Lt. Bracket is demobbed
Grasmere. chooks. Beauty of Bath. Drop scones and scotch pancakes. winding the handle.
Arnold House in Warley Hill was a small school which specialised in preparing boys for the Brentwood Preparatory School entrance exam. It was run by Miss Duggan, who was a friend of just about everybody Rusty knew and a good percentage of those he met later. He was sent there with a packed lunch each day, except once when he forgot the packed lunch.
He walked the half mile to Ardleigh Green and there caught the 247 bus. In those days they were single-decker petrol-engined rattletraps and extremely pre-war. For the benefit of busbuffs, the newest of them was an STL. Most of them were red, but one was green. The green one was Rusty's favourite because it sometimes broke down, especially while grinding up the hill from Upminster Common and through Great Warley. It even looked antiquated to him, with a coachbuilt body and the roof projecting over the cab for all the whirled like the peak of an Ecky Thump 'At. Once, it boiled and sent a cloud of steam high into the stratosphere when the bonnet was opened. OK, a bit of an exaggeration, but it went higher than the trees it stopped under.
Miss Duggan's method of of dealing with rusty individuals was to clamp their heads in an horizontal position, stick a booldy great funnel in an ear and tip knowledge in. When no more would fit, she would give the head a good shaking to settle what she'd just tipped in, then pour in a bit more. It worked with Rusty, for he had a never so good pass into Brentwood.
There was a list of items required for pupils at the Preparatory School of Anthony Brown's School for Young Gentlemen. This included a cabin trunk, a tuck-box, foopball kit, p.t. kit, pyjamas, dressing gown, washkit in a sponge bag, a school blazer and grey flannel shorts, grey socks with a twin maroon band on the rollover top, school cap, house shoes, lace-up shoes, handkerchiefs, navy blue raincoat, another suit, details forgotten, but either morning dres or an Eton suit, shirts with detachable starched collars, a Marlborough suit for Sundays or, as an alternative Rusty could have worn a kilt. The very idea of THAT filled him with such horror and consternation that There Was a Scene. Rusty's mother's breacan was the Buchanan, and he really didn't fancy wearing what inevitably would be held against him as a very pretty dress.
Rusty, all done up in his Sunday Best can be seen up there somewhere. Behind him you can see the chicken runs down the side of his grandmother's garding.
Things being rather tight finance-wise, and the demands of the school representing a family's clothing coupons for the whole year and a small fortune in fortune-mantling stuff, Rusty got a lot of what was required including the Marlborough suit. He was the only poor osd in the whole Prep School who had one. Every Sunday he had to collect the suit, a shirt and attachable collar, black socks and a handkerchief and hope that no-one had stolen his studs, or more likely, that he hadn't lost them.
One wonders how much of a veil to draw over this period. Once Matron had looked in on Dorm 4, found everybody in bed and gone, she only reappeared if it sounded as if someone was being murdered, so we learnt to do it quietly.
During the Easter holidays Rusty's ma were taking some zams, and Rusty were sent orft to his grate aren't. She were that because that's what Rusty corled her, but in fact se were a first cussin three thymes removed. She had been removed so far that she had gorn to Alfreton. It was there that Rusty fell in amongst the fairer secks, and Hear is the evidense.
One can only blame Rusty. As an anklebiter he had a fascination for water. What, one asks, would you expect to find in a galvanised bath? Do small grils initiate baths full of water with flower-pots in? Do they H^H^H^Heck! With a dolly, I'd bleeve, but flower-pots. No.
Food was still on the ration, and unlike grandmothers with lots of chickens, schools have little of interest to grease grocers' and butchers' palms with. I suppose the odd boy could have been converted into potted meat, but it was rather a chicken and egg situation. Since no 'extras' could be fed to them they remained scrawny, and however young and tender, scrawny creatures molish a very poor quality and quantity of brawn innit. Besides, a boy a week down on the muster might prove a little suspicious, one supposes. So, the 'Bugs' were always hungry. Rusty always had a healthy appetite, after all, you don't have a stepfather who grows vegetables and keeps hens, and a grandmother who keeps hens on a small commercial scale and go hungry, even during rationing. At his grandmother's there was always bacon, ham, cheese, butter, tea, lard, a joint of lamb, or whatever she fancied, really. Eggs were on the ration, and she had eggs. Rusty used to help collect them and there were always two baskets of them. Well, one elderly lady could hardly eat that lot, and wasn't it lucky that her next-door neighbour owned a grocer's shop? Now traders always got more than their customers' ration books would allow, and this small surplus was for Rusty's grandmother - oops! - one means, for people visiting the area.
Anything slightly odd or mechanical fascinated the young Rusty. Scattered amongst the weeds outside the Hermitage, which was used by the School as a annexe in those days he found spearheads for mice. Well, they were a type of gramophone needle with a leaf-shaped point really, but not to a boy with too much imagination. Amongst a building adjoining the school that had been unmantled rather abruptly by one of Herr Schickelgrüber's doodle-bugs our hero discovered some lead flashing. Desirous of adding a lead nugget to his collection of tqt he broke a piece off by bending it backwards and forwards until fatigue set in, then he used his teeth to molish it into a glittering ickle lump. By a process of reverse serendipity young Rusty discovered that it was pleasantly sweet, and that if he chewed several pieces he didn't mind about the small portions at mealtime.
Unfortunately, he didn't connect this altogether spiffing outcome with the way he was becoming pale and listless, how his head ached, that his eyes hurt in bright light, and with the lies he told Matron when the BO Book came round. Matron dosed him with medicines to no avail. One, seared into his memory, assaulted his taste buds with a bitter green liquid which was referred to as 'Iron'. Getting worserer and worserer by the day, Rusty was transferred to the sanatorium where slowly he recovered. For one thing, he was fed, and for another, there was no lead. There was slate to mantle arrowheads with thobut, and with string, and straight suckers from one of the prunus trees, arrows were molished. A bow was molished too, and because they were forbidden to play with the armaments, he and another intrepid inmate would climb out of their respective sickroom windows when it got dark, and shin down a drainpipe to have big game hunts in the shrubbery, or occasionally, WAR.
Someone up there must have been looking out for him because he returned to his studies still in possession of his life and his eyes. He was placed in Dorm 22, which was a sort of mezzanine overlooking the old kitching garden. Under one of the windows was a dense holly bush. It were the custom for the Dormites to leap into the top of this bush wearing only pyjamas, to land on their backs. Unfortunately the school building must have been proof against The Rays, because ar-Rusty was very soon in the grip of hunger, and we all know what he did next.
He was pleased to be coming out of the sanatorium for the second time when he did, for he was the only prisoner there. Given a piece of written work for prep one day, and wishing to please his form teacher he went to enormous pains to be neat and to write with a regular hand. Indeed, so much care did he take that he had to finish it later, firstly in free time in the locker room, and then in the dormitory. With pride he handed it in the next morning. Far from being overjoyed, the prat went ballistic. "Why don't you ALWAYS do work like this?" he raged. Rusty, mind leaded to at least 120 octane couldn't explain quickly enough. You can't say in front of all your classmates that you wanted to please your teacher: that's bad form.
Later, Rusty found himself in the headmaster's study. The headmaster ranted about the way Rusty's work had gone downhill - showed him his examination papers and demanded to know why he didn't always produce work like that. An aggregate of nearly a whole term in the San didn't ring alarm bells. Six of the best rang alarm bells in Rusty's mind thobut, and he never produced a good bit of work again there.
Alarmed about the downhill plunge of Rusty's health, his parental units removed him from Anthony Brown's School For Young Gentlemen (Stalag Prep) and packed him orft to another bawdy school by the sea, purely for the sake of his health. It were just as well, for he improved mightily, but learnt osd-all.
A Brief History of Hinges III
Back a bit
Part IV. Rather Flaky
Part V. Eine Kleine Rustmusik