AudioBook: Luke Walker: animal stick up for-er, chapter six

More Luke Walker chapters coming soon!

Have a great weekend! 😀

All the Luke Walker: animal stick up for-er stories are available in paperback and free to read here !

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vegan storybook, vegan books for children, short stories, books on tape, audiobooks, children’s books, animal rights,

AudioBook – Luke Walker: animal stick up for-er, chapter four

See you next week for more stories on ‘tape’! 😀

Have a great weekend! ❤

[All the Luke Walker: animal stick up for-er stories are available in paperback and free to read here ]

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vegan storybook, vegan books for children, short stories, books on tape, audiobooks, children’s books, children’s stories, vegan children’s stories,

AudioBook – Luke Walker: animal stick up for-er, chapter three

Come back tomorrow for chapter four! ❤

All the Luke Walker: animal stick up for-er stories are available in paperback and free to read here 😀

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AudioBook – Luke Walker: animal stick up for-er, chapter two

And the story continues …

Come back tomorrow for chapter 3! ❤

All the Luke Walker: animal stick up for-er stories are available in paperback and free to read here 😀

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vegan storybook, vegan books for children, short stories, books on tape, audiobooks, children’s books,

AudioBook – Luke Walker: animal stick up for-er, chapter one.

Let me tell you a story ….

Come back tomorrow for chapter two! ❤

All the Luke Walker: animal stick up for-er stories are available in paperback and free to read here 😀

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Reflecto Girl loves Vego!

If you haven’t tried Vego you are missing out!

It is chocolatey deliciousness at its most exquisite.  It’s vegan, organic and fair trade: pure guilt-free indulgence.

You should be able to find them at a health food store near you but if you can’t, pop over to the VeganKind Supermarket to mail-order them 😀

As well as the whole hazelnut vegan mylk chocolate bar (pictured), Vego make a dark chocolate nuts and berries bar, a white chocolate bar, a chocolate spread, and chocolate nougat pralines.  It’s all absolutely heavenly and, the best part – the company is totally vegan owned and vegan run.  So you know when you spend money on Vego, it’ll only be used for good things 😀

So go on – do as Reflecto Girl does: have a Vego! 😀

Story Books for Christmas

Christmas is just around the corner and if you’re looking for something different, something special for the little ones in your life, you can’t go wrong with these lovely books from our little Lulu shop 😀

There’s the Luke Walker collection – humorous juvenile fiction for readers aged 8 to 108,

Colourful picture books and rhyming stories for the younger set,

and even a colouring book which teaches how nutritious plant food is.

Plus there’s all the Brave Girls comics (Reflecto Girl, Megan & Flos, and Venus Aqueous) not pictured here and more coming soon.

Just pop over to the shop and have a browse – quick before it’s too late!  If the prices shown aren’t your national currency, just click on the cart and select what country you’re shopping from by clicking on the appropriate flag.

They are beautiful books – I promise you won’t be disappointed 😀

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vegan, vegan children, vegetarian, vegan children’s books, vegan stories, vegan story books, Christmas, Christmas gift ideas, vegan Christmas

Happy Birthday Luke

Chapter 24 continues from last week:

As soon as the red car turned out of the cul-de-sac Luke ran home to get his rucksack.  He grabbed harnesses and leads from the hook in the kitchen and tossed them to Joe.

“Can you put these on Curly and Squirt?”  Dudley started barking and wagging his tail.  “Sorry boy, not this time.”  He hitched his heavy rucksack onto his back and returned to the garden for the sheep.  He was in such a hurry he didn’t close the door properly and Dudley followed him out.

Joe handed Luke the leads.  “Are you sure about this?”

“Got no choice,” he said sadly, “gotta keep Curly and Squirt safe.”  Dudley jumped up and pleaded to go with them.

“Not this time boy, I’m sorry.”  He crouched down to give his dog a hug.  “Don’t worry, I’ll be back soon.  Look after Scratcher for me okay?” Dudley licked his knee.  Luke looked at Joe. “Stay in touch on the walkie-talkies.”

He led Dudley back into the kitchen and closed the door properly, but before he could make his getaway, he heard Dad’s car.

“They’re home!” He snatched up the leads and looked frantically for somewhere to hide.

“The garage!” said Joe.

Thankfully the side door wasn’t locked but getting them all in was easier said than done.  Partially blocking the doorway was some kind of large structure, covered in an old sheet.  They heard Mum and Dad’s voices; they heard the gate hinges squeak.  There was nothing they could do but give up.  Luke tucked his rucksack behind the rose bush just as his parents entered the garden.

“Oh, you’ve seen it!” said Mum, disappointed.

“Seen what?”

“He hasn’t,” said Dad, peering over their heads through the open door, “it’s still covered.”

Luke looked back at the mysterious structure.  “What?”

Mum and Dad smiled at each other and then at Luke.  “Happy Birthday.”

Luke looked at Joe.  He’d completely forgotten.

“Happy Birthday Luke,” said Joe with a big grin.

“Did you remember?”

“No,” he laughed.

Luke looked back at his parents, “but it’s not my birthday ’til tomorrow.  Is it?”

“No, but we thought we’d do it today because I’ve got to work tomorrow.  Is Jared home?”

“Yeah, he’s upstairs.”

“I’ll get him,” said Mum.

“I’ll get the stuff out the car,” said Dad.

“Presents from Aunt Clara?” asked Luke.  He was surprised because Aunt Clara usually just sent a card.

“Not exactly,” said Dad as he disappeared through the open gate.

Luke didn’t know what to think.

When everyone was back, Dad put two boxes on the ground in front of him.  “Happy Birthday Luke,” he said again, and stood back.  “Open them.”

Luke stepped forward and did as he was told.  Inside each box were two red hens.  He stared at them in disbelief. “But you said no.”

“I had to,” said Mum, “we wanted it to be a surprise.”

The chickens climbed out of their boxes and one of them chased Dudley back into the kitchen.

“And that’s not all,” said Dad. “Marian, Jared, Joe, follow me please.”

Joe looked at Luke, shrugged and then followed the rest of them into the garage.  Luke removed the sheep’s harnesses and crouched down to introduce himself to the new chickens.

“Try to herd them to the bottom of the garden,” said Mum, “I’m opening the gate wide.”

Luke did his best but with little success.  He could get one to head in the right direction, but as soon as he returned for another the first one would run back towards the house.  As it turned out, though, that didn’t matter.  What happened next sent them all running towards the damson patch at top speed, closely followed by Curly and Squirt. Through the wide open gate came four people slowly carrying a large, wooden triangular prism. They bent their knees and lowered it onto the concrete base vacated by the old greenhouse.

“It’s a chicken house!” said Mum excitedly, “Dad made it.”

“You made it?” Luke was overwhelmed.  “All by yourself?”

Dad laughed.  “Yes.  It took me a while but, yes, all by myself.”

“It’s marvellous,” said Luke, walking around the new house, running his hand along the smooth wood.  “Absolutely marvellous.”

“Glad you approve,” said Dad.  He looked at Mum and smiled.

“Thanks Dad,” said Luke warmly.  “I love it!”

“Can we see inside?” asked Mum.

“Yes.  Okay.  You unbolt these and then you use these handles to lift this off.”  Dad detached one end of the house so that a person could climb inside if he crouched.  “These shelves are the nesting boxes – you fill them with soft wood shavings – and they can perch on the front of them when they go to bed.  They’ll be able to see out the window from there.”  Dad was proud of the house, Luke could tell.  “Put shavings on the floor as well and then it’ll be easy to sweep out in the mornings.”

“Easy,” Luke agreed.

“When it’s all clean you put the end back on by slotting it in like this.  Here, you have a go.”

Luke tried but it was too heavy.

“That’s alright, I’ll help you,” Mum promised.

“And then, when that’s bolted back on, you leave the hatch open all day so the chickens can come and go as they please.  Close it at night when they’ve gone to bed to keep predators out.”

Luke nodded.  “I will.”  He couldn’t stop grinning.

“Now, about Curly and Squirt,” said Dad, and Luke’s face fell.  “I’ve spoken to Fred and you were right, they can’t go back to the allotments.” Luke held his breath.  “So they’ll have to stay here.”

Luke could hardly believe it.  “Really?”

“Yes. We’ll make the old shed into their stable.”

Luke looked at Joe.  “Good idea,” he said tentatively.

“And the damson patch really isn’t big enough for them so they can share the whole garden with the chickens.”

“Really?  What about your flowers?”

“Well, as your mum pointed out, I’ve still got the front garden.”  Mum squeezed his hand.

“Thank you thank you thank you,” said Luke, “this is the best birthday ever!”

Dad nodded.  “You’re very welcome.”

Luke gazed at the new chicken house.  “How many chickens would fit in here?” he asked.

“The plan said up to twelve,” said Dad.

“Marvellous,” said Luke, “absolutely marvellous.”

And they all lived happily ever after 😀

If you’re late to the party and want to catch up, you can find all the Luke Walker: animal stick up for-er chapters here 🙂

Have a great day ❤ 

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vegan, vegan children, veggie kids, animals, animal rights, juvenile fiction, chickens, sheep, vegan children’s story, animal rescue, birds,

Ten past four

For the whole story click here 😀

Chapter 24 continues:

Isabel peered through the shed window and smiled.  “Looking good!” she said.

“What time is it?”  Luke was slightly anxious.

“Ten past four,” said Isabel.

“Where the heck is Tania?  She said she’d be here by three!”

“Actually, you told her to be here by three.  What she actually said was, I don’t know how long it’ll take.”

“Well she didn’t say it would take this long!”

Joe came out of the house.  “I’ve just seen Jared from your bedroom window.  He’s at the bottom of the cul-de-sac!”

“Quick! Into the shed!” said Luke, panicking.

Isabel didn’t move.  “We haven’t done anything yet,” she said, “there’s no need to hide.”  At that moment her phone received a text.  “It’s Tania.  She says they’re five minutes out.”

“Joe, go and see where Jared is!”

“You go and see where Jared is.”

Luke went to see where Jared was and got to the back door just in time to hear the front door slam.  He stepped quietly into the kitchen and listened.  Jared’s heavy boots took the stairs two at a time and within seconds of them reaching the top, loud music blared from his room.  Luke ran back to the damson patch.

“It’s alright.  He’s in his room with his music on.“

“What if he looks out his window?” asked Joe.

“He won’t.  Look, his curtains are drawn.  He’s obivlious.”

Isabel resisted the temptation to correct him and smiled.  “I can hear a car!”

They all ran out into the cul-de-sac.  Tania’s dad’s car had just pulled up.  Mr Spriggs and Tania got out and Luke approached them hurriedly.

“Hello.”

“Hello,” said Mr Spriggs brightly, “you must be Luke,” and he stretched out his right hand.  Luke smiled and shook it without saying anything.

Tania was beaming.  “Shall we take the chickens through?” she asked.

“Yeah, quick as we can,” said Luke, “this way.”  Tania handed one box each to her eager friends and they carried them carefully up the drive towards the back garden gate.

“Would you mind if I use your toilet?” asked Tania’s dad.

“Daaad!”

Mr Spriggs ignored his daughter and looked hopefully at Luke.

Luke couldn’t risk anyone going inside and alerting Jared.  “Er, sorry,” he said, “I don’t have a key to the house.”

“You don’t?”

“No.  I did have one, but I dropped it when I was … when I went…” he said, awkwardly.  “I don’t know where I dropped it.”

“Oh.”

Joe felt bad for the man.  “I saw on telly that it’s good for compost heaps.”

Mr Spriggs raised his eyebrows, “and you’ve got a compost heap?”

Luke pointed to the far end of the garden and Mr Spriggs ran down there.

“Oh good grief!” said Tania to her shoes.

Isabel looked at her watch.  Half past four.  “Come on,” she said, “let’s show the chicks their new home.”

They were beautiful.  Three of them were orange and gold, with red crowns.  One of them was a soft grey and the other a dark red-brown with black at the tips of her feathers.  As soon as they were out of their boxes they ran away to explore.  The one with black-tipped feathers seemed to be the boldest.  Wherever she went the others followed, but if any of them got too close to her she reprimanded them with a quick peck to the head.

“We should call her Boudicca,” suggested Tania.

Curly and Squirt were very interested in the newcomers but when they approached for a closer look, Boudicca saw them off with a squawk and a frenzied flap of her wings.  The grey hen kept getting told off too.

“Aw, poor baby,” said Isabel, “they’re picking on her.”

“She’s alright,” said Joe, “Look – she’s keeping her distance from Boudicca and Frosty now.”

“Frosty?”

“The one with the white face.”

“Okay,” Isabel smiled, “and the grey one’s Millie.”

“Why?”

“I just like it.”

“What shall we name the other two?”

Everybody looked at Luke.

He grinned.  “Kes and Neelix.”

“Neelix is a boy’s name,” said Tania.

“Doesn’t have to be,” argued Luke.  “Neelix is the speckled one.  She looks like Neelix.”

Mr Spriggs watched from the other side of the fence.  “A splendid bunch,” he said smiling.  “You’ve got them a nice set-up here.”

“Thanks,” said Luke, “thanks for pickin’ ’em up for us.”

“You’re very welcome.  I hope your mum feels better soon.  Is she back from the hospital yet?”

“Er, no.”  Luke glanced anxiously at Isabel who mouthed ‘ten to five’.  “But I think she might be home any minute an’ she told me in no certain terms that I have to be quiet and not have any friends round when she gets back.”

“Quite right!” said Mr Spriggs, “come on Tania, let’s make a move.”

“Er, can I cadge a lift?” asked Isabel.

“Of course.”

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This chapter concludes on Monday but if you don’t want to wait you can finish it by clicking here now 😀

Have a great weekend 😀 

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vegan, vegan children, veggie kids, animals, animal rights, juvenile fiction, chickens, sheep, vegan children’s story, animal rescue, birds,

Getting the chickens

For the story so far click here 😀

Chapter 24 continues:

Tania’s dad pulled in to the car park at Butcher’s Field, the ironically named rendezvous for the chicken rescuers.

“You wait here,” said Tania, “I’ll go and get the chickens.”

“Where from?”

“I’ll ask the woman with the clipboard.”

“Alright.  I’m going to look for the toilets,” said her dad, “I’ll be back in a few minutes hopefully.”

“A toilet Dad, not a tree,” she reminded him.

He laughed and they went their separate ways.  When she reached the clipboard woman, Tania waited a polite distance behind the man who was talking to her, but she still couldn’t help overhearing their conversation.

“You a bit thin on the ground this year?” he asked.

“Yeah, because of the charge,” the woman told him.

“What charge?”

“She’s charging for them now.”

“Really?”

“Yes unfortunately.  She didn’t charge before.  Just wanted to save them.  But now she says she can’t afford to keep letting them go for nothing.”

“Why?  What brought that on?”

“She says she’s losing money ’cause she could get at least 50p each for them if she sent them to slaughter.”

“No!”

“Yep.  Nine thousand birds at 50p each is £4,500!”  The man just frowned and shook his head.  “So she tells us she wants to charge people for them, thinks it’s perfectly reasonable, and who can’t afford 50p?  But of course that’s not what we signed up for.  We don’t want to fund animal farming.  You pay to release one animal and that money’s used to enslave another.”

“Exactly.”

“But if we say no, there’s thousands of birds we could have saved going to slaughter.  So we had a vote and decided, fourteen to six, in favour of going ahead.  The six who voted against it resigned from the group.”

The man shook his head again.  “So you’ve had to raise another four and a half thousand on top of your usual costs?”

Clipboard woman nodded.

“You’re an amazing woman Sheila,” he said, “I don’t know how you work with someone like that.”

“When you have to, you do,” she said, smiling.

He started to turn away but she reached out and touched his arm.  “Er, Mike.”

“Yeah?”

“That’s just between us okay?”

He nodded, “see ya Sheila,” and walked away.

Tania approached.

“Hello love,” said the woman.  She looked tired but she smiled.

Tania smiled back and gave her name.  The woman looked down her list.

“You’re taking five?” she asked.

“That’s right.”

The woman looked around.  “You on your own?”

“No,” said Tania, “my dad’s here.  That’s our car over there.  The red one.”

“Have you brought carriers?”

“No sorry, we didn’t know …”

“That’s okay, we’ve got boxes,” the woman smiled again.  “You wait by the car and someone will bring them over in a minute.”

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Story continues tomorrow but if you don’t want to wait, you can read it here now 😀

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vegan, vegan children, veggie kids, animals, animal rights, juvenile fiction, chickens, sheep, vegan children’s story, animal rescue, birds,

A matter of life and death

For the story so far click here 😀

Chapter 24 continues:

In the garden Luke led Curly and Squirt away from Dad’s flower beds.

“We might not be able to stay here,” he told them apologetically, “but don’t worry, I’ll come with you, wherever you go.”  He stroked the back of Curly’s neck while he considered their options and very soon it came to him.  “We could live at the country park!” he said, “there’s trees to climb and woods to hide in, and plenty of grass for you to eat.  It’d be like livin’ in Sherwood Forest!”  It was a brilliant idea.  He wondered why he hadn’t thought of it before.  “On’y thing is,” he added, “the chickens are comin’ tomorrow.”  He sat on the lawn and pondered.  He was sure he could figure something out but it would require more thought.  Squirt laid down next to him and put his head on Luke’s lap.  Luke looked at him and smiled.  “It’s alright,” he said, “I’ll think of something.”

****

SATURDAY 14 JUNE
C-DAY

When Luke woke up at half past eight the house was quiet.  He was greeted by Dudley when he went downstairs but everyone else was out.  Dad had left a note on the fridge.

Luke called Joe.

“Hello.”

“Can you come round?”

“Now?”

“Yeah.”

“Okay.”

As soon as he put down the phone Luke let Dudley into the garden and checked on Curly and Squirt.  They’d made themselves at home and were enjoying the abundance of dandelions in the damson patch.  Joe arrived five minutes later and Luke took him upstairs to help look for his tent.

“What d’you want the tent for?” he asked.

“To live in.”

“Why?”

Luke put Joe in the picture.

“So you and Curly and Squirt are gonna run away and live at the country park?”

“Yeah.”

“What about school?”

“I won’t go to school.”

“It’s the law.  You have to go to school.”

“I’m an outlaw.”

“Oh yeah.  But how will you live?  What will you eat?  And what about the chickens?”

“Don’t worry,” said Luke with a conspiratorial smile, “I’ve got it all worked out.”  He took his walkie talkies out of the wardrobe, opened the box and handed one to Joe.  “I’ll keep in touch with you on this – channel six – and then if I need anything I’ll tell you and you can bring it.”

“Like what?”

“Food for a start.  You’ve got your own food allowance.”

“It’s only enough for me.”

“Yeah but if you look for stuff that’s buy one get one free, you can give the free one to me.  And if you go to the Co-op at the end of the day when they’re sellin’ things that are goin’ out of date – like bread for 10p a loaf – you can get stuff cheap so your money’ll go further.”

Joe nodded slowly.  “Yeah, I s’pose I could do that.”

“Good.  Oh, here it is!”  He pulled out a bundle of grey nylon fabric from under the bed and spread it out on the carpet.

“You’re not going to be very well camouflaged with that picture of Spiderman on the side,” Joe pointed out.

Luke was unconcerned.  “I’ll hide that with twigs and leaves.”

After checking nothing was missing he rolled the tent back up and went to the airing cupboard for his sleeping bag.

“Your mum and dad are gonna be pretty upset about this,” Joe told him.

“Well they’re not ezzactly givin’ me a choice are they?  My first duty is to protect Curly an’ Squirt.”

Joe nodded.  “Yeah, okay, but what about the chickens? Your mum and dad don’t know they’re coming so if you’re not here to look after them …”

Luke grinned.  “It’s alright, I told you, I’ve got it all worked out.”

“How?”

“I’ll come back when they’re not here.  Simple.”

“How will you know when they’re not here.”

“I already know.  Dad goes to work at seven every mornin’; Jared’s gone before eight; and on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays Mum works at the Co-op.”

“What about Tuesdays and Thursdays?  And weekends?”

“Well she’ll have to walk Dudley won’t she?”

“But you don’t know what time she’ll go.”

“That’s where you come in.”

“Whaddaya mean?”

“Well, you can keep watch and then tell me when she leaves, with the walkie talkie.”

“But I’m s’posed to be at school!”

Luke frowned.  “We all agreed to rescue the chickens together.  They’re all our responsibility, not jus’ mine.  We’ve all got to work together.”

“I know but how can I do it on school days?”

“Look, I’m riskin’ prison by not goin’ to school at all,” Luke reminded him, “so the least you can do is risk bein’ marked late!  That’s not askin’ too much is it?  I mean, it’s life and death for the chickens don’t forget!”

Joe nodded.  “Yes, you’re right.  Sorry.”

“It’s okay.  Now then, Tania should be here with the chickens by three.  That should give us plenty of time to get them all settled in to the damson patch before Mum and Dad get home.”

“When will they be back?”

“They said they’d be gone all day so I s’pose that means after five.”

“You suppose?”

“Yeah.”

“What about Jared?”

“We haven’t gotta worry about him.  He always disappears on Saturdays.”

“Where to?”

“Nobody knows.  Skate park prob’ly.”

“So you don’t know when he’ll be back.”

“Late.  He’s always late back on Saturdays.”

“How late?”

“Joe!  Don’t worry about Jared!  We just need to make sure we’re out of here before Mum and Dad get back.”

“Before five?”

Luke nodded.  “Yeah. But I’d like to be away by four.”  The two boys sat in silent agreement for a moment before Luke added “oh, but you’ll have to come back when it gets dark.  I’ll give you a gate key.”

“On my own? Why?”

“To lock the cat flap on the chicken house so a fox doesn’t get ’em.”

“Why can’t you do it?”

“Well I can’t leave Curly and Squirt in the park by themselves can I?  And I can’t bring ’em with me – they’re not ezzactly stealthy!”

Luke stuffed his tent, sleeping bag and walkie talkie into his rucksack.  “I’d better get some rations,” he said, “come on.”  Downstairs he crammed every pocket and crevice of his bag with food and a couple of bottles of water.  “Now let’s go to the allotments and get some straw!”

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Story continues tomorrow but if you don’t want to wait, you can read it here now 😀

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vegan, vegan children, veggie kids, animals, animal rights, juvenile fiction, chickens, sheep, vegan children’s story

Butler did it!

For the story so far click here 😀

Chapter 24 continues:

“Where’s Luke?” asked Dad.

“Must be out with Dudley,” said Mum, “I expect he’ll be back soon.”

“Right, well as soon as he gets in, I want to give him his present.”

“You’ve finished it?”

“Yes,” said Dad with a big grin.

“Can I see it?” asked Mum excitedly, starting for the door.

“Not ’til Luke gets here,” Dad laughed and stepped in front of her.

“It’s not his birthday ’til Sunday,” said Jared.

“I know but I’ve got to work on Sunday.”

“Oh no!” said Mum, “didn’t you tell them you had plans?”

“Yeah but they’re desperate.  A lot of people off with stomach flu.”

“Again?!  Lucky for them you never get it.”

“What if you did?” suggested Jared, “tell ’em you caught it and then you won’t have to work.”

Dad frowned disapproval at that idea.

Mum pouted.  “Oh, I don’t want you to miss Luke’s birthday.”

“I don’t want to miss it either.  That’s why I thought we could do it now.  While we’re all here.”

“Luke and Dudley are home,” said Jared, looking out the dining room window, “and they’re not alone.”

Luke greeted his family with a fierce scowl.  “Butler let Curly an’ Squirt out and now they’re not allowed on the allotment!” he told them angrily.

“What?” asked everybody at once.

“Curly an’ Squirt got out and they messed up some o’ the plots and ate some o’ the plants but it wasn’t their fault. An’ I told Mr Tipton it wasn’t my fault either but he said I must’ve forgot but I didn’t an’ I told him I didn’t but he wun’t believe me!  He said there was a new rule and no animals could live on the allotments so I had to bring ’em home!”

“Luke slow down.  What exactly did Fred say?” asked Dad.

“I told you!  He said he wasn’t gonna let animals on the allotments any more coz he couldn’t risk it happenin’ again!”

“The sheep got onto other people’s plots?”

“Yes!”  Luke was exasperated.

“Oh no,” said Mum, “did they do much damage?”

“It’s not their fault,” Luke reiterated, “they were just eatin’.  They didn’t know they weren’t s’posed to.  They didn’t mean to spoil anything.”

“How did they get out?” asked Dad, “did you forget to bolt the gate this morning?”

“No!  I told you!  Butler did it!”

“Simon Butler?  Why d’you think that?”

“I saw him just now – laughin’ with his stupid friends about it!  He shouted at me that I shun’t have left the gate open.  How would he know that if he din’t do it?”

Mum and Dad exchanged serious glances.

“I’ll speak to Fred,” said Dad, “don’t worry.  I’m sure we can work something out.”

“We could put a padlock on the gate,” suggested Mum.

“Good idea ….”

“Won’t work,” interrupted Luke dejectedly, “I already offered to do that.  He said no.”

Dad ruffled his hair.  “Don’t worry, I’ll talk to him,” and he reached for the phone.

“No!” said Luke firmly, “they’re not safe there.  I want them to stay here!”

“They can’t stay here Luke, I’m sorry.”

“Why not?  The garden’s big enough.”

“I’m sorry Luke, no,” Dad insisted, “I’ve worked hard on this garden and I don’t want it ruined.”  He looked out the dining room window.  “Look – they’ve already eaten half my purple mallow!”

“Well they’ve had a rough day!  Give ’em a break!”

“I’ll go next door and speak to Anne,” said Mum, “maybe she can keep her slimy son in check.”

“Okay,” said Dad. “Luke, put the sheep in the damson patch.  I’ll phone Fred.”

“No!  We’re not sendin’ ’em back!  A padlock won’t keep ’em safe!  Anyone could climb over the fence an’ hurt ’em!  I want them here where I can see them all the time!”

Dad spoke low and calm but there was no mistaking his hostility.  “Let me make one thing clear: I am not giving up my garden.  I tolerated the loss of my vegetable patch to your rabbits and you’re lucky I didn’t put my foot down then.  I’m putting it down now.  The sheep are going back to the allotments.”

Luke was infuriated.  “Aren’t Curly an’ Squirt more important than a few flowers?  It’s dangerous for ’em there!  It’s cruel to make ’em go back!  Cruel and selfish!”  He paused for a response that didn’t come.  “If you make ’em leave, I’m goin’ with them!”

Mum put her hand on his shoulder in an effort to calm him down but he pulled away angrily and stormed back out into the garden.

Mr Walker slammed his garage keys down on the table.  “So glad I worked every spare minute to make that child’s birthday present!” he growled.

“He didn’t mean it,” said Mum sympathetically, “he’s just upset.  If he knew what you’d done …”

“He shouldn’t speak to me like that whether he knew or not!”

“I know but …”

“I think I deserve a little bit of respect!”

Mrs Walker reached out to hug him but he walked away.  She sighed.  “I wonder what it would have been like to have daughters,” she thought.

*************************************************

Story continues tomorrow but if you don’t want to wait, you can read it here now 😀

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Wandering off

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Chapter 24 continues from Tuesday:

Mum smiled.  “Looking good.  Do you want some furniture?  I’ve got a couple of deck chairs and a coffee table you can have.”

“Yeah, maybe,” said Luke, smiling, “thanks Mum.”

“I’ve got some old curtains as well, if you want privacy,” she offered.

“Why? You can’t see in the shed window from the house can you?”

“No, of course not.”

“Okay, good.”

“So you do want privacy.  Top secret stuff is it?”

“No, course not, well …. we just don’t wanna be watched, that’s all.”

“I quite understand,” said Mum, trying to suppress a smile. “Do you want lunch?  I could bring some sandwiches down here if you like.”

Luke shook his head.  “Thanks, yeah, but no, we’ll come up to the house for ’em.”

******

FRIDAY 13 JUNE

When Luke got home from school there was no one else there.  The house was silent.

“Dudley? D’you want to go outside?” he asked when he stepped into the kitchen.  The clang of an upended stainless steel water bowl was preceded by the sound of four clawed paws hitting the floor.  Dudley was at the back door in seconds.

As they walked to the allotments Luke and his oldest friend talked everything over.  Well, Luke talked, Dudley couldn’t get a word in edgeways.  Luke had always been grateful for good listeners.  The best, he’d found, were those who didn’t try to push their own opinions into the discussion; those who let him get out all his jumbled thoughts and feelings without comment or judgement; those who just listened.  That left Mum out.  And Dad.  At one time Luke’s first port of call when he needed to clear his head or puzzle a dilemma was the damson patch.  The rabbits’ listening skills were second to none.  Sadly Ash and Rusty had grown old and passed away in recent months.  Scratcher was still around but she’d moved into the house for company and was often so busy rearranging soft furnishings that it was hard to get her undivided attention.  That very morning she’d spent half an hour dragging the back doormat into the dining room.  She seemed to prefer it there, no one knew why.  Thankfully Dudley was always ready to lend an ear.

“Tomorrow’s C-Day,” said Luke, as if Dudley didn’t already know.  “Mum an’ Dad are goin’ to London to help Aunt Clara move so that’s perfect timing.  We should be able to get the chickens all tucked in before they get back.  As long as Tania’s dad gets ’em here in time.  She told him to go early but he said it was a long drive so he doesn’t know how long it’ll take.”

Tania had told her dad a white lie.  She didn’t want to but Luke reminded her the chickens would be killed if she didn’t.  She told him that Luke’s mum had an ingrowing toenail and his dad had to take her to hospital to have it removed so they wouldn’t be able to pick up the chickens they were adopting.  She asked him if he’d mind doing it instead and he kindly agreed. Tania’s dad had never met Luke’s parents and with any luck he never would.
Luke arrived with Dudley at the allotments, unlocked the gate and walked between the immaculate plots en route to his own.  The weird thing was, some of them didn’t look quite as immaculate as usual. What was yesterday a neat row of cabbages, now looked as though it had been trampled by a football team.  Some were strewn across the path and a couple of them had rolled under someone else’s bean poles.  The carrots on an adjacent plot had also been rudely and prematurely unearthed.  Dudley attempted to investigate but Luke wouldn’t let him.

“Dudley no!”  Luke wound the lead more tightly around his hand.  “If anyone sees you doin’ that they’ll think you made this mess.  An’ they’ll blame me!”

In fact the blame was fast approaching Luke’s position, as he soon realised.  The trail of destruction led all the way back to his own plot, at which the gate was swinging open.  There was no sign of Curly and Squirt.

“Curly! Squirt!” he called frantically.  He rushed to the shed and looked inside; he looked behind it and under the bushes.  They were gone.  Dudley started sniffing eagerly.  He seemed to be onto something.  “Where are they boy?” Luke let go of the lead.  “Find them boy, find Curly and Squirt!”  Dudley followed his nose across the grass to the open gate, out of the gate and along the path until he arrived back at the scattered carrots.  He loved carrots.

“No!  Stop it Dudley!  We’ve got to find Curly and Squirt!”

“Young man,” Luke was startled by the deep voice behind him.  He turned to face Allotment Committee Man, otherwise known as Mr Fred Tipton.  “I believe these belong to you.”  Mr Tipton offered Luke one end of a long piece of rope.  At its other end stood a very curly haired ewe, accompanied by her son.

“Thank you!” said Luke, “where have you been?” he asked them, “you had me worried sick!”

“Where they’ve been,” said Mr Tipton, “is all over these garden plots.  They’ve done a heck of a lot of damage.”

“I’m really sorry about that,” said Luke, “I’ll put ’em back now.  It won’t happen again.”

“No it won’t because you won’t be keeping them here any more.”

“What?  That’s not fair, it wasn’t my fault!”

“Whose fault was it then?”

“I don’t know.  Whoever opened the gate!”

“Who checked on them this morning?”

“Me.  But I bolted the gate!  I know I did!  I always bolt the gate!”

“You must have forgotten today.”

“I didn’t!” Luke insisted. “Somebody else must have let ’em out!  On purpose to get me in trouble!”

“They’re your responsib…”

“Somebody who wants an allotment!  Whoever’s next on your waitin’ list – they’ve got motive!”

Mr Tipton shook his head.  “I can’t run the risk of this happening again.”

“It won’t,” said Luke pleadingly, “I’ll get a lock, so no one else can open it!  Please don’t make us leave!”

“I’m sorry, the decision’s been made.  No more animals are to be kept on these allotments.”

Luke, Curly, Little Squirt and Dudley walked slowly home.  They cut through the park and Luke racked his brains for inspiration.  Would Mum and Dad let him keep the sheep at home?  After all, the garden was big enough.  And there was nowhere else they could go.  Plus, it wasn’t his fault.  He’d bolted the gate that morning, he knew he had. Someone else had let them out, whatever Mr Tipton said.

Half way across the playing field his cogitation was interrupted by someone calling his name.

“Walker!  Nice sheep!”

A group of boys by the swings laughed but Luke ignored them. He had more important things to worry about.

“Got kicked off the allotments did ya?”  They all laughed again, even louder.  Luke kept walking.

“You should’ve kept the gate shut!”

This voice he recognised.  Luke stopped and looked across at the laughing boys.  At that moment he knew.  Butler did it!

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Getting ready

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Chapter 24 continues from yesterday:

Joe changed the subject.  “How do we tell them we want to adopt some. Is there an email address?”

“Er, … oh no, it says we have to phone this number.  We’ve got to talk to them.”

“The farmer?”

“No, Wixham Animal Action.”  Isabel was concerned.  “They’re not going to let us adopt without parental consent are they?”

“You do it,” said Luke.

“Me?”  Tania was apprehensive.

“Yeah, you’re good at soundin’ grown up.  Like when you did that impression of Mrs Tyler.  You sounded just like her.”

Tania smiled.  “Okay,” she said, picking up her phone, “what’s the number?”

While she waited for the call to be answered her heart beat hard and fast.  She turned away from the others so they wouldn’t make her laugh.

“Hello?” said the woman who eventually picked up.

“Oh, hello,” said Tania in her best Mrs Tyler voice.  “I would like to adopt some rescued chickens please.”

“Oh great, hang on a minute, let me get a pen. ….. Right, how many can you take?”

“Erm,” Tania looked at the others and mouthed ‘how many?’ but they didn’t understand her.  She put the phone on speaker.

“We like people to take at least three,” the woman advised, “because they’re sociable creatures.  Wouldn’t be happy on their own.”

“Oh yes of course,” said Tania, looking at the others for a sign.

“Shall I put you down for three?” the woman suggested, “or have you got room for more?”

Luke held up his open right hand.

“Five?” said Tania uncertainly.

Luke nodded.

“Five?” asked the woman.

“Yes,” Tania smiled, “five please.”

“Good.  Okay, now do you have a garden and a house for them?”

“A house?”

“A chicken house for them to sleep in.”

“Oh yes, a shed.”

“It’ll need nesting boxes and perches.  And it’ll need to be fox-proof,” the woman explained.

Luke nodded at Tania.

“Yes,” she said, “it will be.”

“Okay then, I’ll just take your name, address and phone number and then we’ll get back to you on the thirteenth to give you a pick up location and time.”

“Pick them up?”

“Yes. Is that a problem?”

“No no, that’ll be fine,” said Tania with feigned confidence.  “Absolutely fine.”

******

SATURDAY 7 JUNE

When the doorbell rang Luke rushed to answer it.

“Expecting someone?” asked Mum.

“Joe and the others.”

“Oh.  Will you be going out?” she called after him.  She’d been hoping to have the house to herself so she could give it a good spring clean.

Luke returned from the front door with his friends in tow.  “We’ll be in the garden,” he told his mother as they headed for the back door, “where’s Dad?”

“Working in the garage.”

“Okay, thanks.”

Mum was relieved until she remembered, “oh but you can’t go in there!” she shouted after him as he approached the garage door.  Luke stopped and looked back as Mum rushed down the garden path in her slippers.  “What do you want Dad for?” she asked, “he’s busy, doesn’t want to be disturbed.”

“Just wanted to borrow a screwdriver.”

“Okay, I’ll get it.  Flathead?”

“Phillips.”

“Okay.”  She entered the garage and closed the door behind her.

“Dad’s a bit grumpy,” Luke explained to his friends.  They nodded.  Moments later Mum emerged with the screwdriver and the Society resumed course for the damson patch.  They entered the shed.

“Not bad,” said Isabel.  “It’s solid.  Bit dusty but we can sweep it out no problem.  This’ll make a good chicken house.”

“Let’s put this on,” said Tania, “where do you want it?”

Luke showed her the hole he’d hammered in the wall years ago to make a door for the rabbits.  “Down here,” he said, moving the boxes that were blocking it.

“Perfect, that’s just the right size,” said Tania, holding the new cat flap up against it.  “Once we’ve got this on, the chickens can go in and out during the day and at night you can lock it closed to keep them safe.”

“Great,” said Luke, smiling, “thanks.”  He handed Tania the screwdriver and she got to work.

The others swept the floor, dusted off the cobwebs and cleaned the window.  In less than an hour, the shed was almost fit for purpose.

“What are you going to do about bedding?” asked Isabel.

“I’ll get straw from the bale in Curly and Squirt’s shed.”

“I thought it was better to use shavings.”

“Straw’s all I’ve got, it’ll have to do.”

“That’ll be fine,” said Tania. “What about nesting boxes?”

“Ahh,” said Luke, smiling.  He opened the door and went outside for a moment.  When he came back he was dragging an old rabbit hutch.  “This was what Butler kept Scratcher in before I rescued her,” he explained.  “When he left it out for the dustmen I went and got it.”  It was in good clean condition.  Luke opened the doors.  “I’ll take the doors off and make a straw bed on both sides.  They can lay their eggs in there if they want to.”

“There’s only room for two though,” said Isabel.

“Three,” said Luke, “I’m sure three of ’em could fit comfortably in there, and they’re not likely to all wanna lay an egg at the same time are they?”

“Actually,” said Joe, “don’t take the doors off.  If you open them wide and fix them open, the chicks can perch on them.”

“Good thinking!” Luke agreed, “What can we fix ’em with?”

At that moment Mum put her head round the door.  “Ready for lunch?” she asked. “Ooh, this looks tidy.  You have been busy.”

“Muuum!  This is a private meeting!” Luke escorted her back outside.

“What are you up to in there?” she asked, “is it going to be your HQ?”

“Er, yeah, that’s right,” it was as good a cover as any.

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Story continues tomorrow 😀

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Emergency Meeting

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Chapter 24 continues:

SUNDAY 1 JUNE

An emergency meeting of the Secret Society was held in Luke’s bedroom.

“Did anybody’s parents say yes?” asked Luke. Everyone shook their heads.

“My dad said they’d ruin the garden,” said Tania.

“Yeah, that’s what my mum said,” agreed Isabel.

“Joe?  What did yours say?”

“Didn’t ask them.”

“Why not?”

“I don’t think it’s a good idea.”

“Why not?” Luke was more than a little affronted.

“To keep ’em at mine I mean, I don’t know what my lot would do to ’em.”

Luke nodded.  “There’s on’y one thing we can do then.”

“What?”

“Keep ’em at mine.”

“I thought your mum said no,” said Tania.

“Yeah but the way I see it, I’ve got the perfect place for ’em: the damson patch.  It’s fenced, it’s got a shed, and the rabbits don’t live there any more.”

“But if your mum said no …”

“It’s really overgrown now so I don’t think they’d notice.”

“They’re bound to tidy it up one day,” warned Joe, “they’ll see ’em eventually.”

“Yeah but not straight away.”

“But when they do – what will you do then?”

“By then I’ll have proved that I’m lookin’ after ’em properly, and still gettin’ all my homework done, and lookin’ after the other animals.  I’ll have proved her wrong so she’ll have to let me keep ’em.”

The others shook their heads again.

“You’ll never get away with it,” said Isabel, “even if you do at first you’ll be in a heck of a lot of trouble when they do find out.”

Luke shrugged.  “I’ve been in trouble before.”

“Ookaay.  It’s your funeral.”  Isabel opened her laptop.  “What’s that address again?”

When they reached Wixham Animal Action’s website, the chicken re-homing appeal was on the front page.

“It says here there’s nine thousand!”

“Nine thousand?  That’s a big farm!  Is it closing down?” asked Tania.

“Erm …. no.  They’re just getting new hens.”

“Why?”

“Says here it’s the law.  Hens can’t be more than seventy two weeks old because after that their eggs aren’t good enough for supermarkets.”

“So they replace them with new ones?”

“Yeah.  Look, it says they would normally go to slaughter at seventy two weeks but this farmer doesn’t want them to be killed.”

“Why is he a farmer then?” asked Luke.  Isabel continued to read silently.  “Why is he a farmer if he don’t like killin’ animals?” Luke asked again.

“She.  Well, they.  It’s a family farm,” explained Isabel.  “Look at this picture – it’s an organic free-range farm.  The chickens look happy don’t they?”

“Yeah but they’re still gonna be killed.”

“Well she’s trying to get them re-homed so they won’t be killed.”

“Let me get this straight,” Luke’s hackles were up.  “These are nice farmers who don’t want their chickens to be killed so every seventy two weeks – what’s that, a year and a half? – they’ve got to find homes for nine thousand birds?”

“Yes.”

“But if they can’t find enough homes they go to slaughter anyway?”

“Yes but that’s why …”

“And then they breed another nine thousand new chickens who are gonna need homes the next year otherwise they’ll go to slaughter as well.”

“Yes.”

“So this’ll happen every other year.”

“Erm, I guess so – yeah, it says here they’ve done it eight times before.”

“And in all that time it never occurred to ’em that the best way to make sure your birds don’t get slaughtered is to stop bein’ chicken farmers!”

Isabel did her best to zone him out while she continued to read.  “Well, the farmer says that most people won’t go vegan so if she closed down her high welfare, organic, free range farm, people would just buy their eggs from low-welfare factory farms and that would be much worse for the chickens.”

“That’s a rather defeatist attitude,” said Tania.

“She says you should blame the consumer not the farmer,” added Isabel, “if consumers didn’t buy them the farmers wouldn’t produce them.”

“Of course,” said Tania, “the farmers are blameless!” and she winked at Luke.  Luke sighed.

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Feet off the seats!

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Story continues from yesterday:

When they arrived at the station the ticket office was closed but the side gate to platform one was open.  Joe cupped his hands around his eyes and peered through the waiting room window.  A man sat on one of the benches, reading. Above him on the wall was a large painting of a steam train.  Nothing else.

“Better check the other platform,” said Luke.

Over the bridge, at platform two, a four coach train sat idle and empty.  The doors were all open so Luke climbed aboard.  After looking over his shoulder to make sure no one was watching, Joe followed him.

The girls checked out the waiting room and found a large rack full of leaflets.  They removed and bagged everything advertising zoos, aquariums and farm parks before dividing a huge pile of Action Medical Research leaflets and sitting down to add some unemotional statements of fact.  When they were about half way through they were startled by an announcement that the train now standing on platform two was the 13:55 service to London Euston. Tania stood up and looked out the window.

“Are they there?” asked Isabel.

“Can’t see them but they must have heard that.  Mustn’t they?”

***

“I can’t reach.”

“Stand on the seat.”

Luke checked the carriage was still empty before doing as Joe suggested.  “There,” he said, “that looks good doesn’t it, as though it was meant to be there.”

A fast repeating pinging sound preceded the whoosh of the closing doors.  “This is the Urban City Link service to London Euston, calling at Antsworth, Merton Abbot, Furling, Furling Airport Parkway and London Euston.”

“Uh oh,” said Luke.

Joe rushed to the door and repeatedly pressed the OPEN button.

“It’s not gonna open now,” said Luke, “the train’s moving.”

“I don’t wanna go to London!” said Joe, “what shall we do?  Pull the cord?”

“It’s alright,” said Luke, “we’ll just get off at the next station and catch another train back.”

“But we haven’t got a ticket!  Have you got any money?”

“No.”

“Nor have I!  So we can’t buy a ticket!”

Luke laughed.  “Stop panickin’.  There’s prob’ly not even a ticket checker on here.”

“Isn’t there?”

“I haven’t seen one, have you?”

“Well I didn’t see a driver either but I’m guessin’ there’s one of them on here.”

“First thing’s first,” said Luke, “we need to check the other three carriages for ads like that one.”

They walked from the fourth to the third carriage where a woman sat with her dog at one end, and a man watched telly on his computer half way down.  There were no ads that needed fixing so they continued on to the second carriage.  The second carriage contained a family of four at a table in the middle and a couple of teenagers at the far end.  Again there were no ads that needed fixing so they continued on to the first.  As they opened the connecting door the automated announcement informed them that they were now approaching Antsworth.  Luke saw an ad the same as the one in the fourth carriage so he pulled out his stickers and labelled it while the train slowed down and the platform came into view.

“Come on, we’d better get off,” said Joe, very relieved that there hadn’t been a ticket checker and a little embarrassed that he’d panicked for nothing.  When the train stopped the OPEN button lit up and Joe pressed it. They were about to step off when Luke noticed another of the same ads at the front of the carriage and rushed down there to deal with it.

“Luke!”

“Don’t say my name!”  Within seconds Luke was up on the seat affixing a sticker.

“Hey!”  The conductor appeared out of nowhere.  “No feet on the seats!”

“Sorry,” said Luke, jumping down.

“Quick!” called Joe.

Luke ran back to Joe as the fast repeating ping told them the doors were about to close.

“No running!” commanded the conductor.

“Sorry,” said Luke again before exiting sideways between the closing doors and landing safely on the platform.

Joe took a deep breath and exhaled.

“When’s the next train back?” asked Luke.

“I dunno, we’ll have to go over the other side.”

There was a twenty three minute wait for the next train to Belton which was put to good use in the Antsworth waiting rooms.

“You know they have CCTV cameras on trains,” said Tania when they finally got back.

“Really?” Luke scratched his chin. “Oh well.”

***************************************************************************************************

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The importance of being not loud

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Story continues from yesterday:

On Sunday at midday the Society met outside the bus station.

“If you get spotted, just walk away,” said Tania, “they can’t stop you.”

“Can’t they?”

“No, that would be assault.  All they can do is tell you to leave and ban you from coming back.”

Luke and Joe weren’t worried.

“But that doesn’t mean it’s okay to get caught,” Isabel reminded them, “if anyone sees you they’ll just peel the stickers right off and we want them to stay on as long as possible.  We’ve got to be discreet.”

“You’re very bossy for someone who’s new to bein’ sneaky,” said Luke.  “Don’t worry about us, this is right up our wheelhouse.”

Tania and Isabel looked at each other uneasily.

“Mmm,” said Tania, tapping her fingers against her bottom lip, “but sometimes you’re loud.”

Luke grinned.  “On’y when I need to be.”

Armed with eight strips of stickers each, the Society marched into town.  First to get stuck was a BHF ad on a bus shelter.  Luke put a sticker under the slogan “Fight For Every Heart Beat”.  Next was a CRUK ad in front of the supermarket.  Joe put a sticker under the slogan “This Is Race For Life”.  Then there were three more bus stops.  They displayed ads for Diabetes UK, BHF and Kidney Research UK.  The Society made all of them more transparent.

“This street is looking decidedly more honest,” said Tania smiling.

When they got to the shops they decided to work in pairs.  Joe and Isabel went into the British Heart Foundation, while Tania and Luke went two doors up to Cancer Research UK.

BHF wasn’t very busy and there was only one member of staff behind the counter.  Joe tried to look like a normal shopper, picking things up, looking at them, deciding against them and putting them back down.  Every time a customer approached the cashier, he took the opportunity to place a sticker somewhere – on a shelf in front of the books, on a price tag, on a rack of birthday cards.  He made sure he wasn’t in view of any other customers first, but there weren’t many so that wasn’t difficult.  Isabel, meanwhile, grabbed a couple of dresses off the rail and went straight to a changing cubicle.  Safe behind the curtain, she affixed one sticker to the bottom right hand corner of the mirror and another to the poster on the wall.  Then she decided against the dresses, returned them to the rail, chose an alternative and retreated to the second cubicle to do it all again.  Emerging to find a woman waiting to try something on, she decided it was time to leave.  Joe was already outside having successfully labelled the leaflet stand and the open door.  He wanted to sticker the shop window too but Isabel shook her head.  It wasn’t safe.  Too many people around.

They got to the CRUK shop, which had several stickers on the window, just as Luke and Tania were coming out.  The looks on their faces indicated their mission had been equally successful.  The four of them walked away together in a slow, relaxed, unsuspicious manner.

“It’s cool being an activist,” said Tania.

“Yeah,” said Isabel, “I wanna do it again.”

“I don’t think there are any more bad charity shops here.  Unless – what about Marie Curie?”

Isabel looked at the list.  “No, Marie Curie’s on the green list – it does say they belong to the Association of Medical Research Charities which makes them say they support animal research on their website but they don’t actually do any.”

“I’ve seen charity ads on trains,” said Luke, “let’s go to the station!”

So the Society walked briskly to the railway station, passing as they did a big red British Heart Foundation collection bin begging for a couple of unarguable truths.

“I need some more,” said Luke.

“Why, how many have you got left?” asked Tania.

“One.  How many have you got?”

“Forty two.”

Luke grinned.  “Can I have some of yours then?”

Joe laughed.  “How have you got through fifty five stickers?”

“I put ’em on the price tags.”

“On the clothes?”

“Yeah.”

“All of them?”

“As many as I could.  I couldn’t do the last one coz the man was starin’ at me.”

The others looked at him without saying a word.

“What?  I wasn’t loud,” he said defensively.

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Unarguable

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Story continues from yesterday:

When they found the stall, which was always in town on Saturdays, only one person stood behind it and it wasn’t Kris.

“Hello you lot,” said Andy, “long time no see.”

“Hello,” said Tania.

“Hello,” said Isabel.

“Hello,” said Joe.

“Have you got any stickers?” asked Luke.

“No,” said Andy.

“Is Kris here?”

Andy looked under the table.  “Erm, no, I’m afraid she isn’t.”  He stood back up, “anything I can help you with?”

“Can I have one of these?” asked Joe, reaching for the red and green charities lists.  Andy nodded.

“Oh, get one for me as well,” said Tania.

“And me,” said Luke.

“Anything else?” asked Andy.

They all shook their heads.

“No thanks,” said Isabel, “see ya.”

They hadn’t expected Andy to have what they were looking for but, still, they were disappointed.

“Maybe there’s a website we could order some from,” wondered Joe.

Luke’s eyes lit up.  “Or,” he said, “we could do it with a marker pen!”

Joe wasn’t opposed to that idea but Tania and Isabel were.

“It’d take too long to write on every poster – much greater chance of being seen,” said Tania.

“Hang on a minute,” said Isabel, looking across the street at something. “I’ve got an idea!”

Tania knew what she was thinking and the two of them grabbed the boys’ arms and dragged them into WHSmith’s. They walked towards the back of the shop until they reached the stationery section and, more specifically, the printer paper.

“We don’t need ready-made stickers,” said Isabel, “we can make our own!”

****

Tania switched on her laptop, clicked Google Chrome and searched for how to print labels with OpenOffice.  Isabel sat at her laptop which was connected to Tania’s dad’s printer.  The boys stood behind her and watched.

“Open OpenOffice Writer,” Tania told her.

Isabel opened OpenOffice Writer.

“Click FILE, point to NEW and then select LABELS from the drop-down menu,” said Tania.

“Done,” said Isabel after a couple of seconds.

“Click the LABELS tab.”

“Okay.”

“Now you need to choose the labels’ brand from the drop-down list where it says BRAND.”

“Okay.”

“And then choose the label code from the list marked TYPE.”

“What’s our label code?”

“erm,” Joe pulled a sheet of sticky labels from the printer, “it says software code – is that it?”

“Let’s see,” said Isabel and she searched the list for the code he read to her.

“Got it.”

“Okay.  Under OPTIONS select ENTIRE PAGE.”

“Done.”

“Now click NEW DOCUMENT.”

As soon as Isabel did that, a page of blank labels appeared on the screen.  Everyone smiled.

“That was easy,” said Luke.

“So far so good,” said Isabel.  “Now, what do we want to put on them?”

“British Heart Foundation experiments on animals,” said Tania.

“And Cancer Research UK experiments on animals,” said Luke.

“Okay,” said Isabel, “let’s go down the red list and do a sheet for each charity that’s got a shop in town.”

“Right,” said Tania, picking up the list.

“Why don’t we just do one for all?” asked Joe.

“What d’you mean?”

“Well it’s not just shops we need ’em for.  You never know when you’re gonna see a poster or an ad for any of these charities, so we need to always be prepared.  We should have one sticker that’ll work for all of them.”

“Good idea,” said Tania, “something like ‘WE ARE VIVISECTORS’.”

“Yes!” said Luke.

Isabel shook her head.  “We don’t want it to sound like name-calling.  It’s got to be unarguable.  An unemotional statement of fact.”

Everyone nodded.

“WE FUND EXPERIMENTS ON ANIMALS,” said Joe.

Everyone nodded again and Isabel typed.

“Centre it,” said Tania, “and enlarge it to fill the label.  Good.  Now copy and paste it onto all of them.”

Isabel clicked SAVE and PRINT. “They can’t argue with that!”Story continues tomorrow but if you don’t want to wait you can read it here now 😀

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Luke Walker chapter 23 starts here!

For all the Luke Walker chapters click here 😀

Chapter Twenty Three:
Activists

“Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.  Good luck with it.  I’m glad someone’s finally taking them to task for this,” the old lady smiled and continued on her way.

“How many does that make?” asked Luke.

“Seven hundred and eighty one.”

“That’s pretty good.”

“Yeah but I’d rather have a thousand.”

“When we’ve got a thousand we should send it to ’em.”

“Yeah.  Then they’ll have to listen.”  Tania put the petition clipboard into her bag and the Society made their way back along the pedestrianised precinct.

“Sponsor us to do the fun run?”  Two small boys dressed in Cubs uniforms sat at a table behind a pile of sponsor forms.

Isabel smiled.  “What are you raising money for?”

“Hearts Foundation,” answered one of them.

“The British Heart Foundation,” their Akela corrected him.

Isabel looked at her list.  “Oh, I’m sorry,” she told them, “the British Heart Foundation is on the red list.  We can’t support them.”

“What’s the red list?” asked the other boy.

Isabel showed him.  “Charities on the red list do experiments on animals.”

“What kind of experiments?”

“They poison ’em, give ’em diseases, cut ’em up and then kill ’em,” Luke explained.

The boys looked shocked.

“Why’d they do that?” asked one of them.

“They say they do it because they’re trying to find cures for human diseases,” said Tania, “but it’s pointless because human bodies are not the same as other animals so they don’t react the same to diseases or medicines.”

“I’m not doing it!” said one of the Cubs firmly.

“Nor am I,” agreed the other one.

“Are you sure?” asked the Akela, “The British Heart Foundation?  Surely they already know what causes heart disease, and how to prevent it.”

Isabel showed her the list.

“My goodness, there’s a lot of them on here,” she said, making a mental note to cancel her standing order to the Wellcome Trust.

“Shall we pack up?” asked a Cub.

“There’s a list of good charities on the other side,” said Isabel, “you could support one of them instead.”

The woman turned the leaflet over and looked at the green list.  “Oh yes, there’s a lot to choose from .…… Lord Dowding Fund for Humane Research …… ooh there’s a heart one – Heart UK, the Cholesterol Charity.”

“Let’s do that one!”

The Akela picked up the sponsor forms and thought for a moment.  “Okay,” she said, “this is actually an easy fix. We’ll get some new sponsor forms printed at the library with Heart UK on them instead of British Heart Foundation and then we can come back here and pick up where we left off!”

The boys were slightly disappointed, having reasoned that the abandonment of BHF would mean they could pack up for the day, but they were very pleased that at least they wouldn’t be supporting animal cruelty.

“Where can I get one of those by the way?”

Isabel looked at the small print at the bottom of the list, “Animal Aid makes them,” she said, “animal aid dot org dot UK.”

“Right.  Thank you for telling me.”  The Akela smiled and escorted her Cubs to the library.

****

“That’s the third time that’s happened to me,” said Isabel.

“Cubs asking you for money?” asked Joe.

“No, someone thanking me for telling them about a charity that’s experimenting on animals.  And they all said they won’t support them again.”

“It just goes to show,” said Tania, “most people don’t want their money spent on animal torture.”

“Yeah!  So it should be the law that when charities ask for money they have to tell people exactly what it’ll be used for.”

“Yeah,” said Joe, “they should put it on their posters.”

“And on their shop windows and their collectin’ tins and their adverts,” added Luke.

“Yeah!” said Tania, “let’s have some real transparency!”

“If only!” said Isabel.

“If wishes were horses,” said Luke, without really knowing what that meant, “we could make a horse of a different colour!”

“What?”

“We should do it!”

“Do what?”

“Put the truth on their posters.”

“You mean stickers,” said Joe, the only person who could follow Luke’s train of thought.

“I do.”

Isabel and Tania looked at each other and smiled.

“On’y thing is,” said Luke, “where do we get the stickers?”

 

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Story continues tomorrow 😀

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Mufti Day

Story continues from yesterday.  For the story so far, click here 😀

The following morning everyone arrived at school in clothes of their own choosing.  Some had clearly taken ages with hair and make-up; some wore ridiculously impractical shoes; some wore the latest High Street fashions; most wore jeans and T-shirt.  Nine wore school uniform.  Joe Currant, Luke Walker, Isabel Jessop and Tania Spriggs, all in year seven, wore school uniform because they were not afraid to stand up for what they believed in.  Kristin West in year eleven, Jake Guest and George Broughton in year ten, and Ellie Baxter in year nine, wore school uniform because they’d read Isabel’s email.  Nigel Salter in year eight wore school uniform because he’d forgotten it was Mufti Day.  None of them paid £2 to their form tutors.  Between them they collected £21 for Animal Free Research.

PLEASE DON’T GIVE DONATIONS TO CANCER RESEARCH UK BECAUSE THE CHARITY WASTES SUPPORTERS’ MONEY ON CRUEL AND POINTLESS EXPERIMENTS ON ANIMALS WHICH DON’T HELP HUMAN CANCER SUFFERERS.

The following are just a couple of examples of the horrible things CRUK has done:

Researchers funded by CRUK conducted experiments on nude mice in order to give them bone cancer [nude mice are bred in laboratories with a genetic mutation which causes a deteriorated or absent thymus, resulting in an inhibited immune system and no body hair].

The baby mice had cancer cells injected into their hearts. The male mice received prostate cancer cells and the female mice received breast cancer cells. These cells were made to glow so that tumour growth could be identified while the animals were alive. This was also confirmed after their deaths. Over several weeks the animals developed tumours in their bones and some, who had been injected wrongly, developed tumours in their hearts. The animals were killed at various times after the injection into their hearts.

Relevance to humans:

  • Researchers admit that as the animals had no thymus, they could not determine the role of the immune system in regulating the bone cancer spread.
  • Researchers admit that their method of creating cancer in these animals is very different to how humans develop cancer. In these experiments, the males were injected with approximately 100,000 cancer cells and the females with approximately 75,000 cells in one injection.

CRUK co-funded a complex study on rats and mice designed to investigate whether disrupting a particular network of proteins could help treat bile duct cancer.

Three different types of animals were used:
Nude mice were injected under the skin with tumour cells from people with bile duct cancer. After three weeks some of them were given treatments to reduce the severity of the tumours.
A second group of genetically modified mice were chemically poisoned for around six months so that they would develop cancer.
Rats were subjected to the same chemical poisoning regime as the mice. After about five months, some of them were given substances designed to target the tumours. One of these was the treatment that depleted levels of some white blood cells (macrophages) and therefore damaged their immune system.

Relevance to humans:

  • Researchers are unclear as to the exact cause of bile duct cancer but contributing factors can include a rare type of liver disease, abnormalities of the bile duct and parasitic infections. Being forced to ingest an industrial chemical for six months, therefore, does not provide an accurate ‘model’ of how the disease develops in humans.
  • Genetically modifying mice to develop cancer is no more reliable than injecting them with human cancer cells. It is an over-simplistic approach, since human cancers are usually caused by multiple mutations in co-existent cells, and depend on a highly individualised cellular environment.
  • The researchers admit that only a small proportion of bile duct cancer patients have the mutation inflicted on the GM mice they used.

While being very secretive about the specific details of the animal research they fund, CRUK states:

“At the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute, we only use mice.  We breed some strains ourselves and obtain others from suppliers who are licensed to supply animals for research.  Most of the mice we use have altered genetics”

When considering this one should be aware that the creation of GM mice generally involves several painful and invasive procedures, including major surgery and mutilation.  Creating just one ‘founder’ mouse with the required genetic alteration can entail the deaths of hundreds of others. These unwanted mice are often killed by being gassed or having their necks broken.

It is incomprehensible that CRUK continues to waste its supporters’ money on animal research despite the fact that pharmaceutical companies acknowledge the failure of animal-based research in their drug development process and write about this openly and often in the scientific literature.

A leading oncologist, voted one of America’s Top Doctors, Dr Azra Raza, made the absolute failure of mice models of cancer the focus of her
TED-x talk: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=17&v=07rgtBzN4Qo

She said:
“The fact of the matter is, that we cured acute myeloid leukemia in mice back in 1977 and today, in humans, we are using exactly the same drugs with absolutely dreadful results.  We have to stop studying mice because it’s essentially pointless and we have to start studying freshly obtained human cells.”

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE
SEND THE SCHOOL’S DONATIONS TO AN ETHICAL CHARITY SUCH AS
ANIMAL FREE RESEARCH UK
(animalfreeresearchuk.org)
WHICH IS DOING SCIENTIFICALLY VALID, HUMAN RELEVANT RESEARCH THAT WILL HELP HUMAN SUFFERERS.

SOURCES:

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vegan, vegetarian, vegan children, vegan children’s story, creative writing, juvenile fiction, vivisection, animal testing

Summons

For all the Luke Walker chapters click here 😀

Story continues from yesterday:

The first lesson on Thursday afternoons was P.E.  Tania and Isabel were getting changed for hockey.

“Oh no!” said Isabel as she tipped out the contents of her kit bag, “I forgot my socks!”

Tania laughed.  “Oh well, you’ll just have to wear your other socks.”

“What other socks?”

“The socks you came to school in.”

“I wore tights.”

“Oh.”

Isabel slumped down on the bench.  “I’m going to have to wear my boots with bare feet.  I’m gonna get blisters! Have you got any spare socks?”

“Sorry.”

“Isabel Jessop!”  Miss Stremp’s voice preceded her.

“Ooh, ask Miss Stremp,” suggested Tania, “she’s bound to have some spare kit around.  See if she’ll lend you some socks.”

Isabel wrinkled her nose at the prospect just as Miss Stremp caught up to her voice.

“Off you go girls – three laps of the field!” she ordered the class.  “Not you Miss Jessop.”

Tania shrugged apologetically at her friend and followed the rest of the girls outside.  Isabel pulled her boots onto her bare feet.

“Get dressed please Isabel, Mr Strang wants to see you in his office,” said Miss Stremp.

“Me?”

“Yes.”

“Why?”

“I imagine you’ll find out when you get there.”

Isabel thought she’d be glad of an excuse to avoid running around a cold, wet field but she wasn’t.  When she got to his office, Mr Strang wasn’t alone.

“Miss Jessop,” he said, “I don’t believe we’ve met.”

“No sir,” said Isabel apprehensively.

“I presume you know Mrs Oakley.”

“Yes.  Hello.”

Mrs Oakley’s stone cold face remained silent.

“Mrs Oakley wanted me to speak to you regarding the email you sent this morning.  Were you aware that students are not permitted to send messages to All Users?”

“er, no, I didn’t …”

“That facility is for senior staff only.  For the purpose of informing staff and pupils of rule changes, procedure changes, or snow days.  Things like that.”

“Oh, sorry, well …”

“And I have to say, aside from that infringement, you have upset a lot of people with your email.”

“How dare you be so insulting about people who dedicate their lives to helping others?” Mrs Oakley found her voice and there was a painful edge to it. “They’re good people!  Working hard to cure this horrible horrible disease!”

“Well, they …”

“Mrs King has only just died and there was nothing I could do to help her.  I had to watch … and she never complained.”  Mrs Oakley was overcome with emotion.

Mr Strang handed her a tissue and took over.

“What Mrs Oakley means is that this is not the time for political debate.  Emotions are running high at the moment, a lot of people are hurting, and you have just rubbed salt in the wound.”

“I’m sorry, I …”

“Up until now I have heard nothing but good things about you Miss Jessop.  At the end of last term all your teachers wrote glowing reports about the quality of your work, and more than a few of them noted that you were a pleasure to have in the classroom.  So I’m very surprised that you would do something so thoughtless, so inconsiderate and so offensive.  What do you have to say for yourself?”

“I’m sorry I upset people,” said Isabel, “that was the last thing I wanted to do.  I’m sorry Mrs King died, I really liked her.  And I’m sorry for anyone who has cancer.  That’s why I had to tell everybody now.  So that you’d give the money to a charity that does human-relevant research.”

“How dare you?” said Mrs Oakley angrily, “this charity has been working for decades to help end cancer!  Are you an expert?  Are you a scientist?  Are you a doctor?”

Isabel shook her head.

“So how come you think you know better than people who are?”

“I’ve read …”

“Let’s not get into this now,” interrupted Mr Strang, “this issue is highly contentious and there are a lot of points of view.  My point of view is simply this: the school intranet is not your own personal soapbox.  You are not permitted to send messages to all users.  Is that understood?”

“Yes sir.”

“You may return to class.”

Isabel was in no hurry to get back to P.E. so she dawdled miserably through the empty corridors.  She walked to the top floor and looked out the window at the hockey players chasing the tiny hard ball across the muddy pitch.  It was difficult to see who was who.  They were too far away.  She swallowed hard to stop herself crying.  She knew she’d done the right thing.  So why did she feel so guilty?

She didn’t head back to the changing rooms until she saw her class leave the field.  By the time she got there, Tania was dressed and ready.

“Where have you been?” she asked with concern.  “What happened?”

“Mr Strang and Mrs Oakley had a go at me for sending the email,” Isabel told her.

“Oh no, what did they say?”

“Only teachers are allowed to send messages to all users.”

“Oh.  Is that all?”

“No, but it doesn’t matter, it’s done now,” said Isabel, putting on a smile.  The bell went. “Come on, let’s go to music!”

Tania chatted cheerfully as they moved through the crowded corridor to the music room.  She made Isabel laugh.

“… and she said, ‘not if I can help it’ and she picked up the ball and threw it as far as …”

“I thought you were a nice person,” Madame DuBois stepped in front of them and interrupted.  “How could you do this thing?  You care more about a little mouse than a living person?  Je suis très déçu de toi.”

Tania watched in stunned silence as the French teacher walked away.  Then she turned back to Isabel.  “What’s her prob… hey, Izzy, what’s the matter?”

Isabel rubbed her watery eyes and forced a grin.  “I’m okay.”

“What did you put in that email?”

“Only the truth.”

******

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Story continues tomorrow, but if you don’t want to wait you can read it here now 😀

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vegan, vegetarian, vegan children, vegan children’s story, creative writing, juvenile fiction, vivisection, animal testing

Telling the truth

For all the Luke Walker chapters click here 😀

Story continues from yesterday:

Isabel, meanwhile, had arrived at school a few minutes early and was making her way to the I.T. lab while it was still empty.  Entering the corridor at one end she saw a cleaner leaving the computer room at the other and disappearing into the stairwell.  There was no one else in sight.  She had timed it perfectly.  Within moments she was sitting at one of the desktop computers.  It took a worryingly long time to start up but once it was running she inserted her memory stick and opened the document she needed to copy.  She clicked Select All, and Copy, before signing in to the school intranet network.

Then she clicked Compose;
selected To All Users;
selected High Priority from the drop down menu,
and typed in the subject bar:  BOYCOTT CANCER RESEARCH UK

Just as she was about to paste in her message the screen froze.  The school bell declared the time to be half past eight and Isabel frantically moved the mouse in circles on its mat, trying to get the cursor to reappear.  But nothing happened.  She tapped Ctrl, Alt, Delete and opened a Task Manager.  She selected the only task running and clicked End Task.  She could hear footsteps out in the corridor and tried desperately to make her shaking hands behave.  She told herself to focus and began again.

Compose
To All Users
High Priority
Subject: BOYCOTT CANCER RESEARCH UK

She right clicked in the message box but there was nothing to paste.  Her text was no longer on the clipboard. Desperately she pulled out the memory stick and re-inserted it.  She double clicked on the icon, opened the document, selected all and copied.  Again she right clicked in the message box and this time was able to select Paste. With great relief she clicked Save and was rewarded with the notification Sending … at the top of the screen just as the door opened and the IT teacher walked in.  Before turning to face him, Isabel swiftly clicked Start, Shut Down and then switched off the monitor.

“Hey!  What are you doing in here?” asked Mr Frakes suspiciously.

“I left my memory stick here yesterday,” Isabel told him with a smile, “just came to collect it,” and she held it up to show him.

Mr Frakes, noticeably relieved to see that it was only Isabel, congratulated her on remembering where she’d left it and encouraged her to get to registration.  It was done.  She could breathe again.

Isabel slipped into her form room where Tania waited expectantly.  Her eyes asked the question and Isabel nodded.  So far so good.

“I answered to your name on the register,” Tania told her, “so you won’t be marked late.”

“Thanks,” said Isabel.

“So, how did it go?”

“Good I think.”

“Did you send it to all the teachers?”

“All users.”

“All users?  That’s everybody!  Staff, students, everybody!”

Isabel grinned. “Yes indeed!”

“Well done,” Tania grinned back, “very very well done.  So now what?”

“We’ll see.”

****

Mr Flanagan closed the register and told his form to head out to afternoon classes.  Luke and Joe walked against the tide and approached the teacher’s desk.

“Problem boys?” Mr Flanagan asked.

“We can’t sell these,” said Luke, putting his ten concert tickets down on the desk.  Joe did the same.

Mr Flanagan looked disappointed in them.  “Well you haven’t tried very hard, you’ve only had them a couple of days. Give it a couple of weeks before you give up.”

“No,” Luke explained, “we mean we won’t sell them, not if they’re gonna give money to CRUK.”

“Cruck?”

“Cancer Research UK.”

Mr Flanagan looked from Luke to Joe and back again.  “Why? What have they done to deserve your disapproval?”

“We think the school should give the money to a good charity that won’t waste it on animal testin’,” Luke explained.

Mr Flanagan looked at the ceiling, took a deep breath and then looked at his watch.  “I’ve got a class waiting boys and you’re supposed to be in your next lesson.  We’ll talk about this later.”

“When?” asked Luke.

“I don’t know.  Tomorrow,” he suggested brusquely.

“Tomorrow’s too late.  We need you to tell ’em before Mufti Day to give the money to a different charity.”

“I’m not going to do that,” said Mr Flanagan firmly.  “Cancer Research UK is a very worthwhile cause.  They do a lot of good work.  They help a lot of people.”

“Maybe they do,” Luke conceded, “but they also do a lot of bad, cruel work and you never know what your money’s gonna go on.”

Mr Flanagan shook his head despairingly, as if he’d heard it all before.  “They’re not cruel Luke, they’re doing vital research.  It’s not a happy fact but they have to use animal models to see how the disease grows and spreads in a living body.”

“But it’s not the same in animals as humans,” argued Luke, “so it’s pointless.  They’re killin’ ’em for nothing.”

“You’re talking about highly qualified scientists.  Why would they do it if it didn’t work?”

Joe read aloud from one of the leaflets.  “’There are, in fact, only two categories of doctors and scientists who are not opposed to vivisection: those who don’t know enough about it, and those who make money out of it.’  Dr Werner Hartinger wrote that, in 1989.  He was a German surgeon.”

“What have you got there?” asked Mr Flanagan, taking the leaflet out of Joe’s hand.  “An animal rights leaflet. Surprise surprise.  Don’t you think this might be a little bit biased?” he asked condescendingly.  Immediately regretting his irritated response, he took a breath and tried to be patient.  “Look, boys, I really don’t have time for this now.  Let me lend you one of my biology textbooks.”  He picked through the pile on his desk.  “Here you go,” he offered them a copy of Animal Models For The Study Of Human Disease.  “Take this home with you and read the first chapter.  I think it’ll help you understand the issue better and if it doesn’t we can set aside some time to talk more.”

Joe shook his head.  “No thank you,” he said.

“We don’t need to read that,” said Luke.  “We already understand the issue.  We already know for a fact it’s wrong to poison animals, and give ’em diseases, and cut ’em up and kill ’em.  Even if it did help humans that wun’t make it right.  But it don’t help humans coz animals are different to humans and different animals give different results in the experiments so why would they think humans would give the same results?  And how would they know which animal results would be the same as humans?”

“Ibuprofen causes kidney failure in dogs,” said Joe, “and Aspirin causes birth defects in mice and rats.”

Mr Flanagan put the textbook back down on his desk.  “Time to go boys,” he said flatly.

“Adverse drug reactions to medicines that were proved safe in animal tests, kill a hundred thousand people every year in America,” recited Luke.

“Leave!”

Luke tentatively stretched out his hand to retrieve the leaflet from his tutor’s grasp, before both boys did as they were told.

****

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Story continues tomorrow, but if you don’t want to wait you can read it here now 😀

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“That’s not fair!”

For all the Luke Walker chapters click here 😀

Story continues from yesterday:

“Mum, can I use the computer?”  Luke asked when he got home.

“Jared’s using it at the moment,” she told him, “his laptop’s playing up.”

“That’s not fair,” Luke complained, “Jared’s got his own computer, he should ‘ave looked after it prop’ly.”

“He said you broke it.”

Luke was momentarily stumped.  He didn’t remember breaking it.  He was fairly sure he hadn’t.

“I didn’t,” he said eventually.

Mum recoiled from the blast of heat when she opened the oven door and reminded herself not to lean in when she did that.  “What do you need it for?  Homework?”  Before Luke could answer she turned away from him and transferred twelve chocolate chip cookies to the cooling tray.  “Is it for something important?” she added.

Thankful he could answer truthfully he told her that yes it was absolutely very important.

“Okay,” she said, “ask Jared not to be too long.”

Luke tutted and went into the living room to do that.  “How long are you gonna be?”

“As long as it takes,” said Jared unhelpfully.

“How long d’you think that’ll be?”

“Well the more you bother me, the longer it’ll take.”

“Mum said you’ve got to hurry up because I’ve got some important work to do.”

“I don’t think so,” said Jared, “you don’t do anything important in Year Seven.”

“Well what’re you doin’ that’s so important?” said Luke as he leaned in to look at the screen.  “You’re playin’ cards!” He pulled at Jared’s shoulder.  “You can play cards with actual cards!  Let me use the computer!”

“Get off!”  Jared elbowed Luke without taking his eyes off the screen, “I was here first!”

Luke took hold of the office chair and tried to wheel it away from the computer but Jared held tight to the desk with his hands and feet.  Jared grinned when his brother gave up and let go, but when the chair jolted back against the desk, his can of lemonade toppled and splashed its contents all over the keyboard.  Both boys instantly forgot their squabble and were silent.  The playing card images stretched and distorted on the screen before being replaced by a mass of fuzzy lines.

“You’re not supposed to have drinks by the computer!” Luke pointed out.

“It’s your fault it fell over,” said Jared angrily, “if you hadn’t pulled the chair …”

****

Confined to his room Luke had no idea how he was going to get the research done by tomorrow.  It really wasn’t fair.  It was Jared’s fault for having a drink on the desk which he knows he’s not supposed to do.  It was Jared’s fault for playing games on the computer and refusing to let him do his important work.  It was all Jared’s fault so it wasn’t fair that they both got punished.  He laid back on his bed and stared at the ceiling.  It wouldn’t be so bad if he could at least phone Isabel and tell her he didn’t have access to a computer.  Then at least she’d know it was all down to her.  He hoped she was getting somewhere with it.  He wished he’d picked up some leaflets from Kris’s stall when he had the chance.  There might have been some useful information there that could have helped with this research.  He continued to stare at the ceiling with these pointless regrets going round and round in his head until, finally, a useful thought emerged.  A month earlier Dad had given him his old mobile phone.  It had £5 credit on it but he was only permitted to use it for emergencies.

“Well if this isn’t an emergency I don’t know what is!” thought Luke aloud.

He took out his phone and sent a carefully worded text to Kris.

****

Early Thursday morning Dad put the car in reverse and looked over his shoulder before backing out of the drive. Before he’d changed into first gear, an old brown Talbot Sunbeam pulled up in front of him.  A woman with short green hair and rather too many piercings for his liking, got out and began to walk up the path to his house.  Dad rolled down the passenger side window and leaned across the seat.

“Can I help you?” he called.

The woman turned back.  “Is this Luke Walker’s house?”

“Who wants to know?”

“I’m a friend of his,” she said, smiling, “he asked me to bring him something.”

Luke’s dad turned off the engine and got out of the car.  “Really?” he asked, walking towards her “and what might that be?”

Kris didn’t want to put Luke in a difficult position with his parents by saying too much.  “Is Luke here?” she asked.

“My son is eleven years old,” said Mr Walker, who was turned a little frosty by her evasiveness, “so I like to know who his friends are and what they get up to.”

“Yes, of course,” said Kris apologetically, “he needed some information for school.”  She handed him the envelope she was carrying.

Luke drew back his bedroom curtains in time to witness the scene.  He pulled on his trousers in record time, rushed downstairs and flung open the front door just as Kris’s car rattled out of view.  His dad handed him the envelope.

“This is from a friend of yours,” he said, “where do you know her from?”

“Thanks,” said Luke, “oh, she’s jus’ one o’ the leaders at youth club.”

Dad raised his eyebrows, “is that right?” he said, “because she seems to think you met at the health food shop where she works.”

Luke froze almost imperceptibly before saying, “oh, yeah, health food shop, I forgot,” and he hurried back inside.

****

“Read these,” said Luke to Joe on the bus, “Kris got ’em for us an’ we need to learn ’em so we can tell Mr Flanagan.”

Joe flicked through several pages of information, “I can’t learn all this by registration,” he said anxiously.

“After lunch then,” said Luke, “we’ll learn it at lunch time and tell him at afternoon registration.”

“Okay,” said Joe, and began to read.

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Story continues tomorrow, but if you don’t want to wait you can read it here now 😀

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Finding out why

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Story continues from Friday:

“Ooh, a hot date!” said Simon Butler who had unfortunately been standing within earshot.  His friends laughed.  Luke and Joe, who had learned from experience that Butler was best ignored, got onto the bus.  They ascended to the top deck and managed to get the seat in front of the stairs where no one could sit behind them.  Luke took the concert tickets out of his bag.

“They got these printed pretty quick considerin’ she on’y died this mornin’,” he observed.

“They’d already organised the concert,” said Joe, “Janet’s in the Swing Band and they’ve been practising for weeks.”

“But the tickets say ‘in aid of Cancer Research UK’.”

“Yeah, I know, they’d already planned to do it for them, before she died.”

“Oh,” said Luke, and he put the tickets back in his bag.  “It’s a shame about Mrs King.  I wonder why Isabel and Tania don’t want us to sell the tickets.”

“I guess we’ll find out tomorrow,” said Joe.

“Yeah,” agreed Luke.  “D’you wanna come with me to check on Curly an’ Squirt?”

****

Tania and Isabel were in the top set for just about everything.  Luke and Joe were not.  For that reason, though they went to the same school, they rarely bumped into each other unless they made a point of doing so.  On Wednesday lunchtime they met, as agreed, on the old tennis courts.  No one played tennis on the old tennis courts.  There were no nets; the tarmac was cracked and most of the court lines had worn away.  A rusty ride-on lawn mower, awaiting repair, was parked at one end, and two wooden benches, damaged by vandals, laid on their backs at the other.  There were rumours that the courts were going to be renovated but, until they were, they made an ideal meeting place.

“We can’t sell the tickets and we can’t do the mufti day,” said Isabel.

“Why not?” Luke asked again.

“Look at this,” she said, passing him a small piece of paper, concertina folded to the size of a library card.

“What is it?” he asked as he opened it.

“Look at it,” she told him.

One side had a red border and was titled

PLEASE BOYCOTT THESE CHARITIES UNTIL THEY STOP FUNDING ANIMAL EXPERIMENTS:

The other side was bordered in green and titled

THESE CHARITIES DON’T CONDUCT OR FUND ANIMAL EXPERIMENTS:

Under both headings were long lists of medical charities in tiny writing.  Cancer Research UK was on the red list.

“Where did you get this?” asked Luke.

“From your friend Kris, with the stall, who we met in Belton.”

“She gave you this?”

“They had loads of them on the stall, I just took one.”

“Did you get us all one?”

“No, sorry, I …”

Anyway,” Tania interrupted, “what are we going to do about it?”

Luke frowned.  “What are they doin’ to the animals?  Testin’ drugs on ’em?”

“Sometimes,” said Isabel, “but first they give them a disease so that they can try to cure them of it.”

“And sometimes,” added Tania, “they make them eat or inhale things that cause cancer and then cut them up to see what it did to their bodies.”

The boys were sickened.

“Cancer Research UK does that?” asked Joe.

“Well these are the kind of things that happen all the time with cancer research.  We’re not sure exactly what CRUK itself does,” Tania admitted.

“But it does do these kind of things,” said Isabel, “because they’re on the list of charities that do.”

Luke’s jaw tensed and his eyes narrowed.  “If we’re gonna stop the school givin’ ’em money we need to know exactly what CRUK does, so we can tell everybody.”

“Agreed,” said Isabel.  “You should all come to my house after school so we can do some research.”

“Oh, I can’t tonight,” said Tania regretfully, “it’s my grandma’s birthday and we’re doing a party for her.  What about tomorrow night?”

“No, it’s got to be tonight.  We’ve got to get this info out tomorrow ’cause Mufti Day’s the day after.”

“Aren’t we already too late?” asked Joe, “they’ve put ‘in aid of CRUK’ on the concert tickets.”

“Well, there can’t be that many sold yet, and the concert’s not for another month so they’ll have time to re-print them.  Or if they won’t do that they could send a note home telling everyone the money’s going to help cancer research in the UK, not Cancer Research UK.  They should be able to sort something out if we tell them about it early enough,” Isabel explained.

“Well I can’t come tonight either, I’m busy,” said Joe without elaborating.

“Just you and me then Luke?” said Isabel hopefully.

“I can’t come to yours after school,” said Luke, “coz I’ve got to check on Curly an’ Squirt.  But I can do some research at my own house.”

“Okay,” said Isabel, “we’ll find out as much as we can about CRUK tonight and then I’ll email the teachers first thing in the morning.  I’ll use my Society email address to keep it anonymous.”

“Who are you going to email?” asked Tania.

“I’ll write to the school email address,” said Isabel, “and put FAO THE TEACHERS in the subject bar.”

“That’ll just go to the school secretary,” said Joe, “and if she doesn’t forward it to the teachers they won’t see it.”

“D’you know any of the teachers’ email addresses?” asked Tania.

Isabel detected a flaw in her plan.  “Blast. No I don’t.”

“Oh well,” said Tania, “you’ll just have to use the intranet.”

****

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Story continues tomorrow, but if you don’t want to wait you can read it here now 😀

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Celia scoffed

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Story continues from yesterday:

A couple of people laughed at his apparent ignorance and Luke scowled at them.

“Enclosure,” Mrs Abbot repeated patiently.

“Well,” said Luke, who was perfectly capable of listening while he stared out the window.  “I agree with Nicky.”

“Do you?” said Mrs Abbot, “and what specifically do you agree with?”

“I agree with what he said about no one should own land, it belongs to everybody.”

“Okay, and you don’t think this young man had a point?” she asked, pointing to Andrew.

“No,” said Luke.  “There wun’t be any farm animal diseases if they din’t farm animals.  And farmin’ more animals didn’t make farmin’ more efficient coz you can get a lot more food out of land if you just grow crops on it.”

“So, in conclusion – your opinion is that Enclosure was – ?”

“Bad.”  The brief pause that followed, though due to Mrs Abbot searching her sleeve for a tissue, led Luke to assume that further explanation was required.  “If there were no fences,” he went on, “an’ everybody could have a strip to grow their own food like they used to, then everybody would have enough to eat an’ there’d be enough land left over to grow forests and have places where the wild animals could live.”

Celia Brook snorted.

“Something to add?” asked Mrs Abbot.

“Well he’s living in cloud cuckoo land if he thinks that would work!” said Celia.  “If you had no fences then some people would do all the work and other people would steal their food.  Or the wild animals would eat what they’d grown because they don’t have fences to keep them out.”

“It worked then so why wouldn’t it work now?” argued Lucy.  “When people all have the same they don’t get jealous of each other’s stuff.  Everyone would be able to use as much land as they needed to feed their own family and there’d be no need for money so no one would sell their food, they could trade it for other people’s food if they wanted to and everyone would co-operate so that they all had enough.”

Celia scoffed.  “That’s never gonna happen!  People only look after number one!  That’s what capitalism is!”

“I’m not a capitalist, I’m an anarchist!” said Nicky.

“Okay, okay,” said Mrs Abbot, “I think we might be going off on a tangent here.  Let’s look back at the diagram on the first page of your …” She was interrupted by a knock at the door.  “Come in.”

A teenager entered and gave a note to Mrs Abbot.  She thanked him and he left.  After reading the note she stood silently for a moment before clearing her throat and telling everyone that their lesson had been cut short because they had been called to assembly.  They should take their bags and coats with them because they would go straight to lunch afterwards.

Luke and Joe followed everyone else back out into the corridor to join the rest of the school heading down to the assembly hall.  There was lots of speculation regarding what might be the cause of their summons.

“I heard the school’s closin’ down,” Kenny told anyone who cared to listen.

“Says who?” asked George sceptically.

“My sister – she’s in the sixth form and she said Mr Davies said it might be merging with Bishop’s.”

“Bishop’s?” asked Christopher with some concern, “that’s way over the other side of town.  If they make us go there I’ll have leave home even earlier.”

“We won’t be merging with Bishop’s,” Celia told them confidently, “it’s not big enough.”

“They’re addin’ new buildings,” said Kenny, “there’s builders there now.  That’s where all them lorries were going.”

Luke and Joe were a little concerned, like Christopher, that a move to Bishop’s would mean an even earlier start to the day, but they needn’t have worried.

The hall was rarely this full of people.  Years Seven and Eight had their assemblies on Mondays and Wednesdays; Years Nine and Ten on Tuesdays and Thursdays; and Year Eleven had just one per week, on Fridays.  It was only on special occasions that the whole school attended assembly together.  Everyone waited for Mr Strang, the Headmaster, to finish talking to the Head of Year Seven, Mrs Oakley.  She looked like she’d been crying.  When she left the stage, Mr Strang cleared his throat and talked into the microphone.

“I’m sorry to – “ his words stuck in his throat.  He coughed and gestured to one of the other teachers for a glass of water.  After swallowing a mouthful he tried again.  “Excuse me, erm, …”

A Year Eleven boy pulled back the chair of the girl in front of him and it slid forward on two legs.  She shrieked and was left hanging at a 45 degree angle with her shoulders against his knees and her feet kicking the back of the person in front of her.  The commotion caused some laughter along two rows of seats and inspired the rest of the assembled to turn and see what was going on.

“You two!  Out!  Leave this room NOW!”  Mr Strang’s voice boomed over the P.A. System and the laughter was immediately curtailed.  One of the P.E. teachers dragged the boy and girl from their seats and marched them out of the hall.  Everyone else turned to face the front and waited silently for Mr Strang to resume.

“I’m sorry to tell you that Mrs King passed away at 6.42 this morning,” Mr Strang’s voice was quivering, “she has worked here for eleven years and was a valued colleague and friend.  I’m sure you’ll all agree that she was an excellent teacher who was devoted to her students and always had time for anyone who needed extra help.”

The atmosphere in the room changed instantly from one of curiosity and impatience to one of melancholy.  Luke and Joe hadn’t known Mrs King for long but they’d liked her and were sad she was gone.  No one said anything.  Mr Strang continued.

“As some of you may know, Mrs King battled with cancer for years.  She was brave, uncomplaining and always cheerful.  She was an inspiration to us all.  We have decided, therefore, as a tribute to Mrs King, to organise two fund raising activities in support of an organisation which has for many years funded life-saving research into the causes, prevention and treatment of cancer – Cancer Research UK.

“The school Swing Band – which Mrs King loved – will play a concert at The Tower Theatre, at the end of March. Volunteers can go home today with tickets to sell in aid of the charity and there will be a prize for the person who sells the most.  Secondly, there will be a Mufti Day on Friday for the whole school.  Every pupil who wishes to take part must pay £2 to their form tutor for the privilege of not having to wear school uniform that day.  If everyone takes part, the mufti day alone will raise £2000 for the charity.”  Mr Strang cleared his throat, took another swig of water and turned to say something to Mrs MacGregor who sat behind the piano.  He then left the stage and Mrs MacGregor led the school in Mrs King’s favourite hymn.

****

At the end of the day Isabel and Tania pushed through the crowd to find Luke and Joe in the bus queue.

“What are you doing here?” asked Luke.

“Can’t stop,” said Isabel, a little out of breath, “but did you get some of those concert tickets to sell?”

“Yeah,” said Luke, “Mr Flanagan gave everybody ten.”

“Don’t sell them!” said Tania, grabbing Isabel by the elbow and pulling her away.

“Why?” Luke asked the retreating pair.

“Meet us tomorrow lunchtime,” Isabel called across the noisy crowd, “usual place.”  And they hurried to their rendezvous with Tania’s mum at the back of the school.

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Story continues on Monday, but if you don’t want to wait you can read it now 😀

Have a great weekend 😀

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Luke Walker chapter 21 starts here!

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Chapter 2:  Mufti Day

The Enclosure Acts:

A series of Acts of Parliament that empowered enclosure [eg with fences] of open fields and common land in England and Wales, creating legal property rights to land that was previously held in common. Between 1604 and 1914, over 5,200 individual enclosure Acts were passed, covering 6.8 million acres.

From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inclosure_Acts

When the bell went there followed the usual noisy, chaotic movement of pupils through the corridors as everyone relocated to a different classroom for their next lesson.  Luke and Joe rushed into Mrs King’s room ahead of the rest of their class to get the best seats – at the back desk by the window.  They’d heard from their form tutor at registration that Mrs King was off sick again and when Mrs King was away it was imperative they got a window seat.

History was one of the few subjects at school that Luke was interested in.  He wouldn’t go as far as to say he looked forward to the lessons, because things that required him to sit still, be quiet and do as he was told were never going to be a preferred use of his time, but he didn’t mind them.  That was probably because he liked Mrs King.

Mrs King absolutely loved history.  She made everything interesting because she talked about it with such energy and enthusiasm.  Unfortunately she’d been off sick a lot lately and that meant a substitute.  Substitute teachers weren’t bad people, Luke had nothing against them personally.  But a teacher who doesn’t know anybody; who has no idea where the class is up to in their lessons; and who didn’t even know they’d be teaching at that school until half an hour before school started, is probably going to just give them printouts.

“Good morning,” said the woman behind Mrs King’s desk, “I’m Mrs Abbot and I’ll be taking you for History today.”  A few people started rummaging in their bags for their text books and pencil cases.  “Hold your horses,” Mrs Abbot said, “you won’t need those today, we’ve got some printouts.”

Luke looked knowingly at Joe.

“See,” he whispered.

“I know,” whispered Joe, a little irritated, “I knew as well as you did.”

“When the pile gets to you, please take one and then pass them to the next person.”  Mrs Abbot gave a stack of photocopies to Caroline at the front and everybody waited for it to arrive at their desks.  Nobody was impatient to see what was on it.

“Okay,” Mrs Abbot went on, “as you’ll see from your sheets, we’re going to be thinking about the Enclosure Acts which changed the way land was used in this country.  I want you to read the information I’ve given you and then consider whether you think Enclosure was a good thing or a bad thing.

“Many scholars have discussed it over the years and have come to very different conclusions.  I want you to read their opinions and then decide what you think.”  When she stopped talking everyone looked down at their sheets and began to read.  Before most of them had got to the second paragraph she added, “Read both sides.”

After ten minutes – the time by which Mrs Abbot expected everyone to have read the texts, she began the discussion.

“So, what do we think – was Enclosure a good thing or a bad thing?”

Andrew Bennett put up his hand.

“Yes, blonde boy at the front – what do you think?”

“I think it was all necessary for progress.  We had a growing population that needed to be fed so farming needed to be more efficient and less wasteful.”

“Okay, and what would you say if I told you that, according to Dr Michael Turner, a History lecturer at Hull University, in the second quarter of the eighteenth century there was actually plenty of cheap food for a population that was only slowly increasing.  Why would Enclosure be needed then, if the existing farming practices were providing everything everybody needed?”

“Some people wanted more – the land owners wanted more,” called out Nicky Witticomb.

“Indeed they did young man,” said Mrs Abbot, “yes, in fact cheap food at the market meant farmers’ incomes weren’t increasing as they would have liked so, in an effort to get more money from their land, they moved away from the broadly fixed incomes of arable farming, and into the expanding area of pastoral farming.  Then, as demand for meat and dairy products increased, farmers were able to earn more from their land by substituting grass for crops.”  She looked around the room for more contributors.  “Anyone else?  Was Enclosure a good thing or a bad thing?”

“Both,” said Lucy Evans.  “It was good for the land owners because they could use all their land without wasting strips in between … strips.  But it was bad for the people who didn’t own land because they couldn’t farm those common strips any more.  They used to be able to grow their own food and be self sufficient, but after enclosure they had to go to the cities to earn a wage.”

“Good, good, okay well …”

“All property is theft!”  interrupted Nicky, “those land owners didn’t have any right to own the land – they just took it, or their ancestors did.  The land belongs to everybody.  Everybody should have the right to build their little log cabin wherever they like, and collect their fuel from the woods and grow their own food.”  He concluded with a quote.  “We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.”

Mrs Abbot smiled.  “Okay, we’ve got some strong opinions here.  Good.  Anybody want to take issue with this young man … what’s your name?”

“Nicky.”

“Does anyone want to take issue with Nicky’s opinion?”

“Enclosure made farming more efficient,” said Andrew, “less labour was needed to produce more food.  It stopped farm animal diseases spreading to all the animals in the village, and they could do more selective breeding to get better animals which produce more milk or meat.”

“Hmm, okay, anyone else?  Young man at the back, would you like to venture an opinion or are you more interested in how many red lorries are travelling west?”

Luke, who had no interest in lorries but was gazing out of the window anyway, didn’t realise at first that the teacher was addressing him.  A nudge from Joe got his attention.

“What do you think?”  Mrs Abbot asked again, “good thing or bad thing?”

“What?” asked Luke, “is what a good thing?”

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The story continues tomorrow 😀

But if you don’t want to wait, you can read it all here now 😀

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“I didn’t do it!”

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Story continues from Friday:

When he entered the kitchen Mum had her back to him but she knew he was there.

“I got a letter from the police,” she told him.

“About what?” asked Luke, trying to sound casual.  Mum turned to face him.

“Luuuke!”

“Whaaat?”

“Your face!”

Luke rubbed his face and smeared the tattoo.  “It’s alright, it’ll come off.”

“Is that my eye liner?”

Dad stepped out of the pantry and suppressed a smile.  “Sit down please Luke, we need to talk to you.”

Luke sat down.

“The police seem to think I’ve been harassing the Maybury trustees,” said Mum.

Luke raised his eyebrows.  “Why would they think that?”

“I can’t imagine,” said Mum, “unless someone else has been writing letters and signing my name on them.”  She clearly thought it was him but it wasn’t.  He wouldn’t do that.  Why would he?  That would be a very stupid thing to do.  Anything that led back to her led back to him.  He never signed his letters and he certainly didn’t put a return address on them.  So how had the police got her name and address?  Was he being watched?  Was he under police surveillance?  What else did they know?  This was very troubling indeed.

There was, in fact, a very simple explanation.  For over two years the Secret Society of animal stick up for-ers had been writing to Maybury Centre for Animal Welfare, asking them to make their cafe vegan.  At first Luke wrote once a week, sometimes twice.  But when the Society realised the charity trustees were the decision-makers they decided to write directly to them.  There were six trustees so that meant writing six letters a week and stamps became prohibitively expensive.  But Luke wasn’t going to let a little thing like insufficient funds prevent him from doing something this important.  So, he continued to write and when he didn’t have enough money for the stamps he scavenged them from his mother’s purse.  He was sure she wouldn’t mind.  After all, it was Mum who suggested he write to them in the first place.  A couple of times, when there were no stamps to be found in her purse, he had hidden his letters in a pile on the kitchen counter.  Mum was quite a devoted correspondent herself.  She wrote to her friend Margaret in Wales; to Uncle Max and Auntie Beatrice who lived in Torquay; and to a couple of old school friends, Kath and Myrtle, who had moved to Stoke-on-Trent and Edinburgh respectively.  Sometimes there wasn’t much to tell them so she’d just write a brief note on a postcard but she always put whatever she was sending in a plain white envelope from the box in the sideboard.  Luke was getting all his envelopes from the same box so it was easy to slip his letters into her pile without her noticing and then she would put stamps on them at the post office by lifting the top right hand corner of each envelope just enough to add the stamp.  He’d seen her do it.  She never reviewed the names and addresses once she’d sealed the envelopes.  What Luke didn’t know was that she also put one of her return address labels on the top left hand corner of each envelope in the same way.

Mum was staring at him, waiting for an answer.

“I didn’t do it,” he said truthfully.  “I didn’t!  Why would I?”

“Did you write offensive letters to these people?” asked Dad coldly.

“I just ask ’em to make the cafe vegan.  Maybe that does offend ’em, I don’t know.”

“Nothing else?  You’re not threatening or abusive?”

“No!” said Luke, annoyed at the accusation.  “I jus’ tell ’em, like you said.  I tell ’em I don’t like ’em sellin’ meat an’ fish an’ everything that’s cruel to animals, and I tell ’em they should know better.  Stuff like that.”

Mum handed him the letter.  “So how do you explain this?”

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Story continues tomorrow 😀

but if you don’t want to wait you can click here to read it now!

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Stickers!

Luke Walker: animal stick up for-erchapter 17, continues from yesterday:

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Inside the busy department store Luke and Joe headed to the food hall at the back. It was like a supermarket only posh. High on the walls were colourful photographs of grazing animals alongside stylish pictures of meat and fish dishes with captions like “Committed to Animal Welfare” and “RSPCA Freedom Foods”.

Luke turned to Joe.  “The leaflets said this shop is sellin’ ducks from factory farms so stick these on anythin’ with ducks in,” he said, handing Joe half the stickers. Then he reconsidered and took them back. “No, it’s busy so we’d better stick together. You pretend to be shoppin’ – get a basket – an’ I’ll put the stickers on.”

Joe fetched a basket and the two outlaws headed for the chilled section. They walked along the large glass-fronted cabinets and whenever they saw anything labelled ‘duck’ Joe reached up and pretended to be rummaging, picking things up, looking at them, putting them back, choosing something else. All the while Luke, screened from onlookers by his friend’s authentic movements, commenced putting stickers on plastic-wrapped trays of duck spring rolls, duck breasts with plum sauce, and duck legs with Hoisin sauce. Then they moved on to the freezer section and Luke stickered a pile of whole ducklings with giblets while Joe casually kept watch. After that they progressed to the tinned meat aisle but there was a man restocking the shelves. Luke whispered something to Joe who shook his head.

Luke frowned. “If you won’t do it, I’ll have to do it and you’ll have to do the stickers on your own!” he whispered.

Joe accepted the commission, preferring that to the alternative, so Luke approached the shelf-filler.  “’Scuse me,” he said politely, “I’ve lost me mum, can you put an announcement out for her?”

“Sure,” said the man, helpfully, “come with me.”

As soon as Luke and the man were out of sight Joe, as fast as he could, began stickering stacks of tinned duck cassoulet, duck confit and duck liver pãtè. He had to keep pausing, trying to look casual, every time someone entered the aisle, but as soon as they left he resumed. Sometimes the stickers were frustratingly difficult to peel off their backing paper but he took deep breaths to calm himself and persevered. When he heard the announcement for Mrs Kathryn Janeway to meet her son at the customer service desk he knew his time was up. With only one sticker left, he made his escape before the shelf-filler returned. The two boys rendezvoused in the toy department and left the shop unhindered, but not before Luke affixed their last remaining sticker to a yellow toy duck.

****

“What’s your name?” asked Isabel.

“Andy,” said the suited man, “what’s yours?”

“Isabel. Why do you dress like that?”

“In a suit you mean?”

“Yeah.”

“To look respectable.”

“Like an estate agent?”

Kris laughed.

“Well, that wasn’t exactly what I was going for,” said Andy.

“Oh, sorry,” Isabel apologised. “Like a bank manager then? Or a teacher?”

Kris laughed again.

Andy sighed. “Not like anything in particular,” he said, “just a regular upstanding citizen as opposed to a scary, pierced, tattooed, hippy dippy punk, like someone I could mention.”

“Heyyy!” Kris was mock-offended.

“I think she looks nice,” said Isabel.

“Yeah, she’s cool,” Tania agreed.

“Thanks guys,” Kris smiled.

“Yes yes yes, she’s very cool,” said Andy, “but she looks like a weirdo. If we want to persuade ordinary, mainstream people to take us seriously they have to be able to relate to us. We have to look ordinary. Approachable, respectable, non-threatening.”

At that moment a policeman arrived.

“Afternoon folks, have you got a permit for this stall?”

“Don’t need one officer, we’re not collecting money,” Andy replied.

“How long have you been standing here?”

“Got here about twelve o’clock didn’t we?”

“Yeah,” said Kris.

“And you’ve been here the whole time? All of you?” Kris and Andy nodded. “What about you two?” he asked Tania and Isabel.

“We got here about quarter past one,” Isabel told him.

“And where were you before that?”

“The library,” said Tania, deciding that their brief time in front of the RSPCA shop wasn’t worth mentioning.

“Nowhere else?”

“No.” The girls felt their faces flush.

“Can anyone vouch for that?”

“Is there a problem officer?” Andy intervened.

“Spittles have found stickers on a lot of their duck products. They’ve had to take a couple of hundred pounds worth of stuff off the shelves.”

Everyone behind the stall tried to keep their faces expressionless.

“Any stickers here?” the policeman asked as he browsed the stall, “you’ve got leaflets about Spittle’s factory farm duck. Did you do it?”

“Certainly not,” said Andy truthfully, “we’re just here to provide information.” The policeman looked sceptical. “Look,” Andy gestured to all the literature on the stall, “no stickers.”

“Nevertheless,” the policeman continued after a moment’s pause, “Spittle’s would like you to move away from their store.”

“We have every right …” Kris began to object.

Nevertheless,” the policeman repeated with emphasis, “I would like you to move your stall away from this store.”

“No problem officer,” Andy replied, “we can do that. No problem at all.”

Wearing a serious, ‘don’t mess with me’ expression, the policeman looked hard at Andy and Kris before nodding and turning away.

“This is exactly the kind of thing I was trying to avoid!” complained Andy. “Now they think we’re thugs.”

Kris shook her head. “I call that a win,” she said, “we weren’t going to get that duck off the shelves by just standing here handing out leaflets.”

“We’re playing a long game here Kris,” Andy argued, “we have to keep to the high moral ground. We can’t force the issue or it won’t stick. We’ve got to persuade people to do it for the right reasons, so they won’t renege later on.”

Kris shrugged as she continued piling leaflets into her battered shopper on wheels. The girls, who could see both sides of the argument, quietly exchanged glances before retrieving their clipboard. Andy folded the table and all four of them relocated outside the Arndale Centre.

“D’you think Luke and Joe will be able to find us?” Isabel asked Tania.

“I hope so,” said Tania, “if they don’t get here soon we’ll have to go. Our bus leaves in ten minutes.”

“Are you all going home together?” Kris asked.

“No, we don’t live in the same village,” said Isabel.

“Don’t worry then, if you’ve got to go, you go. I’ll explain it to them when they get here. If they get here.”

“Thanks.”

“Did you reach your target?”

“Nearly,” said Isabel, smiling, “Two hundred and ninety four.”

“Not a bad day’s work then,” said Kris.

The girls thanked her, said their goodbyes and made tracks for the bus station.

****

At the public toilets Luke was having trouble with the automated hand-washing machine. He’d been dispensed liquid soap, no problem, but after covering his hands with it he’d been unable to get any water. He moved his hands from left to right, trying to activate the sensor, but nothing happened.

“Don’t bother,” said Joe, wiping his hands on his trousers, “it doesn’t work.”

Luke was annoyed at the sticky mess. “We’d better get back to the others,” he said, grabbing a handful of toilet tissue.

“They’ll be gone by now,” said Joe, “their bus was at three.”

“Oh. Shall we go then?”

“Okay. Unless you wanna see the new Spiderman.”

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Chapters 17 to 24 are available in paperback:

Luke Walker and the Secret Society of animal stick up for-ers

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The Spittles Campaign

Luke Walker: animal stick up for-er, chapter 17, continues from yesterday:

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Satisfied that they were all playing for the same team, Tania asked if they could share the stall to get more signatures for their petition. The man said they could and relocated a couple of piles of leaflets to make room for the Society’s clipboard.

“Will you tell Spittles to stop selling factory farmed duck?” Kris appealed to a smart-looking woman in high heels approaching the store.

“No thank you, I’m alright,” she said, waving Kris away without looking at her and continuing through the revolving doors.

“I know you’re alright!” muttered Kris angrily, “it’s the ducks who aren’t alright. You selfish …”

“Kris,” the man stopped her, “you won’t get anywhere like that. You’ve got to smile and be charming.”

“I know, I know,” she agreed, “I’m no good at this.”

“You’ve got a short fuse.”

Luke picked up a roll of stickers from the table. “Can we have these?” he asked.

“What are you going to do with them?” asked the man.

“What are you doin’ with them?”

The man shrugged. “Nothing really. They came with the leaflets for the Spittle campaign. Thought we’d just give ’em to kids if they wanted them. Kids like stickers don’t they?”

“These are no good for kids,” said Luke, “they say ‘FACTORY FARMED DUCK’ on ’em. They’re meant to be put on stuff that’s factory farmed duck.”

“Weeell,” the man looked at them and pushed his chin up under his lips like he was considering.

“Aren’t they?” Luke didn’t have the patience for long contemplations, “what else could they be for?” The man didn’t answer so Luke asked again. “Can we have them?”

“Let him have them,” said Kris, “what harm can he do?”

Luke eagerly grabbed the stickers, “come on,” he urged the rest of the Society. Tania and Isabel were reluctant.

“We’re supposed to be getting signatures for this,” Tania said.

“We’ve only got another hour,” added Isabel, “we won’t reach today’s target unless we buckle down.”

“What’s today’s target?” asked Luke.

“Three hundred, so we need another twenty seven,” Isabel replied.

Luke made a command decision. “Okay, you two stay here and do that, me and Joe’ll do this,” and the two boys disappeared through the revolving doors.

The man raised his eyebrows at Kris.  “You were saying?”

She shrugged. “They’ll be fine,” she said.

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The story concludes tomorrow 😀

but if you don’t want to wait you can read the whole chapter here 😀

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“They can’t ignore us forever”

Luke Walker: animal stick up for-er, chapter 17, continues from Friday:

***

“Maybury,” said Tania, “has anyone had a reply yet?” They all shook their heads.

“No,” said Joe, “surprise surprise.”

“Well, they can’t ignore us forever,” she said, undaunted. “Did you bring the petition?”

“Of course,” said Isabel, pulling a clipboard from her bag.

“Okay then, let’s go! Outside the cinema?”

“Last time we stood there nobody was interested,” said Isabel. “Let’s stand in front of the RSPCA shop.”

Outside the charity shop, Joe held the petition while the other three tried to tempt people to sign it.

“Excuse me,” said Tania.

“No, I’m in a hurry,” replied a frowning man.

“Would you mind …” asked Isabel.

“Sorry. Bus to catch,” replied a lady pushing a bike.

“Stop Maybury Sanctuary killin’ animals!” shouted Luke.

“What?” asked a shocked passer-by, “Maybury Centre for Animal Welfare? Why would they kill animals?”

“They are!” declared Luke, “sign our petition.”

The man and his wife read the petition:

WE, THE BELOW SIGNED, DEMAND THAT MAYBURY CENTRE FOR ANIMAL WELFARE STOP HAVING ANIMALS KILLED FOR THEIR CAFE AND MAKE THE CAFE COMPLETELY VEGAN.

The couple breathed a sigh of relief.  “So they’re not actually killing animals,” said the man.

“You’re spittin’ hairs,” said Luke. “They’re payin’ for ’em to be killed and makin’ money out of it.”

The man shook his head. “You’re making it sound like they’re killing kittens. You could get into a lot of trouble spreading lies like that.”

“It’s not lies! If you paid someone to kill your wife, wun’t that be murder, even if you dint do it yourself?”

“Why would you say such horrible things about Maybury Centre? They do so much good,” the wife joined in. “We got our Maxie from them. She was starving when they found her and they nursed her back to health.”

“I’m not sayin’ they don’t do good things,” Luke clarified, “we’re just askin’ ’em to be that good to all animals. Why don’t piglets matter? Or cows?”

The wife tutted and ducked into the shop while her husband continued to set Luke straight.  “Slaughtering animals for food is not murder, it’s necessity. Think of all the wild animals that kill to eat. It’s just nature.”

“It’s nature for foxes, and cats, and lions and tigers and crocodiles, but it’s not nature for us. We’re not s’posed to eat animals, we’re s’posed to eat vegetables.”

The man laughed. “What gives you that idea? Humans are omnivores – that means they eat plants and animals,” he said with condescension.

“But we’re not meant to,” insisted Luke, “if we were we’d have sharp teeth an’ claws to kill with and we’d eat ’em raw.”

At that moment the man’s wife emerged from the shop, frowned at Luke and escorted her husband away. Luke kicked the pavement in frustration. Thankfully Isabel had been more successful with a few people leaving the shop and Tania looked like she was making headway with a passing group of foreign students. Luke composed himself and tried a gentler approach.

“Will you sign a petition to save the animals?” he asked a lady holding a little girl’s hand and pushing a pram.

“I will,” said the little girl, “I love animals!”

“I think he meant me sweetheart,” the lady laughed.

“No,” Luke smiled, “I meant everybody.” He took the clipboard from Joe, held it low enough for the little girl to reach, and gave her the pen. She signed her name in large undisciplined letters and Luke thanked her sincerely.

“Now you Mummy,” she said to the lady.

“What is it for?” asked her mother.

“It’s for the animals!” the daughter replied, hands on hips, “weren’t you listening?”

When her baby started to cry the woman was eager to get moving again so she signed the petition without reading it, took her daughter’s hand and went on her way. Luke, with spirits lifted, was about to approach another pedestrian when a tall woman, wearing a badge that labelled her the manager, came out of the shop and stood in front of them.

“Please don’t stand here,” she said to the Society, “you’re upsetting our customers.”

“I’m sorry,” said Tania, “we don’t mean to upset anyone, we just thought that people who supported the RSPCA would be interested in this. It’s a petition to make Maybury Centre go vegan.”

“I know what it is,” replied the tall woman, “and we don’t support it. Maybury Centre has done a lot of good work in this community and it’s horrible of you to tarnish their reputation. If you really cared about animals you wouldn’t be attacking an animal rescue charity.”

“We’re not attacking anybody,” said Isabel, “we’re simply asking them to stop having animals killed for their cafe.”

“It’s the way you’re saying it! You could just write ‘please stop selling meat’ or ‘please make the cafe vegan’ without using these shock tactics.”

“People think meat is normal,” said Joe quietly, “they don’t react to it because they think it’s a normal, everyday thing that everybody eats and there’s nothing wrong with it.”

“Yes,” Isabel finished his thought, “they don’t think of the animals who were killed to make the meat ….”

“You should be ashamed of yourselves,” the tall woman interrupted, shaking her head. “Move along now please or I’ll be calling the police.”

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The story continues tomorrow 😀

but if you don’t want to wait you can read the whole chapter here 😀

and if that doesn’t satisfy you 😉 the next eight chapters are now available in paperback:

Luke Walker and the Secret Society of animal stick up for-ers

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Luke Walker chapter 17 starts here!

Luke Walker: animal stick up for-er – the story continues two years later:

Chapter 17:  Cognitive Dissonance

Two years later:

“Luuuke!” Jared was angry.

Luke returned the now half empty book of stamps to Mum’s purse. “It wasn’t me!” he lied.

“Who else would put a sticker over my webcam? I want to skype and I can’t get it off!”

“I jus’ needed to borra it for a minute an’ I dint want anybody spyin’ on me.”

“No one can spy on you, idiot! You have to turn the webcam on yourself!”

“You’re the idiot if you think they can’t turn it on and watch you when you don’t know they’re watchin’ you. I saw it on that film about the man who had to escape from the government.  And it was on that programme about the lawyer whose daughter was bein’ spied on coz she didn’t close her laptop and they switched on her webcam from somewhere else not in her house!”

Jared wasn’t listening. He’d heard it all before. He referred the problem to a higher power.

“Mum,” he called downstairs, “Luke’s been messing with my computer again and I can’t get the sticker off! He’s not supposed to touch my stuff!”

Mum’s hands were immersed in hot water.  She didn’t have the energy or the inclination to referee her sons’ squabbles so she pretended she hadn’t heard.  Jared turned back to his brother.

“The next time you touch my stuff I’ll take your walkie talkies and smash them with a hammer!”

Luke, secretly thankful to Jared for reminding him, stuffed his walkie talkies into his rucksack and went downstairs. He had a bus to catch.

When he got to the bus stop the bus was already there. Joe was trying the driver’s patience by rummaging slowly in his pockets for his fare, bringing out one small coin at a time in an effort to delay the bus’s departure. When Luke stepped on behind him he found his two pound coin and put the driver out of his misery. Luke did the same and the boys ascended to the empty top deck and sat down on the front seat.

“Happy New Year,” said Joe.

Luke was frantically searching his bag. “Yeah, happy …. did you bring your notebook?”

Joe nodded.

“I forgot mine,” said Luke, annoyed. “Did you write down where we’re s’posed to be meetin’ the others?”

“No,” said Joe, “but I remember. We’re meeting them at the library.”

Luke frowned with uncertainty.

“We always meet at the library,” Joe reassured him, “the first Saturday of every month. At the library.”

Luke shook his head. “I know that’s what we normally do, but last time that woman kept watching us and Tania thought she was trying to listen to our plans so we said next time we’d meet somewhere more private. I wrote it down. Don’t you remember?”

Joe’s recollection went further.

“Yes, I remember that, but then Isabel said she didn’t think the woman was listening and Tania was just paranoid and there wasn’t anywhere else we could meet that was warm and dry and she thought we should meet at the library as usual.”

Luke still looked uncertain.

“Twelve o’clock. At the library. As usual,” Joe reiterated.

“Okay,” said Luke, finally giving up the search for his notebook, “good.” He leaned back in his seat and put his feet up on the window ledge in front of him.

The boys hadn’t seen each other since Christmas so the half hour bus ride was a good time to catch up. Luke pulled an impressive-looking, hard plastic case out of his rucksack.

“I got these from me Mum and Dad,” he told Joe, and opened the case to reveal two walkie talkies. They were green, brown and black in a camouflage pattern, with buttons under a screen and a short antenna sticking up on one side. In addition the case contained a charger, ear pieces, belt clips, and survival bracelets with built-in compass and whistle. “They work as far as three kilometres apart, so we’ll be able to talk to each other if we’re on a mission and we’re doin’ different bits of it and we have to keep watch and tell the other one if someone’s comin’.” Joe hesitantly reached for one of the bracelets. “Oh yeah, and we’ll both wear one of these – go on, try it on,” encouraged Luke, “and then if we get lost, or if the walkie talkie battery dies, we can survive with these coz there’s a whistle so we can blow it and hear where each other is and know if it’s north or south.”

“They’re brilliant,” said Joe, obviously impressed.

Luke carefully retrieved the bracelet and put it back in the case. “What did you get?” he asked.

Joe reached into his bag and pulled out a smart pair of binoculars. “I like bird watching,” he explained.

“Score!” said Luke, “these’ll be good for missions too coz we’ll be able to see if someone’s comin’ from a long way away before they see us.”

“I use ’em for looking for UFOs too,” said Joe, lifting the binoculars to his eyes and looking through the window at the skies ahead.

“Spaceships?” asked Luke, interested.

“Yeah, I saw a documentary about aliens coming to Earth and it said they were real and they’ve been coming to Earth for years and they’re watching us to make sure we don’t send bombs into space and they stopped the Americans when they did try to send some up there.”

“Really?” asked Luke, wide eyed, “so they’re good aliens?”

“Yeah, they’re good, stopping bad people with bombs. But the people who make the bombs are trying to keep the aliens secret because they want to keep making the bombs because they get a lot of money from it. So they want to make people scared of aliens by making fake alien ships to attack Earth so that the Earth people will want them to attack the aliens,” Joe took a breath. “But really it’s not the aliens because the aliens are peaceful and we shouldn’t be attacking them we should be making friends with them coz they could help us save the environment.”

“Wow,” said Luke, “sounds like a good film. D’you think it’s true?”

“Oh yeah! It’s true. They had lots of evidence and lots of people have seen them and some people have been killed to shut them up or blackmailed to change their stories. I know it sounds made up but it’s not. You should see the film.”

“Yeah. What’s it called?”

Unacknowledged.”

“Have you got it on DVD?”

“No, it’s on Netflix.”

“We haven’t got Netflix.”

“Neither have we but I signed up for a month’s free trial on Janet’s computer and there’s a week left so you can watch it at mine.”

Luke nodded.  He really wanted to see it.

“Come round after school on Tuesday.”

“You’re lucky Janet lets you borra her computer. Jared gets in a right hump when I borra his.”

“Janet won’t be there,” explained Joe.

The boys got off the bus at the radio station and walked through the pedestrianised High street to the library. It was only ten to twelve. They were going to be early for once.

The January meeting of the Secret Society of animal stick up for-ers commenced thirteen minutes later.

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The story continues on Monday 😀

but if you don’t want to wait you can read the whole chapter here 😀

and if that doesn’t satisfy you 😉 the next eight chapters are now available in paperback:

Luke Walker and the Secret Society of animal stick up for-ers

*********************************************************************

vegan, vegetarian, vegan fiction, juvenile fiction, vegan children, vegan children’s story, vegan children’s book, animal rights, activism

One of many possibilities

Sherman and Geynes episode 3 continues:

S&G3 p16 reducedS&G3 p17 reduced

The end 🙂

Want more? Click here for more Sherman and Geynes stories or click here to go to the main menu, and choose a story from our entire selection, for ages one to one hundred and one.

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Wait a minute

Sherman and Geynes episode 3 continues:

S&G3 p13 reducedS&G3 p14 reducedS&G3 p15 reduced

Come back tomorrow for the end of the story!

Can’t wait? Click here to read the whole story now.

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Butt-faced miscreants!

Story continues from yesterday 🙂

Oh no! Find out tomorrow how Venus and her dad cope with these idiots 😀 (or read the whole story now 😉 )

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Greta Thunberg: action is the only thing to bring hope

Watch this.  Nothing could be more important.

Yesterday I heard a woman complaining at the checkout about how much she had to pay for plastic bags.  She complained but she didn’t act.  She didn’t make the effort to bring re-usable bags with her.  She was clueless.  I am daily flabbergasted at the cluelessness of so many people who blindly continue with their destructive habits in spite of the devastation they cause to the planet.  Do they think it’s not their problem?  Do they think the government will solve it?

This problem can only be solved by everybody.

Aftermath

Now we continue with episode 3 (for the story so far, click here 😀 )

What’s Dad got?  Find out on Monday 😉

Have a great weekend 😀

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Beauty and the plastic ring

Story continues from yesterday:

For all the Venus Aqueous stories click here 😀

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Staying in front

Story continues from yesterday:

Nevermind the dinghy Venus, somebody needs your help!  Story continues tomorrow, but click here if you want to read it now 😀

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Do as you would be done by, Government Man

For earlier episodes of Reflecto Girl, click here 🙂

Story continues tomorrow 🙂

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“Distracto Boy – we’re needed!”

For earlier episodes of Reflecto Girl, click here 🙂

Story continues on Monday.

Have a great weekend 😀

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Reflecto Girl 5 again!

Reflecto Girl episode 5 is the latest story to get the Comic Life treatment 😀

And it begins here!

Use the zoom in your browser to enlarge for easier reading 🙂

Reflecto Girl: Sidekick

Story continues tomorrow 🙂

For earlier episodes of Reflecto Girl, click here 🙂

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Now there’s a thought!

Story continues from yesterday.

To enlarge images for easier reading, use the zoom in your browser 🙂

Story continues Monday but if you don’t want to wait, click Venus #5 now 😀

Have a great weekend! 😀

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Quoting Kelly’s Heroes

Story continues from yesterday.

To enlarge images for easier reading, use the zoom in your browser 🙂

Story continues tomorrow but if you want to read the whole story now, click Venus #5  😀

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Welcome to Ocean World

Story continues from yesterday.

To enlarge images for easier reading, use the zoom in your browser 🙂

Story continues tomorrow but if you want to read the whole story now, click Venus #5  😀

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Venus #5! Again.

Venus Aqueous episode 5 has been given the Comic Life treatment 😀

Instalments begin here.

To enlarge images for easier reading, use the zoom in your browser 🙂

Story continues tomorrow but if you want to read the whole story now, click Venus #5  😀

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Bonny Brenda

Bonny Brenda

Met a vendor

At the Summer Fayre.

Said bonny Brenda

To the vendor,

“What have you got there?”

***

“Oh lots of things,”

The vendor said,

“There’s pies and breads and pasties,

Steak and kidney,

Sausage rolls,

And even bacon butties.”

***

Brenda frowned,

She was not pleased,

She found his stuff distasteful.

His folding table,

Six feet wide,

Held entrails by the plateful.

***

“Sorry I asked,”

Said Brenda at last,

“That’s yucky, you’re disgusting!

And if you think

This doesn’t stink,

You need your brain adjusting!”

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For more nursery rhymes click here 😀

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Bye Baby Bunting

Bye Baby Bunting


Bye baby bunting,

Daddy’s making something.

It’s safe and strong and soft within,

To rock his baby bunting in.

Bye baby bunting,

Daddy’s painting something.

It’s lilac, blue and pink within

To rock his baby bunting in.

Bye baby bunting,

Daddy’s fetching something,

A thing of beauty, made by him,

To rock his baby bunting in.

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For more nursery rhymes click here 😀

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