WATERING THE LETTUCES, WHACKS WITH THE RULER AND THE DAY THAT THE DOOR OF THE RUST BUCKET SCHOOL BUS FELL OFF.......Copyright David Hill 2014.
Again this has not been copy edited so forgive any errors. And I hope you enjoy meeting and making the acquaintance of Kenny the Gorilla Harris!l
On Monday morning I dawdled down the road, because I didn't want to have to wait too long, with the wild children, for the school bus to arrive.
As soon as they saw me the jeering began.
"Did the witch cast a spell to free you?"
"Did you have to eat a toad?"
"Gotta banana for playtime?"
I was glad there were only two days to go before the Easter holiday, but I still had to meet up with Kenny the Gorilla Harris.
The school bus is old and rusty. It's painted red and cream. It's so ancient it should be in a museum. It's also very dirty. In fact it's filthy. When Kenny the Gorilla punches a seat with his fist, clouds of dust blow everywhere, and we all begin coughing and sneezing very loudly. The sides of the bus are so dirty that we can scrawl our initials in the dried mud on the paint work. It's like a great big autograph book page. Everytime it rains heavily the page is washed clean, but it soon gets dirty, and then we sign our names again.
Kenny the Gorilla scrawls rude words. VERY RUDE WORDS. Everyone knows he's written them because he can't spell. He's worse at spelling than I am. His rude words are always spelt wrongly. He scrawls words such as - WILY AND BOM. He also scrawls - KENNY IS THE GRETEST.
The school journey is about eight miles, and as soon as Mad Freddy started up the rust bucket school bus he began puffing on his pipe.When he isn't smoking it, he sucks on the stem and he makes loud squelchy noises. He can even fill his pipe with baccy, as he calls it, which he keeps in his leather baccy pouch without taking his hands off the steering wheel.
As we pulled off we nearly ran into a car. Mad Freddy started laughing and waved his hand at the driver who nearly ended up in the hedge.
A few minutes later what I had been dreading, happened. We reached Kenny's house and there he was leaning up against the wall grinning. Normally, as soon as he climbs on the bus he picks on Donald the Duck Hayes. Kenny calls him Quack-Quack. But Kenny wasn't the target today. It was me, he had in his sights.
"I 'ears that someone not very far away got their nut and ears stuck between the bars in their cage, cos their ears is too big.Thats what I 'ears anyway."
The bus filled with shrill laughter.
I knew exactly what was going to happen next, and it went exactly according to Kenny's plan. He slouched past me, bundle Donald the Duck off his seat and sat behind me.
"That was my seat," moaned Donald.
"Was. Mines now. That's your seat on the floor. Make a nest Quack-Quack and lay an egg."
For the remainder of the journey Kenny kept leaning over the back of my seat tugging my ears and asking for a banana. When we arrived at school my ears were red. Kenny as usual raced through the bus to be first out and into the playground. Unseen I hung back by the side of the bus where the mud and dust was really thick.
The first lesson was arithmetic. I call it sums. Some I can do and some I can't.
"Firstly we'll run through our tables to see how much you've forgotten over the weekend."
Kenny put his hand up, which he didn't do very often. There was going to be trouble with a capital 'T' trouble.
"Yes, Kenny. Are you going to volunteer to say your eight times table for us?" Asked our teacher who is also the head mistress.
"No miss," he said, giving us a big grin."Instead of running through our tables, why don't us walk over our desks and chairs. I'll go first. With that he beamed at us, sniggered, climbed out of his chair and jumped up and over his desk.
"Come out to the front this minute Kenneth Harris."
When our teacher gets angry she always calls him Kenneth. He was going to be really for it.He gorilla-slouched out to her desk, with his hands hanging below his knees. We all knew what was going to happen next, and we weren't disappointed. There was going to be big trouble with a capital 't' trouble. Fun for us, but not for Kenny..
"Hold out your left hand."
Kenny did as he was told and he stopped sniggering. Our teacher picked up the twelve inch wooden ruler from her desk.
The ruler came down on his outstretched palm. He went a little red in the face and slouched back to his desk. He'd stopped sniggering completely. Our teacher replaced her ruler, picked up a piece of chalk and began to write a sum on the black board. It was the worst sort of sum imaginable.
"Here's a problem for you to copy into your excercise books.Put today's date, and write out the problem in your best hand writing. We'll leave running through our tables for another day Kenneth Harris."
Kenny gave her his best gorilla scowl. Our teacher smiled back at him.
Our teacher's sums are always a problem. I have a problem copying them into my book, I have a problem understanding them and an even bigger problem doing them. We do problems most mornings, and this is the sort of problem we have to do. This is a mixture of the worst problems made into one problem, problem -
IF A MAN AND A HALF LAYS AN EGG AND A HALF IN A DAY AND A HALF IN A WATER TANK AND A HALF FILLED WITH GRASS. HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE TEN MEN TO CIT A FIELD OF WATER IF THE EGG HOLDS THIRTY CUBIC MINUTES OF GRASS WHICH FLOWS OUT FROM A PIPE MEASURING THREE AND A HALF MINUTES IN DIAMETER AT THE RATE OF ONE AND A HALF EGGS EVERY ONE MAN AND HIS DOG.
"Problems is rubbish Miss," called out Kenny.
There was going to be more trouble with a capital 't' trouble.
"Problems are rubbish Kenny. Are."
Kenny was confused. We were confused. Our teacher was agreeing with him. This was definitely a Guiness Book of Records entry.
Kenny's face was screwing up. Kenny was concentrating. A rare and painful event. But he couldn't fathom it out. Neither could the rest of us.
"I knows they is Miss.That's what I said. Problems is rubbish."
Miss shook her head, "And rubbish is kept in the waste paper basket."
And with that she picked up the whicker basket which is next to her desk, and as it was Monday morning it was empty, beckoned Kenny to join her and placed the basket over his head so that it came right down over his chest. She then marched him to the corner of the room.
"You are a dunce Kenneth Harris.As we haven't got a dunce's cap you can stand in the corner with the rubbish basket over your head until playtime."
After we had had our third of a pint of milk, which we drink out of the bottle with a straw, we went out to play.
On the way out Kenny whispered to me. "Good eh. I'm clever I is. cos I didn't 'ave to do her stupid ole sum. I baint no dunce."
I was only half listening, because coming towards us was Shirley Stone - Shirley the Sucker fish Stone. I made a run for it.
Shirley Stone's got pink blubbery lips, which are just like a sucker fishes. Kenny calls her Blubber Lips, but only behind her back. He's afraid of her really, but we'd never tell him that to his face. She goes around trying to grab you and kiss you. UUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUGH!
She aims her sucker face lips at you, and they stick with a squelch on your face, and it makes your cheek all wet.UUUUUUUUUUUUUUGH!
She's got muscles as big as tennis balls, and she grabs you in a bear hug, presses herself against you and then she kiss-sucks your cheek. UUUUUUUUUUUUUUGH!
It's worse than being kissed by all of my old aunts at the same time. DOUBLE UUUUUUUUGH!
Each morning she chooses her victim, and today it was my turn. I had to think quickly. There's only one place Shirley Stone won't enter and that's the boys' lavatory.
I zig-zagged across the tarmac, and ran into our lavatory and crash-bang into the paws of the gorilla.
I gave a sigh of relief as I saw Shirley move off in the direction of her second choice victim. Being caught by Kenny is bad enough, but it's better than being kissed by those sucker fish lips. UUUUUGH!
I gasped as his gorilla arms squeezed me tightly. The air exploded out and my body sagged in like a punctured football. With a gorilla-roar of delight Kenny bundled me against the wall. Letting go of me he pointed to a side wall. The walls are painted black, and it's only partially covered by a roof. Most of it is open to the rain, so you have to be really desperate to go for a pee when it's wet.
Taking out his willy he pointed at the side wall and said, "Betchyer I can pee higher up the wall than wot you can pee. If I win I'm allowed to thump yer for beatin' yer. if yer wins which yer won't, but if yer do I'll still thump yer for beatin' me."
I didn't have to give his ultimatum much thought. "Looks like I can't win either way."
He grinned "'S right I think. But because I'm a fair sort o'person, if yer do win, which yer won't, I won't thump yer quite so hard. Fair enough?"
The challenge had been issued, and it was more than my life was worth not to accept. Kenny's next words convinced me, if I had been in any doubt.
Course if yer don't do I'll really thump yer."
"I'll do it Kenny."
The boys' lavatory is an Olympic stadium with the black painted walls covered in scratch marks. Everytime one of us pees up the wall and it is a high pee you mark it by chipping the wall with either a small stone or with the blade of your pen knife. But you have to have a witness present who has viewed the athletical feat, otherwise it doesn't count.
"Bags I go first," said Kenny. "It'll be so high you won't have to bother trying to beat me."
Standing well away he arched his back and began to pee into the air up the wall.
It went higher and higher and higher.
He was only about twelve inches off reaching the top when Peter the Rabbit Coombes, who had been Shirley's chosen victim exploded into the lavatory.
He ran slap bang into the back of Kenny.
Kenny went spare, really spare.
"Now look wot you've bin 'n' done. Yer've made me shoes all wet," he roared in his loudest gorilla-roar voice.
He made more loud monkey noises, and the result was Peter the Rabbit left the lavatory faster than he had come in and he was caught By Shirley the Sucker fish who gave him him the biggest squelchiest blubbery kiss imaginable. UUUUUUUUGH!
Kenny grinned, wiped his shoes on the back of his socks and indicated the wall.
"Your turn. That's if yer wants to bother mate, cos yer won't beat that one."
Taking out his knife and by standing on tip-toe he he reached up, scratched his mark, wiped the blade on his sleeve, folded it and put it back In his pocket.
"Good one eh mate."
Taking a step back I undid my flies, took out my willy, I arched backwards until I could almost see the doorway behind me and got ready to pee.
I had nothing to lose. Kenny was going to thump me either way. Win or lose, I couldn't win. And there was no difference between Kenny's thumps. They all made your eyes water.
I took a deep breath, aimed my willy and began to pee.
It was my lucky day. The extra glass of milk I'd had at breakfast together with my playtime bottle was about to pay off. what goes in must one out as dad says, and it did. There must have been as much milk in my body as there is blood. I was bursting with milk, and out it came surrounded in hot steam. A yellow stream arched up the wall just like a golden rainbow.
It went higher, and higher and higher.
It went over Kenny's pen knifed mark which he had just scratched out.
It was a Guinness Book Of Records' entry.
And it went even higher.
It went right over the top of the wall.
Kenny was gob smacked and so was I. He was so gob smacked that he just stood there opening and shutting his mouth without any words coming out.He didn't stay gob smacked for long though, but before he could thump me and before I could chip out my mark with pride right at the very top of the black wall, there came an angry voice from the other side.
"Oi you dirty little beggars.Just wait...."
His words were drowned out by Kenny shouting,"Run!"
And we did. We ran like scalded cats. I've Never seen a scalded cat, let alone one running, but that was what Miss said when we ran slap-bang into her.
The first lesson after playtime was history. We were just sitting back in our desks to listen to it on the big wireless speaker that gets moved from classroom to classroom, when there was a loud BANG-BANG-BANG on the door.
I could feel my legs turning to jelly, and I crossed my fingers.
Before Miss could get to the door it burst open, and a man with a trowel in his hand charged in.
He was very, very, angry. He was a charging bull, and he charged across the classroom. His face was scarlet with rage..
I had a funny sort of feeling in the pit of my stomach. it wasn't a funny, funny sort of feeling that makes you want to laugh. This was the funny sort of feeling that told me there was going to be trouble with a capital 'T' trouble. Big, big trouble.
The bull charged up to our teacher's desk, snorting angrily. His face was full of thunder and then the storm broke. In a loud bellow he said, "I was in my garden planting out some lettuces when......."
The gardener was not amused.
Our teacher was not amused.
We were not amused either when she called Kenny and me out to the front of the class.
She pointed to our left hands. We held them out and she gave us a stroke each with her twelve inch ruler and told us we were very dirty little boys.
Why is it that just as the ruler hits your hand your eyes automatically shut.
It didn't half sting. Half sting! It completely stung. I'd never had the ruler before, and it was as if a giant bee had stung the palm of my hand. And it went on stinging and stinging, no matter how tightly I clenched my fist. I had tears in my eyes, but I wasn't going to let my mates see me blub.
The bull-man was no longer angry, our pain had made him a happy bull. He became a smiling man and his smile grew bigger when I unclenched my palm and he saw the red mark. He left our classroom a very, very, happy man.
Kenny whispered to me, when he thought our teacher wasn't listening, "Dunno why he went mad. All us done was help him with his watering. He oughter 'ave said 'thank you boys. You saved me a job. Here's a penny for some sweets'" Unfortunately his whisper wasn't quiet enough, it rarely is and Miss heard him and she didn't agree with him.
My hand was still sting from just one bee, so Kenny's must have been really sore because he'd had a swarm of bees sting his. I was glad I'd only had one whack. At least my hand wouldn't be red when I got home and mum wouldn't know I'd had the ruler.
I'd also beaten Kenny at peeing up the wall, and even though it wasn't marked and no one had seen it, Kenny knew I'd beaten him and so did all my class mates now.
Definitely a Guiness Book Of Records Entry.
In the afternoon when we were lining up to catch the rust bucket bus, Kenny said to our teacher, "I shall get my dad to come in and see you, and you'll be had up for cruelty."
Somebody whispered just loud enough for everyone to hear, "Is that cruelty to animals."
Kenny didn't know who had said it, and he glared at everyone.
"Good," replied our teacher, trying hard not to smile. "You tell him to come in any time he wishes. in fact, ask him to come in tomorrow.There's a lot I want to tell him."
Kenny gave her his gorilla scowl, "He won't come in tomorrow cos he's busy. He'll come the next day."
"Unfortunately we'll all be on our Easter holidays as well you know Kenneth Harris."
"Tough," he replied with a big grin. "Won't be able to tell him anything now."
"I've never heard of anyone being too busy because they're doing nothing," sniggered Donald the Duck. "My dad says your dad spends all day sleeping it off, whatever it is that makes him so tired."
Kenny went spare,"I'll give you one in the beak Quack-Quack, if yer don't watch out."
"And you want to watch what's written on the side of the bus," laughed Peter the Rabbit as the rust bucket bus pulled up.
Our heads swivelled to look where he was pointing.
Kenny hit the roof, least ways he would have done if he'd been sitting in the bus. He leapt up and gave a gorilla scream as he read what was written in the grime. One word had been added, and it now read -
KENNY IS THE GRETEST FOOL.
Miss tried hard not to laugh. Kenny was so angry that he stamped up and down just like a real angry gorilla. He hunched his shoulders over and his hands hung down below his knees. His face went all squeezed up like a monkey's.
It was a good job our teacher was around or he'd have turned us all into pulp.
Finally we climbed into the rust bucket bus.Mad Freddy started up the engine and we set off. While he was trying to light his pipe he dropped his match and his trousers started smoking in a place where you don't want to have a fire. As he was flapping at the smoke with his left hand he almost drove into the hedge. He stopped so suddenly that a van nearly went into the back of us.
Kenny said as Freddy put out the small flame, "If you hadn't put it out with your hand, you wouldn't have had far to go far for water. You could have turned on your own tap."
Mad Freddy stood up.
We all went quiet.
Kenny had really done it now.
There was going to be trouble with a capital 't' trouble.
But there wasn't any trouble at all. Instead Mad Freddy threw back his head and roared with laughter. He sat down again, started up the rust bucket bus and we moved slowly off.
At the next village he stopped where he didn't normally stop and we thought he had run out of baccy or matches. But when he climbed back into the rust bucket bus he was holding a ginormous bag of sweets which he handed to Kenny, "There you are young Mr Harris. Share those toffees out with everybody and that includes the maids. Never laughed so much in a long time."
Kenny beamed, grabbed the bag and shared them out.
"One for you, one for me. One for you, another for me. One for you, two for me."
Mad Freddy lit his pipe again, and puffed out the customary clouds of cough-making blue smoke,until the air was thick.
"Always smells like ole socks burning," sniggered Kenny.
Donald the Duck started coughing and Kenny enjoyed thumping him on his back, and Donald almost choked on his toffee.
A couple of minutes after Kenny had got off, the bus door fell off. one minute it was there, the next minute it was gone.
It simply fell off and ended up lying in the ditch.
"Freddy! Freddy!" We screamed. "The door's come off."
The rust bucket bus screeched to a stand still, and Mad Freddy said a very rude word, in fact he said two or three, and clambered out through the hole where the door should have been."
We were laughing behind our hands, because we didn't want Mad Freddy to see us and get even madder. He climbed back in carrying the door which he placed on the floor between the seats at the back.
A wind blew through the hole where the door should have been, and Mad Freddy puffed and puffed at his pipe, until it looked as if he was an Red Indian chieftain sending out smoke signals. I think he was a very, very, worried bus driver, because he drove the slowest I have ever known. He drove so slowly that I was afraid I'd be late getting home and that I would miss Children's Hour at five-o'clock on the wireless, and It was 'Jennings and Derbyshire' as well - one of my favourite programmes.
In the evening when I told Jimbo and Derek they couldn't stop laughing. They both agreed that it was the best bus journey they'd ever heard about. They were jealous that they hadn't been on the rust bucket bys and seen it all happen. They also agreed that it was great that Kenny had missed out on the all of the fun.
When I told them about the scribble word - FOOL on the side of the rust bucket bus Jimbo said, "I know."
Derek tapped the side of his nose with his finger and added, "You can't tell us anything we don't know,and he is a great fool."
Now I knew who was responsible.
MAGIC, REAL MAGIC.
Coming soon - CHAPTER FOUR......KENNY GETS A THICK EAR, THE BOOK ( What we should have seen, but didn't) AND THE HUMAN MONEY BOX.