School House

It’s the 1930s and seven-year-old Simon becomes a border in a lonely country school. But soon a second boy starts to make trouble…

Jackie lived with her Grandfather, not knowing the struggle he was having to keep their home going. Then one day she burned the rice pudding…


Extract: School House

When bedtime came Simon slid under the covers of the bed. The sheets were cold and made him shiver. The bed was so big he felt tiny as if he were a mouse.

He was seven now and he didn’t like the thought of being a boarder. He only half understood what had happened: his parents had split up. His mother had gone abroad to South Africa, with someone else. Edward, his father, and Aunt Flo, his father’s sister, looked after him in their little flat in London’s East End. He didn’t really know where the East End was, but it was near a factory, which had a giant Black Cat board of a cat’s head fastened high up on the wall where it advertised cigarettes.

Close by was a market where Aunt Flo had bought him a pair of white knitted woollen gloves for sixpence. On Saturdays a man stood in the street with a barrel organ with colour pictures of Scotland on the side, and he played tunes when he turned a handle. It was the 1930s and Simon remembered that he had had his tonsils taken out at a hospital in a place called Paddington, and when he returned to the flat his dad had cooked chicken broth, and had served him a bowl full every day while he lay in a sofa-bed in the living room and got well again.

But everything had changed. His dad was a waiter in a restaurant and had found it hard to look after him. And now Simon was about to attend a small school in the country and be a boarder.


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