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Chapter 14 continues from yesterday:
Luke decided to change the subject.
“Where shall we put these then?” he asked.
“Not here,” said Mr Beardsley, “or they might get eaten. Put them on my desk behind the screen.”
The boys did as they were told and made their way through small huddles of various royalty, warriors and poets, a couple of Shakespeares and a Jesus. No sooner had they placed the food on the desk than Mr Beardsley asked Joe to give him the treacle scones and string so that he could set up the game. They would be starting in about ten minutes he told them. Music was already playing and a few people danced self-consciously in the middle of the room.
“This one’s for you Joe,” came a familiar voice through the speaker when the record changed.
Luke and Joe looked around to see Simon Butler behind a turntable across the room, dressed in a short blonde beard; a gold fitted jacket zipped up to his neck; short gold trousers fastened below the knee; long socks and large-buckled shoes. He thought he was so cool because Mr Beardsley had let him be the DJ. The Lunatics Have Taken Over The Asylum by Fun Boy Three filled the room and Butler laughed excessively at his own joke. Luke and Joe paid him a visit.
“So glad you took my advice Joe,” he said privately, “you look even more like a loon than usual!”
“I’m Pythagoras,” said Joe, holding up the right-angled triangle he’d made out of three rulers.
“Oh, yeah, I know you think so, lunatics often think they’re somebody famous,” he chuckled smugly.
“I’m not a lunatic! I am Pythag…”
“What are you s’posed to be anyway?” Luke interrupted their pointless argument to draw attention to Butler’s ridiculous ensemble.
“Sir Walter Raleigh,” Butler confessed without shame.
Luke cast his best contemptuous glance at his arch enemy and said nothing.
“Okay, switch the music off now Simon, it’s time for the games to begin,” Mr Beardsley called across the room.
Mr Beardsley and Thomas had put out four small tables at intervals around the room. They were set up with different traditional Halloween games.
“Take it in turns to play the games at each table,” Blackbeard instructed, “have fun!” He was the kind of teacher who didn’t believe in too much control. He liked to give the children enough room to find their own way and, since he’d already explained the games in class, he chose not to recap. “You can put the music back on now Simon,” he added.
“This table is for apple bobbing,” said Thomas who, unlike his colleague, preferred to make sure things were being done properly. “One at a time. Katia – you go first.”
Luke and Joe decided to come back later for apples and wandered over to see what was on the next table. Joe’s treacle-covered scones, with long lengths of string tied to them, were suspended above the table and dangled at different heights. Queen Elizabeth I and Boudicca were already tucking in. With hands held behind their backs, Tania and Isabel tried to bite the scones and every time they got a nibble, the sticky pendulums swung away and then back, bumping their noses, their chins, their cheeks and their hair. Boudicca, being less concerned about her appearance than the Queen, finished her scone first and bowed her grinning, sticky head in gratitude for the applause of her peers. Queen Liz, dignified in defeat, shook her opponent’s hand and went to the sink to wash her face.
“Us next!” said Luke, standing beside the table and leaning forward. “Go!” he shouted before Joe was ready, and tried to grab an untouched scone in his teeth.
Joe hurried to join in but found himself at a disadvantage when one scone stuck to his thick beard, just below his bottom lip, and prevented him from getting close to any other. Thomas laughed and reminded Joe that he couldn’t use his hands but he needn’t have said anything because Joe was not a cheater. Luke was the clear victor, finishing his scone in just four bites, and afterwards Joe was allowed to manually detach his scone from his beard and eat it normally. There were less hairs on it than one might expect.
At the next table were small plates with chunks of barm brack on them, cut from the fruit breads that Luke and a couple of other people had made.
“I’ve got a coin!” said Isabel as she broke up her piece with a fork, “that means I’m going to be rich!”
“I think you’re s’posed to just bite it,” said Joe, “it might not work if you pull it apart like that.”
“I don’t wanna risk choking!” Isabel explained sensibly.
“Plus it’s dirty,” added Tania, “money’s really dirty you know. Just think how many people have touched it without washing their hands.”
Joe had already bitten into his chunk of barmbrack and discovered that he too had a coin. He spat it quickly into his hand.
“It’s not dirty,” Luke assured him, “don’t ya think I washed ’em before I put ’em in?”
“Is this the one that you made?” Joe asked, a little relieved.
“Yeah,” said Luke confidently, “well, it looks …, yeah, definitely.”
Luke bit into his piece of bread and found only currants and orange peel.
At the next table were three large dishes of colcannon, accompanied by a stack of small bowls and spoons. The game was the same. If you found a coin it meant you would be rich; if you found a ring it meant you would find true love. Luke hadn’t had any rings to put into his baking, and he’d put all his spare coins into his barm brack, so he loaded his bowl from the colcannon he’d made himself, knowing that the only thing he was in danger of finding was a pile of delicious grub. Thoughtful as always, he didn’t spoil the game for the others by telling them that.
A few minutes later, Luke, Joe, Tania and Isabel, all happy in spite of finding nothing but cabbage in their mash, found their newly stimulated appetites craved more and made their way to the long table. It was a good job they hadn’t left it any longer as many of the other children were already digging in and the good stuff was going fast. Luke took a large paper plate from the pile and filled it with roasted sweetcorn, monkey nuts, roasted pumpkin seeds, bonfire toffee and … oh no, Joe got the last toffee apple.
“Oh, do you want it?” Joe offered when his hand reached it just before Luke’s.
“Nah,” said Luke, trying to sound casual, “it’s yours.”
“We’ll share it,” Joe decided.
“Okay.” This was a good party.
Then he noticed something bad on the table. Something not in keeping with the celebration. Something odious. Something which was in shockingly bad taste: Scotch eggs.
story continues tomorrow 🙂
but if you can’t wait you can read the whole of Chapter 14 now 😉
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