The Boarding School

PROLOGUE

There was an almighty thud that hit the windscreen turning the white wintery light for a second into temporary darkness before completely shattering the glass into a thousand irregular sharp pieces that filled the front well of the car.

The car had lurched suddenly to a stop as it had hit the scaffolding lorry that had been quite a few paces in front. Not that there had been any real speed involved, but the icy road had made braking in time to avoid impact quite impossible.

Metal tubes had broken free at the moment of impact, breaking through the car’s windscreen seconds after. Both vehicles were now completely stationary. In what seemed seconds two men jumped from the lorry similarly dressed in thick gnarled sweaters under leather jerkins and walked back to inspect the damage. Soon they were peering through the gaping hole that their poles had just created, hurriedly with all their strength pulling back the steel tubes that had short back.

“Call an ambulance Joe, this woman is in a bad way.”

Walking back along the frozen road, the almost lunar landscape all around him revealed only what seemed to be endless agricultural fields until he suddenly saw in the distance a larger building set well back from the road by a broad drive.

Picking up his feet to run, he soon was panting badly; he thought to himself that he must stop smoking so much. Soon he neared the driveway marked on either side by stone pillars supporting wrought iron gates propped back. He paused briefly to try and read a weather damaged faded sign before giving up and dashing up the pebbled drive. When he reached the top, the trees suddenly revealed a smoky looking late Victorian façade immediately in front of him. He approached the black panelled front door, not seeing any sign of a bell push, he started hammering on the metal knocker, before in blind panic resorting to pummelling the black panelling for good measure.

In seconds the door opened to reveal a startled middle-aged man wearing a shabby tartan dressing gown and pyjamas trousers poking out the bottom.

“Can I use your telephone Guvnor … there’s been a pileup … a bad one in the snow?”

 

CHAPTER ONE

As a young child my mother had decided that the best place for an impressionable boy was to start his proper education at a boarding school. Not because I was at all bad, but because my mother who had been divorced some years earlier thought that raising a male infant without any form of male influence at home was not going to make me grow up as much of a man.

So just before my seventh birthday I was packed off to school. Not to far for my mother to visit me but quite far enough away for me not to walk home. I had never been anywhere for very long without my family, so the prospect of going to school filled me with certain dread of what I may find there.

I remember our car then, a gleaming grey shooting brake with a timber framed structure enclosing the rear that you rarely see now, but quite big enough for my regulation boarder’s trunk to snugly fit inside; just, with the rear seat folded down.

For one of the first times since the outing to the recommended clothing shop, I was fully dressed on the doorstep in my new school uniform. Navy peaked cap on my head over a matching navy blue blazer both brightly trimmed in gold material at the edges and adorned prominently with the embroidered school’s crest.

The strangest part of my new uniform however was my brown corduroy shorts that almost touched my knee, and just below these the below the knee height grey woollen socks over polished brown leather sandals that did up with a T shaped strap and buckle at each side.

When my grandmother came out and saw me, I could clearly see a tear in the corner of her eye. We were close us two, as my mother was the only bread winner working long hours during the day and leaving me often for the most part in grannie’s capable trusty care.

A kindly gent, a neighbour from next door with a military style white handlebar moustache was trying to keep his battered Fedora straw hat on his head while helping my mother manhandle my truck into our boot. When he finally closed the lid, he raised his hat up briefly in salute before quickly retreating back into his own front door.