, do they?" Barbara let her go and she ran off without looking back. 

"Not bad for a few minutes work," said Jackie. "As I said, easy pickings. You have to show them who's boss." 

Carol looked impassively back. She was horrified to be involved in what had just happened, but she was also conscious of Barbara's formidable size, and considered it would not be wise to be critical. She decided to put some distance between the disagreeable pair as soon as possible and crept away. 

 

As she rejoined the throng of impatient first formers, Carol was tapped on the shoulder. She turned round and saw a boy and a girl whose face was familiar. She had short brown curly hair and a friendly smile. The boy was much taller, and looked stern and wide-eyed. 

"Hello, remember me?" said the girl. 

"Sort of," said Carol frowning. "Were you at St. Mary's? 

"Yes. Not in your class though. I'm Judith Brookehouse, this is my bruv Gerald, but call him Gerry."

 "Oh. Hi Gerry, Hi Judy..." 

"Urgh! Not Judy, please. Judith. We've got a next door neighbour with a little girl called Judy. She's blonde, and she's keeps rabbits out the back in her garden. I hear her talking to them all the time, as though they're her friends." 

"She sounds awful," agreed Carol. 

Gerry spoke up: "What were doing to that other girl - looked like you were bullying her." Carol felt herself blushing. 

"Not me - but Jackie Heron and Barbara were. I didn't know what they were going to do. I'm going to steer well clear of them. They're a real nasty piece of work." 

Suddenly a teacher spoke in a loud voice from the school's entrance. "Pay attention. My name is Mr. Mitchell. You will follow me immediately to the assembly hall, where you will be told which form you will belong to. Come on now - hey you girls at the back, stop gossiping." 

"Better go. Don't want a detention on the first day," said Judith. In the Assembly Hall, Carol was pleased to find she was in the same form - form One Alpha - as Gerry and Judith, but she was not so happy about the inclusion of Jackie Heron. They found the correct classroom easily enough and she took a desk by the window, noting that Jackie sat at the back. Mr. Mitchell strode into the room. He went round the room and put a photocopied timetable on each desk. 

"Quiet please Alpha One." The class settled down. "Welcome to Grange Hill. My name is Mr. Mitchell, your form tutor and I'm going to call the register and that way I'll get to learn your names. You'll have to forgive me if it takes a little while, you see I am fairly ancient." There was some polite laughter at this, and Mr. Mitchell took up the shiny new Register, and began to read out names. "Addison, Wesley." A boy at the front said "Here, sir." Before Mr. Mitchell could continue, the door burst open. To Carol's disappointment, she saw Jackie's sidekick, Barbara, walking in. "All right, all right, come in and sit down - I'm tolerant on the first day, but be here on time in future. What's your name, then?" 

"Barbara Saville." 

"Not a thieving magpie I hope," joked Mr. Mitchell, alluding to Rossini operas, but from the blank faces ahead, realized his wit was unappreciated. He sighed. "Uncultured lot. Never mind, sit down please Barbara." Barbara took a seat next to Jackie and Mr. Mitchell continued. "Bartlett, Amelia." Carol's attention wandered, conscious of her Y initial meaning she was most  likely the last name to be called. She looked out the window onto the playground. This was quite something - the first day of, how many - five, six, seven years in the same place. So many people, new faces - and the bewildering layout of the school, and subjects which meant nothing to her, yet. In time, though, she'd... "Yates. So we've not got a Carol Yates in this classroom then? Peculiar, because we've got the requisite number of people in the room." 

Carol emerged from her daydream. "Sorry sir, yes I'm Carol Yates." 

"Ah Carol. It is customary to acknowledge your name when it's read out - that's what this registration is for: I'm not giving a rather tedious poetry recital." 

"Thank God for that," said someone in a whisper that was too loud, which made the class laugh. 

"And thank you Mr. Taylor, for that observation. Now if you look at your timetable, yes Addison that piece of paper in front of you is not meant for paper folding, you will see that your very first lesson is Maths, and miracle of miracles, it's in this very room. No groaning please - not so early in your school life, there will be plenty of time for it later on." The bell rang. 

"And so beginnith the first lesson. Settle down please," said Mr. Mitchell. He opened his briefcase and pulled out a sheaf of blank paper. He handed it to the boy in the front row. "Please take one and pass the rest on." 

"What are we doing sir?" 

"Just a little introductory test to get us going." 

"A test already, sir?! We've only just started, we don't know anything yet!" 

"I'm sure it's true in your case... Linwood, isn't it?... (the boy nodded) but I'm sure the others aren't quite coming to this school with an empty brain. I just want to find out what you already know." 

"No sir." 

"Write your names at the top." 

"Easy, so far," murmured the boy who sat next to Carol and she smiled. 

"Write down the question, and the answer next to it. If you can't do it in your head, then leave enough of gap to work it out afterwards, there'll be some time at the end. First question, what is 18 times 3." Carol wrote down 54, and wondered if all the questions would be so easy, but the questions became harder as Mr. Mitchell continued reading them out. After fifteen minutes, Mr. Mitchell reached the end. 

"And finally, a test of your long division skills, if you have any, work out 5046 divided by 29. You've got another five minutes to finish off. Don't look so worried Taylor, it's just to get an idea of your talents, I'm sure you've not got them all wrong." 

Carol looked round. She noted Jackie Heron leaning forward, her long jet black hair hanging like a shield covering her work. She seemed to be holding something in her lap, but Carol couldn't quite see what it was. 

"Have you finished, Carol?" 

"Erm, oh nearly, sir." Carol, hurriedly went through the long division process, and had just worked out the answer when Mr. Mitchell spoke up again. 

"Okay Alpha One, that's enough time. Check you've put your name on and pass them forwards." As the papers were gathered in, Carol had another opportunity to look behind her. She noted that Jackie seemed to look rather smug - that was surprising, she didn't look the sort to be good at Maths. Another girl in the middle was talking to her companion. "That girl, stop talking at once!" Mr. Mitchell's voice was unexpectedly stern. To Carol, it seemed out of character given the way the teacher had spoken earlier. The blonde girl being addressed looked up with a sullen expression. 

"Sorry," she muttered. 

"That's "Sorry Sir" thank you very much Stephanie." 

"Sorry, sir," said Stephanie. 

Carol looked at her, found the girl looking back, and smiled sympathetically. The bell rang, and the class began to gather its books up. "All right. Well, apart from registration, I'll look forward to seeing you all at our next Maths class, tomorrow afternoon, where we'll begin to dip our toes into the pool known as Algebra. Won't that be fun. All right, off you go now. Quietly now." 

After an uneventful history lesson, Carol ate her lunch in the canteen, sitting next to Gerry and Judith. "You two seem to get on quite well, considering you are brother and sister," said Carol. "I suppose we do. We're actually half-brother and sister - perhaps that's why we get on all right. I'm three months older. We have the same mum but different dads." 

Carol was about to reply, then thought about what Judith had said. "That's imposs.." 

Judith laughed. "Sorry just my little joke." Gerry shook his head. "She always tries that out on new people. No, it was Mum who remarried, you see, and my step dad already had a daughter - this little monster here. Hey presto, instant sister," explained Gerry. "Oh right I see. I've got two younger sisters. The younger one's just a toddler really. The other one's a real pain in the neck." 

"Grub's not too bad here, is it," said Judith. 

"I've never seen her refuse any food," said Gerry to Carol. 

"Oi, don't be like that!" Judith replied good-naturedly. "You're the one with the fat stomach." 

"Not fat, muscle!" The pleasant mood of the canteen was disturbed by the entry of Jackie and Barbara. Ignoring vociferous complaints, they queue-jumped to the front, and plonked down their trays on the counter. From their table, Judith shook her head. 

"That one's going to be trouble," she said, and Gerry nodded. Carol noticed little Samantha coming near to their table, but when she saw her, a look of fear crossed her face, and the girl moved to a place right on the other side of the room. 

"Did you see that?" asked Carol. 

"What?" asked Gerry. 

"That little girl - she thinks I'm part of Jackie Heron's extortion gang." 

"I wouldn't worry about it," said Judith shrugging. "She's the same age as us, she just needs to toughen up a little." 

"I'll set her straight when I can," said Carol. After the day was done, Carol returned home. Her sister, busy eating her tea, ignored her, but this was normal. On the other hand, her mum was full of interest. "So how did you get on? Your first day - hey you look worried. Everything okay - you aren't being picked on or bullied?" Carol decided she didn't want to tell her mother that far from being bullied, she was being thought of as bullying someone else, so she forced a cheerful smile. 

"No, it was okay really. Met some new friends, but got loads of homework to do." 

"You have to expect that now you are in big school." 

"Big School! Mum, I'm not a kid you know!" 

"You'll always be my kid. Trisha, eat your potatoes. So aren't you going to ask me?" 

"Ask you what, Mum?" 

"How I got on at work, on my first day. You aren't the only one to have a first day at something." 

"Oh yeah, sorry, how was it?" 

"It was pretty tough. My typing came back to me after a while though. I think the new boss fancies me." 

"Oh mum, shut up, you're puttin' me off my food," said Trisha, making a face. "Well I'd better go and do my homework, get it out the way," said Carol. "What time's tea?" "Half an hour, love," said Mrs. Yates. 

 

The following day, Carol was late for registration - Mr. Mitchell was just closing the register when she came into the classroom. "Good morning Miss Yates. Hope we didn't get you out of bed." "No sir, sorry sir, my sister was playing up, and I had to take her to school first." "All right - next time though it will be detention. Don't push my patience too far." 

At break, Gerry was sympathetic. "Ah trouble with sisters. Know the feeling." 

"Hey you, shut up!" said Judith, cuffing him good naturedly across the back of the head. 

"You're mad, you two," said Carol. 

"Have to be mad to put up with him," she said. "Maths again, this afternoon, then History. Think I did okay with the test," said Carol. 

"Maths isn't my strong subject," said Judith. "Can't stand it actually." 

"She's the artistic type," said Gerry. 

"Art is okay. We got biology next, I'm crap at that." 

"Oh yes, Mr. Rankin. He's that funny old fellow... I think he'll be sweet," said Judith. But Mr. Rankin was anything but sweet. He was a bad tempered middle-aged man who seemed to immediately detect that Carol had no aptitude for his subject, and made sarcastic jibes at her throughout the lesson. She spent the lesson in misery, feeling like the little hamster that Mr. Rankin kept in a cage on a shelf. She hoped they wouldn't have to dissect the poor thing... All in all, she was glad when the bell went. And then there was lunch, and after lunch, time once again for Maths. 

 

Mr. Mitchell strode into the classroom, wiped the blackboard, and then addressed the class. 

"I'll give out your test results shortly. First though, a few questions at random." He picked out Carol. "A question for you then Carol. What is seven times nine?" 

" errm 63?" 

"That's right, Carol. And, Stephanie. PAY ATTENTION GIRL." 

"Sorry sir," said Stephanie. Carol looked at Stephanie in alarm. Mr. Mitchell's shouting had made the poor girl jump. Mr. Mitchell's voice returned to normal, but it still had a sharp edge.

 "If I had a right angled triangle with one other angle as 30 degrees, what would the remaining angle be?" 

"I.... I don't know. 100 degrees?" 

"100 degrees! That would be quite a spectacular right-angled triangle, Stephanie. You'll have to do better than that in the future." 

"Yes, Sir." 

Mr. Mitchell's voice returned so calmer tones. "And finally, Jackie. Our little Maths genius." Jackie smiled smugly at this. "You did rather well, yesterday. You got all the arithmetic questions right, except for one. But there's a rather strange answer for question 14. A very revealing answer in fact." Jackie Heron frowned, sensing that things were not going well for her. 

Mr. Mitchell continued. "Yes, the question was 'what is 493 divided by 17' - the answer being a simple 29. But what you put down was 25.947368." "Must have worked it out wrong." "Yes indeed - what you worked out was 493 over 19. And you must be some kind of genius to work that out to six decimal places no less." 

Jackie Heron shrugged. "It was easy...." 

Mr. Mitchell paused and shook his head slowly. "Hand it over then." 

"Hand what over?" 

"The calculator of course. You've kind of given the game away. Of course you didn't get all the questions right, since some of them would have actually involved you thinking." 

"I don't have it today, sir." 

"Bag on the table." Jackie sighed and put her bag onto the desk. Mr Mitchell looked inside and fished out the pocket calculator. He switched it on, and the LEDs glowed prettily. "Very nice, quite expensive, but absolutely not allowed in Maths lessons - understood?" 

"Yes sir," said Jackie sullenly. "You can collect it at the end of the week." 

"Oh sir - it's my dad's. He'll kill me." 

"Well feel free to send him to me for an explanation of where it's gone. End of the week, you get it back. And you can do an essay tonight on the wonders of modern electronics." Jackie raised her eyes to heaven. Carol smiled to herself enjoying seeing the bully get taken down a few pegs. 

 

After school, as Carol was crossing the playground, she spotted Jackie Heron and her accomplice Barbara with little Samantha firmly in her grip. Pretending to look in her satchel, she listened to what was being said. "You seem to have a poor memory. I said to come and see me again today. And now you say you've spent your dinner money." 

"Y-y-yes. I was hungry."

"Well tomorrow, you'll have to bring 40p to make up for it." 

"B.b.but I only get 20 p.p.pence a day. How can..." 

"Well you'll have to look for it. Perhaps in your mother's purse." 

"Oh no... I c-c-couldn't.." 

"No arguing." Jackie suddenly looked up and saw Carol. "Hey Carol, have you been avoiding me? Come here a moment." 

Carol walked up to the three of them. "Just on my way home," she explained. 

"You seem to have become awfully chummy with the BrookHouses." 

"We get on okay. They were in my old school." 

"Hmmm," said Jackie thoughtfully. "Oh I'm sick of this little tiddler, let it go," she said to Barbara, who released her grip on Samantha. 

"Off you go then," she told her, and Samantha ran off without looking back. 

"So Carol, are you with us or against us?" asked Jackie. Barbara glowered menacingly. 

"I'm not really...." 

"We've got a nice little business here. Look take this." Carol found that she had a fat fifty pence piece in her hand. "Consider it working capital. There's a little job I need you to do." 

"Oh yes?" said Carol doubtfully. 

"Yes. You see Mr. Mitchell took something of mine, as you saw today. And I'm in big trouble if I can't get it back." 

"But, he'll have put it in the Staff Room, or taken it home." 

"Teachers donít go home straight away. He'll have put it on a shelf somewhere in the Staff Room. I'm sure you could find it, you're a clever girl."

 "But how..."  

"Oh details, details. It's got a blue back, and Heron dymo'd on the back. Go on, I'm sure you'll think of something. Go get it, and give it to me tomorrow." 

Carol walked along the corridor, trying to think of how she might get inside the Staff Room. She passed a fire alarm button under glass, and for a moment seriously thought about setting it off, but thought better of it. She passed by the Biology lab, and then had a flash of inspiration. She peered in through the window and saw that the room was empty. Looking around to see that no-one was watching, she crept inside and approached the hamster cage. The occupant twitched its whiskers inquisitively at her. She opened the cage, and removed the hamster, and gave it its freedom, putting the animal down on the ground at the back of the room. 

"I'll come back for you later," she told it. It scurried into the corner and hid behind a pile of boxes. Closing the door, she went quickly to the Staff Room, and knocked on the door. Mr. Starling, the headmaster, opened the door. "Yes, girl?" he asked testily. He was a stocky man with greying hair, so tall that Carol had to crane her neck upwards. Not so much a starling as a vulture, she thought. Carol gulped, nervously. 

"Sir, is Mr. Rankin here?" she asked. 

"Er, yes, yes. Just a moment. John, there's a girl here for you." Mr. Rankin appeared at the door. He seemed different out of his white lab coat, and she struggled to keep her cool. She noticed that he was wearing bicycle clips and suddenly felt an urge to giggle, which she barely controlled. 

"Mr. Rankin, sir. I was walking past the Biology lab and saw the hamster cage open." 

"You must have extraordinarily good eyes..." 

"I was looking for my pencil case, I thought I might have left it in there..." 

"Well never mind that - and the hamster?" 

"Gone sir." 

"Oh blast, not again! Well, I suppose I better go and take a look. Thank you, erm..?" 

"Carol Sir." 

"Want a hand?" asked Mr. Starling. Carol mentally rubbed her hands together. 

"Yes, thank you Headmaster, we might need to corner the pesky thing. You should be getting along home, now ... err ... Carol, it's late." 

"Yes Sir." The teacher and the Headmaster disappeared off down the corridor. Carol waited till they were gone, then took a peek inside the Staff Room, turning the knob very quietly. No-one in there! She closed the door behind her, and quickly inspected the room. It was a mess of desks covered by exercise books, textbooks, and empty cups. Where could it be? She went methodically around the room, looking inside a couple of the desks, and scouring the bookshelves. And then, by a pile of maths textbooks, she saw what must be Jackie's calculator. "Fantastic!" she thought, and picked it up. Then, just as she did this, the door burst open, and Mr. Mitchell walked in, and saw Carol and the object she held. Carol's mouth dropped open in shock. 

"Well, well, well! I would never have taken you for a thief, Miss Yates.  Do you have any kind of explanation." 

"I... I... I..." Mr. Mitchell sighed. "Oh come on, I wasn't born yesterday. I've been teaching long enough to know what goes on behind the scenes. It's Jackie Heron's calculator, or rather her father's, and she's got you to fetch it back. Right?" 

"Sort of.... yes, right sir." He held out his hand, and she placed the calculator in it. 

"I'm sure I don't need to tell you that the Staff Room is out of bounds. Is there anything else you need to tell me?"

 "I can't... not really... I mean it's telling tales." 

"Honour among thieves you mean? Two days into your new school life, and you're in a whole heap of trouble Carol." 

"Sir, you have to believe me.  I'm no thief." 

"Yes. I believe you're not. Before term starts we take a look at the reports from your old schools. Jackie's record is none too good, some of the others too, but yours isn't bad." 

"Sir, there is bullying going on, but I'd rather not name names. Can you just... sort of keep a watchful eye at morning break tomorrow? Then you can do something about it, and yet it won't have been me who dobbed on... whoever it is." 

"Well I've a pretty shrewd idea." Mr. Mitchell waved the calculator at her meaningfully. "But I do take your point." He sighed. "Oh all right Carol, I'll forget this happened, I'll catch Jackie.... that's to say, whoever this bully is, or bullies - and we'll wipe the slate clean tomorrow for you. But no more coming into the Staff Room without permission, got it?" 

"Right sir, sorry sir, thank you sir." 

"Okay, well get going then, before I change my mind." 

"Sir, about the bullying." 

"Yes?" 

"There is some other bullying going on - completely different. But I don't think you're going to like to hear about this one. I'm not sure I can really say any more." 

"So much bullying in just two days!  Well, if there's something you need to tell me, then tell me, please. Let's get it all in the open now." 

Carol gulped nervously. "It's about Stephanie... I don't know her surname. She's in our class. You keep picking on her, itís like you're a different person with her. You seem to single her out, and you shouted at her.  I'm sorry if I'm speaking out of turn, but ...." Carol waited for World War III to break out. 

"Oh." Mr. Mitchell paused. "Am I doing that? Oh dear."  Mr Mitchell puffed his cheeks out, and breathed out in a long slow breath. "You might understand if you knew her surname," he said. 

"Her surname. I suppose I've missed hearing the names at registration... but... why does it matter?" 

"It's Mitchell. Stephanie Mitchell. Coincidence? No - she's my daughter, Carol. You seem surprised... You see,  I married at a very young age, and we had a daughter." 

"Your daughter! Oh!" 

"Yes. So you think I've been too hard on her? Yes, you could be right, I might be overcompensating." 

Carol shrugged. "Not sure what that means, Sir, but I think you should lay off her a bit." 

"Yes, exactly. I was trying to say that. I'm trying hard not to give her favouritism, because that would be bad for her in the eyes of the others. Do you see?" 

"Yes sir." 

"Thanks for telling me Carol. I'll take on board what you've said. Good night now." 

 

Carol started to walk home thoughtfully. She looked at her watch - almost five. As she approached the school gate, she almost bumped into little Samantha Doyle who was looking the other way.  Samantha gave a little shriek and backed away.  Carol held up her hands pacifically. "You've got me all wrong you know," she said. "Jackie Heron won't be giving you any trouble after tomorrow." 

"W-w-what do you mean?" 

"Look, take this in compensation. What I'm telling you is that I'm not one of her gang. I just happened to be there on the first day. Take it!" Carol handed over the fifty pence coin that Jackie had bribed her with earlier. Samantha gave Carol a grateful smile, and ran off down the street. 

 

* * * 

 

The following morning, Carol avoided Jackie Heron before school started. At registration, Jackie came over to her desk and said: 

"I'll see you at break." Then, there was a geography lesson, and finally break time. Carol shot out the room, and stayed out of sight of Jackie and Barbara, watching them as they found new prey. She found herself in Gerry and Judith's company and told them about the conversation regarding Stephanie, but omitted any mention of the business with Jackie Heron. 

"Oh I thought you knew she was his daughter," said Judith. "We all did." 

"It was brave of you to tell him," said Gerry. 

"Must be awful to have your dad teach you," said Judith. 

"Look. Heron's up to her old tricks," said Gerry. "Two days we've been here, and she thinks she runs the place." 

They watched as Barbara held a small boy in her vice-like grip, and there followed the inevitable handing over of a small pile of coins. Then, from above, a window was abruptly lifted, and a voice bellowed: "Jackie Heron, and Barbara Saville. Headmaster's office now." 

Carol smiled. "I think someone's about to get their just desserts," she said. Carol could only guess as to what transpired in the Headmaster's room. Rumours abounded about the girls getting the slipper, or the cane on their hands, but either way the gruesome twosome were suspended for a fortnight. When they returned, they were moved to Form One Beta, and Form One Gamma respectively, and seemed more subdued. In registration, Carol noticed that Mr. Mitchell seemed to be treating Stephanie in a more relaxed manner: just one more student in his lessons. He stopped Carol before she left. 

"Carol?" 

"Yes sir?" 

"Everything okay with you these days?" 

"Yes, fine thanks." 

"I'd stay away from Jackie though if I were you. Once a bad egg, always a bad egg." 

Carol nodded. "All right then, you'd better be off to your class." 

"Yes sir." 

 

At home after tea, her mother spoke to her: 

"Well you seem to have settled in well at Grange Hill." 

"Yes Mum, 'spose it's not too bad there. Can I go and watch some telly?" 

"After you've done your homework." 

Carol groaned. "So much homework!" 

Trisha piped up, "Yeah, go do yer 'omework." Carol glared at her sister.

 "Your turn will come, Squirt. Your turn will come!"  

 

 

© 2007 By Geoff Phillips