‘Help, I need somebody…HE…EH…ELP!’

The dayroom radio blasted out the Beatles' latest.  Several boys who already knew the words showed off by singing along with the Fab Four, screeching and doing imitations of John and Paul at the microphone.

David’s stomach churned.  The next half an hour would tear him apart inside out.  Clarence had said he would be writing today so today was David’s last chance to do the same.  It had to be written. The letter paper stared at him. What to say?

‘Help me if you can, I’m feeling down
And I do appreciate you being ‘round
Help me get my feet back on the ground
Won’t you please, please help me’

The irony of the words was lost on David.  He had the most difficult letter of his life to write.  And after the most difficult term with O levels winding to an end, the dreaded results due this summer which were probably going to be a great disappointment to his parents.  Keeley, the Housemaster, said in his report this term ‘It is high time he learnt to stand on his own two feet, and not to excuse his behaviour, particularly to himself, as being the result of circumstances beyond his control’.  And now this.

He began

Dear Pat and Richard,

He always put his Mother’s name first, from the day she had written secretly asking him to include his Father’s name on letters.  He had previously addressed only her in his weekly letters home.

I don’t know whose letter you will receive first mine or the headmasters, but if you already know about this dreadfull business, please don’t worry about me.

He could imagine his Mother’s face when she read the letter from Clarence. The Headmaster had not included her at the top of his letter, but she would have been passed the letter, silently, by his Father.  ‘I am sorry to say that your elder son has got himself into some serious trouble which I must discuss with you.’  David imagined the scene and the thought tore through his stomach like a bayonet.

I have been taking some things from shops in Horsham, I really don’t know what the outcome of it will be. I have of course seen the Headmaster about it.

Clarence’s beak-like nose twitched as he stared at David.  This had to be real trouble.  Would it be another beating?  David had heard that Clarence was the worst.  His cane hung on one of the hooks on the wooden coat stand behind the black leather-topped desk.  David eyed it nervously. What did he know?  What was it this time?  Within ten minutes David knew that this was far too serious for the cane. Some Horsham shopkeepers had been to the school to report that boys had been seen shoplifting last Saturday.  David didn’t know how they knew it was him.  But it was true and David didn’t deny it.  Clarence had told him he would be writing that day to his parents to tell them to come down to the school as soon as possible. He advised David to do the same.

I have been doing alright in O levels but the whole week has unerved me a lot.  I really don’t know why we all did it. I expect it might be helpfull for you to talk with one of my friends mother about this (WOO5805) I have been so looking forward to the end of term as well.  I don’t think Paul knows but I will tell him. Maybe it’s better if you don’t see me before the Headmaster.  The whole thing is ridiculous and we all realise what we have done.  We are all sorry.  Don’t worry it will turn out all right.  I have learned my lesson and that would be better than going on and getting bigger and bigger.  All my love, David

(to be continued)

All the best from a road near you,

Mr Alexander

Mr Alexander